Every family has their own Christmas traditions, but one thing most households can agree on is that the food traditions take centre stage.
Even though the holidays are going to look different for many of us this year, it’s our traditions and each other that really make it special. Food is our best unifier and can make any situation immediately more festive.
Calgary Co-op is the place to find all the ingredients you need to make your family favourites or find a new tradition. The store has even launched a holiday hub to help guide your celebrations this year — whether you’re cooking, doing the grocery shopping, or hoping to come home with something that’s hot and ready to eat this year.
To inspire you, we teamed up with Calgary Co-op and asked Calgarians to reflect on their favourite food traditions during Christmas and share how they hoped to celebrate this year.
Andi Guzman, who currently lives in Bowness, is unsure what Christmas is going to look like this year. “I’m planning to spend time with family. I think it will be a much slower and more intimate holiday this year.”
Even at a younger age, Guzman loved shopping for food. “I always grocery shopped with my mom as a kid,” she says. “I loved getting huge hauls around the holidays and picking out treats for myself.”
Guzman and her family shop for a wide array of food to make quite the spread. “I love holiday appetizers. Charcuterie boards, smoked oysters, pate, cajun shrimp,” she says.
Another tradition for the family, Guzman’s mom buys the ingredients to make original stuffing, entirely from scratch. “I love my mom’s stuffing. It’s actually full of vegetables. She puts them in the food processor — mushrooms, carrots, and celery. It’s my favourite,” she says.
Alex Issik, a personal trainer living near the Stampede Grounds in Ramsey, views each year as an opportunity to make new holiday traditions. “I never went Christmas shopping until I was an adult. But now I love it.”
When asked who does most of the cooking after he goes shopping, he tells us exactly who’s in charge. “My mom for sure. She’s the boss until some of the rum and eggnogs come through. Well, then she’s still the boss,” he says.
For CJ Caputo, a born and raised Calgarian currently living near WinSport, choosing a favourite dish to single out is far too difficult. “I love turkey dinner,” he says, and the list doesn’t stop there. “My favourite part is probably the stuffing, but I look forward to the whole spread. My family typically does turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, Brussels sprouts with bacon, sweet potatoes, and steamed veggies. Then a white bun, with gravy, and cranberry sauce on the side.”
Like many of us, Caputo prefers eating the great food to making it. We asked if he had any specialties he contributed for dinner. “No, none at all. Is that strange?” he asks.
For anyone like Caputo who might be new to holiday cooking, Calgary Co-op has plenty of tips on their website. Or, you can just pick up a ready-made entertaining tray and call it a day. Your holiday, your traditions, your rules.
Unlike Caputo, Guzman and Issik have their specialties they make every year, and they both happen to be desserts. “I usually do the dinner rolls or dessert. I mostly do the baking. I make some pretty killer ginger cookies,” Guzman tells us.
Issik goes for a less conventional Christmas classic. “Essentially, it’s a pot of mashed sweet potatoes that’s covered in melted marshmallows. I look forward to this dish as I primarily work in the fitness industry and am fairly strict with my diet,” he says.
With so much uncertainty in people’s lives, it’s tough to know what the holiday season will feel like compared to other years.
“I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like this year,” Caputo says. “But we always do a pancake breakfast on Christmas Day.”
“Our family always does Christmas crackers. You’re a total loser if you don’t wear your crown for the whole meal,” Guzman tells us.
“Fortunately our Christmas will look the same, and we can be together,” says Issik.
Christmas always inspires a sense of nostalgia and warmth, and food is by far our favourite way to tap into that feeling. This holiday season will be different than previous years, but the food you serve doesn’t have to mean anything less.
Calgary Co-op is a one-stop shopping experience for all the holiday treats and appetizers you love. They also have recipes for holiday dishes, like their take on buttery shrimp and tips for assembling the ultimate cheese plate.