Birches Residents Cherish Long-Held Holiday Traditions….and Make New Ones

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Written by Jenny Smiechowski, staff writer for The Birches

Whether it’s Christmas caroling, volunteering, snapping a family photo or throwing a holiday bash, every family has holiday traditions that make the season special.

Many of these traditions continue for years and years. They are passed down from parents to kids to grandkids until the holiday season seems inconceivable without them. A perfect example? Birches resident Lorraine Kozak’s Santa Claus cookies.

Back when Lorraine’s kids were young, she baked Santa Claus-shaped cookies every Christmas. Once each Santa’s face was lovingly painted on with frosting, she put the cookies in bags, tied the bags with ribbons and hung them on the tree.

 “It was a great tradition,” said Kozak. “I loved baking cookies and giving them away—especially the Santa Claus cookies, which I’d save for the kids.”

Every time one of her kids’ friends visited, Lorraine greeted them with a “Merry Christmas” and a freshly-baked Santa cookie.

Although Lorraine doesn’t bake Santa cookies anymore, her daughter continues the tradition for her. She orders Santa cookies from a bakery every year to share with family and friends just like her mother did many years ago.

Most of us have a tradition or two we follow year after year just like the Kozaks. Maybe we cook a Christmas turkey. Or attend Christmas church services. Or watch “White Christmas” on Christmas Eve.

Of course, sometimes traditions change. And that’s okay too. Kids grow up. Family members relocate. Relationships evolve. And life moves on.

Anna Marie Hickey, who moved to the U. S. from Ireland when she was 16, says that when she was a child in Ireland her family always waited until Christmas Eve to put up the Christmas tree.

“I don’t know why this was a custom in Ireland, because I left when I was young,” said Hickey. “But I know it was customary in other European countries too, like Germany.”

Anna Marie says she didn’t hold on to this holiday tradition once she had her own family here in the States for practical reasons. It was too hectic to wait until Christmas Eve. Instead, she followed the motto of her American friends and neighbors: the earlier you get the Christmas tree up, the better.

So, even though longstanding holiday traditions will always hold a special place in our hearts, sometimes life inspires us to start new ones. If there’s a new tradition you’ve always wanted to try (like handing out Santa Claus cookies!), start this year.

As you may know, we’re firm believers at The Birches that it’s never too late to start something new, whether it’s a new hobby, a new healthy habit or a new holiday tradition. So, fill this holiday season with plenty of fun, festive traditions…new and old!