What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

December 5, 2011 —

This time of year, I love talking with family and friends about their favorite holiday traditions. My daughter, for example, loves that initial excavation of holiday decorations from the depths of a basement closet (although she’s less fond of putting them all away after the holidays – imagine that!). My son loves the December production of holiday goodies, much of which we give as gifts (but don’t worry, we get our own fair share of peanut butter balls, white chocolate-covered pretzels and saltine candy, which we irreverently refer to as “crack”).

Decorating for the holidays is a fun tradition.

Last year, our family enjoyed a tradition of my nephew’s girlfriend’s family of having a fondue feast. I’m not sure we could pick a favorite from the tender sauteed beef, the savory cheese fondue and the strawberries and pineapple chunks dipped in cherry brandy-infused melted marshmallows. I have a feeling that’s a tradition we’ll revive this holiday!

Juan Cadenillas, a graduate of DMU’s master of public health degree program and a public health planner with the Polk County (Iowa) Health Department, recently shared with me some of his family’s traditions in his native Peru. At Christmas, people there typically open presents at midnight and then have dinner, so most families go to bed around 1 or 2 a.m., he says. Also, they celebrate Christmas with fireworks and count down to midnight, similar to our celebration of New Year.

“Like Americans, we eat turkey and have hot cocoa, which doesn’t make any sense because it’s summer time,” Juan adds, “but we also include tamales and Italian sweet bread, or panettone.”

The best tradition, in my opinion, is getting together with loved ones as much as possible. What is your favorite holiday tradition?


Endlessly curious and easily entertained, Barb Dietrich Boose loves being a member of the friendly, fascinating DMU community and its creative communications team. The University's publications director and DMU Magazine editor, Barb is always on the hunt for story ideas, good books and new recipes to try out on her family, such as her surprisingly tasty pork-and-bean bars.