Our Thanksgiving simply wouldn’t be complete without Grandma Matheson’s pumpkin pie. It’s a tradition that our family loves. From my earliest remembrance of Thanksgiving Grandma Matheson always made her special pies—light and fluffy and topped with mounds of whipped cream. Although Grandma Matheson is dead now, pies made from her recipe still accompany our turkey dinner.
My older children were able to know this great-grandmother, but my younger ones never met her. Yet, because we make her pie, they “know” her. She is the great-grandmother whose grandfather was called to settle St. George, who was in the first graduating class at Brigham Young University, and who filled a mission at age seventy-seven.
My Grandma Fischer died when I was ten, and the only knowledge my children have of this great-grandmother is what I relate to them. One of the special things I remember about Grandma Fischer is her cooking. She loved to cook and loved even more to share her cooking. She joined the Church in Germany along with her fiance, my grandfather Fischer, and came to the United States. She brought with her many of her mother’s and grandmother’s favorite recipes from the old country. A Christmas tradition in the Fischer family is stollen, a sweet, fruited and glazed bread.
Most families have favorite recipes that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, and other holidays often have cherished foods associated with them. But family favorites don’t have to belong just to holidays. Maybe an uncle bakes blueberry muffins every Saturday morning. Or a grandmother makes her version of sugar cookies when she knows her grandchildren are coming to visit. These are family traditions too.
What are some of your family’s traditional recipes? Find out by asking your mother and grandmothers, your aunts and cousins, either in person or by telephone or letter. Don’t just ask for the recipes, though. Ask about the cook who first used the recipe too. You may discover fascinating things about your family and its history that you didn’t know before!
Make a collection of the recipes and include a short history or some interesting facts about each contributor. If possible, include a photograph. Have copies made and distribute them at the next family reunion, put them in a family newsletter, or simply send them to interested relatives. And they will be a treasure to hand down to your own children later.