The holiday traditions and memories continue

In the sixth year 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 sixth year of our ongoing holiday tradition, Harness Racing Update adds eight new people 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?

In 2020, we published a five-year anniversary edition of this feature that covered all previous responses (full story here).

Greg Blanchard

  1. It was always making the rounds to my relatives’ houses on Christmas Eve, getting to see everyone and enjoy some great food and laughs.
  2. I Believe In Father Christmas (Greg Lake) by a mile!
  3. My favourite memory was the first Christmas that I questioned whether Santa was real. My parents pulled a fast one on me that I couldn’t figure out. But let’s just say that all doubt I had was removed that year which in hindsight is a wonderful memory.
  4. I don’t think I have one specific gift. I just remember that as a kid hockey was everything to me so any time I got a gift related to the sport I loved I was over the moon about it.

Brian Brown

  1. Getting everyone together Christmas Eve for dinner.
  2. Rudolph probably because it’s the only one I know most of the words.
  3. Just the memory of all us kids together opening presents Christmas Eve and being so happy.
  4. I’d say best gift was the first really nice helmet my wife got me.

Kathy Cecchin

  1. We have always had a big Christmas Eve party, where very intense euchre games are played.
  2. Little Drummer Boy.
  3. I guess the games. On Christmas day, there would be so much family around and we played board games and card games and huge crokinole tournaments. Adults and kids, there was a lot of laughter.
  4. I received a tea cup from my gramma when I was 12. At the time it seemed a bit lame, but it has come to be a very precious gift over the years… and a treasured memory.

Jimmy Ladwig

  1. Opening “just one” present on Christmas Eve.
  2. Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas song.
  3. Riding my new bike Christmas morning.
  4. Recently, Costa sunglasses cheaters. I wear them every day. Thanks, Mom.

Todd Luther

  1. I don’t really have much of a tradition just really like spending time with the family and seeing the reactions of gifts being opened.
  2. When Christmas music comes on I just like to listen to it. Toni hates it. I want to start at Thanksgiving.
  3. Seeing all the presents under the tree.
  4. My two girls Skyler and Lainey. Nothing can beat that.

Ken Middleton, Jr.

  1. My favourite tradition is simply having a turkey dinner with family and friends. The more the merrier.
  2. My favourite holiday song is the Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby and David Bowie.
  3. My favourite childhood memory was driving to Florida when I was in Grade 3 with my mom, dad and brother and going to Disney World.
  4. The best Christmas gift I ever received were tickets to see the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on New Year’s Day.

Nifty Norman

  1. We usually have a barn Xmas party — good time! Otherwise, I like taking the grandkids to get a tree, watch them pick it out, cut it down, drag it back to truck.
  2. I hate Xmas music.
  3. Going to Queenstown in New Zealand for family holiday — great spot.
  4. Not waking up with a hangover!

Jessica Otten

  1. We have a cathedral ceiling at my parents’ house back home in Michigan and every year they always say they are going to size down our tree but I refuse to let that happen. We host Christmas, so every year we have a huge, real tree that goes in the same spot. We always get it the weekend after Thanksgiving and decorate it as a family — but when I moved to the East Coast I’m usually not there to get it with them. So, my mom saves all of my ornaments for me put on the tree.
  2. I will admit that I do not like Christmas music, just not a fan. But I do like the song The Christmas Shoes, only because of the meaning and storyline behind it.
  3. My sister and I are very close with my grandparents on my mom’s side, and every Christmas Eve we would go to church with my grandma. And then the next morning both her and my papa would come to our house really early, before we would get up so that they were there to see us open our presents. Now that my sister and I are older, Christmas morning isn’t as exciting and my parents practically have to drag us out of bed.
  4. I don’t think I can pinpoint any one gift that I have received, I wish I could say I got a pony or a :49 pacer LOL, but my parents always made sure my sister and I had the best Christmas. And to be honest, it’s not about the gifts for me, but being able to spend time with my family all day is what I’m most grateful for.