With the holidays in full swing, it still isn't too late to incorporate some new traditions into your celebrations. My column a week ago...
With the holidays in full swing, it still isn’t too late to incorporate some new traditions into your celebrations.
My column a week ago about giving an ornament and writing a letter every year to each grandchild inspired a number of readers to share their family experiences. Feel free to borrow or adapt their ideas.
Julie Byram’s extended family gathers on Christmas Eve. Everyone brings food and visits until nearly midnight, said the Woodinville resident.
“When I was small, one of my great-uncles would dress up like Santa, and each child would get a small gift. It was always fun because I could play with my cousins and eat as many goodies as I wanted and get to stay up really late. My own children have the same sentiments now.”
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The highlight of the evening is a slide show. Each year, a cousin takes photos of each family and then does a slide show of previous years. They laugh over changing fashions and hairdos, and the adults are amazed to see themselves as toddlers.
“My own children never had a chance to meet my great-grandmother or my grandparents, but we all have these photos to treasure. It’s especially poignant to see the family members that have passed away,” she said. “Many, many memories are in those slides and hearts as we watch.”
Celebrating Dec. 26
About 10 years ago, Jackie and Jim Palmquist of Bellevue changed their Christmas celebration to Dec. 26 to accommodate their expanded family.
“Everyone is more relaxed, and there’s nothing that says there has to be just one Christmas,” Jackie said.
The expanded tradition includes a visit from Santa Claus. He stays briefly, explaining his reindeer are resting at a nearby church and he soon needs to head back to the North Pole.
But the favorite activity happens around the dinner table. The family writes down what they want to accomplish in the upcoming year and then review their lists from the previous Christmas.
“We laugh and have a good time,” Jackie said. “Sometimes we draw pictures, and no one in our family is an artist.”
Grandma’s cinnamon rolls
For Robin Byers of Mercer Island, Christmas tastes of her grandmother’s homemade cinnamon rolls. She grew up eating the fresh rolls on Christmas Day and missed them when her family left Seattle for California.
“We never got to watch her, so it was quite a surprise to learn there was no recipe,” Byers said. “My cousin and I tried every recipe we could find, but nothing could replicate her rolls.”
The year before their grandmother died, her cousin watched the process. She noted Grandma Aiken’s smidgen of this and handful of that as the sweet dough was made.
“We keep the tradition alive in our home by only making them once a year,” Byers said. “I include my daughter, though, so she won’t have to struggle through years of lousy rolls!”
The rolls are such a family favorite that no one rushes through Christmas breakfast, even though presents aren’t opened until breakfast is finished.
“They all want just one more roll,” Byers said.
When Holly and Dan Levin of Mercer Island were dating, they started a family tradition. They were visiting Lake Tahoe with another couple, and on New Year’s Day, Holly made eggs Benedict and mimosas for breakfast.
The tradition has lasted 23 years, and Holly has served New Year’s Day eggs Benedict in San Jose, two different neighborhoods in Seattle and now Mercer Island.
She cooks the eggs and hollandaise sauce while Dan pours the mimosas. The Levins don’t issue formal invitations, but friends and family show up — last year, 60 people came for brunch.
There may be more this year. Friends of their children, Anna and Jake, will be coming.
Jake, who graduated from Mercer Island High School in June, has been receiving e-mails from friends who plan to meet at the Levins’ home New Year’s Day.
Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or firstname.lastname@example.org