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How Holiday Traditions Evolve As Families Grow: The EPI Team Shares Holiday Traditions
by Colleen Kowalski on December 20, 2022
With winter holidays come many family gatherings, holiday parties, and endless traditions. Some traditions have been passed down for generations, while others are newly minted, but one thing is for sure, Holiday traditions are as unique to each family.
How Are Holiday Traditions Like Business Processes?
As families grow larger, older, and farther apart, holiday traditions evolve. Just like your business must make changes to accommodate new hires, an aging workforce, or a remote team. Your business might have been following standard operating procedures to complete your daily tasks, however, with an ever-changing workforce, these procedures might need to adapt.
Learn about some of the EPI Team’s favorite holiday traditions and how they have changed throughout the years.
Chris Snider: We celebrate at Grandma’s house every Christmas Eve for polish Christmas called Wigilia. No meat is served and no food can be eaten until we share opłatki (a blessed dry white wafer) with loved ones. Everyone walks around the table and you break off a little piece from each other’s wafer and tell them you love them and then eat it. Grandma is 90 years old now. I have been doing this since I met my wife Denice 47 years ago. Her family was doing it way before that.
We also go to the Christmas Tree Farm and cut down usually six Christmas trees the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The whole family goes – Four generations now participate. We then head back to our house for leftover turkey.
Another tradition is to hide the pickle in the Christmas tree. My wife hides a pickle in what is usually a very large tree in our family room. When the kids come over on Christmas day they search for it and have bragging rights until the next Christmas.
Finally, My daughter and I go shopping for mom the Saturday before Christmas every year. She has “the list” and I have the credit card!
Scott Snider: There are two Kozlowski Family Traditions, my mom’s side of the family, that really stand out to me throughout my life. These are traditions that I have been a part of for 37 years. And both extend way past that as my father, Chris, has been a part of these traditions since he met my mother nearly 47 years ago. The first is a Polish, Catholic style, and traditional Christmas Eve dinner.
My grandmother hosts every year and traditionally we do not eat meat. Rather Grandma and many people in my family help to make homemade pierogies served with pickled herring and several non-meat side dishes. The second is cutting down a real Christmas tree for the house. Typically, always the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving the entire family goes out into the tree farms and we cut and drag out 6 trees. One for each family. And my parent’s tree is nearly 15 feet tall. Quite a haul.
The Christmas tree cutting is quite the same. Sometimes the day changes given the weather. Sometimes the size of trees changes depending on what the tree farm has grown or what has come into “cutting permissions” or I suppose depending on how much patience everyone has that year for hauling in a massive 15-footer!
Jocelyn Bires: For the holidays, we like to spend as much time as possible with family. Each year we help our parents decorate their trees and watch a Christmas movie. We also travel out to Johnstown, PA for a few days after Christmas to see my boyfriend’s family.
Margo Coniam: My extended family and I get together on December 23 to celebrate Little Christmas Eve. It is a Nordic tradition that allows the whole family to get together and celebrate Christmas. There is good food, music, decorations and of course a lot of fun!
As the years have gone by, the person who hosts Little Christmas Eve has changed, but mostly the tradition has stayed the same. It is something the whole family looks forward to doing. The only big thing that has changed over the years is the menu as it was more seafood based to start and has slowly evolved to be a little less so here in the Midwest.
Jesse Hudson: I love attending the Christmas Eve service with my family and friends. It is the annual reminder of why we should give; so much has been given to us. The goal isn’t to be a “good person” or feel coerced to give but to give with a grateful heart. My wife and I always traveled to someone else’s home for Christmas. But, now having two children, we love hosting everyone at our house for opening presents and Christmas dinner!
Joe Klauer: Growing up we always would get a real Christmas tree. We would pick a day and go and buy the tree then come home and decorate the tree as a family.
My typical Christmas nowadays is going to my Mom’s house in the morning for gifts and breakfast, then going to my girlfriends’ families house for Christmas dinner and relaxation. Once I have a family of my own, I will bring back some of the good ole’ holiday traditions.
Colleen Kowalski: Every Christmas Eve, my immediate family travels to my aunt and uncle’s house to celebrate Christmas together. Growing up, my favorite part of this tradition happened on the drive home that night. My dad would point to stars or planes in the sky and tell us it was Santa flying his sleigh to our house. Now that my sisters and I are older, we share this tradition with my young niece and nephew. They get so excited watching Santa fly across the sky as we make our way back home to Cleveland.
One of our other traditions is creating an entire snow family in our front yard, complete with a life-size snow fort. Our whole family would spend the day creating six snow-people so tall that we would need a ladder to place their heads and decor on straight!
Josh Koza: One of my favorite traditions is the family gift list exchange. Each year, our extended family gathers for an exchange of Christmas gift wish lists. My aunt is the official record keeper and reads off an individual’s list from the previous year before the new list is shared.
As our family has grown and members have relocated around the country we have had to adapt. In recent years, we’ve had to video conference in at least one family unit.
Scott Lang: Our family makes Lefsa (Norwegian flatbread) each year. This year we are starting a new tradition with our kids and are taking them out west to ski!
Joshua Lewis: One of my favorites is making perogies on Dec 23 for dinner on Christmas Eve. Something we did with my grandmother when I was younger. It means a lot to my family and me, plus I love perogies. My nieces and nephews are at the age where they want to help, so it’s really cool to show them what to do so that they can grow up and continue the tradition.
Jenna Meredith: Every Christmas Eve, my family and I go to church together, eat dinner, and play games. On Christmas morning, we get together with extended family for breakfast and to catch up with each other. We end the holiday with Christmas dinner and relaxing by watching a Christmas movie. Over the years, our traditions have naturally changed. Our family has gotten older and my family has moved apart from each other. The holidays have become less about tradition and more about just spending time together when we can.
Rick Perk: I usually go to my stepmom’s family’s house on Christmas Eve with my family and cousins. Sometimes, we mosey over to 10 o’clock mass at St. Chris in Rocky River. After mass, we watch A Christmas Story. The traditions have certainly dwindled and have become less organized as I’ve grown older. They used to be very structured and organized, but are now very tame and hardly planned.
Chase Ross: My family always packs the holidays with parties. I probably average 6-8 Christmas get-togethers a year with different members of the family. It’s a great time to see everyone, exchange gifts, and play games.
My wife and I bought our first home this year so we’ve been working on starting our traditions with a tree, lights, and decorations, as well as hosting some parties of our own. We typically take a vacation around this time each year as well and are looking to go out of the country more often around this time in the upcoming years.
Kristina Schuerger: My family tradition is making homemade perogies on Christmas Eve with my Grandma. They are a Slovak traditional pierogi made from dough and cheesy potatoes and pronounced “per-o-he”, they take about 6 hours to make!
John Weishar: My holiday traditions include spending Christmas Day at my parent’s house. As my family gets bigger and since getting married this year, my wife and I now celebrate Christmas Eve is now at her parent’s house.
Paige Wysocki: My family hides a pickle ornament in the Christmas tree each year. One year, my sister and I couldn’t find the pickle for roughly six hours. We climbed under the tree, looked at every branch, and at each ornament – but couldn’t find it. Years later, my parents informed us that they forgot to hide the pickle that year!
Now that I am married, I get to celebrate multiple families’ traditions. My husband’s family does a white elephant exchange each year. One year all the cousins fought over a framed photo of his great-aunt. Sadly, we did not win the photo!
How have your traditions changed as your family grows? Share your traditions with us on LinkedIn!
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