VIEWPOINTS: What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Happy Holidays!

There sure are a lot of them at this time of hear – Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and more, followed by the New Year. And each brings its own traditions – some faith-related, and other simply family fun.

One of my favorites is the annual Kotraba Family Christmas Show.

Everyone in my family loves to perform – especially for each other. In the hours (and sometimes days) before our show, we partner off and rehearse our acts, and on Christmas Eve, we gather in the living room for the show.

I remember the time a beach towel doubled as a magic carpet for my dad and sister's duet of “A Whole New World” from Disney's Aladin, and the time mom and I did a lip sync to Charlotte Church's operatic “Winter Wonderland,” with props aplenty. Then there was the time my sister, brother and I dressed in sweatshirts just like Alvin and the Chipmunks for “Christmas Don't be Late.” We tried sock puppets one year, but those didn't go over so well. 

Within this tradition, there's another tradition that will always be dear to me. No matter who pairs up with whom, no matter what acts are performed, one is repeated every year without question: “Sisters.”

In the days leading up to Christmas Eve, my sister and I shut the bedroom door and rehearse with Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen as they perform in the classic film “White Christmas.” I play Betty to her Judy, and we adjust the choreography to our liking, sometimes adding props, or making small changes for humor's sake. There's a subtle hip move we can't seem to let go of, a signature turn or two, and lots of laughter in preparation.

I don't remember how we started doing “Sisters,” or even exactly when it was. But it's a tradition I can't imagine parting with, and there's a lot of truth in those cheery little words: “Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters…”

Of course, this Christmas Eve, we'll be doing our act again – and Grandma is particularly excited. 

What about you? What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Whether faith-related or not, we'd love to hear them, whichever end-of-year holiday they are for. 

4 Responses to “VIEWPOINTS: What are your favorite holiday traditions?”

  1. roy

    Giving Kwanzaa the total lack of respect it so richly deserves comes in a close second to MY MOTHER’S CINNAMON ROLLS and various and sundry little things that will simply happen when we all get together. Family – the origin of traditions.

    Merry Christmas.

  2. Greg Lammers

    The family Christmas show sounds like a lot of fun, something to really look forward to. A tradition that is also an avenue for self expression, fantastic.

    Traditions like that, homemade ones if you will, are so cool. Since they spring forth from the people involved they are naturally tailored to those individuals.

  3. Kris Katarian

    When my mother had a debilitating stroke, she could no longer bake the traditional pies our family had enjoyed for decades. I decided to take over that job, despite having no experience with it. Turns out I have a talent for pie baking, so now every Christmas they eagerly await my pies baked from scratch!

    Hey Roy, just wondering…why so harsh on Kwanzaa?

  4. Kellie Kotraba

    Mmm… I love baking, though I haven’t done much with pies, so I’m always impressed by people who make them from scratch! Kris, I’m sure yours are delicious – what kind do you make?

    Re: The first comment on Kwanzaa: Remember to show respect, even to that which you may not value yourself.

    Thanks for sharing thoughts on holiday traditions – I’d love to see what others do, too!

    Kellie Kotraba


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