GSHPA Holiday Traditions

We love to CELEBRATE! We hope it won’t be too surprising to know that the staff here at GSHPA like to have fun in creative and unique ways with our friends and families!  

Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA has an amazing staff and we are so grateful to work alongside so many wonderful Girl Scout volunteers and girls! We are a fun and diverse group of people, who come from very different backgrounds, but when we come together, we are a family!  

We have asked our staff to share some of their favorite holiday traditions to celebrate this time of year! We hope as you read these traditions you will find entertainment, joy and a better understanding of what makes Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA so special!  

So grab a hot chocolate and enjoy! You may even want to grab a pen and paper to take notes so you can try out some of our traditions as well!  

And don’t forget to share some of your traditions in the comments! We would love to hear them!  

Favorite Holiday Tradition Growing Up 

My family has always been very into the holiday season, so we have many traditions! One of my absolute favorites is baking Christmas Cookies with my mom. We would make dozens and dozens of cookies to give to our friends and family. While my mom and I spent the evening baking cookies my dad would spend his time wrapping presents, so we would ring a little bell after each batch so he knew our official “Christmas Cookie Taste Tester” should make an appearance!  -Rebekah Stefl (Sr. Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

My mother hand knit my Christmas stocking and we’d hang them by the fireplace, I still have that stocking. My daughter’s stocking was knit by my late mother in law so we hang them on the mantle each year. I love the history and care taken with each one. Love was knitted into these heirlooms. –Diane Bateman (Member Services Specialist) 

There are so many. Every Christmas Eve, my mom would get my sister and I matching pajamas. That was the only gift that we could open early. I have continued the tradition with my kids.  –Janelle Brewer (Volunteer Training Manager)  

My mom loved holidays. My favorite memories with her are from holidays, particularly Christmas. My favorite thing about Christmas morning was opening my stocking. I still love stockings (although I do not get them very often as an adult). My mom would also get me and my sister a chocolate advent calendar every year. This year I got a dog treat advent calendar for Libby! On Christmas morning I would eat my last chocolate, open my stocking and then my presents! Santa’s gifts were always unwrapped right under the tree. Family’s gifts were wrapped. There were always magical snowy Santa boot prints by our fireplace. (My mom would use my stepdad’s boots and sprinkle flour around them).  – Jess Delp (Director of Product Program and Retail)  

Grateful for Parents 

My parents would always take off work and spend time with me through my holiday break. There were many movie marathons when I was younger and it is something we still do today.  –Erica Hildabridle (Member Registration Specialist)  

My mom always made homemade sticky buns, and still does even though we’re out of the house!  -Olivia Novak (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

Mom was diligent about keeping traditions solid year to year. Now that she’s gone, things are kept the same even more in our effort to hand on to her presence.  –Jenny Boyles (Member Registration Specialist)  

I am grateful for so many things my parents did around the holidays! I think the thing I’m most grateful for is that over the years my dad would make these adorable holiday home movies and take a million photos. And it has been wonderful to have them to look back on!  -Rebekah Stefl (Sr. Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

They always decorated the house to the nines to make things festive, and made sure that we had special family time all day.  –Colleen Sypien (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

Favorite Holiday Food 

I love them all!!!! One that I particularly like is collard greens – my husband’s grandmother showed me how to make them and they are sooooo good!  -Adia Walker (Regional Director)  

My favorite is an apple pie that I’ve been making for 28 years…so I guess I make it best so people tell me. Even after all the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, they make room for this pie.  –Diane Bateman (Member Services Specialist)  

Pfauenaugen, don’t use google translate directly, since it translates as Peacock eyes. It is a type of cookie, essentially two shortbreads with jam in the middle. –Lisa Schweier (Member Services Manager)  

All of our Christmas cookie recipes are my favorites. They’ve come down through the generations and have been made into a book for each of the kids in the new generation.  –Jenny Boyles (Member Registration Specialist)  

Sweet Potato Casserole. My husband makes it best!  -Sheri Kline (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

Holiday Heirlooms Passed Down 

There is a menorah that my grandfather used every Hanukkah from the time my mom and uncle were little that passed on to me when I had my daughter 28 years ago. I still have it and we still light it, every year in memory of my grandfather.  –Sheri Kline (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

Each year, my grandmother would buy all of us grandkids shiny metal Christmas ornaments with our names and the year engraved. I still decorate my tree with these every year and they always bring back the magic of my Grandma’s presence over the holidays.  –Adia Walker (Regional Director)  

Our family traditionally passes down ornaments from generation to generation. We love to display them, but we usually put them in a special place rather than on the tree so they are not accidentally broken. Our oldest ornament to date is from the 1700s!  -Rebekah Stefl (Sr. Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

Those Christmas Stockings….Also, my grandmother gave me a Raggedy Anne doll for my first Christmas and I’ve been collecting dolls ever since. That poor thing has been chewed on by the dog, lost tug of war with my little brother(her arms and legs have been sewed back on so many times)…I even temporarily lost her at Karns and mom had to go back for her….trauma happened without her with me. She came to college with me and yes, I still have her.  –Diane Bateman (Member Services Specialist)  

We have a melted snowman candle that is so ugly but was the first Christmas decoration my parents bought together when they were a young married couple. He’s a treasure.  –Jenny Boyles (Member Registration Specialist)  

At my Dad’s house I have a stocking that my grandma knit for me. She used stretchy fabric so it is HUGE and is never quite full because it just keeps stretching the more items are put in it.  –Jess Delp (Director of Product Program and Retail)  

5 years ago my family and I started getting live trees for our Christmas tree. They are a bit smaller than traditional Christmas trees but we plant them after the holiday and watch them grow long after! It is so fun watch the trees grow and have a living memory from that holiday. – Gabby Dietrich (Community Initiatives Coordinator)

Favorite Gift Given or Received 

A journal/book to my mother that asks her about her childhood, life experiences, and so much more. It will be great to have and show future generations.  –Olivia Novak (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

I bought my mom a birthstone bracelet. It was the first “real” gift I ever bought after I started working and it was a bracelet that she wanted but would never buy for herself. She wore it every day until she died.  –Sheri Kline (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

Boxing gloves and punching bag – it really helps me get through the tough times.  –Adia Walker (Regional Director)  

I really enjoy giving presents to people, but I think my favorite is a present from last year. I had just taught myself to crochet and I spent countless hours crocheting a large fluffy blanket to gift my parents for Christmas!  -Rebekah Stefl (Sr. Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

A science kit/set that I made for my cousin that had instructions and materials for DIY science experiments. I went all out for it and included test tubes and fun experiments that played off of the things he liked at the time.  –Colleen Sypien (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

For me, I love giving gifts, not gift cards, a real, wrapped up in paper, bows the whole package. If I can get a smile from someone when they open that and they go, aw wow, I love it! That to me means the world. Not so much the gift itself, but the fact that they liked it…if that makes sense? This gets harder to do as they get older.  –Diane Bateman (Member Services Specialist)  

I made my brother 4 Game of Throne glasses. It was a challenge to make them but also a lot of fun and he definitely loved them as he asked for 8 more. –Lisa Schweier (Member Services Manager)  

I love giving gifts. I have so many favorites that I have given but the ultimate was probably a ceramic Christmas tree that lights up. I painted it for my aunt. She was so pleased with it despite the fact that I couldn’t wrap it properly because it was so big, I gave it to her in a reusable shopping bag. But she puts it up every year right inside her house. It is the first thing you see.  –Erica Hildabridle (Member Registration Specialist)  

Every gift that I have ever given to my son, Justice, because he was always so grateful and his face lit up no matter what it was, haha. He would literally say to everything – it’s just what I wanted.  –Nicole Negron (Volunteer Support Coordinator)  

Last year I gave my daughters a trip to Vermont. They love the movie “White Christmas” so this was an exciting first for them. And just like in the movie, when we got to Vermont, there was no snow!  -Jenny Boyles (Member Registration Specialist)  

We gave invitations to my daughter’s adoption day in court to our families! –Janelle Brewer (Volunteer Training Manager)  

We hope you enjoyed getting to know us a little better! Please share your traditions so we can get to know you!  May your celebrations be filled with hope, joy, and good food!