This year has required much adapting, especially during the holiday season. Read below to learn about some of our Children’s Services staff members’ holiday traditions and how they’re adapting them in the wake of COVID-19.


Miss Joyce

My family’s past holiday traditions involved a lot of food. My daughter is Filipino and Mexican, so we would spend part of Christmas Eve with our Filipino family, eating pancit and other delicious Filipino dishes. Another part of the day is spent with our Mexican family, enjoying tamales, pastes (empanadas) and more! This year, we will have a virtual celebration with family from our homes. Here are a couple of books that include my family’s holiday foods. 

Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore

When all her older siblings are away, Cora’s mother finally lets her help make pancit, a Filipino noodle dish. The book includes a recipe for pancit.

You can enjoy the author reading the book on the publisher’s YouTube channel!

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Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

Everyone is coming for Christmas dinner at Maria’s house. She and her mother prepare by kneading the “masa” to make tamales. When her mother takes off the ring, Maria tries it on – and is beside herself, when hours later, she thinks it has been kneaded into the tamales. You can also find Too Many Tamales on hoopla and BookFlix and as a video on Kanopy.

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Miss Sarah

At Thanksgiving, my husband asked, “Why not fried chicken?” We had just decided that it wasn’t safe to travel between states, and since I couldn’t see my side of the family, he had decided in solidarity that we would spend the holiday as just the two of us. So he made fried chicken (having recently learned to cook) and homemade barbecue sauce and shared the barbecue sauce recipe when we did video visits with both sides of the family that afternoon and evening.

I’m looking at that as a model for what we might be able to do as the holidays progress. Some plans are getting adapted on the spur of the moment. This year, I made potato pancakes from one of the Moosewood cookbooks. My new brother-in-law is Jewish and living far from his parents, so we wrapped up hot latkes to deliver as Hanukkah began. We decided to stay for a brief, unplanned visit, which seemed to be good for everyone.

Will we make it to the big light show at The Morton Arboretum? We had planned to go, then it sold out, then the hours were expanded and it’s still kind of up in the air. My sister-in-law is looking into whether we can get tickets for the light show at the zoo. If we have to put it off until next year, I will still have some lights to enjoy. For the first time in at least four years, I have put up lights and our artificial Christmas tree. Why did we stop four years ago? That was when we adopted a new cat who is much more energetic than the one our vet always referred to as “an elderly gentleman.” The new cat still has plenty of energy, but this year we’re putting the tree in the bedroom (where the cat is not allowed, although she doesn’t always cooperate with this).

Here is a picture of the cat, looking innocent.

My brother continues to work as a church music director, which has been a wildly different job this year. On a recent phone call, he told me that he had decided against trying to do any kind of ensemble of musicians for Christmas, and he was sad about it. But my mom, who lives about two hours away, has been tuning in online as he plays for church services. It might turn out that the family is able to join him for Christmas Eve for the first time in many years—if only virtually. Or there might be a technical issue and we end up watching it asynchronously on YouTube. Whatever you end up doing as we close out 2020, I wish you peace and happiness.


Miss Chris

Anytime of the year is a good time for favorite books, but Christmas books bring such sweet memories. There are just so many Christmas books out, how to choose? I won’t even try to tell you all my favorites—there just wouldn’t be enough space—but there are two that I just have to read every year.

As a child and then as an adult, Christmas is just not the same without a reading of the classic ‘Twas the Night before Christmas (also on hoopla and TumbleBook Library). I swear I could hear the prancing and pawing of each little hoof as I tried to fall asleep on Christmas Eve.

Then there’s The Grinch. How the Grinch Stole Christmas is, if not my absolute favorite, definitely in my top five. His dog Max—oh how I loved his dog Max, and yes, I did try to put antlers on my dog…she wasn’t too pleased. It never fails to put a lump in my throat when the Grinch learns what Christmas really means…excuse me, I think there is some dust in my eyes.