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Traditions at heart of family celebrations

Many individuals spend the holidays with family, cherishing the time they share together while creating lifelong memories.
Traditions are often an important part of that process.
Sharon Gray, who was enjoying the downtown shops and atmosphere recently, said her favorite tradition is one she started herself 27 years ago when her son was 2 years old.
The Johnson City resident was living in Alaska at the time the tradition began. Gray said her son loved singing Christmas songs in June and July, as well as asking how long before Santa would arrive.
On June 25, a new tradition evolved — the halfway to Christmas party. She said they called it their “Merry Halfway to Christmas and Happy Rest of the Year” party.
On June 25, Gray and her son watched such holiday movies as “A Garfield Christmas Special” and the “A Muppet Family Christmas.” She said it was great because they were watching snow on the television, while it was hot outside.
Heather Fries, a visitor from Alaska, said her absolute favorite Christmas tradition is drinking rum and eggnog while watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” on Christmas Eve.
“It’s my favorite movie,” she said.
Fries said she loves the movie because of Clark Griswold’s family values and traditions. She said she also enjoys the moral of the movie, which is that although things never go as planned, you are still spending time with your family.
Judy Shelton, a Jonesborough resident, said her favorite tradition started 45 years ago when her daughters were 3 and 5 years old.
She had baked a prune cake for Christmas Eve, which was enjoyed on Christmas Day as well.
“I said to my husband, ‘why don’t we make this a birthday cake for baby Jesus?’”
The family put a candle on the cake, read the Christmas story from Luke, lit the candle and sang Happy Birthday on Christmas Eve. After dinner, they then exchanged gifts.
Shelton said her daughters said they never wanted the tradition to stop, so it carried on year after year. She said every year they celebrated Jesus’ birthday with a prune cake.
A couple were thankful they decided to stop and stretch their legs in Downtown Jonesborough on their way home to Huntsville, Ala., Wednesday afternoon.
“To me this is what a traditional Christmas town looks like,” Sharon Carswell said while enjoying the Christmas decorations along Main Street.
Sharon and her husband, Randy, both agreed upon two of their favorite Christmas traditions.
Sharon said she enjoys the Lord’s Supper at church. She said she enjoys that time because it’s something she can do quietly while reflecting on how her year has been.
“The Lord’s Supper really tells us what it’s all about,” Randy said.
The couple also enjoy opening presents with their grandbabies.