home People The Coronado View On…Holiday Traditions

The Coronado View On…Holiday Traditions

The “most wonderful time of the year” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is often a special time for Coronado family and friends, marked by traditions that allow them to reconnect, reminisce, and enjoy the festivity of the season. We asked Coronadans to share some of their favorite holiday pastimes:
Kris Nicolls IMG_4433LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW! “The holidays can get pretty hectic, so my wife, Courtney, and I always go on a mountain getaway. It’s so nice to stay in a cozy cabin, have fires in the fireplace, get some fresh mountain air, and just spend time with each other away from all the hustle and bustle. A little snow — and actually getting to bundle up in a jacket — are always an added bonus!” ~ Kris Nicolls







Bella Loiselle photo


PAJAMA GAME “Every year on Christmas Eve I get to open one gift and it’s always Christmas pajamas. I love it because I get to wear them right away and I have a new pair for Christmas Day.”
~ Bella Loiselle

BRING ON THE BENGAY! “It started as a tackle football game with friends my freshman year in high school, then transformed into a flag football game in college, before settling into its current form…an example of poor athleticism. No matter what version, however, the underlying theme has remained the same — a chance for old friends to get together and share a laugh…and maybe some Bengay.”
~ John Weisbarth



FIREPOWER! “Between menorahs we’ve made and been given, our family has a collection of about 10 — enough to ensure that everyone can light one, even with lots of friends and family around. The menorahs are special because each one has a story and memory of who made it or gave it to us. Each menorah holds nine candles (one for each of the eight nights, plus a ‘servant’ candle that lights the others), so on the last night of Hanukkah, when we light all 10 menorahs. They give off some firepower! It’s a beautiful sight that reminds us of family, our Jewish heritage, and that all it takes to dispel darkness is a little light.”
~ Lei Udell


Zach Bunshaft hanukkah


BINGO! “Every holiday season my mom makes potato latkes (pancakes). My mom and dad eat them with sour cream and I eat them with apple sauce for a sweet and savory treat. That may sound strange, but don’t knock it until you try it! She also forces us to play this silly holiday Bingo game every year. We rarely follow the rules, and my little cousins always cheat. However, amid the dysfunction of it all, we still find a way to make it fun. I feel like that’s the true meaning of the season.”
~ Zach Bunshaft



Amanda McPhail IMG_2234MAKING KIDS’ DREAMS COME TRUE “Nine years ago, I decided I wanted to do something really special for the holidays. I asked around about local families in need — parents who were having a hard time making ends meet, for example — and we started raising money through donations by friends and families in town. That first year we raised $11,000! We asked the families in need to have their kids make wish lists for Santa, and then used the money we raised to buy those items, and then gave them to the parents to put under the tree for Christmas morning. Last year our friends got together to do the shopping and wrapping. Sometimes it’s toys and games, other times it’s clothes and shoes; another year we bought a family their first computer. The look on the parents’ faces when they get to make their kids’ Christmas dreams come true is incredible — and really highlights the meaning of the season.” (If you’re interested in suggesting a family or donating to one 
this year, email Amanda before Thanksgiving at amandarmcphail@gmail.com)
~ Amanda McPhail

Kaye Sweetser photo


TECH-FREE TREKKING “Since we’re in California, we always make it a point to do a long hike before holiday meals. It’s a perfect opportunity to go tech-free and just enjoy the company of our family. Along the hike, everyone does a top-five list of things we’re most looking forward to or enjoying about the holiday season or of the best things that happened over the past year. And on the drive home, coming back over the bridge to our perfect coastal town reminds us even more of all we have to be thankful for.”
~ Dr. Kaye Sweetser

Deanne Brown (front, center)


GIMME COOKIE! “For the last 10 years I have hosted a fabulous group of women who get together in December and bake dozens of cookies. We each make about eight dozen cookies of our own recipe (no store-bought cookies allowed!) and package them so everybody gets six of each different cookie. We then have a huge array of holiday cookies to share with our families (I think all of our kids look forward to this as much as we do) or give to neighbors and friends. Being a Navy family, we have moved and settled away from our extended families, but this tradition brings my friends together for an evening of holiday festivity.”
~ Deanne Brown


Karly Kachigian IMG_5248HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS “Even as the members of my family continue to pursue their own paths, living in different places with different people, we’re always together at home in Coronado for Christmas. Every year on Christmas Day my brother Collin and I take an hour or two to go for a walk along the beach and soak in all the beauty of our hometown. There are usually not many people out so it’s very peaceful and serene, and we get in some really quality brother-sister time. We’ve been doing it for the past six years, and we look forward to it every year!”
~ Karly Kachigian





Whitney Benzian thxgiving2TURKEY BOWL! “My extended family always gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving in Coronado. My parents and my uncle, Jeep Rice, all live on or down the street from Star Park Circle. We are a pretty big family and so when things get too crowded in the house or we need to work off the turkey we wander down to the park. One year someone brought a football and it started with some tame passing, but we are a competitive bunch so it quickly escalated. The next year, my sister Clare sent a group email challenging the Rice side of the family to a game against the Benzians. The challenge was accepted. On game day (Thanksgiving), Clare and my brother Jake even showed up with ‘Turkey Bowl’ T-shirts with the family surnames on them. From that game on it became a family tradition. It’s a great way for the family to socialize and have some physical fun, and since it’s touch football all ages can play.”
~ Whitney Benzian

CLM Starfish

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