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Sharing Members' Holiday Traditions

On December 8, twenty Impact Austin members gathered virtually to celebrate the upcoming holidays and share their family traditions.

Most are included in our screenshot and offering a toast with a holiday libation. Thank you to Coordinator Robin Krumme for organizing us to kick off the holiday fun!

First up was Zones Chair Tonya Netzley, who offered her favorite holiday tradition: baking cookies. She’ll bake 6-10 dozen this year, gifting her neighbors and shipping to family. Before retirement, she’d share with lucky co-workers. Molasses Kringles Holiday Snaps are her favorite. (recipes here).

Jessica Forrest organizes a “sweets competition” with her children each holiday season. We believe that Jessica’s Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream (recipes here) has to be a winner!

Sandra Block sweetly bragged on the candies made by her mother-in-law and passed on to the family. Panocha was her specialty (recipes here).

Robin Krumme starts each Christmas dinner with a delicious tomato basil soup (recipes here) that was shared from a special friend.

Kali’ Rourke shared that her family’s tradition is to approach the Christmas tree with great fanfare and awe, displaying great surprise and joy at the sight of a decorated tree surrounded by gifts. In Kali's childhood, Nana’s Apple Cake was a special treat, and the recipe for that “heaven on a fork” is also included (recipes here), as is the loving description of the cake, its baker, and the love that filled both.

Sandy Behrman is carrying on a tradition begun by her grandmother, sewing Christmas stockings with piecework specific to each child. Each stocking included Grandmother’s “signature piece.” Sandy herself has now made 15 stockings (so far!) for her family.

In Beth Thorson’s family, it’s all about decorating the tree. She recalls paying $1 to cut down a tree on Nevada Forest Service land. “There was always quite a to-do about the time together decorating the tree.”

Libby Doggett decorates gingerbread houses with her family. The first was when her kids were 2 and 5. Now her granddaughters are making them at 13 and 15. All four grandchildren have made gingerbread houses with her.

New member Laura Hill shared two holiday traditions with us. Most recent is her San Antonio tradition of tamales and Mexican food for Christmas Eve dinner. But she also recalled living in New York City for 30+ years, hosting “orphan friends” without nearby family, to foster a sense of holiday connection.

Karen McLinden remembers stringing popcorn and cranberries for childhood Christmas trees. There was ritual involved: two pieces of popcorn next to one cranberry, then two more pieces of popcorn and another cranberry. Karen admits that she has NEVER done this with her own family. Too many needle pricks while stringing?

Impact Austin Board President Susan Palombo says that her family traditions have always involved food. All her kids kicked in, and now they are all really good cooks.

Margaret Ballinger received an ornament each year from her grandparents. She now collects ornaments while traveling AND she’s passed on the tradition to the next generation. She takes her nephews shopping for an ornament each year, and she’s surprised (and pleased) to know how much they value the ritual.

Allison Marshall collects trolls, and so did her family. As a kid, the trolls moved all over the house. The kids would find where the trolls had moved each day. She still has at least two trolls in her home now!

Jenny Cotner has a collection of Santa hats. Many of these came from her years working with Victoria’s Secret, when she had an opportunity to several at a good price. She gave away so many to friends and family that wearing the hats have now become the family tradition.

Barb Hambleton is another member whose specialty is Christmas stockings. Hers are needlepointed, a tradition begun by her mother and enjoyed by many generations.

Judi McCarthy collected ornaments for her children based on his/her nursery décor. Her son has a collection of rocking horse ornaments; her daughter has teddy bears; and her granddaughter's ornaments feature Australian animals.

Norwegian traditions were part of Randeen Torvik’s life. For Christmas Eve dinner, her grandmother would dress in Norwegian finery, and Lutefisk would be served. It’s still served today in Randeen’s home.

New member Mary Long Geil is a collector. She’s gathered Santas and village scenes. She makes candies. But she’s also collected the Christmas letter she wrote each year. Now each daughter has a binder of those letter that provide a history of their lives.

As a virtual gathering, this was fun and festive – and the holiday beverages didn’t hurt! But we look forward to gathering in person next year and accompanying our toasts with hugs. Until then, we hope you enjoy some holiday recipes from our members.


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