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Pelham Residents Describe Holiday Traditions

PELHAM, N.Y. - Many families have holiday traditions that they love to do year after year, including four Pelham families whose rituals bring their families even closer together.

Even though Kit Portrake’s mom has passed away, she keeps her memory alive through a specific dessert every Christmas.

“My mother always made pecan pie at Christmas time and I have her recipe,” said Portrake. “She’s gone now and I still make the pecan pie. That makes me feel comforted.”

Not only does the Timeless Treasures store owner swear by the pie, but she also said that she loves making it.

“I think people feel comforted by having the same food that their parents made when they were kids,” said Portrake. “So, they keep on making it.

Her sister-in-law, Katherine Portrake, celebrates the Chinese New Year in a big way.

“Everybody gets together; we have a spread out, desserts, and a lot of fun,” said Portrake.

Perhaps the best part about her celebration with family and friends has to do with an envelope.

“You’ve got to have a red envelope too,” said Portrake. “It brings good fortune and there is money in it too. It’s got to be nice, new, crisp bills for the “new” year.”

Portrake said that people celebrate the New Year for two to four weeks.

“People take off from work and everything’s shut down,” she said.

Another favorite tradition comes from the season’s most popular drink. Whether you make your own or buy it from the store, it is tough for many people to not have a few glasses of it.

“Eggnog made by Edward Johnson, my brother,” Laverne Sasser said. “He makes it from scratch and puts real cream and of course spikes it very nicely with a little brandy. It’s rich and frothy, which is what makes it so good.”

Her brother used to use their grandmother’s eggnog bowl, but then he got his own.

“Interestingly enough, I am a volunteer here with Accent [on Antiques], and there’s actually an eggnog bowl over there. That was my grandmother’s. Unfortunately, he has his own, so we don’t use that anymore.”

There are even some lucky families that celebrate Christmas more than once a year. For instance, Peter Kougasian is Armenian and therefore enjoys Christmas on two different days with his family.

“Armenians traditionally celebrate Christmas on January 6,” said Kougasian. “My wife is not Armenian. So, usually we celebrate December 25 and then celebrate January 6. We have two Christmases.”

His son receives gifts on both days and Kougasian likes the tradition as well for a specific reason.

“Yes, it works out well for everybody. More eating.”

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