“Twas the Night
Before Christmas”

Lori Rabon is the Vice President of Palmer Square. She has been at the Inn for over thirty years and has been Nassau Inn’s General Manager for the last twenty years. She is married, the mother of 5 children and will celebrate Christmas this year with her new grandson! Here’s a glimpse at Lori Rabon’s holiday traditions, as told by her daughter, Loren Shelton.

Lori

Lori reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to her family

“Growing up, Christmas with the family was always our favorite day! As the oldest child of 5 and one of 10 cousins, Christmas was as chaotic as it was a blast!” said Loren. “On Christmas Eve, we always put on our Sunday’s best and went to church for the 5 o’ clock mass. This was the mass that included the children’s Christmas Play. Being in our family, which had so many children, there was always a family member acting! And you bet, our family was always the most obnoxious singers when it came to ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain!’

Lori Rabon

After church, the entire family would head back to Nanny and Poppy’s house for dinner. Nanny always made her famous beef bourguignon. When we were done eating, each child got to open ONE present under the tree. We would all try to figure out which was the one gift we wanted the most and asked for. When finished opening gifts, we’d all race to the car because we had to get home and get to bed before Santa Claus came!

Loren’s grandfather during present time!

Once we got home, there was no going to bed just yet. Mom had other plans for us. We would all get into our Christmas pajamas and find our spot on the couch next to mom. She read us “Twas the night before Christmas.” When we were younger, this wasn’t always our favorite, in fact, we thought it was kind of silly. Who reads to their 15 year old kid?! However, after all this time, this is still a tradition, and a favorite at that! My sister and I have moved away and live with our significant others, my brothers are now in their twenties, but every year, no matter what our plans are, we go to moms for the reading of ‘Twas the night before Christmas.’

Christmas morning, we wake up at or now drive to moms (in our matching pajamas still, of course!) where we open our stockings, and then one present at a time in order of youngest to oldest, followed by breakfast with Nanny and Poppy. After breakfast we all go to Nanny and Poppy’s house and open our other stockings there and then our gifts. Before Christmas day dinner, the family gathers around and sings Christmas carols. Nanny spends hours in the kitchen making a delicious dinner for the entire family and we spend hours at the dinner table thanking God for our loved ones and spending quality time together.

Loren and family

While some of our traditions may seem a little childish to some, I can’t put into words how thankful I am for these special memories.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight…


 About the Author: Loren Shelton is a server at the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, and Lori Rabon’s daughter. Every year, Loren relives her favorite childhood memory with her mother’s reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’.

Holiday Decorating Traditions

The count-down is officially on and Princeton is looking quite magical. The Palmer Square tree has been lit for a week and if you’re like many of us, you are probably busy with the traditional decking of the halls! To provide you some inspiration, we took a moment to ask our staff how they like to decorate and celebrate this festive season!

Holidays at Nassau Inn 2016

Jamie Volkert, Marketing & Business Development Manager


Jamie Volkert Nassau Inn Holiday Traditions

Jamie loves to host holiday parties all season long, entertaining around 30-40 people per party. “I do an open-house on Christmas day, a holiday cookie exchange, and the New Year’s Eve kid-friendly bash, which I really like. It’s low key, the kids enjoy it, so I enjoy it!”

Growing up, her grandfather was passionate about Christmas decorating. “We would cover the house with thousands and thousands of lights, and not the multi-colored lights, but the little white ones. My pop also had the two Christmas trees side by side with the train tracks in a figure 8 underneath, it was a tradition he kept from his childhood and raised us with.” Her aunts still carry on that tradition in the house she grew up in.

“My mother was huge on Christmas, and every year it was so amazing and magical. Unfortunately she passed away, but I try to create that same magic for my kids,” she said.

Now she and her family have a tradition of chopping down their own “perfect” tree and then exchanging meaningful ornaments. “Every ornament on our tree has a story and we always share those stories as we decorate it – in fact if you ask my daughter she could tell you every one. A lot of the ornaments came from my mother, so telling the stories keeps her with us all season long.”

Lupe Bergin, In House Designer & Manager of Yankee Doodle Tap Room

Lupe Bergin Nassau Inn Holiday Traditions

“During my childhood, we would visit the tree farm and go through aisles and aisles, until finally finding a tree that our father thought was perfect! After cutting it down, we would bring it home to decorate, and string popcorn across the tree. It was really pretty! We would also eat cookies and drink hot cocoa by the tree,” said Lupe.

“For dinner, we had this amazing Cuban tradition in my family! We’d roast a pig with an apple in its mouth, and marinate it with lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic! Our family members would take turns and rotate shifts, where we’d marinate and turn the pig for 4 hours straight. It had to be watched very carefully, and we couldn’t have it too close to the fire. It was worth every hour! It was so good!!! The roast pig would have a delicious crispy skin (my favorite part), and it was tender on the inside.” She and her family would gather at the dinner table… all fourteen to sixteen of them. “There was always wine and tequila at the table,” she said. “Then at 12 o’clock, we’d go to mass.”
“We used to always have three trees, but I moved recently, so there’s a fake one outside by the overhang. Our family still gets together… The older ones have passed on, but my brother comes over, and there are children and grandchildren. For Christmas, I make tenderloins, lobster, and crab – like surf and turf! There’s still tequila and wine at the dinner table, and we still go to mass at midnight. After mass, we come home to play Scrabble and all kinds of games with the kids, who aren’t really kids anymore, but more like young adults. And, that’s it!”

Annetta Hall, Reservations Manager

Annetta Hall Nassau Inn Holiday Traditions

“I usually go visit my mother’s house in Florida, where there’s a real tree, and I spend the holidays there. Back here, we have an artificial tree, and on the side, there’s a village filled with houses that I’ve collected for years! …Since my boys were around 10 years old! Some of the decorations are long-standing pieces from when I got them 20 years ago. My favorite piece in the village is the lit house, which turns multiple colors. There’s a snow slope with little people coming down!” said Annetta, who is featured in her winning ugly sweater from Nassau Inn’s holiday party last year!

Jaime Wolf, Catering Sales Manager

Jaime Wolf Nassau Inn Holiday Traditions

“Every year, we go to the Breakfast with Santa and take pictures, go ice skating, and cut down our tree. Then at home, we put up the lights, decorate the fence, and drink hot cocoa if it’s snowing outside!” said Jaime.

“We decorate the whole house, make a nice Beef Wellington, and put up stocking for each family member – me and my husband, our 5 year old daughter, and our two dogs. Then we go to Philly for the Feast of the Seven Fishes, which is an Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve. We also love to see the crazy lights at Hamilton’s Winter Wonderland in Kuser Park!”

Zach Strong, Front Desk Agent

Zach Strong Nassau Inn Holiday Traditions

“My family holiday traditions consist of getting the tree from the farm every year, and cutting it down. Going through the storage unit at home, and getting decorations out of the boxes. Drinking hot cocoa, and decorating the house with my family. It’s really fun!” said Zach.

Ryan Halbasch, Associate Director of Sales

Ryan Halbasch, Nassau Inn Happy Holidays!

“We don’t have a tradition because every year’s something different!” said Ryan. “My wife usually does the decorations, and we like to use clear lights. We used to chop down a tree, but now we go with an artificial one because it’s not as messy!”

What are your holiday decorating traditions? Share in the comments below! We’re looking forward to our traditional Breakfast with Santa, Christmas Dinner Buffet, and exciting holiday parties. When you’re in town this magical season, be sure to visit us!


About the AuthorLily Lee is the Marketing Assistant at the historical Nassau Inn. She graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Communications, minor in Digital Information & Media, and a passion for English and creative writing.