Rooted in family traditions, beliefs, and preferences, the way we celebrate the season is a deeply personal pursuit. And here at Schoolhouse, we’re proud to say that because we have a diverse work family – representing many nationalities, languages, and religions – we each have a unique way of celebrating. So, since the holidays can mean many things to different people, we thought we'd go around our factory and ask others to share how they savor the season. No matter how you celebrate, we hope you'll join us as we reflect on what makes the season so special as we share our traditions - both old and new.
Chrissy Norman, Pittsburgh Retail Manager (above): For a long time, we used to travel to my parent’s house for Christmas, but in the past five years, we’ve all moved back to the area. Now, we all take turns hosting part of the festivities. My husband and I host Christmas Eve, one sister hosts Christmas morning, and my other sister has us all over for Christmas dinner. It’s fun to have a part in hosting, relaxing, and sharing time together. It’s a recent tradition, but one I hope we keep forever!
Jenny Trygg, Creative Services Manager (above): For as long as I can remember, a puzzle has been a part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions. As a kid, I didn’t understand the draw, but I would hover nearby the puzzle table to be a part of the conversation and laughter—maybe putting together a couple pieces in the whole thing. Now I’ve come full circle and give my family a puzzle every year that we put together over the holiday.
Christina Verdugo, Portland Sales Associate (above): I come from a really big Hispanic family. So, Christmas is always a huge deal. On Christmas Eve, my mom’s side of the family comes over, and we eat a big dinner together. It’s always fun to open presents with all of my cousins and visit my Tias and Tios. On Christmas morning, we go through our stockings (which is probably my ultimate, favorite tradition). My mom typically includes scratch tickets and novelty toys. It feels like I am always winning something! Afterward, we head to my great nana’s house. We open presents there, eat empanadas, and play games all day. It's a very peaceful place to be.
Jenny Rice, Portland Retail Manager (above): Since moving to Portland six years ago, Christmas day starts with an over the top brunch hosted by some good friends. They make stockings for everyone coming over - and that means everybody! Even if it’s a cousin of a friend visiting from Montana whom they’ve never met. It’s a very sweet gesture and always a lot of fun. After, we properly stuff ourselves and migrate to my place where we have a fire and squeeze around my very involved Christmas tree to watch Nicholas Cage movies. To top it off, we head to a Chinese restaurant where duck is usually involved. It’s a pretty great day!
Evan Harriman, Engineer (above): My family always does Christmas crackers – two people pull on each end until it cracks and inside is a little prize, a joke, and a silly paper crown that you wear. It’s a great way to introduce people (new significant others and/or friends joining for the holiday) to our family and provides a bonding experience – wearing the same silly hats and sharing the jokes that come inside.
Carleen & Troy Johnston, Sales Operations Manager & Warehouse Manager (above): We definitely tend to keep it very simple for holiday celebrations. We have a very small family (me, my husband, our daughter, and my parents), and over the years it has become apparent that we all enjoy a very quiet and low-key holiday. Last year, we stayed home to watch the Jason Bourne series and ordered Chinese take out. Previous years have included pizza, spaghetti feed, and a taco buffet. Celebrating this way gives us more time to enjoy each other’s company. Plus, it avoids the stress and chaos that can sometimes creep into the holidays. It may not be for everyone, but it works great for our family!
Bria Wolter, Web Quality Assurance Assistant (above): Our family is always shifting and traditions have seemed hard to hold onto. Still, my grandmother has real tenacity and still carries on the one tradition we haven’t let go of - gifting the children a set of pajamas on Christmas Eve (the one thing we could open before Christmas). Admittedly, in our younger years, we didn’t appreciate this gift over the toys we had on our list. Now, almost 30 years later, it's the gift we look forward to the most. All of the grandchildren gather around on Christmas Eve, opening packages that aren’t a surprise as grandma crosses her fingers - hoping she picked the right size.
Ariel Vaisbort, Customer Support Associate (above): Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, I celebrate the holidays by cutting down a Christmas tree in the yard and hand-making all of my cards while listening to Michael Bublé!
Jordan Ray, Business Development Representative (above): All the relatives in the Portland area gather together on Christmas Eve at my aunt and uncle’s house. Dinner consists of a big batch of homemade clam chowder, appetizers, a baked ham, and a seasonal cocktail for adults. We invite friends with no family in the area to come and join us as well. It’s a total feast. Stories are shared, laughter is abundant, and I’m often overcome with an earnest sense of gratitude. There’s always a picture taken of the whole group at the front door to document who attended that year.
Brittney Baker, HR Associate (above): For New Years, we have a special tin that holds our goals in it for the entire year. We write down everything we are hoping to achieve – from paying off debt to reaching out to an old friend. At the next New Year, we review our old list and see how well we did. My favorite part is that we also list a mistake or something heavy that we wish to let go of in the coming year. After we write it down, we burn the paper without sharing it with anyone. I love to start each year with a fresh mental slate, and this helps me do that.
Sara Fritsch, President (above): We always ski and have fondue on Christmas day. For New Year’s, which is also our wedding anniversary, we (all 4 of us) eat a yummy dinner at Timberline lodge, put on headlamps, and ski all the way down to the chalet from the lodge in the pitch dark. We always time it so that we can watch the fireworks at midnight, which shoots off from Ski Bowl. It’s pretty magical.
Molly Gomes, Supply Planner (above): My family always makes snowballs! Not the kind you throw, but the kind you eat. A snowball is basically vanilla ice cream rolled in shredded coconut and topped with festive holly and little red candles.
No matter how you celebrate, we hope this time of year is filled with good food, loved ones, and laughter. Happy holidays from our family to yours!