Adam Crane

VP of external affairs, St. Louis Symphony

“One of the advantages about my move back home to St. Louis five years ago is the convenience of having family so close. My mother loves to cook, and her house is always the go-to place for my family during the holidays. Just walking in and experiencing the familiar smells of her brisket, noodle pudding and her famous chocolate cookies is enough to get me into the holiday spirit. It’s also nice to see my siblings, who always make it home for the holidays. I even try to keep my eyes off of the iPhone for at least a few hours during our family time together. Then it’s right back to Powell Hall for our abundance of St. Louis Symphony holiday concerts!”

Gina Galati

General director, Winter Opera

“As you can imagine, being from a restaurant family, my parents, Jackie and Dominic Galati, cook lots of great food for the holidays. We have turkey on Thanksgiving with all of the trimmings, and my mother makes Sfingis, which are a sweet batter deep fried and drizzled with honey, powdered sugar and cinnamon. It’s similar to a doughnut, but airy in the middle. I always sing Christmas Eve mass at St. Roch's Church for my cousin, Monsignor Polizzi. Then for Christmas, we usually have nice dinner with lots of different items—always pasta or my father will complain. We have an Italian dessert on Christmas called pignolata, which my mother makes with her brothers. It is made of small deep-fried dough with honey and nuts. It has a hard texture and we give containers to all of our family and friends. If we forget someone, it's big trouble! On New Year’s Day, we always have lamb.”

Harold Sanger

Mayor of Clayton

“Getting the entire Sanger family under one roof is unfortunately becoming a rare event. So now, we gather the entire family every other Thanksgiving (you learn to share holidays with in-laws) for a week-long Thanksgiving holiday celebration. One of the best parts is having our grandchildren, Toby, 4, and Cooper, 18 months, with us and marveling at how fast they grow. With Chanukah beginning on Thanksgiving Day this year, our celebration will be even more meaningful.”

Donald Suggs

Publisher, St. Louis American

“I have two daughters: one who lives on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, and a granddaughter. We all come together in St. Louis at Christmas and it culminates in a big meal on Christmas Eve, because everyone goes different directions on Christmas Day. We collaborate on the menu and we have someone who cooks for us. The menu changes but it’s always a big meal. My granddaughter is 5 now, and opening gifts for her and the daughters is a big deal on Christmas morning, but the dinner on Christmas Eve is really something special.”

Lenore Pepper

Edwin Pepper Interiors

“Our family celebrates both Christmas and Chanukah. At Chanukah, the family usually gathers at my house and we have a Hanukah dinner. We serve potato pancakes, or latkes, and light the Chanukah candles. We used to have all the kids sit down on a set of trains I have that are so large you can sit on them. Our children have grown up and they’re marriageable age, so I’ve saved them for the grandchildren. We open the presents one at a time, and play some games, and it’s very festive and joyous. We also have a son who married a non-Jew, so we invite their family over for Chanukah and they invite us for Christmas. They have stockings hanging at the fireplace and exchange presents, and we have dinner together and it’s also very happy. They’re both holidays we look forward to every year.”

Cheryl Polk

Senior Business Executive, Community Leader

“We have many traditions! In addition to celebrating the holy day, it is not the season until you hear Donny Hathaway's This Christmas or Bing Crosby's White Christmas blaring through the sound system. Annually, each family member chooses a single wrapping paper that will be used for each gift given, instead of writing the name on a tag. This way, you never know how many gifts you have under the tree! Also, there is always the annual cookie showdown between the four adult sisters: Each of us will bring all of own supplies, ingredients, cookie sheets and mixers to the home of whomever hosts for the holidays. I used to purchase ingredients for everyone until it got so competitive that no one wanted to share their recipe. We were doing this Iron Chef baking prior to all of the reality cooking shows! The contest is judged by nieces and nephews, and the cookies are provided to the church where my father serves as pastor.”

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