While we anxiously await new episodes of Suits in the new year, Sarah Rafferty – one of the stars of the addictive legal drama – has a closer milestone on her mind. Known to viewers as Pearson Specter’s whip-smart secretary and ultimate insider, Donna Paulsen, the actress and Plan Canada ambassador is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with her family. Here, the Greenwich, Connecticut-native shares her favourite holiday traditions.
Baking with Love
My husband is from Finland and his mother loves to bake Finnish goodies. Every year my daughters enjoy making ginger cookies, St. Lucia buns, and the sweetest ginger bread houses I’ve ever seen with their grandmother. And while the kids are busy building their holiday memories, I can sneak away and play Santa - or even better grab a nap!
Buying Gifts that Give
We all struggle with what to give that person who has everything. During the hectic shopping season, I like to escape the mall and dive into Plan Canada’s Gifts of Hope catalogue. All of them have a positive impact on the lives of children in developing countries. I’m excited to give my mom the ‘School Essentials’ gift, which provides a classroom with basic materials, as well as funds for meal programs and teacher training. My mom was an English teacher for 30 years and I know she will appreciate the hope and change this gift will bring to the lives of the children who need it most.
Growing up, Christmas Eve festivities always concluded with my grandfather reading 'Twas The Night Before Christmas aloud. I can still hear his voice bellowing, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” These days, I get to read it with avid participation from my nieces, nephews and daughters. Then we monitor Santa’s progress with the NORAD Santa tracker app, hang our stockings, and set out cookies and milk for Santa and his reindeer.
Wrapping up the Party
In our family we have a goofy tradition that we call the 10 o’clock party. Growing up, my mom always created an elegant holiday celebration. But by 10 p.m. on Christmas Day, it devolves into something decidedly different. Everyone rummages through closets to find something unappealing and inappropriate to gift. If it’s tasteless, it’s in, and it must be wrapped with the day’s leftover wrapping. Basically, you have to make your gift look like garbage. We each pick a number and a gift, and the next person can either steal your gift or choose a new one. Things get loud and silly. Much to my amusement, I’ve seen three generations get caught up in fighting over bobblehead figurines and whoopee cushions.
Lending a Hand
There is an organization in Los Angeles, where we live for half of the year, called Food on Foot. It is dedicated to providing meals, clothing and employment assistance to the homeless. On Sunday afternoons you can volunteer to hand out meals and organize the clothing. My daughter and I first participated together when she was just four years old. She loves filling the guests’ bags with fruit and helping with the clothing distribution. It’s a great way to celebrate the true spirit of giving.