When the McCanns moved to Marietta, they had no family in the area. They reached out to their neighbors in Forest of Arden Subdivision whose families also lived elsewhere.
“We created our own little family. We started a tradition,” Anne McCann said.
Each Dec. 24, the McCanns celebrate with the families of Joanne and Harlon Crimm, Barbara and Jerry George, Sue and Ken Hardy, and Carol and Vic Tobler.
“(Christmas Eve) was very small. It was just close neighbors,” McCann said.
From 20 people, the tradition has grown to 44 with families bringing their children.
“We even have one great grandchild who is coming now,” said McCann, who has three grown children and six grandchildren.
Though all the original families have moved from the subdivision, they continue to celebrate together each year at the McCann home.
“We still get together on Dec. 24. We always had it at our house,” said McCann, who moved to Kennesaw in 1991.
“Some years people are missing but as a rule most everybody shows up,” she said.
When the tradition first started, children enjoyed cookies and juice and the adults had cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Eventually the custom evolved into an annual dinner where families bring something to accompany the entrée that Anne makes. “It’s just a big dinner,” McCann said.
Christmas Eve for this group is not about the food and drink.
“Family is your life. It’s the core of everything. It was important when I was growing up,” McCann explained.
“A lot of times we don’t see each other much during the year but we always think of this group as the family we get together with,” she said.
“We didn’t have family here. These people became our family,” she said.