Happiest of Holidays from SVPAZ

Dec 20, 2016


Your SVPAZ staff wish you and yours a joyous season with family and friends. Thank you for supporting enriching The Valley with your investment of your time, talent, and dollars. We look forward to serving you and our Investees in 2017.

Holiday PartyStaff

From Left: Steve Smiley, Sentari Minor, Meghan Leatherman, Terri Wogan-Calderon, Cindy Vandervort, Patrick Armstrong

In reflecting on the holidays, the staff shares some of their fond memories and traditions.

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?

Family holiday traditions have changed through the years. For 35 years we held a holiday open house on Christmas Eve after church for family and friends throughout the evening. It was not unusual to have 100 folks pass through the house on that night. Now our children have children and we gather with the brothers, sisters, cousins, and have a wonderful dinner and a white elephant gift exchange. We have even been known to play charades after the exchange. – TWC

Movie marathons and eating nonstop. While we are all local, it’s rare that my family gets together outside of major holidays so it is a good time to see family, catch up, and just relax. – SM

We have three traditions (SS):

  • The week before Christmas, my wife and I host a large Holiday Party at our house, and for the two weeks prior, my wife totally rocks the kitchen with every kind of fudge, cookie and baked good you can imagine…it’s a feast. This year, we had our eleventh annual with about 80 guests in attendance.
  • Late night Christmas Eve we a first glass of egg nog around the backyard fire pit and reflect on the holiday and our blessings; then we move inside for the second glass of “enhanced” egg nog and sit in a darkened living room and gaze at the tree.
  • Christmas Day, we have a large dinner with our extended family. Here, my wife’s sister and her family treat us to feasts of smoked brisket, deep fried turkey, and other delicacies.

We try to dress alike (each family), in PJ’s, ugly sweaters, hats or whatever when we all get together on Christmas Eve. (CV)

Our traditions are evolving as our young family expands. However, we have always tried to focus on memory-making moments rather than stuff. We’ve driven across the country several times to be with friends and family in Wisconsin, taking different routes every time and stopping and seeing the sights. (ML)

Do you / your family have a tradition of giving during the holidays? What is it and what organization do you give to?

We take an angel from the Church Adopt-A-Family tree and fulfill a request from St. Vincent de Paul. – TWC

Typically I adopt a family through The Welcome to America Project where we visit newly resettled refugees and show them the holidays and America are about: family and giving. This year I will be making year-end gifts to Support My Club and Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona. (SM)

I lost both my parents on Friday, December 18 (mom in 2009 and dad in 2015); yes exact same day six years apart. Both were in Hospice during their last few months and I came to be totally in awe of Hospice and all that they do for the sick and their families. Since then, I’ve regularly supported Hospice of the Valley through our United Way giving campaigns at Intel. (SS)

We have adopted families many times over the years through church, work or individually. (CV)

I grew up delivering holiday baskets of food and presents to remote families in our county with my family. It was something we all looked forward to doing together and my dad always picked the families that lived in the harder-to-get to locations, which provided quite an adventure. It was an opportunity for my parents to teach us about this season of giving; some of those faces and moments are still embedded in my mind and heart. My husband and I honor that giving mindset through our own church angel tree. We always select a few requests and spend time making the purchases together as a family. (ML)

Eggnog or hot chocolate?

Neither—I’m a cider with some brandy kind of gal.(TWC)

Hot chocolate.(SM)

“Performance Enhancing” Eggnog J (SS)

I’m a Midwest girl at heart – I love a stiff brandy old fashioned sweet with lots of cherries! (ML)

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Santa gives gift cards or cash. (SM)

Wrap (SS)

When do you decorate for the holidays?

My favorite time to decorate is Thanksgiving weekend.  Our kick-off to the Christmas season! (TWC)

Thanksgiving weekend/Black Friday (SS)

What is your favorite holiday meal?

Ham and mashed potatoes (SM)

Breakfast, a big one on Christmas morning (CV)

Snow: Love it or dread it?

Love it and miss it. (SM)

Love it for skiing, dread it for commuting! (SS)

Hate it! (CV)

Real tree or fake tree?

Fake tree—while the kids were growing up we always had a real tree—but it dried out so fast that we began to worry about it catching on fire. So we eventually moved to a fake tree. (TWC)

Fake – much easier! (CV)

What is your favorite holiday song?

I have two favorites—and they are all about the bells. Silver Bells, which was originally written about the Salvation Army bell ringers and Carol of the Bells—love the upbeat and happy sentiment. (TWC)

All I Want for Christmas is You –  (Diva) Mariah Carey (SM)

Carol of the Bells (SS)

Oh Holy Night! (CV)

War is Over and anything on the Neil Diamond Christmas albums (ML)

Favorite holiday movie?                                                                                             

Love Actually and The Holiday (tie) (SM)

It’s a Wonderful Life (SS)

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (CV)

The Family Stone (ML)

Do you send holiday greetings? If so, Christmas letter, card, or email?

Yes, we send out Christmas cards.  I am actually one who really likes to read what my friends and family have been up to in annual cards. (TWC)

Perhaps it’s the communicator in me, but I LOVE Christmas cards. I love putting them together every year and thinking of everyone as I address them. It’s equally fun to receive. I go as far to put all the picture cards in a photo album every year. I love to look back to see how kids have grown and families changed. (ML)