December 24, 2011

Christmas: Food and Traditions

Christmas: Food and Traditions
A guest post by Shelly Kelly from Of Sound Mind and Spirit.

The Christmas holidays abound with memories and traditions, many of them grown and based on the foods that bring us together and define us as family.

Growing up  Christmas morning meant Mom would prepare a brown-sugar, butter, cinnamon, ooey-gooey Bubble Cake for breakfast.  An annual special treat that only appeared on Christmas morning, every childhood Christmas memory I have involves this sweet sticky concoction. Even though forks were encouraged, we commonly burned our fingers, picking at the hot melted sugar unable to wait for it to be cool enough to eat. In the years since I’ve become a mother, I’ve tried to find our own special breakfast, serving several “prepare-the-night-before” breakfast casseroles filled with egg, sausage, cheese, hash browns, or even French toast, but the one dish my children repeatedly ask for is Bubble Cake.

In a nod to our Italian grandparents, Christmas dinner absolutely must include Italian sausage. The accompanying prepared foods are inconsequential so long as the plate of crisp, fragrant sausage has its place of honor. Each year, seeing the Italian sausage at Christmas dinner calls to mind my grandmother’s kitchen table, filled with food, while we wait to be served at the “kids table” on the side.  Now I sit at my mother’s dining room table, my daughters and their cousins in the kitchen at their own “kids table.”

The evolution of a newer tradition is one of my favorite Christmas memories, when several years ago our father asked me to try to make a chocolate pie reminiscent of his mother’s pie.  We called her on the phone and quizzed her about the recipe, which naturally had never been written down.  We took what she said, compared it with other chocolate pie recipes, and that Christmas Eve we got to work, trying to figure out exactly how it should come together and in what order.  We threw away two whole pies before we settled on a mixture that had the right consistency and taste.  Every year since, I have made the infamous Chocolate Pie for our Christmas dessert.

No matter how you celebrate Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or who you share it with, the foods you prepare and eat are going to have a very special place, building a foundation of memories that will last for years to come.