Shaker holiday traditions

Happy Thanksgiving for all those who celebrate! We hope you all have a wonderful and safe (and drama free!) holiday. Here are a collection of holiday traditions and memories, Thanksgiving and otherwise, that are a part of our lives. Please do share yours in comments!

My sister and I bake sweet potato pies while watching All the President's Men the night before.

I always screen Ordinary People while hooking up the turkey in the morning to guarantee a good pre-socialization/family confrontation cry.

And at some point during Thanksgiving Day we screen Network while tossing back vodka crans.

Ahhh, holiday memories...

From my childhood, my family had no rituals at all about the specific day. Dad always went hunting on T-Day and C-Day. While my brother and I were in service, we celebrated each whenever we got home on leave, anywhere from October to January.

Now, my wife has created some rituals. T-Day is here, with anywhere from 20 to 40 family, in-laws, outlaws, and friends, and enough food for 70. We bring in folding chairs and tables to fit in everyone, and it's a house party. There's always the Thansgiving prayer, which I no longer say. (After 3 separate freudian slips of asking the Lord to "Bless this Nude," I retired from public praying!)

Christmas Day is more immediate family, but the night of the 25th we always go to my wife's aunt's house for a big dinner and present swap.

Mustang Bobby
When I was a kid growing up outside of Toledo, we had some relatives in the area, and we also belonged to a local tennis and social club that served as a gathering place for a group of families like ours and we often went there for holiday dinners; it relieved my mom from cooking one of the two big meals at the holidays; if we had Thanksgiving at home, then we went to the club or another relatives' place for Christmas, or vice versa. We also would have the Thanksgiving meal later in the day -- usually around the normal dinner time -- because we had season tickets to the Detroit Lions football team, and we would go up to Detroit to sit in the freezing cold bleachers to watch the Lions play their traditional Thanksgiving Day game, then come home to the dinner.

It's been a while since my family has gotten together for Thanksgiving. We've all moved on to different places and have our own families. It's beenmany years since my entire immediate family -- Mom, Dad, and my three siblings and their families -- were together for the occasion.

However, there was one Thanksgiving that I'll never forget: 1967. I was a freshman at St. George's, the boarding school in Newport, Rhode Island (and also alma mater of Howard Dean and Tucker Carlson). It was my first extended time away from home and I was miserable. My older brother and sister were also away at school; one in New Jersey, the other in Virginia. My parents made arrangements for us all to get together in New York City that weekend, and they booked rooms at the Plaza Hotel. We saw two Broadway musicals --"Mame" with Angela Lansbury and "Henry, Sweet Henry" with Don Ameche -- and a little musical in Greenwich Village called "Now Is The Time For All Good Men..." We went shopping in Greenwich Village, took hansom cab rides in Central Park, had lunch at Toots Shor's (and got Cab Calloway's autograph), dinner at Trader Vic's and Luchow's, and saw all the sights that a kid from Ohio on his second trip to NYC (the first being the World's Fair in 1964) could pack into one four-day weekend. Oh, and we had the big Thanksgiving dinner in the Oak Room at the Plaza with all the trimmings.

It was a magical weekend; to this day I still remember the sights and sounds and sensations, and the deep sadness that settled back over me as I boarded the chartered bus that took me back to the dank purgatory of that endless winter at school overlooking the grey AtlanticOcean.

My mother is Swedish, and our Christmas celebrations ALWAYS included Lutefisk (which I detest), Potatis Korv (potato sausage), Pickled Herring (which I adore), Glögg , and Ostkaka.

Ostkaka (literally "cheese cake") and Glögg are the only traditions I maintain yearly, but with good reason.

Glögg (spiced wine and port with aqua vite or vodka added) will kick your ass, and Ostkaka (aka "Heart Attack in a Bowl") is the most divine partner a lingonberry ever had. (Recipe below)

At holiday gatherings at my house, there was ALWAYS at least one jigsaw puzzle in process, one or two games of "Pitch" after dinner, and usually, when we were younger, scufflings heard outside and a red coat glimpsed fleetingly through the window on Christmas Eve --a visit from "Tomte" (if one of my uncles or older brothers were willing to play the part that year).


1 gallon milk (lukewarm)
2 tablets rennet dissolved in warm water-104 degrees
(1 tablet if whole, raw milk is used)

Mix together 1 c flour and 1c milk. Add to warm milk. Add rennet.
Cover and let stand for 20-25 minutes. Drain whey.

Add 2c milk (or half & half)
1 ¼ c sugar
Pinch of salt
4 eggs, beaten
1 pint cream
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

Place dish in a pan of hot water at least 1 inch deep.
Bake 1 ½ hours at 325 or until top is lightly brown and center is firm.

Top with thickened lingonberry or blueberry sauce (add whipped cream
on top for extra sinfulness)

It took a while for us to settle on a tradition for our solstice celebration that really fit us but we finally came up with one in the last couple years.

After dinner on solstice night, we all stay around the table. I bake the yule log (not quite a traditional one but it works well for us) earlier in the day. We place it on a platter in the center of the table and light three candles in it. We talk about the meaning of the day and how the light was coming back, etc... Then, while holding hands, we each speak a wish/good thought for our family and the world-at-large. Then we blow out the candles and sit in silence--in total darkness--for a moment. Then we each eat a piece of the yule log (lights back on! lol). It's very bonding and the kids really enjoy it too.

As I said in the begining of the post, please share your traditions!

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus