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What was the best gift you ever received during the holidays?



When I was about 4 (way back in the ’60s!), Santa brought me a Thumbelina windup doll. I loved that doll — so much so that I wore out the mechanism. I remember my mother driving me to “Santa’s workshop” to have it repaired. —Lana Ader, editorial assistant

A yellow Tonka dump truck, back in the days when they were mostly metal and looked like they could cut your finger off if you weren’t paying attention. —Chris Wessling, senior editor

I’m a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and when I was 13, I was certain I was going to marry the place-kicker for the team. Most of my gifts that year were Steelers-related, which is not an easy feat when you live in Atlanta! I got everything from a Terry Bradshaw jersey to a Steelers nightshirt to a Steelers puzzle and almost anything else you could imagine in between. —Betsy Semple, project coordinator

When I was 8, after a great deal of my begging and pleading and pulling a roller skate around the house on a shoestring to simulate walking a dog and thus demonstrating my responsibility — an idea I stole from the book I Want a Dog — my parents gave me a puppy. She was a basset hound that we named Dominique. She promptly pooped on the carpet. —Jessica Jones, associate editor

I was a little kid when the first Star Wars premiered, and Kenner made a small fortune on movie tie-in action figures. Santa brought my brother Bryan and me the Death Star and Millennium Falcon. I was so excited that I peed myself a little. —David Radabaugh, design director

A secondhand Baby Lock sewing machine. —Samuel Solomon, art director

A voodoo doll. —Adam Pitluk, editor



What is your favorite holiday song, movie or book?



I love Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original). Even though it’s not a Christmas movie, I always seem to watch it around then. —Danielle Marino, designer

A Christmas Story. Sure, It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic, but this movie is an underappreciated gem. —Travis Kinsey, associate editor

I must watch the 1964 version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer when it’s on television. As a child, I knew Christmas was almost here when this movie was on TV. It takes me back to when I was very young and couldn’t wait for Christmas morning. —Lana Ader

I have two songs I must hear before I can officially declare it Christmas: An instrumental song that to this day I don’t know the name of and “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid. —Betsy Semple

When I was young, I would always insist on playing our Christmas with the Chipmunks record, my number one request being “All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth).” As I’ve gotten older, though, the song that has become synonymous with Christmas for me is Barry Manilow’s rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” from Because It’s Christmas. Despite my initial protests, my father played it so many times that I had no choice but to learn to love it. —Jessica Jones

Favorite holiday movie: A Christmas Story (who will ever forget the leg lamp?). Favorite holiday album: anything by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, because it reminds me of my uncle. —Anna Fialho

Scrooged with Bill Murray. No matter how many times your watch it, you can’t help but laugh at every one of his lines. —Adam Pitluk



What’s your favorite holiday food?



My mom makes twice-baked potatoes every Christmas. I also love pumpkin pie! —Danielle Marino

Fudge — period. What is Christmas without fudge? —Jennifer Worrell, copy editor

My grandmother’s Christmas dinner was the stuff of legends. She was on a mission and would stay up all night Christmas Eve basting the turkey (with delicious results). Her own recipe of “angel biscuits” (made with potatoes) has never been successfully recreated. Perhaps they will always taste better in our memories. —Susan Gallacher, senior research editor

Breakfast on Christmas morning, the Southern way — pan-fried bacon and eggs, biscuits and all the trappings. It’s only allowed once a year because it’s so unhealthy! —Anna Fialho

My mom’s homemade apple pie. I’m not really a big fan of apple pie, but I love watching my mom make the dough from scratch, cut the fresh apples and the smell of it cooking. It’s the only time I eat apple pie. —Casey Casteel, managing editor



Do you have a favorite holiday memory?



When I was 8, seeing the doll I had wanted for months under the Christmas tree. Santa Claus remembered! —Jennifer Worrell

Growing up, Santa always brought our tree. I spent my childhood explaining to all my friends why we didn’t have a tree in our living room. So, every Christmas morning, we couldn’t wait to get downstairs not only to see our gifts but also to see our tree — how big it was, how it was decorated, etc. —Betsy Semple

When I was a kid, there was one year my dad thought the doggy treats were stocking stuffers for the kids and ate them. His reaction? “Hmm … salty.” His reaction after we told him they were for the dog? Um … you really don’t want to know! —Susan Gallacher

Last year, my husband and I were supposed to drive to my hometown on Christmas Day to spend a week with my family. About everything that could go wrong did when we woke up to leave, so we decided to cancel the trip and stay in Dallas. What started out as a sad little Christmas with no food in the house and no family surrounding us ended up being a very memorable and humorous holiday for just the two of us — we had Starbucks and Little Caesars for our Christmas meal (about all that’s open on Christmas Day), watched the A Christmas Story marathon, played cards and opened a few bottles of wine. —Casey Casteel



What’s your best holiday tradition?



We play card games as a family after eating a big breakfast. —Danielle Marino

Having shrimp cocktail before dinner. My grandmother would always have it out when we got to her house. —Travis Kinsey

Every year, my family buys a new board game and plays it on Christmas Day. Guesstures, Catch Phrase!, The $100,000 Pyramid DVD Game … you name it, we’ve played it. —Jessica Jones

My brothers and I appropriated Feats of Strength and the Airing of Grievances from the Costanzas on Seinfeld. That’s fun. We also pile on my youngest brother, Steve. All of us. He turns red and blacks out. We may need to nix that tradition in the future; ambulances are expensive. —David Radabaugh

My mom always plays Elvis’ Christmas Album around the holidays, so now I kind of expect to hear it playing any time I’m decorating a Christmas tree or opening presents, no matter where I am. It always makes me smile when I’m in a store and hear one of his songs come on. —Casey Casteel



Is there a store where you do most of your holiday shopping?



No favorite, but in the last few years I’ve tried to preserve my sanity by doing most of my shopping online. —Chris Wessling

I go to www.modernseed.com for the little ones and their parents; www.kidrobot.com for older nieces and nephews; www.laperla.com for the ladies. Everyone else gets fruit and/or cheese. —David Radabaugh

REI. Lots of stuff that people want but wouldn’t usually buy for themselves. —Sam Solomon

Ha ha ha, I wish. Then shopping would be easy. —Anna Fialho