The Shrimp Salad Tradition
There is a haunting tradition that occurs every Christmas Eve in my family. Decades ago a shrimp salad (made with pasta, canned shrimp, onions, green olives, eggs, mayo, and Miracle Whip) surfaced as the cuisine of choice for Christmas Eve observance. To my knowledge, there has never been a Christmas Eve without it. As a small child I would try it and hate it and wonder in awe at the grownups eating the salad while exclaiming words of praise and delight.
As a teenager I gave it another shot and did not like it. (I distrust anything with mayo or Miracle Whip, and that combo is far outside my trust circle.) Some time in my early teens I found out that my siblings didn’t like this salad either. I wasn’t an anomaly in our family! I no longer had to suffer in silence. From then on we would talk about how much we hate shrimp salad before and after dinner on Christmas Eve. I think some of our opinions leaked out and Grandma caught wind that we didn’t like it. No matter, she would continue to make it, and we didn’t have to eat it.
As Grandma aged the responsibility of making the shrimp salad fell to Mother (who, incidentally, married into the shrimp salad situation and had she known might have reconsidered the whole union) and I sometimes help her prepare this most special meal.
So every year we produce this shrimp salad, at first with annoyance and now with amusement. It’s a silly little tradition that ties me to my ancestors. I may not like their food, but I love them very much, so the shrimp salad lives on. And as it is the salad with the place of highest honor on Christmas Eve, I try a teeny bit every year, because you never know.