One of the Writing 101 directives this week was to start with a memory of your favorite childhood meal and run with it. There were also some instructions about writing in your own voice. My writing voice, so far as I can tell, tends toward mild sarcasm with excessive use of semicolons and parentheses.
And one-sentence paragraphs.
I don’t cook very often. I can cook – although I lack the intuition of an experienced kitchen denizen, I can follow The Joy of Cooking to produce something decently edible – I just don’t. In large part, this is because my husband both enjoys cooking and is good at it. It’s also because I’m incredibly lazy when it comes to food. Left to my own devices, I will happily eat Cheerios and peanut butter for dinner. (Or popcorn and frozen yogurt. True story.)
All this is to say that I haven’t yet made Christmas dinner. Thanksgiving dinner, yes – my family came to visit when husband had to be away for work, and I learned that roasting a turkey is not nearly as hard as it’s hyped up to be. Also, in my defense, my husband and I have spent 80% of our married Christmases at the homes of relatives who have been more than happy to feed us their own traditional dinners.
Christmas dinner (actually Christmas Eve dinner) is a big production in my family. My mom must really love my father, because she took on his family’s Slovak tradition of making pirohi by hand. You have to make the dough, make the fillings, roll out the dough, cut the dough into precise little squares, put a spoonful of filling on each square, pinch each square into a tightly-sealed dumpling, boil them all in batches, and finally, brown butter to go on top. (They are delicious, in case you were wondering.) All this is done while simultaneously making several other traditional components of the meal.
The production level goes up a few notches when the whole extended family is involved. Everyone is required to help with the sealing and pinching. My grandpa “supervises,” beer in hand. Anyone else who’s old enough to drink grabs an adult beverage of their own and prays that my grandma will stop talking before she says anything truly cringe-worthy. In other words, it’s your standard traditional family activity.
This past Christmas was my son’s first, but even though my family was in town, I didn’t make anything special for Christmas Eve. Laziness won out, for sure. Also lingering exhaustion and the tail end of postpartum depression. My Little Boy had no idea what was going on, of course, but eventually he will, and it would be nice to establish some family traditions of our own. So maybe I’ll find the energy next year. After all, it would be a shame for him to miss out on the cheesy-potato-dumpling goodness of pirohi.
Readers, what does your family eat for Christmas? How have you adapted your childhood traditions to your adult life?