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Whole Child Connection Team: Holiday Season Traditions

12 December 2019 |


In the spirit of reflecting on culture and the upcoming winter holiday season, our staff had fun chatting about our own families’ customs and cultural practices. We found a lot in common with each other and we heard some fun stories about unique traditions.

This time of year is a great time to reflect on what makes up culture. If you have the time, create opportunities for your students to share their family or personal traditions. We found that our favorite experiences during this giving season had very little to do with gifts, and far more to do with family, friends, fun, and FOOD!


Lynn: Loves to spend all of Christmas day with her family in their pajamas. When her children were young, it was comfy and cozy to hang out in jammies, but now that her children are adults – well it’s still cozy and comfy! This is one tradition that will absolutely never change at her house.

Dawn: Calls back to inside jokes between her siblings and parents – as a child she had to be “picture perfect ready” before she could go downstairs on Christmas morning. Her parents loved to capture that excitement, but what a tough display of self control for a kid! Now as an adult, Dawn and her brothers like to tease about prepping for those many photoshoots.

Marji: Used to be blindfolded! You read that right – in Marji’s childhood home, her parents were always so excited for the big “Christmas morning reveal” that she would be blindfolded after getting out of bed. How’s that for enthusiasm? Marji also likes to celebrate the winter solstice (December 21) and welcome in the point every year when days begin to lengthen again.

Sierra: Remembers all the sneaky ways she and her sibling used to try to wake their mom up before they could go downstairs on Christmas morning for a (similar to Marji’s and Dawn’s) big reveal. “Opening the bedroom door and letting the dog in, then closing it again… moving things around in front of the door… whispering…” It must be a parent tradition to draw out kids’ anticipation! Every year she also finds an orange in her stocking – Santa must love them.

James: Likes to celebrate New Year’s Day with a big Chinese food feast from a restaurant around Rochester, while Christmas Day is always capped off by a huge Italian feast of old family recipes. While we can share his recommendation of Royal Dynasty for any New Years’ needs, the Italian Christmas recipes remain a family secret!

Ashli: Is absolutely always the first one awake on Christmas morning. As a child, she would have been impressed with Sierra’s restraint, because Ashli would jump right into her parents’ bed to get them up. Now she says she respects everyone’s sleep, but those old habits die hard. Also in her home, everyone gets a stocking, especially her two dogs.

Caitlin: Has always loved a good make-your-own-pizza night, which was the main event every Christmas Eve during her childhood. With a younger sister, she also loved leaving out milk and cookies for Santa – almost as much as she loved later watching her father leave evidence that Santa came: bites out of cookies and ashy footprints on the carpet!

Elizabeth: Always reads The Night Before Christmas with her kids on Christmas Eve, and they hang stockings right before bed as an annual ritual. She also loves Christmas Day because the whole family can just do… nothing! It’s a time of relaxation and togetherness that she cherishes.  

Ellen: With her family, celebrated one big "Hanukkah Family Fun Night". Everyone cooked together, played games, lit the menorah, made a fire in the fireplace, read aloud, and got to open a present. As they older, she remembers that her kids would complain in advance about the no phone, no computer, no TV policy but by evening, everyone just relished each other's comany - and the absence of technology!

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