Two and half years ago (when we first moved to California) we embarked on what has become a brand new Christmas Eve tradition. With few friends and family members nearby, we felt the need for a new way to mark the holiday for the children and for us as well. Honing in on my Italian heritage and our love for pasta, we decided that an early, hearty dinner in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood would do very nicely. Combined with a Christmas Eve service, some shopping for last minute gifts and yummy regional treats to savor at home while preparing for Santa's imminent arrival, this new tradition felt just right. Our return home later in the evening (physically and spiritually fulfilled), still allows for time to tend to unfinished holiday details. This outing has become something we all look forward to and our very own hallmark for the holiday. We hope that in years to come both local and visiting friends and family members can join us in our [fairly] new Christmas tradition.