Holiday Rituals

Written by: KUMC School of Medicine

Read on for holiday rituals that include Christmas eve, pajamas, Run DMC, cats, sleepovers, Indian food, Chinese food, and more.

Class of 2023

Christmas tradition for my family is more about the orchestration of Christmas Eve, rather than a single tradition. It’s singing and dancing in the kitchen while we cook all day. It’s laughter, a plate of cookies on the table, a boot-print by the fireplace. We witness the passage of time by the increasing number of stockings on the mantle. Every year, we joke about how we’ll have to eat in shifts next year because the table won’t hold us any longer; each year we manage to add another plate. My family goes to mass on Christmas Eve and afterward, those of us who have outgrown the “Santa illusion” race home to fill the stockings and load the tree up with gifts. Meanwhile the children are distracted with a drive to look at Christmas lights. When they return, a joyous chaos ensues. The most important part of this holiday tradition is having my family under one roof again, sharing in the magic of the elaborate production and passing on that feeling to our family’s newest additions.

——-Linzy Kirkpatrick, M1


Class of 2022

While my family doesn’t have a ton of hard and fast traditions, one of my favorites is that we listen to an abridged recording of A Christmas Carol almost every Christmas Eve. We get into our PJs, turn the lights down low (or, in the case of last year when we lost power, nature takes care of that for us), and listen to the somewhat crackly recording from vinyl.

——-Erin Whepley, M2

One of my favorite holiday tradition growing up was participating in Karaoke on Christmas Eve with my family. We took turns performing our favorite Christmas songs, which we start listening to the day after Thanksgiving. Some of our favorites are Silent Night by the Temptations, White Christmas by The Drifters  (think Home Alone when Kevin puts the after shave on his face), Christmas in Hollis by RUN DMC and The Christmas Song by Nat “King” Cole.

——-Robert Gibson, M2

My family tradition doesn’t include any Christmas decorations (lol). A family tradition of mine has been to visit a new country or place over the holidays and see how the people of that country or city in the United States celebrate that day. My family and I will eat traditional foods and really try to immerse ourselves in that particular place and culture! Examples include visiting New York City for Thanksgiving; Playa del Carmen (Mexico) for Christmas; Rome (Italy) for Christmas, and this year Paris (France) for Christmas. It is not traditional at all, but it is my favorite way to spend that time of year to see how other people celebrate and visit these beautiful places with my family and create new memories!

——-Greta Ciccolari-Micaldi M2


The best thing about holidays is having time off to spend with family and friends, especially when they live far away. My sisters and I live in different states. Our tradition is a pseudo-sleep over, we just sit and watch movies and eat junk food and revert back to our younger selves for a few hours. It’s the best albeit not so unique holiday tradition.

——-Sara Ohadi-Hamadani M2


My favorite holiday tradition is going to the movies and getting Chinese food with my family every Christmas!

——-Joshua Kaseff, M2

My favorite holiday tradition is for Christmas – every Christmas morning, after my family does stockings from Santa (yes, we still do that even though we’re all 15 years and older now), the whole family makes monkey bread for breakfast. It’s one of my favorite traditions because nothing feels more cozy than spending time as a family, making my favorite breakfast food, and listening to Christmas music (hopefully with snowy weather too).

——-Taylor Daniels, M2


Every year, my family makes the trip to the Christmas tree farm on the day after Thanksgiving. Because it’s Kansas, we never know if we’ll need three winter coats or if we can wear athletic shorts to pick out our tree. It’s always such a good time to be with family, harshly judge the contours of a few evergreens, and throw some pinecones at my sisters. We always finish it off with a bit of hot apple cider, and then a day full of Christmas tree decorating and Christmas tunes.

——-Nathan Stacy, M2


 Random winner of the 5$ giveaway….

Our family doesn’t really have too many traditions, but one thing we do look forward to every year is when we open presents, our cat loves to frolic around in the wrapping paper. He’s getting old and isn’t very active anymore, but that wrapping paper excites the lion within him and we look forward to seeing that.

I promise I’m not a crazy cat lady………………

——-Leah Dionisi, M2


 Class of 2020

My wife had a ritual when she was younger – her family would put up the Christmas tree in the preceding weeks before Christmas and leave the tree up until her birthday (which was soon after). When she told me about this, it reminded me of the nights I would sleep next to the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve with Christmas music playing.

Well, I loved this tradition so much that we have done it every year to this date.

The moral of this brief story isn’t having a tradition. It’s giving yourself the freedom to make any holiday or situation magical, if that’s what you want. Celebrate as long as you want. My daughter sings Christmas Carols in the car with us even today, in late Summer.

In the grand scheme of things, I’d rather have Christmas in July than unhappiness year-round. After all, I’ve worked in health care for years and you’re expected to work holidays. I do it without hesitation when I can.

The tree will be up when I get home, and there’s the added bonus of my children finding whatever excuse they can to celebrate with me. I’ll take it. Happiness is a potent medication.

——-Daniel Ortiz, M4

My family’s Thanksgiving food comas last longer than average. When my Indian grandparents used to visit for the holiday, they were not accustomed to American food and did not eat any of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. We wanted to make sure they could partake in the feast and celebrate with us. We started making a plethora of classic Gujarati dishes and my grandparents loved it. We continue to eat two Thanksgiving meals filled with food from the best of both worlds.

——-Nisha Patel M4


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