Whether trimming an evergreen to the soothing croon of Bing Crosby, relishing the spreads of snacks and sweets, or simply delighting in the company of loved ones, everyone has a reason to look forward to the holidays. No matter one’s faith, it’s that special time of year for giving thanks, cherishing family and reveling in some good old-fashioned fun. In this special issue, the art & society team reminisces about some of their most sentimental—and side-splitting—holiday memories.

Jan Wright, Publisher

What is your happiest holiday memory?
Always being with my children, baking cookies with my daughter, and having friends over in the afternoon.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?
I don’t know what the boys would say, but I enjoyed getting my sons a Red Ryder BB Gun… when they were in their 20s!

What is your favorite holiday ornament?
I love each one. It’s always a “surprise” to hang them on the tree and remember where they came from.

What is your favorite holiday scent?
Cinnamon.

What are you asking for this year?
For family to be together.


Jonathan Wright, Managing Editor

What is your favorite holiday movie?
Why, Christmas Vacation, of course. With apologies to George Bailey and Ralphie Parker.

What is your funniest holiday memory?
My utterly inept attempt one year to put up a crooked tree. I could never get it to stand up straight in the base. The cats I was living with at the time knocked it over, and I ended up securing it to the wall with fishing twine. At the time, it wasn’t very funny to me.

What is your favorite holiday ornament?
I still have a gingerbread cookie man that I made in first grade (with real cookie about 75 percent intact)!

Where is the most unique place you’ve ever spent Christmas?
In a hotel room near O’Hare, preparing for an early-AM flight to Huatulco, Mexico.

What is your favorite holiday music?
Traditional: “O Holy Night.” I have vivid memories of my dad singing this in church when I was a kid. Modern: A tie between A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, featuring The Ronettes and other ‘60s girl groups, and Low’s Christmas EP, a marvelous holiday album released in 1999 by the Duluth, Minnesota group.

 


Gabrielle Balzell, Associate Editor

What is your favorite winter pastime?
Throwing snowballs and playing with my adorable, mischievous mutt, Calvin, out in the snow.

What’s on your holiday playlist?
Holiday decorating wouldn’t seem complete without Bing Crosby’s “Silent Night,” Nat King Cole’s “The First Noel,” or Dean Martin’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
You are sure to find me at the dessert table digging into frosted sugar cookies, pumpkin pie, pecan pie or chocolate rum balls.

What is your favorite holiday movie?
Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas is a ritual I’ll never give up, but I also love National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for a great laugh.

What is your happiest holiday memory?
I have so many wonderful holiday memories that it’s hard to pick just one. However, I’ll always remember the annual tradition of eating frosted oatmeal cookies while watching Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas with my Grandma Balzell, as well as the blissful calm of lying next to a sparkling tree on cold, dark winter nights.

 


Darren Jackson, Art Director

What is your funniest holiday memory?
My funniest holiday memory is the year my aunt received a scratch-off lottery ticket in a Christmas grab bag, and amazingly, it was a $50,000 winning ticket! She took it to the store to redeem the winnings, only to find out from the clerk that it was a prank lottery ticket.

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream.

What are you asking for this year?
I’ll have it before Christmas, but what I wanted most was a wedding ring! (And a brand-new Nexus 4!)

What is your favorite holiday ornament?
My mustache ornament—it makes my tree look like such a gentleman.

What is your happiest holiday memory?
It would have to be the first Christmas we had with our pit bull puppy, Mykah, who was only four months old at the time. We got a stocking just for her and even put a little picture of her on it. I’d never seen her so overwhelmed with toys!

 


Lori Beckham, Production Assistant

What is your happiest holiday memory?
My brother and I getting a Nintendo 64!

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Decorating the Christmas shelf. We decorate an aluminum shelf instead of a tree. Not sure who came up with it, but I know it spawned from the fact that we were sick of pine needles all over the place—so the Christmas shelf was born. It takes up less room, too, because the presents can be set on the shelf.

What is your favorite winter pastime?
Looking at Christmas lights.

What is your funniest holiday memory?
Being terrified of Santa in the window. My father dressed up as Santa and walked up to the window on Christmas Eve. I remember screaming and crying, but it’s also very funny to me now. It was supposed to be an enchanting moment, and I was practically traumatized by it. Never developed a phobia of Santa though!

What is your favorite holiday food?
Eggnog.

 


Kelly Stickelmaier, Contributor

What is your happiest holiday memory?
I loved going to visit the talking Christmas tree with my mom and grandma at Bergner’s. Anyone remember her?

What is your funniest holiday memory?
I barely remember this, but I do remember. For some reason, way back when, the Santas around the area painted their faces red. Scared me to death!

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?
One of my favorites was a gift to my mom. I had an artist friend draw all of the dogs we had growing up and her current pup. It currently hangs in my parents’ house and is a sweet reminder of how each one touched our lives.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
After spending Christmas Eve with family, my hubby and I stay up late, get in our Christmas PJs and open our presents to each other.

What is your favorite holiday ornament?
I have my very first Christmas ornament. It was given to me by my big sister. Santa playing baseball—which was very telling, because I’m such a Cardinals Baseball fanatic.

 


Lisa Ullenius, Contributor

What is your funniest holiday memory?
My father-in-law complained one fall he hated all his socks, so everyone in the family purchased a new pack for him. I think he wound up with about 60 new pairs!

Where is the most unique place you’ve ever spent Christmas?
An indoor water park. We had to pick a halfway point to meet family, and it sounded fun!

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Eating fondue at my in-laws. We make a ton of side dishes, load up the skewers, and sit, eat and talk.

What is your happiest holiday memory?
Probably the memories I have of my kids’ amazement each Christmas morning—wondering how Santa got all the stuff down the chimney, how he knew exactly what they wanted, what the reindeer ate, etc. I wish you could bottle that excitement!

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
My mom makes kolacky, a soft, buttery Polish cookie with a gob of fruit filling on top. We wait all year for them! a&s