One of the birthday cakes made for Jesus by the Montalvo and Gesser families. COURTESY OF SUSAN MONTALVO-GESSER
Diocesan staff celebrate unique holiday traditions
Editor’s note: What Christmas and Advent celebrations are unique to your family? Below, several diocesan staff share their favorite family traditions.
For years, my extended family did a White Elephant gift exchange. The first year someone brought a bowling ball with finger holes too small for anyone to use it. The tradition in my family was that this bowling ball would come back every year. The joy of the Christmas celebration became seeing who would get the bowling ball, and how the person giving it would disguise it. My personal favorite was the year someone wrapped a framed photograph of the bowling ball. Each year the person who received it signed the bowling ball with a paint pen, and we eagerly awaited next Christmas to see what that person would come up with.
Fr. Daniel Dillard is the director of vocations for the Diocese of Owensboro, chaplain at Owensboro Catholic High School and parochial vicar at Sts. Joseph and Paul Parish in Owensboro.
O Christmas tree
Over our 30 years of marriage, our tradition has been to get the house decorated with lights and have our tree up by the first Sunday of Advent. The day after Thanksgiving is tree day and we go to a tree farm and cut one down, $15 for a great Michigan Blue Spruce! Then Sunday night we gather the family, say a prayer and flip the switch. Wishing you and yours a peace filled Christmas!
Love, the Andrini Family
Dr. Jeff Andrini is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship.
Montalvo and Gesser Christmas traditions
While I really am a stickler for “not starting Christmas too early” and fully celebrating Advent, I usually lose the argument to wait to Christmas Eve to put up the tree… but if it were up to me, that’s the way it would be. To celebrate Advent, I do my nails in a liturgically themed way (three fingernails in purple, ring finger in pink and thumbs in white). In our home, just after Thanksgiving, the clamoring begins to put up and decorate our Christmas tree with the ornaments the children have made. Our children each put up ornaments received from their Godparents and my husband and I put “Our 1st Christmas Together 1997” ornament close to the top of the tree. My son Michael and daughter JoJo start playing Christmas music on their trumpet and saxophone in November. We celebrate Christmas Eve at the Montalvo house (my mother’s) right after attending Mass and usually change into comfy clothes or PJs. Either before Mass or after coming home from Montalvo Christmas Eve, we make Jesus a birthday cake and decorate it. We ensure the stockings are hung and wake up to Santa gifts for the family. We then host a big meal at our home for the Montalvos and the Gessers. We potluck the meal and everyone contributes. We have another round of gifts for the children and play cards, fall asleep on couches, and graze over desserts for hours.
Susan Montalvo-Gesser is the director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Owensboro.
Originally printed in the December 2021 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.