Christmas Eve at our house always meant one thing – oysters. We couldn’t afford oysters at any other time of the year and so the jar would always be brought out Christmas Eve. A big ol’ mayonnaise jar full, like one of those jars you use for putting up jelly or okra – whose name escapes me at the moment.

Anyway, we’d eat them every which way – fried, raw, in soup. As a kid, I liked fried best because my dad did them perfectly – just a little breading, not tough, then dipped in cocktail sauce. The more daring of the family would eat them raw – always on a saltine cracker with a drop of lemon juice, then a drop of tabasco. Down the hatch. The kids would scream, “Ewwwwww!” every time Dad ate one of those nasty, slimy things.

Now, of course, I love them. Raw. I’ve never had them fried again where they were as good as Dad made them. They always end up greasy and tough. I guess memory colors things – they may have tasted like crap back then but I always thought they were perfect. Now I eat them raw – and just raw, not with anything. The best oysters taste like the sea, just a little brine, and they’re not fishy, or slimy, or gross. They taste like the ocean. And are perfect with white wine or champagne.

And these days I eat them whenever I can get them fresh – not just on Christmas Eve. And not from a jar either. But I do miss the moment when that jar would come out, because then you would know that Santa was almost here. It must be Christmas Eve because we were having oysters for dinner, yum.

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