Holiday Foods


For a lot of us, moms in particular, this time of year is the absolute pits.  Regardless of your faith, your denomination, or your tribe, there are extra duties to perform, feelings to consider, plans to make and execute, all of which adds stress to what is an already full schedule and overburdened budget. You want us to cook too?  OMG!  Let’s buy something in a box and nuke it!

Yep. I’d be on board with all of that except…

Cooking – together – can slow you down to what we SHOULD be doing during the darkest part of the year: gathering round the camp fires (stove), filing the house with the fragrance of food (love and abundance), and sharing stories, hopes, fears, and time with those we love (and are trying to love) in gratitude for life itself.

Holiday foods are merely the excuse for reconnecting.  They are tradition, in some cases a culinary re-enactment of hard times, our survival, and a celebration of the joys to be had on the other side of hard times. In others, they’re a celebration of abundance and generosity. But in all cases, holiday foods evoke something far more than mere sustenance. Every holiday has its foods.

Hannukah, the Festival of Lights began December 11, which means: potato latkes, brisket and roasted root veggies.

Kwanzaa, another festival of lights – seven days, not eight, garners its foods from Africa, spiced with the heat of the Caribbean, a culinary journey that spans continents – fried plantains, Jamaican jerk chicken, Caribbean black bean and rice salad, collard greens.

Christmas has turned into a Victorian extravaganza of heart-clogging food– eggnog, roast goose, cookies, fruitcake (there’s a great recipe in Maryland Way you can alter with fresh orange and lemon rind, dried apricots, and more.)

Holiday cooking is both about the food and not about the food, so it ain’t quite the same if we get it in a box. We’re all looking for enlightenment in the midst of darkness, connection; comfort in the midst of uncertainty. Even though we (as moms) feel as though we need to do EVERYTHING to make the holiday wonderful for our family and make everyone happy, it’s smarter to slice a few things off the often self-imposed list in favor of huddling in the kitchen. Cooking holiday foods together, gathering round the campfire regardless of our disagreements, our trespasses and our mutual need for forgiveness, helps us to have faith that we’re all in this together.

About Dave Wheelan

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  1. As always, a cozy, heartfelt piece from Nancy inspiring warmth and ideas. Thank you!

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