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  • Kristan Higgins

Family traditions

Updated: May 3, 2022

I read an article on family traditions recently…things like the youngest child getting to open the first present on Christmas morning, or having a bonfire on the Winter Solstice, or cultural traditions, like setting a place for Elijah at Passover.

They all sounded so nice. So much more meaningful than my own family traditions…

The Returning of the Tupperware. In the Kristan family, it is required that Tupperware be returned when visiting relatives. Apparently, Tupperware was once as valuable as gold bulion in my family, because it must be returned! Doesn’t matter what the occasion is—a wedding, a christening, a visit to a newborn baby in the hospital… “Could you bring this Tupperware back to your mother? It’s from dinner three years ago, when she sent me home with some chicken paprikas.”


This was my mom’s final Jeopardy question. She bet big and won!

The Watching of Jeopardy. Okay, I admit I don’t watch Jeopardy, which leaves me out of about 40% of all family conversations. I’m actually pretty good at Jeopardy. My mother, however, is a Jeopardy champion. That’s right. She was on TV and everything, and she WON! That was a long time ago, but I’m going to have it carved into her headstone just the same. At any rate, most of my blood relatives watch the show, discuss it in great detail, and sometimes call each other to complain when someone wins too many games in a row. Unless it’s my mother, that is.


Modern Apizza, New Haven. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten here.

The Insufficient Ordering of the Pizza. We’re from the New Haven area. We love pizza. We go out en masse, 15 or 25 of us, and we stink-eye the hostess until she gives us a huge table, and my aunt Rita, who is a saintly woman, takes it upon herself to write up our order because it’s too complicated for someone who is not related to us and/or lacks Stephen Hawking’s IQ. Tradition demands at least one veggie pizza for the one vegetarian in our family; a cheese-only pizza for the person who favors the other side of the family; the no-cheese pizza for the freaks who like that; the meat-bomb for those looking to shorten their lifespans. Rita also orders that one perfect pie—the best pizza combo in the history of mankind. Eggplant-bacon-extra-garlic pizza, no tomato sauce, and we fall on that thing like feral animals, and it’s gone in seconds. Then we sit around and mourn that we only ordered one eggplant-bacon-extra-garlic pie and resentfully eat the vegetarian pizza.

The Kissing Goodbye of Every Single Person. It doesn’t matter that you’ll see them tomorrow. It doesn’t matter that there are 75 people at the gathering. Everyone shall get a kiss, oh, yes, and the germ-swapping will make us stronger! My littlest relative gave me a big wet smooch the other day, and I was glad his mama is raising him right.


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