We’ve all heard the story (possibly apocryphal, but it’s a good story so, who cares?) about the woman who was making a roast. Her daughter, watching her, asked, “Mom, why are you cutting the ends off the roast?”
The mother replied that she was doing so because it was the way she learned from her mother, but didn’t know why it made the roast better.
Together, they went to the other room to ask Grandma why the ends were cut off the roast, and the old woman replied that she’d HAD to do it that way, because it was the only way the roast would fit in the pan.
Similarly, those of us who grew up with grandmothers and mothers who peeled eggplant before using it, also peel eggplant. But the thing is, you don’t actually have to peel eggplant for most dishes. Sure, it feels rubbery when it’s raw, but it cooks down fairly well.
Holiday traditions are sort of the same way. Some of them, like the roast, or the eggplant, we do because we always have. I grew up with a butterfly at the top of the Christmas tree, and the first year I had my very own tree, I felt guilty for putting something OTHER than a butterfly up there. Then my husband and I found a lovely quarter-moon ornament and that was our topper in the first years of our marriage.
More recently, as our (fake, plastic, pre-lit) trees have become taller and taller, we’ve had to adjust the topper again. Currently, it’s an angel I bought at Cracker Barrel, but I picked her because she’s got this delicious smirk, as if she knows some great secret.
Sometimes, though, traditions have to be completely new. Since moving to Texas nine years ago (yes, that feels like forever to me, too) we’ve planned Christmas Eve to be our night. Sure, we might go to a Christmas Eve service (or two – because I love midnight mass, so even when we were at UUCOC, we’d still go), but otherwise, we keep the evening low-key.
Christmas Day, however, is all about inviting friends and “chosen family” over for brunch. Everyone gets at least one present to open, and we celebrate with laughter and good food.
I’m sure as we age, we’ll come up with some newer traditions even than those, but whether we spend Christmas with just ourselves, or with other people, whether we peel the eggplant, or not, the entire season will be full of fun and friends and fabulous food.
Today’s Santa: The very young child of a friend dubbed him Lollypop Santa, and the name stuck. He’s from Cracker Barrel. Seriously, sometimes they have great decor.