From Big Macs to Mad Dog 20/20 to holiday speeches, people celebrate Christmas in unique ways

Whether it’s searching for pickles and elves, cooking a massive bacon feast, re-enacting the story of Christ’s birth or drinking cheap booze and dancing on the table, everybody’s got their weird holiday family traditions.

This year, we decided to venture through downtown Troutdale and ask people about their usual or unusual rituals they follow each December.

We hope that as you read this on Christmas Eve, it sparks many heartwarming, hilarious and disastrous memories for your family and friends to share as your kids tear presents from under the tree and you sip on that eggnog.

“My son was born on Christmas Day. He was brought home in a homemade stocking. Every year, he still hangs it on the mantel, and he’s 45 years old this year on Christmas Day. He’s the best Christmas present I’ve ever got.”

— Evelyn Hibbs, manager at B. Frank Antiques.

“When I was first married and I had two babies and no money, my husband would get his bonus check two days before Christmas Eve. We’d go to McDonald’s and a movie. Now, my kids are 28- and 29-years-old, and every Christmas Eve eve, we celebrate at McDonald’s.”

— Pam Smejkal, employee at Celebrate Me Home.

“My family every year gets up really, really early on Christmas morning, like 4 a.m. and cooks. It started with cookies and crackers, but as we got older it started becoming a competition among my siblings. Now it’s serious. We try to up what we did last year — chocolate croissants, èclairs, dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped with bacon. Then we unwrap presents and we have a feast.”

Julia Darosa, art teacher for Adult Learning Systems of Oregon at Infusion Gallery.

“Ever heard of elf on a shelf? You buy an elf that comes with the book, ‘The Elf on the Shelf,’ and hide it all around the house. The kids wake up and have to find it. We had a note hanging outside our door (with our elf named Jack) that said ‘Brr, let me in.’ The game lasts through December until Christmas. Kids can’t touch the elf or it loses its magic.”

Lindsay Graham, Troutdale General Store employee.

“Christmas pickle, it’s a German thing. Someone hides a pickle ornament on the tree and the first person to find it on Christmas morning gets a little gift. We used to sell pickle ornaments, but we ran out last year.”

Brandee Tarilton, Troutdale General Store employee.

“Every year, we set up the tree with all the ornaments my kids made from the time they were in kindergarten. It’s kind of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. And every year, we add a new ornament to the tree. Then we eat fried chicken and waffles and watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘A Christmas Story.’ “

Rip Caswell, Caswell’s Gallery.

“We always bring a bottle of MD 20/20 to our family gatherings on Christmas. It’s cheap booze that comes in all colors and screw cap lids. We all pass it around and take a pull. We’ve been going 15 years strong... and boy, is it strong.”

— Pepper Ann McAllister, City Hall employee.

“We celebrate Boxing day after Christmas. It’s an English tradition. There’s about 35 of us now, at whoever wants to sacrifice their whole house. There’s always really good food and singing.”

Kathy Toynbee, general manager at Caswell’s Gallery.

“We have an annual family dinner, it’s a tradition my wife grew up with. Grandpa hires out a Santa Claus and Grandma has presents for all the grandkids. We have a potluck dinner and the grandkids present a talent. They sing a song, play the piano or recite a poem. Then Grandma brings out costumes and they act out scenes from the Christmas story. There’s donkeys, sheep, wise men, angels and shepherds. Then Grandpa gives some Christmas speech and after that, St. Nick comes.”

— Douglas Rial, chiropractor at Eagle Chiropractor, and wife, Loni.

“Every Christmas morning, my brother, who is 16 years older than I, comes over with a box of Dunkin’ Donuts, and then we start opening presents.”

— Brittany Berninghau,

Lady Locks Salon and Spa employee.

“We usually get together and have dinner the night before Christmas and watch the ‘Nativity Story.’ Each kid gets to open one gift. On Christmas, we are usually in our pajamas and it’s a lazy, lazy day. Sometimes we go to a movie. This year, we’re going to see ‘The Hobbit.’”

— Desiree Tubbs, officer manager at Eagle Chiropractic.

“We usually get wasted on Christmas. A bottle of Jack Daniels, tequila and a case of wine. It’s usually with friends and family, but mostly me though. I drink the most alcohol and then there’s dancing on the table of course.”

Paitoon Paperata, Siami Sushi Restaurant employee.

“My dad makes tamales every Christmas Eve. He’s a white German guy.”

Ashley Verhelst, Lady Locks Salon and Spa employee.

“Every year, the first Friday of December, I ask for Santa to come into the restaurant. It’s for my customers, but in reality it’s for my daughters. They wait all year to come see Santa. They think he really lives around here.”

— Saul Pompello, owner of Ristorante Di Pompello.

“One of my clients has a Bacon Christmas. They get together with about 20 families and make bacon all day long. The kids jump and play in the living room and they eat bacon.”

Amy Davis, Lady Locks Salon and Spa.

“In Russia, before Christmas morning, we go singing at night. We sing Christmas songs in Russian. Here, Christmas is big in the Russian community. Everybody prepares and makes gifts for children. At church, we go singing in the community. My mom lives in an older community, and Russians from the church go sing in the yard. People open their doors and say, ‘Oh, thank you!’ I like Christmas because everybody is happy. It’s a good time to be together, celebrate and make food. In Russia, the Christmas tree is usually used for the New Year, which is a bigger celebration and very loud.”

Liya Kot, Georgian native and jewelry-maker at Marco Polo Designs.

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