1212 Greengard family
For Nick, Tyler, Debbie and Doug Greengard, Christmas in Dixie is not complete without a healthy dose of N’Awlins tradition.
Growing up in Southern Louisiana leaves an indelible mark on your soul. We were surrounded by a city richly steeped in culture and tradition, where any given day becomes a reason for a party, a parade or just to gather with friends and family enjoying good food. Unlike the rest of the world, the four seasons in New Orleans consists of Mardi Gras, hurricanes, crawfish and Saints/LSU/high school football. At Christmas, instead of Santa in a sleigh pulled by reindeer shouting, “Ho, ho, ho,” you’re more apt to hear of Papa Noel in a pirogue pulled by alligator shouting, “Heaux, heaux, heaux!”
After losing just about everything in Hurricane Katrina and relocating to Hoover, our family needed to create and continue some traditions that kept us connected to home. Fortunately, we’re blessed at Thanksgiving to host a house full of extended family from Louisiana, Florida and even here in Alabama. It’s total chaos – like grasping for a prized, decorated coconut at a Zulu Mardi Gras parade – but we love it.
Christmas is usually much quieter with just the four of us. So, every year we celebrate Christmas Louisiana-Cajun style. My husband, Doug, makes a big pot of gumbo (with crawfish from a company called Boudreaux’s, of course) and shrimp or crawfish pasta. I bake sugar cookies in the shape of the state of Louisiana and fleur de lis and decorate them in Mardi Gras, Saints and LSU colors. Depending on whether or not we’ve eaten too many sugar cookies, I may even make a batch of pralines (pronounced prahleens, not prayleens!). We decorate the tree with ornaments from “home” as well as those that I have given my boys, Nick and Tyler, each year since their birth to indicate a significant moment in their lives.
To keep the spirit of our Louisiana Christmas alive, my husband and I will pull out the Cajun Night Before Christmas and read it aloud using our best Cajun accents, much to the chagrin of our now teenage boys! Or, we’ll pop in the “Twelve Yats of Christmas” CD by Benny Grunch and the Grunch Bunch — a true New Orleans ninth ward tradition.
Yes, we do know what it means to miss New Orleans. Bringing our own N’Awlins Who Dat flair to the holidays here in Hoover helps to bring a little bit of home to our new home, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Home is where the heart is, and we know we have the best of two worlds right here. As the late Cajun chef and humorist Justin Wilson would say, “We gar-on-tee it!”