I’ve tried to recreate some of it with my own family. We have crackers at the dinner table—not the type of dry things you eat with cheese but the paper tubes that you pull and they go pop and disgorge presents and riddles and silly paper hats. We have a Christmas pudding though I confess I buy it at the store. I make mince pies and sausage rolls and my daughters have started doing the same.
So I wondered what family traditions, not necessarily holiday ones, you’ve kept and passed along to the next generation.
One of ours is teatime. My kids say it’s in the genes that I have to have tea at four o’clock every afternoon. And we’re still particular about our tea. We buy it loose, not in tea bags, and John mixes his own blend of Darjeeling which is mild with a strong Indian tea and just a touch of Keemun, a smoky Chinese tea. We make it properly, in a pot and we found a brilliant one in England this year that has a cylinder in the middle to make removing the leaves easy.
Tea has to be accompanied by a little something to eat. On formal days I’ll make scones, ideally to be eaten with cream and jam. On rushed days it’s only a gingersnap. But teatime is always a break from a hectic day, a time to sit down for a few minutes, to enjoy afternoon sunshine, to chat and enjoy company.
So now we're in the holiday season, which is all about traditions, what about you, dear Reds and Readers? What family traditions have you kept? Which ones have your children adopted?
LUCY BURDETTE: I would say our biggest tradition is the Christmas stockings. My mother used to collect things all year long to fill them--they were hand-knitted by my aunt and had a lot of room for goodies! When I got married, I sewed a set of stockings for my new family. They are not as beautiful as the originals, but we love to hang them from the mantle and stuff on Christmas Eve.
HALLIE EPHRON: My kids (2 grown daughters) are usually home for Christmas and I make crispy potato latkes and a savory pot roast regardless of when Chanukah is. Christmas morning we open stocking stuffers and a few gifts, and by the end my daughters are wearing all the ribbons and wrapping paper.
One Christmas I made cinnamon rolls and they were SO delicious... and SO MUCH WORK that I never did it again but it's become a tradition that every Christmas someone remembers how great they were.
JAN BROGAN - When the kids were little, I established a tradition of lighting the advent candle every Sunday evening in the four weeks leading up to Christmas. My mother was not super-religious and we never did anything with Advent when I was a kid, but when I was raising my kids I got so freaked out about the materialism of Christmas, I started this tradition as an anti-dote. Kids love tradition. So even though we are not a super-religious family, the kids still usually insist we light the advent candle at least once.
HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: Hallie, I am laughing and laughing about the tradition of talking about something that you DON'T do. I LOVE that.
We have the tradition of telling the story of my mother's stuffing secret.
Every year, she'd make two holiday turkeys, on with oyster stuffing for the grownups (YUCK, we thought), and one with plain for us kids. Which we loved.
After years and years and years of this, when I was about 25, I was in the kitchen while she was stuffing the turkeys, and was terrified to see her put yucky oyster stuffing into BOTH turkeys.
AH! MOM! yelled. You're putting..
Of course I am, she said. You think I'd actually make two kinds of stuffing? Never! And you kids had no idea.
And now the tradition is kept, yet again. Thanks, Reds.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hank, laughing about the oyster stuffing. My family had two separate dishes, too, although in Texas it is "dressing", not "stuffing." But I LIKED the grown-up one with the oysters, so I don't know if my grandmother/mother/aunts cheated and put oysters in both!
Traditions, Rhys... We do stockings. Not as elaborate as the stocking of my childhood, which had apples, oranges, mixed nuts, and those wonderful hard curly or stripey candies (does anyone see those anymore?) as well as little treats. My daughter does my stocking now:-)
We do crackers, one of our adopted British customs. I try to read Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales on Christmas Eve. I used to read that and The Night Before Christmas aloud to my daughter, merging both sides of the Pond, but now I read to myself.
So who else would like to share a tradition, Christmas or otherwise?