~shared by J. Ranner

Every year for the past 15 years of my life, I’ve observed as thousands of our guests brave those brisk December days in search of a “magical” piece of wood, “for he or she who finds it shall be blessed with good luck in the new year.” Holidays at Woodloch simply wouldn’t be the same without our Yule Log Hunt. It’s a TRADITION- and one worth keeping alive.

The holidays (if you’re doing them right) are chock full of traditions of all sorts. Some of them might be ancient, others can be brand new. They range from solemn and heartfelt to silly and goofy.

As a company built on the cornerstone of “a tradition of excellence”- we love em’ all.

We’d like to share just a few of our favorites with you today.

Seek holiday spirit with a Yule Log Hunt at our Pocono Mountain resort!We’ll start with our resort.  Since the early days of Woodloch, guests have joined us for our Yule Log Hunt and caroling with the Kiesendahls. Though the cast has changed over the years (and we’ve become even craftier with our hiding places), we still gather in the spirit of family and CELEBRATE. Top it all off with some eggnog, cookies and a visit from Mr. Kringle himself, and we have a tradition that will go on indefinitely.

Over the past 10 years or so, we’ve even started a few new traditions. Do you have a competitive holiday spirit? Our Gingerbread Wars will satisfy your sweet tooth. Maybe you like pretty shiny things? Look no further than our illuminated “Festival of Lights” wagon rides.

The Kiesendahls (our esteemed owners) make the most of the time off that they have. “Christmas is the only holiday that our family is not working, so it is particularly special to us,” says John Kiesendahl. “We welcome our 7 children, spouses and 13 grandchildren and extended family to the house where we enjoy great food and drinks, sing some carols and play a little bit of hockey.”

The Kiesendahls have also honor a family tradition since 1873. “We have an old shoe passed down from my great great grandfather,” says John. “In the early days, the shoe was filled with candy. We would draw names out of a hat- the last name left to be pulled would win the candy,” says John. “We’ve replaced the candy with $100 these days- and we all get quite competitive!”

Other Woodloch employee traditions:

“We make cookies as a family, passing down recipes from grandmothers and telling stories.” – Tess, Front Desk

“My family does Christmas Crackers, an old English traditions. You pull the tabs on the tube and there are prizes, hats and jokes inside. We even did it at my wedding!” – Julia, Front Desk

“Every year, we used to receive a homemade ornament from my grandmothers. Years later, we have quite the collection and decorate the tree with them with our own families.” –Carriemay, Group SalesCatch our Festival of Lights during your winter family vacation during the holidays in the Poconos!

“We go to my uncle’s every Christmas and have dinner and do gifts, including a grab bag. Sometimes… I end up with candles.” – Christian, IT

“We have a RISK championship- the winner takes the trophy for the year and of course bragging rights. Being a part of an Italian family… of course everything ends with a HUGE feast.” – Mandi, Social

“8 nights of candle lighting, potato pancakes with applesauce and homemade jelly donuts and spinning the dreidel for ‘gelt’- chocolate coins!” – Cindy, The Boat House

“Even as adults… I sneak into the living room with my sisters to make SURE that our gifts haven’t mysteriously disappeared.” –Kayce, Front Desk

Myself? My family plants a tree of some sort and decorates it. That way, even after the magic of the season has passed, we have something to keep the spirit with us year long. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without me crying my eyes out to “The Polar Express” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”   (We’ll consider the fact  that I’ve been listening to Christmas music since June moot.)

Perhaps it’s a great coincidence that holidays dovetail with the beginning of winter. When the days get shorter and colder, it’s important to step back and realize how blessed we are in life.

In my own life, I often find myself looking back on Christmases of the past through photos. I think of all the change that has happened in the meantime. Kids have grown up, we’ve welcomed new family members and have had to say goodbye to some friends. Holiday traditions, at least in my household, have been a fun way of bridging the past to the present and eventually to the future. Regardless of how things might change… it’s cool that some things will remain the same. As Jean Joures once said, “tradition does not mean to look after the ash, but to keep the flame alive.”

May your days be filled to the brim with warm fuzzy feelings that someday return as golden memories.