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“For my Filipino family, Christmas is not complete without our Noche Buena meal: a late dinner that starts around 11 p.m. Christmas Eve that consists of macaroni chicken soup and sandwiches made with baked ham and slices of queso de bola (a ball of Edam cheese) on pandesal bread, washed down with peanut butter hot cocoa. Then we exchange gifts at midnight! It is by far my favorite family tradition.”

—Darlene Principe,
editor, Simi Valley Acorn

“In my book, Christmas doesn’t truly happen unless we watch the movie “Elf” at least once— but usually more.”

—Caitlin Trude, staff writer

“I count the days until I can spend the holidays with my 86-year-old mom, who lives in Canada. When she visits, she fills the air with the wonderful smells of home-cooked food I remember from my childhood, and we laugh together about the smallest things. She is a precious and loving being who I would choose to be with, even if she weren’t my mom.”

—Ela Lindsay,
copy editor, Beyond the Acorn

“If I didn’t bake, Christmas wouldn’t feel like Christmas. I bake 15 to 20 different things and make trays for family and friends.”

—Kim Cummings,
advertising assistant

“My holidays aren’t complete without Thanksgiving Day football watching with friends and family and Mom’s homemade-bread-filled stuffing.”

—Kyle Jorrey,
editor, Thousand Oaks Acorn

“Setting up the nativity figurines I received as a child in Sunday school.”

—Sally Carpenter,

“It isn’t Christmas unless my wife insists that I help her decorate the tree, then proceeds to take off the tinsel (that I have already put on) and re-hang it strand by strand. Even in the years we don’t actually put tinsel on the tree we laugh about it.”

—Andy McGinnis,
administrative controller

“My mom always makes Almond Roca—my grandmother’s recipe—at Christmastime. If we can’t be together, she mails a tin of it to us!”

—Erin Newman,
copy editor, Beyond the Acorn

“Handmade ornaments that my mother and mother-in-law made over the years. Also, our traditional Christmas Eve celebration with my large, extended family is a must.”

—Stephanie Bertholdo, staff writer

“Tamale Day! My family is of mostly Irish and Scottish descent, so it surprises my Hispanic friends who grew up with the tradition that we do it too. For the last two decades, my parents have hosted friends, neighbors and family to spread masa on corn husks, fill them with chicken, pork or beef and roll them tightly before we cook them up and have a huge Mexican feast.”

—Becca Whitnall, staff writer

“I can’t live without cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Ever since I was little, I’d be the first one up to put the Pillsbury rolls in the oven to fill the house with the fresh-baked smell before running in to wake up the rest of my family. I’ve since found an amazing recipe and now make homemade rolls for the entire family.”
—Melissa Simon, staff writer

“I need to take our family photo with both of my children on Thanksgiving Day for our holiday cards. It always makes the holidays so much more special and meaningful!”

—Joan Pahoyo, staff photographer

“Grandmother would be in the kitchen laboring over a hot stove making her famous latkes for the holidays. We could smell that familiar aroma and just couldn’t wait to eat them.”

—Marilyn Burin,
administrative assistant

“For me, it’s not Christmas without a new Hallmark ornament.
I only collect one series but I’m always looking for more snowmen.”

—Sarah Ely, graphic designer

“The peace of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve with my family: listening to choir-sung carols and bells, seeing a Nativity display, reflecting on the past year and what’s ahead.”

—Anna Bitong, staff writer