With the holiday prep clock tick-tocking in our ears and our To Do list refilling itself before our eyes, even the most organized, upbeat, holiday-loving gal can feel the stress of the season. Our advice? Take a breath and a break to share holiday memories between the generations. Never-heard-before stories may make you see someone near to you in a new light—as it did with these folks.
Scratch, scratch, scratch! Merry Christmas!
“I’m the oldest of seven and we always had the big family thing going on. We always had Santa Claus, and he would leave a pile of presents for each of us. It was just always very special.
“I remember one Christmas in particular when my sisters and I got the measles just before Christmas. And I still remember my Tiny Tears doll. I remember baking homemade pies and cookies—that’s something I share with Lily, my granddaughter.
“As a single mother, I never thought I would love someone as much as I did my son. But along came Lily.”
— Poppy Cataldo, Northbrook
“One of my favorite holiday memories is baking my Dad’s favorite cookies with my Grandma Poppy. [And] she always takes me shopping to pick out a special gift for my Mom and Dad at Christmastime. I like to use my own money.
“We wrap them and I hide them at her house because my mom always tries to guess what it is. When she wraps the presents, she always picks the cutest paper and makes everything match. She even brings a present for my dog Zoey.”
— Lily Cataldo, 8, Glenview
Of Santa and Sleepovers
“Even though we are Jewish, my favorite holiday memory was going Downtown to see Santa at Marshall Field’s with my grandparents. We always followed that by lunch in the Walnut Room under the beautiful Christmas tree. Today, I am blessed to be able to share the same joy with my very own grandchildren.”
And Linda’s favorite gift as a child? “I could go on and on about my Toni doll. I can still see it as if it were yesterday. At that time, people just didn’t have the abundance of gifts you do today. I just wanted that doll so much – I was 8 years old, and I still remember it under the tree.”
— Linda Scott, Morton Grove
“My favorite part [of the season] is sitting at the table doing the blessings over the candles. [But] I also like visiting Santa. Every year, I have a sleepover at Grandma’s, and I love how I get to stay in my pajamas while we put up a the tree together with my Grandma, Papa, brother and cousins. My grandma isn’t one that just shops. She likes to do things with me and she makes time for me. And every Hanukkah, I get to see them for at least one day.”
— Jenny Siegel, 8, Glenview
Bowing for dollars
“I grew up in Korea, so New Year’s Day is very big. On New Year’s Day, we would get new clothes and it was tradition to bow to your elders in respect, or even anyone just a couple years older than you. Anybody that you bowed to would have to give you money! We would eat duk gook [soup with rice cakes], and have a celebration all day. . . . We would also play this game called yut-nori. You would throw four sticks in the air, and depending on how they would land, you could advance in this board game. It was a lot of fun.”
— Jung “Jane” Hwang, Glenview
“Sometimes we go shopping and buy gifts with my grandma. And at New Year’s, we go to Grandma’s house and have duk soup [soup with rice cakes). I love duk soup.”
— Ethan Cho, 8, Glenview