Thank you to Safeway for sponsoring this post and asking me to share
my thoughts on holiday traditions.
Mention any holiday and pretty soon we’re talking about food. Food comes into the conversation as memories from childhood, treats for teachers or co-workers, desserts we’ve always wanted to make, or all the delicious delights for a cookie exchange. Food is a universal connector, even when it’s not your holiday.
Growing up, Hanukkah was spent either at my grandparent’s house or at the Jewish Chapel on base. There were latke parties, games of dreidle, and lots of laughter. But, ultimately, we all came for the latkes. Holiday traditions for Hanukkah almost always feature latkes. And while latkes are really very simple to make, for some reason they’re almost always reserved for Hanukkah. The debate around how latkes should be made and eaten can lead to heated conversations and great divides among friends. It’s hard to understand how two simple toppings – applesauce and sour cream – can cause grownups to argue.
These holiday traditions, some new and some passed down for generations, keep us connected. Maybe it’s to a more simple past or fond memories. Or maybe it’s new traditions to take the place of those we don’t feel connected to. Either way, as holidays come around we strive to create some meaning in what we do, what we serve, and how we observe.
As I walked up and down the aisles at the store, I hear people talking about the meal or appetizers they’re going to make. It’s fun to hear kids talk about making cookies or helping in the kitchen. Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, one of my fond memories of childhood is making Christmas cookies with my mom. We’d make 10 or so different kinds and she’d package them up for her coworkers, the postman, the ladies in the office at school, neighbors and friends. Lots of cookies for lots of people. It’s something I really miss and just haven’t been able to recreate.
One thing I have been able to recreate is making sure others have food for the holiday. Even though we didn’t have a lot, my mom always made sure we gave food baskets to others who were in need. Some years it was adding to the canned food drive. Other years it was an “adopt a family” type program. This year, Safeway provided me with a gift card to share. I was able to ensure that several Jewish families would be able to have kosher food for Hanukkah. Often overlooked, it’s important to me that religious Jewish families are able to maintain their observance even though times are tough. Luckily, the Safeway stores have excellent kosher-food sections and the prices are very good. Doing good deeds, especially around the holidays are a wonderful way to multiply joy.
If you’re thinking of new food traditions – maybe it’s cinnamon rolls to greet the kids, fluffy biscuits for breakfast, or delicious hummus for snacking – now is always a great time to start. Sharing food is a wonderful way to show your love. What are your favorite holiday foods and traditions?
From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!