Thursday, December 9, 2010


I just finished making the traditional Christmas cookies (Vanilias kifli, without the accent marks, for those in the know) that my grandmother made for her family in Hungary so many years ago. When my mother married my father, she didn't know how to make them. They were my father's favorite cookies, so she asked my grandmother to teach her. We had them every Christmas ever since. She gave me the recipe the first time I wasn't able to be with her for Christmas. I plan to pass it along to my kids someday.

I don't have many traditions passed along in my family. My parents immigrated from Hungary. Their whole lives were uprooted for a chance at a better life in a new place. As I grew up, I never knew Santa Claus--he wasn't a Hungarian tradition--and they dropped a lot of the Hungarian traditions because they weren't American. I never had a stocking, and we opened presents on Christmas Eve. But the cookies were always there. The kind I baked tonight and the two other kinds. Frankly, I don't really want to learn how to make the other ones. They're not my favorites and, really, should I spend hours working on something that I just won't enjoy? (Rhetorical--don't remind me that we all have do do stuff often for hours that we don't enjoy. I'm talking cookies here.)

My father died 21 years ago this week. So as I make the cookies, I think of him, my mother, my grandmother (whom I met once when I was four--she lived in Hungary, I lived in the US), my kids, my husband, and his family, who have accepted me as one of them. And I realize traditions are pretty cool.

Especially if you end up with cookies.:)

Books I'm reading now:
Eon by Alison Goodman
Big Jack by JD Robb


  1. Yeah, I've come to really love my family traditions (including opening presents on Christmas Eve, too!) much more than I did as a teen/young woman. And why does it seem like so many of those traditions are food related? But nobody makes lefse like my grandma.

  2. We had several family traditions that I let slide. Like my mother always put apples, oranges, candy and nuts in our stockings along with a small present. I've never done that and I realized this year that I really miss that.

    Can't wait for your cookies!