With a plethora of Jewish, Islamic, Christian and Christian Orthodox celebrations happening this time a year, it’s a great time to share family holiday traditions.
Sharing Food Traditions
Last week, GenFriends’ YouTube show featured holiday food traditions. It was a great show and illustrated how many of our family holiday traditions revolve around food.
Try documenting or sharing your food traditions in one of these ways:
- Teach your recipes “elbow to elbow” as Staci Troilo described in her guest post “Recipe for Posterity.”
- Write down family recipes and share them with family members.
- Scan original recipe cards and give family members digital copies of them. You could print them on card stock to send as holiday or New Year’s greeting cards.
- Reminisce about food-related family traditions of the past (on paper) and how they cemented your holidays and your feelings of family.
- Eat in a restaurant during the holidays? Save menus and mementos and take photos.
- 2020 Food traditions. This year could be different for you. I know Thanksgiving was quite different for my husband and me. We prepared a traditional family meal of country ham, red-eye gravy, grits, collard greens, and biscuits, but not the traditional Thanksgiving meal, because it was just the two of us. (In both my husband’s family and mine, our standard Thanksgiving meal produces a lot of food.) What new food traditions have you started? Which familiar meals have you embraced despite COVID-19 restrictions?
Holiday Decorations and Family Traditions
In Deck the Halls with Memories and Stories, I wrote about memories and stories embodied in my family’s Christmas decorations. It’s not all about aesthetics. Somehow it doesn’t feel like Christmas until those traditional decorations hang on the wall or tree or are placed in the manger.
Here’s how you can make sure some of those stories stay alive in the family’s shared memory banks:
- Make a scrapbook of the ornaments/decor and the stories behind them.
- Make a video of yourself and your family decorating. Explain the stories as you handle each material piece of the past.
- Invite family members to join in the decorating. They may put things in different places, which could be interesting.
- Craft new ornaments to start fresh stories.
Family Holiday Traditions of Travel
Do you usually spend the holidays at a grandparent’s house or at home? Don’t leave these memories out. What do you remember? This is a wonderful opportunity to describe a home and the family rhythms.
For instance, in his article, “To Grandmother’s house we go,” David Cook writes about the Thanksgiving “kids’ table.”
The most magical part of Thanksgiving was Grandma’s table. There was always a clear distinction between the kid and the adult table. I don’t remember my last time at the kid’s table but I do remember the wave of pride that I felt the day I was promoted. Grandma’s table had a special magic that hovered just underneath the six table cloths that covered it. Her table was a place where all were made to feel welcome and if you left hungry it was in her words, “your own fault!” For reasons unknown, the food always seemed to taste just a little bit better around her table. 
New Family Holiday Traditions
Families grow and evolve. There’s something moving about the merging of family traditions after a marriage. Likewise, those of us who have lived in faraway places have adopted traditions that resonated with us. Many times, we have often purchased crafts from artisans as we traveled. Don’t forget to share those stories as well.
 David Cook, “To Grandmother’s house we go,” Van Buren County Democrat, November 25, 2020, https://www.thecabin.net/vanburen/to-grandmothers-house-we-go/article_105a5026-c282-5050-90d2-87f4f0df095f.html.