The holiday season can mean many things to people. Not only are there many different holidays this time of year, everyone seems to have a different way of celebrating theirs. Because we have a very diverse work family here at Schoolhouse, representing many nationalities, languages, and religions, we decided to go around the Portland factory and showroom to ask people how they celebrate during the holiday season. Whether you’re a person who wishes Christmas music was playing all year, or you’re a person who mostly just enjoys a big meal and a few days off, we hope you will join us in thinking about how important traditions can be, and how they give us space to treasure friends, family, and the people who are special in our lives.
Brandt - Product Design (top left): "On Christmas Eve, my family turns off the electricity and we spend the whole evening like that. My parents started this tradition when I was a kid (although I’m not totally sure why) and my wife and I have kept it going. We light candles and eat food that doesn’t require power to prepare. Everyone gets kind of bored eventually so we end up going to bed early, which is great for us parents because everyone ends up getting some sleep before Christmas."
Chelsea - Finishing (top right): "We do this tradition that we thought was an old German family tradition involving a Christmas tree ornament shaped like a pickle. The parents hide the Christmas pickle somewhere on the tree, and the first kid to find it gets joy and good luck, and more importantly, gets to open presents first. I heard recently that this is not actually a German tradition, and that nobody really knows when or how the tradition started. It’s still important to us though, even if it’s not what we thought."
Andy - PDX Store (bottom left): "We always eat tamales from Christmas day all the way through New Years. My favorite is the pork in red sauce. We make so many at one time that it takes as much as two full days of work, with my mom, my sister, and family friends. I help out too, if I’m in town. They’re kind of the perfect food when you’re busy during the holidays because they’re always ready to eat and they’re delicious."
David - Engineering (bottom right): "My Christmas tradition with my wife is watching the Christmas Story every year, which I understand is an American tradition. I’m from Scotland, and that’s also where I met my wife, who is from California. Maybe the second year we watched the movie, it occurred to me that this is a very American movie. This little kid gets obsessed with owning a gun and defending his family with it, even though literally everyone tells him it’s a bad idea. Then he shoots his eye out. Go figure!"
Emily - Marketing (top left): "My dad would make the most amazing biscuits from scratch every Christmas morning. The small pieces of dough cut away from the biscuit rounds were sprinkled in cinnamon to make bite size ‘cinnamon swirlies.’ It was always tough to decide which delicious carb you wanted to eat more of. Now my sister, a long-time vegan, has adapted the recipe and we still gather to enjoy them that morning each year. We are not always able to be together physically at Christmastime, but sharing homemade biscuits from across the country feels pretty special."
Jeffrey - Finishing (top right): "Every Christmas Eve, my family goes around our neighborhood, house by house, to share the gospel with our neighbors. We stay out for a long time. Then we meet back at our church and have a Christmas Eve service together. Afterwards, we eat a big meal. There is no alcohol, mostly juice and water to drink. We eat a lot of food."
Rae - Assembly (bottom left): "I moved to Portland in October 2016 with two friends. We didn’t have jobs or apartments or anything when we drove up here from Northern California. Luckily, it all worked out eventually, but since we don’t have family up here, we kind of just do our own thing on Christmas. My friends and I will open whatever presents were sent from home, but mostly we spend the day hanging out and enjoying a day off. It’s all about hanging out with friends."
Jorie - Creative Manager (bottom right): "My partner and I live so far from family that it’s hard to fly home for holidays, so we’ve tried to make our own traditions over the years. We always start with a big, sugary breakfast like cinnamon rolls or pancakes. Not too long after that, our blood sugar spikes and we want something to mellow out with, so we make martinis, eat sardines, and watch Christmas movies all day, like the movie Scrooge. Specifically, the 1970 version with Albert Finney. It’s hard to find but worth it."
Toni - Assembly (top right): "At my house, we always give our kids Christmas pajamas to open on Christmas Eve, that way they have something special to wear in the morning. The next morning, it’s almost always me going around waking the kids up because I’m usually the most excited. I get up at like 3 am because I’m so excited!"
Zach - Copywriter (top right): "Every year, I make country biscuits with sausage cream gravy, which is my dad’s favorite food. I never intended to start this tradition—I got roped into it after my dad developed a severe digestive disease. At that time, my mother was only interested in cooking meat-free, gluten-free, plant-based foods for my dad. But since Christmas only comes once a year, and country biscuits and sausage cream gravy is my dad’s favorite breakfast, and since garbanzo flour biscuits with almond milk Tofurky gravy is NOT my dad’s favorite breakfast, I was tasked with making the real deal. Today, my dad is healthy and my mother has declined to comment for this piece."
Tori - Assembly (bottom right): "I grew up on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota as part of the White Earth Ojibwe Tribe. Every year, we get together on Christmas Eve and eat a big meal together, something kind of non-traditional. We’ll eat sandwiches or enchiladas instead of turkey and stuffing. Then we practice tribal traditions with my grandparents, like praying in the Ojibwe language, thanking our ancestors, and smudging, which is a purification ceremony that involves burning herbs."
Jennifer Mathieu - Assembly (not pictured): "Most of our family traditions are ones my husband and I have created for our family. I have three kids, and every year since they were little, we’ve had them choose their own ornament for the Christmas tree. Now they are 21, 16, and 11, so you can see their whole childhoods and young adult lives on the tree. We don’t have room for any filler ornaments. The tree is pretty packed."
From our family to yours, merry Christmas and happy holidays.