Holidays about togetherness for Michael Weiss

Michael and Lisa Weiss with their children Annie Mae and Christopher.
Michael and Lisa Weiss with their children Annie Mae and Christopher. (Lisa Weiss)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(12/19/2007) - Three-time U.S. Men's Champion (1999-2000, 2003), two-time World bronze medalist (1999-2000) and two-time Olympian (1998 and 2002) Michael Weiss takes great joy in sustaining a Christmas tradition, making the holiday an overnight family affair.

"It started when I was a kid," he recalls. "We always used to go over to my grandmother's house and spend the night, everybody, aunts, uncles and cousins. We'd all open presents on Christmas Eve and have a slumber party. We'd all stay over and sleep in sleeping bags on the living room floor. Then wake up the next day and all of Santa's gifts were there. We'd open Santa's gifts on Christmas day. We've continued that tradition with my kids."

Weiss and his wife of 10 years, Lisa, and their two children, Annie Mae, 9, and Christopher, 8, live within easy driving distance of his parents, two older sisters and their families, Lisa's twin sister and her family, their brother and their parents. "That's the cool thing about it," Weiss says.

Everyone gathers and goes to church on Christmas Eve and then returns home for dinner, where everyone plays to their strengths. "My mom doesn't cook at all," Weiss says. "Lisa is the exact opposite. Lisa has a lot of family history with cooking. She grew up in the South and they have a lot of great recipes. Lisa does most of the cooking and other people bring dishes also. My mom is awesome at organizing everything and making sure the table is set and making sure the dishes get washed and put away."

After dinner, everyone exchanges their gifts to each other. Then the kids change into their pajamas and get ready for Santa's arrival. "There's a balcony overlooking the family room and last year the kids were all lined up in their sleeping bags so they could have their heads right at the edge. That way, they could look right out at the Christmas tree and the fireplace. Their goal was to stay up all night long to make sure they saw Santa. They made it to about 2 in the morning," Weiss says.

Once the kids finally drifted off, Santa's helpers laid out the rest of the gifts. Christmas day they open Santa's gifts. "It's a real fun time for the kids, because they've grown up together on Christmas, having the same tradition," he says. The family festivities are, of course, preserved on video.

Michael and Lisa Weiss celebrated their 10th anniversary this past September with a double romantic surprise. She surprised him with a trip to Cozumel, Mexico, a special spot where they'd gone on their first vacation together. In return, he surprised her by organizing a special ceremony where they renewed their vows.