We asked readers to share their unique holiday traditions with us. Here are just a few. In the weeks ahead, you can find more — and share your own -- at latimes.com/home:
“For the past 15 years, our family has gathered at my sister & brother-in-law’s home — Dr. Roger and Oralia DeWames — in Thousand Oaks, and we all wear matching pajamas. It started with just the kids and has grown to include all of us, including grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. Last year, we had 35 people. Three granddaughters were married last year, so hopefully soon more great-grandkids will join us. On Christmas Eve, we receive our first gift, which is the pajamas to wear the next day. Usually Christmas Day ends up being a dance party in the kitchen while food is being prepared. After the meal it gets quiet as everyone sneaks off to find someplace to take and nap.”
--Tami Martinez, Playa Del Rey
For Lee Boyles of Rancho Palos Verdes, the holidays mean lots of butter and flour — and granddaughters Amy Johns, and Grace and Elise Gorman: “Every year we bake cookies with the grandkids. Or, should I say, I bake and the kids decorate. we get together the week before Christmas for a baking and decorating marathon, only stopping for pizza delivery. Let the good times roll!”
“My mother was one of two girls in a family of eight children. Coming to America from Poland between the two World Wars, she and all of her brothers eventually married and had families, living within close proximity of each other. My mother was known far and wide for her outstanding potato latkes, which she learned how to make from her mother. Each year she made hundreds of them during the eight days of Hanukkah. Her brothers would flock to our home. They fought, angling to be closest to the stove and would often bid on who got the next latke hot off the frying pan and generally had the most wonderful time eating these beautiful, golden fried delights! My mother’s method was to use a flat grater that she placed over a large bowl, shredding the potatoes by hand. A food processor would make the job go faster and be easier on the fingers, but it wouldn’t be the same. My mother is gone, but I chose to continue using this method today.
--Phyllis Rosenhaft, Laguna Woods
“It wouldn’t be Christmas without setting up part of Aunt Althea’s Christmas village. Before she passed she gave us her large Christmas village, which she painstakingly collected over the years. It’s a little large for our space. So we pick a different part each year. Now that our son, Connor, is a sophomore at New York University, he comes home looking forward to seeing which part is on display. It’s not only symbolic of Christmas, but it means he’s home.”
--Laurie Kilpatrick, Los Angeles
At Jeannine Shearing’s home in San Pedro, the Christmas place setting includes a slender taper candle. When dinner begins, the first person lights their candle, and offers up an affirmation about the person sitting to their right, and then lights that person’s candle. And so on and so on around the table. “We’ve done this for over 20 years, and when our family became a blended one 11 years ago, it helped them all feel more welcome. Plus, it gives us an opportunity to say something nice that may otherwise go unspoken,” she said.
“All year long, we put fun, exciting, important events in a “memory jar.” Then on New Year’s Eve, we open them and enjoy reliving all the wonderful moments we’ve shared throughout the year!”
--Kathy Nygaard, Irvine