Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pass the Stuffing, Please

Tell about family traditions: Christmas, birthdays, graduations, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, weddings.

For those keeping score at home, this is the #3 journal jar prompt left, soon to be not a part of the jar anymore.  Okay, so it's out of the jar already.

Family traditions most of the time involve or revolve around food.  Perhaps I'll take them one at a time.

Christmas involved my parents and my sister and me talking ourselves into being able to open one gift on Christmas Eve in the mid to late '70's.  This became our tradition.  I think it was instituted to ease some of the anticipation of Christmas morning, and to spread the celebration out a bit.  I don't know, maybe we just couldn't wait any longer.  We traditionally would go and get a tree-- something we do with my sister's boys now.  I wrote about that here.  And there are even pictures there, and other links to other musings about Christmas.  There is quite a tradition of making cookies-- first just decorating sugar cookies with all sorts of colorful sprinkles as young kids, and now with my wife and her family all baking up numerous treats of all different types at the annual cookie party competition that renders the family awash in cookies for the entirety of the holiday season.  And Christmas morning sausage bread has become a favorite new tradition at the Kolb Christmas.  It can hardly come out of the oven fast enough.

Birthdays are usually a time to gather and eat.  Cake, ice cream, pie, cookies, candy, plus entire meals are planned.  Many times a "favorite meal" is prepared at the request of the person celebrating his or her birthday.  I can remember requesting tamale pie more than once for my special occasion.  With a growing family, we've taken to combining celebrations at times, making one 'great' meal for two or more celebrants.  It's nearly impossible to get through a week in June without tripping over a few birthdays in our family.

Graduations are much the same as birthdays.  There's gotta be a feast.  More often these celebrations take advantage of kinder weather conditions and occur in the outdoors.  They also often involved grilled meat and wine and or beer.  And maybe a pen and pencil set.  Nowadays, gift cards seem to be the traditional gift for graduation.  But when I graduated 8th grade, it was pen and pencil set in a velvet lined carrying case.  Times change.

Fourth of July is most definitely a "cookout" sort of holiday.  The traditional menu comes to mind-- mom's macaroni salad and baked beans, paired with barbecued chicken and garlic bread.  Pardon me while I wipe the drool from my mouth.  Barbequed steak with sauteed mushrooms and gorganzola cheese crumbles is a favorite, served with red wines and grilled or broiled vegetables like asparagus or potato wedges.  A given regular at this time of year-- Suzy's flag dishes go into the rotation, usually around her birthday, Flag Day.  And baseball on the radio-- we love our SF Giants announcers, who are entertaining regardless of how the game is going.

Halloween traditions have really changed in the past ten years or so.  It used to be that we'd get all geeked about a costume party, but we've really calmed our jets on that one.  I kind of lament the fact that the house decorating goes so overboard, so that it just looks like Christmas in black and orange.  We still hand out candy, but my heart hasn't been in it these last few years.  Maybe something will change, but I just don't get the hype right now. 

Thanksgiving is definitely an eating holiday.  The tradition involves a slew of tried and true favorites-- the turkey, oven roasted, stuffed with the special stuffing, and paired with all the favorite side dishes, like mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and olives.  And then of course there's the pumpkin dessert, usually pie but increasingly frequent is the cheescake.  And the whipped topping, of course.  But just as important is the leftover turkey and stuffing sandwich on sourdough, made the next day.  That's a great tradition.

Weddings?  Well, lots of people, a little dancing maybe, plenty of wine and beer, and no doubt food.  Got one coming up next year, and the bride is still shopping for her dress right now.  But traditions merit that family will gather, converse, and sometimes bicker, but more often laugh.  But again, eating will be a big part of things.

Now I'm hungry.


Deb said...

We do eat a lot in our family, and I have the figure to prove it. I'm so glad to share these holiday memories with you. We do need to learn to make malasadas, though. I miss them.

Gerri said...

You can go to the Big Island to a little place called Tex's and get really good malasadas (not sure that is the correct spelling, but we know what we mean). They aren't like Grandma Susie's, but they are good!

It was nice to travel down memory lane for awhile...lots of good ones...