Christmas around the community: Part 2

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, December 24, 2011

How does Austin celebrate the holidays?

The Herald asked local officials and residents how they plan to spend Christmas by asking three questions:

1. What are your family’s tradition for Christmas and Christmas Eve?

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2. What is the best gift you’ve ever given or received?

3. What is your favorite Christmas movie or song?

Steve King

Steve King

Austin City Council/Correctional services director

Christmas Traditions: “Our traditions involve mass at St. Augustine’s Church and simply getting as much family together as possible and enjoying hor’d’uerves, food and for those that dare; my mom’s oyster stew.”

Favorite gifts: “Ever since our two boys were old enough to talk, as Christmas nears I’ve asked them ‘what should we get mom?’ Their initial response is what I go with. In year one it was ‘chicken’ from 1-year-old Sam and ‘Beer’ from 3-year old-Carter. They know their mom so well.”

Favorite movie/song: “My favorite movie is Christmas Vacation. Everyone has a cousin Eddie and we all have a little of that Clark W. Griswald Christmas spirit in us. Favorite song hands down is ‘The Little Drummer Boy,’ especially the Bob Seger version. Ba rump a bum bum!”

Sean Poczos

Christmas traditions: “On Christmas Eve, my mom usually buys us pajamas. Then on Christmas, sometimes our other family comes to our house, and the youngest get to open presents first.”

Favorite gift: “I got this scooter. It’s called a Landshark. It’s like half scooter, half skateboard.”

Favorite song: “Favorite Christmas movie would probably be ‘Home Alone II.’”

Bonnie Rietz

Bonnie Rietz

Former mayor/Hormel Foundation

Christmas Traditions: “We have a fun-filled Christmas Eve! We go to the family service at our church, and it is so meaningful to go up as a family and receive a blessing all together. We then head home for oyster stew and wild rice soup. (Not everyone loves the oyster stew as much as my father, who started the tradition, did!) We then have a program of Christmas songs, poems, violins, cello, piano, guitars and fun! The evening ends with the opening of gifts one at a time so that we all can enjoy the fun of giving and receiving the gifts.”

Favorite gifts: “My most memorable gift came 41 years ago when Tim surprised me at Christmas with a present of an engagement ring!”

Favorite movie/song: “’It’s a Wonderful Life’ is such a classic and ‘Silent Night’ always brings such lovely memories of Christmases past.”

Francisco Carlos-Rubio

Christmas Traditions: “We’ve got five in our family. It doesn’t matter what we do, just knowing that we can get together.”

Favorite gift: My little nephew, he’s wanted a bike and I’ll give him a rare bike. I’ve got two GT bikes. He’s been wanting my bike so I’ll give him it.”

Dustin DeBoer

Dustin DeBoer

Christmas Traditions: “My dad is 100 percent Dutch and my mom’s an American melting pot. We have made Banket, a traditional Dutch pastry, for many years.”

Favorite gifts: “This year my parents gave me the gift of time. My mom and dad are taking me on a cruise. The gift of time is more precious to me than any other gift.”

Favorite movie/song: “My favorite song would have to be ‘Mary Did You Know?’ by Mark Lowry.”





Jonathan Garcia

Jonathan Garcia

Christmas Traditions: “We all gather around and just talk about family.”

Favorite gift: “The last one that I received was a flatscreen TV.”

Favorite movie/song: “‘Home Alone.’ It has a lot of funny stuff.’”






Jean Kyle

Jean Kyle

Christmas Traditions: “We make Eggs Benedict every Christmas morning. We’ve done it forever.”

Favorite gift: “My husband gave me a Makita drill. It was a cordless. It was the best gift I ever got.”

Favorite movie/song: “My favorite show is ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ I have a first edition of the book. I bought it with my lunch money when I was little. And my favorite song would have to be ‘Silver Bells.’”




Cheryl Corey

Cheryl Corey

Austin CVB

Christmas Traditions: “As a little girl growing up, my Dad always made the holiday fudge, from scratch. Talk about yummy and full of walnuts, it was really the best. It was one of very few foods he ever prepared, because my Mom is the wonderful cook/baker of our family. To this day, I love fudge and always miss and think of my Dad when I have some. These days, we typically enjoy extended family and our siblings a weekend before Christmas. Then on Christmas Eve we attend church. On Christmas morning, we celebrate with our sons, daughter-in-law and three tiny granddaughters who are nearly 5, 1-1/2 and 1 month old.”

Favorite gifts: “I’m hoping that this year I’ll receive the most memorable gift ever. I try hard to give meaningful and practical gifts that people will enjoy receiving.”

Favorite movie/song: “Favorite holiday movie (actually favorite movie of all time) is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Favorite Christmas song is ‘Mary, Did You Know?’ and I love it sung by any of the more than 30 artists who’ve recorded it. Most recently, I heard it performed live at a concert by Billy McLaughlin and SimpleGifts, just a few weeks ago.”

Jessie Meyer

Jessie Meyer

Christmas Traditions: “Christmas is just getting together with family and we play cards. We play Court Whist.”

Favorite gift: “My favorite gift I’ve ever received is my engagement ring. (My husband and I) got engaged on Christmas Day and we had our wedding a year later.”

Favorite movie/song: “My favorite Christmas song is ‘Ave Maria.’ It was my grandmother’s favorite song.”





Mayor Tom Stiehm

Tom Stiehm

Austin Mayor

Favorite gifts: “Best gift is spending Christmas in Mexico with family. Which is where we will be this year for the first time.”

Favorite movie/song: “My favorite movie is the grinch movie with Jim Carey.”




John Kirby

John Kirby

Austin Bruins

Christmas Traditions: “My family traditions for the holidays are to go down to Mason City Iowa, to have a christmas party with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. On christmas day we stay in Austin and have our own family dinner and stay home throughout the day.”

Favorite gifts: “The most memorable gift that I have ever been given would be a necklace with a cross on it that my parents got for my brothers and I, they had it blessed at our local church as well.”

Favorite movie/song: “My favorite movie would be ‘A Christmas Story’ and my favorite song is ‘All i want for christmas is you” by Mariah Carey.’”


Marissa Andrews

Marissa Andrews

Christmas traditions: “We celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, and my brothers and their kids come. And we have supper, and we open presents.”

Favorite gift: “I like getting gifts for my dad and mom. … The family all together is just a really big gift for me. Being together is better than getting gifts.”

Favorite song: “‘Frosty the Snowman.’”




Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson

Christmas traditions: “We get together on the 24th, eat, then (mom) makes us wait to open presents. And on the 25th, we go to grandma and grandpa’s house with all the family and open presents there and eat.”

Favorite gift: “My favorite gift I’ve given was to my dad, a little plaque.”

Favorite song: “’Feliz Navidad!’ That one!”




Connie Hoveland

Connie Hoveland

Christmas Traditions: “On Christmas Eve I make potato soup each year. That is my immediate family’s favorite part.”

Favorite gifts: “Both my girls lettered in swimming a week apart and so for Christmas they each got a letterman’s jacket.”

Favorite movie/song: “I would say ‘The Polar Express.’ I love it and I watch it every year.’”




Miguel Garate

Riverland Multicultural Advisor

Christmas Traditions: “We began to arrive from different states of Mexico and the U.S. On the 24th in the morning, we all go to the cemetery to see our parents and family members who passed away and bring flowers and pray. In the afternoon, we go to a nice restaurant and talk. At that time, they all start working on getting the dinner together for Christmas. … with all the streets closed and children break open a piñata with candy and give them their bags full of candy after praying God. … About 11 p.m., we put the baby Jesus at the center of the house and sings songs for the baby Jesus and give him thanks for all your blessings us is very miraculous and him for wishes for 2012. We all very early the next day drive to San Juan, Texas, where there is a very big celebration. Where we welcome the baby Jesus with music, mariachi and later visit relatives for reheating.”

Favorite gifts: “When I was 12-years-old in Mexico (Matamoros my home town), I still believed in Santa Claus those wonderful years. Santa brought me the bike of my dreams and that same Christmas day there was a collision with a car and my mother was very upset.”

Favorite movie/song: “My favorite song is ‘The Shepherds of Bethlehem.’ And the movie is ‘Miracle on the 34th Street.’”

How the Herald celebrates Christmas

Ben Ankeny

Ben Ankeny

Herald inside sales

Christmas Traditions: “Christmas Eve is spent with my mom’s side of the family. We typically eat chili, play ‘dirty bingo’ (or ‘the garage sale’ game- depending on your ancestors) open some gifts, spend about 3 hours trying to take them gifts out of the obscene packaging and then just hang out and chat. Conversation typically revolves around killing an animal or pulling a scalely object out of some lake, variety of sports talk, and a dab of NASCAR. Christmas Day we really don’t follow a tradition, other then watch my kids open their gifts and then go wherever the breeze may send us.”

Favorite gift: “Oh boy, after 29 Christmases, nothing really comes to mind right off hand, so I guess received would have to be getting our dog Max when i was much younger. “

Favorite movie/song: “Movie —”Tie between ‘Christmas Vacation’ and ‘Elf.’ Song — Right now, being as my youngest just lost his 2 front teeth, ‘All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth’ comes to mind right away. otherwise, I like to add a little metal to my Christmas, so the Twisted Christmas album by Twisted Sister would be my favorite songs/Album for Christmas”

Jana Gray

Jana Gray

Herald business manager

Christmas Traditions: “Christmas Eve we open presents and have lefsa and a meat and cheese tray. Then we go to the candle light service at church. Christmas Day we hang out with the family and have a ham dinner. Then normally go to the movies or bowling.

Favorite gift: “Memorable gift? I don’t think that I have one.”

Favorite movie/song: “I love the kids shows for the Holidays. Some of my favorites are ‘Polar Express,’ ‘Santa Clause’ and ‘Elf.’”


Matt Peterson

Matt Peterson

Herald news clerk

Christmas tradition: “Almost every year, my sister, dad and I go to Prior Lake where my aunt and uncle host Christmas Eve for about a dozen people. They provide entertainment, such as a white elephant exchange and a Christmas-themed picture guessing game — it’s funnier than it sounds. And, no, it’s not Pictionary. Then we celebrate Christmas Day at my mom’s house with just a few people in good ol’ Racine, Minn.”

Favorite gift: “Presents aren’t quite as fun to receive as they used to be, so I’d have to say my Crossman, black, plastic stock, silver-barreled, 10-pump pellet gun was my favorite gift to tear into at about nine years old. Ralphie’s Red Ryder had nothing on this thing, and I never shot myself in the eye, either. It was the icicle that got me. I have since re-gifted that gun to my sister, so she can shoot squirrels that sneak into her apartment and steal vegetables — if that ever happens again.”

Favorite movie: “Sometimes I wish I could do to Christmas ornaments what Clark Griswold did to his in ‘Christmas Vacation.’ It’s nice to have a movie to which I can relate. “