“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” —James Beard
The holiday season is always full of families, friends…and food! As an integral part of our cultures, food is so much more than simple sustenance. From family stories retold every year, to the more traditional history of particular foods and why they are part of our heritage and celebrations—our holiday dishes are representations of our lives. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, New Year’s Eve, or a variety of other special holidays this December, you are sure to be looking forward to a special dish or two. This season is also a wonderful time to embrace new dishes and create new traditions. For example, you could host a holiday party and encourage guests from different backgrounds to bring a traditional dish that they find meaningful. Joining together to share a communal meal is a tradition practiced in every culture, making this an excellent way to broaden our horizons and build stronger relationships with our friends and community.
The holidays are also a time when we are more acutely aware that not everyone is as fortunate as we are. In the true spirit of Southern hospitality, we will look beyond our bountiful tables for ways to give back to members of our community whose holidays may not be as full as our own. With millions of people facing hunger in every community of the United States every day, a wonderful way to give back this season is through food-based donations and volunteer opportunities. Volunteer your time to serve meals at a homeless shelter or deliver meals to the elderly. Food pantries are always looking for donations and volunteers to sort, stack, and bag; especially around the holidays when they receive an influx of donations from canned food drives. Share your love of baking by organizing a bake sale and then donating your proceeds to a shelter, soup kitchen, or food organization in the community. You can also donate through your local grocery store or simply open your home and share your table with a new friend who may be alone at the holidays. During this food-filled celebratory season, share and give what you can to make it a special time of year for those in need.
’Tis the season of greens, black-eyed peas, sweet potato pie, latkes, sufganiyot, Bûche De Noël, melomakarona, babka, saffron buns, kutya, and all of your family’s special heirloom recipes. These foods and all of our other favorites have the extraordinary power to bring families closer, make new friendships, and keep communities close. This season, let’s take time to recognize and share all the ways food brings us together, give back in any way we can, and remember that while we treasure what is on the table, we are truly blessed by who joins us around it.