When I was growing up, we had lots of family gatherings for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, sometimes Easter. These were food centered holidays, the obligatory family gatherings. But when we moved away from New York, and life and death and survival became real, our celebrations disappeared. Many moves and many years later, I find myself with no lasting traditions from my childhood years.
I wish I had a box of treasured family recipes or photo albums of Thanksgiving pasts. I wish I had my mother’s cast iron dutch oven with the chipped handle or my uncle’s stoneware platter or my grandmother’s yeast roll recipe, but I don’t have any of these things. The things of my past are lost.
I am here, with memories, but without the ‘things.’ I’ve had to learn to live without the things that tie me to my past. My memories are more powerful than the ‘things.’
My grandmother didn’t want anyone to have her yeast roll recipe, so that knowledge is gone. But her desire to set a good table, her insistence on proper manners is in me, even if I choose not to follow her lead. My mother’s candied yam recipe eludes me, probably because I can’t bear to use the amount of sugar that is required, but the desire to perfect family favorites keeps me searching. My uncle’s desire to provide a place for those without family to celebrate lives within me as well.
I find myself in a position to create some traditions, and the only person I have to please is me. I am in a new state, and a new state of mind. This holiday season is the perfect time to form meaningful traditions based on my life now. I get to build on the past and create new memories.
Maybe I’ll start with something chocolate...