Why I Decided to Keep a Family Tradition Alive
My husband’s name first shows up in 1997, along with a Christmas Eve meal of just hors d’oeuvres that, because he loved it so much, we have kept as a tradition. There is my mother’s partner, Ruth, who appeared in 1991, heralding several years of vegetarian dishes before she succumbed to my mother’s ham. And there is my father, who, despite being her ex-husband, has appeared every year or so after their divorce, including on the most recent page: a family lunch of salade niçoise.
I’ve kept my journal since 1996, but I have never let my mother study it too closely; I think it would strain her heart. In it, there is no menu planning. And while hers passes from early motherhood through divorce and the deaths of friends without a break, mine has three entire years unaccounted for. Was I too content to put anything down? Too distracted?
I see her journals and am envious. By 47 I should not be winging dinner. I should plan a menu and I should have a salmon mousse.
And so I am putting this resolution into practice at a dinner party for friends. The menu is already written in my book—chicken with sunchokes and spinach salad. To start, a favourite of mine already curing in the fridge: salmon gravlax. And for this I must apologize to my mother. It is as close as I can get. I love you, I do. But I have always hated that salmon mousse.