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Share Your Favorite Holiday Memory with Patch

The editors who make up the Peninsula region of Patch share their favorite holiday memories and traditions and invite you to share yours with us.

Whether as a child, or a grown up, we all have special holiday memories and traditions that bring us back to days long gone and some that we carry on each year. The editors who make up the Peninsula region of Patch wanted to share theirs with you, and we’d love it if you would tell us about your memory or tradition. Have photos or a video memory? You can upload those, too!

And from all of us in San Mateo County, we hope you are having a wonderful holiday season and are making lots of happy memories this year.

Jamie White, regional editor, San Mateo County Patch sites 

FAVORITE MEMORY: My dad had a life-size manger scene he would display on the front lawn of our house in San Carlos every year with lights and people would come from miles around to "ooh" and "ahhh." He loved setting that up every year : ) My dad loved Christmas and having his family together. While I miss him not being here to share in making new memories, I will always have that very special memory of him.

FAVORITE TRADITION: My family had their big celebration on Christmas Eve when I was a little girl, and the whole clan used to come over to my house on Christmas Eve for a huge dinner and to unwrap gifts under the Christmas tree. I got so excited on Christmas Eve morning to see everyone, made nametags for the table and went to bed wondering what Santa would leave me under the tree on Christmas morning. 



Stacie Chan, associate regional editor, San Mateo County Patch sites

FAVORITE MEMORY: Receiving from Santa a giant toy house when I was 3 years old. I lived in that thing until I was about 10!

FAVORITE TRADITION: Just north of my hometown, a wealthy neighborhood goes NUTS with Xmas decorations and lights, so the entire community, including my parents, sister and I, would park their cars and go around admiring the lights. We ooh-ed and aah-ed and wished we owned one of those homes.


Laura Dudnick, editor of San Mateo Patch and Foster City Patch

FAVORITE MEMORY/TRADITION: Listening to Vince Guaraldi on Christmas morning... my parents always played the holiday CD while we opened presents. Now I like to listen to it when I bake Christmas cookies.


Vanessa Castaneda, editor of Menlo Park Patch

FAVORITE MEMORY/TRADITION: In my family, no holiday season is complete without the photo montage of our annual gingerbread house build-a-thon. Every year, my little cousins gather around the island in the kitchen to help mix me ingredients for the frosting/mortar. We build gingerbread houses, and then my aunts snap photos of us, holding our homes. Later on in the evening, when the wine is poured, cell phones and cameras get passed around the living room, so everyone can see the pictures of our creations.


Joan Dentler, editor of Belmont Patch and San Carlos Patch 

FAVORITE MEMORY: I have a new favorite memory. Last Christmas we skied on Christmas Day — fresh coating of snow in White Fish, Montana. No crowds, everyone in a good mood and very peaceful. Then we realized we hadn't shopped for food for dinner and the only thing open on Christmas night was Walgreens, so we feasted on dried pasta with Ragu, Pringles and frozen chicken wings around a fireplace in White Fish.

FAVORITE TRADITION: Growing up it was midnight mass with my siblings followed by eating and drinking everything that was supposed to be saved for Christmas Day.

Jennifer van der Kleut, editor of Redwood City-Woodside Patch

FAVORITE MEMORY: As kids, waking up at the crack of dawn, pouncing on our parents in bed, and tearing into the living room to see how many presents were under the tree.

FAVORITE TRADITION: Now that I have two little ones of my own, we have a new tradition of buying Christmas jammies each year (they get to pick them out) and baking cookies for Santa the night before. For my husband and I, it's the same tradition we both had with our own families when we were kids — making cups of hot cocoa, cuddling up under a blanket on the couch near the Christmas tree, and watching 'A Christmas Story' all day long. We've both seen it so many times, we can pretty much say the lines right along with the characters.


Christa Bigue, editor of Pacifica Patch and Half Moon Bay Patch

FAVORITE MEMORY: After opening presents Christmas morning, my family would go to my father’s cousin's house, known as Summer Hill Nursery, for Christmas dinner, which always consisted of turkey that was raised on their New England property. Their Christmas tree was freshly cut from their property as well and was so tall and fat that you could never see the top of it since it was crushed up against the ceiling. My aunts and uncles every year convinced my younger sister and I that the rest of the tree with an angel on top was upstairs, pushed through a hole cut into the ceiling. Of course they were only kidding, but that didn’t stop us every year from running upstairs and looking for it. We would then eat at a dining room table inside a greenhouse attached to their house, and if we were lucky that year, it was snowing outside.

FAVORITE TRADITION: Every Christmas my mom made a yule log pudding, which we would have either Christmas Eve or day for dessert. As a child I liked when the lights were turned off and the cake, garnished with fresh holly sprigs, was torched with brandy and fire. Once the flames died down, it was cut into slices and served with a butter cream sauce. I didn’t like how it tasted, but now as an adult, I can appreciate the wonderful flavor of cranberries, molasses, with a hint of brandy, and try to make it every year so my children can experience one of my most favorite holiday traditions.


Bea Karnes, guest editor of Palo Alto Patch

FAVORITE MEMORY: My favorite present as a child was a shiny new bicycle. Growing up in California, we could ride our bikes year-round. It was so thrilling to get a "big" bicycle like my older sister, instead of the small hand-me-down that I'd been riding. I don't have a least-favorite present. Perhaps it's the wisdom and hindsight of adulthood, but I appreciate the sacrafice made to purchase each gift that I received.

FAVORITE TRADITION: When my children were little, we were living in Colorado. Each year we'd go into the mountains to cut our Christmas tree. We'd pack a lunch, a thermos of hot chocolate, and make a day of it. We'd tromp uphill and down, searching for the perfect tree, with my husband calling out to the children, "Make sure the tree goes downhill to the car!" Each year the tree was "perfect" and we'd make a new, wonderful memory.


Deb Wong December 23, 2012 at 03:24 PM
My favorite childhood Christmas traditions were opening of wrapped gifts on Christmas Eve, and the gifts from Santa on Christmas morning. Stockings were filled mostly with oranges, apples, and walnuts. The fragrance of oranges & apples is consistent with the majority of my Christmas memories. The most memorable gifts were a puppy when I was 9; my first Beatles album when I was 12; and a 3-speed Bicycle when I was 14....but nothing tops the birth of my daughter on Christmas day, 1971. My very favorite holiday memory is the day that my daughter was born. She wasn't expected to show up so soon - by far, my favorite Christmas gift & miracle of all.
Christa Bigue December 23, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Deb, your descriptions here are wonderful. Thank you for sharing your traditions and memories. How wonderful that your daughter was born on Christmas Day. Now that's a gift! My daughter is 9 and her gift this year is a puppy. I hope she looks back like you and considers this one her most memorable Christmas gifts ever. We always put an orange in our stockings which the idea of using an orange as a stocking stuffer seems to have become a thing of the past to a lot of people. Most would rather find an iPod in their stocking than an orange, but the symbolization of generosity that an orange represents should be more important than any high priced gift you could receive. Merry Christmas!
Dorene December 23, 2012 at 06:25 PM
When I was younger my dad would take me to San Francisco to see the big tree and decorated windows at City of Paris, see Santa, do some Christmas shopping and ride the rides on the rooftop of the Emporium. I enjoyed that time with my dad. Every Christmas morning my mom would make Eggs Benedict. Now my husband and I have crab dinner on Chirstmas Eve, make some mulled cider and watch a Christmas movie with our son. I hope my son looks back on his childhood Christmas' with fond memories. On Christmas morning I make Eggs Benedict.


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