Where has the year gone? Wasn’t it just summer? Not even a few weeks ago, we still were wearing shorts and sandals around town. But we change gears quickly around here, especially when it’s time to celebrate the holidays. Long before we started our own shopping lists, the Evansville Living team made the decision to commemorate holiday and winter traditions in this issue.
My husband Todd’s family has celebrated a Christmas Eve tradition since he was a child. I first participated 35 years ago when we were dating. (He – jokingly – refers to the period prior to this as the good ol’ days; at least I think he’s joking.) While the exchange of gifts is saved for Christmas morning, Christmas Eve is celebrated with a very dressed-up, festive party and his mother’s side of the family. The location of the party would rotate between his mother’s home and his mother’s cousin’s home, though today it is held at his uncle’s and aunt’s home near Dalton, Georgia, where we gather around their beautifully restored bar from Evansville’s Sonntag Hotel, where Signature School is today. (You’ll see Dalton again mentioned in Todd’s story on completing a crazy running event — seven half marathons ran in seven days in seven states — on page 26.) What I most recall about the first year I attended the Christmas Eve party was the huge crystal bowl overflowing with fresh shrimp on ice. (This was in the days when buying fresh shellfish was more of a luxury.) Another favorite was Granny’s Punch, the party slush with the secret ingredients. Judging from past behavior, the ingredients are very secret.
Growing up, my family had several meaningful traditions. My mother, whose grandparents emigrated from Norway, strived to keep alive some of her childhood Nordic holiday traditions. Though we never attempted to make lutefisk, traditionally enjoyed by Norwegians during the holidays, each year Mom ordered a pound of gjetost, a cheese similar to fudge, to enjoy on our Christmas day buffet. My father’s family holiday traditions, too, focused on food. My Granny was an excellent country cook having honed her skills growing up in rural Southern Illinois. Her pies — pecan and chess — took center stage at the holiday table. (To read more about my ancestry and DNA testing, see “Family Ties,” page 21.)
As we complete production of this holiday issue Nov. 9, America awakes to a newly elected president: Donald J. Trump, Republican, defeated Hillary Clinton, Democrat, to become the nation’s 45th president. Trump’s running mate and the vice president-elect is Indiana Governor Mike Pence. I hope readers of Evansville Living and its sister magazine, Evansville Business, view the magazines’ editorial content as we do — apolitical — because above all, on these pages we root for our city. In this 101st issue of Evansville Living, I note the presidential election — the fifth this magazine has witnessed — because when it is read in 100 years (in print, on the cloud, or whatever media format holds this archive in the 22nd century), a reference to this presidential election will provide historical context. It’s been a tough election season, like none ever before witnessed. It is my wish that as families and friends gather this holiday season to celebrate traditions large and small, silly and serious, we embrace an air of civility and respect. Our great city of Evansville has so much to celebrate!
I wish the merriest Christmas and the brightest of holidays. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Kristen K. Tucker
Publisher & Editor
Keep up with Kristen with her sometimes weekly blog, “300 Words,” at evansvilleliving.com/blog, and follow her on Twitter: @KristenKTucker.