I make this bizarre salad on holidays, it’s a seven-layer-salad. It is so yummy to me; its very fragrance is indicative of a special occasion. Putting the salad together totally gets me in a festive mood. And apparently it gets me into the writing mood too. Bonus!

So, I’d love to say that this very special salad recipe was passed down through my family, perhaps starting with my great-grandmother and working its way down to my box of memories. But, no. My family history is a bit of a convoluted one, so I must admit to you that this recipe comes from my former, step-grandmother. Doesn’t that just sound God-awful? But seriously, she was the mother of my step-dad John who was in our lives for ten very important years of my life, essentially all my teenage years.

Grandma Thompson was a precious, precious woman who I adored. She was a great cook, all homey and comforty food. Her kitchen truly was a child’s heaven. She actually made homemade hard candy . . . from scratch . . . by hand! We would sit at her table and stretch it into long strands and roll the hot candy into little balls, oh, it was so much fun.

Anyway, somehow this recipe of hers, among others, made it into my permanent file. And it is a triumph of sweet and salty. You layer into a clear bowl the following: iceberg lettuce, green peas, water chestnuts, green onions, bacon, sweetened mayonnaise, and then top it with a thick layer of parmesan cheese from the good old green can. It has something for everyone! How could you go wrong? People in my family have different reactions to this salad. But the ones with which I shared my childhood, they know it means Christmas.

Christmas memories are funny things. They don’t always come in traditional ways. And they mean different things to different people. What may bring back a painful memory for one person might be the complete opposite for another. And the things you do in your own home could very well be making rock-solid Christmas traditions for your children. My mother took Christi and me out for Peking duck one Christmas Eve, and to this day, I honestly feel that Peking duck is the quintessential Christmas Eve meal. I only had it one time and I couldn’t have been more than about 8-years-old. That’s how powerful a memory it is.

From seven-layer-salad to Peking duck and everywhere in between, the journey is what I look back on with such fond memories. The taste of that duck, I can’t really recall, but the idea of it, I’ll remember forever.

Whatever you do this evening and tomorrow with your family and friends, I hope you enjoy wonderful Christmas traditions passed down through the years. And I hope you make new memories that your children will pass along, imprinting a little piece of you on their souls.

God bless you all, thank you for reading. Merry Christmas!