We all have holiday traditions

Stina SiegPost Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS Take a moment and clear your mind. When you hear the word Christmas, what do you think about? Is it those thick socks your grandmother used to send? Or that huge dinner your mother still makes? How about that tree you get every year, that always manages to be three feet too tall for your living room? This Christmas, instead of bringing you a general story about the holiday, we decided to get a bit more personal. Here are 25 different Christmas traditions, collected from people around the area.Alejandra Rico, 27, community liaison for Glenwood schools, will be back with her family in Mexico this year. As is custom, they will perform a Posada, where they will re-enact the plight of Mary and Joseph, searching for a place to sleep. Afterwards, theyll eat tamales, drink ponche, a traditional fruit mixture, and exchange gifts. Rico described the night as a big festival, beautiful, but with meaning.Poke Stiers, 61, owner of Tims Tools in Silt, will play Santa, just as he has for the last 30 years. In the past, wherever he was stationed in the military, his wife, Dee, would teach kindergarten or first grade. Every year, Stiers would visit these classes as Saint Nick. Now that he isnt in Hawaii or Okinawa, hes just happy to be close to those he loves. Because everybody is available, we just always make sure were always together for Christmas, he said.Sarah Stokes, 25, manager of Turtles Liquor in Glenwood, doesnt do as much as she used to with her family on the big day. When she was a kid, however, things were definitely different, right down to what was on her plate. As she describes it: We used to eat a dinner of the food of Christ, from his time or whatever: lamb, pita bread and those olives they used to eat back then.Elizabeth Henrie, 20, server and hostess at the 19th Street Diner in Glenwood, always takes a drive to Rifle with her family. At her great-grandparents house, everyone indulges in a long-running family activity. My moms really into those claymation Christmas movies, she said, so we usually end up watching those. I think theyre fun.Traditions: next pageCisco Macias of Silt, 20, an employee at Starbucks in Glenwood, is looking forward to a lazy day with his family. Instead of going out, we just lay low at home, he said, describing a Christmas of cookies, tamales, games and rented flicks.Dave Johnson, 63, Glenwood Springs post office employee and city council member, feels a new push to decorate this year. His daughter, Lane, is returning home after spending a few months studying abroad in India. Beyond that, he thinks his family traditions have always been standard fare. Mom and Grandma and some of the aunts would just get together and make a big ol meal, he said. My sister and I love to cook, so now we get together and do the same thing, just have a big ol meal.Jim Paschal, 71, a retiree from Carbondale, is excited about his best gift of the year: a new grandson. With a laugh, he recalled the kind of holidays he used to have as a child, celebrating in the family cabin in Marble. Back then, it was all about big, big meals, nice meals, Christmas lights on the outside, big turkeys.Sunny Whilldin, a librarian from New Castle, is starting a new tradition this year. Before her family tears into their gifts, someone will read the first two paragraphs of the book of Luke in the Bible. That way, she said, we know what were there for not just to eat the food and open the presents. Elizabeth Neal, 17, manager of Starbucks in Glenwood, is a few years too old to enjoy one of her familys traditions. The Parachute teen will watch as, a few days before Christmas, the younger children, under 10 or whatever, get to open one of their presents.Salvador Balderas, 35, DJ on La Nueva Mix, cant tell you why his family makes such a big deal about Christmas. Thats just how its been for years and years and years, he said. Though the location has changed from Mexico to Gypsum he and his siblings go through all the steps. They drink, eat, perform a Posada, sing to a baby Jesus and generally enjoy each others company. Balderas feels that, in their reverence to the holiday, theyre like most Mexican families. We wait for that day for 11 months, he explained. Its the most important day of the year.Sonya Hemmen, Glenwood Springs Elementary School principal, is never sure what her family is doing for Christmas but she knows where they wont be: on the road. She likened Glenwood Springs at this time of year to a shaken snow globe. Why leave, she asked. She, her husband, Scott and their daughter, Molly, 6, celebrate the holidays in a new way every year. She feels its that spontaneity that makes it special. Its really fun to do what you feel like doing, she said.Mathias Boker, 30, an insurance salesman from Glenwood, called himself a bit of a Scrooge. But thats not because he hates Christmas, he said. Hes just more of a traditionalist, tired of all the hype. When he can, he joins the rest of his family for a big ol shindig.Joan George, 60-plus, a retiree from Glenwood, already did her big holiday thing this year when she visited her daughter in Tucson. Though that was lovely, shes looking forward to getting a little alone time during Christmas. Her plans? Go to church, family presents, listen to Christmas music and relax.Larry McCown, 63, Garfield County commissioner, used to travel back to Missouri every year to visit family. He was even en route during the infamous blizzard of 1982 and spent a day stuck in the Denver airport to boot. He said Christmas stories such as these might be a thing of the past, however. For the last six years, weve been able to spend Christmas in Colorado, and its been really nice, he said.Jamie Demoraes of New Castle, 34, owner of the Summit Scrubs Co. in Glenwood, will continue an athletic event that dates back the 1980s. Every year, her grandparents, Pat and Jim Price, host a sled off up Four Mile Road. Pictures of past winners still adorn their walls. Weve got everyone, from (ages) 5-75, doing it, Demoraes said.Jessica Herod, 22, a student from Craig, searches for deals in Glenwood and Denver every year. Thats pretty much our shopping tradition, she said, balancing her son, Zade, 13 months, on her hip. We just go shopping with friends and family.Jorge Gonzales of Silt, 28, manager of Fiesta Guadalajara in Glenwood, is deeply tied to the kind of Christmas he grew up with in Mexico. There, the event would be major, with singing, drinking, gift exchanges and church. His large family would act out a Posada and would sing a small doll representing the baby Jesus to sleep. This is all thanks to his grandmother, Esperanza, who would host all of the 20 children, 39 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren and 16 great-great-grandchildren. Shes a great lady, he said. We admire her a lot. We love her a lot.Mary Ann Sullivan, owner of Night and Dance in Glenwood, has worked on Christmas Eve with her daughter, Emily, for the last 25 years. Between cutting down her own tree and exchanging presents, she feels her familys other Christmas experiences are traditional with one major exception: We go to Doc Hollidays after Christmas Eve Mass for dinner, she offered, laughing.Phebe Dehaan, 22, a student from University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, knows that whenever she returns home to Glenwood, eating will always be on the menu. During Christmas Day, her family makes enough food for a week. Just dont sleep in at her house, or you could get a rude awakening, she explained. Its always best to be the first one up, she said, because then you dont have anyone jumping on your head.Jerome Flynn, 20, who delivers for Mancinellis Pizza in Glenwood, has a simple plan: Get depressed. While his family enjoys the holiday, he prefers to think of it as a money racket only here to promote commercialism. But that doesnt mean he wont participate in his own way. I have fun with it because I enjoy giving, he said.Sarah Hedge, 20, a server at Fins, and her brother, Aaron, 22, a student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, have a few traditions that are bit off-the-grid. For one, they dont use a Christmas tree. Also, they can hardly ever make it to the big day without opening a present or two. But, when it comes to food, they get classic. We always have a Christmas dinner, said Sarah, a big cooking festival.Blaize Johnson, 18, Colorado Mountain College student, spends most of her Christmas on Interstate 70. At least thats how it feels, she said. Her family will drive out to her grandmothers in Denver and then, like clockwork, drive back on Christmas night. Johnson described her grandmothers response to the event: She sets up the huge, fake tree in her tiny apartment, and then worries about us driving there and then worries about us driving home.Lauren Martin, pastor at the Glenwood Mennonite Church, knows that Christmas doesnt come in a box. Every year, he and his family attempt to keep the day in the spiritual, family realm. They also try to do something spontaneous and helpful for someone else, he said. This year, his daughters, Mariah, 14, and Sierra, 11, have been baby-sitting for a mother who needs a little extra time. For all of his family, Dec. 25 isnt about commercialism, Martin expressed, its about love and sharing.Laura Stroder of Rifle, 18, an ice cream wrangler at Marble Slab Creamery in Glenwood, participated in a bake-a-thon this year. My sister just started a baking day, a week before Christmas, she said, where we bake sugar cookies and cinnamon rolls, and then everyone who bakes gets to bring what they made to their friends and family.As for me, Stina Sieg, 24, I never know what to expect each Christmas, but thats just fine. My holidays arent about unbroken traditions, but sweet, unconnected memories of my immediate family. There was that year we were traveling in New Mexico and substituted a tumbleweed for a tree. And the year we spent Christmas in Yogaville, Va. How about the time we all received crazy, striped pants from my aunt? No, I never plan on anything being the same with me; my parents, Ron and Theo; or my brother, Toby, 21. I just know that well try to be together and something about us will remind me how much I want a family of my own. OK, I mean someday.Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111ssieg@postindependent.comPost Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

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