My family has a rich tradition of foods at holiday time. Christmas typically has a lot of cookies for example. Mom makes up about 12 or 14 different kinds of cookies and plates them up for friends and neighbors for delivery on Christmas eve.
One tradition involves a concoction known as "ground up soup". The story goes, that back during the first great depression, the family was living out in the north woods someplace and it was an especially bad winter. All that was in the house on Christmas eve was a bag of potatoes, a bunch of carrots and some salt pork. So they took the potatoes, carrots and salt pork and ran them through a meat grinder. Then the ingredients were put into a pot of boiling water. It may have been melted snow water as the pump might have been frozen, the details here are somewhat lost as my great grandma has been dead over 12 years and she was the last surviving person to be there for the start of this tradition. In any event, they made soup out of it, as there was noting else to eat.
My mothers side of the family has been making this soup once a year on Christmas eve. As a kid I hated the tradition. I was always much more found of peanut-butter balls, Santa's Whiskers, butterscotch bars and my favorite Church Windows. Even my brother and sister hated this culinary adventure into yesteryear's poverty. We called the stuff "gruel" and swore we would never eat it again after leaving home. Which with the exception of visits home at Christmas time remained pretty much true.
Except this year. I made a batch. Not the big 5 gallon batch my grandmothers and mother would make. It was a more moderate gallon and a half sized batch, as I don't have a 5 gallon pot to make it in. Christmas eve I sat down and ate a bowl or two. Traditions apparently never die. They do however go well with cookies.