City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Joy to the World

The Legal Team at Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton Share Their Favorite Holiday Traditions of Spreading Cheer and Giving Back

For members of the legal team at Somerville-based family-law firm Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton, LLC, the holidays are a time to celebrate not only with family but also with their “firm family.” Partners Heidi Ann Lepp, Esq.; Mark T. Mayrides, Esq.; Sarah M. Eaton, Esq.; and Jane R. Altman, Esq., Of Counsel (an experienced attorney, not a partner or an associate, who is affiliated with the firm), share their holiday traditions:

Heidi Ann Lepp
When I was young, the Christmas holidays were simple. We had a real tree decorated with Christmas cards. We took drives to view the homes that lit up the neighborhoods. We left cookies and milk for Santa, who always left a few crumbs. 

In my home, after Thanksgiving dinner, the Christmas holiday officially begins. As we have moved homes over the years, we kept each of our Christmas trees. Each is decorated with ornaments that have been purchased or gifted between my husband and me or for our children. Looking at the ornaments we bought on vacations or those that our children made brings great memories.

My children, 26 and 23, are instrumental throughout the holiday season. My son hauls the trees from the basement and has taken over decorating outside. My daughter creates the Christmas cards online and makes hundreds of cookies, which are given as gifts.

Christmas Eve is spent at our house. After dinner, everyone opens one gift. Christmas morning starts with opening stockings and making calls to family. Later, we travel to spend the day with extended family.

I remind my children that Christmas is not just about presents. We have visited retirement homes to donate teddy bears and talk with the residents, donated food and clothing and volunteered at food banks. I hope that when my children start their own families, they will bring some of my spirit and traditions into their homes.

Mark T. Mayrides
We spend hours decorating for Christmas. We put up two trees – a big one in the family room that’s decorated with lights, garland and ornaments we have given our children, and a smaller one in the dining room that’s adorned with ornaments my wife, Kristie, and I have exchanged throughout the years. Exchanging ornaments continues a tradition that began in Kristie’s family.

We split Christmas Eve and Christmas Day into two holidays so we can spend one day with my family and one day with Kristie’s family. 

We invite others to celebrate the holidays with us. Last year, my son’s girlfriend, who was alone in her apartment because her family contracted COVID-19, joined us.

We also give back to the community. Every year, our church sets up a Giving Tree with a list of gifts you can buy for families in need. We take our kids shopping to pick out toys and clothes to ensure the family has something from Santa on Christmas morning. We are hopeful our children will learn there is more to Christmas than just receiving gifts.

Sarah M. Eaton
When I was a child, my father dressed up as Santa on Christmas Eve. My siblings and I would watch from afar as he placed presents under the tree, reciting a personalized monologue about each of us. We also left carrots outside for Santa’s reindeer, a tradition that my own family has carried on.   

Now, my family enjoys some holiday traditions of our own. We bake cookies and buckeyes and have started an impressive nutcracker collection by adding a new one each year. My husband also introduced our children to the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” and we watch it every Christmas.

We spend Christmas Eve at home with my parents. Since my father-in-law’s birthday is on Christmas Day, we spend that day at their house with my husband’s family. 

Christmas is a time of giving. I enjoy donating to coat drives and food pantries, and each year, my husband and I buy gifts for children whose parents are patients at The Steeplechase Cancer Center. 
The holiday has become even more enjoyable for me as a parent. Seeing the smiles on my children’s faces and the excitement in their eyes is the best Christmas gift of all. 

Jane R. Altman
I celebrate Hanukkah by lighting a menorah each of the eight nights of the holiday. I host a party for my grandchildren, nephews and any Jewish and non-Jewish friends they invite. All the children get a gift, plus the traditional chocolate coins called “gelt,” which is Yiddish for “money.” The chocolate coins are used to play a traditional game with a dreidel. Afterward, the chocolate coins are eaten. 

For the Hanukkah party dinner, I serve the traditional potato pancakes, called latkes, with applesauce, brisket, chicken and side dishes. Over the years, I have acquired many menorahs, and I let each child light one.

For many years, I also had a Christmas Eve tradition. My husband, Bob, dressed up as Santa, and I drove the sleigh (aka my Toyota Camry) to drop off gifts for friends' children and grandchildren. 

For years, I have bought and wrapped gifts for three needy families who have a child attending Christina Seix Academy, a private boarding school in Trenton for children from the poorest homes. I also make Christmas contributions to Womanspace, the Mercer County shelter for battered women, and the Somerset County Bar Association holiday toy drive.

Learn more about Lepp, Mayrides & Eaton at

  • Jane Altman, Heidi Lepp, Mark Mayrides and Sarah Eaton
  • Sarah Eaton, Heidi Lepp and Mark Mayrides