My dad’s side of the family is from Switzerland and my mom’s family came to Nantucket from England. Growing up, I spent very little time with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, so we did not develop many identifiable family traditions. My dad travelled a lot for work and my mom worked full time, so my parents were gone quite often. When I was six months old, my mom hired an older woman to come help around our house and to take care of me. This woman is the closest thing to a grandmother that I ever had.
Every Friday we would make egg salad sandwiches. On Fridays, she would say, “Brenn, do you know what today is?” And I would joyously shout, “Egg salad sandwich day!” Her husband had passed away before she joined our family and she missed him very much. He was Irish, so she had a habit of singing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” around our house, and eventually I started singing it a lot as well. Every year on my birthday she would give me a small ceramic doll holding a number to reflect my age. On Mondays we would go to the public library and spend hours there.
There are a few traditions that my family has. We each open one present on Christmas Eve and my parents always put lots of Swiss chocolate in our stockings. Recently, we have adopted the tradition that my younger brother and I do all the cooking for holiday feasts. We try to make unusual meals outside of the generic, traditional Thanksgiving fares. Last year we made crunchy turkey tacos with Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, and crisp green cabbage shreds. There is a type of salad my mom still makes every year with raw cranberries, celery, pecans and Cool Whip. She does not cook, but she is fantastic at baking. She makes pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving and pecan pie for Christmas.
I hope that if I have a family someday that we will develop distinctive and memorable traditions to honor our heritage.