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How Our CTX Faculty and Staff Spend Christmas

December 17, 2018

We know you're curious to find out what Christmas traditions CTX Faculty and Staff engage in during the holiday season, so we asked them to give us the scoop! It might give you some fun, new ideas! Merry Christmas!

CTX Faculty and Staff Christmas Traditions

"We go skiing every Christmas. We enjoy a simple white Christmas." - Dr. Lynette Gillis, Chief Financial Officer

"My dad's side of the family spends all of Christmas Eve day at my godmother's house, and we always have a huge pot of seafood gumbo and at least three handmade pies from my aunt. We also play a version of the "steal game" for presents for adults. The kids, however, get spoiled by everyone in attendance. My uncle hands out lottery tickets, but some of them are always fake. It gets harder and harder to tell each year." - Sarah Loghin, Chief Financial Officer

"Our family loves Christmas movies, so in the week leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we make sure to always watch 'Home Alone' 1 & 2, 'Elf' and 'The Grinch.'" - Dr. Grant Carey, Professor of Religious Education and Assistant Coordinator of Religious Education Programs

"Every year on Christmas Eve, my family watches the movie 'A Christmas Story.' It comes on television for 24 hours and we all sit together and watch it as a family, then we leave it on in the background for 24 hours. If you look back at Christmas morning/day photographs, you can see the movie playing in the background over the years!" - Kari Armstrong, School of Nursing Professor

"Ever since I became a father nearly four years ago, my daughter Evelyn and I have a special Christmas season tradition – just the two of us. For the whole month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, every night, after regular evening routine of dinner, bath, brushing teeth and putting on PJs, just before bed, we walk around our neighborhood looking at Christmas lights. When she was an infant the walks were short and I carried her the whole time. Now the walks can cover a couple of miles and she runs the whole way. It’s our special time together, just Evie and I, and a welcome break for my wife! Pro-dad tip: This is a great way to run that last little bit of energy out of your kiddo!" - Dan Gregory, Associate Vice President of Building Operations

"We buy our Christmas tree the Saturday right after Thanksgiving and spend the night decorating, enjoying hot chocolate and watching 'Elf.' On the day of Christmas, our family wakes up very early (around 6 a.m.) to open presents and immediately head to IHOP for breakfast. We are usually the only ones there at 7 a.m. and are home by 8 a.m. to enjoy the rest of the day in PJ's." - Cindy Melendez, Student Financial Planner

"I grew up outside of Cincinnati. There is a very large German influence in the area. I lived on a dead-end street that had a lot of kids living on it in a very heavily populated area. On December 6 (St. Nicholas Day), me and several other kids in the neighborhood would go door-to-door Christmas caroling for blocks and blocks. We were all poor so some people would try to give us money, but we would tell them that was not why we were caroling. Some people would have us in to their foyers to sing for them and give us hot cocoa and homemade candies or cookies. And we would sing ‘O Tannenbaum’ in German for some of the older folks. I remember one senior German lady crying as we did. When we finished caroling, we would go back to someone’s house and have something warm to drink and either donuts from the local bakery or homemade treats. None of us had very much when we were growing up, but those are really good memories that we have to share. People would probably think we were crazy if we did something like that now. In Germany on St. Nick night, children would leave their shoes out and find candy in them the next morning." - Noël Greer, Server Administrator

"We usually will pick a needy family within our church, to send gifts and food too, on Christmas. We play fun Christmas-themed games on Christmas day. Each year, on Christmas Eve, the whole family gets together to go look at Christmas lights throughout the neighborhoods. We like to JAM out to Christmas music, while enjoying all of the Christmas lights with the whole family!" - Jocelyn Luchene, Graduate Information Specialist of the K-12 Teachers Alliance

"We watch classic family Christmas specials –'Rudolph,' 'Frosty,' 'The Grinch,' 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town,' 'The Year Without a Santa Claus,' 'Charlie Brown,' and 'Garfield.' We also watch 'The Santa Clause 1, 2 and 3,' 'The Santa Claus Movie,' 'Nightmare Before Christmas,' 'Elf' and 'National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.' We bake lots of cookies/truffles/etc. We spend one or two full weekends baking for family, friends, kids’ teachers, etc, and listen to Christmas Music – classic, corny, new versions of old favorites, etc. We do Elf on the Shelf – for my youngest. Peppermint always seems to find fun, silly and messy ways to make the holidays a little crazy. There is always a real Christmas tree – we love the pine smell, and decorate it with ornaments we have collected every year, and family heirloom ornaments." - Andrea Ehmen, Graduate Information Specialist of the K-12 Teachers Alliance

"A Christmas tradition for the Coulter family is our annual holiday party at the fire station. Darin, my husband, works for Austin Fire Department and he and his fellow firefighters prepare a spaghetti dinner (enough to feed an army), fun games, a visit from Santa (the rookies always get roped into playing Santa) and special rides on the fire trucks for all of the spouses and kids. Being a fire family, we have spent many holidays either at the fire station or celebrated the holiday on a different day. Even though non-traditional, I’ll cherish these memories and can’t wait to have many more." - Kristin Coulter, AVP of Adult and Online Operations & Strategic Partnerships

"We always have cinnamon buns Christmas morning and open our stockings first." - Lauren Moore, Events Coordinator

"As a family, we go to the $5 store and everyone has to use their own chore money to buy everyone else in the family a gift without getting any hints from each other. We all then go home and wrap the gifts to keep the mystery. On Christmas Day, it is quite humorous to see what was chosen for each other, especially what my three little boys think their mom and dad need (e.g., body soap for the dad--guess they think he stinks sometimes). We spend all evening of Christmas watching home videos of the kids' babyhood/toddlerhood. On Christmas Day, all the kids that are over (my kids, my cousins' kids) put on a talent show with magic tricks, singing and knock-knock jokes." - Dr. Abigail Pfiester, Director of the Communication and Multidisciplinary Majors

"Christmas’s traditions start early at our house. We decorate the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving while everyone is home from school. Each kid has a candy filled advent calendar to mark each day until Christmas. Christmas Eve is filled with old family traditions: cookie decorating, a candlelight Christmas Eve service, a fun family game (think saran wrap ball or something crazy), new Christmas pajamas for everyone and mom or dad reading 'Twas’ the Night Before Christmas' to all the kids before cookies are left for Santa. No kids are allowed downstairs on Christmas morning before Mom and Dad have their coffee ready, we are so glad we started this tradition 20 years ago." - Christina M. Shuffield, Administrative Coordinator, Strategy Office

"Since my husband grew up opening gifts on Christmas morning and I grew up opening gifts on Christmas Eve, and since neither of us seemed to be able to give up our traditions once we got married, we compromised. We each open one gift on Christmas Eve and then open the rest early on Christmas morning. And every Christmas Eve, our whole family sleeps on the floor by the Christmas tree, ready to open gifts bright and early Christmas morning. Since we’re finished opening gifts by about 6:30 Christmas morning, that leaves plenty of time to make it to church and then spend the rest of the day with extended family." - Rachel De Young, Executive Assistant to the Vice Presidents Office

"According to my wife, we MUST watch The Nutcracker as a family. According to me, we MUST watch 'National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.' Complete opposite ends of the spectrum." - Christopher Smith, Director of the K-12 Teachers Alliance

"We've always put nuts and oranges in our kids' stockings along with Hot Wheels, light-up bouncy balls and sundry silly toys, a tradition passed down from my mother. One year, when our kids were 11, 8 and 1, the hubs and I thought it would be funny to put artichokes in their stockings, because they would have eaten artichokes seven days a week if we could have afforded it! Their eyes lit up pulling those artichokes out of the stockings that Christmas morning, so we made it a yearly tradition. Now that they are 26, 23 and 16, one of my favorite Christmas moments is when we all gather around the table and sit down to a bowl of artichoke and lemon butter dipping sauce. Everything gets very quiet for a few minutes as we peel them open and the steam rises up into our faces, and then the joking and laughing begins. This year, we're adding a daughter-in-law. The artichokes just keep on coming and we are so grateful." - Jo McIntosh, Professor of English