I love family traditions. I think they help us craft a history of good memories and bind us together as we spend time creating them and carrying them out together.
As we enter into this time of holidays, I am already looking forward to them. Here are a few ideas that are sure to be included in our plans this year…
Taking the metro bus from the suburbs of Cincinnati and riding downtown to see the train display at the Cinergy building is always a treat. Taking the bus is essential, and never fails to be an interesting experience in itself.
When the family gathers for Christmas, the opening of gifts is always preceded by the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible. This is a time-honored tradition and has been practiced as long as I can remember. It was my grandfather who did the honors until he passed on. Then my father. Now, my brother has taken on the responsibility. The younger kids get a bit impatient as I did when I was their age. But as we all get older, this has meant so much and gets us all focused on whose birthday we are really celebrating.
Our family gathering also features a talent show. Some of the kids work on their ideas for the talent show for weeks before we gather. The adults get pretty involved too. Actually, I think the adults got it started. One brother does a great imitation of an ape, another brother does his turtle. I do a pretty good peacock. My daughter does a barking dog. We have had Elvis show up on our little stage. Sometimes it’s a poem someone wrote or a song one of the kids did for the school Christmas program. We have more fun with that talent show than we do with the gifts!
This year we plan to start a new tradition. We’ve been collecting our change all year and plan to put it all together when we gather for Christmas. Rather than buying gifts for each other, we hope to have enough money collected to buy a cow or some chickens or a goat or maybe all of those things for a needy family overseas. I can’t wait to see how much we come up with!
My three step-kids and their creative mother have always made everyone a Christmas ornament. The ornament is often a reflection of the year. One year it was a coin from a European trip. Another featured a small flag from Cameroon since it was the year Divine Grace, a young man from Cameroon, came to live with them. Another ornament was fashioned like an advent calendar with a picture of each family member, including the picture of the exchange student that lived with them that year. They have recycled Christmas cards, fashioned nuts into little faces (“We’re nuts about you”), made little yarn dolls with google eyes, and made angel dolls out of macaroni and Spanish Moss for hair. We have years of these ornaments, and they are so precious to us.
Another important tradition in our family is the food we prepare and share together. We have certain recipes that are absolute “musts” as we plan our gatherings. One of those is Curry Rice and it’s one that my family became very fond of when we lived in Japan years ago. It is one of those that the kids request when they come home, and that nearly everyone seems to love. I thought I would share it with you and maybe you would like to try it. Who knows? Maybe it could become a new tradition for you and your family.
Marinate the ground beef in soy sauce for a couple of hours before. Brown the beef in a Dutch oven in a little oil. Add about 3 cups of water and add the onion, carrots and potatoes. Boil gently till they are tender but not overcooked. Add the curry cubes to thicken. Reduce the heat and add the peas. Serve over steamed rice.
Cottage cheese, bread and butter pickles and soy sauce are some of the essentials we like to have alongside.
So, the best to you and yours as you create your own great memories. I hope you will have some to share with us.
In the meantime, please pass the Salt…
By Pamela Stricker
1-lb cubed beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup of carrots, chopped
2-3 potatoes, cubed ( I like to leave the skin on, Mom takes it off)
1 small box of frozen peas
2-3 cubes of curry with thickening (You can buy these in many of the grocery stores now but especially in Oriental specialty stores)
1 cup of rice