Besides getting together with family and friends, the holiday season can mean different things to different people. For some, the holidays are a time to reflect on the year that was, renew old traditions, begin new ones, or set up new goals for the coming year. Earlier this month, we hosted a storytelling workshop at the Ramona Gardens Library to see what local residents had to say about what the holiday season means to them.


Josie Navarro, 47, Ramona Gardens resident

What’s your most unforgettable holiday memory?

When I was growing up, we watched movies and ate popcorn during Christmas. I remember my dad used to dress up as Santa Claus and surprise all of us on Christmas morning. Today, I try to do the same for my kids.

My mom used to put cookies by the tree and my mom would make chocolate sweetbread all the kids would sit down. Sometimes we would go outside and throw rocks on the roof because we didn’t have a chimney. We would have the Christmas Carols playing and we would watch Christmas movies on T.V.

I remember my dad used to dress up as Santa Clause and come down from upstairs to surprise all the little children. He would come with a big bag of gifts dressed up in red. We had to stop that after a while though because as the kids got older, they knew my dad wasn’t Santa Clause.


Marlene Arazo, 18, Ramona Gardens resident

What does Christmas mean to you?

On the night of Christmas Eve, most people think that they are going to wake up, run down the stairs and look under a tree that has many gifts, waiting to get unwrapped. However, not every family can afford that. Some people have more important things to pay for such as bills, rent and food.

Growing up in Ramona Gardens you don’t ever wake up to a tree filled with many gifts. Instead, you always have enough love in the house to go around. You have the feeling of unity with all of your family around you.

For my family and myself, a whole bunch of gifts is not what is necessary; that’s not what makes my Christmas special. What makes my Christmas special is having everyone in the family together spending time at the table while eating the food that everyone helped make.

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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