On Christmas Eve morning, 65 grandfathers, fathers and sons gathered to share breakfast in Woodinville resident Peter Hickey’s barn.
Hickey, a Kirkland Windermere agent, volunteered his space for the event. Woodinville’s Mi Tierra catered. A Chevrolet Nova SS and a sheriff’s patrol car were also on display for photos.
The holiday father-son breakfast tradition, which is in its second year in Woodinville, actually began in Walnut Creek, California in 2001. Michael “Smit” Smith first launched the event as a way to better his relationship with his stepson.
“We had very little time to spend just the two of us together,” Smith said. So, on Christmas Eve morning, the pair woke up early and left the house in search of breakfast.
Despite a car accident on the way to the restaurant that resulted in Smith’s vehicle being totaled, he and his stepson still managed to make it to breakfast.
“That became a defining moment,” he said. “That we had this accident, but that it was something we needed to follow through with.”
The next year, Smith invited another father and son to join, and the event grew from there. Then in 2015, when Smith and his wife, Trae, moved to Woodinville, the father-son breakfast tradition came too.
The breakfast receives support from Triplehorn Brewing Company, which helps promote the event and which hosted the first Woodinville breakfast last year. The cost of breakfast, usually around $14, just covers the cost of catering.
One of the things Smith said he enjoys most about the breakfast is its simple motive.
“There’s no agenda. We don’t raise money,” he said. The spirit of the event is in sharing a meal and in sharing conversation.
And despite its title, having a grandfather, father or son is not a strict requirement to attend. In fact, Smith said mentorship is a key part of the event.
Those who don’t have a dad are encouraged to bring a father figure or a mentor. Those who don’t have a son are encouraged to be a mentor to a young person who needs it.
“It’s all about guys hanging with guys and it’s all about giving back,” Smith said. “Not only giving back to the community but reaching into the community for those who might not be fortunate enough to have a father or a son.”
Smith attended this year’s breakfast with his stepson, who now lives in Seattle. “He’s been to a ton of these events over the years,” Smith said.
While Smith said he does hope a few new fathers and sons will take part next year, he also said he aims to preserve the close-knit feeling of the event.
“We want to keep it as close to Woodinville as possible,” he said. “Just to further and cement the community of Woodinville.”
Back in Walnut Creek, Smith’s holiday tradition continues to expand even in his absence. An early attendee of the father-son breakfast there recently moved to North Carolina and started his own, according to Smith.
“Fifteen years later, it’s still going on,” he said. It turns out, the camaraderie of the Christmas Eve breakfast is pretty contagious.