By Dan Koob

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The holidays look different this year thanks to the coronavirus, but not even the pandemic could stop a sweet Christmas Eve tradition in South Philadelphia. At Termini Brothers Bakery, the tradition took on a new meaning for some families this year.

When you’re here, you’re family.

“In 60 tears, I’ve never been first in line,” Warren Messner said. “Actually, I’ve been coming here for Christmas Eve, probably about 30 to 35, but I’ve been coming here since I was 5 years old. I’ve tried other bakeries, they’re good, but just something about theirs, about this place.”

At 4 a.m., Messner was first on Christmas Eve, carrying on a nostalgic Christmas tradition

“It’s more of a memory for me now since my mother passed, coming here,” Messner said.

“Family tradition at Christmastime. Termini Brothers, it’s deep. It’s very deep,” Vincent Termini Jr. said, “especially these times, you have to hold onto those traditions and keep them alive.”

The Termini’s have been a tradition common denominator 99 years running.

Termini Jr. says the preparation for the Christmas season starts in January.

“You won’t believe me if I tell you, but our planning for Christmas, the whole Christmas season, it starts in January,” Termini Jr said. “We have a constant rotation of cannolis and to make sure that we don’t run out of our cannolis. It’s a careful, careful orchestrated plan.”

2020 may look different with limited capacity and online ordering, but the generational experience forges ahead.

“We’ve seen people grow up as they come through the door on Christmas year after year,” Termini said.

Gregory Komondor drove up from Baltimore, Maryland.

“Well, Dad started the Christmas carols at 4 a.m.,” Komondor said.

This is Komondor’s 11th Christmas in line, a lightweight compared to his lineage.

The family says they’ve done it for 60 years, but it’s a new and unlikely tradition that’s noteworthy. They keep seeing the same family in line.

“We get a picture with them every year since I was like this big,” Komondor said.

“I mean that’s commitment coming up from Baltimore for a couple of cannolis,” Ron Biscardi of Gladwyne said.

“We’re Facebook friends, we wish each other happy birthday,” Komondor said.

This is the only day they see each other.

And there’s no way a pandemic was stopping that.


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