It seems like only yesterday I was thinking about the winter, and here we are again! This time of year I always find myself reflecting on the past and planning for the future, likely in preparation for the approaching new year.

I, like most of us, have so many holiday memories—thankfully most of mine are good ones. As I reflect back on them, the important elements they share are the people involved and the traditions that were created and carried on.

Thanksgiving was always spent with our “chosen” family (blood-related and not); a tradition that started when I was ten years old. Remember, this was about 40 years ago and the dishes served then reflected the time period. Lots of butter! Today the group has changed, but the dishes remain the same and we would not consider making any changes to them. We still partake and enjoy them, despite feeling a little guilty at the decadence.

Christmas, on the other hand, would always vary. Most years we went out en masse, all 10 of us. A festive environment and good food were always the key factors in where we chose to enjoy our Christmas meal. For a few years, The Russian Tea Room in New York City was our host. Blini, caviar, and vodka (even at a young age) were part of the meal. I recall another year when we decided to go a more traditional route. We went to Luchow’s  (a very grand German restaurant) and enjoyed a hearty meal of roasted goose.

As much as food was part of these traditions, the clearest memories of those moments are of the people present. The two Dads cooked the Thanksgiving meal. They started early and left the kitchen a mess, but they were always the center of the party. Despite the fact that only one of the Dads is alive today, they both are still very present in our hearts each year when we sit down to eat the same recipes.

I’ve come to realize that the personal meaning wrapped up in food stories and memories is why I publish Edible Boston. Every food producer we meet and write about is giving us part of their past when they create their product.

When you know the story behind the person who lovingly measured out the flour for the cake, who sat up at night birthing the animals, or who transplanted the seedlings into the ground, our experience of buying and consuming someone’s product makes the experience so much more valuable and enjoyable.

Should the experience of eating be enjoyable and valuable? Yes, always!

I wish you a joyous holiday season, hopefully full of friends and family and fond memories. Enjoy the food you share, and know who made it if you can. It makes it that much more special, don’t you agree?

Ilene Bezahler