Today, someone mentioned the green bean casserole and asked when did this tradition start? I can remember the first time I ate it on a Thanksgiving – I was about ten years old and it was at my Aunt Agnes’ dinner table. Then I started wondering, do we carry on food traditions because of the memories that come with them?
Traditions abound in our home. When I met my mother-in-law in Wisconsin for the first time 42 years ago, I asked her if she’d made cheese torte right after I told her I was happy to finally meet her. My husband wouldn’t consider December 25th as Christmas Day if he didn’t get to eat his traditional Christmas dessert. On his birthday every year he is presented with a piece of upside down cake. Stuffing for the turkey always reminds me of my Dad. It was his job to break up the bread and slice the vegies. He is always in my heart as I make the 'traditional' stuffing every Thanksgiving. My Danish grandfather’s birthday was Christmas Eve. In his honor, we’ve always served Danish Aebleskievers and sausage before the kids could open packages. (These are Danish pancakes that are made in a special pan so that they resemble golf balls after they are cooked.)
I suppose if I had to choose my favorite tradition, it would be the fruitcakes. I know, people have a tendency to roll their eyes or outright refuse fruitcake, but I swear, the ones I make ARE different. I’ve been making 18 cakes every Christmas season and we either give them away or mail them to people who’ve been kind to us. I've mailed one friend a cake for 18 years because he said Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it. The memories I have from making these cakes are some of my best treasures. When they were young, my daughters used to sit on the kitchen counter, wrap their legs around the large Tupperware bowl and stir while I added the ingredients. The recipe makes six cakes and they bake for three hours in a very low oven – filling the entire house with the most ‘yummy’ smell. I don’t have the girls here physically to help now, but I still have those memories as I stir the batches.
Do you have traditions, too? Which are your favorites?