Your Holiday Rituals

“Our festive ritual consists of stretching fritters on a gauze over our bent knee. We use a secret family recipe that my older sister has yet to share. Everyone is involved in an assembly line based on their experience, mixing, forming dough, rolling out perfectly round tortillas, stretching, and then frying to a golden brown! —Elma Cadena, San Antonio, Texas

“My family and I burn a Christmas log on the winter solstice. We find an oddly shaped or very large piece of wood, decorate it with twigs, berries, foliage, and other items as we see fit, then affix a note or mark on the log indicating some intention we have for the coming year. ” —Candace Abraham, Newport, Wash.

“I carry a $100 bill to tip someone at random. I go about my business, and when I find that one person who needs a lift, I plant the big bill like I normally would: in the barber’s hand, the jar in the cafeteria, the wallet for the server. And don’t stay for the reaction. Let them enjoy their surprise in private!” —Jackie Shapiro Brooker, Greenville, SC

“My husband’s family’s 20+ year tradition of a Christmas Eve dinner we call ‘mishy mashy.’ There is a rule: each person must bring or prepare a food that he wants to eat. Anything is game, and judgments are not allowed. Soft pretzels? Hmm! Oyster soup? OKAY! Reindeer cheese you just bought? Looks good!” — Jen Bowerman, Traverse City, Michigan.

“When I was in my early 20s, we lost my 22-year-old brother to cancer just before Christmas. As a way of coping, my mom and I took a class where we built a gingerbread house completely from scratch. Over 40 years later, I still make one every Christmas with my daughters.” —Beth Q. Reynolds, Hopkinton, Mass.