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How CJ'ers Celebrate the Holiday Season

Dec 18, 2020
Written by CJ Affiliate

There's a reason that so many holidays fall at the end of the year—it's a time to unwind, celebrate, and reflect on the joy and challenges the year brought us. And I think we can all agree—we earned it more than ever this year. To that end, we invited CJ associates from across our global offices to share their favorite holiday traditions and how they're carrying them into 2020. Grab a cozy blanket and your favorite warm drink and prepare to have your heart warmed!

Diwali

Princy Sinha, Client Services Associate Analyst, Bangalore, India

princy-sinha-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: My favorite tradition for Diwali is wearing out the best Indian attire while lighting diyas and creating my favorite Ganpati Rangoli. 😊 I also celebrate Chhath which is a festival for a specific region in India and luckily, I belong to that place! It happens after six days of Diwali. We worship the sun and the River Ganga as the most sacred source of life form.

This year definitely looked a little different—what did you do to celebrate and make it special? All thanks to WFH, I was able to be with my family for both the festivities after four years of being away. I would say it was the all-time best I’ve had. I got in touch with distant relatives via video call, which actually showed the importance of what love and bond a family and relation holds. We busted crackers virtually, which was so funny, haha! 😄

 

Rochan Haritsa, Client Services Senior Analyst, Bangalore, India

rochan-haritsa-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Celebrating the true meaning of this festival with my nearest and dearest.

This year definitely looked a little different—what did you do to celebrate and make it special? I recently got married and it is indeed special as I celebrated Diwali with my extended family.

 

Shreya Balaji, Client Service Analyst, Bangalore, India

Favorite holiday traditions: Growing up, Diwali in India for me would always mean waking up early in the morning (around 5am), taking a bath, and going out to burst crackers in the road before the sun rises so that we can figure out who burst the most crackers once day breaks.

This year definitely looked a little different—what did you do to celebrate and make it special? After several years of not celebrating, 2020 gave me the opportunity to spend Diwali with my entire family dressing up, bursting crackers, and eating loads of sweets. Something good that came out of 2020!

 

Praneeth Bajaj, Client Services Analyst, Bangalore, India

Favorite holiday traditions: Eating my favorite dahi phalla's (dahi vada) and kheer.

This year definitely looked a little different—what did you do to celebrate and make it special? Every Diwali we celebrate by meeting all our loved ones and eating all the sweets we can get our hands on. Thanks to technology, we were able to get everyone on video calls which included our entire big family from across India. We dressed up in ethnic clothes and did Pujas in our own houses with the entire family present through the video call so even though it was different, it was special.

 

Hanukkah

Marissa Moorehead, Director, Product Marketing, Santa Barbara, CA

marissa-moorehead-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Latkes! And chocolate Hanukkah gelt. Typically my goal is to dominate my family in card games, but we were able to do a virtual dinner this year instead.

This year definitely looked a little different—what did you do to celebrate and make it special? Watching my one-year old niece play with her first dreidel on Facetime. Melted my heart!

 

Christmas

Nicole Ron, VP, Marketing, Product Marketing & Business Systems, Santa Barbara, CA

nicole-ron-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: My family loves traditions but one that has been in the family for over 100 years is having pork pie on Christmas Eve. Living in the upper peninsula of northern Michigan (the U.P. as we call it), there is a large Finnish immigrant population and meat pies are a common comfort food. My great grandma would make meat pies on Christmas eve and invite anyone who was interested over for a slice (family, friends, neighbors). My Grammie carried on the tradition of having meat pies on Christmas eve.

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? My Grammie passed away right before Thanksgiving this year. While we can't gather with friends, family and neighbors, I plan to make meat pies for the first time this year! I'm looking forward to showing my daughter how to make them as well so that we can keep the tradition alive.

 

Grace Saccoccio, Client Support Specialist, Westborough, MA

grace-saccoccio-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Making struffoli with my father and sister. It's a traditional Italian dessert of friend dough balls in honey and sprinkles that you share with family, friends, and neighbors. It's truly a labor of love!

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? After we remotely drop presents, we'll be opening them on a family Zoom. Hopefully, we can have a contest for who can dress most festively too!

 

Christopher McFarland, VP, Finance Vertical, Los Angeles, CA

christopher-mcfarland-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Putting up the Christmas tree on Black Friday. Receiving a "box of Christmas" from my mom in Missouri, then putting her gifts around the tree. Doing a gift exchange with my siblings. Dropping off a gift to my youngest nephew who lives in California and just happens to have a birthday a few days before Christmas (I never want him to get short-changed on the gift front!)

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? More phone calls and facetime with family. For my one local brother and his family, we've decided not to get together as we usually do for dinner. Instead, we had a socially distanced chat in the driveway, and I dropped my nephew's gifts off on their porch.

 

Maddie Craig, Client Partnership Associate, Westborough, MA

maddie-craig-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Every Christmas morning, since I was little, my sisters and I would wait at the top of the stairs before we could come down for gifts. As we waited, my parents would always have the Nutcracker Suite playing, and it always seemed so magical. Even though we're all grown, we still love to do this, and the Nutcracker Suite always bring memories of Christmas.

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? Since it'll just be my immediate family this year, we've decided to deviate a little from our traditional dinner and make an extravagant meal just for the five of us. Even though we can't see everyone like normal doesn't mean we can't find a way to make the season special and exciting.

 

Courtney Kurzhals, Client Development Manager, Chicago, IL

courtney-kurzhals-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Honestly just eating a lot. And getting in heated debates with my family over a nice, four-hour long game of Risk. It's slow but honest work.

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? Probably still eating a lot and playing a four-hour long game of Risk!

 

Jennifer McBrayer, Client Development Manager, Ventura, CA

Favorite holiday traditions: Decorating the tree, looking at Christmas lights, watching Christmas movies and making cookies.

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? Keeping things intimate with our little family this year and Zooming loved ones throughout the day.

 

Shelby Petrie, Client Partnerships Associate, Westborough, MA

shelby-petrie-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: When I was younger, I used to orchestrate this "plan" with my three younger siblings where we would all wake up at 3AM on Christmas in an attempt to "catch Santa in the act" of leaving presents under our tree. We've done this every year for over a decade now, even though we all know the truth...but I still look forward to waking up in the middle of the night and walking downstairs to my family's living room to look at the tree and all that lies underneath it. Something about this tradition still preserves the magic from my childhood that I'll never be able to fully let go of. #SantaBelieverForLife

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? This year I'll be going to my girlfriend's family's house because they are local to us in MA, whereas my family lives in GA. This will be the first Christmas ever that I don't spend with my immediate family. It's bittersweet, but I am excited for the holidays nonetheless!

 

Victoria Pace, Client Development Manager, Chicago, IL

victoria-pace-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: When my family moved into our home, my parents planted an evergreen tree in our yard. Every year we take our Christmas card picture in front of the tree and it's fun to see how the tree changes over time while also reflecting on highlights of the last year. This tradition is especially memorable because our family dog, Olivia, absolutely despises taking pictures so my mom always has to bribe her with cheese or turkey to get her to sit for the picture. She is 14 now, so she always gets her way and is definitely the favorite child.

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? I am spending some extra time at home in Ohio to take advantage of life slowing down a bit. This was never really an option before and life will eventually get back to normal, so I’m enjoying this special time with my parents.

 

Alita Hill, Associate Director, Business Development Strategy, Westborough, MA

alita-hill-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Since I was little, every year my family would get together to bake cookies for an entire day. After hours of baking and stuffing ourselves full of sugar, we would order pizza and listen to Christmas music. As I grew older, we kept up the tradition, with my friends still requesting to be invited to "Cookie Day".

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? This year my family organized a cookie swap between 30 of us located across the country. We pulled names out of a hat, and will be baking, packaging, and shipping cookies to each other! It's a great way for us to feel close to another during Christmas, even when we can't physically be together.

 

Ashley Hardy, Sr. Client Development Manager, Santa Barbara, CA

ashley-hardy-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: For as long as I can remember, my mom, sister, and I have made dozens of Christmas cookies together. We all have different favorites–gingerbread for my sister, rosky cookies for my mom, and ginger snaps for me. And since we definitely shouldn't eat all the cookies we make, our friends and neighbors reap the benefits!

 

Adam Conrad, Client Development Director, New York, NY

Favorite holiday traditions: Exchanging tree ornaments with my brothers-in-law. Our yearly exchange provides great memories and helps fill out our Christmas Tree.

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? Setting up a number of Zoom meetings, with family and friends so we can be together virtually while staying home.

 

Alex Quevedo, Director, Support Operations, Santa Barbara, CA

alex-quevedo-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: In the last several years, I've taken to getting my nephew a present that will elicit an extreme reaction of happiness or fear. For fear, it was getting him Star Wars toys such as a wampa (with removable arm!) or a Death Trooper. For happiness, his own Spider-Man costume.

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? We'll have some video calls for a little bit of family fun, but spend Christmas day having some great food, spoiling our dog, and creating as much of a theatrical experience as we can to watch Wonder Woman 1984 at home.

 

Smruthi Sriram, Client Partnerships Associate, San Francisco, CA

Favorite holiday traditions: Every year during Christmas, a group of my close friends celebrate Christmas with a holiday party featuring a white elephant gift exchange, Christmas-themed drinks, a potluck-style meal, and a hip-hop Christmas Spotify playlist.

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? This year, we are keeping our traditions but taking it to Zoom so we can all participate safely! We are doing a virtual secret Santa as well rather than a white elephant gift exchange.

 

Alex Kursave, Client Development Manager, Chicago, IL

alex-kursave-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Christmas for me has always been about celebrating the birth of Jesus, the savior who gives hope and peace. Growing up, my parents signed us up to ring the Salvation Army bell at the grocery store and yes, my mom made us sing Christmas carols the whole time. We adopted a family each year from The Giving Tree organization and helped provide gifts for families in need. We did our family celebrations on Christmas Eve, so after a candlelight service we would come home and eat a meal of appetizers (shrimp cocktail, queso, Chick-Fil-A nuggets, sausage balls) and open one gift each. My mom is a great baker, so we always enjoyed her fudge, white chocolate covered pretzels, and cinnamon rock candy.

More recently, my wife and I have created traditions together in Chicago of walking Michigan Avenue with all the lights, ice skating in the park, and visiting the Christkindlmarket. Before we exchange gifts, we read the story of Jesus' birth, then enjoy sushi and turn on Christmas Vacation. We've continued the tradition of supporting families through The Giving Tree organization and also adopt kids through the USPS's Operation Santa with my CJ family (CHI-town!).

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? We welcomed a baby girl in September, so we're excited to begin new traditions as a family of three! We'll celebrate with sushi, gifts, and plenty of Christmas movies and songs. We always want to be mindful of how blessed we are, and look for ways to share that blessing with others so we've adopted a family in St. Louis with friends and are sending gifts to kids in Chicago through Operation Santa. Lastly, we'll be able to safely spend the holiday with immediate family nearby. Each year the Christmas season for me is an opportunity to be a light in a city where there's a great need for love and peace.

 

Heather Pilat, VP, Finance, Westborough, MA

Favorite holiday traditions: Celebrating Christmas Eve with my in-laws. We do secret Santa gifts, Christmas crackers after Christmas Eve dinner (which is always my mother-in-law's delicious special Polish mushroom pierogis), and there’s always a lottery ticket magically hiding under each place setting. (Sometimes we win!) Before dinner we break a Christmas wafer with one another and share what they mean to us and our hopes for them in the new year. It's really a special moment.

 

Ashley Adams, Client Partnerships Manager, New York, NY

ashley-adams-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Pretty early on, our parents got tired of us waking them up at the crack of dawn to open presents, so we started staying up until midnight on Xmas Eve instead. We make coffee or hot cocoa and marathon our favorite Christmas movies, then open presents. On Christmas day, we get to sleep in and wake up to the smell of my dad's famous pancakes. :)

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? Extra chocolate chips in those pancakes—what else?!

 

New Year’s Eve

Corinne Travis, Director, Influencer and Brand Partnerships, Westborough, MA

corinne-travis-holidays-20Favorite holiday traditions: Because I have two young boys, we ring in the New Year well ahead of midnight on NYE. My nieces, nephews, and in-laws all come over to celebrate and we try to make it all about the kids. Leading up to our countdown at 8pm, we talk about our favorite moments of the previous year and our intentions or wishes (for the kids) for the new year. Everyone gets a cupcake or cookie with a candle and we blow it out while making our wish! We watch a countdown on YouTube, wear hats and glasses, use noise makers, and have a festive countdown to 8pm EST. The boys absolutely love celebrating New Year’s!

This year will definitely look a little different—what are you doing to celebrate and make it special? I hope it remains the same. My nieces and nephews and in-laws are all in our COVID bubble, so hoping to make this New Year's celebration even bigger and better to close out this crazy year!

Topics: CJ Life, Holiday

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