Nourishing and Caring for Family During the Holidays


The holidays begin early and last long in our family. We like it that way. We get together often, and for plenty of reasons. For us, it all starts with Thanksgiving week, followed by Las Posadas, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Three Kings Day, and, finally, Candlemas, or as we call it in Spanish, Día de la Candelaria.

In partnership with SCAN Health Plan, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans, serving more than 195,000 members in California. #GatherAndShareWithSCAN

It probably goes without saying that food features prominently in these family celebrations, some traditional, some new, some that will become traditional, and some that we will never, ever, let pass our lips again!

Cooking for the Family

Of course, certain classic dishes appear every year, like turkey on Thanksgiving, fruits and nuts for Las Posadas, ponche at Christmas, the rosca de reyes for Three Kings Day, and tamales for Candlemas.

Partiendo la rosca de reyes

Those of you who know me, know I love cooking and eating with my family, it nourishes our bodies and feeds our souls. Here is a list of some of our holiday favorites.

But for me, the loveliest part of the holidays has to be strengthening the bonds between the older and younger generations of the family.

What could be sweeter than a grandchild engulfed in the arms of her abuela as they roll out dough together? Or watching a child sitting under the watchful eye of her abuelo as they pick out tunes on their guitars?

Kids hand on top grandparent's hand
Photo by: Matthew Henry (Burst)

I love the respect inherit in it. It’s mutual. The younger generation respects the wisdom, experience, cultural heritage and needs of the elder generation, and the elder generation respects the talents, energy, perspective, and needs of the younger. They learn about each other, and they learn from each other.

Respecting Each Member of the Family

One way we can show respect and care for our families during the holidays, especially our older family members, is by preparing them dishes they both enjoy and that meet their special, dietary needs. The extra effort sends a clear message, to both them and the rest of the family, of how much we care for them.

In the end, changing just one or two ingredients in your favorite holiday dishes may be enough to meet someone’s special, dietary needs.

fruta de ponche

Protecting Each Member of the Family

Finally, I want to suggest one other way we can all show our families respect, especially the elderly, very young, and those family members with weaker immune systems, and that’s by getting our flu vaccinations ahead of the holidays.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 80,000 Americans died of the flu and related complications last winter alone. That’s a shocking number when you consider it for a moment. It was the deadliest flu season in 40 years. If we vaccinate ourselves now, before the holiday season, we don’t just protect ourselves, but we significantly reduce the flu’s reach and limit exposure to vulnerable family members when we come together for the holidays.

To do this, first, we should start by encouraging and helping the most vulnerable get their vaccinations. But while doing that, the strongest among us should sit right down next to them and get our flu vaccinations, too. By doing this, we help build a better barrier of protection around all our loved ones ahead of the holidays.

SCAN health plan logo

Thanks to the great folks at SCAN for making this post possible. Since its founding in 1977, SCAN has been a mission-driven organization dedicated to keeping seniors healthy and independent. That’s a great thing.

Follow the conversation on social media with the #GatherAndShareWithSCAN hashtag.

Silvia Martinez
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