my town. I know this city inside and out… or so I thought until I had kids.”
Child is your guide to getting to know your city all over again. Finding things to do, places to eat, and how to get around — it’s a whole new ballgame with kids in tow. We’re interested in how parents make homes in a space-challenged urban environment, how families create community, and what parents are really talking about. Seattle’s Child reflects real Washington families and their broad range of parenting experiences.
» Dad Next Door
A little encouragement from across the fenceby JEFF LEE, MD
When I was a kid, Santa Claus came to our house every Christmas, but he was kind of an under achiever. The big presents (like a tabletop hockey game or a new football helmet) always came from my parents and were placed in wrapped boxes under the tree. Santa, on the other hand, brought an odd assortment of unwrapped lesser gifts.
There were usually some cheap, plastic toys from Chinatown that smelled suspiciously like my grandparents’ apart ment. There were always chocolates covered in colored tin foil, in the shape of angels, christmas trees and silver bells. There were also candy canes, left in their clear plastic wrappers to maintain their shape despite being broken in several places. And for reasons lost in the annals of family tradition and time, there was always a fresh supply of underwear.
Somehow, it never occurred to us that gifts of underpants from a strange old man might be a little worrisome. It was Santa, after all — his ways were mysteri ous, but unquestionably benign.
The mediocre quality of Santa’s offer ings was offset by the fact that we were allowed to get into our stockings even if our parents were still asleep. The tree presents were off limits until they woke up, but Santa’s gifts were fair game as soon as we tumbled out of bed.
On Christmas morning, the living room was bathed in the tacky multicol ored light of our Christmas tree, and our stockings were lined up on the floor in front of the fireplace. It was magic!
We had these cheap felt appliqué stockings, and the straps were too flimsy to support all that chocolate and plastic crap, much less a package of Fruit-ofthe-Looms. Still, we dug into them with great excitement. They were a satisfying teaser for the festivities to come. By the time my parents came down to join us, we had broken at least half of the toys, and eaten most of the candy.
Maybe it was Santa’s low profile in our household that allowed us to smooth ly negotiate that thorny question that every family must eventually address: “Is Santa real?” My parents came up with a workable response, based on plausible deniability.
“Dad, is Santa real?”
“How should I know? He didn’t come to China.”
“Mom, is Santa real?”
“I guess he must be. Someone’s bring ing those presents.”
“But you guys do that . . . right?”
“Really? Does that sound like some thing we’d do?”
She had a point.
Pretty soon, we just gave up. In the end, our policy was strictly Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We all agreed to act as if Santa was real, without really discussing it beyond my mother’s annual warning:
“Go to bed or Santa’s going to skip our house this year.”
I know other families that had a much harder time with the Santa question. A friend of mine was cornered one day after his son heard some disturbing conspiracy theories at school.
“Dad, is Santa real — or have you guys been lying to me all these years? You have to tell me!”
Eventually, he confessed. His son, left reeling from the betrayal and duplicity, didn’t speak to him for a week.
With my own kids, I decided that consistency, opaqueness and absolute certainty were the best approaches.
“Dad, is Santa Claus real?”
“How do you know?”
“I don’t know--I believe.”
“What does that even mean?”
“It means we don’t need proof--we can just have faith.”
“But why do you have faith?”
“Because Santa is real.”
And just like when I was a kid, they eventually stopped asking — but Santa kept coming.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying that we should routinely lie to our children. I’m just saying that, in the world we live in, where reality assaults the protective walls of childhood with a sledge hammer every day, maybe a little magic and a little suspension of disbelief are not such terrible things. For them, but also for us.
ABOUT OUR COLUMNIST Jeff Lee writes in Seattle, WA, where he awaits his 2022 Christmas briefs.
Spruce Street School
Spruce Street School is a K-5 elementary school that serves a wide-range of learners. Our dedicated faculty is highly skilled at meeting each student where they are, knowing when a student needs to be challenged and when they need to be supported. Our multiage classrooms promote leadership and celebrate diversity of all kinds. Students graduate from our program knowing who they are as learners and are active community members who excel at critical thinking and collaborating.
What every parent needs to have on hand
What about melatonin?by DR. SUSANNA BLOCK
Parents are increasingly using melatonin, an over-the-counter sleep aid, to help kids drift off. But is it a good choice?
Establish good sleep habits
Approximately 15-25% of kids have diffi culty falling and staying asleep. You can help your child by estab lishing good sleep habits:
3Establish a sleep routine. A consistent sleep routine helps signal that it is time to wind down.
3Turn off the screens 1 hour before bedtime. The blue light from screens fools the brain into thinking it is daytime, making it hard to fall asleep.
3Exercise. Children who exercise or play hard during the day are usually better sleepers.
3Make the sleep space comfortable. Limit ambient light, noise, and so on.
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland. In response to nighttime changes in light, it triggers falling (but not stay ing) asleep. Over-the-counter melatonin supplements are often marketed as “sleep aides.”
What are the risks and side effects of melatonin?
Short-term use may cause daytime drowsiness and increased nighttime urination. Experts agree more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of melatonin use on growth and
Is melatonin safe?
Melatonin is regulated by the FDA as an over-the-counter dietary supplement. That means it receives little oversight. A recent study found the amount of melatonin in supplements ranged from one-half to four times the amount stated on labels, with chewable tablets and gummies having the greatest variability. As a precaution, parents should check labels for certification by third-party watch and testing groups like Consumer Lab.com, NSF International, UL and U.S. Pharmacopeia.
From 2012–2021, there were 260,000 reports of melatonin child poisoning, according to the CDC. Manage melatonin as a medication and keep it out of the reach of kids.
What is the correct dose?
There are no clear guidelines, but dosages between 0.5 mg and 3 mg are common. Always start with the lowest effective dose taken 30 to 90 minutes before bedtime.
Should you try it?
Melatonin may help some kids. But due to minimal evidence of efficacy, consult with your child’s doctor to determine if melatonin is the right choice.
ABOUT OUR COLUMNIST
Dr. Susanna Block, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente in Seattle and lives with her family in Queen Anne.DOWNTOWN SEATTLE
Creating communities where kids flourish
Comfort kits for those in needby JIAYING GRYGIEL
When she was 6, Ruby Eis ter-Hargrave was really into ABBA, so her mom got nosebleed seats to “Mamma Mia!” at the Paramount Theatre. They were walking through downtown to the show when Ruby saw a person holding a sign: “Hungry. Can you spare a dollar?”
“She just looked at me and was like, ‘Mom, what do we do? What do we do?’” says Leah Eister-Hargrave. “And I said, ‘Well, we can give the guy a dollar.’”
That answer didn’t satisfy Ruby, so she and her mom brainstormed ideas about how to help, specifically looking for things a kid could do.
“We wanted to make sure the peo ple we were helping felt helped and not condescended to,” Leah says.
A friend suggested making sandwiches and handing them out at intersections. Ruby took the idea and ran with it. Leah remembers how Ruby kept coming up with more things: “It’s almost Christmas; let’s make cookies. I want to make a picture and put it in. It’s really cold out; can we put something else in there?”
Gifts of warmth
One family, 11 years and a whole lot of blanketsby CHERYL MURFIN
Sayeh and Tony both grew up in families where caring for others was a strong value, one they knew they wanted to pass on to their children.
When their daughter Mya was born, they decided to start a tradition of collecting and distributing blankets as their family’s way of caring for those in need during the winter holiday season.
2022 marks the 11th year of this family’s tradition. The annual project, which rolls into action just before Thanksgiving, “has expanded more and more each year,” says Sayeh.
Part of that growth comes from the family’s efforts to make giving simple. They are happy to pick up blankets from donors or collect money and shop for the blankets themselves. They have even created an Amazon wish list so donors can simply click and send.
“What we’ve found is so many people
around us want to help but may not know where to donate or have the time to purchase and drop off a donation,’’ says Sayeh. “We try to make it as easy as possible.”
What started in 2012 with a donation of 20 blankets reached nearly 100 blankets last year — along with winter socks, underwear and other needed items.
And, just as the annual collection has grown, so have 10-year-old Mya’s and 7-year-old Jor dan’s voices in important drive decisions. The kids get to help decide where the blankets are delivered. Mya was the one who initiated giving blankets to Seattle Children’s hospital.
“We were visiting Seattle Children’s for an appointment and learned the hospital was in need of new blankets to give to kids and their parents who had to stay at the hospital. The patients got to take the blankets home with them as comfort items after their stays, which
Ruby filled 35 Ziploc gallon bags, each one containing cookies, a card, clean socks, hand warmers, sandwich es and a water bottle. Along with her mom, her brother and a friend and his mom, they drove all over town handing them out. They stopped along the Pike-Pine corridor on Capitol Hill and walked under the Alaskan Way Viaduct, giving kits to people setting up for the night.
The Eister-Hargraves, who live in Seattle, dubbed the project Ruby Cares, and they have carried it out almost ev ery winter since. Ruby, now 13, is very industrious about making packages. Her brother, Wyatt, 9, isn’t so into the assembly-line process, but he’s more outgoing.
“When it comes time to hand them out,” says Leah, “he’s the one who jumps out of the car first: ‘Hey! I have something for you!’”
In all the years they’ve handed out comfort kits, Leah says they’ve only experienced one or two times when someone said, “No, thanks.”
“For us it was important to recog nize people who are having a hard time — to recognize that they are human beings just like us. It feels nice to have this interaction. You’re having a hard time, and it’s Christmas. We hope this makes you feel good.”
Family update: These years later, Leah and her kids still love the comfort kit project.
Mya thought was super cool. We ended up donating to Seattle Children’s for several years after that,” says Sayeh.
She adds that the family has also led drives specific to a child’s interests; for example, they collected new basketballs for kids and families in need.
As each November approaches, Mya and Jordan “get more excited,” Sayeh says. “They tell all their friends, teachers and coaches to help spread the word.”
Mya and Jordan write a traditional, personal, hand written thank-you note to every donor.
Says Sayeh, “Having the kids acknowledge each donor is a super important part of our drive, teaching them to show gratitude for what others have done.”
Giving back as a family actby CHERYL MURFIN
There are lots of ways that families can give or volunteer together during the holiday season and into the new year. Here are a few ideas.
Host a gift drive
Your family can help a foster family or a family experiencing homelessness or other crisis to have a brighter holiday season this year by collecting and do nating gift cards. The cards you collect allow families to choose their own gifts for their children and purchase other essential items. Reach out to organi zations such as YWCA, Lake City Holiday Project, Federal Way Cares for Kids, Bellevue LifeSpring, Wellspring Family Services, Hopelink, Compass Housing Alliance, Treehouse, The Forgotten Children’s Fund and Mary’s Place to learn more about gift cards needed and
how to deliver them. Volunteer to wrap presents Sometimes, the best part of a gift is the wrapping. Sign your family up as volunteer wrap pers during Compass Housing Alliance’s 2022 holiday giving campaign. Your family may also want to lend its support to The Forgotten Children’s Fund — they need volunteers to raise funds to purchase, wrap and deliver gifts to kids and their families who might otherwise go without.
Help prepare meals
Every year, the Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County (EFP) provides more than 420,000 meals throughout King County. Located in Renton, the EFP is always looking for volunteers of all ages to help pack food bags, provide help at distribution sites and host food drives. Additional ly, food or money donations are
greatly appreciated. Emergen cyfeeding.org
Help deck their halls
Do you have an elderly person or a nursing home in your neighborhood? Ask if your family can help others deck their halls this year by hanging lights or volunteering for other decoration duties. For a more structured family volunteer experience, consider the Com pass Housing Alliance’s Deck the Halls program in which you and yours can help decorate Christmas trees, hang lights, post holiday pictures, make paper snowflakes and decorate wreaths to help make the sea son brighter at Alliance housing sites. Donations of decorations are greatly appreciated.
Take someone to a restaurant You and your kids can arrange to have favorite restaurant meals sent to one or more
Mary’s Place shelters to provide weekend breakfast, lunch or din ner for families in care.
Compass Housing Alliance needs cookies – lots of cookies – during the winter holiday season. Round up the kids and pull out your favor ite recipes to spread some holiday cheer. Or pick up something new at the store to donate to the orga nization’s cookie drive. Check out the rules on the Alliance’s website.
Nursing homes, senior centers and other groups caring for special populations may also enjoy your cookie-baking skills. Call one near you to ask how to donate your favorite cookies.
Even your baby can give back! Were you inundated with gifts at your baby shower? Do you have extra unopened boxes of diapers that your baby outgrew? Westside Baby is happy to accept your ba by’s donations of new (unopened) baby hygiene products, as well as gently used clothing, equipment (no furniture) and other essentials.
Host a food drive
A food drive is something that your whole family can be involved in. Many organizations even provide resources such as printable flyers and food-collection containers to help your drive succeed. Here are just a few of the organizations that you can partner with for a family food drive: Food Lifeline distrib utes donations to 275 member agencies across Western Wash ington; Northwest Harvest uses donations to provide more than 2 million meals to Washingtonians every month; Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County works with 200 partner agencies across King County to provide food bags to anyone in need; Hopelink provides food bank, food delivery and emergency feeding services to families in cri sis in Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Shoreline and Sno-Valley.
Host a toy drive
Donating toys can be a fun holiday activity for the whole family. Send out an email blast to friends and family and invite folks to drop toys off at your house or offer to pick them up at theirs. Organizations like Seattle Children’s hospital, Toys for Tots, and KIRO 7 Cares
THE EARLIER YOU BUY, THE MORE YOU CAN SAVE.
Toy Drive will gladly accept the fruits of your family’s toy-collection labor and get them to kids.
Give back to Santa Vancouver mother of two Lindsay Back ous Rayomond says her children have been giving back to the jolly old gent since day one. “They put toys and books they no longer use out for Santa on Christmas Eve, and then Santa takes them away for other children who would love them.” Santa has partnered with numerous organizations to receive your gifts, since he is quite busy. Among them are Eastside Baby Corner, Goodwill Seattle, Lifelong Thrift, Salvation Army Thrift Store & Donation Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital Thrift Stores, Wellspring’s Baby Boutique.
Send traditional holiday plants and flowers
Many local nursing homes try to keep the spirit light and holidays bright for the elderly. Consider bringing holiday flowers or poinsettias to an eldercare facility near you and dropping them at the front desk. Include a note inviting the staff to give
them to a resident who may need extra cheer during the holidays. Or leave a bouquet or plant anonymously on a senior neighbor’s stoop.
Offer some soap for hope
Collect new unused soaps or other toi letries from neighbors and friends and deliver them to the annual AAA Washing ton Soap for Hope drive. The drive takes place November 1 through December 30, but donations are accepted year round. Items are distributed to local charities throughout Washington.
Help prep a meal for struggling teens
For families with teens age 15 and up, con sider helping to prepare a holiday meal at Teen Feed. Volunteers cook and package mobile meals in the Teen Feed kitchen. Want more ideas?
Search volunteer databases Need help finding a good volunteer op portunity for your family? United Way of King County, Volunteer Match and Vol unteer Washington all offer searchable databases to help you find a great giving fit for your clan. Doing Good Together offers a list of family-friendly volunteer options (with age specifics) under its Big Hearted Families banner.
Lights, shows, markets, fun runs and much more
My kids and I love the holidays. Year after year, we make it a tradition to visit neighborhood light displays, toting around mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows. We spend weekends at lighting festivals, markets or sitting around the table with family and friends, eating, playing Ludo or watching classic holiday
Wild Lanterns at the Woodland Park Zoo
The creators of Wild Lanterns have put together a brand-new show this year highlighting ani mals around the world. Beat the crowds by visiting early in the season. November 11-January 22. $28.95/adult and $24.95/ child age 3-12.
Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo
With 800,000 lights, the Point Defiance Zoo transforms its exhibits and pathways into a sparkly winter wonderland with lighted classics like the octopus, flame tree and tiger face.
Photo opp: The Tunnel of Lights November 25-January 2; $6-16,
children 2 and younger FREE. Light it up: Westlake Center, Redmond Lights, Snohomish, Mountlake Terrace, Auburn, Lakewood, West Seattle and more Rain or shine, head to your local tree-lighting ceremony. Watch a parade, sip hot chocolate and catch the magic of holiday
Located an hour north of Seattle, visit a drive-thru light show in Stanwood. As you drive, turn on the radio and listen to the kid-friendly guide, Bruce the Spruce, take you through each light display. November 25-27, December 1-4, 8-11, 14-23, 26-31 $27$32/per car.
Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park Cozy up in your car as you drive through to see over 300 elaborate displays. Lines to get into the park will be long as the holidays get clos er. Choose a weekday, early in the season, to avoid crowds. November 25-January 1. $15-$20, watch for $10 discount days.
Bellevue Botanical Garden presents Garden d’Lights Follow the pathways through the garden and discover a variety of brightly lit displays. You’ll discov er plant and animal shapes, rock formations, butterflies, bees, and birds. Don’t miss the live musical concerts. Be prepared: It’s a 1-mile walk through the Garden d’Lights. November 26-December 31. $8/per son, children 10 and under FREE
Village of Lights Christmastown Drive over to Leavenworth as the town celebrates with more than half a million lights, music and entertain ment, holiday characters, kids’ activi ties, roasting chestnuts, Santa photos and more! December 1-31. FREE
A Bothell tradition: Hundreds of thousands of lights will cover an entire church building and will be synchronized to music. Stop into the pavilion for warm cookies, treats, a winter village and train exhibit. December 4-24. FREE
Seattle Festival of Trees at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Check out this gorgeous dis play of more than 20 deckedout trees which will be sold, with proceeds going to Seattle Children’s hospital. November 18-30. FREE.
Santa at the Space Needle
Ride the elevator 605 feet to the top of the Space Needle to catch a glimpse of jolly old St. Nick. With Santa seated in his glass sleigh, this is a unique holiday photo you’ll cher ish. November 25-December 24. Visit with Santa included in admission to the Space Needle. Christmas Ship™ Festival
Join the party on lighted Christ mas ships run by Argosy Cruis es. Each sailing includes a choir performance and a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christ mas.” Sea sick? Watch from local beaches and shorelines as the ships cruise by. November 25-December 23. $50-72, kids 3
and younger FREE.
Snowflake Lane at The Bellevue Collection
Snowflakes fall to the ground as a parade of costumed char acters and magical floats glide down the street spreading hol iday cheer. For best side seats, stake out your favorite viewing spot early in the season and show up well before showtime. November 25-December 24. FREE.
Small Town Holiday at Lake Chelan
Lights at the lake, Santa sight ings and more. Visit Lake Chel an for the holidays. November 25-January 1. The Northwest Railway Museum and holidays on the train
The 25-minute Yuletide Ex press will take kids from the Snoqualmie Depot to the crest of Snoqualmie Falls with the
jolly old elf. The longer, 2-hour Santa Limited starts from North Bend Depot and takes kids to meet Santa. Starts November 26 and every weekend at various times. Yuletide Express: $26/ person (ages 2+). Santa Limited: $35/ person (ages 2+).
The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition
Head over to Pike Place Market this season and cheer teams of carolers roving the streets as they compete to raise money for the Pike Market
Senior Center and Food Bank. More than 10,000 spectators are expected so plan ahead and get there early.
December 2. FREE.
Gingerbread Village Display
Visit the Sheraton Grand Seattle this year and see the spectacular gingerbread house village. Made by architects, master builders and chefs. Dates TBD. FREE, but donations help the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
Issaquah Reindeer Festival
Kick off your holidays with this unique experience at the Cougar Mountain Zoo. Visit Santa, Rudolph, and all his friends. A hit with kids of all ages. December 1-23 and 26-30.
Book online for timed entry. Holiday Magic at The Fair
Purchase your tickets to the “Holiday Magic” event at Washington State Fairgrounds and enjoy interactive exhibits, light displays, an ice rink, food, shopping and more. December 1-23. Purchase tickets online for best pricing.
Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Snuggle in with some cuddly bears for a picture perfect holiday treat. Every year, in partnership with Seattle Chil dren’s, the Fairmont fills a hotel suite with teddy bears. Dates TBD. FREE
Take an evening stroll amidst the soft holiday lights that surround the Pacific Bonsai Museum’s collection of Bonsai trees. Holiday treats, live mu sic, kid-friendly activities and more. December 17. Suggested donation $12 Seattle Men’s Chorus Holiday Falala-liday
Enjoy holiday songs, the Christmas Conga, and a sing-along. Benaroya Hall, December 23. $10-$20.
Seattle Children’s Theatre: “Paddington Saves Christmas”
Adorable and accident-prone Paddington bear gets into a lot of trouble as he tries to help his neighbor. A fun-filled comedy for age 3 and older. November 15-December 31. $20.
Hip Hop Nutcracker Tap into a unique dance show that combines the traditional story of “The Nutcracker” with modern-day dance moves. November 19, Bellingham and November 20, Tacoma. Ticket prices vary.
Taproot Theatre: “The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley”
Join the the Darcy and Bennett families as they discover forgiveness solves problems. November 23-December 30. $15-53; or pay as you can November 23.
ACT: “A Christmas Carol” In its 47th year, Ebenezer
THEATRE FUN RUNS
Squeeze in a little exercise before you have to squeeze into your holiday best at one of many turkey trots around the Seattle area, all happening on November 24: Tacky Turkey Sweater Run at Green Lake Park, Magnu son Park Series Turkey Trot, Issaquah Turkey Trot, Tacoma City Turkey Trot, Norpoint Classic. Event prices vary.
Seattle Kids Marathon
Scrooge returns to the stage with his bah humbug attitude and eventual Christmas epipha ny. November 25-December 24. $37-$77. Teentix $5 Saturdays.
Seattle Rep: “Mr. Dickens and his Carol” A charming, funny show that explores the life of Charles Dickens and his journey to writing the famous novel “A Christmas Carol.” November 25-December 23. $20-72. Check site for other low-cost options.
Pacific Northwest Ballet: “George Balanchine’s Nutcracker”
The holiday classic story of Clara and the nutcracker that comes to life, featuring Tchaikovsky’s magical music. November 25-December 28. $27 and up.
McCaw Hall: “Peppa Pig’s Adventure!”
Join Peppa and friends on a winter holiday camping trip. December 6. $30-$60.
Participation in the Seattle Kids Marathon includes running, reading books, doing good deeds and eating right. Register now and watch them take their ‘final lap’ in-person at Seattle Center. November 25. $25.
Jingle Bell Run Wear your favorite holiday costume and spread the holiday cheer at this fundraising fun run. All proceeds go to the Arthritis Foundation. December 11. Register online.
The Washington State Toy Show
If you’re a planner and like to shop early, this event is for you. Find that special gift that your little one has been asking for all year long. November 5 & 6. $5-10, 12 and younger FREE.
Nordic Museum’s Julefest: A Nordic Christmas Celebration Wander through the museumturned-market, as you explore Nor dic dance, treats and music. Shop for one-of-a-kind gifts for loved ones. Celebrating its 45th year, the Nordic Museum hosts more than 30 local retailers and artists, while exposing visitors to Nordic holidays and traditions. November 19-20 $5-10, 12 and under FREE. Ticket includes admission to the museum. Duwamish Native Art Market Head over to the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center for the annual Native Art Market. On display and for purchase will be a variety of Native American art, jewelry, crafts, textiles and other authentic gifts to add to your giving list. Free entry, but go early be cause parking is limited. November 25-27. FREE.
Magic in the Market
Make memories at Pike Place Market with more than 9-acres of shopping and holiday cheer. Don’t miss the tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. November 26 from 11:30 a.m.5:30 p.m. FREE
42nd Annual Winter Festival and Crafts Fair
The Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association is at it again organizing this year’s holiday market. More than 140 artists will be in atten dance sharing their unique gifts for purchase. December 3 and 4. $5 and a food donation to Family Works Greenwood Food Bank.
Year-round recreation, jaw dropping beauty, and true Bavarian charm meet in surprising ways in the heart of the Northwest. Book your trip at leavenworth.org
Eating with kids
Recipes from our writers, our readers and a few choice chefs complied by SEATTLE’S
From old family holiday recipes to newly invented ones, Seattle’s Child has received a lot of ideas for great holiday cooking over the last decade. HereCHILD STAFF
we share some of our favorites, created in the kitchens of other families and gracious ly passed on to yours.
Grandma Sally’s scrumptious Sufganiyot
Former “MasterChef Junior” semi-finalist Sadie Davis-Suskind is looking forward to jelly dough nuts when Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, begins. In 2021, Da vid-Suskind told us Hanuk kah is one of her favorite holidays: “Not only because it’s super-family-centric, but also because it’s filled with delicious traditional Jewish foods, and foods that are very oily and fried in oil, which I quite like!”
Oil is a frequent source of symbolic celebration during Hanukkah, repre senting a miracle in which oil that should have run out in one day lasted for eight days. David-Suskind has a soft spot for sufganiyot, jelly doughnuts fried in, yes, oil.
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
33/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons canola oil plus more for frying 6 large egg yolks 2/3 cup room temperature butter
2 cups fruit jam or jelly
Powdered sugar for rolling
1. Using mixer with paddle attachment, combine sugar, yeast and water. Let sit about 5 minutes (yeast will be foamy), then add flour, salt, oils and egg yolks. Mix on low 1 minute,
until the dough comes together to form a ball. Slowly add butter and mix 3 more minutes. Cover the dough and let rise about 4 hours, until quadrupled in size.
2. Pour canola oil 2 inches deep in a large pan and heat on medium until thermometer reads 350. With spoon or small scoop, gently drop in golf ball-sized balls of dough. Fry for 4 to 6 minutes, until golden brown, and transfer to a paper plate. Continue to fry in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
3. When doughnuts have cooled slightly, make a small hole in each with a sharp knife. Fill a plastic bag with the jam or jelly, close tightly and snip off a small piece at the tip. Fill each doughnut and roll in powdered sugar.
Chef Jason Wilson’s tree-trimming tradition
James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson of Bellevue’s The Lakehouse restaurant trims his holiday tree with his family the Sunday after Thanksgiving. While they are at it, Wilson told Seattle’s Child in 2013, they enjoy a lot of great food. A family favorite? Mac and cheese with Dungeness crab and bacon, which son Ferrin has been enjoying since he was a toddler.
Dungeness Crab Mac and Cheese with Bacon
1 lb. large macaroni or ziti
1/4 lb. bacon, diced small
1 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat (frozen-thawed is fine, too)
1 small yellow onion, diced small (yields roughly 1/2 cup) 1/2 cup fresh heavy cream 1 teaspoon Kosher salt 1 tablespoon butter 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese 1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a medium sauce pot on medium low heat, simmer the bacon until it begins to brown. Remove bacon when it is rendered of its fat and slightly crisp, add the onions to the pan and simmer until they are translucent. Stir often.
2. Pour the onions and rendered bacon fat in a bowl together with the butter and salt. Add the cream and two cheeses to the pan and bring to a simmer, whisk the mixture well to incorporate the cheeses and pour them into the bowl with the onions. Crumble cooked bacon into mixture and stir.
3. Squeeze the crab meat gently over a different bowl to remove any excess water. Gently mix in the crab meat to the cheese-bacon mixture.
4. Blanch the pasta in boiling salted water to cook it three-quarters of the way. Strain the water from the pasta and pour into the “sauce” bowl, gently mix all ingredients and pour them into a baking dish (Pyrex, earthenware or cast iron are all fine).
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, remove from the oven and serve warm.
Joumou: Haitian soup enjoyed on New Year’s Day
Every New Year’s Day, Judy and Ricardo LaFleur’s house is filled with two things:
the savory scent of Joumou, a traditional Haitian soup, and the sounds of friends who are there to enjoy it.
Judy and Ricardo were both born in Haiti and moved to the East Coast as young children. There, they belonged
to flourishing Haitian commu nities. “I’ve never met a person of Haitian descent or recent Haitian migration who doesn’t cook Joumou on New Year’s Day,” Judy told Seattle’s Child in 2020.
The golden soup is made to celebrate Haiti’s liberation from France on Jan. 1, 1804,
when slaves revolted and built their own nation. “As soon as I smell it, it takes me back to the generations of people that have come before me,” Judy says. She and her husband have served the dish to their two daughters, Gabby and Anissa, and have explained the cultural significance.
Judy LaFleur’s Soup Joumou Serves 8 people
2 lbs. of Calabaza pumpkin (or Acorn squash if not available) peeled and cut into 3-inch cubes 3 lbs. total of equal parts beef cubes and beef short ribs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 scallions (minced)
2 shallots (minced)
1 tablespoon of salt 6-8 cloves of garlic (minced) 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley 5-7 cloves
1 Maggie bouillon cube or any bouillon cube 1 small yellow onion, chopped 1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 celery stalks (cut into 1-inch diagonal slices)
1/2 small cabbage (cut into quarters)
2 large carrots (cut into 1-inch diagonal slices)
1 parsnip (cut into 1-inch diagonal slices) 1 potato (cut into quarters) 1 batata or Japanese sweet potato (cut into quarters) Juice of one lime
In 2015, Leslie Mackie, owner of Macrina Bakery, shared with us about her family’s long tradition of baking cookies during the holiday season. This rec ipe for Mexican Wedding Balls, also found in Mackie’s “Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook,” is a Mackie family favorite.
Mexican Wedding Balls
11/2 cups whole almonds
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
31/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Scatter almonds on a rimmed
baking sheet and toast on the center rack of the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, then finely chop and set aside.
3. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix another 5-7 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and pale in color. Add vanilla extract and mix for about 30 seconds, making sure vanilla is fully incorporated. Remove bowl from the mixer and scrape down the sides.
4. Place almonds and flour in a medium bowl and toss together. Using a rubber spatula, fold half the dry ingredients into the bowl of batter. After the first batch is fully incorporated, fold in the other half and continue folding until all of the dry ingredients have been absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
1 habanero pepper (or a milder pepper) 1/2 cup of pasta (spaghetti or penne) 3 quarts of simmering hot water (to use as needed)
1. Season the meat with garlic, parsley, ground black pepper, scallions, bouillon, shallots, yellow onion, salt, and cloves. (This can be prepared one hour to one day ahead, for best flavor).
2. In a large pot, add seasoned meat with 4 cups of cold water. Cook on medium heat for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, rub the pumpkin with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for 35 minutes.
3. Add celery, cabbage, carrots, and parsnips into the large pot with meat. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Puree the baked pumpkin with 6 cups of simmering water (set aside).
4. Add 8 cups of simmering water, potato, batata/Japanese sweet potato, thyme and the pureed pumpkin into the large pot. Allow to simmer on medium to low heat for 15 minutes. Add another 2 cups of simmering water, pasta and habanero pepper. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes and remove habanero pepper. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
Mexican Wedding Balls
5. Decrease temperature to 325 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper
6. Scoop small amounts of dough out of the bowl (Mackie uses a small ice cream scoop) and roll the dough into 1½-inch balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart, pressing down lightly to create a flat bottom on each cookie.
7. Bake on the center rack of the oven, one sheet at a time, for 15-20 minutes or until the cookies just start to color. To help the cookies bake evenly, rotate the baking sheet every 3 minutes or so. Let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheet and then toss them in powdered sugar. Lay the sugarcoated cookies on a clean baking sheet to finish cooling. Finally, after the cookies are
fully cooled, toss them in powdered sugar once again. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to one month at room temperature.
So many stuffings, so little table spaceby JILLIAN O’CONNOR
Stuffing is more than just what fills up a turkey (or, if you’re playing it safe, a casserole dish). I grew up on two types of stuffing at every family event with a roast fowl. My late grandmother, a native of Ireland, grew used to me being
Bubbie’s Noodle Stuffing
Warning: This yields a huge amount of stuffing, enough for 20 people and for leftovers. Consider making half a recipe (or less).
3 bags of medium egg noodles (12 to 16 ounces per package)
3 cans of cream of mushroom soup
3 eggs (added last)
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 packages onion soup mix (one reserved)
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 tablespoon paprika
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons dried parsley
3 small cans of mushroom pieces
1 1/2 cups of regular mayonnaise
1. Cook noodles al dente in a large stainless steel pot without salt. The latter makes it easier, because you can mix the recipe in the same pot … after you drain … but do not rinse, and store the finished recipe overnight. Thus the ingredients marry and become more delicious.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the hot noodles, all except the eggs … which are added at the end when the noodles have cooled down.
3. The one packet (of onion soup mix) that is reserved I rub out the cavity of the bird, and under the skin before adding the stuffing … as you’ve seen me do.
Nana’s Potato Stuffing
Warning: The recipe is a wee bit imprecise
Boil 3 peeled potatoes
Mash them (no butter, no milk)
Chop one medium-size onion 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1. Mix it all together and put it in the turkey — or in a baking dish to cook alongside the turkey.
the only one of her relatives that loved — and required — that she make her old Irish recipe “potato dressing.”
My mom and her siblings wanted the much more complex “American” bread stuffing. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to marry a man who just loves to make a turkey. However,
he needs his family’s noodle stuffing, a delicious concoction always made by his late Eastern European Jewish American grandmother.
Did I mention the NOLA style shrimp-andouille cornbread stuffing made for my friend Sonia’s Thanksgiving gath ering (before kids)? Find it at
nolacuisine.com. Or, the next year’s offering: a cheese and leek bread pudding stuffing. Um, yeah. That exists. Just go to marthastewart.com.
So, put me down for five stuffings this year. The irony? I have one kid who eats no stuff ing and another who can take or leave it.
ZO OL IGHTS
A holiday cookie that makes dreams come true
Have a wish for Christmas? You might want to give Seattle mom Tricia Schroeder’s family recipe a try. Her mother made star-shaped, icing-drizzled Norwegian Wishing Cookies when Tricia was a child to celebrate her father’s proud Norwe
gian roots. Tricia continues to make the scrumptious gingerbread-like recipe — which she shared with Seattle’s Child in 2016 —for the fun folklore that goes with them.
“You put the cookie in your hand and press the center with a finger
Norwegian Wishing Cookie
Makes about 100 cookies
31/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon grated orange or lemon peel
1. Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and nutmeg. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl until softened. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg, molasses, water and orange or lemon peel and beat well.
Gradually add flour mixture, beating until well mixed. Cover and chill for about two hours or until easy to handle.
2. Roll dough an eighthinch thick; cut with cookie cutter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 375° for 8 minutes or until done. Remove and cool. Using a decorating bag and writing tip, pipe on a design with the lace icing.
Lace icing directions: 2 cups of sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and enough light cream or milk to make icing of piping consistency. Tint with food coloring.
A winter favorite from Molly Moon
Back in 2013, Molly Moon Neitzel, founder of Molly Moon’s ice cream, told Seattle’s Child about one of her favorite spices: cardamom. “There is something about this spice that makes the texture of the ice cream just perfect,” Neitzel said. “This is a flavor I first experienced at the Big Dipper in Missou la, Montana. We used to make gallons and gallons for an Indian restaurant on our block.” It’s now a winter staple at Molly Moon’s. And using this recipe, it can be a homemade staple for your winter holidays as well.
Molly Moon’s Cardamom Ice Cream
Makes 1 to 11/2 Quarts
2 cups heavy cream 1 cup whole milk 3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1. Put all of the ingredients into a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Just before the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat.
2. Cover and let the mixture steep at room temperature for 20 minutes.
3. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan or bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, 1 to 2 hours.
4. When the mixture is cold, pour it into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the ice cream to an airtight glass or plastic freezer container. Cover tightly and freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least four hours.
guide GIFT holiday
Robot vs Sloth
1535 1st Ave, Seattle 98101 robotvsloth.com Facebook and Instagram: @robotvsloth
Whether you prefer a robot and sloth battling each other or exploring the rainforest, Robot vs Sloth tees are perfect for anyone in your family. Tees are designed by Seattle artist La Ru, screen printed locally in Seattle on super-soft shirts and available in onesie, toddler, youth and adult sizes. $25 - 34. Robot vs Sloth is located in the historic Pike Place Market and features art and gifts by 40 (mostly local) artists.
Seattle Men’s Chorus Holiday Fa-la-la-liday Benaroya Hall
Friday, December 23 at 2 p.m. Children under ﬁve permitted. General admission pricing at seattlechoruses.org
Deck the halls with more fa-lala than ever! Join Seattle Men’s Chorus at Benaroya Hall on Friday, December 23 at 2 pm for a one time only, general admission seating, 60-minute Holiday Spectacular. Celebrating the kid in all of us, this dance-centered performance includes an unforgettable sing-along and Christmas Conga. Come out with the whole family for Seattle’s biggest holiday tradition.
Swansons Nursery is the perfect place to take your kids for a magical holiday outing. We’re decked out with thousands of glowing lights and filled with unique holiday ornaments, decorations, and gifts for the whole family. Enjoy a homemade treat at our new café, take a family photo at one of our photo-ops, and be sure to visit our model train village – this year’s theme is a child’s imagination!
The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach
20800 Marine Drive Stanwood 98292 November 25 - December 31 thelightsofchristmas.com
Celebrating 25 years of Christmas magic, The Lights of Christmas offers more than one million lights, dazzling displays, costume characters and options to purchase snacks, hot drinks and gifts! It’s a great Christmas experience for the whole family. Open select nights November 25-December 31. Tickets available online only at TheLightsofChristmas.com
Academy of Art
1501 10th Ave E., Seattle 98102 206-323-4243 firstname.lastname@example.org gageacademy.org/youth-programs
Give the Gift of Art! Comic artists, animators, game designers, graphic artists all start somewhere! With topnotch youth instructors, Gage Academy of Art offers both in-person and online youth programs to fit your family’s needs. From traditional painting and drawing to digital storytelling and character creation, your child will thrive in a Gage Youth Program! Gage Academy of Art has programs for youth ages 7-17.
Tacoma’s artistic landscape with
variety of local, affordable one-of-akind
Shop for take-home works of art or peruse our selection of exhibition catalogues from TAM’s most memorable shows, past and present. From unique hand-crafted jewelry to children’s toys and home décor, you’ll find a lot to love at TAM Store.
A custom-curated rock box is a great gift for the budding geologist in your life. Each box is packed with exciting minerals, gem collectibles and enriching activities. Subscription rock boxes, designed for ages 8 and older, are fun to share with family and friends. Younger children can also benefit with the additional help of a parent. Each box is a new surprise to unwrap! Sign up for a monthly or quarterly plan at rocksolidscience.com.
The why traditionsofby CHERYL MURFIN
We humans rely on rhythms and patterns to feel secure in our bodies, our families, our com munities and in nature, says Susan Payne, MSW, MaTS, CPC, a Seattle-based spiritual director, counselor and grandmother.
“Our breath comes in a rhythm, each day includes rhythms and patterns — sleep ing, waking, eating, times of quiet interwoven with active times,” says Payne, who credits Waldorf education for her family’s appreciation of life’s cadences and designs. “We are drawn to and look for patterns and rhythms and cycles in nature and to create them in our lives, because they help us understand our world and our connections within it.”
And that, says Payne, is why children are drawn to traditions.
Whether it’s weekly Sunday doughnuts, the creation of a nature table at the turn of each
season, the annual lighting of Hanukkah, Advent or Kwan zaa candles, or Winter Solstice and New Year’s Eve bonfires, traditions recognize the rhythms and patterns of ordinary life and family connection in extraordi nary ways.
They also reinforce family values and belief systems and strengthen family bonds. They provide children with a sense of security — that is, the idea that some things can be relied on. Traditions leave what research ers call an “emotional imprint” on children, helping them build last ing memories — especially if they are positive. And, perhaps most importantly, they help children form a strong sense of identity.
A review of 50 years of research published by the Amer ican Psychological Society found that traditions “convey ‘this is who we are’ as a group, and provide continuity in meaning across generations.”
Payne points out that family traditions and rituals needn’t
be religious to achieve these benefits or to fuel the spiritual development of children. In fact, rituals expand a child’s innate interest in and understanding of “sacred things.”
“For example, I told my almost 5-year-old grandson about a party at my house, mentioned that our family and friends would be there, and said it was on the Sunday coming up,” Payne re calls. “He looked concerned and said ‘What time is it?’ I told him it would be late afternoon. His re sponse was ‘Oh Good! Because if it was Sunday morning, I couldn’t come because we go out for doughnuts on Sunday morning.”
Through his family’s Sunday doughnut tradition, Payne’s grandson is learning not only the cycle of a week, but also gaining understanding of sacred space and time.
“The word sacred comes from the word sacrifice, and is related to sacrosanct. It’s important to create traditions or rituals in our lives or in our family that we decide are important and return to again and again,” Payne says. “My grandson is learning that to enjoy Sunday doughnuts he may have to sacrifice other things.”
Payne’s grandson enjoys sev eral traditions and rituals in his family. Along with Doughnut Day, there’s Ice Cream Day, Baking Day, and the seasonal changes of the family nature table.
“In the most obvious way, the nature table invites conversation about the change of seasons, but more importantly it helps us pay
attention,” says mom Meghan DeSpain. This month, as the fall holidays near, the family will col lect leaves and other objects from nature, noticing the patterns and changes from summer.
“We typically change the base of the nature table each season, and then adjust and add décor
We’re homeby LINDA MITCHELL
Paula, an Iraq war veteran, never thought she would be homeless. She was a military veteran, married 16 years, with a beautiful daughter.
And then things changed. A di vorce, a bad relationship, the death of her parents and no one she could turn to . . . it just kept coming. Paula says she now knows it really can happen to anyone.
She and her daughter Alayla moved into a hotel for a few days. When they ran out of money, Paula was scared. Searching the internet, she found a number for Mary’s Place, and she reached out.
“When you’re in a hotel, no one cares,” the North Seattle mother says. “No one knows that you’re there. No one cares for you. You’re alone. I’m so grateful for Mary’s Place, not only for the roof over our heads, but all the re sources and staff that care that we’re here, asking what they can do to help.”
After months of COVID-related government closures, Paula and
Alayla finally were able to use a Veter ans Administration voucher to find a home. They are starting over together.
Paula is excited to continue a holiday tradition from her childhood in their new home. They’ll spend Christ mas Eve baking cookies for Santa, then prepare and share a dinner of their favorite foods. Having set cookies out for Santa, they’ll go for a walk in the neighborhood to look at the holiday lights. While they’re out, Santa will come eat the cookies, drink the milk, and leave presents under the tree — including a special family ornament that’s symbolic of the year they’ve had together.
Alayla loves her new home and is excited for the holidays. At the end of October she already had a spot in the living room where the Christmas tree will go picked out and knows just how she wants to decorate it.
“Sometimes I sit on my couch, and I look around at this place and see how happy Alayla is, and I want to pinch myself,” Paula says. “It’s like a dream. This is truly our place. We did it, we’re home.”
over the three months,” says DeSpain. “Sometimes it looks like a wonderful little scene in nature, with toy animals and bits of plants from our walks, and sometimes it’s chaos.”
As for winter holiday tradi tions, the young family is starting anew, having moved to Seattle
last year. As they always have, they’ll put up white fairy lights in early December to bring in light when the dark comes early. A trip to see “The Nutcracker” may be becoming an annual tradition.
Traditions are one way of teaching children “there may be more than the here and now
and more than our stresses and challenges on a week-to-week basis,” says Payne.
“There is something about rituals and traditions that bind us to each other,” she adds. “When you do something and then prac tice it by doing it again and again together, you’re solidifying a
sense of belonging. That belong ing or being securely connected to others feeds a child’s spiritual development. Traditions are a glue holding us together until the tradition comes around again.”
Taking part in family tradi tions can also lead to greater
There are as many traditions for the holiday season ahead of us as there are families, each one part of a family’s unique personality, heritage, sense of fun or solemnity. Seattle’s Child readers have shared their stories and traditions with us over many years. Here are some of our favorites. Enjoy!
THE WHY OF TRADITIONS
feelings of happiness yearround for all members of a family, according to a series of studies published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.
“Most surprising, the types of rituals [study participants] described — family dinners with special foods, religious ceremonies, watching the ball drop in Times Square — did not have a direct bearing on enjoyment,” study authors wrote. “But the number of rituals did. Apparently having family rituals makes the holidays better and the more the merrier.”
The best traditions are ones that the majority of the family enjoy. That’s why parenting coach Sa rina Natkin, MSW, LICSW advises parents to check in with their own inner child:
“It’s important to explore our own child hood experiences,” she says. “What rituals and traditions brought you joy and which did you avoid? How did you feel connect ed to your cultural identity as a child? When we have explored these questions ourselves, it becomes much easier to pass along those traditions and values to our children.”
In the same vein, Payne encourages parents to rec ognize that inviolable does not need to mean inflexible when it comes to tradi tions. Families, especially grandparents, should be open to new ways of cele brating old traditions as a new generation takes root. And, they should watch for signs that might indicate the magic or meaning of a tradition has evaporated.
“It’s a paradox, be cause the word tradition assumes doing the same thing,” Payne says. “But it’s important to consider the question of how your traditions can also be flexible.”
The wonder of it allby ANN BERGMAN SEATTLE’S CHILD PUBLISHER
Special meals, meaningful gifts, thought ful traditions to reflect well-formulated values, helping out the less fortunate, fun and joy – how, exactly, are we supposed to make all this happen? It’s a good thing that time marches forward oblivious to our protests, or we might not ever allow the next day to start.
The wax will be dug out of the candle holders on the Menorah only moments before the first candle is lit. By mid-December, my husband will haul out the mildewed inflatable Santa and plug him in up on our balcony. Our neighbors will be happy to see Santa perched
A Christmas Eve present that never surprisesby KATERIN HANSEN
On Christmas Eve, Jonetta and Geno White allow their kids to open one present. These gifts are never a surprise. As they have for many years, every member of the family will receive matching Christmas pajamas.
The next morning all of them — Zenyia, 17; Geno Jr., 16; Gjianni, 15; and Geron, 10 — will wear their new pajamas. Even as most of the kids have become teenagers and more picky about fashion, they all don their holiday apparel. “We get fleece bottoms, things like that, so they’re cool enough,” Jonetta says with a laugh. “They better come down in those PJs!”
In their holiday jammies the family gathers to open the rest of their gifts, includ ing something unique each person has specially chosen for someone else. Later on Christmas Day they’ll change into nice clothes for a special family dinner.
When the kids were younger, the Federal Way family started a tradition
of putting names in a cup to see who would give a gift to whom. The gifts can be store-bought or handmade, but they must be meaningful, showing that the giver has thought about and tried to understand the recipient.
“We were giving them gifts, but they wanted to give some thing to each other or to us,” Jonetta says. “We try to get something the person would be
The family also makes time to give back to their community. They volunteer at the annual Gingerbread Village, which benefits the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The family chooses a day every year to greet visitors, thank donors, answer questions and spread awareness and holiday cheer. One of their children has juvenile diabetes.
“It helps us to celebrate in our
precariously up there yet again, swaying in the wind. Our 1-year old granddaughter, Anya, will be stunned.
A couple of days before Christmas, our big kids will walk in the door from L.A., N.Y.C. and Ann Arbor, and they’ll bring along one boyfriend, one husband, a girlfriend and girlfriend’s grandma. We should have the Christmas tree put up by then, although one year we didn’t get one until 7 p.m. on a wet, cold Christmas Eve, when we climbed over the fence at the abandoned tree lot. The lonely tree we took home must have been hugely relieved to be res cued and, only hours later, the center of attention in a warm, cozy home. One of our teenagers will again be shocked that the stores are closed at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, with her shopping list far from done.
Watching the holidays roll toward us, I’ll resist the urge to run and hide. I’ll be there again this year, not taking this great gift for granted but, instead, immensely grateful that I get to put my arms around loved ones, eat mashed potatoes and turkey by can dlelight, and walk our neighborhood all decked out in colored lights, showing Anya the wonder of it all.
Our celebration of cultureby LAURI LEVI
My husband grew up with Hanukkah and other Jewish holi days. However, he embraced Judaism from a cultural rather than a religious perspective, and so that’s how we’ve raised our children. I wasn’t raised in a Jewish family, but I started observing the Winter Solstice when I was in my 20’s and it was the cool thing to do.
And so we place our cel ebration of Hanukkah in that cultural setting, and bulk it up with our celebration of nature, food and changing seasons and light that is Winter Sol stice.
For me, it has always been a sweet moment, watching a child light the candles each night during Hanukkah. But a few years ago, I realized that our two oldest sons had memorized the prayers that go along with light ing the candles
and suddenly, I knew they were connecting with their larger culture and history in this simple way, and it struck me as really important for their identity and sense of family.
Over the years, we’ve integrated our own spin on traditional Hanukkah games and observance. We decorate a Hanukkah shrub and the kids get a big kick out of burning the shrub, along with our intentions for the new year, on the night of Solstice.
Mine is specific to the day
at the doorby LISA STIFLER
Christmas for LaShondra Hayes and Terry Callo way’s family includes many of the elements of a traditional celebration — a big dinner with family, honoring the birth of Jesus Christ, some gifts from Santa — but with their own twist.
When LaShondra walks into her Uncle Antoine’s house in Skyway on Christmas Eve, “I smell the gumbo,” she said, and she knows it’s the holidays.
Terry’s uncle Antoine Cal loway cooks up a big batch of the seafood stew for roughly 30 friends and family, including LaShondra and Terry’s 3-yearold son, Tre, and his six cousins.
“We look forward to some good food and all the kids are
there,” said LaShondra, who lives in Seattle. “We just enjoy each other’s time and company.”
But for Antoine, Christmas Eve is a dinner-and-a-show sort of production. After everyone has tucked into their gumbo, the chef slips away. The next thing the kids know, a deckedout Santa is knocking on the door with a sack of toys and big ho-ho-ho.
Two years ago, Santa was an unwelcome surprise for the 1-year-old Tre. “He just screamed bloody murder,” LaShondra said. Last year went more smoothly, and this year an older, wiser Tre is certain to give Saint Nick a warm reception.
“He is in love with Christ mas and the whole Santa Claus thing,” she said.
The gift of family and togethernessby HALLIE GOLDEN
When Abrey Francis and her six siblings were growing up, they could always count on one big outing during the holiday season. Their parents would take them to downtown Seattle to shop for Christmas gifts for each other, visit the Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s Teddy Bear Suite, ride the carousel and, of course, take plenty of holiday pictures.
Now Francis, 25, is a mother herself, and loves sharing these holiday traditions with her 18-month-old daughter, Kaia.
“I wanted to make sure that the holiday traditions live on,” says Francis, a flight attendant who lives in Bellevue.
In early December, when downtown is decorated with festive lights and the fantastical teddy bears are out, she and her
daughter will join her parents and siblings’ families for this annual outing.
Francis has added her own spin to her and her daugh
Bellevue to go ice skating, visit Snowflake Lane and take photos with Santa Claus.
“I want to make sure that Kaia understands that these holidays are meant not for the gifts, but for the gift of family
Francis’ par ents emigrated from Jamaica, so they like to
incorporate the island’s cuisine into their Christmas meals. She said they might cook a big turkey or pot roast, and pair it with escovitch fish (Jamaican fried fish) or jerk chicken. For Christmas Eve, the whole family reconvenes at one of Francis’ sisters’ homes. They’ll stay up most of the night talking, laugh ing and cooking a big meal for Christmas Day.
In the morning, Francis makes everyone a Christmas breakfast, which typical ly features a big helping of pumpkin French toast. Then all of the children open their gifts, followed by the adults. They’ll end the festivities with an early Christmas dinner.
“Just by being all of us in a room together, eating and sharing stories and doing these outings, it just creates a sense of belonging, love and family,” says Francis.
ChristmaKwanzaanuk-kah Solstivus!by JIAYING GRYGIEL
During the winter solstice, the Holguin family in Magnolia celebrates with a cozy fire, a potluck with friends, a vis it from the winter fairy — and no bedtime!
Everyone tries to stay up to see the sunrise, but no one ever makes it. Vinny, 8, pushes it until 11 p.m. (bedtime is usually 8:30), and his parents go to bed a little after him.
Mom Jessica Holguin started their “annual secular astronomical phenomenon celebration” when Vinny was 3 or 4. They added a winter fairy because they weren’t so sure about “the Santa thing.” The fairy, who’s all done up in a wig, crown, glitter, wings and eyelashes, knocks on the door with some small presents for the kids. The fairy asks the kids to make a winter wish, which she writes down and then throws into the fire. Vinny hasn’t figured out who plays the winter fairy — yet.
Solstice is Vinny’s favorite holiday because he gets to stay up late, and it’s just one party in a month of celebrations for the family. With dad Marti’s birthday in early December and Vinny’s birthday in January — and Chanukah, solstice and Christmas in between — the darkest month of the year is a very busy season.
“We pretty much party the entire month,” Jessica says. “And then we’re just too exhausted.”
Family update: Jessica says Vinny is 13 now. Of this holiday tradition re-share she says “I wonder what he’ll think!”
More reader holiday traditions
Thankful chainby ALAN DURNING
We do a thankful chain every year. We start at Thanksgiving and every night (or whenever we feel like it) we each take a strip of construc tion paper and write on it something we’re thankful for. Then we staple them onto the growing paper chain that stretches around the living room. On or around New Year, we read them aloud. I’ve kept all the strips from years past. It’s fun to see how we’ve changed and remained the same over time. One year, Peter wrote the same thing every time. In the oldest bag, which is from 1999 or so, Kathryn wrote, “I am thankful for teddy bears.”
The sugar plum treeby JACK HARRIS
Making mince piesby BHAIRAVI SHAH
Bubbe and the crashing Christmas treesby JOSH KAHAN
Your guide to a kidfriendly city deliv ed to y r inb
In 1947, when my Jewish father told his Jewish mother he was marrying a non-Jew ish woman, my grandmother said: “I’m going to kill myself.” Fortunately, she didn’t follow through. Her survival provided our family with its most enduring Christmas tradition. Every year, mom and the kids would come home with a massive tree, far too big to fit comfortably in the living room. We would have to anchor the beast with rope, bricks and cinder blocks. The rope would often stretch across the living room and wrap around table legs and chairs. Quite often, my Bubbe (Yiddish for “grandmother,”) would trip on the rope, causing the tree to crash to the floor. Hours of reconstructive engineering would follow. We all felt bad about her tripping, but years later, the grandkids began to wonder if the crashing Christmas trees had less to do with a lack of vision, and more to do with a religious opinion …
Regardless, we all remember Bubbe and her marvelous personality when the Christmas tree goes up and when it comes down, which makes for a lovely holiday memory.
In the winter of 1973, we lived on a woodsy, 52-acre farm in rural Missouri. My father began “The Sugar Plum Tree” party that has been a tradition in our family ever since. He created this holiday treasure hunt by decorat ing a tree hidden deep in the woods with small hanging presents, candy canes, and tinsel. The adults (all our neighbors came) gave the kids clues as to the tree’s location, typically offering up several false starts. This only added to the excitement and anticipation of spotting the elu sive Sugar Plum Tree. Once we found it, we’d race to the magical tree in eager anticipation of presents and candy, with the adults trailing slowly behind, warm drinks in hand. Now that my brother and I have children, we do it again, in the woods outside Bellingham where my parents now live. Trailing behind with warm drinks in hand, we watch our sons venture wide-eyed into the dark in search of the Sugar Plum Tree.
Savoring Kwanzaa valuesby APRIL RAUCH
While Kwanzaa was established as a celebration of African-American culture in the 1960s, we first discovered the holiday after the adoption of our first child, Ophelia. Kwanzaa is the perfect answer to my and Andrew’s atheist and agnostic resistance to the commercialized holiday season. Kwanzaa runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1 and celebrates a different princi ple for each of those seven days: unity, self-de termination, collective work and responsibility, family, purpose, creativity, and faith. We light a kinara (similar to a menorah) each evening and discuss the daily principle. Kwanzaa gives our family the opportunity to reflect on all we are grateful for and to collaborate on meaning ful resolutions for the New Year to come, for both ourselves and our community. We have a boisterous annual Kwanzaa celebration with our adoption group friends, and it strengthens our children’s camaraderie and pride in their beautiful heritage.
We’re a transplanted family from Man chester, England, to Seattle. I’m from India and my husband is British. Our favorite family tradition around Christmas is making and eating mince pies, a common tradition in the UK. I must admit that as a non-Catholic/Chris tian Indian, I didn’t have any traditions that re volved around “the holidays,” as they’re known in the U.S., so my traditions have come from my husband. The mince pies are made with a pâte sucrée (sweet pastry) and a ready-made filling of apple, raisins, and spices. Our 5-yearold’s job is to brush the mince pies with milk and sprinkle them with sugar, which involves sneaking the odd bit of sugar into her mouth. Our 3-year-old’s only involvement thus far has been eating the pies! We make between six to eight batches each Christmas and send them to friends and enjoy them as a family.
2014 Paper chain and unoby LISA STIFLER
As the former owner of Drygoods Design, a Pioneer Square shop and crafting hub, Keli Faw’s workday is centered on helping people make elaborate homemade crafts for the holidays. But when she gets home, Keli checks the time-consuming, Pinterest-worthy projects at the door.
“When I’m at home I try to keep it simple so I can hang out with my kids,” Keli said. Christ mas has “always been a focus on family and making it special for them.” That means string ing popcorn and making paper chains with her son Mac, 6, and daughter Waverly, 3½. The kids enjoy bending pipe cleaners into candy-cane ornaments or finger-painting butcher paper with red and green paint to make gift wrap.
ai166682448840_Seattle's Child_10-26-22.pdf 1 10/26/22 3:48 PM
Keli welcomes low-key traditions such as family games of Uno or visits with friends and relatives. The kids don’t mind if activities aren’t fancy — they just enjoy the pattern of predict
thevilla.org | Seattle, Washington
able events that define the holiday season.
Family update: “We still do those same traditions each year! Drygood Design closed due to the challenges pre sented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
2016 Advent calendar holds treasures and memoriesby BECCA HALL
For kids who celebrate Christmas, the weeks leading up to the big day can be torturous. But thanks to their maternal grandfather, Adella and Sydney Hoyt have an Advent tradition that is itself worth waiting for. Eight years ago — the year that Brenda had Adella — Brenda’s father, Ron Hanning, gave the family a special gift, a handmade wooden Advent calendar.
The children’s father, Corey, is of German descent and grew up with German Advent calendars with chocolate inside. But the calendar his children’s grandfather made takes that tradition to a whole new level. The calendar is a set of painted drawers. Some of the paintings are Christmas-themed; others are drawn from the family’s life.
Inside each drawer, Corey and Brenda put little treasures — bracelets, rings, chocolates, stickers, shells, polished rocks and other small things they stash away during the year.
An ongoing holidayby LISA STIFFLER
In December Martha Diaz and her family celebrate “an ongoing holiday” mostly drawn from her Mexican heritage and Catholic traditions, peppered here and there with hints of American culture.
Martha moved to the U.S. from Gua dalajara when she was 12 and now lives in Tukwila with her husband, Ernesto Chavez, and their children.
The Diaz family festivities start in mid-December with Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe and on Christmas Eve, the family performs a posada, in which they re-enact Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. If Martha’s sister is hosting the dinner, they’ll sing carols and songs outside her house, until the last verse of a special posada song when they’re invited inside. After Christmas is Three Kings’ Day, which includes baking a ringed loaf of sweet bread called a Rosca de Reyes in which a toy baby Jesus is hidden. Whoever gets the piece with the baby has to host a party for the others, typically serving tamales. Martha says all of the work is worth it “to make sure my
children grow up and see these traditions and maintain it in my family.”
A house that’s always openby SYDNEY PARKER
When Noa and Oded Dvoskin moved from Israel to the United States, they brought their favorite family Chanukah traditions with them. Growing up as the daughter of the head of the Department of Jewish Folklore and Comparative Studies at Hebrew Univer sity in Jerusalem, Noa lived in a home filled with Jewish artifacts, including a wall of nearly 500 menorahs. “There is not a single white space on the wall,” says Noa. “My father knows the story for each one of them.”
Now with three young children of their own (Talya, 7, Nogah, 5, and Maor, 1), the Dvoskins enjoy celebrating the Jewish festi val of lights by lighting several of their own special menorahs in their Victory Heights home. They even have one in the shape of an old Volkswagen van. The family tries to make each of the eight nights a little different as they celebrate the Chanukah miracle. In fact, Nogah and Maor were born around Chanu kah and given names that denote different interpretations of the word light.
“I think it’s rare that we have a single
night of Chanukah by ourselves,” says Oded. “Sometimes our neighbor comes over, sometimes it’s Talya’s best friend — we always have friends over to light the candles together.
Our house is always open to others. We invite everyone to come and experience that joy and that light with us.”by HALLIE
About 15 years ago, Dana Ness and her husband, Andy James, faced some road blocks in their Christmas plans. They couldn’t find a way for all three of her younger broth ers, who were spread out across the country, to join them for the holidays. That’s when the Vashon Island couple had an idea: Rather than stress over this one set holiday, why not just create their own?
The epiphany quickly gave birth to an annual holiday tradition involving celebrating one of the family’s most beloved figures — Laurence Tureaud, aka Mr. T. The actor and retired professional wrestler has been a pos itive figure for Ness, a veterinarian, and her brothers ever since they watched his 1980s television series “The A-Team.”
ON NEXT PAGE >
Support curiosity and give the gift of membership.
Learn how at pacsci.org
Vashon family created its own holiday inspired by — no kidding — Mr. T
Their appreciation for Mr. T’s posi tivity, enthusiasm and humor has only grown since then, and with the help of their homemade holiday, “T-Mas,” has spread to James and their 15-year-old son, Elliott.
“He brings the family together,” says James, a teacher. “He’s not complicated.”
T-Mas typically takes place at the couple’s home sometime in the winter, depending on when Ness’ brothers are available. The group of family members and a handful of friends start by eating food that starts with the letter T. Riffing off “I pity the fool,” Mr. T’s catchphrase in “Rocky III,” each person then makes a list of fools they pitied during the year. In the past they’ve picked public figures and local community members (Elliott’s favorites when he was little were “hunt ers” and “stealers”). The children then go into the woods to collect small sticks, so everyone can make stick-figure fools.
Each person takes a turn saying, “La dies and gentlemen, I pity a great many fools this year” (a quote from an old ar ticle on The Onion), before reading their list and throwing the paper and sticks into the fire. Ness says the act of burning helps them each release any resentment they still feel toward these people: “You pity them and then you let it go.”
2021 Grandma’s jewelry treeby JULIE HANSON
I put up my favorite holiday heirloom tonight: my Grandma’s jewelry Christ mas tree.
It’s a holiday heirloom with a story, one that has become more and more special to me as the years go by.
My Grandma Margaret Glover loved the holidays and made them special. She was artistic and handy and loved all sorts of craft projects. In fact, the angel that tops our tree is a Grandma creation. This angel has seen better days, but we can’t imagine our tree without her. But the jewelry tree… that is a wall-hanging masterpiece unto itself. I can imagine my Grandpa helped cut the base for it. It looks like green-painted plywood, and the lights were poked through from the back. The “ornaments” are all sorts of earrings, broaches and other costume jewelry.
We lost Grandma in 2006. I don’t remember us arguing over anything of hers, and I had no competition for the jewelry tree. It is a rather large, beautifully imperfect item. But I love it more with each passing year. Maybe it’s because we’ve lost a lot, so we cling more tightly to what we have.
Make your holidays brighter!
Enter to win these great prizes all through the holiday season at seattleschild.com
Seattle’s Child and our partners are oﬀering you a chance to win these amazing holiday prizes!
Family memberships, gift packs, tickets to the theater and more. Enter each week for a chance to win. Visit seattleschild.com/category/giveaways for more information about eligibility.
Robot vs Sloth Gift Pack
The Lights of Christmas at Warm Beach • 2 tickets
Peppa Pig’s Adventure at McCaw Hall • 4 tickets
KidsQuest Children’s Museum General Admission • 4 tickets
KidsQuest Children’s Museum New Year’s Eve Countdown event • 4 tickets
Issaquah Reindeer Festival • 4 tickets
Seattle Men’s Chorus Holiday Falala-liday • 2 adult & 2 child tickets
Paciﬁc Northwest Ballet The Nutcracker • 4 tickets
Holiday Magic at the Fair • 4 tickets
Santa at the Space Needle • 2 tickets
A Christmas Carol at ACT Theatre • 4 tickets
WildLanterns at Woodland Park Zoo • 4 tickets
Washington State History Museum Family Membership
The Gift of Art package from Gage Academy of Art
Paciﬁc Science Center Family Membership
Tacoma Art Museum Individual Access Membership
Olympic Party Package at Sno-King Ice Arenas
Bloedel Reserve 1-year Membership
See our website for prize details and eligibility.