Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Traditions

It has been too long since I spent time writing in my blogs. But being New Year's Eve, I was thinking about past traditions while I was cooking for today. It dawned on me that I was making spaghetti which once was a tradition for my mom and I on New Year's Eve when I was young. This isn't the same recipe, but is still one of two home made recipes my mom used to make. That got me thinking about other New Year's traditions we had in our home. Then that led me back to the blog to write about them, and to ask you to tell me what your traditions were, or are. It should be an interesting run of comments (assuming I can still get's been so long since I have been here I don't even know if I have readers left!)

My mom's regular spaghetti recipe used to be my all time favorite food. I guess that is how it got started being a tradition to have it on New Year's Eve. We would watch whatever bowl parade was on and have our supper. Later when I was a teenager, the spaghetti changed to home made pizza. Believe it or not, back in those days, we didn't have the pizza restaurants to go to that they do now. In fact, I think Pizza Hut only came into the nearest city to us about the time I turned 18. And I thought it was horrible pizza! I still like home made best. Those nights we would invite two of my cousins I was close to over along with a couple of friends. We would watch tv and play cards. Usually rummy. And one of my cousins always seemed to get the Aces. It wasn't until a couple years after I was out of high school that he admitted to cheating. He handed me a pullover sweater he wore a lot and told me to look at how baggy the sleeves were. He said he wore it every New Year's Eve and when it was his turn to deal he would always make sure to drop some of the cards on the floor during the shuffle. Then he would pick up aces and stick them up his sleeve. We never did catch on. I guess we were just having too much fun.

My cousins were the ones who taught me how to make home made pizza...Chef BoyArDee of course. That first New Year's Eve together we all worked on the pizza together. The next year, they told me, "What do you think we taught you how to make it for?" and they left it to me while they continued playing cards with my mom! I pretended to be mad but I still made it and that became the tradition from then on until we grew up and went our separate ways.

New Year's Day, my mom kept an old family tradition that she said was passed down through the generations on the German side of the family. She would make us either spare ribs or pork roast with sauerkraut (sweetened with brown sugar) and potatoes roasted together in the oven. She said it was a German good luck meal to have pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day. I kept that tradition even when I moved out to go to college if I wasn't home for some reason. I stopped it when I married. My husband wouldn't eat pork and I was the only one who liked sauerkraut in my house. After I divorced I kept the tradition a few years, if I thought about it in time to have the ingredients from the store ahead of time. It's like today. I don't have what I need for it and since I made a huge pot of the spaghetti, I won't be making the German meal tomorrow.

Much of my family is Irish but I do not know if there are any Irish traditions for New Year's Eve or not. I sure would like to know though, so if you are Irish and reading this, please be sure to comment and tell me what kinds of traditions your family followed.

Another traditional thing we did in our family was to begin a brand new jigsaw puzzle on New Year's Day. Winter is long and jigsaw puzzles were good activities to keep working at through those long cold days and evenings. It was such fun that we always tried to find some new puzzle that would really be a challenge. Our most challenging puzzle back then was a picture of the fife and drum players from the Revolutionary War. The entire background is brown. The puzzle pieces, for those interested in jigsaw puzzles, were basically interlocking on three sides, were odd shaped for the most part, and many had sides that were almost straight enough to be border pieces. This made finding the actual border pieces really difficult. My uncle liked doing jigsaw puzzles in the winter and we often exchanged puzzles we had completed. While putting the puzzles together we would watch the old classic holiday movies that a fairly local tv channel that was for a time independent would show through the holiday week.

Over the years I have occasionally bought jigsaw puzzles to put together, but again, it wasn't something my husband and children were particularly interested in. They would help once in awhile but not for the time periods I enjoyed.

I really enjoyed the holiday season in those youth and teenage years. It was quiet, peaceful, and we had things that meant something to us. Creating family traditions and keeping the old ones were difficult after I got married. I just couldn't get the point across to my husband and children about how special those traditions could be. Now I am a grandma and creating traditions seems so much more important to me than ever before. And it is even more difficult because it is difficult to even get together for the holidays.

Okay, now it is your turn. Do you remember any special family traditions you shared in your childhood, or later in life? Do you spend time with family traditions now? How did your traditions originate? Please share your stories.

No comments: