The holidays are as much about shopping; eating and stressing out they are about creating memories and fun times particularly around food. This is especially true if you are a parent of young children. Food is memorable for many of us. Remember walking into your house when you were young and smelling certain foods? Then smelling them as an adult brings back all those memories.

 Since my children were toddlers I always wondered what they would grow up thinking of as a their happy memory in the kitchen. Would they have great memories of making holiday cookies, or trying to make their own concoctions with four and water? I know I have mine from growing up. Do you have any memories of growing up that involve food, smells of the kitchen?

 Let me share one of the very memorable times in my mother’s kitchen. I was about 5 years old and she would be making the pastry for apple pies or better yet soda bread. There was nothing better then seeing my mother in the kitchen. I would sneak in the kitchen and take some of her dough and bring it to my oven. Don’t worry it was fake, and I am still upset it wasn’t an easy bake oven.

 Apple pie always brings a smile to my face. Oh wait; there was a very special yellow bowl that the pie dough was made in. My siblings and I were afraid to touch the bowl in case we broke it. That bowl was sacred in our house growing up. That would have been a kitchen disaster, let alone the trouble we would have been in.

 I inherited that yellow bowl when she past away because I was the only one who learned how to make her crust. (that’s another story) That bowl always seemed so big to me back then. I take it out every Thanksgiving and Christmas to make my mothers apple pie for my family. The bowl is actually pretty small, much smaller then a bowl I would now. Nonetheless, I use the bowl as it makes me feel my mother is with me momentarily while I make her piecrust. I never change the recipe or the way she closed up the pie seams. It is a memory of love, food and most of all, my mother. Food is love!

 So you are asking what’s this got to do with nutrition or even wellness? Everything. Good times that are relaxing and pleasurable create great memories.   It also creates a good attitude towards food in general, particularly if you invite your children to the counter to help you.

 Leave a little time for family members big and small to help you in the kitchen. Whether you make cookies to share with others, or make your own holiday candy let your family help you create, pack or plan. This is one way in a “crazy -always on the go” world we can be together as a family.

 Sharing cookies or the ingredients in a jar to make cookies (which you can find recipes for on the internet) is not only a great activity, but also a way to show your child to give back to those you care for us during the year.

 Let your children pick out the cookie recipe or help decorate the cookies to make it more personal for them. Okay, so they may not be perfect but your child will always remember making them. Cooking together builds excitement and anticipation for the holiday.

 Cooking together whether it’s for the holidays or any other time creates a time for conversation with your family. Conversation naturally occurs in the kitchen when everyone is doing his or her projects. Take advantage especially if there are children or even young adults in the kitchen.

 Just as I shared my kitchen memories about my mother’s apple pie, share one of your memories. Children both young and old like hearing about what it was like in the “olden” days. It’s a time to embrace your heritage and cultural background and family history.

Have your family help in the planning of the holiday meal. Allowing them to make suggestions helps them feel part of the festivities. Include them in setting the table or filling up the salt and peppershakers. Have younger children make nameplates for the table.

 Building traditions into your holidays and all year round will help create a great memory and positive attitude towards food and family.