Celebrating the holidays

Associates and advisors share a glimpse into their most treasured holiday traditions.

Each year, we get a glimpse into how some families (albeit fictional) celebrate winter holidays.

Ralphie sets the stage at his house on Cleveland Street. Clark Griswold singlehandedly knocks down the power grid with his lights display. Adam Sandler sings "Eight Crazy Nights." Kevin's family takes annual vacations while he makes the most of getting left home alone. And Cindy Lou Who rediscovers the true meaning of the holidays.

Inspired by their holiday traditions, we asked associates and advisors to give us a glimpse into some of their own. See some of the ways they celebrate.

Food, family and festive traditions

Latkes and lights

Financial advisor Yaakov Ringler (whose children, Eden and Adie, are pictured here) celebrates Hannukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, with his family. Together, they create homemade goodies cooked in oil, such as latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), light the Hannukiya (menorah) and play spin the dreidel (spinning tops). “The symbolism of light is a powerful metaphor. It represents for us freedom, hope and spirit. It’s an all-around fun tradition to cook, light candles and play together with the whole family!”

“De parranda” until the sun rises

Associate Lianabel Mendez (pictured here with her family) celebrates Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) with a traditional dinner that consists of arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), lechon asado (spit-roasted pork), and pasteles (tamale-like patties of green banana and meat). Dinner would not be complete without tembleque (coconut pudding) and coquito (Puerto Rican version of eggnog). After Mass, the night ends back home where they exchange gifts, or if they still want to keep the night going, they go “de parranda,” their version of a Christmas Carol, until the sun rises.

A low country boil with no rules

As a native-born Egyptian and Coptic Orthodox Christian, associate Sarah Fanous-Samaan (pictured here with her daughter Sophia) celebrates Christmas on both December 25 and January 7, according to the Gregorian and Julian calendars. “On Coptic Christmas, you’ll see many well-known Western Christmas traditions: We decorate trees with twinkling lights, eat special meals, give back to the community, and exchange gifts. We also have a few twists in the mix, some of them traditions from when Britain and France occupied Egypt.” Included in her celebrations is a pirate’s feast, during which they eat with their hands and happily toss food to one another.

Volunteering in the community

All aboard the North Pole Express

Financial advisor Jim Zientara (pictured here with Santa) is a year-round volunteer at the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish, Florida. Each winter, he volunteers at their North Pole Express. “After boarding, passengers are entertained by Christmas carolers and greeted by Santa upon arrival. At the North Pole, there are plenty of activities for guests young and old – from hayrides, to games and more. It’s an opportunity for me to give back to my community, and it’s wonderful to see clients, families and friends enjoy the event each year.”

Spreading holiday cheer by singing loud for all to hear

Associate Alexa Grossenbach (pictured here with members of the Ruth Eckerd Hall Choir) volunteers with community members each December for an annual performance. “One of my fun facts is that I often start rehearsing holiday music just after Labor Day. And not only do I know all the words to the 12 Days of Christmas, but I can also rattle off the second, third and fourth verses to most holiday tunes.”

A tradition to remember and honor the fallen

Each December, members of Raymond James Valor (veterans inclusion network) participate in National Wreaths Across America Day. The event honors fallen servicemembers amid the holiday season through coordinated wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and more than 3,400 locations in all 50 states, at sea and abroad.

A group of Valor members and volunteers (pictured here) led efforts this year with other volunteers to unload over 18,000 wreaths from three trucks. Each wreath was carefully and thoughtfully placed by members of the community to honor those who have fallen.

No matter how, when or with whom you celebrate the season, wishing you happy holidays and a joyous new year.