Our holidays are a little different this year. My mother-in-law passed away last year, the day before Thanksgiving, and my father this year in October. Our children are adults, and this year our older daughter wasn’t able to come home for Thanksgiving… but she did get leave for Christmas. Hurrah!

This Thanksgiving, I started thinking about how holiday traditions can change over time, as family life changes.

And that’s… just fine. The traditions are not important unto themselves. They’re important as a way to bind and celebrate family and friends.

This year at Thanksgiving when we went to a friend’s house for dinner, pumpkin pie was already covered. But my friend asked if I could bring mincemeat–a pie she loves.

And one I’d never made.

But I thought, well, if we’re going to change up traditions, why not try something new? I did a lot of reading about mincemeat pies, and then came up with my own variation of it, and it turned out nicely enough that I’d make it again.

Not only that, but younger daughter and I Skyped with military daughter, and stepped her through making a pumpkin pie for her “friendsgiving” celebration.

I don’t know quite how our holiday traditions will change this year. And maybe, for awhile, they’ll be different year-to-year.

But as long as I focus on friends and family, and on being thankful for whatever time and events we have together, I know I’ll have a merry Christmas.

However you celebrate end of year holidays, I hope you’re surrounded by light, love and laughter.

Ingredients:

1. 2 cups peeled and finely diced apples. (I like to use Granny Smith.)

2. 2 cups peeled and finely diced pears. (I like Bosc.)

3. 8 ounces of dried fruit—I used a mix of dried cherries, blueberries, cranberries and raisins, in equal portions.

4. 1 cup brandy.

5. 1 cup pomegranate juice. (It’s what I had on hand! You could also use apple, orange or cranberry juice. “Mincemeat” is a very flexible pie filling!)

6. 1 cup brown sugar

7. 2 teaspoons cinnamon

8. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

9. 1 teaspoon ground allspice

10. Juice and zest of one whole lemon

11. Two prepared pie crusts.

12. Two tablespoons quick cooking tapioca

13. Two tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Preparation:

1. Mix first ten ingredients, cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 425-degrees F.

3. Stir tapioca into fruit mixture.

4. Pour into bottom crust.

5. Dot with butter bits.

6. Cover with top crust and cut slit for venting steam, or make a lattice top.

7. Brush top crust with milk or egg whites, sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

8. Bake at 425-degrees F for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350-degrees F and bake 50 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

9. Cool before serving. Great with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!