When it comes to holiday celebrations, local residents like theirs seasoned with traditional family events.
In a cellphone survey of 200 residents in Atlanta, Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs conducted via 1Q.com, respondents chose celebrations based on or including family traditions by 3-to-1 over ones in which family traditions played little or no role.
“The best way is to be with family and friends,” one 60-year-old Atlanta man wrote. “Laughing, sharing food and enjoying one another.”
Food played a big part in holiday traditions described by many respondents. “Food! It’s all about food!” a 27-year-old Atlanta woman said.
And what food! There’ll be turkey, of course. Lots of turkey. It’ll come roasted, deep-fried or smoked and with belt-busting stacks of side dishes: “I love all the fixings – turkey, ham, roast oyster dressing, giblet dressing, cranberry sauce, candied yams, cornbread, corn on the cob, potato salad, collard greens, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, cheesecake, red velvet cake, carrot cake and lots and lots of different beverages,” one 45-year-old Atlanta woman wrote.
But turkey won’t be the only dish adorning holiday tables this as a family tradition. There’ll also be king crab, steaks, latkes, pozole, paella, prime rib, cookies, Chinese takeout, Waffle House breakfasts, lasagna, gumbo and home-made cinnamon rolls. “There’s something about sipping coffee and eating a cinnamon roll that brings back so many memories. It’s the little things!” a 22-year-old Atlanta woman commented.
Others have created traditions linked to other culinary delights. “We always have a Hanukkah party each year and it is catered by the Varsity,” a 63-year-old Sandy Springs woman said. “A family tradition and still going strong!”
Some celebrants will return to mom’s house, or a relative’s house, or go to “different events at different houses.” Others seek exotic holiday locations: New York City, Orlando, the country. “We gather in the woods,” a 20-year-old Brookhaven woman said of her family’s traditional retreat from technology and electric devices.
Still others plan to celebrate in ways that blend new and old. Some want to eat turkey, watch football and nap. Others will read Christmas stories, including the story of Christmas; or sing carols; or play family board or card games; or listen to ghost stories; or devote time to “putting up an aluminum Festivus pole, like on ‘Seinfeld’ ”; or drive around to admire holiday lights; or, as one respondent put it, to perform “drunk karaoke.”
“We always cook together and then watch a holiday-themed movie,” a 36-year-old Dunwoody woman wrote. “We kick our winter holiday off the weekend after Thanksgiving and we make it look like it’s snowing inside the house.”
Several respondents had made movies part of their holiday traditions. Their families’ favorites ranged from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “Die Hard” to “something picked 100 percent by the youngest member of our family.” One family, it appears, created a Christmas Day tradition of watching “Pulp Fiction” together.
Respondents also cited more serious traditions highlighting the religious nature of the holidays. Some said they will attend midnight church services.
“I usually don’t celebrate any holiday,” a 40-year-old Atlanta man wrote. “I cook for myself and just call my family. Other than that, I would volunteer to feed the homeless/hungry.”
But most respondents said the holidays are family time. “It does not matter where we are,” a 41-year-old DeKalb County man commented, “as long as we are together.”
Here’s what some other respondents had to say:
“Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, same food every Christmas and Thanksgiving, using the same centuries-old recipes.”
– 51-year-old Atlanta man
“Every Christmas morning, we go as a family to Waffle House for breakfast. All in our PJs. We have been doing this for 16 years.”
– 46-year-old Buckhead/Sandy Springs woman
“My family tradition is to eat spaghetti the night before Thanksgiving and to also go out to eat the night after.”
– 28-year-old Sandy Springs woman
“Usually for the holidays we do different Latin dishes or another country’s dish for the main meals because our workplaces will usually do a traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas lunch.”
– 30-year-old Sandy Springs woman