Centre students, faculty, and staff share their holiday memories and traditions
RELEASED: Dec. 22, 2005
DANVILLE, KYLast year we asked faculty and staff to share their coolest holiday memories, and the response was terrific. This time around, we asked students to share their traditions as well, and we were overwhelmed by the number of replies—especially given that the email went out on the last Friday afternoon of finals week.
Here, in the first of a two-part series, are the collected holiday memories of the Centre College community.
If reading this jogs your memory, it’s not too late to participate. Feel free to send in your recollections to Cindy Long (email@example.com).
Deb Jones, director of career services:
I definitely have a special gift. When I was 4 or 5, I saw a rocking horse at a store. It was on springs and you pulled the string and it whinnied. I remember thinking that was too big for Santa to ever bring me. Guess what I got for Christmas!? I think it was the only time I beat my sister out of bed Christmas morning. I was too small at the time to get on it by myself. We kept "Blaze" for many years. As I got older, I used to sit on him and read horse stories. We gave him away when we moved from West Virginia to Indiana when I was 12 and, after a few months in Indiana, I replaced him. This time with a real horse! So, fast forward to the present and here I am living in Kentucky with four real horses in my backyard. :) I'd love to find an old "Blaze" someday and maybe fix it up. No clue where I'd put it!
And midnight mass was always a tradition in our family as was driving to West Virginia to visit the grandparents. I can still see the differences between the two sets of grandparents. The ones in the city had an aluminum tree with colored lights that rotated. The ones in the small coal mining town always had a real tree with fairly simple decorations.
Teather Sanders '06, Pendleton, Ky.:
At the hospital, they put me in a Christmas stocking when I was born because I was born on Christmas day. That same stocking still hangs on our fireplace mantle every year and Christmas is always a special time for my family and me.
Casey Krill '06, Louisville:
My favorite Christmas memory is from my senior year of high school when my dad was in the hospital after having open-heart surgery. It was a very sad Christmas Eve when we all went to bed expecting him not to be with us on Christmas morning. But when we woke up that morning the hospital called and said that he was ready to come home early. Having the whole family together and him healthy was the best Christmas present of all.
Erin Matthews '06, Nicholasville, Ky.:
My favorite memory is spending time with my family. Every year my dad's side of the family gathers at my home in Nicholasville on Christmas Eve. About 30 people in all come. I love helping my mom decorate, set the table and cook before everyone arrives. We listen to Christmas songs, celebrate, and catch up on each others lives. Last year was particularly special because we finally had a new baby in our family to celebrate—the first of a new generation of our family. We always have the same menu every year that I particularly look forward to—beef tenderloin, my Aunt Dot's famous cheesy potatoes, warm fruit, Italian green beans, creamed corn, rolls, and to top it all off chocolate cake and cheesecake. After it's over we all say our good-byes and I spend the rest of the break hepling my mom put away all the dishes! All in all it's a lot of fun and a very special time for me.
Andrea Heckman '09, Louisville:
My favorite Christmas memory was actually last year! Instead of going to Christmas mass, my family and I sat around and played Texas Hold Em', and I won! It was a lot of fun and I would choose to play poker instead of going to church any day!
Kate Humphrey '07, Nashville, Tenn.:
My favorite Christmas memory involves my two sisters, a twin bed and the book 'The Night Before Christmas'. We started this tradition when I was much younger, but have kept it up through the years. Every Christmas Eve, after we get home from our church's candlelight service, our family gathers in my bedroom to listen to my Dad read the Christmas classic. His interpretation includes some classy variations of the rhymes ("And laying a finger inside of his nose" instead of "And laying a finger aside of his nose") and we all laugh because it never gets old. After the story is read, my sisters and I all cuddle up in my bed and laugh while the mysterious reindeer hooves dance on the roof. It's not my dad—we swear! My sisters (Jenny—16; and Ellen—14) and I have managed to sleep in my bed for many years, but this was much easier when I had a bigger bed—or maybe it was just because we were just smaller back then. Sometimes one sister (or two—if I'm lucky) ends up on the floor, but not before this favorite Christmas tradition has been enjoyed by the entire Humphrey family. Even Lucy the dog likes to join in on the cuddling. It's my favorite night of the year because as my sisters and I have grown older, it's been hard to keep from feeling like I haven't seen them grow up. It makes us all feel like kids again and I know my parents love to see us laughing and being their little girls all over again.
Clyde Madison '08, Lexington, Ky.:
I remember when I was a little kid, as the gifts accumulated under the Christmas tree, I would try to peak to see what I got. I would tear an edge off, and then I would tape it back, so no one would know. Then on Christmas day, even though I knew what I was getting, I was still ecstatic!
Mary Jo Tewes '06, Bromley, Ky.:
My extended family owns the Tewes Poultry Farm in Erlanger, Kentucky. Every year before Thanksgiving and Christmas, we kill and prepare thousands of turkeys for holiday meals. It's all done by hand, and the turkeys are alive up until the week before they're eaten, so they're the freshest and tenderest birds you can buy. It's a lot of work, but there are lots of people to help out, because my dad was one of 17 children and I have about 80 cousins. We all pull together to get the turkeys ready, and it also gives us a chance to catch up with each other. (If you're in the Northern Kentucky area and want the most delicious turkey this year call 859-341-8844!)
Last Christmas, my boyfriend David was in Japan with the Centre-in-Japan program. Even though we'd only been dating about six months when he left that fall, I still missed him a lot, and we talked on Instant Messenger nearly every day. We sent each other cards for Christmas, and made a date to call each other on the phone. I had just finished opening presents Christmas morning when my mom pulled out this mystery present from behind the tree and read the card attached, which was addressed to her. It was from David's aunt, explaining that he'd bought me something before he left and wanted her to send it for him so that it would be a surprise for me. I started crying because I'm emotional like that, and opened it and found a beautiful necklace. When I read his card it said he loved me, and it was the first time he'd said that. I cried again and called him and got to hear his voice saying it too. The distance tried us, and we're still together. I tell him he's still coasting on the three months of forethought he put into that necklace. We'll be apart for Christmas again this year, but he's visiting me for New Year's.
Katie Bouvier '08, Lexington, Ky.:
For as long as I can remember, the start of the Christmas season has always been marked with a certain level of terror for me. Well, maybe not terror, but certainly a high level of stress brought on by my father's Christmas decorations. They aren't your normal white lights and tasteful bows. They are angels that hang from the basketball goal and rotate. They are giant bears hooked to some sort of pulley system so that they bob up and down. There are so many lights that sometimes it's hard for me to sleep at night. It's so extreme that tour buses have stopped at our house before. I used to find these decorations to be terribly embarrassing, but I don't really mind so much anymore. Maybe I have just accepted that there is nothing I can do to stop it, or maybe I've realized that it just wouldn't be Christmas without some rotating angels in the front yard.
Macy Dykema '06, Morrison, Ill.:
Every year my mom does a majority of the Christmas shopping for my brother and I, while my dad is the kind of dad that tries to do his on Christmas Eve. One year when I was in high school, he had decided to go too late and the only story open in town was the Dollar Store. When my brother and I opened our gifts from him the next morning, we found out that our dad had gotten us cap guns with about 200 rounds of ammunition (he also got some for himself). Although we hadn't said anything to my parents about getting cap guns for Christmas, we played with them for hours that day. I'm sure this Christmas will be no different and my brother, who is 25, and I will be chasing each other around all of Christmas morning with cap guns.
Jay Hoffman, head women's soccer coach:
Our biggest tradition that my wife and I started is to go to Chicago and shop during the first or second weekend of December. Michigan Avenue is beautiful with the white lights and the wind coming from the lake certainly reminds us of winter.
Roy Lee Wigginton '08, Bloomfield, Ky.:
My family and I spend every Christmas Eve at our house. We have finger foods, play board games, and usually watch a holiday movie. My papaw reads the story of Christ's birth from the Bible just before bed. In the morning we wake up in the wee hours of the morning and open presents, and then fix a big breakfast before we break for a nap followed by a big lunch. The house is adorned with multiple trees, lit garland, candles and full of all my favorite people. Now, being at Centre most of the year, the traditions and warm faces of "home" are greatly appreciated.
Drew Blanton '07, Harlan, Ky.:
I'm pretty sure that this Christmas will be a completely awesome memory. I'll be spending the 25th in Kyoto, Japan, checking out ancient temples, eating delicious Japanese food, and just taking in the experience.
Reed Smith '08, Shelbyville, Ky.:
I haven't been able to help decorate the Christmas tree since I've been to college.
I'm a sophomore now.
I miss the spirit of that day.
I thought I'd lost it—that holiday cheer—
Until I sat down, book in hand, with my family next to that sparkling pine.
The blazing fire, and colored lights—
Warm my heart and sooth my soul—every time.
Jeff Briggs '06, Strongsville, Ohio:
Every Christmas Eve, my family goes over to my uncle's house to exchange gifts. We have steak, shrimp cocktail, and watch horror movies. We always take turns picking out the movies, but they have included classics such as Halloween H20 and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Another part of the tradition includes an eight year-old fruit cake. My uncle gave it to my dad eight years ago as a joke. We saved the fruit cake until next year and gave it back. So now, we always try to think of the most creative way to give the fruitcake so that it is still unexpected. I guess we're a little odd.
Mary Jane Saunier '07, Winchester, Ky.:
My family loves Christmas! Santa still comes every year, even though I am 20 and have brothers who are 23 and 17. We all still have to wait at the top of the steps while my parents get the video camera ready and then we can all walk downstairs to see what Santa has brought. My dog Riley is always the most excited of us all—jumping and biting at her stocking before we even make it to the room. Christmas day (as well as the weeks surrounding it) is filled with friends, family, and lots of fun times that make for many memories!
Dottie Rinehart, director of purchasing:
After years of toting Christmas over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house each year, we made the decision to spend Christmas in our own home, just the three of us. This was a difficult decision to make and an even more difficult decision to carry out. We knew the best way to make our holidays successful was to begin our very own holiday traditions.
True to the old saying that necessity is the mother of invention, we created what has become perhaps our most endearing Christmas tradition. Because we always attend the 5:30 Christmas Eve service at our church, we needed a ready-to-eat dinner when we returned home and thus, our Christmas Eve Tea was born. After a day or two (usually two!) of intense preparation, we have all the ingredients for a proper high tea in the
English tradition. When we return home from the church service, all we need to do is make the tea, pour it in the teapots that are wrapped in tea cozies, and we're ready to celebrate the Rinehart Christmas Eve Tea.
It wasn't until a few years ago, when our daughter, Krista, shared with me that this is her favorite family tradition. (Words to warm a mother's heart!) So we do it every year, wherever Christmas may find us. This year, we are happy to add our son-in-law, Adam Johnson, to this very special Rinehart family tradition.
Kelli McGrath '06, Lexington, Ky.:
Every year, my family and I buy turkeys at a local grocery store and take them to the Hope Center (a men's homeless shelter in Lexington) on Christmas Eve. I think it's a neat way for my entire family to give back to the community and to get in the Christmas spirit together.
Michael Pangallo '06, Cold Spring, Ky.:
Pangallo Family Christmas Party—this annual tradition brings together our extended family which consists of several hundred on my father's side. We have a fantastic Italian meal consisiting of many traditional Italian specialities, calamari, pizzelles, mostaccoli and of course several types of spaghetti and meatballs. Music, food and socalizing play an important part of this celebration.
Also, my mom and dad host Christmas Eve for my mom's side of the family. My mom has eight siblings, so this is also a big party. After a huge family dinner, several toasts to those departed, Santa arrives. In the past, when we were small, we would have my Grandpa Pangallo be Santa, but now that the grandchildren are mostly adults my dad has taken on this tradition. Of course he adds his humor and has a "themed" Santa every year. We'lldee Bengal Santa on the 24th.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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