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December 12, 2016

4 SLO County leaders share their favorite holiday traditions and tips

The Tribune

4 SLO County leaders share their favorite holiday traditions and tips

By Sarah Linn

’Tis the season for making memories.

In celebration of the holidays, The Tribune asked a few community leaders to share their favorite childhood moments, holiday traditions and tried-and-true shopping tips. Here are their responses, edited for length and clarity.

John Shoals, Grover Beach mayor

My most memorable childhood holiday moment was the time my parents surprised me with my first bike. Growing up in a large family without a lot of money, Christmas gifts were practical items such as clothing and a small toy. It was a special moment that I will always cherish.

The one holiday tradition I’d like to pass along is “the Drop-By” when close friends drop by your house unannounced for a short visit to share special moments. The gift is a special visit with lively conversation, soul-stirring music and a wonderful trip down memory lane.

My foolproof last-minute shopping trick is to give everyone a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant. My “wish list” always includes gift cards to Best Buy, iTunes, Boo Boo Records in San Luis Obispo and Roger Dunn Golf Shop in Arroyo Grande.

The best part of the holiday season is spending quality time with family and friends. My hope is that everyone enjoys the holidays (which can be stressful), embrace the spirit of the season and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Dee Lacey, Paso Robles cattle rancher

My most memorable childhood holiday moment involved my uncle, who was a career Marine. This was during the Korean War. We knew he had been in a major battle and hadn’t heard anything from him. On Christmas Eve during our family celebration, the door bell rang and I ran and answered it. When I saw him standing there in his uniform, I screamed and my grandmother — his mother — turned and looked at the door and fainted. It caused quite a scene.

The one holiday tradition I’d like to pass along is our big cracked crab, steamed clams and shrimp party on Christmas Eve. It is a tradition that has been in my family for about 80 years.

My foolproof last-minute shopping trick is to go to downtown Paso Robles to Studios on the Park. I always find something special in the Studios store.

The best part of the holiday season is when Cuesta College’s North County Ambassadors shop for 14 students and their families and host a party to give them tubs filled with wrapped gifts. Right before school is out for the holidays, we have lunch to meet our families and share good tidings. It is one of the best parts of the holiday season for me.

Marina B. Washburn, executive director of Dana Adobe Nipomo Amigos

My most memorable childhood holiday moment was when I was 5. It was the night before Christmas, and we were on our way to celebrate with extended family staying up past midnight. My parents reminded us to put out our shoes by our beds, so baby Jesus would know where to leave our presents. In the morning we woke up with presents near our beds.

The one holiday tradition I’d like to pass along is staying up past midnight to welcome Christmas day with a prayer and a blessing, and placing baby Jesus in the nativity. The night starts with dinner followed by family games, family videos, oral histories, funny stories we retell every year, some singing, loads of laughter and exchanging presents. It might sound horrible to stay up that late, but I love my family tradition.

My foolproof last-minute shopping trick is homemade treats and Amazon gift cards. That’s really, really last-minute.

The best part of the holiday season is family. Spending all that time in a confined space, with the people on Earth that know you the longest and know you in ways no one else does, yet they still love you. That kind of love should be shared more than once a year.

Phyllis Madonna, owner of the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo

My most memorable childhood holiday moment was believing that Santa Claus and his reindeer would come right to my bedroom window on Christmas Eve.

The one holiday tradition I’d like to pass along is Christmas Eve dinner with the entire family. We have a family member dress up as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to present the children with their Christmas gifts.

My foolproof last-minute shopping trick is consulting my friend Cheri Humphrey at The Madonna Inn Boutique.

The best part of the holiday season is spending time with family and friends.

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