Holiday Traditions

Students, Faculty Share Their Holiday Traditions

Kaley Johnson, Reporter

From watching movies to having a unique family meal, students often have their own way of celebrating the holiday season. 

This time of the year brings a tradition of freshman Kailey Cheng’s family, who makes a turkey noodle soup using the leftovers after Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. They take the bones from the turkey and make a broth and their own handmade noodles.

“In the soup we also have vegetables and seasonings,” Cheng said. “The tradition is important to me because the turkey, noodles and soup are all family recipes. [I am] not sure when it started because the recipes and the tradition are from my great grandmother. I remember being about five when I learned how to make the dough for the noodles.”

Cheng said that she has been doing this with her family for as long as she can remember and has many memories associated with the process. 

Another favorite among families and friends is watching a holiday movie together. Elf or Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer are always popular choices, but senior Cameron Niemietz’s favorite movie to watch is The Polar Express. She said that watching it is something that she and her family have done for years after she missed a showing of the movie in elementary school.

“We started this tradition when I was in probably fourth grade after I missed the ‘Polar Express Day’ at school,” Niemietz said. “On Christmas Eve, we made up for it and watched the movie, drank hot chocolate and had a really great time. Since then it just kind of stuck.”

Niemietz said that watching this movie is something she loves because it gets her in the Christmas spirit and is something she can do with anyone she cares about.

“[It is] important to me because it is just such a happy movie and we get to really spend time with each other,” Niemietz said. “Once I graduate, I hope to be able to travel home for the holidays and continue the tradition. If not, I would love to be able to watch it with my roommates in college.”

While the family meal of turkey or ham is common, tennis coach and teacher Randy Ballenger’s family take a different route. Each Christmas Eve, they grill for the whole family.

“I remember my dad, growing up in Iowa when it was about zero degrees out, and he’s like, ‘We’re still grilling’,” Ballenger said. “He went out and had this big heavy coat on. He was shivering and he was darn determined to grill. We’ve kept that tradition every year on Christmas Eve.”

Since his father’s death eight years ago on the day after Christmas, Ballenger said that their grilling tradition has become more important and something he is proud to continue doing with his family.

“I do remember that last Christmas Eve [when] I grilled and I was able to give him a taste of meat before he passed away,” Ballenger said. “Keeping that tradition alive after he started it a long time ago has been very meaningful to me.”

Another student whose family has a different take on their Christmas meal is junior Lauren Crawford. Each year, her family makes fajitas for any family members they have in the area. Crawford and her family began this tradition about five years ago as a way to serve something that the younger kids in the family would all eat. She said it is something she has gotten to look forward to and appreciate for its originality.

“We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now,” Crawford said. “My whole local family comes to my grandparents’ house and we stuff our faces with Mexican food. I think it makes my family individual from others. Most people would have something like ham or turkey, but fajitas mix up a classic holiday and make it fun. Overall, I’m really glad this tradition is something I can look forward to every year.”