Re: Christmas Trees in the Common House
From: Stevenson/Bitner (
Date: Sun, 13 Dec 1998 13:07:14 -0600
I just had a great idea-I can do an advice column for cohousing!

Just kidding.

For the holidays, we usually have a "celebrate everything" attitude.  
Mostly, it depends on what people are willing to organize!  We usually 
have a tree, Hanukkah decorations and a Kwanzaa celebration that involves 
a ball of yarn being tossed around a circle to create a web-Kwanzaa is a 
great way to celebrate community and it fits right in.  We have a couple 
who always cook together on the same team who always make latkes for 
hanukkah-yum!  A new family brought us another tradition- a posada that 
we do on Christmas eve- and I think our one Hispanic member, who was 
never much of a participant in the community, really felt included for 
the first time.  That is speculation on my part, but she does seem to 
have become more outgoing in the last year.  We've done solstice 
celebrations as well, but I haven't attended one of those recently, and 
can't remember if we've done that recently.  Last year we had a 
karioke(sp?) thing, where I sang "I'll be home for Christmas" to the 
surprise of everybody, and showed off my voice, and lots of people sang 
and did crazy stuff.  The kids like the singing, dancing and Posada the 
best.  One member has a birthday/Chrismas party every year, which was 
last night.  I didn't go because I'm a little under the weather, but it's 
usually good fun.

We really do cover all bases, and it honestly doesn't end up being too 
much hype.  If you think about how these traditions got started, it's 
because we need to lift our spirits in the dark days of winter and share 
companionship when we all tend to stay in our houses by ourselves.  
Cohousing is the perfect place to celebrate any and all holidays you can 
think of.

We are fortunate to have quite a diversity of traditions to celbrate 
here, and I only remeber one meeting in the beginning when we discussed 
the problem of what to do about the holidays.  Some people wanted to put 
up Christmas stuff and others were offended-until we decided to do it 
all.  Not much uproar about that decision.

Our group is much larger than yours, Joani, and I think a gift exchange 
has never come up because it's just another thing to organize for alot of 
people.  But it sounds like fun, and I have been involved in one of those 
where you get to "steal" the other people's presents, and they're a 
blast.  Quite a fun, ironic, turnaround on the "giving spirit" of the 

I think it would be fun for all you guys in the Bay Area to go caroling 
at each others' commonhouses!

Liz Stevenson
Southside Park Cohousing
Sacramento, CA

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