Holiday traditions

cutout sugar cookies Better homes and gardens

The cutout cookies we made.

Today was a day of accomplishing tasks and finding time to relax. This morning I did some work and then headed over to my mom’s to make cut out sugar cookies with my girls. The girls slept over at their grandmother’s house and it sounded like they slept in for once. I slept in too, which for me is anything past 6 a.m. Despite Jazzmin staring at me as if she was going to explode, I lingered in bed until 8 a.m.

For the cookie making, I rolled out the dough and then Jordan and I used my unique assortment of cutters to make cookies. We made shapes like bunnies, ninjas, reindeer, hockey sticks, cardinals, footballs, and snowmen. The usual sort of holiday cookies for my family. 😉

cookie cutter demo

Jordan helping make the cookies.

After lunch and cookie making, it was time to pose for the traditional holiday family photo. We really only started doing pictures of all of us again last year,  but it’s a tradition nonetheless. My family isn’t very big but we’re close-knit, sarcastic, unique, and lovable. Thanks to my skills with the 10-second camera timer, we managed to get a couple good pictures. We even got one with my mother’s cat, Romeo in it!

family photo by xmas tree

My two darling daughters. =)

family photo

Me, my daughters, my mom, my oldest brother, and Romeo the cat.

When the girls and I returned home this afternoon, I finished up the rest of my college work for the term and did a little bit of freelance work. After that, it was time to relax and just enjoy being together. The holidays have passed quickly as usual, but I’ve been doing my best to savor every moment and I think that’s the most important holiday tradition of all.

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The power of pizza!

Love on a pizza :)

Love on a pizza 🙂

During my Friday night grocery shopping trip, I picked up a can of Pillsbury’s Pizza Crust because I was planning to make pizza tonight. Usually I buy the store’s ball of dough and fight with it until it mostly fits on the pizza pan. I decided I wasn’t up for that fight this weekend so I grabbed the Pillsbury version instead. A simple-seeming thing but with nostalgic significance.

I’m not sure when it started, but I can remember my family using that particular pizza dough to make many pizzas. It was so convenient to just pop open the can and roll the dough out on a cookie sheet and I can completely understand why my parents opted to use it instead of other dough. When I made the pizza tonight, happy memories flooded back to me the moment I smelled that familiar dough. Pillsbury dough has a distinct taste and smell, much different from the store brand of dough or homemade crust.

As I rolled the dough out onto the cookie sheet, I suddenly decided that the girls and I were going eat in the living room tonight and watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Long before my family started using the Pillsbury dough, I remember that one night a week we would order pizza and watch the original Star Trek reruns on the TV in the family room. It was a real treat eating in the family room, I loved sitting on the floor with my plate on the coffee table, and my eyes glued on Star Trek. My father loved Star Trek and I grew up loving it too. Every time I watch Star Trek TNG now, I remember watching it with him and going to the Star Trek movies with him. It makes me miss him but it also reminds me that he’s always with me in spirit.

The simple act of buying that pizza dough transformed tonight into a tribute to my father’s memory and I was inspired to arrange the meatballs on the cheese in a heart shape. My daughters thought I was loopy of course, but that’s okay. As a further tribute to my father, I had a glass of the root beer in my fridge that went flat long ago. My father would always drink the flat pop and that’s another of his traits I inherited. There’s something to be said about not having bubbles going up my nose making me sneeze. 

Sitting on the floor of my living room with my girls as we watched the first episode of the second season of TNG filled me with happiness and contentment. Carrying on traditions, even ones as silly as eating pizza while watching Star Trek, help me keep the memory of my father alive and insure that my girls never forget their amazing grandfather.

Past Traditions, Future Prospects

My girls all festive with their hats.

My girls all festive with their hats.

A new year has begun and 2014 holds even more promise and potential than the year that has passed. I embrace it, welcome it and charge into it with fresh determination! I will never forget the lessons and fond memories of my past though, they make me what I am today.

Growing up, my family would all gather around the wok on New Year’s Eve to make tempura. I don’t remember if we did it every year but it seems like we did. I don’t know why or how it started but it was a great way to get all of us together and participating in the same activity. We cooked vegetables including mushrooms, cauliflower and onions and for meat, chicken and shrimp. I always enjoyed sticking the food on the long fondue forks and placing them in the oil where they’d bubble away as they cooked. I imagine that doesn’t all sound like the healthiest thing, but it we only did it that one time during the year and it was special for me.

I decided that this year I would finally start that tradition again. I didn’t even own a wok so I remedied that and got a set of fondue forks exactly like the ones my family used. I bought a whole bunch of vegetables and some shrimp and found a recipe for tempura batter that sounded easy enough. The girls had no idea what tempura was and they still need to expand their culinary tastes but they humored their mother.

I cut up the vegetables, thawed some shrimp and only then realized how much effort my parents had put into this family tradition. I got my wok at just the right temperature and set to work. The girls came over to watch the food bubble and stuck a few pieces in but after that, they went back to playing in the other room. That’s okay; all that mattered is that I started the family tradition back up.

The girls weren't real sure at first but they liked watching the bubbles

The girls weren’t real sure at first but they liked watching the bubbles

Veggies and shrimp bubbling away!

Veggies and shrimp bubbling away!

As with all family traditions though, I think sometimes they benefit from some improvements and adaptations for each new generation. For example, now that I have my very own, shiny wok, I’ll be able to cook up all sorts of new stir-fry dishes, starting very soon thanks to all the vegetables still in my fridge! So perhaps the tradition of the Corbin New Year’s Tempura will transform into the Corbin New Year’s Stir-Fry. Not forgetting the past traditions, just realizing the future prospects and evolving into a new way to honor what has come before.