Staff Holiday Traditions


With the holidays around the corner, many of us are busy shopping, baking, and prepping for the celebrations. We talked to several high school staff members to hear about their favorite holiday traditions.

     Ms. Zafka Banks-Christensen, Art Teacher, has an angel chime that spins due to the heat of the candles. The spinning also creates a beautiful sound with the tiny golden bells. Ms. Christensen is Danish, and says that almost everyone in Denmark has an angel chime. “In Denmark you celebrate Christmas mainly on the 24th. We stay up late eating cookies, singing Danish Christmas songs (kids dance around the tree) and open presents. In my family, the chime is on the center of the coffee table and we keep it lit all evening.” She also included photos of her mom’s “real” Danish butter cookies and a Christmas tree with real candles!


   Mr. Grow, English Teacher, may have stolen a snowman for his holiday tradition! “A few years back, my wife and I were on a walk and found him on the curb between two houses in our neighborhood. We convinced ourselves that this snowman was at the curb (all alone) as trash, and so we took him in and gave him a home. We leave him in the backyard and  still wonder if we unintentionally stole someone’s lawn decoration.”

    Mr. Gottfried, Junior Seminar Teacher, has made a tradition of visiting the Phillies ballpark each holiday season for a photo before going to his grandma’s house to celebrate! These are the last three years that he visited the park.
 Ms. Erickson, Science Teacher, has beautiful childhood Christmas memories that she continues today. She says, “Growing up I was the middle child of three. We each got a third of the tree to decorate with our own ornaments. And I always got to put up the Christmas Star, which was my great grandmother’s!! The night before Christmas we always put out our Christmas cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph! Then we read “The Night Before Christmas” upstairs before bed! Christmas morning, we would sing “Happy Birthday” to baby Jesus, who was finally allowed to be in the Nativity! We would walk down the steps in age order to our Christmas stockings. After opening all our SANTA gifts and stocking, we would go have breakfast with my dad’s whole side of the family. Then we would head down to have dinner with mom’s side of the family. The day after Christmas was always spent at my Great Aunt Mary’s house with all of my extended relatives on my mom’s side!! As adults, my sister and I have tried to continue some of the family traditions in our house. We host Christmas brunch for dad’s siblings families, then dinner for mom’s siblings families at our house. And we also host Christmas cookies baking weekend at our house…. we usually make about 16 different types of cookies every year! So yummy! “
Ms. Erickson's Childhood Photo
     Ms. Hernandez, School Counselor, (formerly Ms. Morales) is hoping to convince her husband to continue this tradition with her. “This picture might look like a messy family room but if you look closer, there are mattresses in there by all those opened gifts!  Our family tradition is to sleep ‘under’ the Christmas tree every Christmas Eve.  Just recently, I asked my parents how this almost 30 year old tradition came about. They told me it was because one Christmas Eve, when I was a toddler, I fell asleep next to the Christmas tree, and they decided that instead of waking me up, they would bring the bed to me.  Now fast forward almost 30 years, picture 4 grown adults (my parents, my younger sibling who is 25 years old and myself) sleeping on mattresses by the Christmas tree. No matter how old we are, the excitement of carrying our huge mattresses down and sleeping ‘under’ the tree has and never will get old for us.”
      Ms. Baszner, English Teacher, has a beloved stuffed animal that joins her family in the Christmas celebrations, “My parents had this made when I was a little baby. You push it’s paw, and the heart lights up, and it plays Christmas songs. They’d push the paw when they let us come out of our rooms every Christmas morning to open presents! It’s over 30 years old, still works, and my dad gave it to me last year!”
    Ms. Spurlark, School Counselor, says, “When I was little my cousin did ballet and was in the nutcracker – I thought it was so cool!  Since then I’ve loved nutcrackers and a few years ago I decided to start collecting them!  So I get one each year and hope to build an army!” She also sent in a photo from the first night of Hanukkah in her home. Her mother-in-law is Jewish and has passed down many traditions to her husband and her.
     Mr. Calixto, Director of Instruction, enjoys taking his children to the Macy’s Light Show to see their incredible displays. He also loves being with the Esperanza family to celebrate the holidays at the annual holiday party and seeing the different performances from the students.
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