Holiday Traditions You'll Love
Recipe/Photo Attribution: Debbie Leach
They say the holidays are a time to slow down, relax, spend time with friends and family, make holiday food together, try a new Christmas craft or a special activity as a family... and above all cherish each other. For most people, the holidays bring forward many of these lovely ideals. But we all know it can be a challenge to not get swept up in busyness; to actually set aside the time we need to relax and enjoy each other. A tradition is often the best way to help us to slow down and bring the holidays to life!
In this blog, we've reached out to several of our beloved contributors, including Family Dinner activist, Laurie David, Food Editor of Today’s Parent Magazine, Eshun Mott; Creator of The Dinner List, Faye Hess; and Editor of the beautiful online lifestyle magazine, Delish, Tamara Komuniecki. We hope you find their holiday traditions as inspiring as we do.
The first tradition doubles as a holiday tip, from Eshun Mott, Food Editor at Today’s Parent. Eshun told us she loves doing a lot of baking, cooking and crafts over the holidays but has learned to give herself days off to just relax: “I love to bake and make special food at the holidays, but I have to be careful not overextend myself. I try to pick out the traditions that I find most meaningful and cut myself some slack on the rest. For instance, a few years ago I started buying a selection of croissants and fancy pastries from our favourite French pastry shop for our breakfast on Christmas morning. The kids find this special, and I enjoy having one less thing to do. Because after all, spending time together as a family is really what the holidays are all about.” Amen.
We’ve all heard about Laurie David, known environmental activist most recently associated with her work advocating for family meals in the US. We caught up with Laurie to ask about her favourite tradition, and she shared this story, which she calls The Gift of Words: “In my home we celebrate Hanukkah which is a beautiful celebration of light in the middle of the winter. For 7 days candles are lit, dredles are spun and songs are sung and gifts are exchanged. As the kids have grown older we have replaced store bought gifts with gifts for the heart and mind. One of them is a game we call "The Gift of Words."
Here's how it works: Slips of paper with each person's name are folded and placed in a bowl. Everyone draws a piece of paper and secretly writes a kind, encouraging or grateful paragraph about the person they have drawn. The paper is then returned to the bowl, it is shook, passed again and everyone reads aloud from the slip they have drawn. What a beautiful idea.
We asked Laurie to share a food tradition, and she told us the one tradition that will never change in her home is serving latkes on the first night of Hanukkah. Here’s her healthy version of Cauliflower Sweet Potato Latkes. Happy Hanukkah!
Photo/Recipe Attribution: Laurie David
The next tradition will ring true to those of us who try to keep our family recipes alive each year. This comes to us from Faye Hess, Founder of The Dinner List.
Faye explains: “Three years ago, my grandmother died the day after Christmas. She was 99. I inherited: 1 ceramic dog, 1 glass dog, a cow missing a horn, assorted stuffed bears and a recipe for gingerbread. This time in December, my grandmother’s closet would have been packed with old sweater boxes stuffed with about 15 kinds of Christmas cookies between layers of tissue paper. Nobody made gingerbread like my grandmother. The only thing is, she often wrote her recipe down not quite right, because she knew what it was and if for example, she wrote down 4 cups of flour instead of 2 she would know she was doubling the recipe, but wouldn't double the rest of the ingredients. She probably had somebody over, eating the cookies when she was writing the thing down. The trick is, certain things were doubled and certain things were not. But I finally figured it out, and baby they’re good. Here's my recipe for Grandma Evelyn’s Gingerbread Men, which I make every year. Enjoy!
Indeed, food is such a huge part of what makes the holidays complete. For Delish Magazine's, Tamara Komuniecki Christmas doesn't start until she's had her first slice of Panettone. Tamara explains: "My husband introduced me to this seasonal delight when we first started dating, and no Christmas is complete (or can begin), until we have our first slice. He had his first taste of Panettone when he lived in Rome for a few years as a small boy. It comes from Italy, and that European countenance is definitely a contributing factor in its very special place in my heart, and in my family's Christmas tradition. Panettone is a sweet, cakey bread that achieves a cupola shape - a cylinder base and a nice dome, mushroomy sort of top. (I'm probably not doing it justice yet.) Similar to sourdough, the dough is cured over several days, and to it is added candied orange or lemon zest and raisins."
"If you are not familiar with panettone, then you must make its acquaintance this year. Now, it's not for everyone, but to my family and me, it is absolutely heavenly when paired with a hot beverage of choice, in particular, a strong coffee. Our three-year-old son calls it "baked good", as in, "Mama, may I have more baked good?", and he can't get enough of it. He likes the flavour and texture, and that the appearance of panettone in our kitchen and on our table means his favourite holiday can't be far behind."
Thanks to each for sharing these lovely traditions and memories with us. To all of you, our community, please tell us about the traditions that make the holidays special to you. Share your thoughts here.