Roundtable: Holiday Traditions

A 21 meters (69 feet) high Christmas tree coming from Poland is backdropped by the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Courtney Gavitt, Campus Correspondent

My family has this hardcover copy of “The Polar Express” and an audiobook version of it on cassette tape. A cassette tape! That’s how old this tradition is. Every Christmas Eve, we all sit together with hot chocolate and put the audio tape on and read the book together. The book came with a small jingle bell, and it’s my job to ring it every time the narrator says the word “bell.” It’s the last thing we do before bed and I look forward to it every year.

Evan Thomas Burns, Campus Correspondent

My dad is a pit manager at Mohegan Sun Casino, and his shift runs from 4:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Back when I still believed in Santa Claus, we would get up at 2 a.m. to open presents together as a family, which I liked because I couldn’t sleep anyway from anticipation. Then we would turn on the “A Christmas Story” marathon and my mom would try to go back to sleep. Also, on Christmas Eve, my dad would read me “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” from this big illustrated book as he put me to bed.

Lauren Brown, Staff Writer

Every Christmas my family does Secret Santa, and we get really into it. Over the years, the gift-giving process has gone from serious to silly, so now people swap almost exclusively gag gifts. One of the best was when my father gave my 30-year-old cousin a replacement for a toy that he had run over when my cousin was five. My family members are some of the funniest people you will ever meet, so we are all usually in stitches whenever we do Secret Santa. 

Rebecca Maher, Campus Correspondent

When I was a kid, we would always go to my Grandma’s for Christmas, and on the way back we would swing by one of those Christmas light drive-throughs. It was a slow ride through a wooded area full to the brim with Christmas decorations. We’d look at the dazzling lights through the window and blast Christmas music on the radio. It was really nice to just be with my sister and my parents and see all of those pretty lights. Those drives were the closest I’ve ever gotten to the picture-perfect Christmases that are shown in movies.

Daniel Cohn, Campus Correspondent

If you couldn’t guess by my surname, I’m Jewish. Although I celebrate Hanukkah every year, my most meaningful holiday tradition is, like everyone else in this roundtable, about Christmas. I’m not a great Jew in that regard. For the past five or so years, a cluster of my friends have Christmas caroled around our neighborhood on the night before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve?). Our fearless leader in this undertaking is my friend Olivia (a sophomore at Northwestern) who grew up a pretty strong Christian AND a fantastic singer, so she knows her way around the Christmas songbook. This December 23 we’ll be continuing the tradition as we do our best to turn Grinches into Buddy-the-Elves.

Melissa Scrivani, Staff Writer

Every year, my family hosts Christmas Eve at our house, and my mom and I spend the whole day beforehand cooking a ton of fancy food and making a million cookies. We listen to Christmas music while we cook and it is just a really nice time for us to bond and get in the holiday spirit. Food and Christmas cookies are two of my favorite things, and spending this time with my mom has always been really special to me. I appreciate this time with her now more than ever as a college student who’s always away from home.

Mitchell Clark, Campus Correspondent

The North American Aerospace Defense Command has a volunteer-run hotline where you can call in on Christmas Eve to get the “current location” of Santa Claus. On the night before Christmas, my family would gather at my grandmother’s house for a small party. All of the kids who still believed in the magic of Santa would fervently place calls into this hotline all through the night to try to track the movements of Mr. Claus and his sleigh, hoping to find that he was getting closer and closer to us. Unfortunately, he never came until we fell asleep, but it was the thrill of the chase that mattered.

Alex Houdeshell, Campus Correspondent

Every year at Christmas time, my family makes a ton of cookies. Normally my mom ends up making about five kinds, but the one kind that we always make as a family are sugar cookies. Besides just making the dough, it becomes a family event to cut out the shapes and decorate them with frosting and sprinkles. Normally at some point we get into a dough fight. I always amass practically an army of snowmen-shaped cookies and by the end it’s a struggle to try to scrub the flour out of the table, but at least we get to spend the next two weeks eating a ton of cookies.