erry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa. Each December, we each celebrate the holiday season in our own special way. Whether it be decorating the tree, lighting the menorah or hosting the Karumu, we all have holiday customs that make this time of year unique. Childrens News would like to share some of the holiday traditions of our own staff and employees.
Every year, my mother, brother and I get together and make Christmas cookies. We always make chocolate chip cookies with red and green sprinkles, sugar cookies with jam centers and gingerbread cookies. Sometimes we make other kinds of cookies as well. When I was growing up, my mother had a ton of metal cookie cutters, and Iíve started my own collection since Iíve been out on my own. I have stars, hearts, feet, a hammer, the United States, Massachusetts, a seahorse, a lobster and many other shapes. We cut out the gingerbread cookies on the kitchen counter and make a big mess. We decorate the cookies with sprinkles and cinnamon dots, listen to cheesy Christmas music and laugh a lot.
by Molly Warring, Pain Treatment Service
by Anna Michonski, Social Work
I am Polish. I was born there and came to the United States when I was 9.
One of my favorite Christmas Eve (called Wigilia in Poland) traditions is when we wish each other a great upcoming year with all kinds of wishes.
It goes something like this: at the beginning before we begin eating, we take pieces of the altar bread and go around the table wishing everyone a great year. There are all kinds of wishes, including ìStay happy and healthy,î and ìMay you do wonderfully in all your endeavors.î Really, itís anything you want to wish the other person. After we are done with our wishes, we extend huge hugs and kisses. We go around to all the family and friends in the room, and once everyone is done, we sit down and eat our traditional Wigilia dishes.
No matter how large a table, another important thing about Wigilia is to leave an extra plate if a guest should arrive. We want to be prepared and welcoming if there is a surprise guest that needs a warm meal and some good company.
All this takes place Christmas Eve, and after we are done with our meal, we sit and talk with family and friends. We then go to Midnight Mass and then listen to Christmas carols. And as for Christmas presents, well, we open those on Christmas Eve too!
Year of the angel
by Monica Watson, GI/Nutrition
Each year, we get the same dated collectible ornament for each of our children to decorate our Christmas tree. Each child has a different style of silver bell. We lost a child in 2000, so her ornament is a beautiful tree-top angel—for our angel in heaven. When our children get to be adults, they can take their ornaments for each year of their life to start their own Christmas tree.
The holiday season means a couple of different things for my family. For many Jews, Hanukkah is not such a big deal. We enjoy lighting the menorah every night, but it doesn’t have the same significance as Christmas. We do like hosting mega-latke parties where everyone gets a turn flipping greasy potato pancakes, and slopping applesauce on them.
by Joshua Greenberg, Child Advocacy
Christmas, on the other hand, has very clear importance. We decide quite early on which Chinese restaurant to go to on Christmas Eve, and which movie will entertain both the kids and the grown-ups. There is nothing quite so satisfying as looking for parking spaces outside the theater in Harvard Square on Christmas Day—they’re everywhere!
Something old, something new
We are a family of mixed cultures—my mom was born in Panama City, Panama, and my dad was born in Limerick, Ireland. However, they’ve both been here in the United States since they were very young, so our celebrations were our own and not one nationality. Whatever our parents remembered from their holidays got incorporated into the new traditions of our family.
by Chris Powers-Perry, Public Affairs
There were eight of us if you counted my mother, father and my maternal grandmother. We popped our own popcorn and strung it on the tree. We also made colorful paper chains out of construction paper for the tree. We had a huge, real tree that dad brought home every year, which we decorated with glass ornaments. We also had a very old-looking angel at the top of the tree that mom had since she and dad got married. Some of my favorite ornaments were photos of us as little ones, stuck to Table Talk pie tins that we cut up to look like snowflakes
Santa would come on Christmas Eve. In preparation for Santa, we’d bake tons of cookies with mom, and put out huge carrots for the reindeer. I remember always being in awe that there were only crumbs and chomped-up carrot stubs left every Christmas morning.
We’d all wake up incredibly early, and try to talk mom and dad into waking up too, so we could see what Santa brought. Sometimes they’d be just as enthusiastic as we were, and sometimes they instructed us to march back to bed until at least 7 a.m. During those times, we simply chattered and bounced around in bed until they couldn’t take it anymore and came to get us so we could see what Santa brought.
A magical ride
by Jennifer Olson, Psychiatry
As a child, I remember always looking forward to getting to drive around in the car and look at all the houses with lights. We would go to a bunch of towns for hours on the weekend. And we would end the night by having hot chocolate. I also remember getting in the back of my friend’s father’s pick-up truck and going around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols to all the neighbors.
Journey to Christmas
by Marjorie Beeghly, PhD,
On Christmas Eve, my family and other neighbors would join together and go Christmas carolingódoor to door, all around the block. Then we would return home, hang our stockings on the mantel and listen to my dad reading The Night Before Christmas wearing a Santa hat. The next morning, as we werenít allowed to see the tree until after breakfast, we had to wait impatiently while my dad would take us, blindfolded, one by one, from bedroom to kitchen. We always had to step over imaginary alligators on the way.