Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city


Jo, Valerie and Skai Photo by Joshua Huston

New beginnings and new traditions

Two grandmothers are looking ahead to a happy season of new experiences for their toddler.

Holiday Card Contest 2021: Jo and Valerie admit that they don’t have any holiday traditions… yet. For them, the 2021 holiday season represents an opportunity for new beginnings and new traditions. “We’re starting all over,” says Jo. 

Grandmothers to 2-year-old Skai, whom they have been raising since birth, Jo and Valerie can’t wait to introduce the toddler to the magic of the season this year. Not only will she be old enough to be aware of the festivities and even take part in some, but she, Valerie and Jo will be much healthier. In 2020, all three spent the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas recovering from COVID. 


“We’ll make a gingerbread house,” says Valerie, who has memories of doing the same with her mother. What else is on their to-do list with their toddler? Trips to Candy Cane Lane, Swanson’s to see the reindeer, small family gatherings and just driving around admiring neighborhood lights while sipping on hot chocolate. Both agree Skai will love the lights and the music the most.  

“It’s really exciting because she’s only 2, and we get to introduce her to all of the joys of the holiday season. The Christmas spirit. We’re just at the beginning of that,” says Jo.

Originally from New York, Jo and Valerie hope to one day treat Skai to a New York City Christmas, and take her to Rockefeller Center and to admire the window displays at Saks Fifth Avenue. For now, though, they are excited to enjoy this season together. Opportunities await the new family!

This story was first published on Nov. 1, 2021.

Jo, Valerie and Skai are one of the families photographed as part of Seattle’s Child’s 2021 Holiday Card Contest. 

Don’t miss them on the November/December 2021 cover! Read the issue:Nov/Dec cover teaser

Other Holiday Card Contest winners:

First tamales and empanadas, then the slopes! Texas and Northwest traditions combine for a magical Christmas celebration.

They’re blended — and bonding: New family celebrates goal-setting, aiming at making the world a better place for all.

Sharing time-honored celebrations: They’re combining traditions from Bolivia and Burien, and they’re awaiting a fourth family member.

A happy, high-energy holiday season: This family has hustle — and lots to do! — this time of year, but they still find a way to be together.

How other local families like to celebrate:

Vashon family created its own holiday inspired by — no kidding — Mr. T

Meet Menorasaurus Rex: Renton family puts creative spin on Hanukkah

Our holiday traditions: Mixing up old and new customs

A Christmas Eve present that never surprises

Formerly homeless family happy to have a home for the holidays

Seattle family honors Sikh traditions while celebrating the winter holidays

How we celebrate: Holidays are extra sweet for foster-care advocates


About the Author

Meg Butterworth