why we give books (and a giveaway)

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Every year right around this time, I write about cookbooks again. That post becomes one of so many shouting around the internet about THE BEST BOOKS FOR GIFTING, and yet,

here I am again, thinking about books for gifting.

But today I’m thinking about why we give cookbooks in the first place. 
Ten years ago, I owned four cookbooks: The Joy of Cooking, given by my aunt when I was a teenager; Moosewood, of course, from my mother, a falling apart copy of the long ago and far away Common Ground Dessert Cookbook that I swiped from my grandmother’s kitchen after she died, and maybe most importantly, a big shiny copy of Nigel Slater’s Appetite.

Why the most important? Traditionally I’d think of the inherited books as the most essential, the falling apart, written in by relatives books. But Appetite came to me new, wrapped, right around my birthday.  It was cold and Decembrish, and we’d spent the day with my friend Meg. Right before we headed home as we said goodbye in the parking lot she put the book in my hands, for your birthday. It was heavy and shiny and British and expensive and although I would have certainly gotten it from the library over and over until the librarians gave me the stink eye when I’d try to order it again, I would have never actually bought it for myself. I had no money or shelf space or time for cookbooks.

But then there was Appetite, stacked on my kitchen counter with the other three cookbooks, and it became the first cookbook I really loved that hadn’t been part of my DNA growing up. I learned how to roast a chicken from that book, and then I taught my mother how to roast a chicken, and then look ten years later I’d write about roast chicken myself in my second book. Whoosh. (That would be the sound of time, doing that thing it does.)

Appetite was exactly what I needed just then, and Meg knew it. And because it was heavy and expensive and extravagant, I couldn’t make it happen myself. In the few years following when I started to inhale cookbooks and write and work through recipes, the collection grew by one at a time, each gifted by a friend with my best interests at heart. There was Jen and The King Arthur Baking CompanionAlice and I Know How to CookThen I had a full shelf in the kitchen, all shaping the way I thought about what I did there.

Now the books have taken over, and they cover nearly a full wall. I have to admit that I miss that feeling of specialness, that quality of having so few books that I know my way around every recipe. But those few books are still the most essential.

I’ve had the lucky opportunity to take responsibility for some of the cookbook selection at my new job at Guido’s, and it’s been deeply satisfying to think about so many other people’s books, to talk about them, prop them up to make them look their best. I’ve gotten to choose new books to bring in, and as we get into the holidays I find myself ordering books that are big, heavy, expensive–the books that make the best gifts. I’m liking the trend of leaving the photos off the covers, of letting them stay cloth bound with a design embossed into it. I touch the books probably more than I should, but I can’t help it. And right now as I scramble to finish my own book, it’s a comfort to get to be with all these books in the store.

My favorites on the table right now are, in no particular order:

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Fish and Rice
Julia Turshen’s Small Victories
Diana Henry’s Simple
Naomi Pomeroy’s Taste and Technique
Naomi Duguid’s Persia

and, I think my favorite

Jenny Rosenstrach’s How to Celebrate Everything

I love how Jenny writes and cooks–I always have. (I think you all are probably familiar with her, but in case not, this is the spot to start.) I love how she is realistic enough so I feel included, but kind and creative enough so I feel aspirational. She always seems to be able to satisfy her own tastes and her family’s and how her recipes are quick and give me new ideas about how to really eat on on regular days. But this book is the one I want to put in your hands, to give to you. This is the book I’m imagining you might need right now. It’s heavy and beautiful, but it it also has the content that might shift things if you need a shift. I can’t imagine a better time to think about the power we have to make our own days more meaningful, more full of kindness.  And all that, with Shredded Pork Lettuce Wraps with Pomegranates and Apple Cinnamon Fritters as a bonus.

I’ve got a book for you, so let’s get a giveaway going, shall we? Of course I’ll need a story from you, because that’s the fun of it.

Leave a comment here, and tell me about a ritual in your own family. It can be big or small, from now or the past. I’ll choose a winner on Sunday, December 11, because that happens to be the day I turn 38, and I already know I’ll be excited to give this book to you on that day in particular. I can’t wait to read. xo

(There are affiliate links in this one- thanks for supporting the site!)

 

Thank you so much to all who entered with your beautiful stories, and congrats to Kara Lucca, who won the book! 

 

Comments

  1. Karey V. says

    I was gifted a tablecloth from my grandmother several years ago. It is now my Thanksgiving tablecover a my kids refer to it as “Grandma Jennie’s tablecloth.” So special to take it out and remember her while telling my kids stories about her travels.

  2. Margo says

    One ritual I can think of is a decadent breakfast on Christmas morning. This would be when I make french toast casserole or cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting, and then eggs and fruit. Most of it is made the night before so I don’t have to work hard in the morning!

  3. Laura T says

    This time of year, my favorite ritual is curling up to watch White Christmas in the days leading up to Christmas.

    • Michelle B says

      Hey, Laura, another lover of White Christmas over here, too! I watch it every year, while sporting a t-shirt emblazoned with Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen in their “Sisters” dresses.

      • alanac says

        Meeee tooo. Joey just gifted me the soundtrack on vinyl for my birthday, and it makes me happy just to look at Bing’s face :)

  4. Sara says

    My brother and I started having fancy high tea with our grandparents when I was about 8 years old. While we were young, we went yearly to every fancy hotel that offered high tea in Southern California. Even in college and the early career years, we sometimes delayed to a less busy time of year, but still had our tea. After I had children of my own, traveling was more difficult for me and for them as they aged. The final tea with my grandma was, looking back, her last Christmas feeling well. Unfortunately she passed a few years ago, but my parents have now picked up that tradition with my children and I try to tag along with them. Today is Gram’s birthday, come to think of it.

  5. Kristin says

    My favorite cooking ritual is making Polish poppy seed rolls with my grandmother for the holidays. It’s something she made every year at Christmas and Easter, mostly for others, since she claims not to like the poppy seed filling herself. She learned it from her mother-in-law shortly after she married my grandfather, and made it on her own until her back started to give her trouble from all the kneading. When that happened, I was called in to pinch-hit. I was twelve when I started, patiently executing all of her directions in order to make the dough and knead it painstakingly for (seemingly) hours. I was always shocked at how much flour went into the dough, but kept going until Grandma pronounced that it felt right. Then, while the dough rose, we would play Scrabble and pop down to the local pizzeria. When the rises were over, the dough would be rolled out, filling added, rolled up, egg washed, and baked off. I think Grandma experienced a good deal of failure with this recipe along the way, because she would always wonder if the dough would come out right, and then be pleasantly surprised when it did. I was Grandma’s helper from age twelve to twenty-six. By then, I had experimented with the recipe on my own (with a few mishaps and panicked phone calls along the way). I eventually took over the job completely, as Grandma moved into her late 80s and got tired of the long process. As another holiday season approaches, I’ve secured my poppy seed and am once more starting to plan out when I will make the poppy seed rolls. I am sure that, when I place serve it to her on Christmas, Grandma (who is 90 this year) will once again express surprise that they turned out all right. The surprise is as much a part of the tradition as the baking.

  6. Kara says

    We have a family ritual of my dad making waffles on New Year’s Day (which is the day our family gathers, instead of Christmas). Over the years the (adult) kids have done more and more of the prep and cooking work until all that’s left for Dad is to pour in the batter for the first ceremonial waffle (that always sticks and makes him cranky).

    So, I guess our ritual now is to all pretend Dad still makes waffles. And we happily thank him for breakfast and eat until we are stuffed every year.

    • says

      In our family the joke is the first waffle always has something wrong with it, which also happens with the first child (which is why you have another one, to get things right). So as the oldest my nickname is “First Waffle.” (I promise this is done very lightheartedly.)

      • Kara says

        That’s very funny. A reason to be glad I am the third child, I guess. ;)- I will definitely be sharing your story with my oldest brother.

  7. Sadie Payne says

    Happy Birthday soon Alana!! I love how you describe getting cookbooks. To me they are the best gift and the best when gifted instead of purchased for yourself. I think it’s because I agree with you that if someone gifts you a book they are gifting you all the stories, comfort, inspiration and power that a cookbook can bring, and that’s a pretty awesome gift!

    In my family we have a lot of scattered people that all try their best to come for Christmas but it’s getting harder now that everyone has families of their own. So a few years ago we started a Christmas Eve tradition so that even if you couldn’t come for Christmas you still had a family memory to hold onto. It’s a fun one too with no rules, no set menus and no pomp and circumstance. We usually end up with a food theme and everyone brings a dish from that theme (Italian, Mexican restaurants in the south lol) and end the night laughing hysterically playing a silly game.

    I would love to be gifted this book by you on your birthday, thanks for sharing your recommendations for those lovely gifts!

  8. Pamela p. says

    Almost every evening, just before bedtime and no matter the weather, my husband and I brush and pajama our three children and get them completely ready for bed. Then, we put on our boots and sometimes headlamps and head out for a “pajama walk”. There are just a few rules – no bikes, no running, we walk together. It’s usually cool and refreshing and it feels like it gets us all back in sync after busy days moving in opposite directions.

    Thanks for sharing your books, I am in need of recommendations!

  9. Emily says

    Some years they were homemade, some years they popped (with a satisfying pwup!) from a can. Lately they accommodate various dietary choices. But always, we always have cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.

  10. Kristen says

    Small world — I was the proofreader on Jenny’s book! :)

    I love the practice of everyday rituals. We have bagels and jazz every Sunday. And the first day of school always means spaghetti and meatballs.

  11. Lana Osusky says

    Christmas Eve dinner at my in-laws is a special Slovak tradition every year. We start with the always-strong-for-the-non-Eastern-European slivovice, heated up with honey and fried bacon bits. It sounds bizarre but is surprisingly smooth. Then it’s the special Christmas version of sauerkraut soup, potato salad and roasted fish. When my husband was a kid, they’d get a live carp and keep it in the bathtub until it was time to cook. Sadly (or maybe for the best), we haven’t kept up with that part of the tradition! We’re so looking forward to sharing the tradition with our new baby as he grows up.

  12. Neena says

    On the eve of every birthday in our family, the person who is celebrating goes outside and screams, loud enough for the whole universe to hear, a goodbye and thank you to the previous year. It is something we have done for decades, and my children have done it every year of their lives since they could walk and talk.

  13. Kat says

    Happy (early) birthday!
    I’ve got married on snowy day 11 years ago. It was Thanksgiving weekend, so all shops were closed. I had hard time to find hair/makeup salon and a baker for wedding cake. So, I gave a try a carrot cake (not so traditional for wedding cake) at whole food market. It was good at that time and was a hit since nobody expected a carrot cake at wedding party. Since then, my family has been baking and eating together every winter. It’s the best part of winter to me.

  14. Priscilla says

    In our family, we do a scavenger hunt at the grandparents house on Christmas Eve. The kids run around inside and even outside the house looking for clues and treats. We end it off in the kitchen with hot chocolate

  15. Chelsea says

    Stew on cold days. It’s the one recipe that I refuse to ask my mother for because it’s so special and cozy – it is what home tastes like. Once in college, I drove the two hours home for an afternoon when my sister mentioned that they were eating stew.

  16. bookboxer says

    I always forget SOMETHING at every holiday meal (and usually a present or two), so we put an unopened can of jellied cranberry sauce on the table as a reminder (and it remains unopened, as no one likes it!). It makes no sense, but it’s a tradition for some reason!

  17. says

    My favorite holiday ritual is the nighttime walk around our neighborhood with a thermosful of hot and tasty beverages, generally on or around christmas eve. It’s so nice to be outside in the quiet and see all the different lights on everyone’s houses. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  18. Christina says

    My mother is French and remembers decorating the tree on Christmas Eve after a long family meal then opening presents at midnight. With my own family now, we celebrate Christmas Eve with a movie and dinner out at a nice, bustling bistro then opening stockings gifts with Grandmere. My daughter loves the two day extended celebration and the focus on Eve activities allows us to be more relaxed and have fun with Christmas Day meals — last year it was fondue, this year is Japanese donburi.

  19. Jacquie says

    My honey and I have had pizza Friday for almost 18 years,take out at first.Then homemade white fluffy crust when the kids were bitty,moving on to 24 hour rise crispy crust ,now spelt flax rolled out crust that needs no rising and made at the last minute because of all the drop ins:)The one constant is wine,oh and the 2 of us :):)

  20. Darla says

    Our favorite holiday tradition is cutting our own tree, complete with popcorn and hot chocolate. Happy Birthday!!

  21. Kendra says

    Traditions are my absolute favorite thing about parenting. Some of our holiday traditions include: holiday PJs for the kids that are opened on Christmas Eve. In honor of my Italian heritage we always cook a seafood dinner on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning we open stockings first and then stop make coffee and breakfast and start a fire before moving on to presents so that we can stretch the morning out.

  22. JeriLynne Frankenhoff Clifford says

    First off, Happiest of Birthdays to you. Mine is December 8. I think we are lucky to have them in this month of celebrations. One of my favorite traditions is my dad making bread stuffing. My dad cooked one thing, once a year and this was it. As I got older he would let me help him by adding a bit more salt and pepper or adding the Bells seasoning. To this day “Papas Stuffing” is my kids favorite thing about Thanksgiving and Christmas and makes me warm with memories and emotion.

  23. Abby Beal says

    Wishing you a very Happy Birthday (next Sunday!) :)

    One of my favorite Christmas rituals is from childhood, on Christmas Eve. Mom would serve lasagna for dinner. Living in NY, it was usually cold and quite often snowy, so a “comfort food” meal especially during the holidays was a real treat. :)

  24. Kara says

    Right now we are deep into the family ritual of advent calendars- we have 4! Two are calendars that I opened as a child, and two are $1 chocolate calendars from Trader Joe’s. I love that my 2 kids are just as excited about opening the little windows as I was at their ages!

  25. says

    Our favorite family ritual is one we only recently started: cookie Wednesday. It’s simple… I make cookies for after school every Wednesday. Having been through some long years with my little boys, I wanted to intentionally add a sense of specialness, celebration, and ritual to the most average day of the week. It’s our way of showing how very grateful we are to be a WHOLE family, home and healthy. It’s how we remember to be so, so thankful for regular days, because they are a gift :)

  26. Elisa says

    Tradition is actually very painful for me. After losing my beloved Mother over a decade ago, our favorite things just served as a constant reminder of loss rather than joy. However, with the arrival of my son, I realize how important it is to have a connection to the Grandmother he will never know. Our favorite ritual during the holidays, then and now, is looking at Christmas lights. People take such care hanging the colorful lights and we visit the displays all over the city appreciating their beauty while listening to Christmas music. Hopefully, I will ease my way back into other traditions as more time passes.

    • alanac says

      It’s so true, tradition can have both of these sides. But thank you for sharing the perspective that can come with time and space around grief. So good to remember.

  27. Beth V. says

    I am still trying to figure out traditions for my young family of 4. We do tag our fresh tree the weekend of Thanksgiving but don’t cut it down until mid December and I serve appetizers for Christmas Eve dinner. My parents always make pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day as a nod to our German heritage and my grandmother always made crescent cookies at Christmas despite the fact that she didn’t really care for them.

    I agree that I cherish a few special cookbooks above the rest. I have a particular shelf for the ones I use the most while the rest linger on an untouched shelf. I used yours today as I swapped cranberries and orange zest for the rhubarb in your snack cake recipe. It turned out great and got me in the holiday spirit.

    Incidentally, I am a December baby as well – the 30th to be exact and in a few weeks I will be celebrating the big 40!!

  28. Jacqueline says

    One of my favorite rituals growing up was on the day of one of our birthdays, after dinner, the birthday boy/girl, was given a Hostess cupcake or snowball with a candle and the other three would sing Happy Birthday. Sure, the big family/friend party was to follow that weekend, but this was just us together as a family. I’ve kept this ritual for my husband and daughters and although I make the snowballs and cupcakes from scratch, the feeling is still the same.

  29. Aimee says

    We bave a Happy Birthday banner that we hang up the night before each birthday. It’s become the marker of the specialness of the day because it stays up, unlike cake or presents which are eaten or opened in a moment.

  30. Mary says

    My family’s favorite Christmas ritual is setting up the manger early in December. Only the animals and shepherds are put by the empty manger. Mary and Joseph and the donkey are put on the other side of the room. The three kings and the camel are put even farther away from the manger. Every Sunday the kids move Mary and Joseph and the three kings further along on their journey, until on Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph are in the manger. On Christmas morning, baby Jesus is put in first, before any unwrapping of the three presents under the tree, representing the three gifts the wise men bring Jesus. Then the three kings keep traveling until January 6(Epiphany), when they arrive at the manger scene. This is by far one tradition that means so much to my family as it never lets us forget the true meaning of Christmas.

  31. Carol says

    New rituals are good too. After selling the family home and downsizing alot, I am looking forward to some new traditions. Not even sure what they are gonna be yet! A brand new kitchen for cookie baking, dinner making and lots of family time during the holidays!

  32. Jennifer says

    Every year, on our drive home from celebrating Christmas Eve with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, my sister and I count Christmas lights that we pass. Each of us gets to count the lights on her side of the car. We have never made it to a final tally, though, because we either fall asleep or get too entranced by the pretty lights to keep track. :)

  33. Michael says

    When I was very small – say, four or younger – my father and I used to walk to the park most Saturday mornings and then come home and have Hormel chili, from a can, for lunch. There are now a profusion of chilis from Hormel – hot, turkey, no beans, etc. – but the ‘regular’ one is still my Platonic ideal for chili.

  34. Johanna says

    We have waffles after church every Sunday. It is a small ritual but a treasured one as we get ready to start another busy week!

  35. Lauren says

    When my husband and I were first newlyweds (pre-two kids), we had a few rituals on Christmas Eve. We’d prep a french toast casserole for the next morning, combine both of our living room couches together to make a massive bed, and fall asleep on our “couch bed” after watching White Christmas. Our first Christmas together was truly magical because we woke up in the living room to actual snow falling on the ground! With two under three now, quality sleep is SACRED so we do all the same things except in our own bed ;).

  36. noreen says

    Every Christmas morning my father cooks a big breakfast (the only breakfast that he cooks all year!). He makes french toast, bacon, baked beans, and serves fruit on the side. It’s one of my favorite meals of the year.

  37. Heather says

    Whenever my family gets together our days and nights are filled with card, dice and board games. This goes into overdrive during our holiday visits. Christmas night we play Screw Your Neighbor because it is fast-paced and accommodates a table full of people. The rest of the time you can find a group playing Euchre, Scrabble, Farkle, Cranium, Cribbage, Ticket to Ride, Dominion, Dominoes, Bananagrams and many more depending who is at the table.

    As a small child I watched my grandparents and parents play Scrabble, Bridge and Pinochle. It is one of my fondest memories of gathering together and now the thing I most look forward to.

    Happy Holidays!

  38. Aairyn says

    In my family we have always had a giant breakfast-for-dinner feast on Christmas Eve. It’s probably my favorite part of the whole season! As a little girl I always loved my Gma’s pancakes the most, and now making them for my kids is a little surreal.

  39. Neile King says

    My birthday is the day after yours (12/12). As a kid, we always had angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream for birthday cakes. It is still a favorite for sentimental reasons and because you can eat an absolutely enormous slice without feeling sick after!

  40. Candy says

    Any year we’re not traveling, I make homemade pizza for Christmas Eve dinner. It’s a tradition started almost 20 years ago when I had housemates, and now I have teenagers!

  41. Tanya says

    We have raclette on Christmas Day at my mom’s house. We didn’t actually do this when I was little, but I think we’ve been doing it for the past 15 years or so. It’s a relatively low labor meal but feels celebratory and decadent.

  42. says

    I don’t remember exactly when this started, but maybe in high school our Christmas morning breakfast became lox with bagels and all the accoutrements Not at all traditional for Christmas, but it is such a special breakfast that doesn’t require any cooking. Perfect for a lazy morning to prepare for a much more elaborately cooked dinner. How we celebrate and when has shifted a lot since then, but now this seems like the perfect balance of cultures since my mom partner is Jewish.

  43. Ronda says

    Our family ritual is a baking day in the winter where we make our traditional favorites for each other and gifts for friends. We each have come with our own specialties now: Chicken pot pie, caramel popcorn, rosemary bread are always made with one new recipe made each year. It is a fun time of us as sisters getting together and getting some work done.

  44. JoAnn C. says

    Mom wanted the Christmas tree up early this year, a week before Thanksgiving. It’s only 18 inches high and pre-lit but we put regular size Detroit Lions bulbs on it any way. This year our new tradition: lighting the tree and playing Christmas music during dinner. Sometimes she sings along with the songs while she eats dessert. I’m grateful I still have her, three years after I nearly lost her. Yesterday I laughed out loud when she told me she was “…going to have to fire…” me because I forgot to light the tree before she came to the table. She’s 85, cute as a button and still plugging away on dialysis three times a week, and sometimes makes up the words to the songs as she sings them. This is probably the best Christmas holiday I’ve had in a very long time.

    Happy Birthday, Alana. You have inspired me so very much over these last few years. I hope your day is as wonderful as you! Blessings!

    xoxo

    JoAnn

    • alanac says

      Thank you, JoAnn! And thank you for this– I always look forward to hearing stories of you and your mother in these comments. Please send my best to her! xo

  45. Jen says

    I’m obsessed with our family’s thanksgiving traditions. My mother hosts, but I do all the cooking. She lives in down town Chicago and early on thanksgiving morning you hear a bullhorn start blaring – chicago’s thanksgiving day parade starts outside her front door!!!! We bundle up in our pjs, bring coffee, and head outside to watch the parade before it starts. The Shetland ponies usually hang out by her front door while the Jesse white tumbling group runs up and down her street warming up. The giant balloons are around the corner and the Starbucks in her building is usually filled with freezing cold little Irish step dancers trying to stay warm. It is the BEST way to spend thanksgiving! We don’t have to stand outside for hours and watch the parade; we just circle the block and are done. Then we head in and start our food traditions – breakfast strata; brunch of grape jelly-chili sauce meatballs, and charcuterie; and for dinner we ALWAYS include my famous Party Potatoes (the recipe actually comes from the Illinois State Tollway Association’s 1988 cookbook. My grandpa worked there.). Along the way we watch the Macy’s parade, go to church, fight over the worlds cutest dog from the dog show and who will win football. And then we finish dinner off with another (strange) holiday tradition – grasshopper poke cake.

    This year was extra special. After four miscarriages in two years, three surgeries, and six months of bed rest we welcomed our third little boy this September. I’m just getting on my feet again and enjoying running around with my older kiddos while snuggling up our precious baby. It is no exaggeration to say that we were more grateful than ever before for our blessings this year!

    Ps happy birthday Alana!

  46. marguerite says

    I am from a very large family (one of 13 kids) and celebrations and rituals were how we took in the holidays and seasons of the year. We did not have much money growing up so those rituals seemed extra special. I now have a family of my own including 7 children ages 5 to 20. Some of those same rituals I grew up with I have used within my own family, and also began new ones.

    Although I grew up Catholic and going to confession, it is something I no longer take part in. My husband and I do believe that it is still good to take a look into one’s life and reflect on what is good and what we may wish to change. So instead of confession, we gather as a family on the Winter Solstice to reflect on our lives by building a large fire in our backyard to burn away the darkness and let light into our lives life. Everyone writes ( or the younger ones draw) everything from the year that he/she would like to get rid of and puts in it to an envelope (this is so privacy is kept/no knows what some one else has written). Each person brings his/her envelope to the fire and tosses it in as we sing “Amazing Grace.” It is sorta of a cleansing of the soul, releasing all that may have been burdensome, to open it again to take in the fullness of life.

    After the papers have all been burned up, we roast marshmellows, sing Christmas carols, and kick sled around the yard, under the stars. It is incredibly uplifting and freeing. Last year it was bitterly cold, temperatures below zero, with a cold wind blowing. It didn’t deter anyone in the family, as they all gathered their envelopes to burn away and begin the season anew.

  47. Mitty says

    We bake lots of cookies and make fudge and give out plates of them to our friends at church and work. Right now we have baked a total of 40 dozen cookies (8 dozen of 5 different kinds). Another tradition is taking Christmas card pictures.

  48. Stephanie says

    Every year for my husband’s birthday l make a chocolate hazelnut torte. It takes 3 hours and it is his favorite dessert ever. The kids keep him out of the way and he pretends to be surprised every year.

  49. Megan Zambito says

    One of my favorite family rituals was making stuffing/dressing with my grandfather. Every Thanksgiving I would wake up early and help him. Everyone else would still be sleeping but we would sit around waiting for the onions and celery to soften. Then we would test it, test it again and sneak tastes until it went in the oven. Now that he has passed away, I have taken over making the stuffing for my family and am reminded of him every time I make it. It is a fairly simple recipe but it always brings back such warm memories.

  50. Kandace says

    My sister and I prepare a Christmas day brunch to share with my parents. She prepares a make ahead breakfast casserole and I make cinnamon sticky buns. My dad used to make the hot chocolate with a bit of cinnamon in it. My father passed away four years ago, but we still keep up the tradition that has been going on for years. Now one of use makes the hot chocolate.

  51. Joy says

    We light a candle at bedtime with our two small girls, at least in winter. It’s such a nice way to end the day, and such a comfort on cold, dark nights.

  52. Paula says

    Our Christmas Eve dinner is inspired by what my Italian great-grandmother served at the turn of the century and what my grandmother served after she was gone. The only difference is that since we live far away from family our feast is much smaller. So instead of serving seven fishes we serve four. But I still make my great-grandmother’s recipe for spaghettini with squid and clams), baccala and potato salad, and an oyster appetizer to start. We finish with my great grandmother’s honey and biscotti Christmas cookies, fresh fruit and nuts. All are served on my grandmother’s fine china and crystal. Growing up I remember every detail of this dinner–it was always my favorite meal of the year–and and I am happy to observe that my eleven year old daughter too now looks forward to this dinner all year. Traditions and rituals are wonderful! Happy birthday Alana!

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