Westlake students share their favorite traditions

The holiday season has arrived, with all of the magic and wonder that make this time of year so special. It is a time for rejoicing, connecting with loved ones and creating memories that will last a lifetime. For the Observer's annual last-issue-of-the-year feature, students from Mrs. Melissa Graham’s fourth-grade class at Dover Elementary in Westlake share favorite family traditions.

Elf on the Shelf
My favorite family tradition is our Elf on the Shelf! He is an elf named Elfie that is magical and hides every morning. Sometimes he is found in a baby doll stroller or even a candle! Once he put shaving cream all over the bathroom! It was a mess. He does not show his magic so that is why you have to believe in him. It is also very important that you do not touch the elf or he will lose his magical powers! Elfie is always watching us to make sure that we are behaving and then he reports back to Santa each night. Elfie can even take your Christmas list to Santa. You can get an Elf on the Shelf at any store and there is also a book explaining his magical powers. I hope that you can enjoy your own Elf on the Shelf this year!
– Maddie B.

Christmas Party!
Every Christmas Eve, my family and I celebrate Christmas at one of my cousin’s houses. A few weeks before Christmas Eve, all of my aunts and uncles figure out who will have the party and tell each other what types of food they will be bringing. My absolute favorite part of having a Christmas party every year is getting to see and hang out with all of my family. At the party, we have a big meal and eat lots of food because I have 17 cousins! Some dishes that my relatives bring are my great aunt’s salad, meat, mashed potatoes and a variety of cookies! After we have dinner, my cousins and I open the presents that our godparents got us. Soon after the kids are done opening presents, the adults and children split up. The adults play a game where they all give someone a present and one by one they open them. If they do not want their present they can trade it, but if they do want it, they can keep it. Meanwhile, the kids are either playing games, doing a craft, or watching the Santa tracker. The Santa tracker tells us where Santa is currently located. Finally, we all have to say our goodbyes. This is by far one of my favorite family traditions.
– Quinn W.

Black Friday
Every year my family goes Black Friday shopping after our Thanksgiving dinner. They head off to Bath & Body Works and Dick's Sporting Goods. My mom, dad, two cousins, aunt and uncle all enjoy doing this shopping tradition together. My brother and I stay back home with my grandmother and watch fun movies such as “Despicable Me.” We also enjoy playing games together. When it is about 8:00 or 8:30 the shoppers come home and we eat pumpkin pie. They give us a surprise that they bought on their shopping trip. We head home and rest up for the next day. That’s what we enjoy doing on Thanksgiving night.
– Caroline L.

Christmas Countdown
There are many traditions that my family does every year to get ready for Christmas. First, my family makes a countdown chain a few weeks before Christmas. We make a loop out of paper and glue it to another loop. When we are done we hang the chain on the stairway handle. Every day, we take turns removing one loop from the chain. Another thing we do to prepare for Christmas is we all head to my aunt’s house in Pittsburgh on Christmas Eve. We have ham sandwiches and watch football on television. After visiting with my aunt, we head home to put cookies out for Santa. We go to sleep and wish for lots of toys. When we wake up, there are a lot of presents under our tree. These are some of the things that my family does to get ready for Christmas. Happy Holidays!       
– Matthew S.      

The Albanian Party!
My favorite tradition this time of year is an Albanian party! The Albanian party is held on Nov. 27. One of my mom’s friends plans the party and has different Albanian shops sell tickets to the party. Before the big day, all of the guests go shopping for new clothes. I always get a new red and black dress because those are the colors of the Albanian flag. The party begins at 5 o’clock and ends at 10 o’clock. The location is different each year. At the party, the guests perform a special dance that involves dancing in a circle. We enjoy Albanian foods and have ice cream for dessert! After dinner, the adults sit down and talk while the kids plays with their friends. I look forward to this party every year!
– Emma A.

Christmas Eve at Granny's
Every Christmas Eve, my parents, uncle, grandparents, great-grandparents, brothers, cousin, great aunts, Aunt Nat and I all go to church together. When church is over at 6 p.m., we head over to Granny’s house in Westlake. Then we all wrap Christmas presents for our family members while looking in a big book of memories. The memories go back as far as my great-grandmother’s childhood! Next, the kids make Christmas cookies with Granny. We make gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. We frost them with red and green frosting. After baking cookies, we get to open presents. I love seeing everyone so happy! We eat dinner and enjoy the delicious cookies that the kids made earlier. At the end of the night, we pretend we are sleeping so we do not have to leave! My mom usually has to bribe us with candy canes to get us in the car! Christmas Eve is my favorite tradition because I get to spend it with my entire family!
– Lili Kate E.

Disney on Ice
Every year in December, my family and I go to a show called "Disney on Ice." We wake up really early in the morning, eat breakfast and quickly get bundled up. It is often cold outside and in the skating rink. We hop in the car and drive to the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. My family and I sing Christmas songs on the way downtown like “Last Christmas,” “All I Want for Christmas” and “Frosty the Snowman.” Once we get to The “Q” we check in and go see the show! We sit in our seats and see all the Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck. Finally, when the show is over we head to lunch at Applebee's. After lunch, we get ice cream from Sweet Moses and then drive home to finish the wonderful day with a movie. That´s what I enjoy doing this time of year with my family.  
– Dana M.

Christmas and Dad's Birthday
My favorite Christmas tradition is when all my family comes over to my house to celebrate Christmas and my dad’s birthday. My cousins, aunts, uncles and grandmother all arrive at my house. The kids play in the basement while the adults watch football upstairs. After playing in the basement, we go outside to play in the snow. We usually divide into teams, make snow forts and have a big snowball fight. The only bad thing is that it is always the big kids vs. little kids and the big kids usually win. Finally, we come back inside and sing “Happy Birthday” to my dad. Everyone eats a delicious dinner and enjoys cake in our living room. This is my favorite Christmas tradition because I get to spend time with my family.
– James S.

A Grand Hotel
Every Christmas Eve, my family and I hop into our car and drive to a big, pretty church. When we get there, we walk up the steep, spiral staircase and into the balcony seats. My older brother and I gaze down at the seats way down below us, and try to spot our relatives and wave to them. Loud, but pretty music fills the gigantic church, and my family and I sing along with the music. After church ends, we go back into the car and drive to a grand hotel in downtown Cleveland. After we walk through the big hotel doors, we ride the elevator to a cozy room. We see my grandma and grandpa, and look at a huge gingerbread house. It has smooth frosting, candies on the roof, and gingerbread men. We have ice water and enjoy small, yummy snacks. We say our goodbyes, and drive home to enjoy a big dinner. Finally, we get into our comfy beds, and snuggle under the covers to go to sleep.
– Allison G.

Decorating the Tree
Every Christmas Eve, my family and friends come over to decorate our house and we play games. First, my mom gets out all of our games such as Apples to Apples, Life, Uno and Yahtzee. When my dad comes home from work, my mom calls her friends to come over. Their names are Eddie and Tim. When Eddie and Tim arrive, we all play games, make crafts and decorate the tree. We eat steak, greens, salad and cupcakes for dinner. After dinner, we decorate the tree with ornaments, garland, a star, bows, candy canes and lights. When all of the decorations are hung on the tree, my dad lifts me up to put the star on the top! My sister makes hot cocoa and we sit next to the warm, cozy fireplace. After hours of fun, it is time to go to bed. My mom is so nice and she lets me stay up until 11 p.m. It is really hard to fall asleep because I am so excited for all of the presents I will open in the morning. P.S. I never go to sleep on Christmas Eve.
– Savannah H.

Fun Breaks Off School!
Every winter break, we go to New York City and New Jersey because we have family there. We also do a Secret Santa for New Year’s Eve and Christmas, but we don’t celebrate Christmas. Next, we go to my aunt’s house in New Jersey and open our Secret Santa presents. Two weeks before we open the presents, we select names out of bowl so we know who to buy presents for. Then, if we have time, we go to Manhattan, go shopping and look at all the beautiful Christmas decorations in New York City. While we are at my aunt’s house, we play with her cats. Finally, when it is time to go home, we are all very sad but we remember that we will see each other during our next break!
– Shurouq N.

The “Blue Shoe” Game
My favorite tradition this time of the year is my family's Christmas party. On Christmas Eve, I go to my cousin’s house and we all have a sleepover. In the morning we go downstairs to the Christmas tree and see if Santa came. We play a game called “Blue Shoe” to see who will open the first present. “Blue Shoe” is a game where we count the children’s feet, and if the hand lands on your foot, you are out. The last child remaining is the winner and opens the first present. Sometimes, I win and get to open a present first! After opening presents, we go to the dining room table and eat a delicious breakfast of pancakes and bacon. After breakfast, all of my family comes to my house and we open more presents and enjoy a tasty dinner. I really like spending time with my family on Christmas!
–Jackson P.

Three Christmas Meals
Every year, on Christmas my family goes to my grandma’s house for some breakfast, my aunt’s house for lunch, and my house for dinner. When my family and I wake up we get dressed and head to my grandma’s for some excellent food. At my grandma’s house she cooks sausage, bacon, grits, biscuits, cinnamon rolls and buttery toast! We open lots of presents and talk about past memories. Then, we go to my aunt’s house for lunch. At my aunt’s house she cooks tacos. We open more presents and talk some more. Finally, we go to my house for dinner. My mom cooks ham, mac and cheese, collard greens, corn bread, green beans, corn and stuffing. It is a large feast that is very tasty. We open more presents, talk and sing songs. I wouldn’t want to celebrate this holiday any other way!
– Luke W.

Breaking the Fast
A tradition my family celebrates every year is Ramadan. Ramadan lasts an entire month. We fast during the day and can eat after 9 p.m. When my family and I celebrate Ramadan we make a huge feast. Also, my mom, sister and sister-in law make warak dawali, maklouba, and mashed potatoes. My family and I go to restaurants, play a lot of games at Dave and Buster’s, and go to the movies. We have tons of fun while playing a lot of video games. On the last day of Ramadan, my dad gives us each $100 in cash! When I get $100 I can save it or get a gift. I enjoy celebrating Ramadan because I get to spend time with my family.
– Aziz

Christmas Fun
Every Christmas morning I am always the first one up and peek at the presents under our tree! Then, I wake up the rest of my family and we open lots of cool presents. Next, we go to my grandma’s house. My grandma makes corn, mashed potatoes and rolls. I open more amazing presents with my family. Finally, we go to my grandpa’s house and eat yummy chocolate cake. I open even more presents and talk to my relatives! That is why Christmas is my favorite family tradition.
– Matt C.

New Year’s Tradition
My family’s favorite tradition is our New Year's Eve party! First, we get ready, then we buy confetti, party poppers, kids’ champagne and a ball. We order pizza, pie and cake for my family party. During the party, we take pictures with my mom, dad, sisters and brother. We watch the crystal ball on television drop at midnight and play games until 3 a.m. Our favorite games are “Just Dance” and “Twister.” The next day we invite friends and family over to our house and have a big feast together! I like this tradition because my cousins come over and they are fun to play with.  
– Ameer S.

‘Twas the Birthday before Christmas
Every year on my birthday my family picks their Secret Santa, but there is one small problem. We have to tell what name we selected, so it is not really a secret. First, my mom and I start to write the names of my family members on small sheets of paper. It can take a long time because there are over 30 names! The last time we did this I fell asleep! We put the names in a bowl and everyone picks one name. Next, when my family leaves our house, my mom and I start to clean up and then we watch television. Finally, a week before Christmas, we get gifts for our Secret Santa and wrap them up in wrapping paper. We go to my uncle's house to exchange our gifts. That is my favorite tradition this time of year.
– James F.

Christmas Day!
On Christmas Day, I love spending time with my family. First, my sisters and I wake up to the smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls. Then, we peek at the presents under the tree as we come downstairs. My family sits down at the table to eat and we talk about what we wanted for Christmas from Santa. Next, it is time to open presents! We go around in a circle opening presents. I open a present, my sister opens one, my other sister opens one, my mom opens one, and finally my dad opens one. While we are opening presents, my parents take pictures of us with our new gifts. Throughout the day we enjoy playing with our new gifts while mom and dad take a nap. Finally, we have a yummy Christmas dinner at Olive Garden. Sadly, Christmas Day is over.
– Maggie H.

Trash or Treasure Fun!
Every Christmas, beginning last year, my family plays a game called “Trash or Treasure.” “Trash or Treasure” is a game where you pick a present from a pile and at the end, you get to keep it! Oh yes, you can also STEAL a present too, that’s what makes it fun! My family all pitches in to collect gifts for “Trash or Treasure.” Last year while playing I got a selfie stick! As you know, during the game, stealing occurs, and I stole the stick from my Aunt Liz! I think “Trash or Treasure” is a fun game because you never know who will steal your gift and what you will end up with. We have agreed to make it our family tradition!
– Ethan K.

The Great Christmas
Every Christmas break, my mom, dad, sister, cousins, aunts and uncles all go on a vacation together! First, my mom decides on a destination and we discuss all of the plans with our relatives. The day of the big trip, my dad drives us to the airport and joins us if he does not have to work. Next, when we arrive at the airport, our relatives are waiting for us. We head to a hotel to check-in and drop off our bags. Then, my little sister Marifer and my mom make chocolate chip cookies for Christmas. When Christmas is over we have to head back to Ohio because we have school.
– Erick T.

Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s House
Every Christmas Eve, my family celebrates with my grandma and grandpa. First, we all go to church to celebrate the day the Lord was born. Then, we go to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house and we meet up with all our cousins, aunts and uncles. We play and talk for a few hours then it is time to eat. There is plenty of food to eat. Later, after a long time of eating, my cousins and I enjoy our time together. Santa comes and sits by the tree and passes out all of the presents! Then, we all open them. Santa finally leaves and we continue to talk and play. My family heads back to our house and my brothers and I quickly fall asleep.
– Alex W.

Christmas Present Joke
My favorite tradition this time of year is Christmas. I really like it because I get presents and can spend time with my family. Three days before Christmas, I go to my cousins’ house with my family and we all have a sleepover until it is Christmas Day. We go downtown to see the decorations and all the buildings that have been decorated. We end the night with some delicious hot chocolate and marshmallows. On Christmas morning, my parents and cousins wake up first, then they come and wake me up. I run to the Christmas tree and am very sad because I do not see any presents. My cousins like to play a joke on me and hide all of my presents! My sister and I try to find our presents while my cousins give us clues. After we open our presents, we all watch a Christmas movie together.
– Alban R., Dover

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Volume 8, Issue 24, Posted 9:54 AM, 12.13.2016