A few years ago, I got up a head of steam and digitized ALL of the old family photos. There were hundreds of 35mm slides and an even greater number of prints. Thanks to the miracle of PhotoShop, I was able to restore the color to a lot of photos and correct some defects that had crept in… but it was major undertaking!
As I sifted through the photos, I was struck by how many pictures we had of the family sitting at the dinner table awaiting the serving of a holiday meal. There were dozens of them with the same faces and very nearly the same seating assignments. But for my brother and I aging through the years, you could hardly tell which picture went with which holiday or year!
I love looking at the old photos and remembering the rituals that accompanied our preparations for the holiday feast:
- Mom bought San Francisco sourdough French bread a week before the big day so that it could be dried out and made into breadcrumbs.
- Dad worked the meat grinder the night before Christmas as my brother and I took turns placing the ground pork, bread crumbs, onion, celery, and parsley into the funnel. That mixture would merge with a pound of butter on the stove top and be stuffed inside the turkey the following morning.
- Mom made homemade cranberry jelly and a cranberry jello mold. (Yep – we all ate jello molds back in the day… and Mom’s version was pretty good!)
- We got up early on Christmas Day to stuff the turkey and get it into the oven. Dad always insisted that we clean the kitchen thereafter.
- Mom made the creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and gravy to go with the rest of the fixings.
- We had pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert.
Once I married and set up my own household, the Christmas feast moved to our place with Dad and Mom taking control of our kitchen to prepare the traditional meal. Spike’s family joined in the fun with gratitude for the delicious food and the break from cooking and cleaning up. I still helped out, but Dad and Mom were the chefs extraordinaire.
I’ve always meant to carry on the tradition once my parents turned in their aprons. But my packed schedule combined with the magnitude of the task have conspired against me. Besides, it has been so much easier being a guest at my folks’ continuing care community. The food is delicious, and someone else does all the work.
I’m a bit melancholy this year with the realization that my mother, brother, and I are the only ones left from all those years of family Christmases. I’m grateful to have lived near the extended family and had the opportunity to share holidays with them. I’m grateful for having parents who knew how to make those days really special. And I’m grateful for all those photos that captured the merriment… even when I looked like a total dork!
Here’s hoping you have a delightful holiday fill with joy, laughter, and memories that will last a lifetime.