Westlake students share their favorite traditions

The holiday season has arrived, with all of the magic and wonder that make this time of year so special. It is a time for rejoicing, connecting with loved ones and creating memories that will last a lifetime. For the Observer's annual last-issue-of-the-year feature, students from Mrs. Melissa Graham’s fourth-grade class at Westlake Elementary School share favorite family traditions.

Have You Ever Had an Elf on the Shelf?
Today, I found my family’s eight elves hiding in my living room on a brown shelf! My family’s elves are named Halle, Snowflake, Frosty, Pixey, Peppermint, Noel, Max and Ginger! There are two boys and six girls. One is leopard print, one is blue, one is pink, and the rest are red. The elf on the shelf named Ginger is a baby girl, who is so small! If you have an elf on the shelf in your house, they watch you throughout the day, then go back to the North Pole each night to report your behavior. They let Santa know if you were naughty or nice. When the elf returns to your house, they find a new place to hide. In the past, my elves have hidden on the window sill, the Christmas tree and in a cabinet. I’m so excited to see where the elves will hide tomorrow!
– Morgan W.

New Year’s Eve at My Grandparents’ House
5, 4, 3, 2, 1: That’s the sound of the countdown on New Year’s Eve! New Year’s is a great time of the year. Normally on New Year’s Eve I have a sleepover with my grandma and grandpa. One really spectacular thing we do is we stay up until midnight to watch the ball drop on TV (wow)! Another thing we do during the sleepover is we get some Mitchell’s ice cream, and get some ice cream to take home. My favorite flavor of ice cream is strawberry because I love strawberries. In the morning my grandpa and I go to Dunkin Donuts and get donuts and hot chocolate. Then we go home and watch the Macy’s New Year’s Day parade. My favorite part of the parade is the floats! When we’re watching the parade we drink our hot chocolate and eat our donuts on my grandma’s really nice white couch. I’m looking forward to this New Year’s Eve sleepover with my grandparents.
– Riley C.

Tobogganing in the Winter
Have you ever been tobogganing? I go with my family every year. Even though tobogganing can be cold and snowy, we still have a lot of fun. I go with my brother, my mom, my dad, cousins and aunts and uncles. When we arrive at the tobogganing location, I usually sit by the big fire and warm up! When you’re about to go on the sled with four seats it is a huge snowy hill that you go down on and there is also so much snow coming down on you from the white foggy sky. There is plenty different compartments so people can go down the awesome slide at the same time. I usually go down the slide over and over again because it is so fun my stomach usually rumbles when I go down the first time! When I am done with going down the slide on the sled I play tag or hide and seek with my cousins that came tobogganing with us. We stay there for about three to four hours and usually go to my cousin's house after. I hope you get to experience tobogganing soon!
– Mallory A.

Christmas Eve with My Family
On Christmas Eve, my family has many traditions that we do each year. On Dec. 24, we wake up and my dad makes a delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs. We watch a Christmas movie by the fire. "Elf" is one of our favorites! After the movie, we get in the car and head to my grandparents’ house in Brunswick. While we are there, we have a gift exchange with my cousins, aunts, and uncles. We are each assigned a person to shop for. After the gift exchange, we open presents from our grandparents. Later in the night, we play a fun game in the living room. Each person rolls 2 dice. If we get doubles we put on a scarf, oven mitts, and a hat. Then, we try to break open a wrapped box that has two other boxes inside of it. Everyone wants to open the box because there is a $25 gift card inside of the final box. I have not won yet, but this may be my year! Finally, we have dinner, say goodbye, and go to another party at our neighbor’s house. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family.  
– Ethan B.

Winter Time!
Boom! That's the sound of an ornament. A couple of weeks before December starts, my family and I go to the living room to decorate our Christmas tree. We put up an artificial tree and begin by stringing white lights on the tree. My parents always say to space out the ornaments so we try our best. Dec. 1 is the day when my elves, Peppermint and Frosty, come to visit. I always write a little note to say hello to them. About a week later, we make Christmas cookies. We usually put peppermint Hershey kisses into the cookies and bake them for about 15-20 minutes. I enjoy licking the batter off the spoon. Then, on Christmas Eve, we have a huge dinner at our house. This year we are inviting 17 people. After dinner, we pass out presents and we have to sort all of the presents because there are so many! Finally, when the presents are sorted, we start opening them. It gets kind of crazy because wrapping paper is flying in the air. When everyone goes home we watch a Christmas movie together such as "The Grinch." I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family.
– Alexi C.

New Year’s Ski Trip
For the last few years my family and I go on a ski trip to Holiday Valley. We drive to the ski resort in New York and stay for three days. My mom is the best skier because she has been skiing for the longest.  I can ski every hill except for the black diamonds because they are the most difficult. We have been doing this tradition for the past three years. After skiing all day, we enjoy some warm hot chocolate in the hotel room. In the morning, we get ready to go back out on the slopes. After we have skied for a long time we go into the lodge for lunch. We have dinner at a restaurant across the street. On New Year's Eve, we watch people skiing down the hill with lanterns at night. In the morning we start to pack but we go out to the slopes one more time before we leave. We ski about every hill then we ski back to our car. We load up the car and leave. I hope after reading this you try skiing.
– Billy C.

My Christmas Eve
How do you spend your Christmas Eve? On Christmas Eve I do many fun things with my family. My Grandma Ree, my mom and I go to my Mimi and Papa’s house in Avon Lake. My three cousins Ava, Caleb, and Aubrey along with my aunts and uncles all join us there. While my Mimi makes dinner, I play with my cousins upstairs. When dinner is ready, we all eat in the dining room. After dinner, we go in the sunroom and my cousins and I open the presents our Mimi and Papa got us. We are so excited about our gifts and give our Mimi and Papa big hugs! At the end of the evening, we go home and hop into our beds. We put out milk and cookies and wait for Santa to come. In the morning we open all of the presents Santa brought while we were sleeping. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family.
– Lila D.

Secret Santa
Every year my entire family does a Secret Santa gift exchange. We usually do it before Christmas. First, we all write our names on a piece of paper. Then, we put the adult names in a hat and the kid names in a hat. We grab a piece of paper from the hat and this tells us who we will buy gifts for. That’s why we call it a Secret Santa. On Christmas day, everyone usually comes to my house to see who their Secret Santa is. I always know if it’s my cousin Mav because he always gets me books. I hope you and your family participate in a fun family tradition every year.
– Brett H.

Winter Break Travels
Every year my family travels to our home country, Saudi Arabia. When we are there we visit our whole family. We enjoy big dinners with each family member we visit. Some of my favorite foods are rice, hummus and goat meat. We enjoy swimming in the pool at my house. For the other half of break we travel to other destinations throughout the world. We stay in nice hotels and rent a car so we can explore new cities. At night, we watch movies together in the hotel room. My family is very awesome and I love traveling with them.
– Amin A.

Elf on the Shelf
Have you ever seen an Elf on the Shelf? The Elf on the Shelf comes to my house every Dec. 1. Every night, he finds a new place to hide. My favorite place I found my elf is in the Christmas tree. I don’t just have one elf, I have five elves and they enjoy hiding together. While they are here, we give them candy canes and one time they went into the candy jar and got their own candy! I am on my best behavior when they are visiting. The elves will stay at my house until Christmas day and then they will go back to the North Pole. I enjoy having the elves at my house every year.
– Cole W.

My December Traditions
Do you see the snow falling outside and smell the delicious cookies? I do a lot of things with my family to get ready for the holidays. In early December, I bake chocolate chip cookies with my grandma at her house. First, we make the cookie batter and then add in the chocolate chips. When they are finished we enjoy eating them together. I go back to my house to sleep in my bed and in the morning, we go sledding in Bay Village. I go with my dad, mom, brother Jack, and my sisters Emma and Ava. I hear people having fun sledding on the steep hill and I see snow on the ground. I feel the snow blowing against my face. A few days after I go sledding with my family, I invite a lot of friends over for a snowball fight. We decorate my house for Christmas and set up a tree in the living room. My dad puts blue and red lights outside. I am excited to get ready for Christmas with my family this year.
– Tony M.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations
New Year’s Day is a very special holiday for me because it is the start of the new year and my brother’s birthday. On New Year’s Eve, my brother, my sister and I have a sleepover in my brother’s room. We play card games such as Uno and stay up until midnight! We are always tired in the morning because we stayed up so late. On New Year’s Day, my family and I celebrate my brother’s birthday by decorating the house and having a special meal together. My brother’s favorite flavor of cake is strawberry, so we enjoy the dessert together. I am looking forward to celebrating my brother’s birthday and the start of 2020!
– Sanika J.

My Christmas Tradition
Jingle! Jingle! That’s the sound you hear when we decorate our Christmas tree. First, on Christmas Eve we go sledding at the Westlake Rec Center. Next, we open one present at my house before we head to my grandpa’s house. We spend time together as a family and exchange Christmas gifts. On Christmas morning we open our presents that are under our tree. Later on Christmas day, we go to my Grandma’s house for dinner. My grandma makes delicious turkey, prime rib and mashed potatoes. I am looking forward to spending time with my family this Christmas season.
– Patrick M.

Sunday Winter Fun!
Ding dong! That's the sound of the doorbell ringing when my cousins come over on Sundays. They unpack all their stuff, take off their shoes, and we go upstairs to play. After playing in my room, we go to the dining room and eat dinner together with our parents. We eat both American and Arabic food because I’m a Muslim. After dinner, we go as a family to Main Event, Dave & Buster's or somewhere new.  Main Event is my favorite because they have fun games and bowling. Sundays are fun for me because of the fun stuff I get to do with family in the winter time!
– Iman A.

Baking Cookies
What is that delicious smell? On Dec. 20 my family bakes cookies. We bake cookies at our Aunt Jeanie’s house in Cleveland. We bake cookies with our cousins, aunts and uncles. We make all different kinds of cookies such as pretzel, M&Ms, peanut butter, and chocolate chip cookies. First, we mix the ingredients in the bowl. Then, we roll the dough on the foil. Finally, we put the cookies in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Our uncle gets Angela’s pizza in Cleveland for all of us to enjoy. The cookies are done baking after dinner. We put the cookies in a container and everyone gets to take some home. On Christmas Eve, we put the cookies on a plate for Santa. I always enjoy baking cookies with my family before Christmas.
– Tommy M.

Ramadan is My Favorite Part of the Year!
Ramadan is a really fun time because we play with family, the kids get money, and we also get a day off from school. My family says the Quran in the beautiful night and the lovely morning. We fast from day to night during Ramadan and we can eat after the sun sets. We eat something called tumra which helps us not to feel hungry. We go to the Hurem, which is a special mosque. Everyone prays five times a day. As Ramadan comes to an end, we have a feast together. I can’t wait until the next Ramadan.
– Eyad A.

Getting Ready for Christmas
At the end of November, after Thanksgiving, my family and I get ready to pick out our new Christmas tree. We get in the car and drive to a tree farm in Lakewood. After we have found the perfect tree, a worker cuts it down for us with a chainsaw. The tree comes crashing to the ground. We tie the tree to the top of our car and take it back to our house to decorate. My dad and brother take the tree off of the car and bring it into the living room. We put lights and ornaments on the tree. Finally, my family and I watch a Christmas movie and enjoy some hot chocolate. I hope you have a great Christmas with your family this year.
– Joseph B.

Christmas Eve
Every winter break my family takes a vacation. We go to a different place every year.  Last year we went to Canada, but this year we’re going to Florida. My family will drive to Orlando to meet my cousins at Universal Studios. When we are on our trips, we stay in a hotel and swim in the hotel pool. We go out to eat and enjoy spending time together. At the end of our trips, we say goodbye to our family and head back to Ohio. I am looking forward to our Florida trip this year.
– Gaby R.

Getting Ready for Christmas
My family does a lot of things to get ready for Christmas. First, we always gets a tree and decorate it. We decorate the tree with ornaments, lights, tinsel and a star. After that, we go antiquing which is so much fun. We get to look for cool old stuff. Next, we go sledding. I love sledding because I get to go off big hills with my snowboard. Finally, when it is Christmas Eve, we make cookies for Santa. Then we brush our teeth and get our pajamas before we go to sleep. We wake up to a lot of presents and filled stockings. Christmas with family is the best time of the year!
– Drayk R.

Christmas Eve & Christmas Morning
I enjoy spending Christmas Eve with my family every year. On Christmas Eve we go to my grandma’s house in Bay Village. Once we get there, I play board games with my cousins. I open presents from my aunt, uncle and grandma. After opening presents, we all go to church together in Rocky River. My favorite part at church is when we hold real candles while we sing. We then go home to go to bed and my sister and I sleep together in her room. Every Christmas morning my sister says “Drew wake up it's Christmas.” I quickly get out of bed and wake up my mom and dad. We head downstairs and my mom videotapes us opening presents. Later in the day, we go to my other grandma’s house in New Philadelphia and we open more presents. My family returns home but I get to spend a week at my grandma’s house. I enjoy spending time with my grandma, grandpa and cousin. I am looking forward to spending time with my family this Christmas Eve.
– Drew

Christmas Eve Preparations
Christmas Eve is the night before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, my mom and I make chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes, I even make blueberry cookies! We head to Walmart to find the perfect tree and take it home. We decorate the tree with glass ornaments and lights. We also decorate the inside of our house! We get out our nutcrackers and put them is different places throughout the living room. We place Christmas pillows all over the sofa. I put the Christmas photos out of my sister and I with Santa Claus. We hang a mom, dad and baby gingerbread on the wall. Our house looks amazing when finished. I am looking forward to baking cookies and decorating our house this year.
– Tierah T.

Ramadan and Eid
Every year my family celebrates Ramadan and Eid. First, we wake up really early to eat because we must eat before the sun comes up. We eat again at night after the sun has gone down. We get henna from the Arabic store and my mom puts it on our hands. We fast for 30 days. At the end of Ramadan comes Eid. During Eid we celebrate for three days and enjoy Arabic food such as Molokhia. We go out to eat and do fun activities together. I hope you enjoyed learning about how my family celebrates Ramadan and Eid.
– Melak M.

Happy New Year
3, 2, 1, Happy New Year! On New Year’s Day my family celebrates the upcoming year. We invite many people over to our house to help us celebrate. First, we play games like Monopoly and checkers. Next, we eat delicious food like caramel apples with nuts and different kinds of pies. My favorite is blueberry pie. At the end of the evening we pull poppers and they burst in the air. They make crackling sounds and spray colors. I have a lot of fun celebrating New Year’s Day with my family and friends.
– Dakshin T.

Ramadan is a very special time for my family. We celebrate by having delicious meals and playing games. We eat a big meal before the sun goes down. My favorite food we eat for dinner is Sambusa. Sambusa is a fried or baked pastry filled with meat. We also eat meat and soup. My family and I love to play UNO together. I always look forward to celebrating Ramadan with my family every year.
– Toleen A.

Sledding like Santa
Every year my family and I go sledding at the Westlake Rec Center. First, all of my cousins meet at my grandma’s house and eat lunch together. We get in the car and listen to music on the radio! When we get to the rec center, we bundle up, and run up the hills with our sleds. I like when I get to share a sled with my little cousin Ava. After sledding we go home and enjoy hot chocolate. I hope there is going to be some snow over winter break this year!
– Jazzy

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Volume 11, Issue 24, Posted 10:12 AM, 12.17.2019