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Christmas Celebrations

For our columnist, holiday gatherings have come full circle.

by Marianne Lods, Executive Director, Millville Development Corporation

Thinking ahead to next week while I write this article, I imagine that many of you are rushing around getting ready for the big day—Christmas! For my family we are celebrating on December 18. This will be the first time since 2019 that we will have our entire family at our home for Holiday Lunch.

Fifteen years ago, we started this new tradition of gathering the Sunday before Christmas so that families could be together in their own homes on Christmas day with the kids. There will be 28 at our house for a buffet luncheon. After a lot of “catching-up conversations,” we’ll give the kids their gifts and enjoy watching them tear open their packages. The adults will give their “Secret Santa” gifts to the people they picked. By the time the sun goes down, the children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews of our blended family will say their goodbyes.

I like to think that memories will be made that they we may reflect upon in the coming years. I grew up in a much simpler time and my memories include the anticipation of seeing family members when we gathered. We were a household with two faiths, and we loved celebrating at Christmastime. The aroma from the kitchen on Christmas Eve of roasted chicken and lots of sides followed by the traditional “buche de noel”—Yule Log cake. Presents were always opened at home on Christmas Eve in the Belgian tradition. On Christmas day we’d go across town to have dinner with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We were lucky that my grandmother lived very nearby and was able to enjoy the festivities, too.

When I was eight years old my brother came home from his first few months in the Air Force. It was one of the happiest times for me as my “big brother” was always looking out for me and I adored him. When my sister moved into her own apartment a few years later, holiday time seemed very different for me as the “only child” at home. We are all happy to get together for the holidays.

Several years later my son was born on December 24, which made our gatherings about Hanukkah, Christmas, and his birthday. Long after my mom passed away, I kept the tradition of the “yule log cake” alive as it became the birthday cake! My pop lived many more years and came to our house for this and all of the holidays.

I know that I’ve strayed from my usual topics that I like to share with you. Hopefully, you are ready to celebrate with your family and all of your special traditions. I’d love to hear about them. If you care to share, you can reach me at

I wish you the happiest of Christmases, Hanukkah, or other festive occasion. May you and your families enjoy good health for the new year 2023. May all of your wishes be realized. Most of all may we have Peace on Earth.