Holiday Traditions

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and my home will be filled with the aromas of a special dinner for my family. I’ve hosted my family holiday dinners at my home for a ton of years. (I think it’s been about 18). I’m not really sure how I started…but I’m very glad that I kept the tradition going.

One of my first memories of holidays dinners centers around my grandma’s small kitchen table in her home in Detroit. My grandparents were immigrants from Hungary and Czechoslovakia. My grandma was a fabulous cook. As a kid, I just took it for granted that all holidays were spent at her kitchen table. My grandma would start really early in the morning and even the day before…preparing a huge variety of dishes for us. Thanksgiving wasn’t just turkey and Easter wasn’t just ham…it was also breaded pork chops, stuff cabbage, creamy cucumber salad, homemade coleslaw, potato salad, meatballs, mashed potatoes with a whole stick of butter, all followed up by fancy cakes and pies. My mouth is watering just remembering all her home cooked dishes. And my grandma prepared all of this in her super tiny kitchen with an antique gas stove. I think she had a roaster oven in her basement…she was multi-tasking before it was even invented!

I remember if I was lucky enough to arrive at her house early enough…I was her official kitchen helper. However, I mostly watched and enjoyed the wonderful aromas and little did I know that I would later take over her tradition.

My awesome grandma cooked these fabulous meals for my family each and every holiday until she wasn’t able to anymore. She had some heart problems and eventually had a minor stoke. Asking her for her recipes wasn’t an option because my grandma cooked everything from her memory. She never used recipes or measuring cups. Her measuring tools were coffee mugs and spoons from her silverware set. Thank god that I watched her every year as a kid. She tasted her recipes as she made them and made adjustments along the way. I think she brought some of her cooking knowledge from the old country. She never really talked about it much and I think that when I was little…I just thought all grandmas could cook like mine.

After my grandma passed away and I was married, I decided to try and cook a holiday meal. I invited my parents and my favorite aunt over. My father in law came too…to try out his new daughter in laws cooking talents. At first…I made a few mistakes but I eventually got the hang of it. I certainly don’t claim to be as good of a cook at my grandma. My meals mainly consist of the traditional items with only one main entrée. I like to think that I am a good multi-tasker but cooking several entrees is totally pushing my culinary (?) talents.

But, every holiday my kitchen gets hot from the oven and my windows steam up…just like my grandmas. I love the smell of freshly cut cucumbers for my creamy cucumber salad and rolls baking in the oven. All the aromas from my kitchen bring back all those memories like it was yesterday. Isn’t that funny how that works?

I try to make everything like hers! I make many side dishes and usually a pie for desert. And I invite my family…just like my grandma did. I love sharing this tradition that meant so very much to me…with my children.

Now, my little daughter helps me in the kitchen. She helps to peel the potatoes and cucumbers. She stuffs the turkey with me…and bakes cakes and pies. I often share with her how I used to help my grandma in the kitchen when I was her age and I hope she’ll carry on this tradition in her own way…as I have.


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