The Northside Chronicle has paired with Manchester Academic Charter School to feature the works of students in grades 6-8.

This month, 5 eighth graders will share their family’s holiday traditions. You can also find the selected work of three additional students in our January 2011 print edition.

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Holiday Renewal
By Britney Morris

Holidays are a great times to start over. I love Christmas and the days around Christmas it always brings joy. On Christmas Eve, we always do the same thing. We begin to cook the food for Christmas day. We cook ham, macaroni and cheese, greens, potatoes salad, mashed potatoes, turkey and all the pies. My mom also always buys me and Paul new pajamas. I love when she gets us new pajamas; they are always so nice. For example last year, I got a robe with peace signs all over it with shorts and tank tops that match. The best thing was the slippers. Usually, after I put on my pajamas, I help my mom wrap the family presents for my aunts, uncles and cousins. Then after we do that, we sit in the living room together and watch all the good Christmas movies. The Grinch is my favorite. Then soon all the fun is over and it’s time to go to sleep. I usually feel like I’m not tired so I watch TV, play on my iPod or text. However, nothing ever works. Then soon enough I fall asleep.

Then the next morning I think that I don’t want to get up, but then it pops in my head that it’s Christmas. My brother and I usually wake up around the same time, so I don’t have to wake him up but we do sometimes have to wake my dad and mom up. Most of the time they are sleeping because they were up cooking and wrapping presents all night. When my dad wakes up he gets the video camera out. Lame, I know, but he records us opening our presents. My brother and I usually get what we want. After we play with our presents and open them, we get dressed in a new outfit that we received for Christmas. My uncle comes over and eats with us. After he leaves, we go over my cousin’s house with the rest of the family. My parents usually allow us to take one gift to my cousin’s house. I usually pick the best gift. When we get there we talk and play around. We watch movies and eat again. We have the best time and we stay together all night.

After Christmas comes New Years. Every New Years we have a party and at the party we invite family and friends to come and celebrate with us. We cook and order some food. We sit and watch the ball drop. We watch 106 & Park’s countdown and watch the ball drop on the news. Then we go around one by one and tell our New Year’s resolutions. Lastly, we talk about all our memories from the past year. Those are my family traditions that I spend with my family. I love receiving and giving things to see the people I love smile.


My Holiday Tradition                                                                                 

By Shayonna Herring

Did you ever spend Christmas Day putting joy into the hearts of the less fortunate? I have, and I think it’s awesome! I feel that seeing other people happy on Christmas Day is better than worrying about you and receiving presents. I attend a program that is a part of my church called His Place. His Place is located in the Spring Hill area of Pittsburgh.

Around 6 a.m. a couple of His Place members and I gather at the building to prepare a big and hot breakfast. After the food is prepared, we get in the church van and drive down to the Light of Life Rescue Mission on East North Avenue. We gather people who look as though they can use a nice hot meal. We take them back to His Place to eat the hot meal that we prepared earlier. Once everyone finishes their breakfast, we all go and sing Christmas songs. The adult members of His Place usually start to prepare lunch for the guests while we’re singing.

As we all gather and eat, we share old Christmas memories, and Bible stories dealing with Christmas. After everyone is through with their meals we select a good Christmas movie; usually something funny. Following the movie, we play games.

While we are playing games, the adults start to prepare dinner. Dinner usually takes longer than the meals before, so they start it a little early. Once the hot, nice dinner is finished being made we gather around the table and eat. When everyone gobbles down their food, we as the church give out gifts to the less fortunate. It’s usually things like soap, donated clothes, socks, and much more. We end the day on a good and happy note.      

I never thought helping others on Christmas Day would be such joy. It’s good to see other people happy; this made me happy.


In the Middle of the Night

By Taylor Fitzpatrick             

I have many holiday traditions that I do with my family. My most favorite tradition though is to go to Light Up Night with my family to watch the fireworks, look at the gingerbread houses, and watch people fall at the ice skating rink.

When we leave from the house we immediately go look for parking because it is totally jam packed. Usually we park near the Steelers stadium and walk downtown and that’s when the fun begins. When we get downtown there are usually masses upon masses of people having a good time, young and old. You get the occasional merry crew, mothers pulling along their children who are whining and complaining that they didn’t get the glow toy, couples walking slowly hand in hand with love struck faces, groups of high school friends, and a thousand of other different combinations of people.

When it is really cold outside most cafes are filled with people ordering every last drop of hot drink. My family usually stops at Starbucks to get a hot chocolate or an espresso. Then we go to the ice skating rink and watch people slip, fall, laugh, play, and have fun. After that we usually go look at the gingerbread houses and sculptures. I think that’s my favorite part; it’s amazing how people can be so creative with candy. I don’t think I would be able to build a gingerbread house because I would eat it all up right after I would finish it.

Finally it’s about time for fireworks so we try to make our way back to get a good view but it is quite hard because everyone else has the same idea so it’s hard to weave though people. On our way over we stop in Market Square to look at the decorations that are put up but we can only look at them briefly.

When we finally arrive to a comfortable viewing spot we start to countdown to when fireworks will start. Before we can say zero a big boom bursts into the air and colors shower down then another series of crackles and booms lets you know that the fireworks have officially begun. My favorite type of firework is the waterfall or more like a fire fall of white sparks – it is beyond beautiful. After all the fireworks are finished we start to trek our way back to the car and head to a warm house where we all pass out exhausted. This is why Light Up Night is my most favorite family tradition.


Around the Holidays

By Sherri Good

Family traditions help us define who we are by providing something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world. Traditions are important because I love to be around my family and I think it brings everyone closer. I enjoy the time spent as a family getting to know more about each other by laughing and having a nice time — it keeps me knowing that I’m grounded . I enjoy my family traditions because I know no matter what, we have a good time. We eat, we laugh and we have so much fun together as a family loving and caring for one another. My favorite family traditions happen around this time of the year, which are Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years.

During the month of October, my family really does not celebrate Halloween as a holiday. However, we still go out as a family to eat and give out candy to the kids. We enjoy seeing the costumes, but if we don’t give out candy we do things as a family and have a good time.

During Thanksgiving, my family usually goes to my grandma’s, my aunt’s or another family member’s house. We eat together, make sweets, cook lots of good foods, laugh, talk and see people we haven’t seen in a while. We also watch the Thanksgiving football games.

This holiday I think everyone loves and it is one of my personal favorites. During this holiday in December, which is Christmas, my family watches a lot of Christmas movies like Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. We also put on Christmas songs, open presents, decorate the tree as a family, we bake cookies together, buy gifts for others in the family, and drink eggnog..

New Years, which occurs in January, starts as a new year. Around this time of the year my family usually goes and sees the fireworks. We drink to the New Year and are thankful that we made it through another year together as a family.

In conclusion traditions are important because they keep us grounded. When I think of my family traditions I think of just being together, having fun, laughing and enjoying everyone around me. I enjoy holiday times just being around family members to keep us close and just being together as one. My family means strength, love and happiness.


Holiday Tradition

By Jzahlee Norrington

For me, Christmas is more than a holiday; it’s a day of loving, caring, remembering, and life. On Christmas, it’s usually a day of coming together with family; more than opening presents and eating.

On Christmas morning, I’m usually the first up, next my sister and then my mom is almost always last. Since my sister and I can’t open anything until my mom is up we go in the back room and watch TV and sometimes eat. When my mom wakes up we go in the front and turn on the TV and watch the Disney parade. My mom and I take pictures of what we got. First she usually takes pictures of the stuff wrapped, then unwrapped, then with us holding it.

We go to Emmanuel Episcopal Church near McDonalds. My friend Elizabeth‘s mom is our Sunday school teacher and we learn about God and religion. We have snacks and practice what we have to sing and our lines. We come down either at the song before the communion or during (we still get to do it either way). I go over to where my grandma and my family sit and everyone else goes where their family is too. We have to go up, on kneel on the red cushion thingy and Father says stuff while my aunt Carol goes around carrying the glass. We each get either a circle piece of bread or a triangle shape and dip it in. After communion we go sit with our parents or we go back upstairs until the last song. After the last song everyone gets up tell each other happy holidays and everyone goes in the back. In the back we get hot chocolate and sometimes cookies.

After church we go to the cemetery to visit my great grandma, my little sister, my uncle, and my grandma. We usually go to Uncle Trevor’s first. I usually don’t want to cry because it’s too sad so I walk to my sisters, and my great grandmas’ grave. Then usually everyone follows over. We put flowers and crosses on the grave stones and over the grass of them. Then we go to Win-Char Senior Center in Chartiers City and we eat and give presents to each other.

Christmas-time means different things for everyone, but for me, Christmas is more than a holiday; it’s a day of loving, caring, remembering, and life.