Most families have traditions, even if they are not ones that you set out to make. Traditions provide families with a sense of identity and strengthen bonds between generations. They can also provide comfort and security and help to create memories that last. For most families, the holiday season—from Thanksgiving through the new year—is a season full of traditions. In the last third of our lives, it’s a great idea to pay attention to handing down holiday traditions to the next generations. In this series, Passing the Baton, we’ll share some stories about people doing just that.
Nancy and Evie baking traditional holiday pies together
Nancy and Marty stumbled into an opportunity to pass the baton when they hadn’t even been looking for it. It started when their grandson Tristen and his girlfriend Evie (both in their early 20s) picked up the couple at the airport from their three-month holiday in France. “Grandma,” Tristen said, “Can we host and cook Thanksgiving at your house?”
They asked to host at Grandma’s house because their apartment isn’t large enough to host a big sit-down dinner. Tristen and Evie love to cook together, so they thought it would be fun to take on a big holiday meal. Because Evie is British, she was particularly excited about participating in this traditional American feast. Grandma thought this was a wonderful idea, and she said yes.
Handing Down Holiday Traditions to Millennials
Food is a great connection to make with millennials. Their generation has a particular interest in food. They grew up with the Food Network and cooking competitions, and many of them like to spend time creating food to share with friends. If you have recipes you want to pass down to younger family members, think about some ways you can share them. You could make your own book with the help of an online service like Shutterfly; you could send out a series of emails; you could start a family blog to share your recipes like Catherine Katz’s Cuisinicity; or you could make dates with your kids and grandkids (or nieces and nephews) to cook together.
Tristen cooking the holiday meal in his new apron
Passing the Baton and Passing Down the Holiday Menu
Nancy developed the Thanksgiving Day menu with the kids, and Evie was very interested in understanding the traditional elements of the menu. They planned their turkey preparation and they also decided on four vegetables to prepare. Family members were asked to bring some dishes too—that’s part of the tradition. In addition to creating the menu, Nancy, Tristen and Evie also made a plan for getting all the work done. Evie and Tristen each had to work for part of Thanksgiving Day, but they arranged their shifts so Grandma only had to babysit the turkey for one hour.
Evie came over the day before Thanksgiving and made pies with Grandma. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, Tristen and Evie cooked a 25-pound turkey stuffed with herbs and an orange. (Grandma cooked a second backup turkey the day before. That turkey was sliced and sent home as leftovers.) Nancy did a lot of helpful things like that because “it was Evie’s first go at cooking Thanksgiving,” and she wanted both Tristen and Evie to succeed. Nancy also taught them how to make expert-level gravy, which she learned in classes at Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Nancy’s Dollar Store Holiday Sideboard
Since Nancy didn’t have to prepare the feast, it left time for her and Marty to do a Dollar Store hunt for items to create the perfect table. Nancy is creative and always enjoys making things extra special for her guests.
Handing down holiday traditions requires some planning, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to spend time together. A benefit of being in the best third of life means having some time to invest in the relationships that matter to you. What better way to do that than by teaching and modeling holiday traditions!
Do you have a story to share about handing down holiday traditions? If so, share it with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear your “Passing the Baton” story.