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Public Insight Network

Some Houstonians Adopt New Holiday Traditions This Year

Holidays are a time of being together and incorporating traditions that may have been passed on for generations. KUHF's Shomial Ahmad talked to some Houstonians who are celebrating the holidays a bit differently this year.


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For more than 25 years, Randy celebrated Christmas at his house inside the loop with a dinner on Christmas Day. His family ate turkey, or honey-baked ham, or hamburgers. But this year, he and his wife are going to visit their daughter in France, and things will be a little different.

“One of the traditions is that they tend to celebrate more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas Day. And I’ve heard reference to oysters. I’m looking forward to see how that compares to oysters on the Gulf Coast.”

He says a lot of his friends are visiting children, who now live abroad. Margaret Jelinek Lewis still has her three children living with her in her Meyerland home. Lewis says this year, her family celebrated Chanukah a bit differently.

Mirka makes a Christmas gift
Margaret Jelinek Lewis’s daughter Mirka makes a Christmas gifts. This year, for Chanukah, the family exchanged gifts that they made. Photo credit: Margaret Jelinek Lewis

“We wanted to try to get the focus away from materialistic things, try to focus on what other people might need, try to focus on giving, as well as, recognizing that gifts don’t have to be expensive things from stores.” 

So each night they did something different. The first night, they bought gifts and donated them. Another night they had an ice cream soda party: a gift for the whole family. The last night they made gifts for each other.

“And the sewing machine was going non-stop. My oldest child was in the kitchen. And David and I were trying to referee among them, and help make gifts.”

Lewis says this holiday was about the gift of time. It was about being together and not having anything else on the schedule.  Eastwood resident Mark Praigg looks forward to the holiday and getting to have that ‘gift of time’ with his family. Growing up, he’d typically have Christmas dinner with his whole extended family. But at 58-years old, he’s making up some new traditions with his family. And now there are some standbys.

“That seems to be recurring pattern that we’ll treat ourselves to meals out and performing arts, and movies.”

Ahron tries on a new scarf
Margaret Jelinek Lewis’s son Ahron tries on a new scarf. Photo credit: David Jelinek

Praigg says holidays can be a bittersweet time for him. The bitter part: remembering those who’ve passed away. And the sweet part: spending a week with his family who live far away from him.



Some people interviewed in this report were drawn from the public insight network, where listeners, like yourself, have signed up to be a resource for quality journalism. If you want to share your stories or expertise on a particular subject, sign up at

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