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“Our favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. We invite people to our house for a yard party and I cook a 26-pound turkey on a Weber grill. Everyone always asks, ‘What should we bring to share?’ My answer is always the same: Complete this sentence: ‘It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without_________.’ Bring some of that.” —Don Hay, retiree and volunteer

“I decorate my home with as many as five real trees. The largest displays ornaments and masks from Venice, Italy, New Orleans and other places I’ve visited. We have stockings for Santa to fill, and we leave him cookies and milk and feed the reindeer with oats and a little glitter. Christmas Eve we invite friends and family for chili and then go to midnight Mass. Christmas Day is for exchanging gifts and taking family pictures.” ―Dr. Dee Stephenson, Stephenson Eye Associates

“On Hanukkah, we have a family dinner and exchange gifts. Christmas Eve we spend with my wife’s family, and then we drink Sambuca with a close friend and his family at their house. On Christmas morning, I make breakfast, we have a boat ride, and then another big dinner with more family and friends.”―Evan Duke, president and CEO, Classic Creations in Diamonds & Gold and Venice Area Chamber of Commerce chairman of the board

“We go to the beach or by the pool and take a photo that we send to everyone up North who’s freezing to rub it in just a bit. This is losing some of its impact, as many of our ‘up North’ family members have moved here.” —Laura Benson, branch manager, Michael Saunders & Co., Sarasota County planning commissioner

“From the time I was a little girl, my favorite holiday tradition is serving pineapple and apple fritters with the dinner. It’s the only time of the year when we have them. They’re not difficult to make, but they are delicious and the platter makes a pretty presentation on the table.” —Rona Herdman, Venice Symphony volunteer

“My family’s favorite holiday is Christmas. Since our twins were little our favorite family tradition has always been to have a family Christmas Eve dinner, then sit by the fire, drink hot chocolate and each open one present that’s already under the tree. Usually they start asking about opening the gift midday.” —Courtney Green, Broker Associate, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty.

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