Sunday, December 6, 2009


Holidays are days of traditions laid end to end to bring family and loved ones together in joy, peace and connection to the past, present and future. People at the festivities change or may be absent for a time or two but the traditions celebrated near or far unite loved ones. Like many families my family has rich traditions that have been continued and celebrated through the years and passed on to future generations to keep and tend and even modify a bit as new traditions are forged out of old. My grandparents were great at keeping traditions and welcoming family. Special foods of course, but Santa's visit on Christmas Eve at the farm, a meal crowded with cousins around a huge dining room table, a special gift chosen with great care for each child, great aunts and uncles sharing a meal on a cold evening and tales of parents as young ones over the years. Participating in traditions always evokes stories of events past and memories dying to be shared.

In my immediate family, traditions have been passed down and been created to weave the familiar personalities and fun with foods and activities. On Christmas Eve a tradition was built to serve charcuterie which is a divine mixture of cured meats, cheeses and pickles as a first course with breads and crackers and condiments. The second course is James Beard turkey in lettuce leaves - a recipe already on this blog. Finally Christmas cookies are served. In years past I am the cookie monster er master. Each year I bake about 13 - 15 kinds of cookies to share with my family scattered throughout the states. Cookies are a mix of bars and drops, shaped, molded and flavors. There are some cookies that are always there - golf balls, turtle bars, chocolate mint brownies and much, much, more. This year the Christmas cookies are giving way to knee replacement. There is no way to make cookies to send 10 different ways with this knee. My family assures me it will make the cookies taste better next year.

I have been watching the younger generations as they build their families to see what traditions they keep and what they add for them. Facebook has shared some clues as to what is ahead for the family. Last night Jen and Josh and the kids put up their tree. They had a family expedition to select a live tree and brought it home to put it up. Gabe has been asking for the tree daily so finally he is getting his wish. According to Jen Eli has matured and you can tell as he places his ornaments in a variety of sites on the tree. Gabe follows early Eli and tends to decorate one spot on the tree. Miriam gazes up from her spot on the floor and parents try to plan for safety for some low hanging ornaments.

Jen loves tradition and has been trying to find the holiday time that is right for them to add charcuterie. Well tree decorating night seems to be the perfect time. Jen and Josh prepared a plate of charcuterie and like any good tradition added several new options. She added shrimp cocktail and mini-pizzas. Of course with two boys of such different personalities there must be not one but two kinds of pizza. Eli likes the silver dollar sized pizzas and Gabe likes medium mini pizzas. Jen and Josh have really added to the wonder of tree transformation by combining a tradition from another holiday time. The time is a festive family party of rediscovering ornaments and adding new ones to the tree remembering occasions and why we have which ornament and how it came to the family.

With our family separated by states it is a joy to see what they are doing to celebrate occasions and create traditions of their own as well as keeping family traditions. I hope each of you celebrates your own family traditions in the way you love and cherish this holiday season.

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