Holiday Food Traditions

Written by John on December 23rd, 2009

My daughters made Christmas cookies last night.  Not the “heat and eat” frozen dough variety, but the kind that leaves a light dusting of flour on the counters and the crunch of sugar sprinkles under foot.  This was significant because:

  1. it was their idea,
  2. they planned far enough ahead to allow for the dough to chill,
  3. they cleaned up everything (almost).

Achieving this milestone was appreciated almost as much as the first time we left them without a sitter.

Food experiences abound during the holidays.  In my family, Christmas brought a mix of old world Italian traditions and Midwest sensibilities…tortellini and broth chased with Tom & Jerry’s.  The actual menu was less important than reserving a place at the table for traditional holiday fare: JoAnn’s trifle, Ginny’s caramel corn, Norma’s turtles.  I once carried a marzipan fish across eight time zones to deliver a holiday tradition from my Italian aunts to their brother in Minnesota.  It was worth the Interpol APB to see my father’s face when that “fish” showed up on Christmas Eve.   

 Today, however, too many of our food traditions have gone the way of the Tofurky (really…tofu “turkey”), pushed aside by a new tradition of acquiring “must have” toys from China.  These new traditions are available at big box stores that lure shoppers to the glow of $400 flat screen TVs and then offer a complete holiday meal as a $20 impulse item. 

I submit that we should not allow retailers’ deference for high-margin electronics to interfere with our ability to bake real memories for our friends and family.  My wish this year is for everyone to spill some flour making a holiday food tradition.  Nothing fancy or expensive.  In fact, the best traditions are made from scratch.  Bake some tonight. 

 Merry Christmas!

 Nana’s Sugar Cookies


  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

2 Responses to Holiday Food Traditions

  1. Joanne says:

    Great post!:)

  2. Ken Shirley says:

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