There are many ways that people celebrate the holidays. Whether you celebrate, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule or Festivus, chances are you have a family meal tradition that goes along with it.

In my house we do the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. Traditionally this is a very long meal of many courses that ends just before midnight, so that people could attend midnight mass. Personally I have not been to midnight mass since I was teenager, apparently falling asleep and snoring loudly exempted me from attending any more. Many of you likely let Christmas Eve go by with little or no fanfare, to be followed by a big Christmas Day meal with Ham, Turkey, Roast Beef or some other large hunk of protein.

For Hanukkah there is a custom of eating foods fried or baked in oil (preferably olive oil) to commemorate the miracle of a small flask of oil keeping the flame in the Temple alight for eight days.

The Kwanzaa feast, or Karamu is typically celebrated on December 31st and will likely includes dishes with African roots like spicy stews and soups, roasted lamb or ham with black eyed peas. Kwanzaa cake is optional

The original holiday dinner for Festivus  featured turkey or ham followed by a Pepperidge Farm cake decorated with M&M’s. The Costanza family appeared to have meatloaf, or maybe spaghetti with red sauce. I think you can play it by ear if you want to enjoy this December 23rd traditon. The airing of grievances is required.

The one common thread for all of these meals is the tradition of families coming together to enjoy them and celebrate whatever reason for the season that they have.

As households in the US get smaller and smaller…

More and more families are moving away from the large extended family holiday dinner, to a restaurant meal with their immediate family.  As a result restaurants are beginning to cater to those family traditions in order to attract more business.  You can have your very own feast of the 7 fishes brought to your table without any sweat off of your, or your mothers brow. Or how about a delicious prime rib dinner on Christmas day without having to give up hours of playing with you new Christmas goodies.

There is already a long standing “tradition” for Jewish families to eat Chinese food on Christmas day.

but what about other meals during Hanukkah? Seems like there are many options.

So what do you think? Is going to a restaurant the path of least resistance and maximum enjoyment for your holiday meal or is is it the hearth, home and pile of people that make the season for you.

As much of a foodie as I am, I have to admit, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a houseful of people, My Kill all Humans apron and the smell of fish frying in my kitchen.

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