For Wynne and Emma York-Jones, the holidays are a time for their family to celebrate old and new traditions enriched with creativity and generosity.
“I want my kids to have a feel for giving and not just getting,” says Wynne, a kindergarten teacher at West Woodland Elementary School.
The couple will take sons Elliot, 4, and Adrian, 2, to Virginia this month to spend Christmas with Emma’s father and stepmother. The house will be brimming with eight grandsons under the age of 11. They’ll enjoy mouthwatering Swedish pancakes for Christmas breakfast to honor their Swedish heritage, followed by a gift exchange among the children.
As the Director of Under-18 Housing and Shelter Services at YouthCare Seattle, Emma hopes to raise her sons to appreciate the gifts they receive. She has seen the kids she works with light up over something as simple as new underwear.
Next year, the family will visit Emma’s mother in Centralia. Emma comes from a family of artists, so everyone either makes gifts or buys something local. “It’s a white-elephant-style exchange, but with gifts that are actually good,” says Emma.
Wynne is also an artist, but with work and parenting responsibilities, she can rarely carve out the time to start a project. “The holidays provide a nice excuse to make something,” she says.
Last year, Wynne made a garland for their Christmas tree from stars she cut out of one of her old watercolor paintings. The family wrote fond memories from the year on the back of each star. They look forward to extending the garland with new memories in the years to come.