Families celebrate the holidays, together

| December 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING pre-pandemic are Mark Smith, son Brodie, 17, Simone Young Smith. In front, son Stirling, 10.

After a bleak year of missed celebrations, are we able to safely gather for seasonal festivities again? Local families mix caution with optimism for holiday gatherings.

Careful mingling with friends
“I’m all about Christmas,” declares Simone Young Smith. “It’s such a great family time. I get out the Rat Pack Christmas CD.” First, a tree is selected and “decorations go up outside straight away.” Getting in the holiday spirit often includes a trip to Century City to enjoy the mall’s decorations and get a little shopping started.

The Windsor Square resident (who owns her own public relations company), her husband, actor Mark Smith, and sons Brodie, 17, and Stirling, 10, were lucky last year. While many hunkered down in household units, they returned to their former homeland, England. After quarantining for five days, they spent the remainder of their two-week visit with family for Christmas.

This year, they plan a mixture of family-only time and careful mingling with friends.On Christmas Eve they’ll gather with a few other families from their pandemic bubble for Secret Santa.

Their celebration continues to Boxing Day, Dec. 26, when they plan to partake of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at a British friend’s home.

Hope for a holiday bash
Christmas begins as a family affair for Suz and Peter Landay, who hope coronavirus vaccination numbers support a return to their Christmas extravaganza, which they threw every year for 25 years until the pandemic hit.

After taking 22 Christmas boxes down from the garage attic, Suz starts decorating their Irving Blvd. home inside and out the day after Thanksgiving.

In the before times, 80 to 100 friends attended. If the Landays determine that it’s safe to proceed with the party at all, they’ll cap the number at 50 fully-vaccinated guests this year.

STEPHANIE AND JORDAN GERSHOWITZ ready their menorahs for Hanukkah.

A blended holiday
Hanukkah begins the night of November 28 and ends eight nights later, and for many Jewish families, the holiday means grating bushels of potatoes to fry into potato pancakes, or latkes. Stephanie and Jordan Gershowitz are no exception.

“I definitely make latkes,” confirms Stephanie Gershowitz, a television production executive. “I’ve perfected my recipe. The secret is to make them in a large cast iron pan.” Traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream, Jordan, a television writer, likes them with lox and cream cheese on the side.

Jordan’s beloved grandmother passed away in November, so it’s especially poignant to make the traditional foods she loved, including her famous rugelach (rolled cream cheese dough pastries with raisins, nuts or jam).

Although Stephanie was raised Catholic, the Fairfax district couple has decided their son, due in January, will be raised Jewish, but in a religiously-blended home, as evidenced by their yearly decorating of a Christmas tree with Jewish stars and dreidel ornaments. They also reach into their red velvet Christmas stockings to retrieve one small gift each night of Hanukkah.

A GINGERBREAD CONTEST is in Krista Kolegraff’s holiday plans again this year.

Zoom gingerbread contest
At the center of Krista Kolegraff’s 2020 Covid Christmas was a gingerbread house contest with her parents and with her six siblings over Zoom.

Krista has since moved to a guest house in Hancock Park, a neighborhood she fell in love with because of the architecture and rich history. Her gingerbread house tradition will continue, says the designer, whose line of T-shirts and hoodies is carried by The Broad.

She’s looking forward to a less confined holiday this season.


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Category: People

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