I decided this year to crumble under the children’s pressure to host a preteen Georgia/Florida football party. Most of their friends were with their parents or in Jacksonville watching the game- but we rounded up the stragglers for about 6 kids at our house. I pulled out my platter- my old battered, whie china platter to put the “Football Food” of cheese dip and pastrami dip along with the “local” food of peanuts for Georgia, mandarin oranges for Florida and chips with peach salsa for being in the South. It was quite a spread. Seeing that platter, though… that platter took me back.
I use the platter for every major holiday- the season that we’re careening into right now. I bring it out for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and the Super Bowl. I brought it out for my wedding. It’s been around. But it’s also followed me from place to place and I reflected on what I’ve placed on that old battered platter.
I have been very fortunate to experience a number of local traditions in different places- and all of them involve inviting people over for food and celebration and pulling out the platter. In Louisville, I put Benedictine dip, sandwiches with Henry Bain sauce, and mint juleps on the platter for the Kentucky Derby. In Santa Fe, I pulled out the tamales, margaritas, and salsa again for the Santa Fe Fiestas. In Albuquerque, I made a balloon cake for Glow-deo at the International Balloon Fiesta. In Indiana, PA, I brought out the platter for more football food for Homecoming. In Williamsburg, I made fruit arrangments for the Grand Illumination. In Rhode Island, I had our own version of Chowda Festival. And now here in Georgia, I’m bringing it out for the Georgia/Florida football game madness that is an annual tradition down here. The platter has seen it all, served it all, and reflected the local culture and traditions of where we are.
I’ll be reflecting on family traditions at some point during this holiday season- traditions are very important to me and mine. Traditions hold us together; traditions give us something to hold onto. Traditions are how we deal with the overwhelming anxiety. The places may change, the houses may change, and jobs may change, but the traditions remain.
It was amusing to me to realize this past Saturday, that not only do we have the typical traditions of the holidays, but we embrace the traditions of the places we are.. while holding onto the traditions of the family. Some of the traditions follow us- the Kentucky Derby is celebrated at our house, no matter where we are. I serve Mexican food the weekend after Labor Day during Santa Fe Fiestas, even though no one around here knows- or cares- that Old Man Gloom has been defeated once again.
My platter has scratches on it, is a little chipped, but is entirely serviceable. It’s nothing special- it’s an old Pfaltzgraff white platter with lines that hold a bowl, hold crackers in place, and goes with anything. It’s not worth much. But its great values lies in its ability to help us keep old traditions and adopt new ones.
And so we munched and cheered, although Georgia lost, and I washed the old platter and put it away- but not buried deep in the cupboard. It’ll be time to pull it out again soon.