The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 21, 2007


Liteplo family Christmas tie regifted 21 times

"Family ties" are an important part of any holiday season. But that term takes on a whole new
Natalia Pylypyszyn (right) presents the family tie (it's Christmas red) to cousin Kristen Liteplo on Christmas Day 2006. (Courtesy photo)
meaning at the Liteplo household on Curve Street, where year after year the traditional Christmas Tie is passed from one family member to the next. And "knot" only do the Liteplos hand over a tie every year, but the recent addition of a family beer brewing kit has doubled the fun.

It started back in 1987. The first owner of the tie was Ronald Liteplo, who received it as a gift from his brother-in-law Peter Pylypyszyn. Ronald had forgotten the tie and rediscovered it, still in its box, shortly before Christmas the next year. Forgetting that he had received it as a gift, Ronald decided to wrap and present it to Peter for Christmas. "I love it," said Peter on opening the box. "I'm just sad that you don't, since I gave it to you last year!"

The following year, Peter gave the tie back to Ronald, starting a tradition.

Christmas is a time for family ties.

This one is for all, knot just for one.

It's meant to wear for just one year,

Then pass it on. Let's all have fun!

The following year, Ronald gave the tie to his brother, Carlisle resident Merrill Liteplo, and laid the groundwork for the rules of the tie.

For only a year

Wear it you may.

It must pass on

The next Christmas Day.

The rules are quite simple,

Clean, press and wrap it.

You make your choice

To whom to present it.

The line of succession

It must not be broken.

All the men in the family

Await this small token.

Now please don't forget.

Put it any which way,

But say it with rhyme

The next Christmas Day.

The tie progressed yearly with much celebration and hilarious verse. Merrill gave it to his brother Paul, who gave it to his nephew Andrew, who in a long, bilingual (English and Ukrainian) parody of "T'was the Night Before Christmas," bestowed it on his grandfather and family patriarch, Sam Liteplo. Sam then passed the tie to his grandson, Mark Liteplo, then a Carlisle resident.

A tie for the ladies

The first controversy surrounding the tie occurred in 1995, when Mark surprised everyone with the following:

The Liteplo men have passed this tie along

Always with a riddle, a rhyme, or a song.

Now I as the donor must tell the new owner:

Don't consider it yours; it's only a loaner. . . .

The greatest change for this tie is about to come true.

So, as I take off this tie, and pay off my due,

It gives me great pleasure to say:

"Hey Aunt Nadia! This tie's for you!"

With that, Nadia Liteplo became the first female in the family to inherit the tie. Parties were split as to whether a female could legitimately inherit the tie. "It's ridiculous. I mean, what's my Mom gonna do with a tie?!" asked then 15-year-old Dan Liteplo. But ultimately resistance abated, partly to include more people in the tradition, but mostly because no one was able to wring the tie from Nadia's vise grip.

Time to re'tie're?

The tie had gone from Nadia to her son Bill, to his brother Dan, back to the tradition's originator, Peter. The second big moment in the history of the tie occurred in 1999, when Peter presented the tie to Ronald for the third time, with the following:

Through the years this tie did roam.

Now it's time to go and stay home!

We've had plenty of fun

For one millennium.

Time for this piece of attire

And tradition, to re'tie're.

Why Peter decided to foreshorten a time-honored tradition, no one is sure. Perhaps he had tired of neckwear or feared a Y2K apocalypse. However, most agree that he tried to end one tradition to start another. Later that evening Peter proposed a "new tradition," a family calendar. While interesting and novel, this idea did not catch on. After two short years enthusiasm waned and the calendars ceased to appear.

Brewing up a new tradition

Saddened by the lack of a steady family tradition, then 20-something cousins Mark, Andrew,
"Sam's Serious Stout" was the Christmas 2001 brew. (Courtesy photo)
Bill, Stephanie (of Carlisle) and Dan concocted a new idea. In a Cambridge pub in the late fall of 2000, over a few pints, the group recognized their common love for beer. Stephanie suggested buying a home brewing kit and taking up the centuries-old tradition of beermaking. The idea was enthusiastically greeted by all, and that Christmas Andrew became the first brewmaster of the "Liteplo Brewing Company, Boston and New York."

The brewmaster makes beer throughout the year, with a batch ceremoniously presented at important family milestones and, of course, at Christmas. While the presentation of the brew does not require rhymed verse, the design of the label is the new artistic challenge, and the dedication of the brew presents an opportunity to poke friendly fun at family members.

Notable batches of the first year included "Babcha's Brown Ale," for grandmother Olga Liteplo's 80th birthday, and "Sam's Serious Stout," presented at Christmas. After quite an intoxicating first year, Andrew passed the bucket and hops to his cousin Stephanie, who brewed "Mark's Last Summer Ale" for her brother's bachelor party in 2002, and a "Carlisle Wild Winter Ale" for Christmas. In 2004 Mark's wife Kristen celebrated with "Red Sox World Championship Ale," which did not taste good to the New York Liteplos. Last year, the newest Liteplo, Andrew's bride Daniela, offered "A New Liteplo Framboise" with her photo on the label.

Brewing success has been variable (hazelnut peppermint ale), but usually a palatable, even enjoyable, beverage is poured down the hatch in true holiday fashion.

The tie that won't die

Like all good traditions, the family tie found a way to live on. Unbeknownst to most, the tie tradition had moved underground in Christmas 2000, when Ronald secretly gave it to his
"Babcha's Brown Ale" was brewed for Grandmother Olga Liteplo's 80th birthday (Courtesty photo).
nephew, very patient ten-year-old Matthew Liteplo. Since then, it has returned to center stage, prominently presented each Christmas. Progressing from Matthew to Bill to Paul (Peter's son), to Laryssa Liteplo, to grandmother Uljana Pylypyszyn, to her granddaughter Natalia, to Kristen Liteplo. The tie now resides with Kristen in Wakefield, Mass. until Christmas Day, next Tuesday.

This Christmas marks the 21st regifting of the family tie and the seventh passing of the Liteplo Brewing Company beer kit. As the time gets closer, Dan must be licking labels and Kristen is speaking in verse. To whom will they pass the traditions? The anticipation builds as the Liteplo family prepares to celebrate Christmas in Carlisle.

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito