12 Days of Traditions – Day 4: Jenna Sanfilippo
Growing up I was always that little kid who drove my family nuts around the holidays. Either it was making a list for Santa that was taller than me or the Christmas Eve nights where I forced my sister to stay up and stake out the living room to catch Santa in the act. Even though, at the time, my family wanted to tie me up to make sure I wasn’t getting into any trouble, those are the silly memories that we always reminisce on each and every Christmas holiday!
Since I was a baby, my Christmas traditions have always been cut from the same mold. The Sunday before Christmas, my great-aunt would invite our whole family over for our cookie trade. Everyone would make at least five different types of cookies and we would bring our containers and fill them up with an abundance of cookies, have brunch and just catch up with everyone.
We began Christmas Eve by going to church for the children’s mass where we would get to enjoy the children of our parish and their reenactment of the Christmas Story. What always made it extra special for my family is our involvement with our church. When I was young, I was always a part of the reenactment, playing a variety of roles over the years; and as I got older I would help my mom and others run the children’s play. At the end of Mass, Mr. and Mrs. Clause would make a guest appearance for all the children in the parish along with their little elves (the fathers of the parish) handing out small treats for all who came. After Mass, my family and I would go over to my great-aunts house where we would have the feast of the seven fishes. When we would get home from her house, my mom would give my sister and I each a gift to open up from her and my father. Each and every year it has always been pajamas and till this day that is all we are allowed to open on Christmas Eve.
On Christmas Day, my sister and I would wake my parents up extremely early to open presents. After we finished up with presents, we would get ready to go to my father’s side for breakfast and presents. I have always loved Christmas morning because my grandparents would make fried dough and it was the only time it was acceptable to have cookies for breakfast! After breakfast we would head over to my mom’s side at my aunt’s house for brunch. My aunt’s house was always fun because, since our family was so big, we would do a Secret Santa with the adults and then another with the cousins. After brunch, my family would head back to my house to get ready for dinner where we would host both my moms and dads side along with our family friends. Having the opportunity to end the Christmas season with all of our loved ones, I think, is one of the most warm and rewarding feelings of all.