Westlake students share their favorite traditions

For the Observer's annual last-issue-of-the-year feature, students from Mrs. Hun Piazza’s fourth-grade class at Westlake Elementary School share favorite family traditions.

Around this time of year, my family plays Hide the Pickle. In this game, we hide the pickle 5 times. To decide who gets to hide the pickle, the first one who finds the shiny green pickle ornament in the box of decorations, gets to hide it first! This year my sister got to hide the pickle first. First, the pickle is hidden on an easy level. It’s hidden as easily as possible on the Christmas tree. Once the pickle is found, it’s hidden again at a medium level. Once it’s found again, it’s placed in the most hidden spot on the tree. Once that's found, the entire family gathers and splits into two teams. We decide on what will be the main course for our Christmas dinner. Then the pickle ornament is hidden one last time. Whichever team finds it first, their dinner is picked for Christmas evening. While we wait for that day, our entire family hides the pickle just for fun. This is my most favorite Christmas tradition. Happy holidays!
– Cecelia P.

My favorite holiday tradition is what we do on Christmas Day. Often, my grandparents come for Christmas. First we take turns opening our stockings. They are full of miniature gifts from Santa. After that we eat cinnamon rolls. Next, we open presents. I like seeing what everyone gets, so we take turns. In the afternoon, we watch a Christmas movie. Last, we have a family meal. We eat a big ham dinner. I love our family Christmas traditions.
– Christian T.

Around this year, my family and I look for my elf on the shelf each year. When it is the day before Christmas we bake cookies for Santa Claus. We watch movies and we also try to give the Christmas spirit around the world. On Christmas Eve we sing a song for Santa to give him joy and make him happy. When Christmas day starts we start to open up our presents and before we open them we call our family members and say Merry Christmas while I am shaking the presents to see which one is mine. Before Christmas day we put our hands in a bag and close our eyes and after we open them we look at the paper and you don’t say who you got and then we give them a present secretly. On Christmas day we eat Santa’s cookies if he didn't eat them. Sometimes we go to our neighbor’s house and we yell "MERRY CHRISTMAS" and then I scream I am Santa. I always ask why I have to wait until Christmas to open my presents. And, it’s always the same answer, “Because Santa says so!” I love my holiday traditions.
– Mason N.

Around this time of year my family and I go to New York City for Christmas. We usually stay at my aunt's house. My aunt and I like to put up Christmas decorations and bake cookies. Then my parents wrap up the presents and they put them under the Christmas tree. Next morning my family and I eat breakfast then we get changed to go shopping. When we are done shopping we go back to my aunt’s house to play board games then we unwrap the presents. We watch TV together and we try to go to bed early so we can be ready for a busy morning heading back to Ohio. I love spending time with my family.
– Yousef O.

Around this time of year my family and I celebrate Ramadan. Ramadan is where kids get money and we have breaks from school. My family and I celebrate it every year, but we also fast. Fasting means that we cannot eat for the day. The reason why is that we can feel how homeless people feel when they are hungry. But don’t worry, we can eat before dawn and after sunset. When Ramadan begins, we decorate the house and clean the house. I'm the one who has to clean everything, but my favorite part is that during Ramadan we get the best food after sunset!
– Arza R.

This is my Christmas tradition that we do every year. Every year on Christmas Eve we open one gift that is under the tree. All the gifts that are under the tree are from people from my family. Last year the gift I opened was from my mom and dad. I try to pick the best one for a reason because after we open one gift we go watch a Christmas movie with our whole family. Last year I had a choice and I am pretty sure I chose the right one because the next morning I opened the one I would have gotten and it would not go with the movie we do after. I chose the right one by getting a green super cute dinosaur named Pickle. I got to cuddle with it for the movie. I don’t remember what my brother opened, but he really liked it. Another thing that happens on Christmas Eve is that my elf named Corky leaves. It is really sad that my elf has to leave. I always know it will come back next year. This is my Christmas tradition we do every year. Happy holidays!
– Izzy S.

Every year my elf comes and his name is “Hoho.” He hides around my house every day. Once he comes, my brother and I find him. He comes around Dec. 1. One of the first days he hides on the Christmas tree. The first couple of days he makes it easy to find him. The next couple of days he makes it kind of hard to find him but not super hard. Then after that he makes it really hard to find him. This is usually when he does all the crazy stuff. For example, a couple of years ago he was on a sled he made out of Popsicle sticks and acted like he was sledding down the railing in my basement. On Christmas he usually hides in my family room on the mantle so he can see if we are good or bad. Hoho stays normally between three to ten days after Christmas. That is one of my family traditions for Christmas. Merry Christmas.
– Gavin S.

Every year my family and I always go to my grandma’s house on Christmas Eve. First we play games with my cousin Charbel, like Uno. Then we eat dinner. We eat lots of food like chicken, roast, tabouli, zaatar, and other foods. Then we open presents. My brother, Hunter and Channing open their presents first. Then Charbel and I open our presents. Last year, I got a Transformer that transforms into a tank. Next we play Nerf guns. I use a Nerf gun that has a teeth-like design and it is gray, purple, and green. My cousin Charbel uses a Fortnite Nerf gun. Then we go home and we leave out cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer. Then we turn on the Christmas lights. I turn on the lights hanging from the top of the roof, and the light that shows a picture of Santa Claus on the roof. Then before we go to bed my brothers and I put the presents that we made for our parents under the Christmas tree. Lastly we go to bed. We always wear matching pajamas. Last year we wore matching grinch pajamas. Merry Christmas.
– Tristan T.

My family tradition is watching the ball drop. Every year that I remember me and my family watched the ball drop on the New York City news. We would get a lot of snacks out of the pantry. Wwe watch movies that are live action. We watch movies until about 11:30 then we start to put on the news. We play games and watch the cool music playing on the news and then at 12:00 we watch the ball drop. It is a big ball that looks like a disco ball and then we go upstairs and put on our most comfy pajamas. Usually me and my sister run downstairs and grab all the snacks we can find such as chips, crackers, pretzels, soda, etc. Me and my sister eat all the food we can possibly eat without getting sick, then we get ready for bed and go to sleep. That is my family tradition. It may not be the same as always because we moved to Ohio but still it is still my favorite tradition of this time of year.                            
– Dahlia B.

We started my family tradition last year during the hard times of Covid. One of my twin sisters got the idea from our school in Moscow, Russia. Her idea was to do a Secret Santa with small homemade gifts. First we pick a name of a family member out of a hat in early December. Then we spend the time following up to Christmas Eve thinking of and creating a small gift for that family member. It can be a small ornament, a puzzle, or a different creation. We have a special way of wrapping the gifts. You stick the small gift into a cardboard tube, wrap a decorated A4 piece of paper around the tube, and twist the ends tight. Sometimes we will put a ribbon on it. Finally on the evening of Christmas Eve we take turns sticking our tube into our family member's stocking. On Christmas Day we open our stockings and open the tubes. There is always a surprise inside!
– Benjamin B.

BOOM! BANG! You hear that? That's the sound of fireworks going off on Chinese New Year. We usually go celebrate with family and friends. We eat dumplings and other Chinese food. This year we went to our mom's friends' house and they played many songs like a Chinese song called “wo he wo de zu guo” – it's now my favorite song. I played games and many other things. When we were leaving I tried to persuade my mom and dad to let us stay for a bit longer and by a bit longer, I mean a few more hours, but I finally gave up. This was the best New Year ever!
– Liao C.

Around this time of year, on Dec. 1 my family and I will make cookies all the way up to Dec. 25. On Dec. 24, we make the biggest cookie for Santa and we also put some big carrots out for the reindeer. It's also when my parents tell me and my siblings not to wake them up at 6 o’clock, so I wake them up at 6:01. After I wake my parents up, we go around the room and open presents, but we have 4 rules when we open presents. You can't tell other people what their gifts are, you can't show other people their gifts, and only positive attitudes are allowed. After we are done opening gifts we eat Christmas brunch and go around the table and say what Christmas gift we are most happy with. This adds a nice ending to our Christmas day.
– Amelia C.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Every Christmas we go on a family trip out of Ohio. This year it’s India. My entire family lives there. I am excited to visit. We also put up the Christmas tree and lights, and send letters to Santa. We make ornaments and we give them to our neighbors. We also go to Crocker Park to see the enormous tree there. We listen to all the popular Christmas carols and have fun looking at all the beautiful light displays. We take pictures with Santa too! That’s why I love Christmas so much.
– Manasvi G.

On Christmas me and my sister run down the stairs to open our presents as we see the cookies half eaten from Santa. We don't eat breakfast, instead we have brunch with our friends. We have brunch and play games. We also play with the toys we got for Christmas after we go to fun places and get stuff with our family. After we come home we watch movies or cartoons. Before dinner time we decide on a special meal. After dinner we go to bed and say goodnight as the fun will begin tomorrow.      
– Ira G.

Diwali is the celebration of light. It is an Indian celebration that most of the people from India celebrate. We use sparklers and fireworks because the gods from the past stopped a war in the past. At the celebration there are sweets and gifts for everyone. Diwali lasts for 5 days. During one of the days, one of my family members ties a special bracelet on another person and they give them money! I love my family traditions.
– Shreya G.

Have you ever had a cookie day with your grandma and cousins? I have and I’ve actually been doing this for years. It's a tradition that I celebrate with my younger brother and older cousins each and every year. We go over to our grandparents' house with our cousins, bake cookies, and decorate them. Last year we made buckeyes and every year we make buckeyes. I am looking forward to making them again this year too. We usually have a cookie day on Saturday or Sunday when we don’t have anything to do and it’s usually in the afternoon. After that we go home a little earlier than our cousins but that's ok and then we think about what a wonderful day that was. That is what we do for our family tradition every year. Happy holidays!
– Lily H.

My family and I have fun Christmas traditions. Every Christmas morning, we listen to Christmas music and dance. A little bit later, we always have cinnamon rolls for breakfast and they are my grandma's recipe. My older brother and my mom make the rolls the day before and they are so delicious. After that we all gather around the Christmas tree and we open one present at a time. Usually my youngest brother opens the first present, then my other younger brother, then me, and so on. Also the whole day we are wearing pajamas. Almost the whole day we play with presents and eat a lot of food. At dinner time, my mom and dad make a super delicious dinner and I always go for seconds because it is so good. Finally while we go into the living room we get all the stuffed animals, blankets and pillows and watch a long Christmas movie. Then we go to bed and play with all the presents the next day. I love spending time with my family on Christmas.
– Ty J.

Gobble! Gobble! “What's that l hear?” It's a Thanksgiving turkey. Do you do anything fun on Thanksgiving? Well l do. First of all l head to my grandma's house with my family which are my mom, step dad, sister and my step sister. Furthermore, I watch the Thanksgiving football games, especially with my sister. Apart from that, we eat our delicious turkey as well as the roast beef my grandma makes special for me. Next we play this very fun game called Family Feud. We all pick teams, that are usually boys versus girls. My mom is always the host of the game. We all have fun and enjoy seeing each other while we play the game. Finally, we play this game called Left Right Center. My grandma buys some lottery tickets and puts them in the middle of the counter. We all get three lottery tickets as well as three dice to roll. A dot means give one to the center, L means give one to the left person and R means give one to the right person. I ended up winning this year and got lots of money. It was the best time of the year. Hope you guys love Thanksgiving like l do!
– Jimmer K.

Around the beginning of December we cut out pieces of paper with all of our names on it. I put the names in a plastic bag and mix them around so no one knows which name is on which paper. This is called Secret Santa. I go all around the house with the bag and tell each family member, ”Pick a name! Any name!” You have to write a Christmas letter to whomever's name you picked. We didn’t do it yet this year, but last year I got Lucy. I wrote a short letter to her. It turns out that she picked my name too! Secret Santa is my favorite tradition of all! I wonder who I get this year ... let's find out!
– Autumn K.

I love my family holiday tradition. On Dec. 24 our Christmas elves give my family pjs. Then on Christmas Day we go to my grandma's house and play Pickle. Our Elf hides it somewhere. Finally, we EAT FOOD! It’s always delicious! I love our Christmas tradition and spending time with my family.  
– Aiden K.

Every Christmas, my family lights up a Christmas tree. On Christmas, my family decides who gets to put the star on the tree. Usually, my brother or I put all of the ornaments on the Christmas tree. Normally, the one who gets to put up the star is me because I am the youngest one in my family. Then the last ornament is always the star. The tree is artificial, so we do not have to worry that it will fall down. It has 3 parts: A , B and C. C gets to be placed on the bottom, B gets to be placed in the middle, and A gets to be at the top because it is the smallest. Then my mom puts up the Nativity scene for Jesus. After that we go to Christmas Eve’s mass at the church. Then Christmas day arrives. We also normally watch Christmas carols on television. My family also has a grand dinner. The feast is made by my mom. We also get to watch a movie while eating. At the end of the day, we open up our wrapped presents. Then we go to our bedrooms and head to sleep. Christmas Day is the happiest day of the year.
– Shreyaans M.R.

On every Dec. 1 my family starts the traditional Elf on the Shelf. What happens with the Elf on the Shelf is the elves move every morning or afternoon into a new place in your house. For example, yesterday the elves were in the fridge. I have three elves because I have two brothers. Our elves move in the afternoon and when my brother and I get home from school we look for the elves. My elf’s name is Star, my brother Jett's elf is named Sunny, and my baby brother Jerry's elf is named Sprinkle. One time the elves moved two times in a row! Last week the elves had a snowball fight with cotton balls. The areas the elves are in our basement, and the kitchen. On Christmas the elves get presents too! Last year the elves got a gingerbread house for Christmas! I love the Elf on the Shelf tradition!
– Jonah M.

My family tradition is hanging up a Santa on Thanksgiving. Every year on Thanksgiving day, with our family and guests who come to Thanksgiving dinner, we hang up a giant Santa head on the wall after we eat dinner. We all gather around and my mom and dad hang up the Santa on the wall. We are all talking and laughing meanwhile my mom and dad are trying to put the nail through the hole on the back. When the Santa is finally up on the wall we plug in the cord so it can light up. When it lights up we all clap and cheer. The reason we do this is to welcome the Christmas season into our home. Even though Thanksgiving might not be my favorite holiday I still love this tradition.
– Kennedy M.

Every year my family and I do this tradition from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25. We do this thing where we have a fake elf because we cannot touch our real elf. So we hide the fake elf and we see who can find the real or the fake elf. If two different people find the elf, they will have to roll a dice and whoever gets the highest number wins and gets to hide the elf wherever they want to hide it. Then after that game we play one more game and the game is called Secret Santa. All you have to do is take turns giving the cards out. Whoever gets Santa is the spy. On the other hand, if you get the Grinch, you're evil. And the Santa has to find out who the Santa is before the Grinch steals the kids’ presents, but the kids cannot tell the Santa who the Grinch is. To earn presents you have to do Christmas tasks. Some of the tasks might be to find the elf or finish the candy cane. These are my favorite two games to play before Christmas Eve.
– Hani M.

Every year on the very special night that happens only ONE time a year, and as everyone calls it “Christmas” we celebrate cheer and joy with our relatives. In the weeks before Christmas the Vianos household is very, very busy. We always bake sugar cookies with our mom, decorate them, and put them in containers for our relatives. We bake Greek cookies with our grandmother, or as we call her “YiaYia.” The cookies are made with our homemade dough, using flour, eggs, vanilla, fresh orange juice, and a little sugar. These are called koulourakia, (Ku-Lou-Raak-ia). We roll these cookies into twists and spirals. The other type of cookie that we make is called kourambiethes (Kou-rom-bie-des). These cookies are made with flour, sugar, chopped almonds, and vanilla. After these cookies are baked, we coat them with powdered sugar and put them in paper cookie wraps. Apart from baking cookies, we also go shopping for our entire family including aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. I love Christmas, it's my favorite! 
– Eleni V.

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Volume 13, Issue 24, Posted 9:54 AM, 12.21.2021