Families in Prineville enjoy a variety of different Christmas rituals

by: JASON CHANEY - Jessica Hudspeth (LEFT) and Kristy Reynolds (RIGHT) prepare stockings for their entire family every Christmas Eve. The tradition also includes an annual shopping trip to purchase all of the stocking stuffers.

Prineville resident John Marino is spending his Christmas at Paulina Lake with his family.

For the past 30 years, they have spent the holiday there at the cabins, and enjoyed some snowmobiling.

Avery LeFevre, a local youth, will participate in a gift exchange with her cousins. She and the rest of the kids will each bring one present to contribute.

“It’s kind of like a white elephant (exchange),” she explained.

These are but two of the many Christmas traditions that Prineville residents have woven into the fabric of their holiday celebrations. With so many longstanding activities, from presents and stockings to decorations and meals, the possibilities seem endless and a select sampling of local traditions proves it.

Consider Prineville resident Tina Simmons who will spend her Christmas Eve on high alert. At any moment, a family member may give her a phone call, or perhaps shoot her a text, and she needs to be ready.

From 12:01 a.m. until the end of the day, family members from cousins to grandparents call each other with the goal of saying “Christmas Eve gift” first. Whoever says it first, gets the gift.

“The person who gets the most Christmas Eve gifts gets to open a present that night,” Simmons said.

The tradition was started by her grandparents with the intent of encouraging family members to call each other during the holidays. It has since yielded interesting results.

Simmons said her dad once sent her grandma a single rose that said “Christmas Eve gift, I got you,” because he had never beat her to the punch before.

Simmons is even willing to change the way she answers her work phone.

“When you work on Christmas Eve, you answer the phone, ‘Christmas Eve gift, this is Tina at COIC.’”

Not all traditions are enjoyed on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. For example, local resident Linda Carter sets aside about two weeks each year with her family to complete an outdoor lighting display.

“We have a big archway and big juniper gates, and we light that up,” she said, “and we have big Christmas trees in our yard. We light those up.”

Other traditions have more to do with who they spend Christmas with. Because family is so far away, Doug Riemann spends Christmas with friends in Prineville.

“Everybody seems to invite me different years,” he said. “It seems like everybody over here is more family than where I came from in the (Willamette) Valley.”

Christmas stockings, a longstanding tradition for many families, have become a springboard for some new family rituals as well. Prior to the holiday, Prineville resident Kristy Reynolds joins her husband's oldest daughter, Jessica, on a two-woman shopping trip.

“It’s our time to just pick out what everyone is going to have in their stockings,” Reynolds said.

Then, on Christmas Eve, the duo again joins forces as they fill the stockings and hang them from the mantle.

Elsewhere in Prineville, Dena Marshall enjoys another stockings-related tradition.

“After the kids go to bed, the adults hide all of the stockings for the kids,” she explained. “We hide them in hard places depending on age.”

In the morning, the kids get up early and start looking for their stockings. Parents are not to be disturbed and stockings are not to be opened until each one is found.

“It’s a great way for us to sleep in a little later Christmas morning,” Marshall said.

For many, the traditions are icing on the cake as they enjoy the holiday season and the way it brings friends and family together to celebrate.

“Even though the stockings are our favorite part of Christmas,” Marshall said, “we don’t forget that it's time to spend with our families and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”

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