During the holiday season, we are reminded of the family traditions that provide the foundation for gatherings and festivities. Many of these traditions take place in the heart of the home, our kitchens. Often, our kitchens intertwine food and family, creating lasting memories for all generations. As I prepare for the holiday season in our home each year, I find myself digging out old torn pieces of paper with scribbled recipes from my mother and grandmother and relive moments of my childhood as I gather ingredients. These vivid memories from my childhood are the guiding light in the kitchen as I cook dishes and treats for each holiday season. Holiday traditions are important in every family, regardless of religion or how you choose to observe the holiday season. They provide meaningful and cherished lifelong memories, and an opportunity to spend quality time together.
In our home, Christmas morning would not be the same without the annual tradition of eating GG’s breads and hot cocoa while we open stockings. The red cherry, white almond, speckled banana and green zucchini breads fill our bellies while we uncover what was preciously given in each stocking. The aroma of the breads cooking in the oven days before only builds the anticipation for Christmas morning and the sweetness of spending time with family. Taking the time to bake breads with children and loved ones is a wonderful way to spend time together when the hustle of the season can be overwhelming.
At this time of year, it is so important to take time to reflect on what is truly important in our lives. In December, I find that many of us return to thoughts of generosity, warmth, and hope. The holiday season reminds us to think of the valuable relationships that we have with our family, friends, and community. I find at this time of year, people smile a bit more, speak a bit more thoughtfully, and participate in acts of kindness. It is vital to remember to be thankful for the blessings within our lives, appreciate those we love, let go of perceived wrongs, and remember our loved ones who are no longer with us. This is the time of year when we give to charity, buy gifts for friends, coworkers, and family, wish for peace, and reach out to those who need our help. When we are bombarded with sales, deals, and buying the “perfect gift”, consider that real wealth is having a caring, loving, supportive family and community that loves us and we love in return. In the end, this is the only real wealth that lasts. This is the time of year when we have the opportunity to demonstrate to our children and each other who we are and all that we can become.
As is the case with many families, my family is spread throughout the United States and often we are not able to be physically together for the holidays. It is the sweet taste of a piece of banana, almond, cherry or zucchini bread that reminds me that although we might be separated by thousands of miles, my family can be present in my heart and the distance between us is often a frame of mind.
From our family to yours, we wish you a year filled with peace, love and sweet smells from the kitchen. Enjoy baking!