In the culinary world, it’s well known that presentation is just as important as taste. The best meal in the world just doesn’t taste the same if it’s all jumbled up in a Tupperware container.
Holidays are the same way – how you present them in the weeks leading up to them plays a large part in how much you and your family enjoy them. Family holiday traditions help take away the daily grind and give you something to look forward to.
Thanksgiving always happened at my maternal grandparents’ house. Since my grandpa has Celiac disease, there were all sorts of gluten-free dishes, including Ants on a Log (celery with peanut butter and raisins) and my grandma’s delicious wild rice and mushroom stuffing. We’d spend the time talking and playing games with the cousins that lived hundreds of miles away, while the adults reminisced and made witty jokes.
My family would always have an extended family Christmas party. We would meet at my uncle’s house and have food from a different nation – over the years, we’ve tried Thai, German, French, Mexican, Chinese, and School Lunch (my uncle looks funny in a hair net). Then everyone participates in a White Elephant gift exchange game, with popular items reappearing from year to year, everything from a bowling ball with “Louise” inscribed on it to my cousin’s homemade “Tree of Death” sculpture. I think the cat-in-a-sack toy held the record with at least seven years, until my wife got it and didn’t want to keep it for a year. Party pooper.
I grew up in the VHS era, so my family had a Christmas tape. It had all the classics, including Charlie Brown, the Grinch, and pretty much anything else that was on TV in 1987. Since my parents were new to the whole VCR thing, there was a jump cut in the middle of the Sesame Street characters’ musical number. To this day, I can sing the jingles from the commercial snippets my parents missed editing out, and my brother and sister will sing along.
Holiday traditions are organic, and fun. They’re a way of passing your own history on to the next generations, whether it’s going shopping on Black Friday or making homemade caramels as gifts for friends and family. You never know what will become your family’s tradition. But chances are, if you relax and try new things with your family, you’ll be able to grow your own traditions that will last much longer than your videos.