San Diego Christmas shoppers caught in the act

Santa's helpers

  • Ann
  • 80 years old
  • Lives in La Mesa
  • Interviewed at Kohl's Santee

Ann

Ann

I'm shopping for just my family -- my daughter and grandchildren. Our Christmas is Christmas Eve. That is our family tradition. I have been doing this all my life. I grew up with that. I'm from Germany, and always Christmas Eve was the big thing. You go to church and then you have Christmas when you come home from church that evening. As a child, I remember the snow, up to my chin. I remember the bustle, the getting ready, the baking, the house smelling so good, and the traditional things you have there. We didn't do the lights outside of the houses. My favorite Christmas carol is "Silent Night," but in German, "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht." My worst Christmases were during the war. Those were bad times. We were bombed, and then we were in the Russian occupation. You don't like to look back to that; you go forward. My fondest Christmas memories were as a child growing up, being with the family. As long as you were with your family, it's a merry Christmas.

  • Joe
  • 52 years old
  • Lives in Santee
  • Interviewed at Kohl's Santee

Joe

Joe

I haven't decided how much I am going to spend on Christmas gifts. I don't usually do a firm Christmas budget because I usually end up exceeding whatever I plan anyway. My two boys will get the most expensive gifts this year. When I was growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, the oldest working child in the family bought the Christmas tree. That was his Christmas gift. There were seven kids, my parents, and my grandparents. There weren't a lot of presents -- we were pretty poor -- but everybody got together and trimmed the tree. The older kids went to Catholic Church on Christmas Eve, the younger group went with the folks on Christmas Day. We had presents Christmas morning, a big meal early Christmas afternoon. When I was seven, I got a used bicycle. My father had bought it and repainted it, and that was the best Christmas gift ever. It was really icy. I crashed a lot, but it was great. The one gift I wanted and never received was a motorcycle. At my house we do a lot of decorations: lights, figures, trees, baubles, stuff around the fireplace, the whole thing.

  • Jeff
  • 27 years old
  • Lives in Olympia, Washington
  • Interviewed at Kohl's Santee

Jeff

Jeff

I plan on spending a couple hundred bucks on Christmas gifts this year. I am a college kid, so I have a limited budget. My nephew gets the most expensive gift. He is two years old, and he is the youngest one in the family. My mom and my aunt both go overboard with decorations. They both probably spend like $500 to $600 a year just on new Christmas decorations. We had the traditional Christmas when I was growing up: Christmas tree, going to my aunt and uncle's for Christmas Day. We'd open our gifts early in the morning at our place, and then we'd go to my aunt and uncle's and then open more gifts right around noon or one o'clock and then have Christmas dinner. There was always more food than anybody could actually eat. It could possibly be turkey and ham; my uncle has a farm, so he catches his own turkeys. I was pretty spoiled; I don't remember any gift that I wanted that I didn't get. I remember getting a castle Lego set one year that I really wanted, the big set that they had with the whole castle and the knights. I was probably nine at the time.... My favorite Christmas song is "Frosty the Snowman." The worst Christmas I'd have to say was the year that we had an ice storm, so we had no power. My parents live out in the middle of nowhere. We couldn't even leave because snow had compacted into ice, so when my dad tried to back the car out the wheels were just spinning. We didn't go anywhere that year.

  • Victor
  • 27 years old
  • Lives in La Mesa
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Parkway

Victor

Victor

I'm going to spend anywhere from $1000 to $1500 on gifts this Christmas. My fiancée will get the most expensive gift. Her gift is half the budget; it is a necklace.... Big tree, lots of decorations, ornaments -- just stuff that I have collected -- nice lights, good lighting scheme, and always a real cut tree.... Christmas growing up: gifts, lots of gifts. I was a Navy brat, so we moved around, but we actually had family come out wherever we were for Christmas. My dad would go all out with lights and everything. A couple of years we did reindeer, and then a couple of years we did a snowman in the front of the house and lights everywhere. What symbolized Christmas in our household was the food. My mom's Filipino and my father is Mexican, so we had a whole variety of food, a cross section of different stuff. We had a dessert called a halo-halo; it is kind of like a slushy ice cream. And we had Filipino cheesecake, which is juicy and sweet. And we had all sorts of adobo -- chicken adobo, pork adobo -- and of course pansit. And then my dad had his tamales, oh, man.... The GI Joe aircraft carrier, that was the one thing that I always wanted and I never got it. It wasn't because they didn't want to get it for me. Every year, when it came time to buy it, the stores didn't have it. They were sold out. It was huge -- it was almost as long as this bench. And every year, my dad tried to get it, and then the last year he even special ordered it, but they messed up the order. But then Hasbro gave me a whole bunch of Destro's commandos. They gave me the whole set for that Christmas. I will never forget that one. We have a Filipino version of the song "Merry Merry Christmas"; it is called "Maligayang Pasko." That's my favorite Christmas song. The favorite gift I ever gave was two years ago. I built my friend a PC. He always wanted a gaming PC. I bought the parts, and I put it together. His brother had committed suicide that year, and he was going through a rough time of it. That was what made it so special.

  • Roy
  • 54 years old
  • Lives in El Cajon
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Parkway

Roy

Roy

I am budgeting right around $200, but it looks like it is going to be quite a bit more than that because my daughter wants these video games for her Playstation 2, and they are $50 a whack. We get the basic tree. We always get a fresh one every year because we like the smell of it. We put stuff on the tree that we've collected over the years. I grew up back in the Midwest, in Kansas, and I remember I think the best Christmas I had. I was five years old. I got the whole set of Tonka trucks that I always wanted. The old stamped metal ones. I think my grandkids are still playing with them. It wasn't a religious holiday, it was just a big family get-together. We had everyone coming over for Christmas dinner: grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. There were four of us in the house. My mom baked and cooked. She'd start the day before Christmas cooking and end up in late afternoon on Christmas, still cooking and baking -- tables full of pies and baked goods. Really I can't remember a gift that I wanted and didn't get. I basically got everything that I wanted. Of course, I didn't want all that much, and then I was pretty well happy with what I did get. Kids today, they want everything they see. My worst Christmas was in 1997 when my ex left the day before Christmas and took my three-year-old daughter with her. That was my worst one.... I wrap my own gifts. I learned by trial and error. What makes me cry at Christmas is how happy the kids are with their Christmas gifts. Tears of joy.

  • Alexander
  • 18 years old
  • Lives in Carmel Mountain
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Parkway

Alexander

Alexander

Hopefully, I'll spend under 400 bucks this Christmas. My girlfriend gets the most expensive gift, but I've got no idea what I'm going to get her. I like to get big trees, but my mom wants to get a small one because she is tired of cleaning up all the needles. I don't do a tree at my own place -- it is too expensive -- just at my mom's. It's decorated with things we've collected over the years usually, like baby's-first-Christmas kind of stuff. Lot of theme stuff too, like color-coordinated things.... My favorite Christmas gift, well my grandfather got me these cowboy boots from Mexico when I was three. I wore them for years. They were, like, oversized boots. I've never really had a bad Christmas, actually. I always go to midnight Mass. We gave gifts on Christmas Eve because we are Spanish. In Spain it is the tradition to do the gifts then or on January 6th, the Three Kings Day. But we don't do that here. We do gifts around 11:00, before we go to midnight Mass. For food, it was either turkey or ham, lot of stuffing. I remember last year my mom cooked saffron rice and chicken -- arroz con pollo. My parents taught me how to wrap gifts when I was little because they didn't want to wrap them.... I don't like Christmas music, it is so annoying. I hate it when they start playing it in early November. But if I had to pick a favorite Christmas song it would be "Mele Kalikimaka" because it is just funny.... My grandparents told me Christmas in Cuba or Spain was a lot different. There weren't many presents because presents were usually given on the Three Kings Day. All you got on Christmas usually was candy.... What makes me cry at Christmas? I've never cried at Christmas.

  • Michael
  • 42 years old
  • Lives in Yuma
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Parkway

Michael

Michael

I'm going to spend about $2000. I've got half of that right here in this shopping cart. My four grandchildren get the most expensive gifts -- mostly LeapFrogs, the electronic learning games, that kind of stuff. My oldest granddaughter, she likes Bratz, so we are spending like $60 to $80 a pop on different Bratz play sets. I'm also buying for two adult stepdaughters, their significant others, and of course my wife. Outside at our house we have lights, and on the inside we decorate the living room. Each year we get more and more. The first year that we were in Yuma, we just had one string of lights right around the top of the house. Now we've got them all over. Next year we are going to do some lawn things, like the deer that move their heads, stuff like that. We've got an inflatable Santa that is eight feet tall. We try to do a little bit more each year. We always do our gift opening on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day is relaxation day. My wife has been trying to get me to go to church, but I feel uncomfortable in a church. It just feels kind of weird.... Christmas Eve, 1994, the engagement ring I gave to my wife, that's my favorite gift given. We play different sorts of music at Christmas. Looking at my dad's picture makes me cry at Christmas. He passed away in '91; he was a really cool guy. This is the time of year I think of him, because he was really big on family stuff and family get-togethers and stuff like that. We always had good Christmases, as far back as I can remember. My dad and stepmom, they always spent $200 to $300 per kid. The worst Christmas was in 1999 when I filed bankruptcy.... I can't stand stuffing. I used to love it when I was little, but I don't even like the smell of it now. My stepmom, the one that I grew up with, she was from Chattanooga, Tennessee, so she was a hillbilly. So we ate a lot of cornbread and grits and buttermilk and just you name it. Because they didn't really celebrate Christmas in the Philippines -- not like we do here -- my dad didn't really bring any Christmas traditions with him. The one thing I really got passed down from him was his homemade recipe from the Philippines that I sort of Americanized so that it would taste better for us. It is adobo, and if you cook it like they do in the Philippines, it is really gross. It's got fish in it, kind of a stew. But this one, basically it is just water, vinegar, bay leaves, salt and pepper, cloves of garlic, and you can put either chicken or beef in it, or pork -- we always do chicken -- and just let it simmer.

  • Ashley
  • 18 years old
  • Lives in Las Vegas
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Plaza Bonita

Ashley

Ashley

I plan on spending no more than $600.... We do a white tree. It's a green tree, but we get it flocked. We do different colored bulbs, everything. We do colored lights on the outside -- window trimming and around the house. We buy a couple snowmen. But we don't do it like you drive by and say "Oooooooo, look at that house!" We are not quite there yet..... My favorite gift was whenever I got the money in the card. My mom, we have different taste, so she just usually gets a couple of gifts that she thinks I would like and then just puts a lot of money in an envelope with a card and says "Merry Christmas." The one gift I've always wanted but never gotten was a Lexus. That would be a Christmas gift! Growing up, it was fun just peeping around, trying to look when the adults were wrapping the gifts. We have a Christmas tradition: we all get around the table, say grace, and we do silly things with video cameras. One Christmas, my uncles and aunties brought us outside and we just had a race up the street to see who could run faster. There was a lot of teasing and trash talking like, "Oh, you can't beat me just because I am old or just because I'm a little overweight." It became a little weird tradition for us. We eat well on Christmas: sweet potato pie, turkey, ham, dressing from scratch, prime rib. We eat greens, homemade macaroni and cheese, four or five different cakes. Of course, we eat like that all year long.... What makes me cry on Christmas? My grandma. The holidays weren't quite the same after Big Mama died in 1998. It's hard. She was the fist of our family. My grandmother would always say that we are blessed, because when she was growing up she didn't have everything that we had. She taught us that we need to appreciate everything, because where she came from, there were a lot of them, and they just had food and family.

  • Carlos
  • 17 years old
  • Lives in Woodland Hills
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Plaza Bonita

Carlos

Carlos

My budget is nothing. I'm not going to give anybody any gifts. I already told everybody, "Nobody is getting anything from me," just because I don't feel like buying anything. I told my mom I'm going to give her a card. That's about it. I don't do a Christmas tree either. You are talking to the wrong guy. I just don't do the Christmas thing. I don't even remember Christmas as a kid. The last time I did Christmas was so long ago that I just don't remember anything about it. There was pretty much a point where I decided I wasn't doing Christmas anymore. We don't have Christmas dinner at my mom's. It's kind of become a family tradition to not do Christmas.

  • Darissa
  • 20 years old
  • Lives in Chula Vista
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Plaza Bonita

Darissa

Darissa

Probably $1000, and my boyfriend will probably get the biggest gift. I got him an outfit, shoes, clothes, cologne, typical stuff. I like to do the little bits and put it all together. I don't do one big thing. I live with my parents, and we have a very traditional tree. It is just the same thing every year, a basic Christmas tree, probably about an eight-footer. We decorate with ornaments, no tinsel. That is not allowed at my house, too much of a mess. Sometimes we do lights and ribbon, bows and stuff. The ornaments are the ones we have had forever. Probably my favorite gift I ever got was this jean jacket I got from my sister. I wore it everywhere. I was like 15 or 16, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I got so many compliments on that thing it was ridiculous. The favorite gift that I have given was a Playstation for my dad. He is into games. Last year I wanted jewelry from my boyfriend, and I didn't get it. I think I am getting it this year, though.... What makes me cry at Christmastime is watching other people's expressions when they open a gift that you've gotten them, something that you know they are going to love, and they are just so excited. That will make me cry. Do I wrap my own gifts? Yes and no. Sometimes, like if the shops will do it I will let them do it, but more normally I will do it. My mom taught me how to wrap gifts. We used to decorate the outside of our house, but not anymore. We put a bow in front of our gate and we put lights up, that's about it. Nothing too extravagant. I always wanted the moving reindeer, but no. Maybe this year. My mom, she is very nitpicky. She doesn't want anything to be all messy, so she will only decorate the living room. But she is very subtle and neat. If it were my house, I would have more stuff, like the cinnamon smell when you walk in and everything. Growing up, we would go to our grandparents' house, and all the nephews and all the kids would go. You bring a present or so for each relative. Then we'd go back home, have Christmas dinner, and open up one gift at night and then the rest in the morning. Christmas morning it is just so wild with the presents. Since there are only two of us, they spoil us; so, yeah, we get a lot of presents. My dad always tells me it is really about celebrating Jesus' birth and not about getting presents. He is not really approving of the whole buy-them-everything approach to Christmas. But my mom is. I am Catholic, and we used to go to midnight Mass and everything but not so much recently. But I want to go to Mass this year. I always say I'm going to go, and then I am tired or I don't want to go, but I am hoping to go this year.

  • Ludy
  • 48 years old
  • Lives in Chula Vista
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Plaza Bonita

Ludy

Ludy

I plan to spend a lot of money on gifts. Probably in the range of $1000 to maybe $3000. My immediate family gets the most expensive gifts, my children and my husband. But first of all, we don't celebrate Christmas like many others do, because we don't observe it in our church. We don't celebrate Christmas in our church because every day is a Christmas in the Church of Christ Pentecostal Church. We believe that every day is giving day. But so that our children don't feel left out, we give them what we call Good Boy, Good Girl presents. And then it is also our anniversary, so my husband and I give each other gifts. We just make it a family day. We don't do trees and decorations, nothing like that. We do have a special meal, because it is also our anniversary, so we celebrate. I didn't celebrate Christmas growing up because I was born and raised in our church. We went to church, and church is a big celebration for us too. So while everybody else is having their Christmas fun, we socialize at church. We do some of that brotherhood thing, so we really don't feel left out. I grew up in a church community where that is just the norm.

  • Sonia
  • 28 years old
  • Lives in Golden Hill
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Plaza Bonita

Sonia

Sonia

Mostly it is just me and my sisters that are together for Christmas, because my family is from Chicago. We do just a couple of gifts. It depends on the budget. I'm planning on spending under $100 for gifts this year. We don't do a tree; there is no room, no kids. We put lights outside -- just a few lights on the balcony. I don't wrap my gifts. Christmas is a religious holiday for me. Sometimes I go to church, but I haven't found a church home. I just started going out here in San Diego.... My favorite Christmas song is "Jingle Bells." When I was a kid, I got more presents and I believed in Santa Claus. Most of the time we spent Christmas with family, immediate family: aunties, uncles, mom and dad, other sisters. We opened gifts at midnight. My favorite gift ever was a 1970 Olds 442, a Matchbox-type car, a little replica. I like old cars. The favorite gift I ever gave was -- my sister had put a watch in a pawnshop and I gave it back to her on Christmas. The one thing I always wanted but never got was a car, a real one, not just a Matchbox. I haven't had a worst Christmas. A fondest Christmas memory? They are all pretty good. Growing up, my mom decorated: the tree, the lights on the windows, and then they started putting them outside on the bushes. Eggnog is the only thing that was special on Christmas. In my family, Christmas dinner has never really been that much compared to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving was the bigger dinner holiday. On New Year's we had black-eyed peas. It was for good luck, supposedly.

  • Monica
  • 33 years old
  • Lives in Redondo Beach
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Mission Valley

Monica

Monica

Let's see, I'll spend maybe $300 to $400. My mom will get the most expensive gift. I'm going to get her clothing. I don't do a Christmas tree, my mom does. I'm never home, and I have cats, and if I am not home, they are going to destroy it. Santa never wrapped anything at our house. Presents from Mom were wrapped, but not the ones from Santa. And there was always flour -- and we knew it was flour -- all over the place, with footsteps in it that led to the fireplace and up the chimney. Yeah, you know what was funny was that I knew that it was flour but I just kind of went with it. We always had family over all day the 24th and all day the 25th. We'd have all the parties. Fun? Well, yes and no, because of the cleanup. You'd ship one-half of the family out, clean up, and the next group came in. But now that I think about it, the best part of the season wasn't Christmas. My aunt would come over sometime before Christmas and my mom and she would bake for 24 hours one day, and we would pass out all the cookies around the neighborhood. My mom liked to decorate. Our manger scene would be the first thing to come out. That was kind of when the official decorating began. What makes me cry at Christmastime? I work for UPS at night, and so we have a little gathering, not on Christmas but the week before, and we have kids that come from shelters or orphanages so that we can give them gifts. That makes me cry. My worst Christmas, I don't really have one, but our friends have one. They left Christmas Eve to go to a party, and they came home and their house was burned. This was when we were growing up. Faulty house wiring.... Family Christmas traditions that we have -- well, now that we've grown up it has kind of changed, but when we were kids, the tradition was that we would all go next door to our neighbor's house on Christmas Eve. We would have food and see everyone, and then we were sent home to go to bed. The adults stayed at the house, drank a lot, and assembled all of the toys. So the next morning, you didn't know if you were going to sit on the bike and it was going to fall apart or what. For food, we have a Christmas casserole every year. It is always Christmas morning. That is a tradition. It is basically chunks of sourdough bread, a bunch of cheese, eggs and tomato soup poured over it, more cheese, chunks of sausage, and then you bake it.

  • Steve
  • 57 years old
  • Lives in Lemon Grove
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Mission Valley

Steve

Steve

I plan to spend more on Christmas than I would tell you. That is just my nature. I am an impulse shopper and I buy stuff that is cute. I guess my girlfriend is the biggest beneficiary.... I've done Santa here and at Fashion Valley. I've done radio shows, I've done parties, and I've done SDSU, which is where I work. It is a blast. About 15 years ago, I had a neighbor of mine who did one of the Santa houses and asked me to try it out, and I have been doing Santa ever since. It's very rewarding. I get to listen to kids, and I mean all ages. I've had young girls come in, 18 to 19 years old, that were pregnant and just wanted to talk. And little kids that had their hamster die and wanted to talk about that. I grew up in Atlantic City in a family of four girls and myself, and my parents both worked. My feeling as a child was that Christmas was great. I remember a ukulele that I was supposed to get, but it broke before I even got a chance to open it. Someone sat on it. But I remember someone playing it the night before and myself hollering down the stairs to leave my toys alone.... All of the sentimental Christmas movies make me cry. My favorite carol is "Jingle Bells." It's the one that I sing with the kids. But I like all of them. I buy and wrap all of the gifts in our house, except my own. But sometimes I buy my own. Today I bought a shop vac and drill for myself. I'll take them home and she'll wrap them for me. One tradition in my family is I always send those little Lifesavers books to my girls. I don't know how that tradition got started, but I've been doing it for years.

  • Tena
  • 56 years old
  • Lives in Lakeside
  • Interviewed outside Westfield Shoppingtown Mission Valley

Tena

Tena

I started off thinking $100 per person for gifts, and then I realized it was 11 people. That is why I am reducing it. My son will get the best gift. He is going to get a golf lesson -- going around with the pro golf guy. We already talked about it this morning. So that will probably be about $120 for that. I don't decorate my house. I don't do a tree. I do a tree at work, so I count that. In fact, I do four trees at work, at Mary Birch hospital. I'm the decorator. I don't do one at home. My son is 30-some years old now, so... My favorite Christmas gift ever was probably a sewing machine I received from my mother when I was about 15 or 16. That was about the best gift ever because I didn't know I was going to get it and I was into sewing. It was just a perfect gift. My favorite gift given was a gift to my father, which irritated the whole family so much. My father chewed tobacco. So for his gift I bought him a spittoon. And you know, my mother tried to hide the fact that he chewed tobacco, but I got him this spittoon and I had it specially delivered. And she had a fit. He was very happy. He used that until there was a hole in the bottom. That was the best gift ever. The one gift I always wanted but never got? Well, let me see. I would say a good husband. That would have been a nice gift. I grew up in Steubenville, Ohio. There were five of us. My mother was totally into decorations. We used the same decorations year after year. My father would go out a couple days before Christmas and get the tree, and we'd decorate it, all of us together, and put our gifts under it. Even when I had left home, all of us went home every year while my parents were still alive. That was a tradition. No matter what, you went to my mother's house for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Our traditional Christmas meal, you'd have your deviled eggs, you'd have your relish tray -- that's your deviled eggs, your pickles, your celery filled up with cream cheese, all that stuff. And then my mother would make black walnut cake from scratch. Plus we would have the homemade cinnamon nut rolls. Everything was homemade from scratch. So we would be up all morning or even the night before fixing all these things.

  • Patty
  • 38 years old
  • Lives Downtown
  • Interviewed at Westfield Shoppingtown Mission Valley

Patty

Patty

You know, I live by myself, and my mother is deceased, and I really don't have anyone that I buy Christmas presents for. So I think I am going to tuck my money away this year as sort of a gift to myself. I came from a family in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had a very nice upbringing. This time of year, it was like putting on the Ritz in our home. Mom and Dad went all out. I tell you, we kids were spoiled. I am going to be honest with you. Every year, the basement was full of gifts from my mom and dad and from our uncles and our aunts and from Santa. It was always full. It was usually more than 10 or 12 gifts per child, it really was. I am in a hotel living right now, and I am not too pleased with it. That is why my Christmas present to myself is to save my money and move into a nice apartment or condo. But I am going to decorate my little space. I've made my own little wreath already. A song that puts me in the Christmas mood? Well, I still sing the "Twelve Days of Christmas" and I like "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "Jingle Bell Rock." I think my fondest Christmas memory was probably the first year that I was out on my own, away from living in my parents' home. That was my fondest. It had its hardships, being away from the family, but when I look back at it, it was my fondest Christmas. My favorite gift I ever got: one year they came out with the Barbie's apartment set. My younger sister had got that one, and I got the Barbie Beauty Salon. It was so cool. My younger sister and I got along for the whole year after that, even when we weren't playing with the set. Before that, we always argued. Christmas is a religious holiday for me. I don't see how it couldn't have a religious aspect to it.

  • Marcella
  • 20 years old
  • Lives in La Mesa
  • Interviewed at
  • La Mesa Target

Marcella

Marcella

I am actually spending $2000. It is breaking me this year. My father will get the most expensive gift. I'm getting him a $200 gift certificate to Home Depot so he can go crazy in there. I do a fake Christmas tree; I don't want to have to clean up any pine needles. My favorite Christmas gift would have to be a kitten in a box. I was eight years old. I wanted actually a crystal ball, but my mom couldn't find a crystal ball for me. So I opened up the box thinking it was a crystal ball, but a kitten popped out, and that was even better. A favorite gift ever given -- I actually had gotten an inheritance. A family member had passed away, and I had gotten a whole bunch of money, and I figured, I can't spend it all on myself. That would be too selfish and there are a lot of people that need money. I didn't want it to go to a church, because I am not really religious. So I figured, a homeless shelter.... The one gift I always wanted but never received? The crystal ball.... I wrap my own gifts; my mom and my grandma taught me. I definitely had to start wrapping when I was young. We have a big family. My dad actually found, seven or eight years back, these huge dinosaur-egg Christmas lights. They are huge, and he insisted on putting them out. They are probably a good two feet wide, each light. And he strings them from one end of the house to the other. Oh, he goes wild.... Favorite Christmas song: I like "Jingle Bell Rock." In '95, my mom died a month before Christmas. Christmas wasn't fun that year. It was just really sad. Everybody still got together, but it wasn't cheerful at all.

  • Bob
  • 46 years old
  • Lives in Del Cerro
  • Interviewed at Grossmont Center

Bob

Bob

I plan on spending, all told, $600 to $700. My wife is going to get the most expensive gift, no doubt about it. She has been wanting a laptop computer, so I am finally going to splurge and get her one. My favorite I ever received, it has probably got to be when I was like ten years old and I received a phonograph-AM/FM stereo from my parents for Christmas. It was a big surprise; that is probably why it was so special. A favorite gift given? I gave my wife -- we went on a ski trip over to Europe about ten years ago. Her great-grandparents came from Switzerland originally, so we went back to the town that they came from and then went skiing while we were there. Probably Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" is my favorite song. My worst Christmas ever was probably the Christmas after I lost my dad. He died in '86, so it has been quite a while ago now. I would say Christmas is a religious holiday for me, even though I am not real religious.... Growing up, we'd have both natural and artificial trees. As I remember, we alternated. It was kind of odd, back in the '60s. The big deal was to get one of these aluminum trees and put one of those colored-light things on it. It was like a big pinwheel. It was a circular pane of glass with different pie-piece-shaped colored sections, and it just rotated in front of a bright light. And then the tree itself would rotate. Don't ask me why, but that was the style. I thought it was kind of strange until I went to the houses of a few friends of mine and they all had the same thing. And so for some reason or another, for a few years that tree was it. Maybe it was the space age or something. My wife, she is Swiss-German, so for food we have turkey and ham, sauerkraut and cabbage, and then a whole lot of German dishes I can't even pronounce.

  • Angel
  • 33 years old
  • Lives in La Mesa
  • Interviewed at Grossmont Center

Angel

Angel

I'm going to spend about $600 on gifts. Probably my mother is going to get the biggest gift. I just put up my tree today. It is artificial, just for safety's sake, because I like the season to last all month and if I had a real tree I would worry about it catching on fire. I start decorating early, the day after Thanksgiving, though I am pretty subtle with the decorations: a wreath on the door, a couple of outside lights. I grew up in a Christmas house. We moved a lot, so it depended on where we were, but Christmas, growing up, it was great. We were a Navy family, so we were separated from our extended family, but my mother and my father, my brother and myself, we would celebrate it every year. We were in Scotland one year, we were in Mississippi another, we were in Tennessee another. We had a white Christmas that year in Tennessee. Favorite gift given? Well, my aunt loves manatees so I got her a membership to a group that protects the manatees in Florida. The thought of people that have less than myself is what makes me cry at Christmas. I wrap my own gifts; my mom taught me how. I remember one year, I think she just kind of threw me to the wolves: "Here you go. Wrap these." And I did a really bad job. I was probably about eight, and then the next year she taught me how to measure the box, because my boxes weren't all the way covered that first year. My worst Christmas was the first year that I wasn't with my family. I had moved out of my parents' house, my brother had gone away to college, my aunt who had lived with us moved back East. My mom and dad moved to Hawaii, because my dad got relocated there. And I was the only one left here. I stayed, and everyone else moved. It was the worst because my family wasn't around. I still had a tree. I put up a little Christmas tree. I did the best I could. I just called them. I had some friends around, but not my closest ones, and not my family. One Christmas that sticks out as fond is last year. I had my grandmother out from the East. I had my dad — he is a trucker — in from out of town. So I had a lot of family.

  • Tabitha
  • 23 years old
  • Lives in Southeast San Diego
  • Interviewed at Grossmont Center

Tabitha

Tabitha

I plan to spend about $300 on my family. My sisters get the biggest gifts. Every year I have a theme. This year it's lingerie. We do a tree; we put it up about the middle of December. It is mainly decorated with things that we've collected over the years, an old-school-looking tree. The house is not really heavily decorated. We could do a lot better. The house is small, so if it was bigger, I think they would go all out with it. There were four kids, and we didn't really have a lot of money growing up. So we were really excited about everything that we got. We were really thankful. It was always at our house, here in San Diego — we have lived in the same house. We opened gifts as soon as we woke up Christmas morning. We usually got a lot of gifts. There was always a lot under the tree, a lot of unwrapping to do. My favorite gift was a dollhouse. It wasn't really nice or anything; it was just this dollhouse that came out of nowhere. It was totally unexpected, and it was huge. It was about four feet tall and four feet wide. I was like seven years old. Memories make me cry at Christmas -- people that I grew up with that I no longer talk to, and also the way things used to be. My favorite Christmas song is "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." My worst Christmas ever? I can't remember why, but somehow we weren't able to cook. So we had to go eat Chinese food, and that wasn't really fun. I will never forget eating Chinese food for Christmas. So that's got to be the worst. We are real big procrastinators, so the night before we are always wrapping presents. It never fails. Every single year we do it. My family comes over, and my dad is a musician and so is my uncle, so they come over and everybody loves to sing. So we are always on the piano, singing and dancing together and wrapping all the presents. The only thing I have ever heard from my parents and grandparents about their Christmases is how poor they were growing up. That is the only thing I have ever heard; they have never told me anything good.

  • Christine
  • 25 years old
  • Lives in Los Angeles
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mallp>

I'm here visiting my mom for the weekend. I'll probably be back at Christmas. I don't know how much I'll spend; it depends on what she wants. She's expensive, ha ha. Probably $500 or $600. I think I'm holding my best gift ever -- it's a Louis Vuitton purse. Thanks, Mom! My favorite carol is "Deck the Halls"; it's a happy song. When I was little, we'd get together with friends and family for Christmas. Just get together and eat a lot of food. Not really anything traditional -- lots of Filipino food. Noodles and egg rolls. We'd also have a turkey or a chicken. It was pretty big; we'd have people sleeping at our house. All us kids grew up and moved away; we kind of had our own things going.

  • Lisa
  • 22 years old
  • Lives in Rancho Peñasquitos
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

The best present I ever got was a Tiffany's necklace last year -- just a Tiffany's cross. The present I want but never got? Maybe an engagement ring? My favorite carol is "Silent Night"; it's soothing, calm, and quiet. I remember going to my grandma's house for Christmas, going to church on Christmas Eve, then hanging around the house on Christmas. Now my grandparents are kind of far away. I've gone snowboarding with my family at Big Bear for Christmas.

  • Andrew and Greg
  • Live in Los Angeles
  • Interviewed on University Avenue in Hillcrest

Andrew: I don't have a lot of happy childhood memories. Too many expectations, and my family could not live up to them. They were very cynical, kind of crazy alcoholics with too much money. Drunken parents, Christmas tree knocked over, not a good memory. Now Christmases are fun.

Greg: I was poor; it's all right. For children, Christmases generally are excellent.

Andrew (motioning to Greg): He's the one to ask about carols.

Greg: Do I know a carol?

Andrew: "O Come All Ye Faithful"?

Greg: Oh, that's ridiculous. "White Christmas."

Andrew: I don't know if that's a carol.

Greg: It's better than most; most carols are dull things.

Andrew: I try to get presents wrapped. I'm terrible at it.

Greg: I have a natural flair for wrapping. One time I wrapped everyone's gifts up in Chinese parchment and twine, and then I put Chinese coins in the twine. That was good. I really liked that.

Andrew: We don't decorate, because we always leave to go to each of our families'.

Greg: My family makes a halfhearted attempt.

Andrew: My sister is really into decorating. All the boxes are already out.

Greg: The most annoying thing in the world is when people take batting and try to make it look like snow in Southern California. There's something about it that's just wrong.

Andrew: We'll go to his family's on Christmas Day for dinner.

Greg: You've got to hear this story. It only happened once. My cousin was courting her now-husband, or he was courting her. We had to do some repair work on him because one Christmas he brought baked Red Hots with rum as his special family contribution to Christmas dinner. It was really alarming; people politely nibbled at it.

  • George
  • Lives in Los Angeles
  • Interviewed at Carlsbad Premium Outlets

It's hard to compare your childhood with your adult life. I grew up in Harlem, and it was always make-do at Christmas. Most of the time, we didn't get a tree and we didn't have stockings. Sometimes presents. The best present I ever got back then was a wooden machine gun from my dad. It was a surprise; he was in the Army at the time. The worst Christmas ever was overseas, I'm trying to think if it was the Philippines or Okinawa. I'm a Korean War veteran; I was in the Marine Corps. It was all over, but it was rainy and wet and we were in the field. We had just got back from Bangkok, Thailand. They'd bring out hot rations in the field on Christmas; they always tried to take care of you. Christmas now is probably much more eventful -- grandkids and the wife and son-in-law. Christmas now is really kind of a spectacle. My wife's out there spending lots of money. I'm sitting down, just waiting until they get here. I'm recuperating from heart surgery. I got what I wanted this Christmas -- to sit here and breathe. That's a big event.

  • Older Gentleman
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

I believe in every religious holiday. When I went to school, if the Muslims had a day off, I was in sympathy. I took a day off too. Christmas, I took a day off. Judaism, I took the days off. If the agnostics want to show up, I'll take a day off. I get along with everybody. Think about it!

  • Erin and Kristen
  • Both 23 years old
  • Live in La Jolla
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

Erin: We're roommates and best friends.

Kristen: For 12 years. We'll have a tree, and we'll have a theme -- silver. Not shiny, though.

Erin: And red -- we're red girls.

Kristen: Maybe red pearls -- like cranberries! White lights, not colored ones. And no tinsel. We have cats; they'd eat it and die.

Erin: They're going to kill our tree, by the way.

Kristen: We like this mall because it's big and it's close to us. We kind of bought a lot for ourselves today.

Erin: I mean, we did buy gifts.

Kristen: Yeah, I bought for my mom and my sister. I'm going to try to keep my spending for Christmas at $500.

Erin: Mine's more like two grand. Some big-ticket items -- cuff links.

Kristen: I haven't decided what I'm going to buy everybody -- the biggest will probably be a pair of shoes.

Erin: A purse for me? The best Christmas ever was last year, when all my friends came over to our new apartment and we all drank wine and had a fire and opened presents, and it was so fun -- just friends. Or maybe it's when the kids come down -- my niece and nephew come downstairs -- and it's like we've spent all night putting together these huge toys for them and they're saying, "Ooooooooh! Aaaaaaah!" I love that. I love driving around and looking at the lights on the houses.

Kristen: The worst Christmas ever was the year before my parents got a divorce. Everybody was fighting and everybody was yelling and everybody was crying on Christmas Day. It was horrible. I don't necessarily actually cry at Christmas, but it just kind of sucks to have a dysfunctional family and you have to go to like five places to see everybody -- you can't have just one place and everybody being together and happy like in the movies, because it's not that way.... I remember that everybody would get together on Christmas Eve, and we were all excited because Christmas was tomorrow and we couldn't wait. Setting out the cookies for Santa.

Erin: And a carrot for the reindeer. My mom and my real dad were great; they used to do a whole bunch of fun stuff. You put a boot in powdered sugar and stamp it on the hearth so it looks like snow and the kids think it's Santa Claus. It'll be fun when I have kids and they'll all be happy and I'll get to give them all their stuff.

Kristen: I want my kids to be happy, and so that's why I'm waiting to have kids. I want them to be excited for Christmas. I'm going to try really hard not to be dysfunctional.

  • Trevor
  • 23 years old
  • Lives in Pasadena
  • Jennifer
  • 22 years old
  • Lives in La Mesa
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

Trevor: I'll decorate with exterior lights. Neighborhood peer pressure. Icicle lights are played out. Just something that looks clean.

Jennifer: Just white vintage bulbs, the big ones.

Trevor: The best gift I ever got was when I was eight, a radio-controlled truck. I had it for about four hours. I took it out in the cul-de-sac and crashed it into a truck and it broke. But it was great for those four hours.

Jennifer: Most of my favorite gifts are clothing, and then I usually don't like it after six months. My favorite gift from last Christmas is a cashmere/wool turtleneck. I usually get what I want. I have a large family -- there are probably about 45 of us -- and someone in the family always comes through. The worst Christmas ever was when I was about 12 and my mom got me the entire set of this American Girl doll that I had wanted about three years earlier. That was all of my Christmas gifts. I had everything: the doll, her desk, her clothes, her food, and all of this crap. I was just like, "I wanted this three years ago, and now I'm so over it." I almost cried; I went into my room and sat down with her.

Trevor: My worst was two years ago when I had to work on Christmas at a golf course. A bunch of Asians came.

Jennifer: My favorite carol is "What Child Is This?"

Trevor: I like that one that Adam Sandler did -- no, that was Hanukkah.

  • Jesse
  • 14 years old
  • Interviewed at Wal-Mart Lemon Grove

Jesse

Jesse

I'll probably spend something like $500. I'll probably spend about $80 on my boyfriend, for a silver bracelet with his name on it. The best gift I ever gave was a big white teddy bear to my sister. I was really young, and she was 17 or 18. We go all out on the tree; it's pretty fancy. It's probably around ten feet tall, with all kinds of ornaments. My favorite is the angel on top. The worst Christmas ever was when we didn't put up the tree and there was no Christmas. We didn't really do anything. I don't remember why. I was 11. There were gifts, but there was no tree.

  • Colleen
  • 45 years old
  • Interviewed at Wal-Mart Lemon Grove

Colleen

Colleen

The worst Christmas ever was when we were homeless and living in a Motel 6. We couldn't afford a Christmas tree. I went down to the local 7-Eleven and bought gifts for my two daughters; they were 8 and 11. This year, I'll probably spend about $1300. Our tree just happens to be artificial, very full, seven and a half feet tall. We use mostly old-fashioned ornaments or Hallmark ornaments or a combination, and we have all kinds of lights. My favorite gift? The first time I got a gold chain. My mother gave it to me; I was 16. The best gift I gave was probably a Gone with the Wind doll I got my daughter when she was 12. My mother taught me to wrap presents; I remember I was surprised at how long it actually took. My favorite carol is "Silent Night." I get very sentimental just remembering happy times or Christmas songs.

  • Sheena
  • Interviewed at
  • Wal-Mart Lemon Grove

Sheena

Sheena

I can't remember the name of my favorite carol, and if I sing it, everybody will drop dead over here. It's an old-fashioned one. It's just me this year, and I'm out of a job. When I was younger, my mother bought me a Siamese ring. That was my favorite gift ever; it was really old. You see how the dolphin ring is made? The Siamese ring was made like that. Once, I bought my mother a coat. It was teal green, with matching gloves and hat, and she enjoyed every bit of it, right up to the day she died. She always said, "My daughter bought me a coat!" She had a lot of candy canes on her tree, because she loved candy canes. A lot of icicles, a lot of old-fashioned bulbs. She didn't wrap gifts; she just stuck all the toys and stuff around the tree so that when you woke up you could see everything. I loved her chocolate cake with green icing on it and the Christmas trees on top of it. The gift I always wanted was for God to answer my prayer; I can't tell what it was -- it's a secret.

  • Gregory
  • 21 years old
  • Lives in La Jolla (UCSD)
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

Gregory

Gregory

I'm Jewish, so I do Hanukkah. I'll probably spend around $150 -- $40 for a poster from an old movie for my mom. For Christmas, we're going to Vegas -- my sister, my mom, and my dad. It's just something we're doing this year because my parents figure it'll be less busy. My dad is going to teach me to play craps.

  • Dorothy
  • 72 years old
  • Lives in Sacramento
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

I'll probably spend $300 this Christmas. I bought all these $12 earrings at an arts and crafts show; $200 maybe on several items for my son. We won't have turkey for Christmas, that's all I know. My son likes lobster on Christmas, so I guess maybe we'll have lobster. The best gift I ever received was maybe a gift certificate to Nordstrom. When my father was a child, they put candles on the Christmas tree. My mother was very meticulous about hanging icicles. Mine has all Santa Clauses on it, even on top. The worst Christmas was about 40 years ago. I was with the wrong person, who turned over the Christmas tree. Almost everything makes me cry at Christmastime. My favorite carol is "The Little Drummer Boy."

  • Kyle
  • 15 years old
  • Lives in Point Loma
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

The best gift I ever gave was a big makeup-set thing for my sister -- for her toes and fingernails. She loved it a lot. The best gift I ever got was my bass guitar. I've never gotten a lot of money for Christmas. The year before last, I didn't get anything I wanted, and I was kind of disappointed. It was just a bunch of little knickknack type things. And I didn't get anything for my parents that year, so I just wrote "and Kyle" on a present. It was from Dad, and I put "Dad and Kyle" on it. I help decorate the tree sometimes, but last year I didn't because I just didn't feel like it.

  • Andrea
  • 35 years old
  • With her daughters, Maria, 9; Juliana, 8
  • Live in Texas
  • Interviewed on University Avenue in Hillcrest

Juliana, Andrea, and Maria

Juliana, Andrea, and Maria

Oh, my goodness, I definitely won't spend as much this year as I did last year. I have this thing about overconsuming. I'm like, What can I get them that they don't already have? Seriously, everything out there that's the basic stuff, they have. This year, just little things. They're going to choose for the first time. They get to choose one thing. They're going to get the speech that things are not going to be what makes them happy. Come down to basics about what really matters -- not getting ten different things that they want and that they'll use for a week and never see again. My favorite gift was a doll I received when I was eight years old, with a little red pleated dress and black patent leather shoes. Once, I bought them two antique dolls that actually looked like the one I had. It was a big deal getting them -- I ordered by catalog. I cry at songs that bring certain memories of family gatherings when I was little, the whole family, 30 or 40 people. We're very musical, and my mother would play Christmas songs on the piano and we had a little chorus of six or seven kids. For Christmas dinner, we get together at Mom's. We do the traditional -- everybody cooks. We have turkey. I love the creamed peas, and for dessert, White Christmas Coconut Pie with strawberry sauce.

Maria: My favorite gift was a scooter. My favorite thing about Christmas is we get the Christmas tree.

Andrea: It's basically children's things on the tree: Disney characters or antique little toys, things like that.

Juliana: My favorite thing about Christmas is that Jesus was born. My favorite gifts are dolls. I like the star on top of the tree. I like the eggnog and cookies.

  • Muslim Gentleman
  • Interviewed at Wal-Mart Lemon Grove

On Christmas, I will do something. I'm planning to call my friend that day, and we will have a party that day, dinner or something. I'll stay with my girlfriend that day. No work, no going other places -- stay with my girlfriend. And I will pray to God.

  • Jed and Sally
  • Live in Rancho Peñasquitos
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

Sally and Jed

Sally and Jed

Jed: I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, so we used to do the traditional thing -- both sides of the family just get together and have dinner. We cut our own Christmas tree, and we made strings from cranberries and popcorn. We made our own ornaments out of Styrofoam balls by putting different types of fabric on them.

Sally: It's very traditional. I remember spending Christmas there, and everybody opens their gifts one at a time. At my house, we all open them up at the same time. The best gifts I've given have always been experiences rather than materialistic things. I remember taking Jed to a Prince concert and a Harry Connick Jr. concert. And I remember feeling so proud giving him fourth-row seats to Phantom of the Opera. This year, we'll probably spend at least $1000. The least expensive will be kids' toys, anywhere from $5 to $10. I know coloring books are really cheap. Playing cards are really cheap; they can go for a dollar at Target, and they're fun for kids. Even games that are on sale could be $5.99. Our tree is fake this year, about six feet tall and probably modestly decorated. We're both teachers, so sometimes kids make ornaments for you. You hang those up, and those are really nice.

Jed: The better Christmases for me are the ones where I still believed in Santa Claus. The magic was still more prevalent than the hustle and bustle. I tried to push it as long as I could; I even pretended that he was real, for my parents' sake, until I was about 12. I cry when I hear children singing at Christmas.

Sally: Yeah, you've mentioned that before. I think I cry when I see older people really happy. They see all the kids, and you almost see in their eyes what they've seen, and they're thinking about their children and about when they were kids. I enjoy Christmas because people are so busy in life, and Christmas forces you to actually get together. I'm really good at forgetting all the bad things.

  • Jordan and Jeff
  • Both 14 years old
  • Live in Pacific Beach
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

Jeff and Jordan

Jeff and Jordan

Jeff: I'll get my mom a talking turtle for $19. It's one of those stress singing turtles, because she's stressed. I just put the paper around it and take the roll of tape and roll.

Jordan: He never learned to wrap. My mom taught me.... I remember being a little boy and playing Christmas music and hanging ornaments up on the tree and putting the angel on top. One year, I think I broke one of our ornaments. I sat down on it. It wasn't a special ornament, it was just really old and irreplaceable. But that's okay, it was cool.

Jeff: We'll have a real tree, maybe 10, 12 feet tall, with ornaments. I think a star or an angel on top. We're not really religious at all, so we just have the tree. We'll have a normal dinner, pizza. Nothing special.

Jordan: We'll have turkey.

  • Trudy
  • 54 years old
  • With her boyfriend's daughter
  • Live in Santa Barbara
  • Interviewed at Carlsbad Premium Outlets

My parents always had us go to bed early on Christmas Eve, and I can remember distinctly one Christmas when my dad put together a baby bed for my doll. I heard him pounding it that night, and I thought it was Santa building that crib. When I got up the next morning, I was like, "I heard him building it!" My favorite gift was when I had just met her dad, and he gave me a TV for Christmas. That just really touched me. I usually get a real Christmas tree, and I have decorations that I've had for years and years. My favorites are the characters from The Wizard of Oz. We usually go to my dad's for Christmas, and he just got married to somebody in the Ukraine. She's Ukrainian, I'm Ukrainian; it's wild. And she has a five-year-old boy, and I've got my boyfriend. It's kind of a wild extended family. We might all end up together for Christmas. I'll make cabbage rolls -- a typical Ukrainian dish.

  • Sandy
  • 44 years old
  • With her daughter Samantha
  • Live in Poway
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

Sandy

Sandy

We usually have a ten-foot tree. Samantha and her dad go pick it out, and then Samantha and I get to decorate it. What do we have that's special, Samantha? We have a lot of heart decorations -- and pearls and flashy things. My favorite gift? I would say my first Christmas with my husband -- a small diamond bracelet. All the special things for this little one are my favorite things to give. What did Santa bring you last year? A dollhouse. The kids are the most emotional part of Christmas. How they enjoy it, how they look at Santa, how they believe. My worse Christmas ever was the year my girlfriend and I went away on a ski trip because we were the only single girls in our families. We thought it would be a lot more fun just doing our thing, but it wasn't.

  • Eva
  • 26 years old
  • Lives in Banker's Hill
  • Interviewed on University Avenue in Hillcrest

Eva

Eva

There's a tree in my family's house. We have a lot of nieces and nephews, so there are a lot of decorations and lights. I like all the old ornaments my sister and I made in kindergarten. There's a reindeer that Mom always pulls out; it's wooden and it's got colorful Christmas lights attached to it. We've had it for a long time; it's handmade by one of my Mom's friends. I like seeing the nieces and nephews adding on to the family. Probably this is going to be the worst Christmas ever. I have a family fight. I'm probably not going to spend Christmas with my family this year. I'll probably spend it with friends.

  • Raedell
  • 18 years old
  • Lives in New York City
  • Interviewed at Fashion Valley Mall

Raedell

Raedell

I'll probably spend about $50 this year. I'll spend the most on a sweatshirt for my aunt, and the least on deodorant and shower gel for my brother. We have a fake tree, and it's not very big, but I'm usually the one who decorates it. We have ornaments I made, ornaments we've received, candy canes. We do the popcorn thing. We have a star and an angel for the top, and we alternate years... Purple is my favorite color, and a couple of Christmases ago, my parents just got me a bag full of purple stuff: a blanket, a bathrobe, some slippers, towels -- all purple.

  • Jerry and Gail
  • 69 and 70 years old
  • Live in Rancho Bernardo
  • Interviewed at Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Jerry and Gail

Jerry and Gail

Gail: My favorite Christmas carol is called "A Christmas Carol." It's not really popular, but it's beautiful. My son is a singer and he sings in a church choir. He sings it.

Jerry: "Little Drummer Boy" is the only thing that pops into my head right now. I don't know why. The gray is setting in and I have trouble remembering.

Gail: We haven't had much time to think about Christmas; we're celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary next week. We're planning a big party, a combination 50th anniversary and Christmas party. The tree is going to be a pink poodle tree: pink flocking, black-and-white checked flags, pink poodles, and about as tacky as you can get. We have a different theme every year with our tree -- that's our Christmas.

Jerry: I'll cry at most anything at Christmastime.

Gail: Getting maudlin about the past. I think my fondest memories are of when I was little, waking up Christmas morning and having all those toys there. I remember a red tricycle.

Jerry: An electric train.

Gail: My dad didn't have a boy, so I had to get one of those too. Jerry gave me this watch, and I love this watch. That was a good one.

Jerry: That's one out of 50!

Gail: And missing the little ones. They're all grown up now. But they'll all be there for dinner at our place.

Jerry: We have three sons, and they'll bring their families.

Gail: We'll serve prime rib and maybe ham. And oven-browned potatoes.

Jerry: We normally have popovers with roast beef.

Gail: One year, we went with my parents from Missouri to California to be with my sister. We wanted to spend Christmas together. We all got the flu at the same time, so we were all sick in bed at Christmastime.

Jerry: It was not a thing you want to repeat. But one year, not actually on Christmas Day, we got a lodge up in Big Bear and had the whole family there. That was quite nice -- everybody just being there.

Gail: Popcorn and candy and all that stuff, and it snowed the day we left.

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