What do you and your family share this time of year - baked goods with your neighbours, chocolate with teachers, or perhaps a bottle of champagne on New Year’s Eve? Our lives seem to revolve around sharing food during the holiday season, and Emily Cristobal discusses this phenomenon and what it looks like in her household.
When December comes around, one can quickly see a positive change in atmosphere throughout society. As twinkling lights are wrapped around trees, houses, and city streets, people’s moods seem to lighten up too. With better moods, people are more willing to lend a helping hand, give to those in need, and be an overall better person.
The holiday season is simply a season of sharing and giving. From buying presents for loved ones to simple acts of kindness, this season of sharing and giving can easily be depicted through the types of foods that are eaten during the holiday season.
Foods at holiday parties are often served buffet or family style, meaning that everybody brings a dish and splits it with everyone else. This is the perfect example of spreading the holiday spirit through sharing and giving food.
Sharing and giving food is an intimate experience in which people are given a chance to take a piece of the whole. It represents how we are all connected and allows us to enjoy our time together, gathering for the reason of simply having a good time and enjoying each other’s presence. Food that is made from scratch is even more special because it was made from love: the love of cooking and the love for the people you are cooking for. Cooking food becomes a way of sharing this love for others in a tangible way.
Typical holiday foods include mashed potatoes, stuffing, chicken, turkey, or some kind of meat, and an assortment of vegetables. But growing up in a Filipino household in Hawaii, my holiday celebrations were always a bit different from my friends that lived in the continental United States. At holiday gatherings, along with the typical holiday foods, we would also have rice and noodle dishes as well as Filipino dishes such as vegetable lumpia, chicken adobo, and arroz caldo (rice porridge). We would even barbeque a few steaks if we were in the mood.
Although most people this time of year are steeped in food and celebration, the ways my friends celebrate are varied. For some, holiday parties are pretty fancy. They wear their best outfits and eat dinner around a large table in a dining room - a very elaborate and planned affair. On the other hand, my family holiday parties are often extremely casual. The food is set up on one table and people pick and choose what they like to eat and where they’d like to sit around the house. There are chairs strewn about the living space and people eat with one hand holding a plate and the other using a fork. We watch TV, probably something holiday-related, and talk in between commercials. Most of us just wear shorts and a nice shirt or blouse, or maybe a casual dress if we want to be a little fancier. Nonetheless, food is always what draws my family or my friends’ families together around a common desire - to nourish ourselves and our relationships with one another.
So, no matter how your family celebrates the holiday season (elaborate or casual), the spirit of sharing and giving is still there. When you take away the presents, decorations, and even the food, the most important thing still remains: simply spending time with people you love and care about.
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