Students at Drake University shared some of their favorite family holiday traditions.
“We have this old advent calendar at my house,” said Cora Holt, a senior majoring in environmental sustainability. “It’s made out of fabric and it has all these little tiny figurines you put in each of the pockets, and it’s like a Christmas train, and it’s really fun.”
Holt said her mom usually tucks a little piece of candy into the pockets as well.
“When my sister and I were little, we’d wake up and go to the advent calendar and get a little tootsie roll out of it,” Holt said.
She said the advent calendar normally is filled with store bought candy, because her family doesn’t start making their own candy until later in the season.
“My mom makes this soda cracker stuff,” Holt said. “It’s saltines with caramel drizzle and then there’s toffee and chocolate on it. And you freeze it and its delicious. I love it so much. I really hope that she mails me some.”
Holt said she and her sister are the main participants in this tradition.
“She’s fifteen now, so I mean, we’re both a little old to still be doing this, but it’s fun.”
Ethan Whelpley, a sophomore majoring in advertising, also said his family does an advent calendar.
“It starts at December 1 and goes until Christmas Eve,” Whelpley said. “Every day I pull a little box and get a prize or, like, little gifts.”
Whelpley said his family’s calendar starts out with smaller gifts and builds over time to bigger ones.
“So usually like, recently it’s been money,” Whelpley said. “So, I’ll get coins at first, and then a dollar bill, and then for Christmas Eve I’ll get like $20.”
Zach Cantrell, a sophomore majoring in English and minoring in Japanese, said that his family receives cash on Christmas too, it just comes in a different type of wrapping.
“Usually we go visit my grandparents, and they do this fun little thing where we don’t quite open presents or anything or get each other presents,” Cantrell said. “So what we do is, we take roles of saran wrap and we get candies and fun little nick knacks, and we roll them up into massive balls, and in the center of the ball is usually fifty dollars or something.”
Cantrell said everyone but his grandparents participate in this activity.
“I think it’s pretty fun,” Cantrell said. “It’s a little more unconventional — or maybe it’s a usual thing — I don’t know. But I [had] never heard of it when they started doing it a few years ago.”
Justine Drake, a sophomore majoring in public relations and digital media production, also said her family spends time at her grandparents’ house for Christmas.
“We usually go for the whole day,” Drake said. “So, we’ll get there probably around 10 in the morning … When we were younger we used to all sleep over, but now we kind of head out around 8 or 9 at night.”
One past tradition Drake said she loved were the plays she and her cousins would throw with their Great Uncle Mike.
“I used to have a Great Uncle Mike, and he was really big into theater,” Drake said. “So, he would round up all the grandchildren and we would create a play. And he would help us create the story line, the characters, and then all the grandkids would perform it for the grandparents and the aunts and the uncles.”
Drake said as everyone started to grow up, they stopped doing these plays. She also said her great uncle had some health conditions that made it hard to continue.
“My Uncle Mike, he started to have some health conditions,” Drake said. “So, whenever he came we just wanted to enjoy that time with him.”
Drake said her Great Uncle Mike passed away six or seven years ago. She said she thinks it would be fun to bring back this tradition in his memory.
“I don’t know how my other cousins would feel about it,” Drake said. “They’re maybe a little too cool for it now. But we all loved Uncle Mike, so maybe that would be a good way to remember him at our holiday gathering.”