winter traditions

Friday, November 19, 2010
Around this time of year, everyone gets excited about Christmas, the drinks at Starbucks, the snow and especially their family traditions. Everyone has them, whether they are crazy or not. My in-laws love to decorate their house to the nines with inflatables, Santa's and snowmen, they like to go to the Christmas train in Stanley Park and of course the Christmas parade that runs through downtown Vancouver.

My family does things different. My mom over the past few years has gone away for the holidays as she hates them and there aren't any children in our family (yet), so for her Christmas is better spent in Mexico. But still when she goes, she brings her Christmas night light and my uncle will bring his twinkling Christmas lights. So, for my mom that's her Christmas away from Christmas.

My dad will carry on the tradition of the fresh pine tree in the house the week before Christmas. He'll go select his tree from a local nursery and bring it home and put all of the homespun decorations up. I love that mis-match look. I can't say I don't like the Martha-esqe trees you see in some homes but it's something about having a tree with mostly mis-matched decoration, children's homemade egg carton ornaments and ornaments you've collected over the years that just screams family Christmas to me.

snake soup
 Today, I learned of a new tradition. I have a Chinese co-worker who every year, around this time, attend a dinner at his grandmother's house to have a traditional dish. That dish is snake soup. It's thought that once you eat it, you will be kept warm all winter. He couldn't explain why it would keep you warm, but they do it every year, so it was more of a family event than anything. So today, during the first real winter blast we've experienced, we had snake soup. It had a mix of snake, chicken, ham and mushroom. It was delicious, although no one could really decipher which meat was the snake. It all looked like chicken to me. It was really nice to be included in a new tradition that I wouldn't normally try if it were not for some helpful advice from a co-worker and friend. Because really when it comes to Chinese food, REAL Chinese food, when they say snake soup, it could just be a snake in broth. So when I saw it I was happy to see that it wasn't.

So here's to continuing old traditions and starting new ones of your own! Thanks to the snake soup I should be cozy warm all winter and will be trying to make it next year.