Students and faculty share their Christmas traditions


Staff photo

Mrs. Blackburn shows off festively decorated classroom door.

Marie Reichard, Staff Writer

Each member of the St. Pius X faculty and student body celebrates the Christmas season in their own traditional way. Whether it is making cookies, watching movies, or setting up decorations, the holiday creates a magical feeling for all and brings everyone closer together. 

Math Teacher Mrs. Cary Blackburn

In celebrating Christmas, Mrs. Blackburn incorporates her Polish traditions with her family. They specifically exchange Oplatek, which is a pressed wafer with a Last Supper image. 

“We would eat a meal that’s fish on Christmas Eve and then we go to Mass. During the meal, we get this Oplatek, which is a blessed wafer,” Mrs. Blackburn said. “You go around to everyone like a toast. You break off a piece of there’s and they break off a piece of yours. You exchange them and say ‘for health and happiness in the new year.’”

To emphasize Jesus’ birth, her family makes a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Day. 

“We always have birthday cake for breakfast. With our breakfast, we sing happy birthday to Jesus before we have our presents,” she said.

Mrs. Blackburn’s favorite Christmas movie to kick off the Holiday season is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“It’s so uplifting and redeeming. It’s just a great story,” she said. 

Mrs. Blackburn also enjoys decorating her house both inside and outside for Christmas. 

“We do a Christmas tree. My favorite decoration is these big Christmas ornaments that we used to hang from the picture window in my old house and now hang from the loft. It’s lighted with really big ornaments hanging down,” she said. “I like my lit nativity scene outside, and of course, there’s a nativity scene inside. I put the Wiseman far off because they don’t come until Epiphany and I hide Jesus.”  

Mrs. Blackburn likes to get all her Christmas shopping done early and avoids shopping on Black Friday if possible. 

“I start usually before Black Friday. I am not a big Black Friday shopper. I’m done at this point. Sometimes I start too early and buy people too much. I have to stay out of the stores now that I am done,” she said.

Social Studies Teacher Mr. Ellis Thomas

For the past 10 years, Mr. Thomas has gone to a jazz concert to spend time with his family over Christmas break. 

“My wife and I and her parents like to go to a Christmas concert by a famous jazz saxophone player Dave Koz that is in Marietta each year,” he said.

Mr. Thomas is from Alabama where his family still lives, but after he moved to Georgia a few years ago, his tradition of seeing them on Christmas has changed. His wife has also worked on Christmas Eve for the past three or four years, so he does his own special Christmas morning with her and their cats. 

“We had to switch traditions from something we had grown used to. I’ve been going to my grandparents’ Christmas Eve for the last 30 years of my life,” he said. “Kind of just some ending of old traditions and starting of new traditions.”

Mr. Thomas starts off the Christmas holidays with a new movie each year. He also has certain favorites that he shares from his childhood and with his wife.  

“We actually watched ‘Home Alone’ first this year. We always watch ‘Jingle All the Way’ on Christmas Day,” he said. “‘The Santa Clause’ is my favorite with my wife because that’s probably one of the first movies that I have recognition of. I watched it over and over again. That was the same case for both of us.” 

This is the first year Mr. Thomas has put up lights on the outside of his house since he has been in Atlanta. He has an 8 foot gingerbread man, a polar bear with some penguins on it, and a light up Christmas tree. He likes to do these lights to have some Christmas spirit and share it with others. 

“I remember Christmas lights being a big deal to me when I was a kid,” he explained. “It’s hard to have the same spirit about Christmas commercially speaking as you did when you were a kid. Trying to have some of the fun stuff is important for me to feel in the Christmas spirit.” 

Science Teacher Mr. Robert Hunter

Two of Mr. Hunter’s traditions are never opening gifts until Christmas Day and making sure to rotate who gets to host Christmas each year. 

“It goes all the way back to when I was a child and my parents would make us wait. My brother had Thanksgiving this year, so I get to have Christmas at my home this year,” he said.

When Mr. Hunter decorates his house and shrubbery, it makes him think about the Christmas spirit and how he can bring the same magic to other people. After reaching adulthood, he no longer thinks about what he wants for himself. 

“As you get older and you have your families, your perspective of Christmas changes,” he explained. “It’s more about what I can do for other people. I love watching someone else’s reaction to a gift I went and got for them.” 

Mr. Hunter got his Christmas shopping done early this year, but usually he waits until the last minute. 

“I like to do my Christmas shopping the last three or four days of Christmas. I’ll spend a good two or three days going to the stores and looking around,” he said. 

Mr. Hunter listens to Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving because it puts him in the holiday spirit. 

“I started the Christmas music in the house the day after Thanksgiving because that’s when we get the tree put up. It gets you in the mood for decorating and getting things ready [for Christmas],” he said. 

Senior Ella Beck 

Beck has three main Christmas traditions that she does with her family every year 

“First, we always see Santa at Phipps Mall and go to dinner afterwards. Also, my mom gives my siblings and I matching pajamas on Christmas Eve so that we can wear them on Christmas day,” she said. “We always watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation as a family either on Christmas Eve or the day before.” 

Beck’s traditional Christmas involves both spending time with her immediate and extended family. 

“My typical Christmas Day begins with my mom and dad making their coffee,” she said. Then, they meet us on the stairs and we take a picture. After that, we go into the living room and open all of our gifts. We later see our extended family and have dinner with them.” 

Beck’s family makes sure to put up Christmas decorations on both the inside and outside of their house. They also include the Elf on the Shelf tradition as part of their decorations. 

“Outside, we have a mini Christmas tree with lights on it. Inside, we have a much larger tree with ornaments, we have stockings, and then of course, the Elf on the Shelf. We always place the elf in one of the stockings and leave it there until we take down our decorations,” she explained. 

Junior Quinn Voss

Voss’ typical Christmas Day involves both his family and enjoying the food that they make.

Lots of yelling, Mass, LOTS of food, and most importantly, my grandmother lecturing us about some random conspiracy,” he said.

Voss also makes a Christmas drink every year, a cold brew that he makes by himself. 

“I love making this cup of coffee I make every year. It’s basically taking candy canes and melting them and adding some spices, then mixing it with coffee, and mixing it with milk that I frothed. Legit heavenly,” he said.

Voss does not go all out with Christmas decorations, but he still puts out all the elves he got when he was little. 

“As a child, I loved collecting elves, so we have a bunch of those little guys, but not much other than a tree and some lights,” Voss said. “But in terms of elves I have like 20 or something, it’s ridiculous.”

As for shopping, Voss and his siblings always wake up at 5:00 a.m to camp outside Walmart, Best Buy, and Target on Black Friday. 

“We spend the entire day shopping. None of us like it except my oldest brother, but we always do it,” he said. 

Sophomore Marlowe McIntyre

McIntyre’s typical Christmas involves lying around with her family, watching Christmas movies, and calling friends or her family. She specifically has a favorite Christmas movie that she watches with her family. 

“My favorite Christmas movie to watch is ‘A Christmas Story.’ I watch it every year with my family and I have fun memories of watching it as a kid,” she said. 

In comparison to most of her peers, McIntyre listens to Christmas music all year round because it puts her in that great holiday mood.

McIntyre loves to get into the holiday spirit and dress according to the season outside of school. 

“My favorite way to show holiday spirit would be dressing in crazy sweaters and wearing festive clothes,” she said.

McIntyre’s favorite treat during Christmas is anything that her grandmother makes. With her coming over, it helps establish the holiday season and feel like Christmas. 

“My grandma comes over every year and makes a bunch of Christmas cookies and sweets. They are all gone within a week,” she said. 

McIntyre does her shopping last minute, but she always enjoys looking for others and finding something that they would like. 

“I’m kind of a procrastinator and I end up doing my shopping right before Christmas, but I love shopping for friends and family,” she said. 

Freshman Sophia Nieto 

Nieto lives up both Christmas Eve and day with her family in spending time with each other. 

“For us, we usually invite the family on Christmas Eve and wait until midnight to open our gifts,” Nieto said. “After we open all of the gifts, we usually party until the sun comes out again.”

Nieto makes sure to specifically shop for others every year and usually does it in the middle of December. 

“I absolutely love Christmas shopping for friends and family,” she said. “I like giving people stuff that they want.” 

Each year, Nieto also makes sure to have a festive treat or drink to feel in the Christmas spirit and adjust to the cold weather. 

“I love making chocolate chip cookies and watching Christmas movies with a big blanket. I also like doing hot chocolate with marshmallows to keep me warm,” she said.

Now you have an inside look at how a few families at St. Pius celebrate Christmas. Maybe you’ll add something to your own traditions this year!