Red sweatpants, a pink bike, several big packages of gum AND a bunch of Praying Mantises each have a place in Christmas stories shared by our staff.  While these things may see unrelated, another thing is perfectly aligned in each story: Christmas is about family memories.

Jenni Snow

Human Resources Officerpraying mantis with Santa hat

“Every Christmas my brother and I would wake up super early and sneak out of our bedrooms to look at all the presents under the Christmas tree,” remembers Jenni. “One year there was a pink bike sitting in the living room, and the whole morning I thought it was my sister’s until my mom told me it was for me. I took it outside right away and started riding it even though it was winter.”

Mary Belford

Mortgage Funder

“One of my most memorable Christmas moments occurred on my third Christmas away from home,” says Mary.  She and her husband, Mike, wanted to give their 2-year-old son, Seth, a special Christmas, so they bought a live Christmas tree.  “That had always been a tradition for me growing up,” says Mary, “so Mike and I also loved the idea of a fresh, live tree.

“Great idea, right?!” she continues.  “We came home from eating dinner one night…a few days before Christmas Day in 2001….to find that we apparently had an egg case from a Praying Mantis in our tree. The entire wall next to our tree was COVERED in little baby Praying Mantis.  The warmth of our house had hatched the little guys!  Needless to say, Mike took care of that as I ran out of the house with Seth.  I’ll never forget that.  And in case you’re wondering, we have a fake Christmas tree now.”

Patty Owens

Remittance Specialist

“Two of my favorite Christmas memories are of my mom and dad,” says Patty. “My dad was always a jokester. He would tell us all every year that we better not get him red sweatpants for Christmas. When he got sick, we knew it would probably be his last Christmas, and he once again told us to not get red sweatpants. So…we got him a red sweatshirt and red sweatpants. His face was priceless when he opened them. He laughed so hard he had tears rolling down his face. We never found out the reason about the sweatpants, but he got a kick out of it.”

Patty tells her “mom story” this way: “My mom would always make giant sugar cookies with icing for Christmas Eve. Christmas was her favorite holiday.  When everyone got to her house that was the first thing they looked for. We have tried, but no one can make them like she did. She just had the magic touch I guess. She also loved to decorate the Christmas tree. I’m not much for decorating, so she would always come over and help me do mine.”

To keep her parents’ memories in the forefront each Christmas, she decorates her tree with two ornaments with their names on them.

Jamie Singer

VP, Treasury Services

Jamie says that a few years ago she put up the artificial Christmas tree only to discover about half of the lights didn’t work.  “Since it was a pre-lit tree, I got frustrated after much time trying to get the lights working again.” So Jamie loaded the family in the van and drove to the closest family Christmas tree farm to pick out a real Christmas tree.  “We enjoyed picking out the tree and having it cut down, so this is now our annual family tradition!  Best part is we load it on the top of the van tie, it down and drive the street, Chevy Chase style.”

Marcy Smock

Branch Operations Officer

Marcy says, “I love baking cookies and decorating with my two boys!! I also love spending time with my whole family at my grandma and grandpa’s house on Christmas Eve.” Marcy adds that she take the boys to see Santa at the Festival of Trees each year because, she proclaims, “He is the best around!!!”

Courtney Tolley

Teller Supervisor

“When I was little, every single Christmas Eve we would go to my grandma’s house and eat a big dinner and open presents,” Courtney says. Afterwards, before getting ready to go home for the night, her family would ALWAYS track Santa on the NORAD Santa Tracker! “I remember always being SO excited when Santa was close to home, and I remember wanting to rush home and go to bed so Santa could come. Now that I have my own two girls, I am so excited to start this Christmas tradition with them.”

Steve Miller

VP, Client Services

Steve remembers a holiday when his three oldest kids were around 3, 4, and 6. “They had opened all of their gifts and were playing when their mom reminded them to check their Christmas stockings. They dumped the contents of the stockings on the floor, and when they saw the big pack of gum each of them received, they started jumping up and down screaming, ‘We got gum, we got gum.’ Maybe you had to be there, but it was really funny.”

Mary Beth Anderson

Trust Operations Associate

Every year, Mary Beth takes in the Festival of Trees with her family. She says, “We go and look at all of the trees and vote for our favorites and ALWAYS get ginger man cookies to eat. When the kids were little we would get their hand-prints on the pot holders. We always have a great time!!”

Dee Anderson

VP, Branch Manager

Dee’s fondest memories of Christmas are from the years her three daughters were little. “On our way home from church on Christmas Eve, we would search the sky for Santa and his reindeer.  I still find myself doing the same thing on Christmas Eve when I am out and about, looking into the sky, and truly feeling the magic of Christmas.”

Charron Hack

Accounts Payable Clerk

Charron remembers an evening when she was 11. “My parents had to go out for the evening.  There were some presents under the tree.  I suggested to my 9-year-old sister that we each open one present very carefully and then wrap it back up.  Mine was a suede fringe purse that I was wanting!  You know, it still was exciting to open the present Christmas morning even though I knew what it was!”

Lindsay Van Zele

Communications Coordinator

“Going to see Santa every year was a big deal in our house,” recalls Lindsay.  My mom would schedule our hair appointments for an evening after school. We'd go to the mall and get our hair cut and then styled. We would get dressed in the bathroom at Regis Hair Salon in our fancy Christmas dresses with tights and shiny shoes. Then we'd head to see Santa.” Lindsay adds that she and her mom and sister still go to the same hair stylist.

Caeri Chiaro

AVP, Lending Compliance Officer

Caeri remembers when her daughter, Belle, was about 3-years-old.  “She was a little nervous with Santa,” Caeri says.  Son Andrew, then 10, didn’t want to sit on Santa’s lap, but wanted to make sure Santa had the Christmas list. So Andrew tagged along and then snuck in behind Santa and his sister – who was sitting on Santa’s lap -- for the picture.