Island Senior: Family Traditions Old and New

Belle Mullis, Christmas at Home – photo McRae/Mullis family

Island Senior is a regular column on the San Juan Update written by Peggy Sue McRae…

Family traditions are something we value especially at the holidays. I’ve been thinking about how family traditions evolve and change over time. Three of my four sisters will be visiting me next week for a Pre-Christmas gift exchange party.

Talking over the menu, one thing we will carry on as a family tradition is Chex Party Mix.  I bought a small ready-made bag of it at the store today. It was disappointingly unlike what my Mom used to make. It seemed to need butter, pretzels, and Worcestershire Sauce. Some traditions are sacred.

One Christmas when my Mom, Flossie Mullis, was young and her sister Ina and brother Don were both attending the University of Washington, Ina and Don came home to Friday Harbor for Christmas with a big surprise for their Mom and Dad, a radio. The family gathered around and tuned into a holiday concert broadcast all the way from New York City! For us, growing up in the age of television, musical programs often played a part in our family holidays.

Our family celebrated on Christmas Eve. I barely remember the reason for this although I was partially responsible. One Christmas when I was very, very, young my big sister and I got up in the middle of the night and opened everyone’s gifts! That was enough for our Mom. We were a Christmas Eve family from then on.

The big change came when we lost our Dad, Jim McRae. Holidays can be tough when a family member is missing. My sisters and I were just on the cusp of adulthood when that happened and before long my married sisters were spending more time with their new families. That is when I began to enjoy the pleasures of becoming an Auntie.

Whether you are upholding time honored traditions, retiring ones you have outgrown, or starting something new, enjoy the holiday season and have a safe, cozy, and very merry Christmas!

Posted on December 15, 2018 at 4:22 pm by

Categories: Around Here, Island Senior, People


  1. Miss you Peggy sue!

    Comment by Kristi on December 16, 2018 at 5:15 am
  2. I loved reading your story! Reminded me of my own childhood and the traditions of long, long ago!! Can’t help remembering those times today, at this time of year.. They still bring a smile to my face a warm glow in my heart!!!

    Comment by Janet Hess on December 16, 2018 at 12:57 pm

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