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Parent Talk bloggers: Our Christmas rituals

Long Island families share their favorite holiday traditions.

Long Island families share their favorite holiday traditions. Credit: iStock

Naturally, this time of year is all about family traditions. Here, we reflect on ours:

I've been married for a little more than three years and I'm still not used to splitting up the holidays between our families. Don't get me wrong, I'm blessed to have so many people to celebrate with, but it's quite a whirlwind. From the traditional Italian seven fishes feast on Christmas Eve with my in-laws to the festivities on Christmas day with my side of the family, the two days go by so quickly it makes me miss the sit-in-my-pajamas-all-day Christmases of my childhood. Although my almost 2-year-old daughter still doesn't quite grasp the true meaning of Christmas, I'm looking forward to her reaction as we check out what Santa left behind. Celebrating the holidays through my daughter's eyes is probably the best present I've ever received. -- Jennifer Berger

If there’s one Christmas morning tradition that has been passed down to me, it’s that the fun doesn’t begin until Mommy’s been in hair and makeup. That means that after a shower with the requisite moisturizing, she puts on full foundation, blush, mascara, liquid eyeliner, eye shadow and lipstick and that her hair has been set in hot rollers. Attire has always been specially chosen prior to the day — usually an attractive but tasteful and festive nightie. Good perfume is worn. I learned this tradition from my mother, still the most beautiful and feminine woman I know, in spite of being a mother of two. She never “let herself go” when she raised my sister and me. And as it has been with my husband each Christmas since my son was born, we have an awful lot of great photos, especially of mom. -- Valerie Kellogg

I never see my son on Christmas. Because my son’s father is Catholic and Mexican, we split up the holidays in an unusual way. I have my son every Thanksgiving, because his dad, who moved to the United States when he was 28, doesn’t have an ingrained attachment to that U.S. tradition. And, as I was raised Jewish, I don’t have a history of celebrating Christmas. So I gave up that holiday in exchange. This has worked for us, even though I do feel a pang on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day now that I’m married to a man who celebrates the holiday. I’m the one who cooks the roast and makes the mashed potatoes to host Christmas dinner in my home for my husband, my stepdaughter and my husband’s extended family. My son – he’ll unwrap gifts from a stocking we always hang for him anyway once he gets home from his time with Papa. -- Beth Whitehouse

Since the birth of our son, Andre and I have yet to really establish a Christmas morning tradition. Jonathan celebrated his first Christmas at just 24 days old and I can honestly say I don't remember what we did that morning because my nursing newborn dictated the schedule then. Last Christmas we started with breakfast before letting Jonathan, who was too young to really understand the holiday, rip through all his presents . He had more fun with wrapping paper and boxes than with the gifts themselves. This year we'll start with breakfast but Jonathan, now 3, must walk past the living room to get to the kitchen, where his Hot Wheels Cadillac Escalade will be waiting next to the tree. I'm thinking he won't want to eat. Ahh, there is always next year. -- Shameka Dudley

While my two younger sisters, mom and I would toil away in the kitchen preparing the Christmas meal, our kids (three each sister) would get into the holiday spirit by staging a Christmas-themed play. They'd memorize the lines, prepare their costumes, record audio and video, and turn the house upside down to prepare. After the meal and just before desserts are served, they would put on their show. This has been our annual tradition at Christmas (and Thanksgiving) but now that the kids are older and since my youngest sister and family are abroad this holiday, chances are the kids will skip the play and we will just stick to singing carols. -- Leema Thomas

My family can thank Welsh writer Dylan Thomas for one our longest-standing Christmas traditions. Every year, we take turns reading Thomas’s classic story, "A Child’s Christmas In Wales," on Christmas Eve. Thomas’s story - first published in 1954, a year after his death - is a nostalgic reflection on Christmases of the past. The origins of how "A Child’s Christmas In Wales" became a holiday staple in my family are somewhat cloudy. Maybe it’s because Dylan Thomas grew up in Swansea, Wales, and my mother grew up in Swansea, Mass.? Whatever it is, I credit my mom, because she has been the driving force behind keeping the story in our family year after year. This year will be our toddler son’s second Christmas, and we’ll be spending it with my wife’s family in the Atlanta suburbs, far from my family. But I’m sure we’ll find time to read it, even if there’s no snow on the ground in Georgia. -- Patrick Whittle 

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