Family traditions

Rep. Michele Bachmann

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) holiday traditions start on the night before Christmas as her family attends a Christmas Eve church program before heading home for a small sample of what’s to come. Afterwards, each person receives a small gift. The parents exchange their gifts, and the brothers and sisters have a tradition in which they pick a name out of a hat on Thanksgiving and then exchange “Secret Santa” gifts on Christmas Eve. Bachmann said they have fun trying to discover whom everyone has before exchanging the gifts.

On Christmas morning, everyone receives their stockings stuffed with “goofy, funny things,” before opening the larger gifts. After the presents are opened, the family enjoys a casual morning brunch. In the afternoon, the whole family sits down for the big Christmas meal, and then they relax while playing board games as the day winds down.

Rep. Ed Pastor

Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) said his favorite holiday traditions involve friends, family and food. The congressman puts the red in Christmas with “red chili tamales,” corn dough stuffed with beef and chili and wrapped with a cornhusk. Pastor enjoys a fine meal of tamales and tequila on Christmas Eve and the family also looks forward to munching on them on Christmas while exchanging gifts.

“Christmas cheer for me is a good tequila,” Pastor said. 

For the past 15 to 20 years, he has celebrated New Year’s Eve with family, friends and neighbors over a pot of menudo, a tripe soup, as he toasts the New Year with tequila and the people he loves.

Sen. Bob Bennett 

For Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), the holidays are a time of music as well as a time of faith and family.

“We have quite a few holiday traditions in the Bennett household, because my wife loves traditions,” Sen. Bennett said. “For the last three generations, my entire extended family has gathered together on Christmas Eve.”

Bennett said the children in his family play musical instruments they have learned during the year.

“Over the years, more children have been added to the family, which, as you can imagine, makes for quite the lengthy performance,” Bennett said. “We wrap up the evening with me reading the Christmas story from the Bible.”

Another tradition celebrated by the Bennett family is held on the Sunday night between Christmas and New Year’s, Bennett said.

“The Bennett side of the family gathers to make predictions for the coming year,” Bennett said. “We begin by reading our forecasts from the previous year, which range from serious to the more light-hearted. Then we write down our predictions about what’s to come in the year ahead.”

Rep. Mary Bono Mack

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) said the greatest gift during the holidays is spending time with the family.

“The holidays are all about family,” Mack said. “Having Connie’s and my children and family all together celebrating and creating memories is the most important part.”

The second best gift, she said, is great food.

“I cook a delicious standing rib roast and all the traditional sides for Christmas,” Mack said. “I use the recipes handed down to me from my mother and grandmothers — they were fantastic cooks! After the feast, it is tradition to play our favorite game, ‘Wise and Otherwise,’ given to the family by Cher years ago.”