Jordan reports on the Holidays

Jordan’s Cornerjordan

Holiday traditions vary widely around the world as well as within our little community of North Star. This month I decided to learn about some of these traditions. I researched several countries and interviewed both staff and consumers to find out what they do for the holidays. This is what I found:

Food during the holidays is as important as it is diverse. Jerry C. (consumer from Advantage) likes the traditional holiday meals. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and scalloped corn are his favorites. In contrast, traditional Catholics from Southwest India typically fast (don’t eat) from December 1st to the midnight service on December 24th. That’s almost a whole month of not eating!! A traditional Romanian Christmas dish is the ‘ciorba de perisoare’ which is a slightly sour vegetable soup made with fermented bran and pork meatballs. I don’t know which is worse, not eating or eating that! I’ll stick to the turkey and mashed potatoes, thank you very much.

Many families play games around the holidays. Rachel (Advantage coordinator) plays a game with dice and gifts. They put all the gifts together and if you roll a set of matching numbers you get to pick a gift that you want. One year they were throwing around glass dishes!

In China, a tradition that is becoming popular is giving apples on Christmas Eve. The apples are usually wrapped in colored paper. Jerry C. said his favorite gift he ever received was a boombox with ‘Journey’ CDs. Georgia D. (consumer from Advantage) once received a Viking t-shirt and a Waterloo Blackhawks coat that were her favorite gifts.

Everyone knows about Santa Claus. However in Germanic folklore there is Krampus, a beast-like creature who shows up to punish the naughty children. Just the sight of him is really punishing. Today, young people dress up as Krampus and roam the streets of many Balkan countries to frighten young children.

Religion is very important for many during the holidays. In Egypt, Christmas Eve is celebrated in January. Coptic Christians go to church for a special service that typically lasts from 10pm to midnight but some can go until 4am. Christmas Eve is very important to Mark (Executive Director) and his family because his father was a minister. Mark enjoys singing in the Christmas cantata at church, going to the Christmas Eve service then going home to open gifts.

One thing everyone, everywhere can agree on is the importance of family during the holidays. In Zambia, Christmas is celebrated with few decorations and fewer gifts. The gifts tend to carry a deep cultural significant and remind the recipient to nurture and care for their family.

Steve W. (consumer from Advantage) remembers when his sister was born on Christmas as his favorite memory. Mary A. (Director of Advantage) remembers fondly when her son-in-law got down on his in his knee in front of the whole family and proposed to her daughter.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!!!

Enjoy the simple things…

door winner - kate

Winter door mural by North Star staff, Kate Fineran

Greetings!  Today, I asked a group of participants in North Star’s Day Habilitation program in Waterloo what their Christmas wishes are.  I have their answers listed here. What always strikes me as interesting, is how often the wishes of the people we serve here are for simple, everyday things; nothing very expensive or exotic.  We could probably take a lesson from them – we don’t need a bunch of “stuff” to be truly happy.  Happy Holiday’s to you, and may we take the time to appreciate and enjoy the simple pleasures in life!


What we want for Christmas:

  • Kay A. –  iPod
  • Eric B. – new watch with everything on it
  • Michael B. – “Need for Speed”
  • Tony B. – Chicago bears watch, cap and Jay Cutler jersey
  • Jerry C. – music CD, after shave
  • Jessica C. – Hawkeye clothes
  • Jesse D. – new shirt
  • Jane F. – computer and toys
  • Crissy G. – craft supplies
  • Don G. – new Christmas sweater, popcorn, DVD, and Pop-Tarts
  • Luke G. – Wii game, 3DS games, and “Heaven is For Real” DVD
  • Charlie H. – karaoke machine
  • Jeff H. – movies
  • John H. – a big ole’ ham
  • Russell H. – Barnes & Noble Gift Cards
  • Emma H. – socks
  • James Ha. – watch
  • James Ho. – 24 – pack of pop, new hooded sweatshirt
  • Jason J. – “not so much”
  • John J. – East High coat
  • Brock K. – vacuum cleaner
  • Phil K. – “Walker Texas Ranger”
  • Chase L. – movies
  • Jon L. – stuffed dogs
  • Sheri L. –  DVD seasons of “Mama’s Family” and “Diagnosis Murder”
  • Tabitha L. – coat, boots, rings
  • Ben M. – UNI clothes, Wii games
  • Denzel M. – new watch, new dress shirt
  • Dianne M. – CD’s, CD player
  • Richard M. – Johnny Cash CD
  • Wendy M. – Game Boy, Columbia jacket
  • Susan N. – socks, blue jeans, winter coat
  • Mike O. – sweater, tape recorder
  • Amy P. – tablet
  • Kylie P. – a tom cat
  • Carrie R. – stereo
  • Jim R. – new cell phone
  • Lee R. – watch, boots
  • Mike R. – Teddy bear
  • Breyon S. – music, new shoes
  • Caroline S. – paper, beads, markers, stickers
  • Courtney S. – Playstation 2 games
  • Doug S. – Super Bowl game
  • Elizabeth S. – CD, DVD and socks
  • James S. – new t.v., clothes
  • Jeff S. –  Hotwheels, truck, music, DVD, shirt
  • Jeff T. – clothes
  • LaShunda W. – Kindle Fire
  • Pam W. – UNI clothes 
  • Gary We. – shirt, movie
  • Gary Wi. – new jeans, CD’s, winter gloves/hat
  • Arnie Y. – CD’s 
  • Porcha Y. – pajamas

I want to come to North Star for 29 years!

LukeI am Luke G.   I am 36 and live in Waterloo.  I have one brother, Ben.  He used to live in Minnesota, but now he moved to Iowa.  He lives in Davenport.  A very long time ago, when I was three, I went to Castle Hill School and then I went to West Intermediate, but then I went to River Hills School and graduated from there.

Tomorrow we are having Christmas at my house.  My two-year old nephew is coming.  I can’t believe he is two already!  My mom used to have a big tree, but now we only have a little one.  I am hoping that I get Nintendo 3-DS and DS games for Christmas.

I used to work at Olive Garden, but then I got very sick and had to retire.  I worked there for 13 – years.  That is a long time.  I liked it there.  Did you know that you get free pop when you work there?

On weekends I mostly stay home.  I like to play video games.  I like Wheel of Fortune on T.V.  We don’t have cable anymore – it costs too much and goes up and up every year.  My favorite movies are Home Alone 1, 2 and 3.  They’re funny.

My favorite food is pepperoni pizza.  But, if we go out to eat, I like to go to Long John Silver’s.  I get two fish, hush puppies, French fries and diet Pepsi.  I don’t get to go there too much – Mom says it’s too greasy.

I have been coming to North Star for over a year now.  I like it.  I play cards, go on outings and get to do music.  I am going to come to North Star for 29 more years – then I will be old enough to retire.