Holiday Memories and Traditions

Like many, I have certain memories of holidays from my growing-up years.  Waking early, in the dark, to see what we could feel under the tree.  Learning and practicing songs for programs at both church and school – and hoping to not be too nervous.  The strongest memories, though, are those associated with the food.  The food we eat during the holidays are still very important and the basis for much of the memories still being made.

Thanksgiving meant turkey, of course.  Regardless of which grandparents’ house, turkey was part of the menu.  Well, except that one year, but I think my grandmother figured out pretty quickly we didn’t like our turkey messed with.  *grin*  We may experiment with different ways of preparing the turkey, but there will always be turkey.  It’s tradition!

New recipes might be tried for the side dishes of vegetables, but a few favorites are always requested – even today.  Sweet potato casserole is a must whether we are feasting at my in-law’s or my side of the family.  Not the type smothered in marshmallows, but a crunchy pecan topping.  This year, the sweet potatoes will come from our uncle’s garden – I’m very excited about that!  When at my family’s gathering, shoe peg corn casserole, cranberry salad, and banana salad are on the menu.  At my in-laws’, we will always have dressing, scalloped pineapple, and pumpernickle bread.

We are still alternating years on spending Thanksgiving with each of our families.  I think that time will be ending soon.  It will be our turn to host the annual gathering soon, and I cannot wait!  We’ll incorporate favorite dishes from both sides.  Pumpkin pie will be a must – though I’m sure we’ll try new recipes often.  That is a tradition, too.

Christmas eve is spent with my side of the family and Christmas day is spent with my husband’s family.  Our little family doesn’t celebrate in the traditional sense, but we enjoy the day of rest and fellowship.  A break from the regular routine and busyness and enjoying time with family are how we spend these days.  Of course, the food is a highlight as well.

Christmas eve is spent often spent “grazing”.  Various meats, cheeses, vegetables and other appetizer type foods are spread out – like background music.  Christmas day is quite the opposite with full sit-down dinner on the menu.  It may resemble Thanksgiving dinner at my in-law’s, but there are a few side dishes which only make an appearance on this day.  Two different jello salads are my mother-in-law’s “must haves”.

Another tradition in our family this time of year is birthday celebrations.  From mid-November through early January, we have six birthdays just in our immediate family.  My grandmother’s is near Thanksgiving, so we have birthday cake at her house.  No wonder we tend to gain weight this time of year.  We’ve not even talked about the cookies!  We’ll save that for another day and another post.

My friends and fellow Indiana Association of Home Education bloggers have been sharing about our holiday traditions.  Be sure to check them out – you might find something new to incorporate in your family’s celebrations.

What traditions do you have in your family this time of year?  Do you drive around looking at the lights and decorations?  Do you plan a shopping extravaganza for the Friday after Thanksgiving?  Do you root on your favorite teams during the various football games?

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