As the holiday season approaches, our thoughts turn to our families and to the traditions that are an integral part of our family’s heritage. There is no better time to reflect upon the importance of family and strengthen family ties than during the holiday season.
We all cherish our memories as memories are what connect us to each other, to our past and to our future. We express our love for family in many ways, but the most universal way of giving back, giving thanks or appreciating those in our lives is through food. Food is truly a love story. It is a story that is unique to you and your family whether it is recipes passed down from one generation to the next, memories you have of favorite foods or special family meal memories. We are comforted by traditions that connect us to our family.
It is important for families to share meals together. Eating together makes family mealtime a tradition worth doing as often as possible. Family mealtimes have many benefits including fostering a sense of belonging and connectedness, providing routine and consistency, a sharing time for parents and kids, providing a chance to learn manners, social skills and values, learning food preparation skills and reducing the rates of many unacceptable behaviors. The kitchen has been the focal point of homes for generations and it can continue to be that pivotal point by making family mealtime important and by sharing your family’s food heritage.
There are several ways for you to pass your family’s unique food heritage onto future generations including:
- Cooking and sharing while you cook with your children and grandchildren
- Cooking and sharing with “adopted” children and grandchildren
- Sharing the significance of heirloom china, silver or other special dishes with your children and grandchildren
- Cooking and serving family favorites throughout the year
- Creating a “favorite” family recipe scrapbook
- Creating a family keepsake cookbook
- Creating a family calendar that includes recipes for special foods for special days and holidays
- Making unique personalized family placemats
- Creating a memory tablecloth to be used on special occasions
- Participating in oral history projects using audio or video tapes
- Visiting with family members and sharing “food memory” stories across generations
- Attending family reunions and providing special family foods and recipes
- Corresponding with family members by letters, email, Facebook, phone calls and family newsletters
- Doing a family recipe chain letter
- Writing in a diary or journal and documenting favorite foods, food stories and memories
- Observing special family traditions at holidays including foods served, decorations and more
- Creating your own family’s special traditions that your children can then pass down to the next generation
It is important to pass down your family’s food heritage. Many people feel that their family recipes are among their most valuable belongings that they can pass onto the next generation or that they could inherit from the previous generation. Your family’s food heritage is rich and full of flavor. Your family food specialties and special traditions that started many generations ago continue to become richer over the years, as each generation has added their special touch and their part of the history. Sharing recipes and traditions gives you a good window into your family’s own unique and rich history.
Written by Denise Smith, University of Wyoming Extension Educator