Do you have family that lives on the other side of the US or maybe even in another country? The holidays are a tough time when your family is far away — you want to celebrate with them but the costs and timing and other barriers just make spending the holidays together, in-person, seem practically impossible. My sister is currently on a road trip to visit her in-laws in Mexico, after spending the holidays away from them here in the States. We spent Christmas Day on the phone off and on with my mother-in-law, cousin Georgia, and my sister-in-law in North Carolina since we weren't able to see them in-person this year. That's why we like to cook favorite family recipes and dishes to help us remember our loved ones through a taste of home.
When I saw this video from Western Union, I could totally relate. Not only is Xaver's family across the country, but my sister's family is in Mexico. It might not seem as far as across the globe but it might as well be when we're not together for the holidays.
Why a video about food? Well, Western Union's aim is to connect people globally. As we all know, food is a connective tissue to a person's family and culture and a popular topic on WU's social channels.#WUHomedCooked is a heartwarming storytelling video, where Western Union surprises and delights their customers with their favorite meal from home from their families – isn't that the best?! On Christmas Day we observe Xaver's family traditions. Partially because he misses his family but also because my family traditions of a Christmas Roast Beef with Yorskhire pudding and all the fixings are too much work! Xaver's family puts out platters of cold cuts, cheese, sandwich fixings, and pickles for everyone to snack on throughout the day, casually. Sometimes there are deviled eggs or pork chops but there are always cakes and sweets of every shape and flavor. Red velvet cake, jelly cakes, punch bowl cake, sweet potato pie… my blood sugar spiked just thinking about it all! We've adapted Xaver's tradition to fit our paleo lifestyle by adding cut fruit and vegetables, honey and natural jellies, and gluten-free chips and crackers. Xaver was going to make a red velvet cake this year but we ran out of oomph… his mom filled us in on all the cakes she had made while we chatted on the phone. She thinks I like jelly cake the best. I really don't have a favorite – they're all good!
One of the ways my Mother-In-Law can feel like she is here is through gifts. This year, she didn't have time to mail gifts, plus the shipping expense was a deterrent (I paid nearly $75 to ship our gifts to them!!), so, instead, she sent money to us via Western Union to ensure the kids had gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. We went to our local Walmart to retrieve the funds at the customer service counter and then chatted on the phone with my Mother-In-Law while shopping for gifts for the kids. On Christmas morning, she loved hearing how excited they were about their gifts – games for Matthew's new Gameboy and new makeup brushes and eyeshadow for Katie. By sending us the funds, we were able to buy exactly what the kids wanted, she scored big points with the kids, and she saved a bundle on shipping. We even got to have the on-the-phone experience of shopping together!
Now that Christmas is over, we're still staying close to family through recipes and traditional food. We rung in the new year with traditional southern fixings. Pork steak (for progress), black-eyed peas (to bring you “lucky coins”), collard greens (to bring you “lucky money”), and cornbread (to bring you “gold”). Well, we didn't eat cornbread, but instead had rice. Does that mean we'll be getting diamonds this year?! I hope!
Xaver did the cooking because he knows how to prepare these dishes just like his mom would. And in us practicing this tradition, we not only teach our kids about our family but we also stay close to our out-of-town family through our experience with food and celebrating.
Many Western Union customers are “Dual-Belongers”: folks currently living in one place and from another – their heart feels like it's in two places. Many are pursuing education, career or simply a style of life for them and their family; but with family members and strong ties to their birth country. Western Union is a lifeline for their customers, connecting them to their families and friends around the world. My sister uses Western Union to send money to her in-laws in Mexico. We use Western Union to stay connected with our family on the other side of the US. Whether you're from another country or right here in the United States, you can stay close to family with food traditions, like those I shared here, and with services like Western Union.
What family food traditions keep you feeling close to family during the holidays?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.