When I was 19 I was an au pair to a family in Sweden, and I loved their Christmas customs. My Swedish family made a sweet almond porridge on Christmas Eve and left it out in a big bowl for Santa. When I got home I immediately re-created the porridge and have served it almost every Christmas morning since then. To me, this is the real taste of Christmas, and gets the day off to a beautiful start. —Abra Bennett
In a heavy saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Slowly drizzle in the Cream of Wheat, whisking steadily as you do so to avoid lumps. Add the salt. Over very low heat, simmer the porridge for about 10 minutes, whisking often to keep it velvety smooth.
Remove the pan from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until well-blended. Whisking constantly, pour the beaten eggs slowly into the porridge. When thoroughly blended, put the pan over the lowest possible heat and whisk the porridge for 3-4 minutes as it thickens.
You'll probably need to switch to a wooden spoon at this point, as the porridge will be very thick. Stir in the sugar and heat the porridge until blended. The porridge is supposed to be sweet, but people's tastes vary. You can taste the porridge as you add the sugar so that you get the sweetness just as you want it.
Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and continue stirring for about 5 minutes over very low heat to blend the flavors. Just before serving add the butter and stir until it's melted and blended in. Listen for the sound of hoofbeats on the roof and be prepared to share.