‘Tis the season to gather with family and friends, celebrate love and spread good cheer. In anticipation of the ho-ho-holidays, we asked members of the Today’s Woman family to share a memory from holidays past that sparkles in their hearts and reminds them why this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Written & photos provided by Today’s Woman Staff
Tawana Bain, Publisher and Chief of Authentic Connections
Over the past three decades Christmas was primarily centered around making my children smile — fussing over finding the perfect gift, or making the perfect memory. As they have aged, that task has certainly become more difficult. Those times for me have now changed. My favorite, not-so-distant memory was enjoying my first Christmas as a grandmother and having the good fortune of both of my grandchildren together for the occasion. I now have a new generation to fuss over. Being a Nonnie (pronounced Know-Knee) is the best gift ever.
Diane Paylor, Editor-in-Chief
There was no greater time growing up in the Paylor household than Christmastime. As a child in the 70s and 80s, my two older brothers and I would scour the newspaper ads for the must-have new toys and would make our lists. We were permitted to ask for six things each. We’d leave a 3-item list for both mom and dad. On Christmas Eve we would go to Midnight Mass. Afterward we’d head home and were instructed to go to bed immediately. I always got so excited that it seemed like it took forever for me to fall asleep. Without fail my brother Reggie would be the one to wake up first. He would nudge me over and over in an attempt to wake me out of my slumber.
“Wake up, it’s time,” he’d say. The three of us would head to the living room in our pajamas and sit around the tree opening our gifts while mom’s favorite Christmas songs played in the background. I reminisce every year and listen to many of the songs I remember hearing during my youth. My favorites are “Merry Christmas All” by the Salsoul Orchestra, “This Christmas” by Donnie Hathaway and, of course, “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole.
Chelsey Phillips, Operations Support Specialist
Some of my favorite childhood holiday memories involve ornaments. My mom, sisters and I made handmade ornaments that filled our tree. We once made cinnamon-scented gingerbread men out of playdough that smelled amazing for years to come, which were my personal fave. Each year, my grandmother would give me a new hand-painted ornament that I would eagerly anticipate hanging on the tree when I got home. With so many ornaments, the tree took a long time to decorate, but laughter always accompanied it. It’s a blessing to still own some of the ornaments that were made and gifted and I will always remember the memories that are behind each one.
Christine Fellingham, Chief Branding and Innovation Officer
When asked to come up with a favorite Christmas tradition, I froze. There are too many. It’s the season when my sarcastic, slightly cynical self turns into a cookie-baking, Christmas-special-watching stage director of the most magical seasonal production our family of five can conjure up. I was trained for this. My parents, even when they were young and pinching pennies, orchestrated Hallmark-worthy Christmas mornings. My mom kicked off the season right after Thanksgiving by baking her first batch of cookies– many straight from her Italian mother’s recipe box. Hundreds were made and stored in holiday tins in the freezer– not to be opened until Christmas week when the first perfectly-arranged plate would appear. The plate would be perpetually restocked, so anyone eyeing it would always have the entire array to choose from. So, when I started serving up our own version of Christmas, cookies loomed large. Not a lot of baking goes on the rest of the year, so ever since our three girls were little, we’ve allowed twenty-four-hour access to the cookie plate– restocking when inventory gets low… until the last cookie is consumed and the plate is put away until next year.
Emily Dixon, Executive Project Manager of Systems and Administration
When I was about 4 years old, my family had an exciting tree decorating idea — we put real holiday cookies on the tree! We four kids “helped” my mom and aunt make the cookies, punching a tiny hole in each one with a straw to thread with a ribbon so they could hang on the tree. Some had candy melted in the middle to look like stained glass. Some were shaped like stars or ornaments. It was gorgeous. The next day, they found me standing behind the tree next to the wall with a single bite missing out of each hanging cookie!
Pamela Williams, Sales Executive
My favorite holiday memories have always been when I get to spend time with family. Within the past six years since moving back to Louisville, any time I get to spend with my son is special for me. The picture in our Santa hats is from 2019 – the last year my family and I was able to volunteer to give back by handing out Love Bags to the homeless at the Wayside Christian Mission. Since COVID we have not been able to participate.
Branden Barker, Art Director
The holiday memory that always sticks out most to me starts off pretty awful. And anyone who knows me who is reading this is probably already laughing, because they know that’s how my stories always go. I’m a real-life Charlie Brown. Luck is my un-kickable football.
So let me set the scene. It’s Christmas Eve. I’m 5 years old and I’m playing in the bathtub. A plane has just crashed into the ocean and I am starting the rescue mission when the doorbell rings. I listen and someone is let in. “Who is that?” I scream from the bathroom. My older brother answers that it is Santa Claus and I am going to miss him because I’m in the bathtub. No, no I am not going to miss him. I spring up from the tub so quickly that I slip and fall, cracking open my chin on the edge of the tub. And there’s a lot of blood. I scream and panic and the next thing I know I’m in the emergency room being stitched up. On Christmas Eve.
After two stitches and a lot of tears, I am back at home and heading to bed because Santa is actually on his way this time (that knock at the door earlier was a neighbor delivering Christmas cookies). The next morning, I run downstairs and wait for the word to start opening gifts. The second present I open makes me forget all about the night before. To this day, that is still my favorite Christmas gift. And I still have it. It’s sitting right by me as I write this. It’s a large plush Snoopy (that was half my size when I was 5). He’s a little dingy and his neck is a bit limp now, but he’s always going to be a part of the family. After all, every Charlie Brown needs a Snoopy.