a favorite holiday memory
of our staff respond to this week’s talk-back topic
I was 9 years old, my dad informed me that he wanted to buy my
mom a new wedding ring for Christmas. He took me with him to help
pick it out. We wrapped it up and eagerly waited for Christmas
Eve, when we opened our presents. A few days later my mom told
me she was getting my dad a new wedding band for Christmas. I
knew I couldn’t tell her what she was getting, or tell Dad
what he was now getting, but, oh, was it hard. On Christmas Eve
when we finally began to open our presents, I insisted that I
wanted both of them to open two particular boxes at the same time
and that I also wanted my mom to “walk down the aisle”
across our living room before opening her box. Confused and irritated
at me for what they each took as almost giving away what the other’s
gift was, both told me to keep quiet. As each opened in turn,
each joined me in my secret. Keeping that secret was more exciting
to me than opening all my presents that year.
Connie Cross, permissions-information
a kid, I counted how many presents were under the tree, who had
the most and who had the biggest. I tried to figure out how many
packages had toys in them compared to how many of them just had
clothes. As an adult, I’m more excited about the giving
of gifts. I anticipate watching my children open their gifts and
seeing their excitement.
One of my best memories revolves
around a gift I gave. It was a video for my parents. I secretly went through
all of their old slides and pictures — a huge undertaking because my
mom is always taking pictures! I selected pictures from every Christmas going
back to their first — 38 years worth at the time. After selecting all
the pictures, I had a photo company put the pictures on a video with a Christmas
music background. I made copies for my sisters, and the entire family enjoyed
that gift. We still have fun watching that video and reliving the memories
of years gone by. My parents just celebrated their 50th anniversary. That
reminds me, I have 12 more years I need to add to that tape!
Jodi Harmon, advertising coordinator
had always had a tall Christmas tree. It had to be a Douglas fir
and tall enough to almost reach the ceiling. It could be too tall
— that was OK because we could saw it down to size —
but it could never be too short.
Decorating the tree was a family
project and when I married, my wife, Peggy, became a willing participant.
I enjoyed everything but the tinsel — I still hate to put on tinsel.
Then one Christmas season we arrived
at my parents’ house and there it stood — not the stately Douglas
fir that I expected, but a tiny, plastic, store-bought tree, one that could
be hidden behind any of a number of the gifts that were supposed to go under
I complained some at first. But
I realized that tree marked a transition. My folks were aging and my mother’s
health was failing. Some things, like a large tree, just wouldn’t be
We never had a real tree in that
house again. That little tree presided over several wonderful Christmases
at the end of my parents’ lives. I actually grew quite fond of it.
That was because it didn’t
change Christmas. The tree was small, but Christmas stayed big. Jesus stayed
at the center.
I thank God for all those extra
years He gave me with my parents, the little tree, and a big Christmas.
Ken Horn, managing editor
I wanted for Christmas was an official Red Ryder, carbine action,
200- shot, range model air rifle. I got my blue steel beauty last
Christmas, and both eyes are still intact. But I don’t think
that is my favorite Christmas memory … I believe that is
still to come. Christmas 2003 will be my first as a grandparent,
and I am feeling much anticipation at sharing it with my granddaughter,
Jaiden. Grandpadom is really cool, and wearing the title at Christmas
is going to be too much fun. Her eyes reflecting a tree loaded
with lights … bows pulled from packages and stuck to her
bald head … remembering the innocence and frailty of the
Baby Jesus … I’m pretty sure this Christmas is going
to be the most memorable so far.
Matt Key, art director
up I wanted a St. Louis Cardinals football helmet. One Christmas
Eve, around the age of 10, I dreamed I had gotten that helmet.
Even though the helmet was blue,
instead of white as it should have been, I was so proud of it I wore it during
a family outing to an unfamiliar lake.
With the helmet still on, I walked
to the end of the lake’s pier. I bent over to gaze into the water.
Splash! I had fallen
into the lake.
While trying to stay
afloat, I peered through the helmet’s facemask and could
see my brother and sister on the lakeshore reacting frantically
to my predicament.
“Ronnie! Ronnie!” they
hollered running toward the pier. Suddenly one of them touched my shoulder.
But they hadn’t come to rescue
me. They’d come to wake me up. It was Christmas morning and our gifts
waited under the tree.
Ron Kopczick, promotions coordinator
whole family was at Grandma’s for Christmas in 1977.
Everyone had finished opening their
presents. But I had the present of all presents. I was the king of the wrapping
Grandma didn’t buy me a present.
She made me a present!
Shazam! White cape with gold glittery
flowers and a gold rope securing it to my neck. Red shirt with a gold triple
jag lightning bolt down the front.
A costume that looked
like the real thing. Not some store-bought piece that falls apart
in weeks. This was the real deal. Real cloth. No plastic. Genuine
Shazam! Superhero deluxe! I could fly!
I was the envy of my younger sister.
As far as I was concerned, I would have a TV appearance in weeks. People would
confuse me with the real Shazam! Girls would finally like me.
That was the spirit of Christmas
... to an unsaved thrill-seeking 7-year-old. I’ll never forget it. And
neither will my sister.
Keith Locke, creative director
of my most memorable holidays was my son, Kevin’s, first
Christmas. My wife, daughter and son had come home from St. Louis
after spending almost a year there near a pediatric hospital because
of my son’s medical problems.
We had been through so much that
year. Trying to find out what was actually wrong with him and learning about
the seriousness of his problems were devastating to us. I had to stay home
and continue to work and visit them in St. Louis on the weekends. After getting
some answers from the doctors and giving the situation to God instead of relying
on ourselves, we started having some peace about what we were up against.
We saw God’s blessings poured out on us time and time again. Financial,
spiritual, whatever we needed, God took care of it. Our church lifted us up
hourly in prayer and stayed committed throughout the year. Going through that
year changed our values and what was important to us.
I remember it was even a white
Christmas, with Bing Crosby playing in the background, a beautiful tree, my
daughter tearing into her presents and, after finishing hers in record time,
helping her brother with his. I remember how blessed I was and feeling that
what I thought was important the year before wasn’t really so important.
There weren’t a lot of presents for anyone, but that Christmas was priceless
in our hearts.
Marc McBride, production coordinator
grew up in Taos, N.M., where we always gathered at Christmastime
as a family. My mom, Grace, comes from a huge family so we always
had cousins, aunts and uncles at my grandparents Eloy and Frances
Montoya’s house. Christmas in the Sangre de Cristo mountains
in New Mexico meant there was always plenty of snow and, of course,
real Christmas trees.
We would sing Christmas songs in
Spanish, with my dad, Danny, playing his guitar. It was especially fun around
Christmastime when youth from our church (which consisted mostly of my cousins)
would light farolitos in the town plaza — a true New Mexico tradition.
Farolitos are little brown paper bags with candles inside that line the rooftops
and walls of the adobe and stucco buildings during the winter. I always look
back to those wonderful Christmases, and I am thankful that I had an amazing
family and surroundings to celebrate Christmas with.
Isaac Olivarez, staff writer
in my mind is an afternoon nap I took while in elementary school.
It had been a long day, and I was tired. I awoke to a winter sun
already set, and a soft glow of Christmas tree lights. Mannheim
Steamroller, a Christmas must in our family, was playing softly
in the background. I don’t remember how old I was or what
happened that season. I just remember feeling warm, rested and
excited that it was Christmastime.
Seeing candles lit on a mantle,
driving through snowy streets looking at the lights on neighbors’ homes,
singing carols at church on Christmas Eve surrounded by my spiritual and birth
families, and watching the fire crackle and pop in the fireplace while my
face got warmer and warmer until I had to give someone else a turn —
all combine to form my favorite Christmas memory. Even the stress of the season
can’t quench my love for it. Christmas has changed its face since marriage,
but its heart leaves much to savor when the calendar turns to December. And
savor I will; just like I always have.
Jena Schaumburg, assistant to the editor