Friday, December 23, 2016

Lost Traditions

Posted by: PG Forte
When it comes to holiday traditions, there are two types of people. Those for whom it’s not a holiday unless the traditions are strictly adhered to, and those who are always on the lookout for the shiny and new.

I’m pretty firmly in the second category, but for some reason I like to think of myself as a traditionalist. Denial. Still not just a river.

When I was a child, my mother made the mistake (that’s her opinion, btw—not mine) of adding coconut meringues to her usual array of Christmas cookies. They were amazing. I was instantly enamored. Here was a shiny, new tradition I could happily get on board with. But have you ever made meringues? They tie up the oven for hours. So it’s not surprising that my mother opted never to make them for Christmas again. And yet, despite the Christmas-we-had-meringues having occurred many decades ago, I’ve never forgotten it.

I've made meringues myself over the years, but never at Christmas--mostly because no one else in my family really likes them as much as I do. I find traditions tend to lose a little of their luster when you're the only one indulging.

When my son was in kindergarten, his best friend’s grandmother was visiting for the holidays. She made Cuban-style rice pudding—flavored with cardamom—that was a revelation. It was one of only two dishes I’ve ever eaten that tasted like Christmas. And, no, I have no idea what Peking Duck and Cuban rice pudding could possibly have in common.

I ate that rice pudding for breakfast Christmas morning and immediately decided that would be my new tradition. You know what might have helped to make that a reality? A recipe. I tried several times to duplicate it, but never came close. Both our families moved away after that school year ended. We lost track of each other and I lost another incipient tradition.
I think the longest tradition I’ve managed was the silver-and-white tree. I kept that one for seven years—a good chunk of my kids’ childhoods, which might explain why they’re much better about this whole tradition thing than I am. Then my ornaments got lost in a move and I expressed my displeasure—and channeled my inner Elvis—by doing a Blue Christmas tree for the next two years. That was about all I could stand of that particular tradition. It was entirely too depressing.

So what about you? Are you Team Tradition? Or Team Shiny-new?  What are some of your favorite holiday memories?

I have two free Holiday-themed short stories (This Winter Night and Counting on Christmas) available on my blog:

I'd like to wish you all the happiest of holidays. And may 2017 be...well, not 2016. I figure that’s already a good start.

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