Holiday happenings - from our family to yours

Posted by Creative and Communications on 11.17.2016
Creative and Communications


After the Thanksgiving turkey has been carved, pumpkin pie served and the family fighting has subdued, everyone starts to get into the Christmas mood. To help us be merry and bright, let’s check in with some of our coworkers around the company to see what gets them in the festive mood.

Christmas movies

For many of us, one of the best ways to bring in the Christmas warm and fuzzies is by hunkering down and watching a holiday movie. When asked what their all-time favorite holiday movie was, a few coworkers had a difficult time narrowing it down to just one choice.

“Do I have to pick just one?” exclaimed Blaine Vriezelaar, IT support services manager in our Carlsbad and San Diego office via email. Fortunately, he was able to narrow his choices down to his top three.

“'A Christmas Story' for obvious reasons - classic,” Blaine wrote. For his second pick, “'National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation'. I mean c’mon. Who doesn’t love cousin Eddy and that mock turtle neck?” Blaine finished his trio with a contested movie (people seem to either love it or hate it), “'Love Actually' is a good movie with a ton of great actors\actresses and the music is awesome!”

Agreeing with Blaine’s number one pick is Kristie Lyons, human resources generalist from our Overland Park office. She wrote in her email that "A Christmas Story" is also a classic movie. “I have it on every Christmas Day when it is shown on TV for 24 hours,” Kristie remarked. She also voted for the movie "Elf" as a close second. “Mostly because my favorite line in the movie is my motto in life – ’I just like to smile! Smiling’s my favorite!’” 

But Angela Yates, underwriting account manager from our Bellingham office, brought it all home by reminding us of the claymation classic that generations have grown up with – "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." She noted it has themes so important in today’s world and added a fun bit of trivia to her choice. “Did you know that they still put up cut-outs of the characters in Anacortes, Washington - just a short drive from Bellingham - at the home where Burl Ives last lived?”

White or color lights? 

Speaking of holiday decorating, let’s check in with this group’s preferences of Christmas color lights...

Blaine says: “Color Christmas lights for sure”

Kristie says: “Color Christmas lights!”

Our Bellingham office underwriters reminded us that as per their profession, they’re not really fans of black and white answers. But in this case, a majority of their office voted for white Christmas lights. According to Luda Hagins, an underwriting account manager and also their youngest employee said, “White all the way, colored is so '90s!” 

Party planning

Some of our offices may have noticed a new trend with our holiday parties. “We moved it to January because everyone is so busy during the holidays,” explained Kristie. “It’s a nice way to kick off the New Year,” she wrote in an email.

Kristie elaborated by explaining that the Overland Park team will all head out to a nearby restaurant for dinner and prizes after all the hustle and bustle of the December holidays. “It’s just a great time for everyone to get together outside of the office,” she wrote in her email.

Connie Lem, underwriting operations leader from our Bellingham office wrote, “We traditionally do an intra-office Secret Santa Exchange, but we might switch to doing a charitable gift giving to help others in need. After lunch we do a fun activity, usually bowling. Then everyone goes to collect their family members and head back to Ken Robinette’s (PCL) home for more food, drink and merriment.”

Blaine said his team probably won’t have a party but they usually participate in a gift exchange with the Residential Earthquake team and a few other folks from the office.

Favorite gifts

Gifts are no doubt a big part of the holidays. Kristie shared one of her favorites. “One year my mother put a picture of my great-grandmother and her as a child in a frame along with one of my great-grandmother’s handkerchiefs. I never met my great-grandmother, but I have heard nothing but wonderful things about her from my mom. She said my great-grandmother always carried around these beautiful handkerchiefs, and so she framed both for me. I would have loved to have met her.”

Folks from the Bellingham office piped in with their most cherished gifts they’ve received over the years:

“A Zorro watch when I was five.” - Craig Herter, underwriter, Bellingham office

“My sister and I received a parakeet when we were kids and our brother was trying to convince us there was no Santa.  When we got up on Christmas morning, we said, ‘See Greg, there is a Santa Claus.’” - Judy Cobb, senior underwriter, Bellingham office

“$250 from my dad to buy my first bass and amp when I was 15. Close second, the five-volume Russ Cochran library of “Tales from the Crypt” that my brother Steve got me, which reprinted the entire 1950s run of the EC horror comics of the same name. Yes, I still have it.” - Jeff Billingsley, senior underwriter, Bellingham office

Favorite local traditions

Ken Robinette, Bellingham’s profit center leader, noted his favorite tradition was his very own, The Robinette Christmas Eve hot dog roast.

Kristie’s favorite local Christmas tradition in the Kansas City Metro area is Plaza Lights. The Plaza Holiday Lights is in its 87th year, where a local celebrity and Kansas City native flips the switch on Thanksgiving night to turn on all the Christmas lights within a 15-block vicinity, kicking off the holiday season. This year Jack Sock will do the honors. Sock is a professional tennis player who brought home gold and bronze medals in the recent 2016 Summer Rio Olympics.  

Eggnog – yay or nay?

And what’s the final word from this group on eggnog…Does it get a yay or a nay?

Kristie: “I don’t like it at all.”
Blaine: “Yay!”
Bellingham office: The popular vote was ‘yay’ but there were some stipulations; employees preferred eggnog in a latte or better yet, spiked.

There you have it folks. No matter how you kickoff this Christmas season, may it warm your heart and make you feel merry and bright.



Topics: Holidays