Some family holiday traditions are relived year after year.
Mike and Roni Laird sit in front of their Christmas tree with their son James, 7, at their Martinez home. Roni Laird has preserved her German childhood traditions at Christmas by incorporating the same practices with her family and adding on new ones brought by her husband's family.
Photo by Quandra Collins
But keeping certain traditions going when you marry is another story.
For two Columbia County couples, one married for almost nine years and the other celebrating their first Christmas together as husband and wife, finding a way to mix his and her traditions can be a bit tricky.
"Scott and I married in February, after already spending five Christmases together," said newlywed Amber Zimmerman, of Martinez. "You'd think that having most of our family here in this area would make things easier, but it hasn't. Having everyone here means we have five different Christmas events to attend."
The Zimmermans spend Christmas Eve and go to midnight Mass with Mr. Zimmerman's family. Christmas morning is hurried as the couple rushes to Mr. Zimmerman's family's house for the exchange of gifts and breakfast. Lunch is spent with her father's side of the family. And later on Christmas night, the couple spends time at her aunt's house with her mother's family. The next day, the couple celebrates with her immediate family, and in January, a holiday celebration with out-of-town family is held.
"Then, of course, Scott and I have to find a time to be alone to exchange gifts with each other," Mrs. Zimmerman said. "It's crazy, busy and tiring for us. Sometimes, we forget how fortunate we really are, though. We get to see so much of our family over the holidays. We really are blessed."
Mike and Roni Laird, of Martinez, aren't as hurried with their holiday vacation. The couple, married since April 1996, spend Christmas Eve with her family, where gifts are exchanged and a German meal is enjoyed. The following day, the couple and their children spend the holiday with his family, enjoying a Southern meal.
Mrs. Laird fondly recalls childhood traditions of putting her shoes out by the front door Dec. 6 every year, hoping candy and gifts would await her the next morning. Growing up in Germany, she recalls making cookies and hard candy with her grandmother, singing songs in German and eating a large meal.
Having children, too, might mean a change in traditions and the creation of new ones. For the Lairds, Santa's journey will always be tracked, no matter how old they get. James, 7, joins his brother and sister, Brandy Hultman, 18, and Billy Hultman, 21, counting down the days to St. Nick's arrival on the Advent calendar.
"Billy and Brandy usually get up in the middle of the night to get their stockings," Mrs. Laird said. "They love their stockings. Even though my kids are older, they never know what Santa brings. They still have to make a wish list and then Santa brings the surprise."
One thing the Lairds enjoy doing as a family is decorating the tree. That's a holiday staple in their home, where each member of the family joins in the holiday decorating.
"We just love the feeling of togetherness," she said. "And big quality time."
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