“On Christmas Eve day, my husband Ray and I take all 24 grandchildren to the mall in the morning and meet in the food court. Then ‘Bud’ (what the grandchildren call Ray) gives each of them an envelope filled with their holiday money. They must then shop for whatever they want, come back and show off their purchases. It’s so much fun to see the kids (and now young adults) run off to shop and see what they can get. It’s even more fun to see how excited they are to show us their purchases! And, every now and then, Bud gets a call to ‘come quick!’ because a special purchase requires just a little more....”

--Diane Breckenridge-Barrett, owner/president, Diane Breckenridge Interiors

“Christmastime truly is our special season. For most of our 70 years together, Mae and I have celebrated the birth of Jesus during Morning Mass at St. Monica's Church. Traditionally Mae's godmother, Auntie May Stanze, hosted a huge party, renting a hall to welcome all, from toddlers to oldsters. We carried on the custom in her memory. Our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are our greatest gifts, next to Mae's cookies. Looking for the real Christmas Spirit? Join us in displaying a Nativity scene on your front lawn. Merry Christmas to all.”

--Martin Duggan, journalist/Donnybrook founder

“Christmas traditions evolve. Kids grow up, family members move, things change. We’ve hung on to one--or tried to. My daughter and I have been decorators-in-charge of the tree since she was old enough to put a ball on a bough or a light on a limb. We’d put on our favorite Christmas CD, and go to work. Funny thing happened on the way to last Christmas: I found myself decorating our tree alone. She now has her own place, and did her own tree. Time for a new tradition. I’ll be there.”

--Don Marsh, host of St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio

“I always volunteer for two shifts at the Salvation Army's Toy Town...I l-o-v-e the immediate reaction of mothers and grandmothers picking out age-appropriate toys/gifts for their children who would otherwise go without a Merry Christmas. And the Salvation Army gives each family a voucher to help with holiday grocery shopping. Not a bad tradition for a Jewish gal! I've loved it every year I've done it. It's the best gift I get.”

--Sanda Rosenblum, director of public relations, JDRF Greater Missouri and Southern Illinois Chapter

“Our family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah! For Christmas, my cousins from New York come in every year, and we have a family dinner with our annual grab-bag game with lots of fun and pranks. On Christmas morning, the family gets up early for presents and our once-a-year treat of doughnuts. For Hanukkah, we light the candles for eight nights, and have a festive dinner with latkes (potato pancakes), brisket, and the kids all receive Hanukkah ‘gelt’ (money). This year, we are blessed to have a new little grandson, Sawyer, to share in our family's traditions."

--Pam Toder, community volunteer, Woman of Achievement honoree

"One of my favorite holiday traditions is picking out special, thoughtful gifts for my dearest friends. The ability to brighten someone's day with a kind gesture is truly what the holiday season is all about."

--Donna Wilkinson, owner, The Wilkinson Group

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