Christmas is coming!

And every family that celebrates Christmas carries on their own beloved traditions from year to year. We asked our coworkers here at the Cottage to share some of their favorites.


Sandy Vega, Associate Art Director

My favorite Christmas tradition is my mother’s holiday punch, which is sweetened with real pieces of sugarcane. I love watching my dad peel the sugarcane while I wait to get a piece. It’s the only time of year you will find a giant stalk of sugarcane in our house.


Ginny O’Donnell, Creative Director

Mama baked gingerbread boys and girls for us to decorate. Just before they cooled completely, she poked a little hole in the top of each head, for a ribbon. Then no matter how amateur the decoration, all were hung on the Christmas tree. Best part: Getting to eat a cookie off the tree. Do you know how hard a week-old gingerbread cookie is? That’s why you have to dunk ’em in hot chocolate! I wish I could say I’ve carried on this tradition, but I’ve only carried it in my heart. I named my daughter Ginger, though! Does that count?


Kurt Sholly, Director of Supply Chain Solutions

Our favorite family tradition is that we open up some presents on Christmas Eve, and my wife and I pick those out. Typically they will include new pj’s for the kids so that when we do some video recording of Christmas morning, everybody is in their new pj’s. 🙂 Then, once we’re done opening presents and having breakfast on Christmas morning, we pack up and head over to the grandparents’ houses.


Carri Schmidt, Director of Sales & Marketing

We have a fun tradition in our home—every year we research how another country celebrates Christmas, and then about one week prior to Christmas we celebrate the traditions and food from that country. We look forward every year to learning more about Christmas around the world! We have traveled to Germany, France, Venezuela, Greece, Italy, and Spain, all without ever leaving Wisconsin!


Angie Hodges, Senior Art Director

We have a Polish tradition in our house: Before our Christmas dinner, we pass an Oplatki (christmas wafer) around the table. The oldest person starts, and breaks a little piece off. Then we pass it around to everyone, and we keep going around and around, breaking off little pieces, until it is all gone. We think of a blessing or something we are grateful for. The wafers are often embossed with a beautiful Christmas design.

Photo credit:


Kerry Finnamore, Acquisitions & Contracts Manager

I always make my husband and our two kiddos homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning. From scratch! Not out of a can! Christmas movies are also a big part of our holiday season. As a family we have to watch all of the Santa Clause movies, the Mickey Mouse version of A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I love the old Hollywood favorites—Christmas in Connecticut and The Bishop’s Wife, and usually my husband and I watch one of these on Christmas Eve as we finish wrapping presents…or Die Hard, if he gets to the DVD player first!


Kate Jelinek, Art Director 

One year my older sister [Kerry Finnamore] went on a class trip to Springfield. She brought me back a very quirky souvenir—a fairly lifelike plastic squirrel. That year at Christmastime, we hid the squirrel in the branches of our Christmas tree to try to scare our dad. He wasn’t as surprised as we had hoped he would be, but we all got a good laugh out of it. From that year on, we always tucked the squirrel deep into the tree as a permanent part of our Christmas decor.


Valerie Borzych, Financial Controller

The whole family goes to pick out the Christmas tree, then decorates it together. My mom makes the sugar cutout cookies from scratch, and then we all get to decorate them. Now she does this with the grandkids. We take a Friday or Saturday night and drive around to see all the Christmas lights in the neighborhood.


Eric Peterson, Sales Director

Christmas Day 1994 stands out for me. It is the birthday of my daughter Hannah Noel. Back when we were given the due date of the baby, the doctor had said December 25. On December 24, we had a wonderful evening with family and friends. We settled in after we got home and prepared a bit for Christmas Day, then we headed off to bed. As we got upstairs, almost to the minute of midnight, my wife went into labor. At first I thought she was joking—how could she be in labor EXACTLY as they had told us? So off to the hospital we went. At 11:32 a.m. on 12/25/94, Hannah Noel entered this world. She was the first baby born on Christmas Day at the hospital, so we received a beautifully knitted Santa hat. To this day, I place that hat as the topper to the Christmas tree.

Photo credit: Eric Peterson


Melissa Tigges, Marketing Manager

Since I was little, we celebrated our family Christmas on the 22nd or 23rd because we always headed out of town to my grandparents’ house for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Friends at school were always envious that Santa visited our house early, and I was never disappointed that we didn’t stay at home for Christmas. Now that I’m a mom to three boys, and our routine is much the same, I try to remember how much fun I had as a kid and not feel bad that I’m not creating our “own” family traditions. While it sounds lovely to wake up in your own home on Christmas morning—in matching jammies—it’s much more fun to spend the holidays with family, even if you have to go out of town to be with them!


Nadine Mims, Sales Director

Our Christmas Eve begins with a trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house where, after church, we gorge ourselves on a traditional feast of appetizers that includes smoked fish spread, shrimp cocktail, bureks [spinach and feta in puff pastry], cheese and sausage, and beef tenderloin sandwiches. Presents are exchanged and opened in birth order (youngest to oldest) one at a time. Bows are placed on heads and oohs and aahs are heard throughout the evening, peppered with occasional laughter and tears. We are definitely an emotional group! After we return to our own home, replete with decorations inside and out, it is a tradition to place cookies out for Santa and to snuggle up in one of the kids’ beds for a dramatic rendition of The Night Before Christmas. Yawns commingle with anticipation as the good-night hugs and kisses are given, and the kids are off to sleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.

Photo credit: Nadine Mims



Merry Christmas, from our homes to yours!


Cottage Door Press