Favorite Holiday Traditions From ANW Staff & Resident Artists
By Bridgette Ramirez
December 15, 2020
To get us in a festive mood, some of our staff and Resident Artists have shared their favorite holiday traditions with their families and friends (including a few that are tailored to this year’s… special circumstances). Who knows? You may find traditions that you also share, or brand new ones that you can try with your loved ones!
Patti Anne Miller, Director of Development
My mom and I make homemade candy (pralines, chocolate turtles, and coconut balls) and give a tin to each of our neighbors! So fun to cook and wrap gifts and pass them out to people we have known for so long. 🙂
Paul Ramirez, Marketing Intern
Each year my family goes on a scavenger hunt to find a new addition to add to our nutcracker collection. This tradition started by my younger sister is a fairly recent one that she has spearheaded. Nutcrackers have always been a Christmas decor staple for my family, yet one year my sister decided that we needed to curate an actual assortment of nutcrackers that we could proudly display for guests. This year our newest addition is a NASA inspired astronaut complete with helmet and American flag.
Erika Soto, Resident Artist
We have FOUR Traditions!
1. We pick a dress theme every year. For example: Pijama Christmas or Ugly Sweater Christmas. This year is Flannel Christmas!
Cyndee Naideau, Development Associate
On Christmas Eve we make a fire in our woodstove and gather around our small television to watch at least 5 Christmas episodes of The Simpsons. My brother and mother both fall asleep on the floor close to the fire and my other brother and father fall asleep on our couch, which leaves me to watch the same 5 episodes… alone… every… year.
Zach Davidson, Institutional Giving Manager
Don’t have too many holiday traditions, but the first ones that come to mind are…
- Christmas Day, movie & Chinese food (#VeryJewish)
- Driving around town with my wife to look at Christmas lights
- Annual screening of “Love, Actually,” which I could probably recite word-for-word at this point
Alan Blumenfeld, Resident Artist
Our family is an intercultural household where we celebrate the Holidays from our Jewish and Christian traditions.
Bridgette Ramirez, Senior Editorial & Marketing Coordinator
My mom’s side of the family plays a bunch of games. We’ll pass around unmarked gift boxes like hot potato, and whoever it lands on opens the box to reveal a ridiculous hat, mask, wig, etc. that they have to wear. I’ll never forget seeing my grandma in a Hannah Montana wig. My dad’s sister’s birthday is on Christmas Eve, so we usually go over to her house to make her a birthday breakfast with French toast, bacon, and all the classics. (This year, dad is shipping her French toast cereal… don’t spoil the surprise!)
Obviously this year requires social distancing, but we’ve still found fun things to do. My cousins and I arranged a Christmas Movie March Madness game, with us voting on a round of brackets every week leading up to the best Christmas movie according to our family. It’s a real nail biter so far!
Susan Angelo, Resident Artist
As a child, Christmas Eve was the yearly big celebration at my Italian grandmother’s house, which was connected to the bar she owned and ran (Angelo’s Pine Room!)… It was a huge space to run around in; pool table; juke box; and a tradition of eating spaghetti and fried oysters. I had a lot of first cousins, and we would dance and sing and each get to open one present that night. The anticipation as so exciting. So this year… this very odd year…. for the first time in decades, all the cousins are getting together again, via zoom! We won’t run around the pool table, but we will certainly recall those good memories. As I continue to look for the gift in this difficult time, reuniting with cousins is one! Happy Holidays!
Deborah Strang, Subscriber Services Manager & Resident Artist
Trisha Miller, Resident Artist
This is not a childhood holiday tradition, but one my partner Tom and I have embraced since becoming parents, as a way to start our own little family tradition while connecting with our history. We grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, home to a large Scandanavian population. My family’s roots are in Norway, and our new tradition is baking Norweigan krumkake cookies during the holidays. They are similar to Italian pizzelle cookies–you pour a batter into a thin, embossed waffle iron—but krumkake cookies are then rolled around a wooden cone. They are delicious and simple, flavored with vanilla and cardamom, and something the three of us enjoy making and eating together.
Jonathan Muñoz-Proulx, Director of Cultural Programming
When there’s not a global pandemic, I spend Christmas with A LOT of family.
My parents, sister and I usually go a relative’s house (where family from all over are packed into one living room), and the counter is lined with beef and chicken tamales (YUM), and sometimes even chili con carne.
Oh, and there’s ALWAYS pan dulce and my Nana’s famous walnut fudge.
When I was a kid, we would all gather at my grandparents’ house for the holidays. The living room would be filled with folding tables and folding chairs to accommodate the huge, annual family dinner. There seemed to be a different tray of walnut fudge on every surface… What I remember most though, was the long fireplace mantle with a fuzzy red stocking hanging down for each one of us grandchildren—there were a LOT of us. Each stocking hung above a large metal fireplace gate with an ornate “M” welded onto it… for “Muñoz.”
We always opened presents on Christmas Eve. The absolute greatest, greatest, GREATEST gift I ever received was a Nintendo 64! Super Smash Bros? Donkey Kong 64?? The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time??? YES. PLEASE!!!
After presents, all the folding tables and chairs would be put away for next year, clearing the large, brown, carpeted living room for the kids to roll out our sleeping bags for the night—a sea of brightly colored nylon reserved for sleepovers and Christmas Eve.
This year is very different.
All my grandparents have passed. Others are no longer with us. The rest of our family will be in their separate corners of the coast. It’s just four of us—Mom, Dad, and sister.
Gifts are anything that can be safely shipped to our front door and wiped down with Clorox.
Every year when I ask my Dad what he wants for Christmas and he says: “Peace on Earth,” and I roll my eyes and laugh. But this year I hear him.
Then he always adds: “And socks.” – so not much has changed, I guess.
Wishing you all a very special holiday. And Peace on Earth. 😊