With the holidays coming up, we asked our team here at GRIT what traditions they never miss each season. We learned a lot about each other and the many fun, sweet, and sometimes quirky, things that make each of our individual holidays special.
Abby’s Candy Extravaganza
Abby McGinnis, client services, has one of the sweetest traditions of the GRIT team, and we mean that quite literally! Growing up, her grandfather on her father’s side would always put out a massive plate of candy on Christmas Eve right before all the kids would go to bed (“…a parent’s worst nightmare,” she said) and they would gorge on the sweet treats until the kids conked out! Luckily this never really resulted in the sugar rush that kept everyone up all night (so far) and they continue this sugary tradition to this day. Abby also mentioned that her father is instrumental in keeping this tradition alive because he embodies the spirit of Christmas in such an over-the-top way that the family calls him Uncle Clark all year long as a homage to the dad in the movie Christmas Vacation!
Betsy’s Chinese Dumplings
Traditions have been hard to keep up as family and friends spread across the country and situations changed for Betsy Liou, office manager. In years past, Betsy would get together on Christmas Eve with her sisters, and then her daughter, to share just one gift the night before Christmas Day. But Betsy told us about another lovely winter tradition that she and her husband Sie of 42 years shared as well. As Sie is Chinese, their big holiday celebrations and notable traditions centered around the Chinese New Year in the early part of the year. In fact, they used to own a restaurant in Frederick, MD that would go all-out for the celebration with two whole weeks of festivities lasting up through the annual festival of lights. Betsy declared, “that’s a lot of dumplings!”
Casey’s Gingerbread Town
With a young family, Casey Albright, client services, is still trying to decide what traditions will stick, but she has some that she thinks will be long-lasting. Casey loves decorating and last year she had the idea to get everyone involved in the fun by building and decorating a gingerbread house. She got a little carried away at the store and ended up with an entire gingerbread town complete with dog houses, a train, and all the little extras that make up a fully festive scene! They all loved the experience so much that the Albright family now plans to make this an annual tradition. One tradition that has carried over from her youth, though, is their annual pizza night the day after Christmas, which they still do with her side of the family.
Devon’s Paint Night
Devon Buettner, digital marketing specialist, is only on his second Christmas in the house he bought with his fiancé, Destiney, so they are working on establishing their own traditions there, but that does not stop him from carrying over some of the fun things he has done before into their new space. He used to go out with his family every year to buy a special ornament and make a big batch of sugar cookies and he now keeps up that tradition with Destiney, too. They also make a point to paint a fun, holiday themed painting together every year as an annual art project!
Julie’s Fondue Fun
Every year, Julie Cross, president, and her husband Dave take the kids to the Melting Pot for Christmas Eve dinner to enjoy the leisurely and social experience of sharing fondue with the family. For them, it is a tradition they established to bring everyone together when they blended their families under one roof nearly eight years ago and it has become an event they all look forward to. Another fun family tradition they established as a family when Dave built them an enormous advent calendar that everyone shares each year containing money, trinkets, and even once featured a full scavenger hunt!
Kaylee’s Tree & Hog Maw
Kaylee Weigle, communications and social media specialist, fills her holidays with family and local holiday spirit! For as long as she can remember, her mom, dad, and younger sister would always go out together to cut down their family Christmas Tree from a local farm. This tradition still stands today, along with their annual Christmas night drive together to soak in all the festive community holiday decorations. But each year, her highlight is the regional Pennsylvania Dutch specialty meal that her grandmother makes for Christmas dinner: Hog Maw!
Lissa’s Holiday Homage
Lissa Scott, creative director, finds herself carrying on some of their established family traditions in a modified way to honor her husband Shawn’s mother who passed two years ago around the holidays. Shawn’s mom was an avid decorator for every holiday, not just Christmas, and even Lissa’s 3 sisters are decorators, so their entire family makes a point of keeping up that deck-the-halls holiday spirit each year as a homage. They always make sure to have a real tree, with homemade ornaments and colored lights (well, except for Lissa because of her personal creative design aesthetic preference for white lights). For her immediate family, though, Lissa’s tradition with Shawn and the kids is to wake up Christmas morning, make an egg casserole, and then take turns opening their gifts one at a time before they all pack up and drive to Shawn’s family gathering for the bigger festivities of the day.
Mallory’s Movies & Mimosas
With family spread out across the country and juggling alternating holiday locations, it is a bit of a challenge to establish annual traditions, but Mallory Gunzenhauser, project manager, found a way. No matter where they are for the Christmas holiday, they always attend a Christmas Eve church service, and her husband Brian makes sure they never miss the annual showing of It’s a Wonderful Life that day! Then on Christmas morning, they make Mal’s family’s traditional pull-apart Monkey Bread for breakfast before they do their gift exchange. Although she loves the Christmas holidays with her family, Mal’s biggest tradition over the winter holidays is her New Year’s Day mimosa brunch watching the Rose Parade!
Vic’s Garlic “Stinkmas”
Every Christmas Eve, Victoria Ribeiro, client services, and her husband Jason follow the famous Glen Rock Carol Singers, a tradition established in 1848, for the beginning of their all-night serenade of their little borough before turning in to prepare for their big “Stinkmas” festivities Christmas Day. “Stinkmas” is their silly name for a festive open house they host featuring a traditional Guyanese Garlic Pork dish made with vinegar and garlic brined pork. Vic learned this pungent Portuguese-based culinary tradition from her late father (who learned it from his father, an immigrant from Guyana) shortly after she returned to Southern York County in 2011. Now Vic and Jason share this dish every year throughout the day on Christmas Day with anyone brave enough to try it! In 2019 they served 15 lbs. of garlic pork, 3 dozen turnips boiled in the garlic brine, and eight loaves of bread dipped and fried in the same garlic brine to friends and family from 9 am to midnight for an all-day smelly smorgasbord!
If you are interested in learning more about GRIT, our services and team, or to simply wish us a happy holiday, please reach out to us today to start a conversation!