Traditions can be a blessing and a curse. If you’re like my friend “Pfeiffer” – having your mother dress you and your younger brother in ridiculously terrible matching sweaters from Thanksgiving to New Years… That my friends is a curse! On the other less humiliating end of the spectrum, there are those blessed traditions that a family/friends share that you never want to give up. My family has several of these.
If you haven’t picked up on it I wouldn’t say my sister and I had the most orthadox upbringing. For starters, our first album (yeah I still call them albums and occasionally records if the material is deemed worthy) was Van Halen’s “MCMLXXXIV” released when I was 5. I can still remember my dad pulling up from a trip into Phoenix – I think he was more excited to give us our “present” than we were to see him – which we undoubtedly were. I recall him having the Tick and I sit with him in his mom’s Buick listening to those first few tracks as we admired the image of a baby angel smoking cigarettes on the cassette case cover. For the record, I openly blame this moment in time for my filthy fukn habit of a pack of “heart darts” a day. Not to mention my two concert a month minimum intake – which I appreciate a hell of a lot more than those damn tar sticks but whatever. The point is, this is when music became a central influence in my life and my family’s general existence.
You may say this is normal -“my family listened to every Dire Straits & Beach boys album on family road trips…” No no no – that is not tradition – that is just bad parenting! Holidays are a special time of year filled with joyous music, the kind that makes me wish I were deaf. To combat this pitfall of the season – the Tick, my father and I banded together to pass a resolution that no holiday music was ever to be played in our household – much to the disappointment of my loving mother. But a majority’s a majority! So instead, The Doors Live in NYC became our holiday music. While sitting down to Christmas dinner imagine the horror on guest faces when through the speakers you’d hear Jim Morrisson belt out “Adolph Hitler is alive and well…. I fukd her last night.” Ah supper at the Stephens’.
Supper – now there’s a true tradition. One which is increasingly fading from the fabric of the American Culture. Sunday through Thursday, you could count on a full blown sit down meal in my family. Sunday being the climactic meal of the week, no short-cuts taken – truly a group effort. A time for us to nourish our bodies with a home cooked meal and the enjoyment of the company of those we love the most. A place where the most serious discussions took place – “Oh Tick that’s fantastic you and Mollie Brown won state in badminton.” And “MG why is it you will not be attending Brophy for the next 5 days? Yeah you’re grounded – again!” It was this tradition in particular that drew me to cooking. Beyond knowing that if I helped cook dinner I didn’t have to do dishes, I found the joy that a great meal brought to my loved one’s days. Thus the wheels were in motion.
I’m not saying that you should have your children cook your meals in hopes they become professional chefs – trust me encourage the astronaut thing! What I am saying is that it is our human instinct to eat together, we are pack animals who, by pure instinct, consume our fuel together. What the hell am I getting at here? I’ll tell ya – whether you’re married with critters, living with 3 other pothead roommates, single living in a hermit’s nest surviving on Top Ramen – chances are you have some friends or loved ones (if not find some man). Get them together and have supper! Cook it all yourself or allocate responsibilities to everyone (if you know some of them are terrible cooks, have them bring the wine). The bottom line is to get together, turn on some music, crack a bottle or three and break bread. This has been said before but is something I truly believe in!
Yet another tradition in my family is the fabled Prime Rib Dinner. Yeah, my clan could be called uppity food snobs but it’s much worse than that… For all major holidays we would have a prime rib roast rather than the traditional roasted turkey. Why? Because my dad had some how determine the turkey was a “dirty bird” and refuse to allow it to be cooked in our home. If we did he would walk around making gagging gestures and commenting on the aweful smell turkey produced. This is the same man that craves breakfast burrito’s from some of the dingiest Mexican haunts in The Valley. Prime rib is a treat to the senses, it fills the house with a mouth watering aroma that is unmistakable. It is second only to home-made fried chicken in the hierarchy of Sunday Suppers! And thus… The Prime Rib Supper