Letting go of tradition

By Carol / December 26, 2011 /

Liver sausage and waffles. That’s my family’s traditional Christmas Eve supper. This tradition started when Dad gave Mom a waffle iron one Christmas when I was a teenager. I was old enough to wonder at my father’s gift choice but young enough to delight in the idea of this exotic food form.

Compared to pancakes, which Mom could whip up in minutes, waffles were a hassle. Still, Mom hauled out the waffle iron and made waffles once a year, every year after that. She always served homemade liver sausage on the side. This meal became a much loved tradition.

After Mom died, we cleaned out her fruit cellar and I brought home four pint jars of liver sausage. This liver sausage was made in 2006. It wasn’t her best batch. Not enough head cheese (hogs head for those of you not accustomed to farm cooking). I love liver sausage, by the way, though it is a taste not shared at all by my husband and only tolerated by my son.

I kept thinking I’d eat the liver sausage myself, but I never did. Now, five years after it was made, even my cast iron stomach thinks we’re past the expiration date.

Though liver sausage went by the wayside, the tradition we continued until this year is having waffles for supper on Christmas Eve. My son and his family celebrate with us. But this year, travel plans changed the routine and they invited us to spend Christmas Day with them.

Without the tradition to sustain me, I was left to launch into unknown food territory. Taking inspiration from Danish friends, I made Aebleskivers – an airy donut-type pastry served with powdered sugar and jam – for Christmas Day breakfast. We feasted at my son’s house that afternoon on their tradition – an eclectic snack buffet.

Traditions are nice. They’re comfortable. They make planning easy. But this Christmas showed me that letting go of traditions can be nice, too.

Will Aebleskivers on Christmas morning become a tradition? Only time will tell. Waffles may return, but liver sausage will drift into the realm of happy childhood memories. And my husband says, Amen!

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