As this “unprecedented” year comes to a close, we debated what kind of holiday blog to write. How do you acknowledge a year that most of us will be glad to have in the rearview mirror?
With many of our holiday traditions on forced hiatus, we decided to let this blog be about memories. We thought we’d give you a peek into some of our team’s favorite holiday memories and traditions, as well as some of our hopes for the coming year.
Favorite holiday tradition or memory as a child?
“Sleigh rides on my grandparents’ farm, followed by hot cocoa and sledding.”
–Deb Norslien, UX Designer
“I am one of five girls. The year I was four and my oldest sister was 12, Grampa Ashton took out his dentures, put his lower lip over his nose and chased us all around the house, laughing and screaming and running. The dogs joined in. It was chaos. Every year at Christmas, we would beg him to do it again. I miss Grampa’s scrunchy face.”
—Rachel Bolger, Business Development Executive, CultureTrax
“My grandmother was a good cook and made a lot of sweets around the holidays. My favorite was chocolate peanut butter balls.”
—Ryan Ralston, Web Developer
“On Christmas Eve, while my brother and I were sleeping, Santa would barricade us in our rooms with a web of crisscrossed, twisted red and green streamers. There was always one space toward the bottom big enough to carefully crawl through. On Christmas morning, we’d open our doors, see the streamers, and know Santa had been there. It was magical, and now Santa barricades my kids in on Christmas, too.”
—Caroline Sober-James, Director of User Experience
"Driving to Chicago for our extended family Christmas at Grandma's house."
—Jason Sajdak, Director of IT
“We celebrated Christmas Guatemala-style by staying up late on Christmas Eve and eating a tamale and opening gifts at midnight. As a kid, this was miserable. We would beg our parents to let us open gifts early and basically have a meltdown because we were so overtired. We would pass out by 2 a.m. in our new pile of toys.”
—Victoria Echeverria, Customer Success and Engagement Manager, CultureTrax
What about as an adult?
“Our annual Christmas Eve party where we invite our closest friends and neighbors over to celebrate the season together.”
—Becky Held, Sales Manager
“I lost my Grandpa just this past October. So, I guess my favorite memory as an adult is the same one I had as a child. Going to my grandparents’ house for Christmas Eve. I’d walk in and my grandpa would be standing in the doorway. He would smile and say, ‘Well hello, my Kimmie Jo.’”
—Kim Brunner, Director of Operations
"Actually being IN Guatemala City on Christmas with my father in 2006. This was the first and only time I spent Christmas in Guatemala. The whole city of 3 million people light fireworks at midnight on Christmas Eve. It's insane. The city is on a range of mountains and valleys and we stayed with a cousin who lives up on a ridge. We looked out over the city below, lit up with fireworks that lasted hours. And then they do it again the next day at noon."
“My wife hates waiting to give people presents so every year I make it as difficult and time-consuming as possible to find out what she bought me.”
"I mostly just love making Christmas special for my kids. I've even grown fond of the last-minute Christmas Eve wrapping frenzy at the dining room table that usually lasts until midnight, but that might have something to do with the two or three bourbon-laced eggnogs that go with it."
“The multi-family Christmas tree hunt.”
—Paul Lackner, Executive Creative Director
How we rank some classic holiday movies
For the most loved and critical additions to any holiday movie night, our team’s clear favorite was "A Christmas Story."
“I saw it in the theater and then it became a Farmer family tradition to watch every year,” said Erik Farmer, Account Manager. “Jean Shepherd is an amazing writer.”
Scott Johnson, Front End Developer, was torn between two classics. “It’s a tie between ‘A Christmas Story’ and ‘Die Hard.’ Too bad the timelines don’t match up because Ralphie growing up to be John McClane would make Die Hard 2’s icicle to the eye so much cooler.”
Other top favorites included:
— Home Alone
— It’s a Wonderful Life
— National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
— Die Hard
And, don't judge, but the ones still lingering on most of our watch lists include:
— Meet Me in St. Louis
— Bad Santa
— Love, Actually
— The Polar Express
The holiday tunes we have on repeat
“I love Winter Wonderland, because when it comes on the whole family belts it out.”
“Vince Guaraldi Trio’s ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ [The animated special] was my first introduction to cool jazz trios, and it is not only my clear favorite Christmas record, but one of my top five jazz records.”
“Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon because it speaks about the hope of peace and equality for all of humanity. And, well…it’s John Lennon.”
“Percy Faith Christmas. Captures the traditional and fun side of the season. Great arrangements and singing.”
“The Ventures’ Christmas Album…because Surf. Rock.”
“Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas.’ The whole album. It’s super singable, start to finish, and that lady’s impeccable phrasing gives me liiiiife.”
Looking for a new mix of holiday tunes? Our team put together some of our favorites. Go check out our Acumium Holiday Mix 2020 on Spotify.
Our favorite holiday “guilty pleasure” foods
"Spinach Madeline. It’s a Cajun recipe from my husband’s side of the family. It sounds healthy because it has the word 'spinach' in it. It’s cheesy and spicy. Delicious comfort food." (Rachel)
"Rumaki, the mightiest of the retro appetizers, though we skip the version with the chicken livers." (Caroline)
"Pfeffernüsse! Tiny spice cookies that are unbelievably wonderful. The name translates to 'pepper nuts' in German, Danish, and Dutch." (Kim)
"Mashed potatoes." (Jason)
"I was introduced to Fairy Food from Blain’s Farm & Fleet when I moved to the Midwest. What is this stuff and why can’t I put it down?" (Victoria)
"Scotcharoos. They are so addictive. I only eat them at Christmastime." (Becky)
"Chocolate peanut butter balls. I’m pretty sure my mom has started hiding them to ration how quickly I eat them." (Ryan)
What we’re hoping for, or most looking forward to, in 2021
We found some definite themes in what we're wishing for next year. One is political. Multiple people acknowledged looking forward to Inauguration Day and the new administration coming in, with hopes to start healing the deep divides in our democracy.
The other theme was personal. Or, more accurately, people. We really miss people. Rachel misses hugs. Scott is looking forward to seeing his friends in person. Victoria said "Oofda, hugging my mother." Paul echoed he couldn't wait to "have my children and their children in my home whenever they want. And I in theirs."
And we're ready to be done with COVID. Becky looks forward to "hopefully getting a vaccine and getting back to 'normal' life again," including visits with friends and maybe a tropical vacation. Erik wished "a healthy year for all."
Lastly Ryan, who's anticipating the birth of his second child, said, "Obviously the kid, but I have high hopes for a second Chiefs Super Bowl, too."
Sending you our warmest holiday wishes
These socially distanced holidays look and feel different than what we may be used to, but as the classic song says, “Someday soon, we all will be together.” From our Acumium family to yours, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season, full of warm memories and hopes for wonderful things to come in 2021. Merry Christmas to you, and Happy New Year.