“Our holiday ritual involves stretching buñuelos over cheesecloth over our bent knee. We use a secret family recipe that my older sister has yet to share. Everyone participates in an assembly line according to their skill, mixing, form testales, roll out perfectly round tortillas, stretch them out, then fry them until golden brown!—Elma Cadena, San Antonio, Texas
“My family and I burn a Yule log at the winter solstice. We find an oddly shaped or very large piece of wood, decorate it with twigs, berries, foliage and other objects as we see fit, then attach a note or mark to the log indicating an intention that we have for the coming year. —Candace Abraham, Newport, Wash.
“I have a $100 bill on me to tip someone at random. I go about my business and when I find that person who needs a pick-me-up, I plant the big bill as I normally would: in the hairdresser’s hand, coffee pot, wallet for the waiter. And don’t just stand there for the reaction. Let them enjoy their surprise in private! —Jackie Shapiro Brooker, Greenville, SC
“My husband’s family’s 20+ year tradition of a Christmas Eve dinner we call ‘mishy mashy’. There is a rule: each person must bring or make a food that they want to eat. It’s all game, and no judgment is allowed. Soft pretzels? Yum! Oyster soup? OKAY! Reindeer-shaped cheese you just bought? Sounds good!” —Jen Bowerman, Traverse City, Michigan.
“When I was in my early twenties, we lost my 22-year-old brother to cancer just before Christmas. To cope, my mum and I took a course where we built a gingerbread house completely from scratch. Over 40 years later, I still make one every Christmas season with my daughters. — Beth Q. Reynolds, Hopkinton, Mass.