Temperatures are cooling down, the days are starting to get shorter, and the holiday season is just around the corner. The best part of the year is finally upon us!
by Madison Cook | Staff Writer
Besides the school break, delicious food, and loads of gifts, what is it that makes this time of year so special? Why is it that our fondest family memories can be traced back to this period? The answer is simple: Traditions. We all have them and love them, no matter how cheesy or childish they may be. Elf on the shelf? Christmas cookies left out for Santa? Potato pancakes and the dreidel game? The rituals we carry out year after year surrounded by our loved ones add a personal aspect to our holiday spirit. Whether new or old, these traditions bring us together and help us create fond memories.
With the holidays approaching once again, it’s the perfect time to acknowledge and appreciate these special moments.
What are your most treasured holiday traditions?
TWEENS TELL US
“My grandparents take me, my parents, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles on a beach trip every year for the whole week of Thanksgiving. They started doing that before I was even born. It’s awesome to spend the week with my extended family, and the best part is all being together. We don’t even care about traditional foods. Sometimes we’ve even had Costa Rican beans and rice and watermelon for Thanksgiving!” – Zoe Bell, 7th grader, Parkhill Jr. High (pictured below with her extended family)
“My favorite holiday tradition is spending time with family and friends that I love. Last year, my family started a new tradition. We had a big Hanukkah party. Exchanging white elephant gifts was the best!” -Sophia Weiss, 6th grader, Renner Middle School
“On New Year’s Eve my family, including cousins, aunts, uncles, and one year my great-grandmother, all get together at my grandmother’s house to ring in the New Year. We sing karaoke (good singers and bad), dance and drink sparkling apple cider. We always watch the Times Square Ball drop at midnight in New York City on television and look forward to the new year.” – Lily Russell, 6th Grade, Prince of Peace Christian School & Early Learning Center
TEENS TELL US
“My favorite holiday tradition is running the Turkey Trot before my family goes to the Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day. We get there hours before kickoff to join up with our friends and tailgate before heading into the game. We all bring the entire meal to share – turkey, sides & pies. We can eat with less guilt since we start the day with a 5K.” – Blake Heckel, Junior, Jesuit School (pictured above, left, with his brothers, Kyle and Ben, at the Turkey Trot).
“Every year my whole family goes to my grandparents’ house in Atlanta. We always go on a family hike and do an art activity that my grandma who’s an artist creates, like painting small canvases that she hangs in a group. And, we all cook all together on Thanksgiving day. It’s the best! And every year we take a family photo on their stairs with all the grandkids.” – Carly Miller Mandel, Junior, Plano West Senior High School (shown below on the stairs of her grandparents’ home alongside all her cousins)
COLLEGE STUDENTS TELL US
“My favorite holiday has always been Christmas, not just because of the presents but because of all the family time and special traditions we have. The day after Thanksgiving my family puts up and decorates the tree, and we decorate the entire house, and the whole month of December our house smells like homemade cinnamon candy and delicious baked goods. I love spending so much time together in the kitchen, laughing, making memories and being together, and I will be passing these precious traditions on to my family one day so my kids will love the holidays as much I do.” – Sara Sorge, Freshman, Texas Tech University
“Every year on Christmas Day, we wake everyone up really early, open presents, eat my mom’s famous Christmas Casserole, and then have an all day movie marathon that has to include Elf and Christmas Vacation. The whole family is there, and I really enjoy not having to do anything but just sit around with everyone. That family time with no distractions is something that I would love to do with my own family one day.” – Corbin Dotson, Junior, Texas Woman’s University
“Being that I will be getting married next year, the thought of carrying on traditions and even creating our new ones with my fiancé is very exciting. Regardless of the traditions we create though, I feel certain Cody and I will continue to participate in my family’s annual Christmas Eve festivities. My family and mom, along with aunts, uncles, and cousins, come together to eat a big meal, watch Christmas movies, and simply enjoy others’ company.” – Sarah Gerken, Senior, Texas Woman’s University
“If I could continue my family traditions of playing board games, volunteering at Christmas charities, and riding sleds pulled by family pick-up trucks along the frigid sheets of ice across neighborhood streets, then I could rest assured knowing that I had brought Christmas to my next family generation with love.” – Deryl Tschoerner, Sophomore, UTD
“As a freshman in college, the holiday traditions that I will carry on to my family in the future will be centered around both aspects of my culture: that of my birthplace here in America and my ancestry in India. I will continue especially to celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween every year wherever I am because those are the holidays that have meant the most to me in my life. For my Indian culture, I’ll continue to celebrate Diwali and Holi with my family in the future. For Diwali, the festival of lights, I’ll put up lights all over the house, light candles everywhere, and be sure to light firecrackers. For Holi, the festival of colors, I’ll go with my family for the festive powdered-color fight.” – Kabir Ahluwalia, Freshman, SMU
GOOD LIFE FAMILY STAFF TELL US
“I buy each of my kids a Christopher Radko ornament every year at the beginning of the holiday season. Some years the ornament reflects their current interests (basketball, snowboarding, skiing, dance, etc.); sometimes I will buy the charity ornament for that year if it is a cause that is dear to us; and sometimes it is just a seasonal theme (Santa, snowman, nutcracker, dreidel, menorah, etc.). When we are decorating our tree, it is so wonderful to see their faces as they open the boxes and shout, ’Oh, I remember this one!’ or ’This is my favorite!’ Looks of pure joy! And needless to say, when you have teens, looks of pure joy are few and far between!” – Melissa Chaiken Section Editor, Good Life Family Magazine
“I have always purchased or made an ornament each year for each of my sons that represents our year. That way when they start their own Christmas tree they will have ornaments with memories attached. Our tree is absolutely alive with memories.” – Tricia White, Managing Editor, Good Life Family Magazine
“We always have a cookie decorating party with the family: traditional sugar cookies, loads of buttercream frosting and all kinds of toppings. As the children in our family get older we have added cocktails to the cookie decorating party, and sometimes the decorated cookies get a little, well…inappropriate. But we always have fun and always get full!” -Bobbie Ames, Food & Entertainment Editor, Good Life Family Magazine
“Our family goes to the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving. It’s a good thing that no one is a big fan of turkey since there’s not time to cook one. Instead, I’m known for my lemon rosemary roasted chicken that is tasty and looks like a baby turkey! We have it every Thanksgiving.” – Kim Brown, Advertising & Marketing Manager, Good Life Family Magazine
“Each Thanksgiving, even if we’ve already been to a big family lunch, my husband and I cook a super nice and formal Thanksgiving dinner. We enlist the help of the kids to set a beautiful table, we dress up and then dine by candlelight. Making the dinner a super special and quiet time to talk and laugh, we share what we’re thankful for and how we can use our blessings to bless others over the holiday season.” – Beth Donahue, Creative Director, Good Life Family Magazine
“My family has always been the ones who throw the holiday parties, so each year, we have a huge Thanksgiving dinner with our entire family, and we cook all day. The Christmas party is my favorite though because everyone brings a gift without a name on it, and we play white elephant in order to see who gets the presents. I just love it because it takes the stress off of buying gifts and allows us to spend more quality time together.” – Savannah Peer, Digital Manager, Good Life Family Magazine
“When my children were little, I used to go into each of their classes at school and read the story of Chanukah, teach and play the dreidel game and pass out chocolate gelt (coins). Now that they’re older, we play the dreidel game at home, and I make enough potato latkes (pancakes) to last all eight days of Chanukah.” – Tracy Graivier Bell, Senior Copy Editor, Good Life Family Magazine
“Although we are divorced, we have always agreed to share Christmas mornings as a family. Whoever has the boys, the other parent goes to the house (in PJ’s), eat a big breakfast all together and then we open gifts.” – Amy Levenson Krumholz, Fashion Editor, Good Life Family Magazine
“One of our longest family traditions is hosting a big Chanukah party to celebrate the season with all our family and friends. We decorate the house pulling out all our kids’ holiday art and handmade menorahs. The menu is all the traditional Chanukah fare – potato pancakes, beef brisket, and all that, but our very favorite part is making dessert, especially marshmallow dreidels. It was quite a lengthy undertaking when our kids were toddlers – more art project than dessert and we were still cleaning up errant sprinkles for weeks! Now, we can create dozens of mini masterpieces in an hour and it’s one of my favorite hours of the entire season.” – Sheryl Pidgeon, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Good Life Family Magazine