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Holiday Traditions are the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Holiday traditions

Two weeks ago we recapped the "Top 10 Reasons Why Kalamazoo is a Great Place to Live and Work." This week we are sharing favorite holiday traditions, places to visit, and wishes for the New Year from some of the individuals featured in our 2014 blog entries.

For John Mayer, holiday traditions and wishes focus on newness that lies ahead while remembering and cherishing memories.

"Each year my family takes a picture on Christmas Day. That picture gets hung in the hallway along with all of the other Christmas pictures," said Mayer, who was featured in our "John Mayer and Katy Perry Spotted Reuniting at Olde Peninsula!?" blog.

"My wife and I have pictures dating back to 1996. My parents did this and their pictures go back to 1959. It is a fun way to track the changes in our lives over the years and remember the days gone by."

Not to focus solely on the past, Mayer said he is looking forward to "meeting new people, facing new challenges, trying new activities, and learning new things" in the New Year.

Featured in the same blog as Mayer, Katie Perry likes to take in local holiday offerings as part of her holiday how-to.

"My favorite holiday tradition is theatre!" she said. "I love grabbing a bite to eat and going to see whatever is playing at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. This year, they did an incredible job with Shrek! The Musical."

Perry said she can't pick just one favorite holiday spot in Kalamazoo.

"My favorite holiday spot in Kalamazoo would be a tie between Christmas Card Lane and Bronson Park. Rarely a year goes by that we don't head to West Main to see the cards, and I have very fond memories of visiting Candy Cane Lane and the nativity scene (even if the baby Jesus was stolen a lot back then) at Bronson Park," she said.

Never one to sit still, Jayson Rose enjoys holiday traditions that get him out of the house.

Featured in "Bronco by Day, DJ by Night, Kalamazoo Fan 24-7," Rose said his favorite holiday tradition "is spending time with loved ones, either at my parents or at my in-law's house."

When asked what his favorite holiday spot in Kalamazoo is, he replied, "No particular spot, my wife and I enjoy driving through the various neighborhoods and seeing all the lights and decorations folks have put up."

Whether visiting family or taking in a brightly lit winter cruise, you can bet Rose has the perfect playlist ready to spin!

It's no surprise that movies and artistic creation are central to Kevin Romeo's holiday traditions and vision for the New Year.

"For me, it's all about the Christmas movies," said Romeo, who was featured in "Tasty Conversations, Inspiring Connections."

"My top five are Home Alone, White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Christmas Vacation!

"I also enjoy taking time to read the story of the birth of Jesus and realigning my life with what that all means," Romeo said.

When asked what he is looking forward to in 2015, Romeo said, "New films to create, new stories to tell, a debut album from my band, Barn on Fire, and continuing to make my family more of a time priority in my ever increasing pace of life."

Featured in "Loving Where You Live is as Simple as Being Selective," Jennifer Johnson's holiday traditions and wish center on meals. Not surprising from the Executive Director of Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, right?

"The holiday meal with loved ones on Christmas Day or New Year's Day is my favorite," Johnson said. "I love putting together a 'traditional' holiday meal whether there are just a few of us or extended family and friends in the mix.

"I try to cook/bake something that I remember eating during the holidays when I was a child. There's just something about being around the dinner table together and sharing food. And that's why I love my current role at Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes where we connect people with the emergency food they need to bring their loved ones together around the dinner table and celebrate the holidays."

Johnson knows that those connections and food donations are necessary year-round though.

"Every year I wish for a hunger-free community," she said. "The equation is not a simple one, but each year I hope we can move one step closer."

Lauren Van Houten was featured in "Live Where You Work" with her co-worker Breanne Vander Lugt.

A Kalamazoo resident since 2013, Van Houten said she looks forward to further discovering Kalamazoo in the New Year.

"I am looking forward to another good year in Kalamazoo. It's a fun place to work and live. There are a bunch of restaurants that I still need to try in Kalamazoo so that's one of the things on my to-do-list for 2015."

In terms of her favorite holiday tradition, Van Houten gave a "progressive" answer.

"My favorite holiday tradition is the progressive dinner that we have every year with my family. It's really fun to see everyone's Christmas decorations while spending time together," she said.

Vander Lugt's favorite holiday tradition also involves family.

"I love that Christmas brings my family together as I have siblings that live all over the country, such as Denver and Memphis," she said. "On Christmas Eve, my family and I get together and make lunch while watching a favorite Christmas movie - usually either How the Grinch Stole Christmas or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

"After lunch we open presents and spend the rest of the day together. As I've gotten older, I have realized that my favorite part about Christmas is the time I can spend with family."

Family time and travel are also a part of Vander Lugt's vision for the New Year.

"Next year I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for my family and friends. One of my best friends is getting married on the fourth of July, I have plans to visit my brother in Colorado in the spring, and whatever else may cross my path this next year. I have so much to be thankful for during this Christmas season!" she said.

So what about you? What is your favorite holiday tradition? What spot in Kalamazoo tops your must-see list each holiday season? What are you looking forward to most about 2015? Share with us in the comment section below!

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