Now that the holiday season is in full swing I wanted to share some of our family’s favorite holiday traditions. Some are old, some are new, some from my side of the family, some from my wife’s and some are born with us.
I look forward to the time each year to spend extra time off from work and some quality time with my family. We always have several events planned for the holidays. It’s nice to have these traditions to look forward to each year. Having certain things that only occur once a year makes them extra special.
Our Thanksgivings I believe are your typical type ones. Many great homemade dishes, desserts and turkey. We brine our turkey each year. Brining is where you soak the turkey for 24-hours before cooking in a spice bath. This process makes the turkey come out very juicy when finished.
We typically host and have extended family over. This year we have challenged our three-teenage child to find a recipe and prepare it for our meal. Their menu items include apple pie, lemon meringue pie, and mashed potatoes casserole. During dinner, we will also share what each of us is thankful for.
In 2013 we adopted a new holiday tradition, going out to eat for Christmas Eve dinner. It was a hit and for the fourth year running, we will be heading out again this year.
We already have our reservations set for this year. This serves as the calm before the storm of Christmas day, which is typically busy with Christmas morning and a home cooked Christmas meal. Once home from dinner we typically get to open a single gift in the evening. This is a nice little primer for the morning ahead.
We always decorate our tree as a family. We all pitch in decorating inside and outside the house as well. We have had a real tree for several years now. Now that our children are a bit older we don’t make a big production out of acquiring the tree itself. We usually get a nice one at Costco for under $30.
We watch holiday movies, “ELF” happens to be one of our favorites and listen to holiday music during the month. We open gifts on Christmas morning and share a big Christmas meal with extended family on Christmas day.
Bagna càuda, (from the Piedmontese “hot bath”) is a warm dip typical of Piedmont, Italy. The dish, which is served and consumed in a manner similar to fondue, is made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and butter. The dish is eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, squash, celery, cauliflower, artichokes, and onions. Raw seafood such as shrimp, scallops, and oysters along with filet mignon or sirloin steak is used as well.
It is traditionally eaten during the autumn and winter months and must be served hot, as the name suggests. Originally, in Piedmont, the Bagna càuda was placed in a big pan in the center of the table for communal sharing.
We have hosted a Bagna càuda party for the last 12 years. This tradition has been on my wife’s side of the family for many years. We invite family and friends to participate. We typically host between Christmas and the New Year. We always try to invite someone new to the party to introduce them to the incredible meal and the smell of garlic!
When we were in debt we had asked guests to BYOB to help with the cost of all the food, but now being debt free we ask our guest to bring a favorite drink or dessert if they like.
The party has grown rather large over the years. We have been scaling back a bit to have time to spend with all guests
Lebkuchen is a traditional German baked Christmas treat, very similar to Gingerbread. This was another tradition that has been passed done on my wife’s side of the family from her grandmother. The process for making the dough takes an hour or two, but the key is to let it sit for up to two weeks before rolling and making cookies.
This is typically a family event, with our children assisting cookie cutter selection, baking, and tasting usually is left up to me. The cookies can be decorated and iced as well. We often share the cookies with family and friends. These cookies make a great thoughtful gift.
We are ready for all of these great family traditions. We are looking forward to a great holiday season kick off with Thanksgiving. I am certainly thankful to everyone who reads this blog. Wishing you great food and fun with family this holiday season!
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?