Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Traditions: More than food and practices

With Thanksgiving close at hand and Christmas coming, are you thinking about holiday traditions, too? That can mean rituals, times you gather, ways you conduct your gatherings, the way you decorate, foods you prepare and so much more. This, too, is about legacy.

Today I'm making my mother's recipe for cranberry relish so I can bring to the dinner hosted by our friend Sandra tomorrow. The recipe card contains Mom's handwriting and some cranberry stains from days gone by when she made this for our family. The card is precious to me because of her writing and the stains. The recipe is a great one, and I always enjoy eating the relish. But I have to confess that the greatest share of pleasure really comes from the tradition of doing something Mom did (and her mother before her) as well as seeing her writing once again.

Earlier this week a couple friends and I gathered for a lefse-making afternoon, too. If you aren't Norwegian, you may not know what lefse is. My best description is that it's a Norwegian version of a soft tortilla that gets spread with butter and generously sprinkled with sugar before being rolled up and devoured! What fun we had making the lefse as a team, talking as we worked. It brought to mind the multiple times my mother and father carried on this tradition, working together so all our family (including my grandchildren) could enjoy what we called "the food of the gods." As we prepared the lefse this week, we talked, too, about the ways women used to gather to cook and serve. It was a social time for them, a time when they caught up on each other's lives, even as together, they prepared food for those they loved.

What tickled me so much was when I told my middle son what we were doing, he said he didn't want the tradition to die and wants me to teach their six children how to make lefse. I don't have to have my arm twisted on that one. Sounds like a lot of fun—and a lot of good eating!

So much goes into our traditions, doesn't it? What are you doing to carry on family traditions? What does it mean to you?

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