5 Family Christmas Traditions from Iron Hill Co-owner Mark Edelson

There’s no place like home for the holidays, and those special things we do each year to “make” Christmas are what tie us to that carefree, childhood place in time.

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant co-owner Mark Edelson and his wife, Maureen, share five ways they always celebrate with their five children, friends and family.

1. They believe.

What better way to feel that Christmas magic than with The Polar Express? This is particularly fun for the four girls (second, seventh, ninth and tenth grades). The family chooses a special night, dims the lights, stokes the fireplace and breaks out big mugs of hot chocolate. “This is such a great movie as the girls transition from Santa to no Santa, especially for the youngest. When you really want to be back in that place of belief, The Polar Express is two hours of magic that sends you there. It’s very special.”

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2. They honor the reason for the season.

The Edelsons attend Christmas Eve mass each year, and that’s no small task in a huge parish. They pack up the kids and arrive an hour early so they can celebrate in the church and avoid the overflow seating in the gymnasium. “We go to church regularly, but on Christmas Eve an early arrival is key. This was even more critical when the kids were little—at one time we had four kids under five. But they were very good; we’d always bring non-electronic toys to keep them busy during that hour. They’re still great; no more toys, but now I’m collecting cell phones before mass.”

3. They play Santa Claus.

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Life is hectic, and we don’t always get to see our neighbors as much as we’d like. That’s why the Edelsons host a yearly Christmas Eve bash complete with gifts of Iron Hill beer. Their home was the first built in the development in 1999, and as the neighborhood grew, so did the party. “Sometimes we go way later than we should because everyone can walk over and hang out. That means Maureen and I end up wrapping presents into the wee hours. But that’s OK; all our neighbors are good friends and we love hosting. I’m still deciding on what beer to give. Maybe this year it will be the four-pack of canned Bedotter?”

4. They play lumberjack.

No artificial tree for the Edelsons. They’ve been selecting their own tree from the same local farm for 15 years. It’s a family affair Thanksgiving weekend, complete with the hayride out to the field and hot chocolate. “We travel for Thanksgiving, but we always get back early so we can get a tree on Sunday. And we’re at the farm early, too, to get the best pick of the trees. There’s nothing like riding out into the field and seeing the trees. It’s the start of the rest of the Christmas traditions.”

5. They’re always home for the holiday.

Christmas day is spent at home, in part because both Maureen and Mark are one of five. Trying to juggle seeing everyone became impossible, so they decided years ago to find time to see the family after they spend a relaxing Christmas at home. “When we first had kids, we talked about how we were having ‘Christmas in the car.’ We quickly decided to establish our own traditions at our home. We don’t mind traveling, and we do as most of my family is still in New Jersey and hers in Philadelphia. But we never travel on ‘the day.’

“We always think of the place where we grew up as home,” Mark reminisced. “At this point, I’ve lived the least amount of time there, but I still think of it as home. I remember when I left for college that suddenly the holidays became more important. With all those siblings there was a lot of bickering growing up, but once we started going to college, everything changed. We’d come home and go out together, go shopping, drink beer at the mall, really connect. That made coming home for the holidays much more important.”

It’s becoming the same for the Edelson kids. They range from a second grader to a high school senior, and the older kids are starting to think about going away to college. Yet, Maureen and Mark know their house and neighborhood will be what their kids will always think of as home. As parents, they relish establishing traditions that will become memories down the road.

“We foresee the day when the holidays arrive and the kids come home to our one-horse town and get together,” Mark added. “And they’ll look forward to spending time each other.”

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Party Like an Iron Hill Boss

Like Mark, you can be the season’s best gift-giver with handcrafted Iron Hill bottled reserves or the very on-trend canned Bedotter, growlers, gift cards or King of the Hill Rewards Club memberships.

Hankering to host but don’t want the hassle? Pick up growlers, shared plates, gourmet pizzas and goodies-to-go from your favorite Iron Hill. Drool over the options here.

With 11 locations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, there’s an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant near you. We specialize in handcrafted beers and fresh, from-scratch New American cuisine. Monthly releases vary by location, so scout out our beers on tap and visit us soon.

Content provided by Dish Works author Nina Malone.

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