Coming from what can only be described as a…complicated family, it should come as no shock that the holidays are a difficult beast for Michael and me. Between us, there are usually four or five families to visit each major holiday (most of our relatives live on the same block), and no one ever feels like they got enough face time when all is said and done (despite our best efforts). Usually when the day is up, Michael and I melt into the couch in the way that you melt into the couch when finals week is over, or when you’ve finally landed after a very, very long international flight. Sometimes there are even tears. Yet despite all this, the holidays remain my favorite time of year, Thanksgiving in particular.
I grew up spending every other Sunday watching my grandmother cook old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs from a recipe she refuses to write down it’s so secret. At my mom’s house, dinner was the only time you could get all five of us kids to slow down long enough to interact with each other (well, except Jeopardy, because Jeopardy time is sacred). Despite the unpredictable nature of my family, the table was a place of consistency. Familiar foods would pair with familiar conversations and, well, there’s a reason they call it comfort. The older I get, the more significance I find in the little traditions that exist around the table. Of recipes passed down, of cheap beer chased with a cup of tea, of having the same argument with my aunt year after year. Sure, the interactions aren’t always pleasant (my family can and will drive me crazy), but there’s something oddly reassuring in having the same old script played out year after year, something that reminds me I’m home. (I mean, Grandma might flash me her bra and confuse Michael for a girl, but at least we’ve come to expect it.)
So for today’s open thread, we wanted to open things up to your family table and share a bit of our traditions with each other. What are the meaningful bits of the holidays that you look forward to the most each year? Which family recipes do you know by heart? (Please leave recipes in the comments! We’re doing Thanksgiving by ourselves for the first time ever this year and I feel like I should at least attempt…a side dish?) I’ll be hanging out at the kids table eating my pearl onions and those sweet potatoes with the marshmallows on top awaiting your replies.
Photo from Maddie’s personal collection