Faith in Food
Guideposts|December /January 2021
The acclaimed food writer gives tips to make this difficult holiday season joyous
SAM SIFTON, Brooklyn, New York

THIS YEAR’S HOLIDAY SEASON IS Going to be a memorable one for all of us, if for nothing else because of the pan­ demic. The question is, will we remem­ ber it as a joyous season or one tinged with grief and sadness? I’m hoping that with care and intention, with empathy and understanding, we can keep it spe­cial. In trying times like these, I find the Serenity Prayer especially useful. This heartfelt plea to God to grant us se­renity, courage and wisdom was writ­ ten by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, who was also my grandfather.

For me, cooking is a kind of service— to others, to community, to family. For years, I cooked Sunday suppers for my church in Brooklyn, big pots of pasta or stews for friends and strangers, a tradi­ tion that inspired my recent book, See You on Sunday. The Christian church is built around the sacrament of the Eu­charist, a commemoration of the Last Supper. In every religion, food is cen­tral: communion, Shabbos dinner, the feast after Ramadan. People are lonely, now more than ever, and they yearn to be part of something meaningful. Here’s how making and sharing food can make life better over the holidays.

Adapt your traditions. Is your fam­ily going to be scattered this year? There are still ways you can celebrate together. Technology will play a key role. Over Zoom or Skype, you and your loved ones can not only share the meal but cook it together, making the same dishes—stirring, chopping, roast­ ing, baking as a group. Pay particular attention to keeping family traditions alive, whether that’s trimming the tree, opening presents or baking Grandma’s apple pie. Watch the ball drop together and ring in the New Year with a virtual toast that 2021 will be a better year for everyone.

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