See How PASE Teachers are Celebrating the Holidays


Vidhi Rana, Advertisement Manager

The U.S. holiday season typically starts after Thanksgiving and ends after New Year’s Day. During this time, many people worldwide spend time with their family and take some time to enjoy the festivities and help themselves relax from life burdens. Some people put up Christmas trees during the thanksgiving break and listen to Christmas carols to get into the holiday spirit. Some Passaic Academy for Science and Engineering teachers shared their holiday traditions with us and the best/worst gifts they ever received.

Ms. Harries Gonzalez, who is a 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies & High School Sociology teacher, responded: “Every morning we would wake up early and put on a Christmas movie, then open presents together. Then we all eat breakfast and hang out together, then go to our family’s house to see everyone. Every year we get a Christmas ornament in our stockings; that is the only gift we would get when we were little. Now with my family, we get an ornament and a book. I have a bracelet, and every year my son gets me a new charm that represents him.

Ms. Felder, an English and Journalism teacher at PASE, stated that she and her immediate family hadn’t celebrated Christmas in a long time, but she is all in the holiday spirit this year. She plans on bringing back traditions from her childhood, including baking cookies with her niece and nephew to have cookies and milk waiting for Santa and opening up gifts on Christmas Eve. They plan to have hot chocolate, listen to Christmas carols, and watch holiday movies together on Christmas day. The best present she received for Christmas was this year. She got an early Christmas gift from her parents. They gave her money for her brand new tv. She received the worst present years ago when someone gave her a used gift card. She was not thrilled about it. 

Mr. Martinez, a physics and engineering teacher, responded: “I celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. My wife is Jewish, which is why I also celebrate Hanukkah. During Hanukkah, we give a useful present each of the eight nights. For example, pajama bottoms, pajama tops, scarfs, etc. We light the candles, say the prayers, and spend time together. During Christmas, we put together the Christmas tree and a nativity set. Ornaments are a very important tradition in our family. I have Peruvian ones that I like to put up. My son Sebastian has Star Wars ornaments, and my wife has some that she kept from her childhood. We celebrate Christmas eve, as they do in Peru. We exchange presents, eat turkey, and sing Peruvian Christmas Carols called ‘Villancicos.’ At midnight, baby Jesus is born, which is the highlight of the night. We have a big breakfast and spend the day together in the morning. A tradition we do during Hanukkah is we light up the candles at sundown every day, say the prayers, and exchange a useful present.” When asked about the best gift he received for Christmas, he said, “One of the best gifts I received during Christmas was from my wife. She made me a picture book of my family, so I was able to look back at pictures of my son during the first year of his life.” When asked about any bad present, he answered, “I don’t think I have had a bad Christmas present. I choose to be appreciative of everything I get because I like that someone took the time to think of me.”

Ms. Kubitz, a special education teacher: “I celebrate Christmas with my family by spending time together, opening gifts, and sharing a delicious meal. I used to do more as a volunteer at soup kitchens and coat drives. I miss it and want to start doing it again. A tradition we used to do before COVID was going to my Aunt’s house and having manicotti, an Italian dish consisting of pasta and ricotta cheese. It is very filling, and I always need a nap after dinner! We also put up a Christmas tree that we decorate, listen to Christmas music, and bake cookies! One of the best presents I ever received was from my significant other; he surprised me with rose gold Dr. Martin boots! The worst present I ever received was when I participated in a Secret Santa exchange with my close friends. I always go out of my way to make my gift look beautiful and handpick items that I know my Secret Santa person would love. However, the person that got me was someone I was not very close with and was new to our friend group. Our limit was $50, and this is what I received: size 13 CHILDREN cat slippers and incense (which I don’t even use); I think there was also HAND SANITIZER. I tried on the slippers while someone else was opening their gift, and my friends watched me try to put the children’s slippers on that did not fit. I know I have small feet but not that small! This event is now something we joke about every year. This year, I even wrote on my Secret Santa wish list: please no size 13 children’s slippers!

Ms. Javier, Art and Photography Teacher: “My family and husband’s family are both from the Dominican Republic, so our Christmas tradition is to gather for Christmas Eve and wait until midnight to open or exchange gifts. Every other year we did Secret Santa too, and that was always fun. We would have a special dinner with rice, beans, pork (yum), side dishes, and delicious desserts. My husband and I have played Christmas songs to keep the holiday spirit going every day for December. It’s cute to see my little girl dancing and singing along. This year was the first time we built a gingerbread house. We plan to make that our annual thing too. Best gift for me, I honestly don’t know. I have thought about the best gift for the past two days, and I can’t think of anything. I focus on spending time with family and friends during the holidays and getting a break from work.” When asked about her worst Christmas present, she said, “I am a very visual person, and I pay attention to detail. I received a gift from a family member (a scarf) this one time. It disappointed me that the scarf was wrapped with material from someone else’s gift. So I saw the name of the other person and everything. That hurt me that the person couldn’t take the time to make the gift presentable or put effort at least to cover it up.”