Sharing Holiday Traditions from D-H Staff
My parents have always treasured the ornaments my brother, and I made as kids. Even though I’m all grown up, with kids of my own, they dust off these relics every year and stick them on the tree. From foam crosses to salt-dough stars; painstakingly punched tin lids to the neon-orange one-eyed puff-ball spide; they all find a home. Because my parents have good taste as well as a healthy sense of nostalgia, that home is generally on the back of the tree.
However, there is one ornament that deserves a higher place of honor—the yarn-man. My brother created this sea-green monstrosity back in his kindergarten days. Ever since we were old enough to appreciate the absurdity of the creature, we have been slowly moving him up the tree. Our tradition is to wait until all the other decorations, ladders and heightened security measures have been put away. Then one of us will toss him up to the top of the tree and try to impale him on a branch or an ornament near the top. My mom inevitably spots him and then my dad drags out the ladder, takes him down and hides him somewhere in the back of the tree—generally tucked in towards the trunk out of sight. My brother and I will then rescue him, and the cycle repeats itself until we have to go home or the tree is taken down for the year. Yarn-man is older now. He’s lost his eyes, his mouth and his strings are coming unwound. But every year, he faithfully makes the climb to the top.
Stephanie L. Jolin
One of our favorite holiday traditions since moving to the Upper Valley in 2007, sledding down Lady-La Sallette in Enfield, NH, on Christmas Eve night with headlamps and flashlights! We get extra lighting from the holiday light display at La Salette Shrine next door. We even bring our chocolate lab and let her run around a bit with us—we attach a glow stick to her collar. Quite fun for the whole family of five (six if you count Zoe, the dog), and even the teenagers still look forward to it. The only modifications have been the few times when there was no snow or mostly ice.
Danielle B. Thompson
Communications and Marketing
We have a tradition in our family that involves the largest roll of wrapping paper I have ever seen in my life. Many years ago, Grampa and Grandma Hislop bought a massive roll of wrapping paper. I want to say a few years before my uncle was born, so about 40 years ago (they had him later in life). I know at one point, Grandma mentioned where they found it, but I don’t recall today. It is the length of a typical roll of paper but on a much wider tube and very wide around. This paper is the only roll that they have been using to wrap gifts since they purchased it. Every year, we know that the presents under the Hislop tree will be wrapped lovingly in the paper that is white, with small light blue Christmas-y designs. Every year we are astonished the paper is still going, and the roll always makes an appearance. It has shrunk over the years, but still has plenty of years to go. There was one year, my grandparents decided not to use the paper, just “to see what would happen.” Not a single family member kept quiet in asking, “Is the roll finally done?” or “What are you doing?” So the following year, it returned, and it remains.
Employee Wellness Program
Instead of putting coal into someone’s stocking, we put in a potato, because when you’re just a little bit naughty, Santa changes one of your stocking gifts into a potato.
Every December beginning when we were barely old enough not to fidget through the performance, my parents would take my three brothers and me to Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY, to hear Handel’s “Messiah”—all three hours of it. Over time, our parents—as well as our exceptionally strong high school music program—taught us to love great choral works like this one.
Though Mom and Dad are no longer with us, we think their spirits must laugh each year when their kids and grandkids gather for a holiday family reunion. Prepared with a “Messiah” CD, our well-worn vocal scores, and a couple of bottles of wine, we sing along to the whole first section and finish with the “Hallelujah” chorus.
Cookie Day - Our family gathers on Christmas Eve day to bake and decorate cookies, and then we dress up for family pictures by the tree before heading out to Christmas Eve Services. It is always a fun, messy day full of laughs and memories!
Every year TBS has “A Christmas Story” on for 24 hours, starting on Christmas Eve. My wife and I save the wrapping of Christmas presents until this time. We like to settle down with a nice glass of wine, in the warm glow of the Christmas tree, while watching the first run of the movie. Our goal every year is to see if we can finish wrapping the presents before the second run of the movie starts. Sometimes we’re successful, other times we’re stuck watching the Bumpass’ dogs eating the turkey one more time. But then again, that also allows for a second glass of wine.
Scott B. Druckenmiller
General Internal Medicine
This fall I was blessed with my fifth grandchild. As for each of the others, I decorated a wooden Advent tree for him. Each morning the children—newborn to eight years old—open a box for a small surprise, a piece of candy, a quarter, socks or a small toy. The joy and excitement on their faces as we count down the days to Christmas are precious.
Diane C. Lavoie
Patient Relations, D-H Nashua
My grandparents were two of the most important people in my life. My grandfather passed away a few months before my college graduation. For the last 21 years since he passed away, I have placed a Christmas tree on his grave. I put battery-operated lights on the tree and light them on Christmas Eve. My sister and nephew join in the lighting of the tree. Until my grandmother passed away nine years ago, my parents would take her to visit the cemetery each Christmas to see his (now their) Christmas tree. Every night for a least a week, they have a beautiful tree [pictured right] that brightens the cemetery and honors their love of Christmas and family.
Marcy L. Sanborn
This holiday season will be my fifth anniversary baking for the community. Each year, I get a group of volunteers together to bake hundreds of cookies and cupcakes, and dozens of breads and pies.The baking ingredients are donated and any leftover ingredients/cash after baking, are then donated to Listen Community Services. The baking usually takes place a few days before Christmas Eve and then on Christmas Eve, we deliver to The Upper Valley Haven, the Haven’s Warming Shelter, David’s House, Listen’s Community Dinner Hall, Senior Centers and Nursing Homes. Each delivery has a personalized card, from the “Community Helpers.”
I’ve done this out of my home every year, sometimes in a cramped apartment, but this year is the first time my group will have industrial ovens to use and a big open space. We will be baking on December 22 at the Royalton Academy building in South Royalton, VT, and even have additional deliveries to better support the community. This is a tradition I intend to keep for a long time. Above is a picture of some of the bakers from two years ago, but we have a mix of adults and children that volunteer.
Denee F. Fioravanti
After attending early Christmas Eve Mass, all of my family gather around the table, which is full of symbolism; hay under the napkins to remind us of the Christ Child being born in a manger; an extra plate, and chair for any stranger that may come to your door in need; white fish as the only meat to be served; etc. The meal does not begin until the first star is observed by the children.
The oldest person hands a thin white wafer called oplatek and wishes some good fortune to each person at the table. After that round, the next oldest does the same and so on until the youngest has his or her turn. For good fortune in the coming year, we all wash our hands in a bowl of honey, water and all the loose change we can find. Then we eat the assortment of home-made pierogi, beets, mushroom soup and a variety of other Polish foods in anticipation of Christmas Day.
PS: My last name loosely means “Christmas Sleigh Ride,” but that is a whole other story about a Polish Christmas!
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia Joanne!
Raymond P. Kulig
As a child, I remember my grandmother would always give us a handmade ornament on the 12th day of Christmas.
We would all gather around the tree hanging our special homemade ornaments, drinking hot cocoa, while listening to stories of past holidays and singing holiday songs.
I began doing that for my children, and have continued making ornaments for my five grandkids.
Keeping the memory of family and friends, singing, enjoying the wonders of the holidays and continuing tradition is what makes the holiday special for me.
Cheryl J. Capilli-Kendall
Intensive Care Unit