This article (originally published in 2017) has been updated to reflect new dates and resources.
At Thanksgiving, with winter holidays and festive gatherings on the horizon, let's reflect on the sustaining power of food, friends, and family — and the essential need for connection across our differences and along our common hopes. At a time of unsettling violence (both in intimate realms and at massive scale), there is always a pull toward isolation. But one of the most hopeful things we can do is to choose connection, kindness, and understanding. We can focus on giving — both to our family and friends, and to the community around us.
Nothing supports connection more than food and the shared rituals of mealtime. Here, we've pulled together some resources that we'll be turning to this holiday season — both for inspiration and for tactical support.
Family Recipes, Family Histories
In "The Food Tells the Story," Bri DiRosa reflects on how family recipes can conjure vivid memories of now-departed relatives, cementing family lore.
"When my boys grow up, I don’t know which recipes and stories they’ll take with them. But just as the old recipes have family stories to tell, every time we cook together or sit down to the table for dinner as a family, I know we’re spinning new stories that they can share with their children one day."
Conversation starters to help tell the stories behind your family recipes:
- Where did the recipe come from?
- Who do you remember making this recipe for you? Who taught you to make it?
- When and where did you typically eat this food growing up?
- Was this a special occasion food, or an everyday food?
- Why is this food special or meaningful for you?
In "Tasting History," high school teacher Jessica Lander says that for her immigrant and refugee students, who've traveled great distances to settle in this new land, food is not just comforting — it's an essential connector and a vital aspect of identity. So she decides to build a unit around it.
"Having heard the immigrant stories of a century ago, my students will have a chance to share their own stories. Together, we're going to write a global cookbook that retraces their steps, uncovers their histories, and celebrates their native cultures."