‘Tis The Season for Happy Holidays!

It’s the 24th of December (Happy Christmas Eve!), and we’re almost through this fantastic month of holiday celebrations. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Festivus, or FSMas – there’s no doubt that this is a special time of year. Recently we asked our fantastic Mods to share some of their happy holiday traditions experienced at home. Please enjoy:


Kenny Pebbles
“My mom was born in Italy so we usually celebrate with the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes.’

It is basically like if Red Lobster had a Thanksgiving buffet. Calamari, shrimp cocktail, fried shrimp, fish, mussels, spaghetti, and meatballs! OMNOMNOM! After Christmas Eve dinner, we exchange presents so we all can just relax on Christmas Day.”

Michelle Ramage
“We always spend Christmas Eve with A Christmas Story playing on the TV (repeatedly) in the background. Later in the evening, we go over to my in-laws for snacks, drinks and a gift exchange. After in-law time, we come home and we watch A Christmas Story again (because, why not?). The kids eventually ditch us (they’ve seen it 12 times already that day) and I drag out their gifts (some still labeled ‘From: Santa,’ of course) and anxiously wait for the next morning.

Christmas Day is a day for just us – my husband, my children and me.  I usually begin the day by dragging the kids out of bed because I can’t wait any longer for them to open up presents. (Crazy, right? I know! Teenagers. :/) After gift time, we always have strawberry pancakes for breakfast, the kids leave to check-out their loot again, and I grab a Christmas nap. We generally spend the rest of the day lounging (and yes, watching A Christmas Story) and I eventually get up and make dinner. It’s the best day ever!

We spend another day (usually it’s TBD due to crazy schedules) with my extended family, and this year, they’re all coming to my home for the first time. I’m so stoked! Mostly, because for the first time, we won’t be doing the driving, but also because I can’t wait to see ALL of my nieces and nephews.”

Sheryl Thompson
“We usually put up our tree and decorate the week of 12/20 (late for some, I know).  The kids always get PJs and get to open them and one other gift on Christmas Eve.  Now that they’re older, they don’t care as much about getting up early on Christmas Day.  We brunch while opening gifts and then hubs and I either watch them game or finish our caffeinated beverages before catching a parade or movie.”

Izzy Neis
I’d love to say that the holiday season starts with Halloween, since it’s the start to thematic parties with epic friend shenanigans – but that would be stretching it, yes?  The week after Thanksgiving my family celebrates Thanksmas. For one weekend my cousins, aunts, uncles, and generations of babies – all 30-something of us – cram together in a home and get crazy. Games, drinkie poos, and kid-cuddles galore. It’s quite epic.

After Thanksmas, my friends in the Bay had started a Festivus tradition – epic meal, 50s-themed fancy clothing, ornament trading, and sleepy people finding rest on my carpet in the wee hours of the morning. Occasionally there would be Mario Kart tournaments to really get in the feisty Festivus spirit.

Our family welcomes Santa and opens gifts on Christmas Eve. When I was young, Christmas Day was celebrated with grandparents in either Chicagoland or St. Louis (may those adorable darlings RIP) prior to a long drive to Disney World. This year, however, we’ve taken a different route. Instead of your typical ‘Merry Christmas’ greeting it’s ‘Mele Kalikimaka‘ for the Neis brood. Yep! My family has forgone the cold of Chicagoland and those delicately wrapped gifts under the tree (although, my mother seems to struggle with the ‘no gifts’ concept) and purchased flights instead – we’re spending the holiday on Maui, together. Not going to lie, I won’t mind if this tradition sticks. 😉

Laura Ankerson 
“I am single and usually living somewhere away from family, but this year I’m near family so for the first time in many many years I’ll be putting up a tree. (Lord a’mighty the cats are going to have a field day!) And Santa will be making a visit to leave gifts under the tree for my great-niece and great-nephew. We’ll make a big dinner and bake cookies while listening to Christmas music, because there’s nothing like building the anticipation for great memories in the mind and eyes of children.”

Patricia Campo
“Through the years things change. So now friends and family gather Christmas Eve at my younger sister’s home. Christmas Day family will get together for dinner at younger sister’s house. After pigging out it’s off to my house to open gifts. Santa leaves gifts at both houses!!! OH LUCKY US!!!! :)”

ChristmasdoorsKelly Ammann 
“We always decorate our doors with wrapping paper.  It’s a quick and cute way to add a festive flair to your kitchen.”

Geneva Hopwood
“I would actually love to start a new tradition with my family. As the years go by, I find myself wanting less and less. I’m happy with what I have and can’t think of a single thing when people ask ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ I’d love to get together with the other adults in my family, come up with a name drawing system, and each donate to a charity in the name of the person they’ve drawn – in lieu of gifts. Then we can focus all of the gifts on the kids, because it’s way more fun for them anyway! ;)”

Aliza Rosen
“Whenever I talk to my my non-Jewish friends about the holidays, the sentiment is usually, ‘You’re lucky, you get 8 days of presents.’ With my family, though, that was never really the case. We would light candles and say the blessings on each of the eight nights, but aside from a small gift on one or two of those nights, we always waited until whatever Sunday evening fell during Hanukkah to get together as a family. That’s when we’d do our big gift exchange with my grandmother, aunt, older brother (and now his wife and kids, too).

When I was a teenager, my brother and I had an unspoken tradition of gifting each other things wrapped to be something they weren’t (or exactly what they were). For instance, we bought our sister-in-law a skillet (she’d been saying she needed one), and we wrapped it in exactly its own shape (no box or gift bag). Another year, I bought my brother a cookie, but I wrapped it in a giant gift bag and weighed the bag down with board games we already owned. Oh, and my dad is known to hate raisins. So guess what would inevitably be included in his gifts…. Needless to say, our family shows our love for each other in sarcastic ways.

My family still had a Christmas tradition. Every year, we’d share a condo with another family in our community at a condo in Vermont (Okemo Mountain to be exact). On Christmas morning, we’d all wake up and hit the slopes, which were usually very empty (most people are probably busy opening presents). We also have a tradition of watching the same movie every year: Tommy Boy (and the 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story).”

Sharon-Kathleen M. Corner
“We start on Thanksgiving.  Tim’s family has been bowling every Christmas as long as he can remember, so we continued that.  We bowl, then we start decorating in the later afternoon.  Friday is decorate like crazy, and it usually carries into Saturday.   We celebrate Sinter Klaas (I am dutch).   Christmas Eve starts at about noon for us, as we prepare the church services (hubby is a minister) and that goes very late into the night usually.

Christmas day is a chill out day for us.  We spend some time with the Lord, and thank Him for all He has done in our lives.  We then open the gifts in the stocking, which are always movies, put them in a pillow case and start drawing them out and watching them…and we eat Chinese.  This momma will not cook anything but put the decorations on His birthday cake.”

Susan South
“It’s looking like this Christmas will involve all four of my grown children and spouses and families being under one roof on Christmas Eve!  That means all seven grandbabies (ages 5, 2, 2, 1, 1, and two newborns — can you say chaos?)  We’ll do Christmas Eve service (the early one, because BABIES), a soup supper at home, a reading of A Tale of Three Trees and the nativity story from the Bible.  We’ll leave letters, cookies, and Diet Coke for Santa (because that’s what OUR Santa drinks!) and an apple for Rudolph, and put the babies to bed.  We’ll see how that goes!

Adults will stuff stockings, wrap last-minute gifts, play games, laugh a lot.  The Santa-cookies will be eaten (crumbs will remain), the apple core will go on the front lawn, because that’s where it would land after Rudolph ate the apple, of course, and the Diet Coke will be consumed, can tipped over near the cookie plate.  We’ll stay up too late, and be up too early, when the first baby sounds the wake-up call.  Presents and chaos and fun and breakfast and coffee will happen, and the day will pass in a fun time of love and joy and noise, and hopefully a few naps.

It’s all pretty traditional and tame and boring, but I wouldn’t trade it.  This time of year is my prize for not throttling them that year that I had three in high school at the same time.”

IMG_0688001Lucien Parsons
“My mother’s family has always celebrated ThanksMas at Thanksgiving since we are spread too widely to all get together in both Nov and Dec.  After Thanksgiving with immediate family (or in-laws), we’d meet again on Friday or Saturday and do it all over again and then sit around the Christmas tree and exchange gifts (sometimes via Dirty Santa rules, sometimes via Secret Santa).  And, oh, yeah, PONIES and Trampolines!  (my cousin teaches Pony Club)

Due to multiple illnesses in the senior generation, we didn’t do it this year, and I really missed it!”

From our large, extended, wonderful Mod family to yours – have a wonderful Holiday, filled with friends, family, love, and great memories!!

Izzy Neis
Director of Strategy & Engagement

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