all have unique ways of celebrating this time of year with family and friends. We’re asking readers to email us at Home@latimes.com and complete the following sentence: “It just wouldn’t be the holidays without…” and include photos. And now we’re asking you, too, to do the same, and maybe we’ll include your tradition in an upcoming Saturday edition.
Here are just a few of the highlights:
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without lighting candles with family and friends from across the country. At 6 p.m. PST on Christmas Eve, we all gather at our respective homes and light candles. My mom started the tradition about 20 years ago as a way to unite our family, which is spread across the country from New York to California. The candle lighting now includes friends and their families as well. It is a wonderful way to unite us all as we think of each other, remember times spent together, and make wishes for the new year. It is a cherished tradition by all.
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without gnocchi. We go Italian for our Christmas Day dinner, when our entire extended family gathers at my sister’s house in La Cañada for homemade gnocchi. My sister Julie and our niece Becky make the gnocchi in the afternoon and other members of the family make three different sauces, traditional red sauce with meatballs and sausage, pesto, and Gorgonzola sauces. This provides festive red, green and white pasta dishes the colors of Christmas and the Italian flag. All of us look forward to this annual treat on Christmas Day with three generations of family.
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without a Chan Clan photo. Prior to the mid-’90s, the family gathered at someone’s home. As the family grew, we began reserving a December date at a church fellowship hall, where we can take an annual family picture… Following a buffet dinner, we do games (trivia, bingo) and some creative singing. (In 2015, we changed the words and sang along to the “12 Days of Dim Sum.”) The patriarch — Sik C. Chan — was an only child who with his wife, Lily, raised two sons and five daughters, from whom came 27 grandchildren and the list goes on and on! We are all truly blessed to be able to carry on the tradition and maintain relationships among the four generations.
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without our Tamale Day. My best friend, and sister-from-another-mister, Dianne, have been making memories and tamales since 1998. Our plan began as “gifts” for our families. Along the way, we have perfected our masa and sealed our bond. We select a Saturday in December and spend an entire day mixing, measuring, steaming, splattering, laughing, tasting, sipping, and… did I mention laughing?
On Jan. 1, my boys — Raymond, who is now 12, and his brothers Andre, 14, and Zareh, 18 — get to make and eat anything ice cream-related they can create. I buy several flavors of ice cream, cones, waffle cone bowls, sprinkles, whipped cream, syrup, smashed cookies, gummy bears and all sorts of topping possibilities for the first day of the year, and that is their breakfast.