My Family Always Has Lasagna on Christmas Eve

Fudge, Spaghetti, Breakfast Casseroles, Sweet Potato Suffle

My family celebrates everything around food. In fact, I can't remember any special activity I have done since I can remember that a special meal wasn't a part of it. If you see me, you can believe I've had a lot of special moments, and I have. Food, not just essentials, but extras. These area a few of my favorite traditions.

Every year we prepare for the holidays by snatching up holiday tins - mostly with a Christmas theme. We generally look for the size around 6 inches square. When I was a child, my mother had a pot she made candy in. Her most famous candy, and most desired by all our family friends was her fudge. Sure, she made chocolate fudge, but the favorite among everyone - was her special peanut butter fudge. There had been a recipe on a label or in a book sometime, but she had modified it and worked to make it just right. It was about 5 pounds of fudge to the batch and she and my father would stand side by side in the kitchen and stir and cook and blend until there was enough peanut butter fudge to share with all of our friends and family. It was a most desired gift, and a wonderful tradition.

Over the past 30 years I have made hundreds of pounds of her fudge shipping it out to my customers and co-workers all around the country. It is so much fun to get a card from someone telling me so-and-so retired so please ship the fudge to me - or don't forget to put the department on the label so the fudge won't get stopped in the mail room. I have made some fun friendships and cemented some old ones with that special recipe. No, I won't share it, don't ask.

Another great family tradition was every year my mother would be having in a lot of family or friends and needed to have a pile of food that would satisfy everyone. She started off making a pot of the best meat sauce - gallons of it. Then she had to make the choice of spaghetti or something else. Eventually it became her special lasagna with a very special extra spice that had a funny story attached. One Christmas there was a dinner at our church. She was asked to bring a dish (that really meant a 14 X 24 commercial pan) of her lasagna. She was sick with the flu so she still made the lasagna but was tasting it with a stopped up nose and not feeling well. She went to put in her special ingredient - chili powder - and the lid came off dumping the whole can in the pot. She didn't notice because about that time she sneezed and faced away from the pot - stirring the whole time. I came home and she asked me to put together the lasagna using the noodles, cheeses and sauce which I did and put in the oven. People raved more than normal at the dinner that night - and the next day she found an empty can. Ha!

Our family adopted the lasagna and spaghetti for Christmas. I hope our kids do the same for their families - at least a tradition, whether it is the same or not. It is a wonderful tradition. I still look forward to it.

Birthdays around here are always special with a meal, a cake - or in my case when it can happen - a pie. Gifts - sure, but the food is the essence of the celebration. My son loves a big steak, my daughter surf-and-turf. I love pot roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. My wife, she's just happy someone else cooked - or picks where we go out to dinner.

Weddings are a different thing altogether. Some folks are taking the idea of weddings way to far today, in my humble opinion. Full fledged meals at the country club for all the friends, family and anyone else they can draft to come - at $50 or more per head - and that is just the rehearsal dinner. But food is the centerpiece. I'm happy for the couple and would feel better about handing the bride $20 for a dance than handing the dad $50 so I don't feel guilty for him having to pay for me to munch on food I can't tell what it is or even pronounce what it is when I do know.

The tradition of bringing food to folks and families in time of sickness or bereavement is a noble one. It brings a piece of you to the person, a special notice to the family and friends that you care in a nourishing way. It means you care, not just about the moment, but that you want to share with that person your own health and well being. What a wonderful tradition.

Yes, my world seems food centric. I exist to eat as opposed to those who eat to exist. But a lot that is tradition. I hope you enjoy some family traditions yourself.

The Inventurist

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