Christmas Day conjures up images of family members in pajamas, sitting around the Christmas tree opening gifts, as a turkey or ham cooks in the oven, but for Garden City families, the traditions vary as much as the cuisine. Technology is also playing a role in the changing face of Christmas.
After eating Christmas dinner, 15-year-old Luke Diaz of Holcomb, and his grandmother entertain their family on Christmas Day.
“Me and my grandma sing and she plays the drums,” Diaz said. “We play Christian music and sometimes my uncle will get on the drums and just freestyle.”
Diaz has been singing on Christmas Day with his grandma since he was about 6 years old, he said.
In terms of his family’s Christmas Day menu, Diaz said that his family “mixes it up” each year.
“Sometimes we do American food. This year, we’re doing Mexican food, so we’re bringing enchiladas, tostadas, tamales,” he said.
It will be a similar menu for Vanessa Garcia’s family in Garden City.
“We’ll have tamales, we’ll have rice and beans, all kinds of Mexican food. We’ve got a little bit of liquor, pico de gallo, tacos, all kinds of stuff,” Garcia said.
For Garcia, Christmas is all about being with family.
“Just being around family is what’s important,’ she said. “But we also do a gift exchange, and just soak up each others’ presence.”
Being together is important enough to the Hill family of Holcomb that they actually celebrate Christmas twice.
“We have one at one of my son-in-law’s parents’ in Cimarron and then the other one at our house a couple of days later,” Jacque Hill said.
This year, that “second” Christmas will take place Saturday, where Hill described the scene as “hectic.”
“With kids — we have eight grandkids,” she said.
She and her husband, Tony Hill, were just wrapping up their Christmas shopping at Target Monday night.
On Christmas Day, the Hills will be eating the typical American Christmas day fare of turkey, dressing and that kind of thing.
“But we’re going to have chicken and noodles and ham Saturday,” Jacque said.
“That way, you can eat at noon and then you can eat later — or all the time,” Tony Hill said, laughing.
Suzanne Gollhofer and her daughter, Kayla Gollhofer, both of Ulysses, were taking a break from Christmas shopping Monday.
“We need a little bit of caffeine,” Suzanne Gollhofer said, as they stood in line at the Starbucks inside Target.
The two had just finished getting last-minute gifts — one for a two-legged family member, the other for their four-legged family members.
“We always have stocking stuffers for the animals,” Suzanne said.
Their dog, Ginger’s gift is what Suzanne referred to as an “indestructible, invincible” chew toy, and their cat, Maisie, some toys and treats.
“We also got my cat, Biscuit, a soothing, warm pillow for when I’m away,” Kayla said, adding that her cat experiences separation anxiety when she isn’t there.
The Gollhofers’ Christmas tradition starts on Christmas Eve, Suzanne said.
“We go to the candlelight service at the church and then we usually have something light to eat in the evening at home,” she said.
On Christmas morning, after finishing off Santa’s cookies and milk, Kayla said they open their gifts — in a way that Suzanne said, drives her “bananas.”
“Everybody has to get one and then everybody else has to watch them open it. That’s not how I grew up — we would just rip and go,” she said, laughing.
The Gollhofers typically travel to Garden City to see a movie together, but this year, two of Suzanne’s children won’t be able to make it back for Christmas, so they are using technology to share the holiday.
“We FaceTime with my older sister and her kids. Last year, we FaceTimed while they opened all their gifts,” Kayla said.
P.T. Pinchon, Garden City, isn’t able to be with his parents or siblings at Christmas either, since he’s from Alabama, but he said that his children and his wife’s family more than make up for it.
“It’s a little tough being away from my family at Christmas, but with my kids now, it makes it a little easier because now I’m the one making their Christmas,” Pinchon said. “But I do kind of miss it, because my family made my Christmas for me.”
He said that his wife’s family has found other ways to make it up to him — through his stomach.
“I have learned to love on the broccoli and cheese casserole and my mother-in-law always makes it because she knows I like it,” he said.