Now that the clocks have been set back, we’re all feeling the dreary, dark-before-dinner entrée into winter.
While the east coast prepares to deal with snow, west coasters in cities like Seattle gear up for several long months of grey. That’s why one mother of three began a tradition over a decade ago to help her own family – as well as their friends – ride out the dismal days.
Kassandra Bradberry, who lives in Seattle, began throwing full moon soup parties after the birth of her first child. She found a book in the library called The Book of New Family Traditions by Meg Cox and became inspired to start a family ritual that would be unique to them. A vegetarian who’d often made pots of soup for her friends in college, serving up soup once again was a no-brainer. But this time she around she pegged it to the moon.
At the start of every winter, Bradberry sends out an email invite to her friends – an evolving collection of her kids’ friends’ parents, neighbors, colleagues of her husband – laying out all the dates on which full moons will occur. On those nights, be it weeknights or weekends, all you have to do is show up at nightfall, though many people bring things like bread, wine, cheese and salads. Still, Bradberry maintains that it’s not important to rsvp or come bearing gifts.
She says, “I don’t want people to feel obligated to come, because I understand it falls on weird nights, and you don’t know what life is going to do to you at any given moment. So you can come in whatever shape you’re in.”
Her gatherings often exceed 20 people, though she says that once only one family showed up and they simply turned it into an intimate dinner. Sometimes, she’s been caught off guard: it had been close to seven p.m. and no one had arrived so she put on her PJs. Then, suddenly, guests poured in and she just decided to stay in them. Such is the casual, come-as-you-are ambience that makes people feel so at home. Plus, it’s fun for the kids, whom Bradberry admits make it hard for their parents to skip the parties. They usually flock down to the basement, coming up only when they’re ravenously hungry.
Some of Bradberry’s favorite soups she’s made over the years include “Minestrone for a Crowd” from Love Soup by Anna Thomas. She also often turns to an old, now out-of-print copy of Vegetarian Soup Cuisine: 125 Soups and Stews from Around the World by Jay Solomon. Her husband generally handles drinks: like mai tais during a Mad Men-themed party she held at the end of last season, after her family moved into a mid-century modern home.
Her soups not only warm the bellies of her guests, but their souls as well. The parties, she says, are a way to get out during the cold months, to connect with community. In the ten years she’s been hosting them, her family has seen the birth of two more children and four homes, including one in Tacoma where the parties first began. It’s not uncommon to have some of those old friends drive the 45 miles to Seattle to come to a full moon party, which speaks to their appeal. It’s a place where you can reconnect with old friends and always meet someone new as well. And, no matter how bad the weather might be, a fire blazes and a pot of soup simmers.
Has your family created any unique traditions? Tell us about them here. Or, share your favorite, soup recipe or book.