Culture / Newsy

Truly Original Holiday Traditions — the Special Ways Our Families Celebrate the Season

Now Hear This

BY // 12.23.19

My favorite part of the holiday season is the traditions my family has had for my whole life. My grandparents live on a Christmas tree farm, so every year, we spend hours picking out the perfect tree to bring home. Finding our tree is something I take very seriously.

It has to be dark in color, fragrant, full, and towering in height. My mom used to wrap up a set of Christmas pajamas under the tree for my brother and me to open on Christmas Eve. My mom and I would also bake cookies to leave out for Santa with a glass of milk before bed. We would then wear our festive pajamas to bed, ready to wake up the next morning to see what Santa had left us under our beautiful fresh-cut tree.

I love hearing how other families spend the holidays, so I asked my PaperCity Dallas officemates to share some of their most cherished traditions for this week’s Now Hear This question.

Christina Geyer, Editor-at-Large

I think the bigger question is, what Christmas traditions doesn’t my family have. Homemade Advent calendars. German Christmas markets. Angels on top of trees. The list goes on and on. 

Growing up, my parents went above and beyond to make Christmas magical. Many of our traditions followed the German style of things, as my grandmother is German and has played a heavy role in things passed down — from recipes to stories and, of course, all matters of tradition. 


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And so, beginning December 1 every year, the family room in our house would get locked up, while the “angels and elves” made my brother and me a Christmas room. The room would remain locked until Christmas Eve, upon which it would somehow magically open to reveal a large train set for my brother; three dollhouses for me (two of them are antiques, dating back to when my grandmother was a little girl; it is long said that two of those dollhouses survived two World Wars in Germany, which I think is pretty miraculous); Christmas cookies and candy were placed everywhere; and there was no end to decorations. 

The big reveal was as magical when I was 5 years old as it was when I was 18 years old. But now, as adults, the tradition will have to wait to resume until my brother and/or I have our own children to surprise.

Billy Fong, Culture and Style Editor

Holiday traditions? Well, growing up my parents always went the whole nine yards and had a decked-out Christmas tree and my amazing father risked life and limb by stringing lights all around the façade or our home. Since I’ve grown up and moved out many years ago they stopped doing lots of decorations.

Unfortunately, we lost my mother right before Christmas of 2016 and we’ve tried to come up with some new traditions over the holidays. One that I have loved is cooking some of her old recipes. In Chinese culture, the meal is the centerpiece of any special occasion.

Over the past few years, my father and I have perfected my mom’s duck recipe. However, last year we tried one of her dumpling recipes and failed miserably. I would say that they still tasted good but just were atrocious to look at, but I’ll be honest — they were pretty terrible.

This year I think we will try and again, so please wish us luck. I’ll be sure to post an Instagram shot if they are photo-worthy.

Megan Ziots, Dallas Digital Reporter

My family just started a new tradition of taking trips during the holidays. Two years ago, we all went snowboarding for the first time in Telluride, Colorado. It was one of the most fun trips as we stayed at Madeline Hotel up in the mountains. It was its own little village with an ice skating rink, shops and the ski lift nearby.


Madeline Hotel
The Madeline Hotel proved to be a dream Christmas destination.

There was also a free gondola that takes you straight down to downtown Telluride, which is one of the most charming downtowns in Colorado. Again on the hunt to find a winter wonderland to visit, this year we’re headed to Montreal and Quebec City in Canada for the first time. I can’t wait to check out the Christmas village in Quebec City and tour the underground tunnels of Montreal. 

Linda Kenney, Account Executive 

My favorite Holiday tradition has been our family’s Christmas tree. We began with a small tree with satin balls. We were new to Texas and in a small apartment so the little tree with no personality worked for us.

Bill and I were in a home the next year and decided to take trimming the tree seriously, with a plan to make our family tree our family story. We started a family and we also began collecting unusual and whimsical ornaments that spoke to us, finding ornaments in our travels as well as Laura and Lindsay’s (our daughters) bespoke crafts.

Over the years, we have added antique ornaments from our parents’ collections. The oldest ornament on the tree is more than 100 years old. The youngest is a little silver ornament with a photo of our little grandson Indy.

Maggie Wilson, Events and Partnerships Coordinator 

One of my favorite Holiday traditions is that my family always decorates the tree together. My mom has the tree delivered right after Thanksgiving so that everyone is still around. We put on Christmas music and drink hot chocolate while hanging the ornaments and talking about where they come from and which are our favorites. It’s always such a special time to be around each other and unplug and just be in the moment.

Jade Osseck, Dallas Intern

I will be spending Christmas with my boyfriend’s family in Virginia. We go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve and stop at 7-Eleven after to get slurpees and a scratch off lottery ticket. We wear our Christmas pajamas to bed, ready to have cinnamon rolls in the morning. My boyfriend’s mom and I spend Christmas day cooking the best bone-in prime rib roast for dinner. I’m excited to get to eat it again soon.

Avery Cooper, Dallas Intern

My family is half Jewish and half Christian, so I grew up celebrating both religions’ December holidays – Christmas and Hanukkah.

One of my favorite traditions, though, is when my whole family would climb into the car with hot chocolate in our hands and drive out to Deerfield to look at the neighborhood’s holiday lights. My brother and I would peak our heads out of the sunroof as we sang along to whichever Christmas song was playing — very loudly — on the radio. We’d all vote for our favorite house’s display and try to find it again to savor its festivity.

Depending on when Hanukkah fell each year, we’d usually come back home, light the Menorah and recite the prayer.

Every Christmas Eve, my mom cooks filet mignon with asparagus and burst cherry tomatoes – perfectly displaying the classic Christmas colors. We’d then stretch out on the couch as a family and watch the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, my dad’s all-time favorite. Christmas morning, we’d wake up early, make some hot chocolate and devour homemade cinnamon rolls and — of course — listen to Christmas music as we opened presents under the tree.

Throughout my childhood, my family’s holiday season looked a little differently than my friends’ at school. But every year was special and full of so much love and laughter.

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Leave a comment and share.

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