To me, the perfect holiday is a balance of tradition and experimenting. Fond holiday memories from childhood come back every year, manifesting themselves in a special dish or ritual that I just can’t do without. At the same time, finding new ways to celebrate is almost as fun as celebrating itself! As we build traditions for our family of three, I hope that my husband and I can pass this balance on to Miles so he can enjoy the stability of yearly repetition and the wonder of discovery and celebrating anew.
Although I have been known to get lazy and skip a celebration or two in the past, this year I got in gear and planned ahead for the busy fall harvest season. The beautiful sense of balance as the warm summer slowly fades into winter’s chill is captivating – and produces some delicious food. I like to have a progression of menus for the September holidays to reflect the rapidly changing local produce offerings at this time of year. It feels like we are eating peaches one day and delighting in mounds of kale the next!
It took us awhile to feel confident with the prospect of cooking and caring for Miles, but it was definitely important to me that we celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the old standbys of brisket and a challah. Somehow, between the two of us, Zack and I managed to put a decent piece of meat, a challah, and some side dishes on the table. The meal was delicious – and even more importantly, it felt like we were capable of something beyond providing for everyone’s basic needs. We didn’t really try anything new this year, unless you count skipping dessert because we were too tired to make it. The newness of celebrating as three was exciting enough!
After this morale booster, we upped the challenge by inviting some friends and their baby over for an Equinox dinner. We added to the challenge of making a nice meal by feeling obligated to actually clean our house and put on some presentable clothes. Again, we managed to get a beautiful dinner on the table. Even more amazingly, all four adults managed to sit at the table together for at least a little while before one of the babies needed something. This was new altogether – we have never celebrated the equinox so formally before. Next year we hope it is a little less dry so we can have our anticipated bonfire!
So now this weekend brings more friends and a Sukkot celebration. I’m not quite sure what we’ll be doing, but I am glad that I have some traditions to fall back on – and the flexibility to reinvent anything at the last minute if it becomes necessary.
How do you celebrate this season with your family and friends?