The Herald Bulletin

December 19, 2012

Tasty traditions

For many families, long-held holiday customs revolve around food

By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — For the George family, food and family memories go hand in hand.

“You feel comfortable sitting around a table talking over food,” said Donna George, of Edgewood. “It is a nice way to celebrate and a reason to get together. And sharing food shows generosity and hospitality.”

George — the mother of six sons and two daughters — said their holidays are full of food traditions. One of the more unique ones is the inclusion of Chinese food. Her children love the ethnic food and said getting carry-out Chinese food when they are home for the holidays allows her and husband Thomas more time to spend with their children instead of being in the kitchen preparing large meals.

But Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have their own traditional menus — grilled lamb chops Christmas Eve and a typical Christmas feast with turkey and ham Christmas day. That Christmas meal always includes Thomas George’s father’s famous traditional bread stuffing. While Paul George used to be the preparer of the stuffing, Donna George said she now prepares her father-in-law’s recipe — “the best stuffing ever,” she said.

Jean Whitsell-Sherman, director of the Gruenewald Historic House, said she wished they had recipes from the Gruenewald family but because they don’t volunteers there have started traditions using ingredients from the home’s garden, like their aromatic lavender cookies.

“It is important for people to know, if they don’t have those traditions that they can start them for their own family,” she said. “Having these things allows you to create and continue to have these memories. My mother’s Mexican wedding cake recipe is better than any other I’ve had. And I think that is mainly because it was hers. Having them is like having my mom there.”

Steve Wallace recalls his family’s tradition — they would open one present after returning from his grandparents house Christmas Eve night. Then the rest of the presents would be opened Christmas morning followed by their holiday feast of his grandmother’s baked brown sugar honey glazed ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, corn pies and cake. After eating, his family goes to his other grandparent’s home Christmas night.

Nancy Lindley, of Anderson, said one of their most traditional dishes is a cranberry salad made with fresh cranberries, whipping cream, Jello and marshmallows.

“I’m 73 and it was my grandmother’s recipe,” Lindley said. “It brings back such memories of my childhood. And now those memories have gone on to my children and grown grandchildren. Those memories are so sweet to my heart of being with family having such a joyous time around the table worshipping Jesus Christ at his birth. We are keeping that tradition going.”

Among their other annual dishes are corn from their garden, beef brisket, “party potatoes,” homemade rolls, pie and Christmas tea, that contains no tea at all.

“I’m glad my family is so excited about continuing these traditions,” Lindley said. “It’s important to us.”

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.