When it comes to the holidays, my family doesn't have a ton of traditions. Yes, we always see our extended family, and exchange gifts, but things change slightly from year to year. Sometimes we would have a big meal on Christmas Eve, and sometimes we would be driving to my grandmother's house and wouldn't arrive until late.
But there was one tradition that held constant throughout my childhood, and it has always been my favorite thing about the holidays: making and delivering food gifts to all our family friends.
Each year at about this time, my mom would start baking. She would bake after work and on the weekends, in preparation for our annual holiday food gifts. We would put together bags of homemade baked goods for all my parents' friends, our neighbors, and our school teachers.
We had a set list of exactly what went into each bag every year. The standards were:
- A loaf of homemade white bread
- A loaf of homemade wheat bread
- A loaf of either pumpkin, zucchini, or almond poppyseed bread
- Chocolate chip cookies
Occasionally we would deviate from the norm and include something else, like a citrus sugar cookie or some banana bread. But most years that was exactly what my mom would make.
When my sister and I were little, and thus not much help in the kitchen, it was our job to handle the packaging. That generally meant stamping or painting kraft paper bags that would be loaded up with all the baked goodies. Once we got older, we were put in charge of helping with the batter breads and cookies.
Perhaps the best part of the whole tradition though, and why I remember it so fondly, is that once all the baking was done and the bags were assembled, we would load them all in the trunk of our car, bundle up in our winter gear, and head off to deliver the goodies.
I don't know that my parents called ahead of time to let people know we were coming, but we were always welcomed with our treats. We never stayed very long at any of their homes — we had a lot of deliveries to make, after all — but long enough to spread a little edible holiday cheer.
I've tried an updated version of this tradition a couple of times as an adult — usually putting together bakery boxes filled with an array of cookies, but nothing has quite equaled that childhood tradition.
What are your family's favorite holiday food traditions?