My parents divorced when I was 9. I don't remember having any holiday meals as a family of Mom, Dad, my brother and I but I am sure we had them. I had to have learned the traditions of Thanksgiving (turkey), Christmas (ham) and Easter (ham or duck) from somewhere. Between James and I, we didn't/don't like most of the things served for Thanksgiving, so that meal was only slightly traditional. Christmas was a little better, but after several years together he asked if we could just start having pizza on the holidays because he was tired of seeing me cry every holiday when I didn't get the timing down perfectly and therefore felt I ruined the meal. Plus, I always made way more than two people could ever eat before the leftovers went bad.
Going back to my childhood, I do remember Mom always made a ton of Christmas cookies. The ones that really stand out in my mind are the M&M cookies and the Cherry Bon-Bons (which she just sent me the recipe for-yea!). I know I get my baking gene from my mother and I suspect she also gave me the gene that insists I make at least 5 different types of cookies every year for Christmas-all in the same day. I have a few that I make every year (well, that I will resume making when the braces come off and I can eat them again. I am so not making my favorites if I can't enjoy them. I am not that nice.) and I try a new recipe or two every year as well, one of which usually gets added to the standard list. Last year, I made these little chocolate covered cheesecake bites that a couple of my co-workers liked so much they informed me I didn't have to wait until Christmas to make again. I haven't even looked at the recipe books yet for this year.
I miss having someone to make a holiday dinner for-traditional or not-and someone to pawn half the cookies off on to take to work. I would package them all up and put them on the front seat of his car so he wouldn't accidentally forget to take them to work in the morning. James, like most people, functioned on auto-pilot in the morning and grabbing containers of cookies was not part of the routine. At his funeral, a couple of his co-workers told me they were not only going to miss him, but also my cooking. (They had a lot of potlucks). I thought that was quite the compliment.
I hope next year I will be blessed to have someone new in my life that I am planning a holiday meal with-and I bet there is a single guy out there somewhere with co-workers who wouldn't object to his bringing in a sampling of his girlfriend's Christmas cookies.