Typically we go to Connecticut to be with my family, but this year we are sticking it out in sunny California for the holidays. My wife is Greek. On New Year’s, they have a tradition of baking a coin into a cake. Whoever gets the piece with the coin is destined for a great year.
My family always makes tamales, which is a Mexican tradition. We always have the tamales on Christmas morning for breakfast before opening gifts. And my mom makes so many that we have weeks worth of tamales after. I’m sick of them until the next holiday!
We do a white elephant exchange with our family and friends. There are always a few very cool/thoughtful gifts that everyone fights over, then a few duds that everyone tries to give away. Always a good time.
I’ve never done a Christmas outside of California, but this year I’m heading to spend it with my sister, brother-in-law, and my two-and-a-half-year-old nephew in Pennsylvania. I really hope it snows. My sister is also due with her second kid at the end of December, so hopefully, I will be there to see my 2nd little nephew!
We always let the kids open one present early as a little teaser to get them ready for Santa. Food-wise, it’s the usual: some type of meat dish (I might smoke some brisket this year), green bean casserole, creamed corn, something starchy, and maybe some holiday cocktails.
Since I can remember, we’ve always had Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning. It was a tradition my Grandmother started. My family is spread out across the country now, and sometimes, due to my DJ schedule, we can’t get together. But I always make sure I have cinnamon buns regardless of where I am on Christmas morning.
This year we are going to Utah and having a white Christmas! I’m starting “12 Days of Books” for Cora, wrapping up different books leading up to Christmas, so she gets to open one a day, and we get to enjoy reading new stories together as a family! I also love experimenting with dairy-free desserts, so I’ll have to find something good to make.
For the past few years, I made make gluten-free cinnamon rolls from scratch. My wife Lisa has celiac, so she has to eat gluten-free, which means I also tend to eat gluten-free. They are pretty dang good, but it is hard to replace the gluten-full ones. Our son Quest loves them, though, so I will keep making them! We then take the little ones down to rock beach in Palos Verdes and enjoy the beautiful California weather in December.
For Christmas, my husband and I get the best of both worlds. His family is Brazilian, so they celebrate Christmas Eve, which means a party with lots of dancing and BBQing all night (for real, they sometimes don’t stop until 5 am). And then, we spend Christmas Day with my family for breakfast, lunch, and then usually the beach! Around the holidays, coworkers on my team start requesting that I bring in carrot cake. It’s a family recipe that I made for them the first year I was there, and they loved it. So now they send me little reminders all of December to bring some in. It’s a fun little way to spread cheer at work too.
Our traditions are pretty basic, I think! We do all of the family presents and a big white elephant exchange with my cousins and any family that can make it on Christmas Eve. And then Christmas morning is just with my immediate family and includes stockings and the gift from “Santa.” I usually like Christmas Eve more than Christmas because it’s a lot of fun with the entire family!