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Holiday Traditions

Holiday Traditions

November 16, 2023

As the festive season beckons, the spirit of merriment and togetherness comes alive with cherished holiday traditions. Unwrapping gifts, savoring mouthwatering treats, and creating lasting memories with loved ones are the heartwarming elements that define this special time. Read on as MPM team members share their favorite holiday customs, adding a sprinkle of personal flair to the season. 

Bridget Gray
Every Thanksgiving, my family upholds a cherished tradition of making Cranberry and Pineapple Relish Jello Salad. The recipe was initially created by my grandmother, and it has since been lovingly passed down to my mother, who has now entrusted my siblings and me with its continuation. The process of creating this delectable dish not only serves as a testament to our heritage but also serves as a reminder of the strong bond that unites us as a family. As we come together to prepare this salad, we are enveloped in a warm sense of togetherness and tradition, making it an indispensable part of our Thanksgiving celebrations. I’m excited to share the recipe with you all today.


  • 1 large red Jello (we use strawberry)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12-16oz fresh cranberries finely ground in a food processor (or old-fashioned meat grinder)
  • 1 large can of crushed pineapple, drained
  • Orange zest to taste


  • Combine Jello, sugar and 2 cups of boiling water to dissolve
  • To that, add cranberries, crushed pineapple and orange zest
  • Put in Jello mold and refrigerate overnight

Sean Shinaberry
During Thanksgiving, my family and I head to my in-laws' lake house in the Irish Hills. The Friday evening following Thanksgiving, the town of Brooklyn, Michigan hosts a lively Christmas parade in the town square. The event features bonfires in the streets and all stores are open with activities for kids to enjoy, like cookie decorating, Christmas stories read by Mrs. Claus, and hot chocolate gulping. During that weekend, we visit a local tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree. The weekend marks the official start of the holiday season for our family.


Greta Decant
When my mother was still with us, we had a tradition of buying little rocking Santas, elves, or any Christmas items that played songs or funny noises. Whoever woke up first would go over to the other's house and leave it playing inside the door with a big garbage bag of presents. We did this for many years, waking up at 3, 4, or 5 in the morning trying to be the first to surprise each other.

George Damasco

Every year, my family and I look forward to our annual tradition of heading out to the field to shoot trap. It's a fun-filled day. We bring along our shotguns and set up in the field. The kids are always eager to take their turn and feel the kick of the shotgun. The dads enjoy teaching them how to properly hold and aim the gun, while also having some friendly competition. We usually bring along some snacks and drinks to keep us energized throughout the day. It's a great opportunity for us to spend quality time together outdoors and create lasting memories. Pictured below is my younger daughter, Emma, and me


Nadiya Buerk
Buerk family traditions revolve around spending quality time with family and being grateful for all the blessings in our lives. As a resident of Toledo for over 20 years now, we visit my hometown in Atlanta, Georgia during Thanksgiving to spend time with my side of the family. The kids eagerly await the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, while the adults look forward to indulging in a delicious Thanksgiving meal.

Christmas is another special occasion for us, where we gather at my in-laws' place after attending the Christmas Eve mass. Santa always makes an appearance, and my father-in-law has always built his homes around the fireplace so that Santa can come down the chimney. When the kids were younger, my husband dressed up as Santa, climbed the roof (which was quite tall), and waved to the kids (there were more than 30 cousins present). Although our gatherings have become smaller as many of our cousins are now married with families of their own, we still cherish our time together after Mass, catching up with our loved ones over food. We feel blessed to have our parents with us to celebrate the holidays.


Wendy Upton

When I was growing up, we had a lovely holiday tradition where we decorated our Christmas tree with beautiful blue lights. Our house was located near the Toledo Airport, and I used to think that they followed the same tradition, as they lit their runways with blue lights too! Now I know that's not the case, but it's still a fun tradition that my grandmother, mother, and now I continue.

Bryan Ohm

Whiskey Sours have been a part of every Ohm Christmas celebration for as long as I can remember. The tradition originated with my grandfather, who was skilled in both the kitchen and behind the bar. On Christmas Eve, my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins would all gather at my grandparents' house, enjoying each other's company while the adults savored the sours. My grandparents lived a long life, and so my children were able to experience the origination of this tradition first-hand, which makes it even more special. After my grandparents' passed, my father continued the tradition, and now my wife Chris and I host our family every Christmas, carrying on the Whiskey Sour legacy with honor. Along with the recipe, I'm excited to share a photo of the recipe creator, my grandfather Jake (also pictured is my grandmother, Clara) and the newest generation to enjoy the holiday tradition. Cheers!


  • 3oz frozen orange juice
  • 3oz frozen lemonade
  • 12oz whiskey


Fill the blender with ice and blend. Serve in champagne glasses.


Christine Ohm

As my husband, Bryan, mentioned, we have the honor of hosting our extended family every Christmas. For me, there's nothing more special than simply being together. Now that we have young ones in our clan again, we recently brought back the tradition of Santa Claus' surprise visit on Christmas night. One of the older cousins dresses up as Santa, and last year, he even brought a special guest - the Grinch! To see the older cousins help bring Christmas to life for the kids, as we used to do for them, fills my heart all the way up. 


Chelsea Ohm Heintschel

The Ohm family has a wealth of Christmas traditions. Now that I have two kids of my own, I've initiated a new tradition of hosting Thanksgiving at my home in Chicago. We enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving feast (to be honest, sometimes it's catered). On Friday, we take everyone to the Lincoln Park Zoo lights. It's a tradition I’m excited to continue for many years to come.