David Schimke: Editor in Chief
Every year my wife Stacey and I go driving around town in our P.J.s, hot beverages in tow, to look at Christmas lights. We also attend the British Advertising Awards at the holidays.
Heidi Wachter: Community Engagement Specialist
During our Christmas Eve celebration, my family plays Spanish Language Bingo, eats a delicious meal and sips my sister’s famous sangria. Each year, my sister also gives each of us one of her fabulous holiday wreaths made from foliage she collects at her Northern Minnesota cabin.
Jamie Martin: Director of Digital Initiatives
Within a day or two of Thanksgiving, my husband and I settle in for our first of multiple seasonal viewings of this Chevy Chase’s classic, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. By Christmas, we’ve usually watched it about five times.
Last year was the first that our daughter got into Christmas and she especially loved the holiday lights. At two, she called them “Das-a” lights and pointed them out wherever we drove. Her baby language is gone now, but we’re making the holiday light tour a part of our family’s Christmas traditions.
Maggie Fazeli Fard: Staff Writer
Growing up in Sweden, the holiday season began each year on Dec. 13, or Santa Lucia Day. The origins of the holiday are unclear, but the tradition has been traced to the story of Saint Lucy of Syracuse, a martyr who died in 304 AD, and the macabre legend of Lussi, a woman who allegedly cavorted with the Devil and who would slide down the chimney to collect mischievous children. It is also associated with the longest night of the year, the winter solstice.
Whatever the origin, Santa Lucia Day represents the shift from dark to light, from cold to warmth. As part of the celebration, children dress up as mini-Lucias in white robes with red sashes, garlands in their hair, and carry lit candles, a symbol of overcoming darkness. I was three years old the first time I participated and — as the look on my face in the picture indicates — I wasn’t too pleased to wake up early for the occasion. I’m pretty sure the promise of sweet saffron buns, a traditional part of the Santa Lucia feast, was the only thing that got me out of bed.
Christy Rice: Circulation Coordinator
As a child I remember bundling up and driving across town (a little less than a mile) to our little church (https://www.lecenterumc.org/) for the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. I loved being surrounded by the glow of the flickering candles, singing Silent Night (with me trying to pick out the beautiful alto notes), followed by the intoxicating scent of the candles being blown out at the end of the service. Although I don’t attend the same church anymore, my current church carries the same tradition of singing Silent Night by the glow of the candle (although the candles are battery operated, which is much safer anyway). The holidays just don’t feel quite right until I’ve sung Silent Night by the light of that flickering candle.
Casie Leigh Lukes: Digital Content Specialist
Christmas festivities kick off in my family the day after Thanksgiving. We ride on wagons, pick out a tree, and put it up at my parents house, lounge and decorate the house. That evening we go to our friend’s house for the annual “Cookie Party.” Everyone participates in a foosball tournament (yes, there’s prizes!), makes cookies, chats, and has some stew by the fire.
We usually attend the Guthrie Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” and Louis Holton’s “The Nutcracker Ballet” with friends. Christmas Eve we attend church and have a lovely dinner with another family. We watch old Christmas movies, and read the “Night Before Christmas” while passing around gag gifts every time we hear the word “the”. My brothers and I used to sleep by the tree, and although I prefer my cozy bed now, I often wake up Christmas morning to find them sleeping under the lights.