Five years’ worth of holiday traditions and memories
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of our annual feature, we add more people to the list and look back on some of the favorite holiday traditions, songs, gifts and memories of prominent people in harness racing.
by Dave Briggs
In the fifth anniversary of our ongoing holiday tradition, Harness Racing Update adds six new people to our list and is republishing previous responses to our poll asking some of harness racing’s biggest names the following four holiday questions:
1. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
2. What is your favorite holiday song?
3. What is your favorite holiday memory from your childhood?
4. What is the best gift you have ever received?
Jim Campbell (2020)
1. My wife (Duke) and our son (James) go to Mass Christmas Eve. Then go home and Duke makes a fish dinner. James gets to open one present. Christmas Day we open the rest of our gifts and Bentley (our yellow Lab) can’t wait to get his stocking from Santa. For dinner, Duke cooks a filet mignon roast from a recipe from Paula (John’s wife). We celebrate the reason for the season. Mary giving birth to Jesus. That’s greatest gift!
2. Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives. It’s my favorite because my mom told me it was dad’s favorite. I think of dad every time I hear it.
3. Going down the stairs Christmas morning to see what Santa had brought (was never disappointed LOL) and decorating the Christmas tree with mom. My job was putting the star on it. James has had that job at our house every year.
4. When I was 6, dad came home from Windsor and came in the house and told me he needed help unloading the trailer. It was snowing a little and when dad opened the trailer there was a pony in it. I couldn’t believe it, my first horse. We named him Buckey. I had a lot of great memories with Buckey over the years. Dad even put shafts on my sled so I could drive him in the snow. I showed him and raced him in as many fairs we could go to.
Roger Huston (2020)
1. I stay at my daughter Nevele’s home and we all have matching PJs. We started about five years ago.
2. I’ll Be Home For Christmas.
3. Santa Claus always made his first stop at our house. On Christmas Eve we would get in the car and go for ice cream cones. When we got home, Santa had been there. You see, dad had to milk the cows Christmas morning.
4. I was 15 and wanted a motorcycle. Instead I got a 15-year-old mare by the name of Emily Martin. She was in foal but I treated it like we were racing. Ended up having a couple foals and selling them all to the man who we got the mare from. Paid for my college education.
Jim Lawson (2020)
1. Even though our (3) children are all in their 20s, I still (and they do too!), have joy in watching them open their Christmas stockings.
2.I appreciate it’s not traditional, yet I always smile when I hear Bruce Springsteen’s version of Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town.
3.Likely sneaking down early with my siblings to open my stocking before our parents were up.
4.Our first child, Brodie; she was expected on December 25, though turns out she arrived on New Year’s Day.
Scott McKelvie (2020)
1. Watching the World Junior Hockey Championships.
2. Deck The Halls.
3. Playing in Christmas hockey tournaments.
4. My latest best gift would be Elton John tickets from my daughter.
Carter Pinske (2020)
1. Getting to see my entire extended family on both sides all at once, together.
2. I don’t really listen to holiday music but if I have to, I prefer the George Strait or Alan Jackson versions.
3. Every year on the 26th of December my family would fly down to Southern Oaks to spend time with that year’s stable of horses, which is where I really learned to love the sport.
4. The last year my grandpa Tim was well, my grandparents planned a trip for us to go to Alaska and gave us the itinerary as a Christmas gift. We spent 12 days the following summer out there. It was the last and best trip us grandkids got to take with grandpa. I’ll always remember and be grateful for that time.
Ken Warkentin (2020)
1. Playing Festivus with Family
2. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
3. House full of extended family.
4. Reel to Reel tape recorder.
Frank M. Antonacci (2016)
1. The holidays always center around family and food for us. My grandmother, wife and other ladies in the family get together to make homemade pizzas for Christmas. We also have a traditional Italian Christmas Eve, a fish heavy meal featuring an unforgettable lobster sauce over linguine. This is followed by another day of feasting on Christmas, featuring special Christmas eggs (with chives and cream) and fresh ham for dinner!
2. Baby it’s Cold Outside
3. Long nights at my grandparents’ house with lots of great food and conversation always featuring a surprise visit by Santa.
4. My son, Frank Joseph, was born on New Year’s Day, so that is by far the best holiday gift I have ever received.
Adam Bowden (2017)
1. I run with a Santa hat every Christmas morning before my wife and kids wake up. Then we open presents and make pancakes.
2. Little Drummer Boy – Pentatonix.
3. I am the oldest of 4 kids and we used to wake up as early as possible and meet in my room and try to be quiet and wait for my parents to wake up. Every year we made too much noise and woke them up. We weren’t nearly as smart as we thought we were. Great memories whispering in the dark and thinking we heard Santa and reindeer.
4. At 18, my brother and sisters and I decided to forego Christmas gifts for ourselves and adopted a family. Giving the gifts to a family of 5 in need was worth it.
George Brennan (2018)
1. Going to dinner with my father Joe and his wife Michele on the 23rd.
2. Either Chuck Berry or Dwight Yoakam’s version of Run Run Rudolph.
3. Going shopping one late Christmas Eve at a store in Monticello named Jamesway with my father Joe. He needed to get my mother a gift. I was only seven at the time but it was a hilarious hour or so.
4. Growing up in Monticello, American Darts were, and still are, very popular. I was around 14 and got my first dartboard.
Dave Brower (2018)
1. Heading over to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for a non-stop NBA fest on TV, followed by my Aunt’s incredible meal — usually a prime rib, or a smoked ham. Superb!
2. “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by James Taylor
3. Getting a few “envelopes” with cash in them, because the Meadowlands used to always open up the night after Christmas!
4. A $100 Rawlings custom infielders baseball glove. That was a LOT of money back then, and I used that thing in little league and beyond for several years. A quality glove!
Murray Brown (2016)
1.Shopping. I’m one of the few men who actually enjoys doing it. Although, I will admit, that sites such as Amazon have made me lazy doing it.
2.The Christmas Song by Mel Torme. I’ve always found it fascinating that the song was written by a Jewish guy in a heat wave in July. White Christmas was also written by a Jewish guy.
3.I loved getting and giving those Life Saver books, where you got rolls of various Life Saver candies. Today, I like the fact that several ice cream manufacturers make limited editions of peppermint stick ice cream, my favorite.
4.By far my granddaughter, Annika, who was born a few days later on Dec. 28.
Jessica Buckley (2017)
1. Searching with the kids for the ‘perfect’ tree at the cut-your-own farm and then heading home to decorate it with all the kitchy homemade ornaments and keepsakes.
2. Little Drummer Boy, acapella version by Pentatonix.
3. Driving home late on many a Christmas Eve from my grandparents’ house, my dad would pretend to hear Santa’s sleigh bells in the distance, and step on the gas as we turned down the road toward the farm.
4. I can remember one or two exciting gifts over the years, but it’s the extended time with family and the traditions that makes Christmas the best.
Blair Burgess (2019)
1. Generally when it’s over… but I do enjoy our yearly get together with friends and family on Christmas Eve for food and drink. “Swedish style”
2. None of them. It’s all the same. When “Do they know it’s Christmas” comes on I have to refrain from kicking the radio down the shedrow.
3. Going to my grandparents on Christmas Eve.
4. Glidemaster bought us a family trip to Hawaii in ’07.
Corey Callahan (2019)
1. Just getting together with family. It’s the one time of year when they actually aren’t racing! LOL.
2. Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry.
3. Mine is when I was 10. As a kid, your feet grow so fast. So, my parents would always buy me used hockey skates every year. But on Christmas morning my belief in Santa was very much alive as I opened a box with brand spankin new 451 Super Tacks! So, yes, I believed in Santa for at least one more year.
4. It wasn’t a Christmas present. It would be each time my four kids were born. I’m very blessed and the joy and excitement I see on their faces each Christmas is the best present I could’ve ever asked for.
John Campbell (2016)
1.All of us having Christmas Eve at the house of my daughter Lisa and son-in-law Jeff and then everyone coming to our house on Christmas Day.
2.Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, the Bruce Springsteen version or Gene Autry’s version of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.
3. Spending Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house. They lived just down the road. I realized very early that it was special.
4. I’ve had too many good gifts to single one out. I’ve been very fortunate and Santa has been very good to me over the years.
Casie Coleman (2018)
1. Christmas Day waking up to opening stockings, then a great breakfast and always a good day of eating and drinking all your favorite things with friends and family.
2. I can’t really think of a Christmas song off hand. Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, I guess.
3. When I was little, we would go to Oregon to see my grandma and grandpa for Christmas sometimes. That was always a lot of fun.
4. I’ve been given lots of great things. It’s hard to pick one I’d say when my staff made me personalized poker chips withChancey Ladyon them in blue and gold with a picture of her winning the Fan Hanover. That was pretty cool.
Jack Darling (2016)
1. Being with family and really looking forward to our new Christmas tradition of sharing it with our first grandson — Julian.
2. Do They Know It’s Xmas — Band-aid 1984. All the top British performers of the day got together to perform it. Great song.
3. I have nothing but great memories of Christmas as a kid growing up. It was always very exciting for me.
4. My best gift was when I was 11 years old. It was a toy rifle called a Johnny Seven. It was a machine gun that could shoot seven different plastic bullets, grenades, missiles etc. It was advertised on TV every day and I wanted one so badly I could taste it.
Lee Drake (2018)
1. Having family and friends at our home following Christmas Eve church service. There is so much food, fun and cheer! The kids are so excited too.
2. New Kid in Town by George Strait
3. I have a twin brother. We came downstairs and there were two of the big toy ski-doos in the living room. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
4. First Christmas cards from our kids. I keep them all.
Tom Fanning (2016)
1. Buying a tree that’s too big for our house.
2. U2 — Please Come Home for Christmas
3. One Christmas, I thought I heard Santa, so I snuck downstairs and it was my dad putting Christmas presents under the tree! It broke my heart. I was 17 years old! No, I was like 7.
4. The best gift is watching my kids open up their presents every Christmas morning.
Joe Faraldo (2018)
1. My favorite is making an extra donation to St. Jude’s by using their Christmas and Hanukkah cards. It makes the recipient feel good and it does good.
2. Feliz Navidad by the Mavericks.
3. Seeing my father come home from working in our scrap metal yard but with enough energy left to put a 12’ by 8’ plywood board atop two wooden horses upon which he then set up a Lionel train set for me, I still cherish it.
4. Either a new Chrysler 300 upon graduation or a $39 horse I owned driven by my good friend Mike Lachance
Sylvain Filion (2016)
1. Christmas Eve dinner with family and friends.
2. Have Yourself A Merry Christmas by Josh Groban.
3. Outdoor ice hockey.
4. Hockey skates.
Yannick Gingras (2016)
1. Getting up on Christmas morning and watching my kids coming down the stairs and starting to open their presents. The smile on their faces in my favorite.
2. O Holy Night. I like Mariah Carey’s version, but the song in general is my favorite.
3. As a kid we lived on a farm and Santa always seemed to get stuck in the snow on our property. So, we would get a horse harnessed, use a big sleigh we had and all of us kids would get in to go help him out. We usually had a lot of family members at our house. Santa would then come back to the house, get warmed up, give the kids a present then we would all get back in the sleigh and bring him back to the end of our property and watch him walk into the woods thinking he was going back to his own sleigh. It was terrific
4. I honestly can’t think of best gift.
Tom Grossman (2019)
1. Movie and Chinese food Xmas afternoon.
2. Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town
3. A $55 daily double at Aqueduct with my dad when we were supposedly shopping for presents.
4. Hand knit sweater from my daughter.
Ron Gurfein (2017)
1. The children opening presents under the tree on Christmas morning.
2. Christmas in Dixie — Alabama.
3. Ice Skating in Rockefeller Center on Christmas Eve.
4. My grandfather gave me a model airplane with a real engine (Fox 35).
David Heffering (2016)
1.With the Hefferings, it’s about family and food. On Christmas Eve, we have what we call Snacky Night, which is a bunch of hors d’oeuvres. We usually watch Elf and then Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. I have a sweatshirt with that whole speech that Chevy Chase gives in that movie. I love it. Then everybody goes to bed and I stay up and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Christmas morning Nora makes apple spice coffee cake and we sit around eating that and drinking tea. Then I do the farm chores. Christmas dinner is usually a rack of lamb for us. Boxing Day is usually Asian food.
2. I don’t really have a favorite song, but I have a favorite CD. It’s A Blue Christmas by Alligator Records and it’s done by old-time blues singers doing versions of Christmas songs.
3. I grew up living with my mom and there was a 10-year age difference between me and my brother. I’d open presents Christmas morning and then jump in the car and drive to my brother’s house in Greenwich, CT. He and his wife always had a fancy meal. We always had shrimp cocktail and he would cook a goose or pheasant. One year it was beef wellington.
4. The best gift I ever received was also one I gave. I took the whole family the day after Christmas and went to Turks and Caicos and spent New Year’s down there.
Wally Hennessey (2017)
1. Christmas Eve when all our family gets together.
2. The traditional Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
3. Every Christmas, our whole family — mom, dad, 9 kids, got together and unwrapped one gift that we gave to whoever our pick was.
4. Not to sound goofy, but just the memories of growing up with an unbelievable mother, father, brothers and sisters.
Trevor Henry (2017)
2. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.
3. The whole family sitting around a huge table eating a great meal that my mom made.
4. My first Walkman. It was a big deal back then.
Dean Hoffman (2017)
1. There are so many holiday traditions in our family — leaving milk and cookies out for Santa, for example — but the enduring one is having dinner after Christmas Eve service at church with friends. About five families participated and we took turns hosting the dinner at our homes. Every family brought something for the table and connecting with these friends really made Christmas special.
2. For me it’s hard to beat Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” but when my kids were young and my mother-in-law was with us, I would sing a raucous version of “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” (I must admit I’m partial to the Chipmunks “Please Christmas Don’t Be Late.”
3. When I was a child, my family lived in a big, rambling home built in the 1860s and on Christmas morning I couldn’t wait to sneak down the steps in the morning just to see what goodies were under the tree. The anticipation almost killed me.
4. This is where I learned a lesson from my mother. When I was a young boy, I would tear into the gifts with abandon, as did my older sisters. Then we’d quiz each other on the best gift we each got. I asked my mother once, “What was the best gift you got, Mom?” She said, “Just having my family all together was the best gift I could possibly get.” At the time, I thought it was the most foolish answer I’d ever heard. But when I had children of my own, I realized that it was perhaps the wisest answer I’d ever heard.
Joe Holloway (2018)
1. My favorite part of the holidays is Christmas Eve, we have a big family gathering, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters etc. It’s just great to see everyone and spend some time and catch up.
2. Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms
3. Going out to get my parents a present on Christmas Eve when I was 6, with my brother and 2 sisters. It was snowing and we got stuck and had to walk home, the drifts seemed so big. We don’t usually get White Christmases in the Delaware area.
4. Best gift was when my sons gave me tickets to Yankees in spring training, we went down and spent a couple of days in Tampa. Great time of year to get away before the season begins.
Jody Jamieson (2016)
1. Mistletoe hanging where I can kiss everyone!
2. All I want for Christmas. I can’t remember the artist.
3. Just waking up on Christmas Day and running out to the tree. I still believe in Santa!
4. My dad leased me a new Ford F-150 in my colors! That was pretty cool. (Thank you Elegant Killean).
Marvin Katz (2017)
1. Going to our Florida home.
2. Ten different Beatles songs
3. Playing street hockey in the snow
4. My wife/children/grandchildren. Love them all.
Paul Kelley (2016)
1. Getting together with family and friends for a traditional family Christmas party with lots of spirits.
2. White Christmas by Nat King Cole
3. Always getting together with family.
4. Any time Santa brought me a new table hockey game.
Dave Landry (2019)
1. Dinner at my parent’s place where the whole family gets together.
2. Embarrassed to admit Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives.
3. Going out and playing hockey on Boxing Day — usually sporting something new that was received for Christmas.
4. Rockem Sockem Robots.
Anthony MacDonald (2016)
1. Always Christmas. I like going to the mall close to Christmas. I usually avoid crowds, but Christmas is different, everyone’s happy.
2. Merry Christmas Baby — Bruce Springsteen.
3. Looking back, all of them mean a lot. For my parents to put on a Christmas for six kids knowing what I know now as a father, and how tough it must have been, really all of them were special.
4. It sure as hell was the knitted clothes from my grandparents!! LOL. Every dad will tell you the same… watching your kids open their gifts is the best gift.
Paul MacDonell (2018)
1. Picking out a Christmas tree with my daughters
2. Let it be Christmas by Alan Jackson
3. Driving to Nova Scotia to surprise my grandparents at Christmas.
4. A brand new pair of skates when I was about 5 years old.
Brent MacGrath (2019)
1. Our family going to the woods getting a tree home and decorating it; having seafood chowder at our home with friends and family.
2. Little Drummer Boy by Bob Seger.
3. I am the youngest of four boys. We all opened one present on Christmas Eve and were always up early on Christmas Day, which I learned from my older siblings.
4. As a young boy, a hockey net sticks in my memory.
Andrew McCarthy (2019)
1. Mom always made ham and cheese croissants for breakfast. We have carried that tradition on for our kids.
2. I hate to sound like The Grinch but I pretty much despise most to all Xmas music. You can blame department stores in October.
3. When living in Queensland we would head to the beach after opening presents.
4. One year my older brother, sister and I got a Shetland Pony. Mom and Dad snuck him in and had him inside by the Xmas tree.
Bob McClure (2018)
1. Christmas dinner at our family farm.
2. You can’t go wrong with Jingle Bells, no matter who sings it.
3. My mom got me my first helmet. That was really special for me.
4. A family friend gave our family an identical suit to mine for what was my baby Ryder. He outgrew it fast, but it was a lot of fun for a few months!
Bob McIntosh (2017)
1. Watching brother Doug putting the star on the silo.
2. Silent Night.
3. Big McIntosh family gatherings.
4. Black pony when I was 6
Bill McLinchey (2018)
1. Getting together with family and friends and eating too much turkey.
2. Let it be Christmas by Alan Jackson
3. Being so excited for Santa to come
4. Toss up between Castle Grayskull or Nintendo.
Doug McNair (2017)
1. Getting together with a couple old friends from high school and having a couple drinks two or three days before Christmas.
2. Rockin around the Christmas tree (Home Alone version)
3. Probably when we went on a cruise over New Year’s with my mom’s side of the family. About 30 of us. I was only about 10.
4. One time my dad bought a snowmobile the day before Christmas. That was the best gift by far. Mom didn’t agree since she shopped around for months before Christmas.
Marcus Melander (2018)
1. It’s a Swedish tradition to always watch “ Kalle Ankas jul” on TV every Christmas at 3 pm
2. All I Want for Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey)
3. That I always had my family around me.
4. Me and my brother and sister got a couple of ponies one year, that we were able to race with the following year.
Dave Menary (2017)
1. Boxing Day was always a little bigger for me with my mom’s side of the family because of so many people.
2. Anything on Kenny Rodgers and Dolly Parton Christmas tape/cd.
3. Not sleeping, always trying to catch Santa stuffing my stocking and leaving presents on the coach in the morning.
4. Watching my daughters enjoy Christmas and being able to host family at our home.
David Miller (2018)
1. Going to Christmas Eve service. It started when I was a kid with my mom and sister going back home and spending the rest the night with my family. Me and my wife still do it.
2. Mariah Carey’s song All I Want for Christmas is You.
3. When I was a young kid, I wanted a bike and I remember coming downstairs and it was beside the tree.
4. Just last year I had both of my daughters with me on Christmas Day for the first time in a long time.
Julie Miller (2016)
1. My favorite holiday tradition is our family’s annual outing to New York City to see the Christmas Tree and Macy’s Christmas windows. The NYC Christmas Tree sets the mood for a beautiful holiday season.
2. I love so many holiday Christmas carols. This is a tough one. My favorite would be Joy To The World by the Children’s Choir.
3. My favorite childhood memory was getting ready for Santa to come! I remember writing my Christmas letter and setting out the sugar cookies and milk for Santa to enjoy!
4. The best gift I ever received as a child was at six years old. It was Lite-Brite. My best adult gift was an unexpected pair of diamond earrings from Andy.
Dr. Ian Moore (2016)
1. Just spending Christmas morning with family.
2. Jingle Bell Rock.
3. I just remember family and friends and Christmas dinner and lots of presents. One of the presents I remember was Kenner Give-A-Show Projector. That was pretty cool. That was back in the Sixties. That wouldn’t be much of a toy for a kid today, but back then it was great.
4. As an adult, the love of family and friends. It’s a time to remember the year you had with everybody. Love and togetherness.
Bill O’Donnell (2016)
1. Watching The Polar Express and going to Christmas Eve Mass.
2. All I Want For Christmas is You — Mariah Carey
3. Getting together with family and having Christmas dinner.
4. A Christmas bonus from the Nihilator syndicate.
Jason Portuondo (2018)
1. My favorite holiday tradition has become secret Santa with the fam. Every year we pick a different theme, which keeps it fresh.
2. That’s tough; probably a dead heat between Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song and Brenda Lee’s Rockin Around The Christmas Tree.
3. Favorite childhood holiday memory was having a Christmas Eve sleepover with my cousins. Six of us slept in the same room and we kept peeking out the window watching for Santa.
4. The best Christmas gift… at least as a kid was an Atari video game system which included PacMan and Space Invaders.
Chad Rozema (2017)
1. Every Christmas Eve I have to watch the 1983 classicA Christmas Story, hands down the best holiday movie.
2. Easy — Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Frank Sinatra
3. I remember when I was about 7 or 8, Santa left a note in the tree to go check inside the garage, I was terrified but that quickly changed to happiness when I uncovered my new GT Snowracer.
4. Three Christmases ago my amazing wife surprised me with a brand new Ford F150, but she did say she liked the pyjamas I got her.
Adriano Sorella (2018)
1. For the last few years it’s been “vacation”. We have gone away somewhere warm for the last several years. This year will be no different.
2. “Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas.” This always gets to me each year.
3. The really big parties. Italian household, with all our families gathered. It didn’t matter that we all lived in tiny homes, we crammed in everyone. Tons of food. My mom and aunts would make cookies for a month leading up to it. I truly miss this part of my life.
4. This is tough. I have received several nice gifts. However, when I was much younger (maybe about 8-9 years old) I wanted this Tonka toy garage set. It looked like a parking garage with a ramp going in and out. My parent being of Italian decent didn’t really believe in these types of toys or expenses. I mean it was expensive back then. My brother Tony took my parents to buy it for me. I was pretty shocked when I opened it, and it left me with this memory 38 years later.
Jason Settlemoir (2017)
1. Each year (since we left Ohio for the east in 2006) we travel back home to Ohio to my mom’s house and on Christmas Eve we drive around the big city of Newark, Ohio as a family to look at Christmas lights.
2. Merry Christmas Baby by Bruce Springsteen
3. Christmas mornings with the family.
4. My wife (Lori) said “yes” to marrying me on Christmas Eve in 2004, that was my best gift, but when I was 14 I got a set of Terry Holton’s driving colors made to fit me. This was back when I thought I was going to be a catch driver. I was over the moon! I could hear Roger Huston saying “and Jason Settlemoir wins the Little Brown Jug.”
Steve Stewart (2017)
1. When our kids where little, we would go down by the Kentucky River and find a nice cedar tree to cut for our Christmas tree. The trick was not to get one out of anyone’s yard.
2. When I was young, there was never a Christmas tree or presents under the tree on Christmas Eve. Our family would go to Midnight Mass and when we got home the six kids would go to bed. In the morning, we would wake up to a decorated tree and all the wrapped presents under the tree. The story was that Santa brought the tree. My parents did not get much sleep on Christmas Eve.
3. My mother would make iced shortbread cookies with us every Christmas.
4. When I was 6, my twin brother and I got a “war board” for Christmas. It was a large topographic board with hills and creeks and Army men that we could move around. We found out 5 years ago that my older sister had given it to us. We always thought it was Santa.
Jimmy Takter (2016)
1. The midnight candle service on Christmas Eve at the Allentown Presbyterian Church
2. Silent Night at Midnight Service with the choir and the candles and everything.
3. In Sweden, there was a lot of snow. I remember I got a pair of cross-country skis one year and that winter we had about five days around Christmas when we didn’t have snow. I went crazy.
4. I’m not so much for getting gifts. I’m so blessed in so many different ways I’d rather give somebody something than get something.
Nancy Takter (2016)
1. My favorite holiday tradition is when our family goes to the Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve at Allentown Presbyterian Church.
2. What Child Is This.
3. When I was about 10, home computers were getting popular. We only had a computer that my mom did bills on so all I really wanted for Christmas was a computer. Imagine my excitement when a big heavy box appeared under the tree with my name on it! Well on Christmas Eve (Swedish tradition is to open gifts on Christmas Eve) I finally got to open the box. Inside was a complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica! The disappointment was real. Honestly, though, it was one of the best gifts ever as I used to read them at night to fall asleep. I learned a lot about a lot of things.
4. Best gift ever: 20 per cent of Donatello Hanover as a yearling. No expenses and to be trained by Hall Of Famer Jimmy Takter. Two years later, I got a breeding to Trixton to be used on her which resulted in a filly named Given who will begin training in fall of 2017.
Mike Tanner (2019)
1. Decorate the tree on Christmas Eve, open presents on Christmas Day.
2. I’ll go with “White Christmas,” and in particular the Drifters’ version that came out in 1954. Most people know it from the soundtrack to the movie “Home Alone.” It – the song, not the movie – never gets old.
3.When I was a kid, my family always had a big party on Christmas Eve for family and friends. It was an open house and there were always a few surprise guests, with everyone arriving late and many staying until the wee hours of the morning. I loved those nights.
4. Last year around this time, we learned that my wife’s cancer was fully in remission and that her surgery the previous month had been successful. Best Christmas present ever.
Tim Tetrick (2017)
1. The day after Christmas myself, my brothers, our families, and my parents all head to the barn and jog that year’s 2-year-olds. Sometimes we turn them to train, but mostly, we just hang out, laugh, and check out our stock for the upcoming year.
2. I’m not much for Christmas music but Trysta’s rendition of Rudolf the “Black” Nosed Reindeer is hilarious.
3. Trace had a pony growing up named Beautiful and the year before she passed all of us got together with our kids, rode her, and took pictures. I’m thankful we did that because she meant a lot to all of us.
4. I got a pony named Bill Pony years ago and he was awesome.
Bruce Trogdon (2017)
1. We have breakfast of orange rolls and bacon. As you get older and have 11 grandkids that is the most peaceful part of the day!
2. Ave Maria. My wife plays the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert tape every year on speakers throughout the house. Puts you in the mood. Takes a lot to make me relax, but that works.
3. Just having my mom with me, who died of cancer when I was a young man. I miss her.
4. Can’t even think of one, the gift part is not my favorite part of Christmas. I am a hard person to buy for! Seeing the excitement watching the little kids open theirs I would say is the best gift, honestly.
Linda Toscano (2016)
1. My favoriteholiday tradition is we open one present on Christmas Eve when the whole family is there. It’s always matching PJs. It was cute when we were kids, but it’s hilarious now that we are all older.
2. It’s atie between Frank Sinatra’s Have Yourself A Merry Christmas and Bing Crosby/David Bowie doing Little Drummer Boy.
3 and 4. My favorite children memory and best gift are tied together. I think I was sick one Christmas. My parents came in And woke me up to look out the window. It had snowed and I’m sure they had walked the dog thru the snow to make tracks, but they said they heard jingle bells. I totally believed!! The milk and cookies we gone. Then we looked under the tree and the stereo I desperately wanted was all set up ready to go. It was magical.
Heather Vitale (2018)
1. I host Christmas Eve at my house every year and it’s one of my favorite nights! I mean I really, really look forward to Christmas Eve! We keep it simple as far as making it fun and no stress. We bring in food from a caterer… no cooking, no cleanup. We don’t do a bunch of gift buying for the adults. Basically, the present giving is focused on the kids. We play games like a harness racing headbands game, King Stable Trivia and Beanboozled. Oh, and, of course, we always do a Facebook Live!
2. My Only Wish (This Year) – Britney Spears
3. My parents got divorced when I was like a year old so my entire childhood I had TWO full-blown Christmases — one in Jersey and the other in Florida. Santa always visited one of the homes on a night other than Christmas Eve and thankfully I was smart enough not to question it…. until I was in college.
4. I am really into practical gifts — I guess because I hate spending my own money on practical stuff for myself. So, probably a full-set of tires is one of my all-time fave Christmas gifts.
Ben Wallace (2016)
1. Turkey and all trimmings, plus day after leftover hot turkey sandwiches with family.
2. The Little Drummer Boy
3. Far too many to list one
4. Everything cherished from my family
Mark Weaver (2017)
1. My favorite thing about Christmas is spending time with my wife and kids. With a 16 and 17 year old, I don’t know how many more years our home will be their home.
2. I don’t really have a favorite song but Mariah Carey has few that come to mind.
3. My favorite memory is just the anticipation of Christmas morning — my sister, brother and I trying to sneak down stairs and see our presents.
4. I would say the best gift I received was my parents love and guidance and also teaching me the reason for the season.
Ken Weingartner (2019)
1. Hosting the family for Christmas Eve dinner followed by watching A Christmas Story.
2. I enjoy a wide variety of holiday songs. If I had to pick a favorite it would be Christmas Time is Here by Vince Guaraldi.
3. The arrival in the mail of the Sears catalog Wish Book, fending off my siblings, and pouring through the pages looking at all the toys and making a wish list.
4. A pinball machine. I was about 10. It wasn’t a full-sized arcade machine, but a good-sized replica with digital scoring. We kept a notepad next to the machine to record high scores, which had to be verified by a second person. That machine was played in our basement for years.
Russell Williams (2019)
1.My husband is Jewish, there’s a Lithuanian brother-in-law, and a Korean niece. So the holiday tradition is maximum culinary diversity. For Hanukkah we have latkes and all the normal Jewish dishes. Lithuania takes over on Christmas Eve, when we sit down to Kūčios, which includes several pre-Christian traditions, and a 12-course seafood tapas series à la Vilnius. Our Christmas is typical, except that the niece’s Kimchi is spicy enough to require a hazmat certificate.
2.The Hallelujah Chorus, if it’s a sing-along. One year we were at Boston Symphony Hall (in the audience) for one of these. I had the score and sang the bass part, but the ladies next to me kept rolling their eyes because I wasn’t singing the familiar melody. They seemed to think I was tone-deaf, but in fact I was on pitch with the bass part. Such is life.
3.We always traveled from Florida to Pennsylvania to stay with my grandmother at Christmas. There were tons of books in remote parts of the house and I loved sitting in a window, with the winter landscape outside, and reading. It may sound stark and Dickensian, but for this kid from Florida, the silence of winter and discovery of books were a mortal lock.
4.Forgiveness. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait until Christmas.
Jay Wolf (2016)
1. I come from a large family so we have three Christmas celebrations in a 24-hour period. We host about 40 family members on Christmas Eve, have Christmas morning with my immediate family and Christmas afternoon in Dayton, OH (about an hour away) with the in-laws.
2. Bing Crosby’s White Christmas.
3. We would get together with my dad’s side of the family every Christmas Eve. Our Uncle Ed would take all the nieces and nephews upstairs to look for Santa and sing carols.
4. A few years ago, my wife surprised me with tickets to see the Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. It was their last tour after 45 years.
Rick Zeron (2018)
1. Being at the Lake House for Christmas with the family and grandchildren
2. Mariah Carey (All I Want For Christmas Is You)
3. Leaving home
4. My wife Joyce and 4 children, 3 grandkids
Art Zubrod (2018)
1. Christmas Eve at my sister’s house. We celebrate with friends from 30+ years ago, now our grandkids are friends.
2. Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire – Nat King Cole
3. A real White Christmas
4. Watching the excitement in my grandkids.