Everyone has their favorite holiday memories and family traditions . . . special recipes, annual destinations, tree trimming festivities, loaded stockings hanging from the mantle on Christmas morning, or special New Year’s celebrations. What comes to mind when you wax nostalgic over the holidays? Thrive caught up with several folks in town and around the office – here are their favorite traditions and memories.
very year for New Year’s, my husband, kids and I sit down and read our submissions into our Jar of Joy. We started this tradition about five years ago. I cut index cards into small strips and leave them on the kitchen counter near an empty jar. When something good happens, like a raise, good test score or whatever brings us joy, we write it down, fold the slip and put it in the jar anonymously. We start with an empty jar on January 1 and read them all aloud on December 31. It’s memories of things that happened over the year that we could have easily forgotten. One of the funniest things is when people come to our house and sneak their slips in.
– Shonda Manuel, partner/associate creative director, Healthy Image Marketing
For decades, I hosted an annual tree-trimming party. It was a highlight of the season for family and friends. My love of Christmas ornaments began when I was a child. My dear mom would give me a new angel ornament every year. Today, my tree is covered in angels, each with its own story.
– Angie Kay Dilmore, managing editor, Thrive magazine
Every year after Christmas dinner, we all pile into the car and look at Christmas lights around town. We turn up the Christmas music, sing, laugh and enjoy our time together. It’s one of my favorite traditions and I look forward to it every year.
– Katie Stevenson, business manager, Thrive magazine
Every year at midnight on New Year’s Eve, I try to do something unique to set the tone for the following year. On NYE 2019 going into 2020, I wanted to up my movie game for 2020, so I decided to go see a movie that started just before midnight. I opted to see a movie I expected to be agonizing, CATS. And it was! It was barely eight minutes in and decided I couldn’t endure this movie. I went to the counter and asked if I could change my movie, and saw Rise of Skywalker instead. So at midnight, I was watching Star Wars instead of my original plan, CATS. Now, I’m not saying that my actions CAUSED 2020 to turn out like it did, but I think it’s entirely possible my last-second swerve at the stroke of midnight caused the gears of 2020 to get out of sync. Can you think of any other reason why 2020 was the colossal disaster it was? Me either.
When our children were small, Mom ordered a Santa costume and recruited my brother to wear it. The instructions advised him to stuff cotton up his nose so that his Santa voice would sound authentic. After our huge meal, brother disappeared. Suddenly, loud footsteps marched across the roof of their two-story house, then traipsed onto the front porch and into our presence. He tried taking gift orders, but little Kyle looked up at the tall man in red, and asked, “Santa, why do you have cotton up your nose?” All the children huddled close to see, sending us adults into hilarity. Dad laughed until he cried, Mom giggled until she peed, and I threw up in the kitchen garbage can. When it was all over, my brother whispered in my ear, “You know, I had the strongest desire to try to go down that chimney.”
– Jessica Roach Ferguson, freelance writer
My wife, Becky, and I have two children, Harrison and Colette. Harrison was born in August 2017 and Colette in February 2020, so their family holiday traditions are still fresh. The Hunters always enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with family and then put up the Christmas tree afterwards. Harrison helps with the tree. Harrison and Colette sported special, matching Christmas PJ’s in 2020 and this is a Christmas tradition the Hunters plan to continue for years to come.
– Mayor Nic Hunter, Lake Charles mayor
My Granny Gloria was Christmas’s biggest fan. Every memory I have of the holidays is wrapped up in her. She decorated everything, wore silly sweaters with tinsel and tiny LED lights, played corny Christmas music, made the most delicious divinity, fudge, cookies, pies, and cakes in addition to a turkey, ham, homemade macaroni and cheese, cornbread dressing and cranberry sauce. When I think about the warm, cozy, happy holiday things, I think about her. She taught me that it doesn’t matter where we are or how we celebrate. What’s important is that our family is together – all the more meaningful now that we’ve lost our home multiple times. All those amazing memories are safe in my mind. No natural disaster can take them away.
– Clair Hebert Marceaux, PCED Director, Cameron Parish Port, Harbor & Terminal District
Like most divorced parents during the holidays, we have to share time with the kiddos. The way Christmas works for us is that if one parent gets Christmas Eve, then the other parent gets Christmas day. Rather than just drop the kids off, each year one set of parents hosts our “Blended Family Christmas Party.” We celebrate with Christmas Eve Mass, then games, gift exchanges and lots of yummy food. Every year, the games get more competitive and the laughter gets louder. Though everyone is growing up and will eventually have their own families, this tradition is one that we hope to continue for the rest of our lives and is my favorite party of the season.
-Shayne Laughlin, State Farm agent
For me, the best part of the holidays is having my parents over for Christmas Eve. My mother is a fantastic cook and makes THE BEST fried oysters and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. No, we don’t eat a typical Christmas feast but a seafood blowout. Then after we are stuffed we all pile in a vehicle and visit the light show at Trinity Baptist Church and the house on Canal Street off of Country Club Rd.
– Eric Avery, President, Crying Eagle Brewing Co.
Christmas Eve Worship at First Presbyterian, friends and family, and Mark’s regionally famous Kickin’ Henry hot chocolate, have been our family tradition for our daughter’s entire life. Mark, the “mayor” of Edgemont, makes the hot chocolate by hand, and with loving care like his father used to do, exclusively on Christmas Eve. It is served in a variety of Christmas mugs collected through the years and even includes some Santa mugs from Mark’s childhood. Friends and neighbors throughout the region make it a point to stop by the Judson’s home for this rich Christmas Eve tradition.
– Sara Judson, CEO Community Foundation SWLA