One of the greatest parts of the holidays is the sweet familiarity of our annual holiday traditions. From the aromas of our special recipes filling the house to the fun of gathering together in matching PJs, we each have our own unique way of celebrating with family and friends. This year, we asked members of our community to share their families’ traditions and recipes in hopes that they may inspire you to gather together and create some new ones of your own.
Christmas Pecan Cookies
By: Alicia Carter, Suwanee Magazine Managing Editor
My mom makes my brother and I wait all year for her Christmas Pecan Cookies. And trust me, they’re worth the wait! She piles the small but mighty pecan bites on a big plate and then loads on the powdered sugar making it look like a delicious snowy mountain. She claims it’s just a simple recipe from a vintage Betty Crocker cookbook, but the amount of love she puts into them and the anticipation leading up to devouring them make them so much more than that to us!
■ 1/3 cup margarine or butter, softened
■ 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
■ 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
■ 36 pecan halves
■ Powdered sugar
Mix margarine and cream cheese. Stir in flour until soft dough forms. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours. Roll dough into a rectangle, 12×9 inches, on cloth-covered board generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. Cut dough into rectangles, each 3×1 inch. Place one pecan half on one end of each rectangle; roll up, beginning at the 1-inch end. Pinch end and sides to seal. Place cookie, end seam sides down, on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown, 15-17 minutes, then cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
The Doherty Family’s Christmas Pajamas
By: Amy Doherty, City of Suwanee Events & Outreach Manager
I asked my youngest what her favorite thing is about our Christmas family traditions and she told me it was getting new pajamas. Every year, all of my family members get to open ONE gift when we get home from church on Christmas Eve and it’s always a new pair of pajamas. That way we are all camera ready on Christmas Day! One year they all matched — some years they are all for comfort or maybe a theme that each person likes. It’s been going on for maybe about six years or so but now that I know she likes it, I’m sure I will keep it going!
Korean Spice Turkey
By: Connie Jeon, Founder of Alkaline Wellness
Our family Thanksgiving tradition is to dedicate the day to reflecting on what we’re grateful for. We have a large family, so it’s gotten harder to get together but we start our day eating a light breakfast in our pajamas. Our menu is a little unique as we incorporate our “Korean” spices to the mix. We love the standard baking the turkey in the oven bag. Our stuffing is a fried rice with celery, onions, stuffing spices, carrots, and green onion and eggs stir-fried on a wok. We stir fry our green beans with light avocado oil and lots of garlic and herbs and have steamed broccoli with Ghee butter. We always have kimchee (fermented cabbage) as a side dish and of course, finish off with pumpkin pie.
By: Linnea Miller, Suwanee City Council
Our family has a holiday tradition that has been passed down for generations and it involves chocolate! My family is Dutch and part of our holiday tradition is that each year, we give and receive a “chokolade letter” that corresponds to the first letter of our name. The chocolate letters can be milk (melk) or dark (puure) chocolate and are always delicious (lekker)! In the Netherlands, children who leave their clogs (klompen) out by the fireplace, receive a letter from Sinterklaas! In our family, our Dutch letters are gifts given to children and adults alike by our parents and grandparents. No one wants to be left out! I also give chocolate letters to friends and colleagues as a unique and personal holiday gift.
The Law Family’s Christmas Traditions
By: Wanda Law, North Gwinnett Middle School Principal
My family and I love the holidays and we each have our favorite one. My favorite holiday is Christmas. I love to decorate my home, attend celebrations, shop for gifts, and spend time with my family. On Christmas Eve, my father’s family has a “pot luck” dinner and everyone attends. We have been doing this since I was a small child and it is fun to visit with my cousins. My dad had eight brothers and sisters so the family gathering involves a large number of people! As a child, I looked forward to opening gifts at the family gathering, but now I have fun passing out the gifts to the little children!
My parents live in North Georgia and we stay at their home each Christmas Eve. I have never spent Christmas at my own house. As a child and adult, Christmas morning has always been rushing to the den in my parent’s home to see what Santa brought. It was also fun to see if Santa ate his cookies and milk or Diet Coke! Santa gifts and stockings were opened first followed by breakfast. The tradition for breakfast is sausage balls and waffles! Following breakfast, we open the rest of the gifts. One person opens a gift then the next person until everyone has opened a gift and we then we go around again until everyone has opened all their gifts. This takes a while, but I love to see what each person gets so we have to take turns!
Another one of my favorite traditions happens at my husband’s family home. His father would recite the Christmas Story from the Bible without having to actually open the Bible. I was always impressed with his memorization and focus on the details of the story without ever having to look at the source.
As my children grow up, we experience these traditions from a different perspective each year, and we continue to add new traditions in our immediate family. Spending the holidays with my family is very special to me and the traditions are an expected part of the celebrations.
A Southern Thanksgiving
By: The Gallagher Family
Every Thanksgiving we go to Northwest Tennessee to visit grandparents and extended family. The Saturday after Thanksgiving we drive up to Grand Rivers, Kentucky, to visit Patti’s 1880s Settlement and have dinner at Patti’s Dining Room. Patti’s is known for their extensive dessert menu and “mile high” meringue pies. There are several quaint shops, mini golf and a petting zoo all located on beautiful Kentucky Lake. During the holidays there are thousands of twinkling lights and toys and flowers displayed, and of course Santa is always available to receive the kids’ Christmas wishes.
We received some sad news this past February that there was a kitchen fire in the restaurant and Patti’s would have to be rebuilt from the ground up. They will not be able to re-open until Spring of 2019. Unfortunately, we may have to find another way to usher in the Christmas season this year, but we are excited to see the new building in 2019!