I will not be making my yearly homemade orange marmalade this year. I made it last January as I usually did , either at end of December or at beginning of the year. This is the time of year when you can get nice, inexpensive oranges from the “valley” in south Texas.

For many years making homemade orange marmalade was a tradition I had initiated and shared with my father. It was not just a time to be with my father, just him and I, but nobody else really wanted to join us as the making of orange marmalade is a tedious task that takes two days.

My father and I would sit at the kitchen table and would painstakingly zest each orange assiduously removing the pith to obtain the purest orange flavor. With the years we perfected our “zest making” technique. My father, a very creative engineer, was always thinking about how to better the process of making things. Then we would cut off the inner thin white membrane covering the pulp of several pounds of oranges.

While sitting and making the marmalade we would converse every so often, mostly interchanging comments about how tedious it was to make orange marmalade and how we would make improvements for the next time. But mostly we sat quietly working diligently to get it “right” and enjoying sharing some quiet time together, being in the moment, not worrying about past events or things to come, just being.

Last year, January 2019, I set up to make the marmalade, alone. As my father was in Peru battling with cancer. I wanted to keep our tradition alive, maybe for one more year, even if it meant me working on it alone. I knew how much he loved our orange marmalade, so my plan was that I would take some jars for him in our next trip to Peru, for easter, as I had taken another tradition to spend eater in Peru with my parents. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit the world and our lives as we knew it stopped. No way to go back to visit my parents to say one last goodbye to my father. He passed away of his illness in mid-April.

I still have a few jars from last year’s batch. Not sure if I will get back to making it again, to keep our tradition. I know not this year; I am just not ready. I hope in a few I will, and that it will bring me the joy and happiness of past years, thinking about my dad and the precious times we spent together.

Let’s celebrate  family traditions.


Do you have a favorite family tradition? Leave a comment and share your tradition ideas !


  1. Maria, I am sorry about the passing of your father, especially since you were not able to visit him one last time. My parents are both gone and my father-in -law, the last of that generation in our extended families, died last month. I encourage you to keep up this tradition or a similar one with the generation below. As I recall, you had some nieces who would visit. Also, it could be a recipe that doesn’t require zesting hundreds of oranges! I told Rick when his father died that we had lost a connection or bond with that generation. In fact, we have become that generation to the rest of the family. Life continues. Love, Mary

  2. I was a very nice description of your very special tradition Maria. I enjoyed reading it.
    One tradition I can think of is making Christmas cookies with my mom. Most of the traditional Christmas cookies we made required to be made couple weeks before the actual holiday. As they lay in tins in a cold place, they become much better. I still keep this tradition of making Slovak cookies, years after my mo passed away. It gives me a solemn moments to think of her – how hard-working she always was. Working full time she never neglected holidays. She would stay up to 2am in the morning only to get up at 5am for work. All in preparation for the holidays. I passed this tradition on to my daughter. but now, I do not have her around. However, even as I make cookies by myself, I always think of both of them – my mom and my daughter. And this year I had help from you Maria. Maybe it’s a start of our new tradition.

    1. Count me in for the new tradition of Christmas cookies :-). I am glad I had to opportunity to meet your mom. Thank you for sharing this memory. Another reminder of how much our mothers work to give us the best life they can.

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