The alumnus of "Five Questions" dot the globe and come from a variety of perspectives and religious affiliations. We can all agree, "Peace on Earth, goodwill towards man" is a pretty solid idea! Seven of the first fourteen “Five Question” participants agreed to re-join the fray for more questions, this time with a holiday slant!
I almost called this segment “Tim’s Questionable Christmas” but that sounded just a bit off…
Here are Kelsey Robinson, Cassidy Lichtman, Nicole Davis, Kayla Banwarth, Kristin Carpenter, Former Steelers kicker Jeff Reed and Purdue Coach Dave Shondell, and their answers to, “The Five Questions of Christmas”!
Favorite holiday tradition?
Kelsey- Every year since I was little, my family goes to Iowa to celebrate Christmas with my entire family. After a big, delicious meal and opening presents Christmas morning, my cousins and I go four wheeling in the corn fields and up the hills that are usually covered in snow.
Cassidy- Hmm, I don't know...when we were kids it was probably reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve with my dad. Also, my grandpa was Jewish so we would go over to his house on the first night of Hanukah and he would tell us the story of the Maccabees.
Nicole- My grandmother used to do the 12 days of Christmas with me when I was young. She would send a package of 12 small gifts and I was allowed to open one for each of the 12 days before/leading up to Christmas. I loved it. It's something I would like to do if or when I have a family of my own.
Kayla- I always loved sitting together with my family and opening up presents. Just being with my family during the holidays is my favorite thing
Kristin- Christmas Eve is spent at my grandma's house! My grandparents travelled all over the world (twice) when they were a bit younger. They have everything from swords from Spain to art from Japan. My grandma sends the four grandkids on a scavenger hunt to find our presents. The clues tell us about the little trinket and where they got it from or making fun of how we mispronounced different places (my sister once called Nova Scotia, Nova Scotty-a). Everything rhymed and it was so fun (I was one of two who were actually good at it). By far my favorite thing about Christmas.
Jeff- My favorite holiday tradition is a tough decision I have to make between Christmas and Thanksgiving. I will have to go with Thanksgiving because of the combination of family, fantastic food, and football. Christmas is awesome, but I think the "gifts" part of Christmas is a little much. Time spent and a break from reality are the best gifts!
Coach Dave- My favorite Christmas tradition is the selection and decorating of the tree. Now days, most of the decorating is done by my lovely wife - since our four children have grown and are out on their own, but I normally bring the tree home and lug it into the family room! Often, one of our kids is at home to assist in the operation. The "hanging of the greens" represents the beginning of a special time of the year in so many ways. I recall my excitement as a child, as a father of four young children, and now with a family that continues to expand. It is just a joyous time for a family and opportunity to reflect on God's will, His sacrifice, and His presence in our lives.
Favorite music or song?
Kelsey- All I want for Christmas by Mariah Carey is obviously one of the greats. I love the older more traditional music too like Silver Bells.
Cassidy- Maybe Feliz Navidad. I also love Christmas Shoes--it's really sad but so beautiful.
Nicole- Can I say favorite holiday album? Mariah Carry's Christmas album, Favorite movie: love actually.
Kayla- I love the song "O Holy Night". It is so beautiful! Youtube "David Phelps O Holy Night". It's my favorite version! Gives me goose bumps every time :)
Kristin- I love the classics with Dean, Bing, and Frank. Their voices are absolutely timeless! If I'm going for something a bit more modern, anything Michael Bublé is fantastic to me. My favorite Christmas song of all time is My Favorite Things and this year I've been really loving on Joseph's Lullaby by Mercy Me. I love Christmas music :) it makes me happy.
Jeff-My favorite Christmas song is "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." I like all of them, but this one sticks out because Rudolph is the leader and most famous of them all. Not that I'm the most famous of anyone, but I do enjoy leadership qualities such as accountability, trustworthiness, and creativity.
Coach Dave-Silent Night - this song will forever mean Christmas to me. From my earliest memories of Christmas time at church or at home, Silent Night was a song that holds the most meaning to me. This song is a classic of all-time. I love to hear Silent Night. Second place - I'll Be Home For Christmas by Bing Crosby. This song celebrates the feeling of being back with family for the holiday season. Nothing feels quite as good as going home.
Most anticipated food item?
Kelsey- Oh boy. I think I look forward to everything. Both my grandmas are great cooks and always go all out. My favorite has to be the dessert table which is always in the back of the room so no one can see how many times I go to eat cookies and chocolate!
Cassidy-My mom's Christmas cookies!! She even bakes them and brings them all the way to Europe for me because she is the best!
Nicole- Desert normally...so banana cream pie :)
Kayla- Cheesy Potatoes! It isn't a Banwarth Christmas without our homemade cheesy potatoes!
Kristin- My grandma makes the BEST bread rolls. Of course the four grandkids would have contests to see who could eat the most (around 22 I believe, was the record) and the rest of the rolls that were left over were made into ham biscuits for the next couple weeks! My mouth is actually salivating at the thought of them even though I know there's no way my body could take 22 rolls...or actually more than 3 now ha!
Jeff- My favorite food item, although all the veggies are fabulous for you, is turkey. A perfectly-roasted or baked turkey is tough to pass on. That answer is simple for me!
Coach Dave- Honestly, my favorites are the cheese-ball and cashews to snack on throughout the holiday. I certainly appreciate the traditional breakfast on Christmas morning which my mother prepared for so many years, and now my wife - Angie, does the same in magnificent fashion. And the Christmas meal prepared by my wife for the entire family is always incredible. However, the little snacks to nibble on during the holiday season really hit home for me. The family togetherness is the best part of the holiday.
Best holiday away from home? Why?
Kelsey- Every Christmas is spent in Iowa because that's where my relatives are. It's one of my most favorite places in the world because it's where my grandparents are. I don't get to go back that often so when I see them for Christmas it makes it special.
Cassidy- I think probably Berlin two years ago was my favorite. I was playing in Poland, Kawika and Erik Shoji and Brad Lawson were in Germany and Spencer McLachlin was in Greece and we all met up in Berlin. My parents and my brother and the Shojis' parents came too. Berlin is a really cool city and has so much history. And mostly it was great to spend it with good friends and family.
Nicole- I'm hoping this year in Paris, I have always had exploring Paris on my bucket list and I have 5 days to do it this year and I've heard Paris is amazing during the holidays!
Kayla- I've been lucky to only have spent one Christmas away from home. And I was playing in Vienna, Austria at the time. Vienna is absolutely beautiful and they have awesome Christmas markets there. So it wasn't a terrible place to spend the holidays.
Kristin- This year will be my first Christmas away from home due to our schedule and visa issues. It's going to be weird. Luckily, my boyfriend lives in London and he couldn't go home either. We will be spending Christmas together in Greece with it being 60 degrees outside and lots of palm trees (still waiting for them to change colors for fall).
Jeff- My favorite holiday on the road when I was playing was New Year's Eve, if you consider that a holiday. I loved to see all of the craziness out in this world. Also, I enjoy seeing people have fun no matter how they end up feeling January 1st. I believe that people have the wrong perception of me and always will unless they meet me face to face. I don't know anyone that doesn't like to have fun. If you do, please tell me so I can introduce them to fun!
Coach Dave- I have never spent the holiday away from home. I normally attend the NCAA Final Four and the AVCA Convention, but I am always home with my family for Christmas. We have enjoyed some post-Christmas vacations in Florida that I have enjoyed. Nearly 20 years ago soon after Christmas, I was fortunate to coach the Mizuno High School All-America Match in San Jose, CA. This was the best of California vs. the best of America. This was a great event and the coaches stayed in a large beach house that my wife named, "the Big Chill house". I was blessed to coach so many great players during that week and meet many players, coaches, and volleyball enthusiasts, who are still very good friends today. We lost a close match to the California team who had a tall, lanky high school senior named Kerri Walsh. I referred to Kerri in the post-game interview with TV analyst Charlie Brande, as the aircraft carrier. She was very difficult to defend even when she was 18 years-old. So many wonderful memories and friendships made during that Holiday season.
All time favorite gift?
Kelsey- When I was little I was given a camcorder and would film anything and everything. I was always making videos or doing performances with it. I guess that's how I ended up a broadcasting journalism major. I think the best part for me though is giving. I love showing the people I care about how much they mean to me.
Cassidy- A puppy! My brother and I actually did get a dog for Christmas when we were kids. She was a 7 week old golden retriever and she was a great dog.
Nicole- A pink and purple bicycle when I was 6 years old.
Kayla- Over time I've learned that the best gift is just being able to be home with my family. There are more important things that material objects :)
Kristin- My sister has a God given talent of gift giving. I can not remember a bad gift from that girl. She gave me my favorite socks that have holes in them now because I've worn them so much; my favorite and BEST mix CDs. She once sewed Care Bear curtains for my room in home ec! Now she has these two nuggets who are 4 and 2 years old and whether it's a "out of the lines" coloring page of Spider-Man or a key chain that matches theirs...anything from them is my favorite.
Jeff- The best gift I ever received was a tablet. I'm not really a technology guy, but I realized how important just a tablet in a WiFi zone can be. I use it daily, not for social media and nonsense, but for work-related stuff. My sister shocked me when she invested in that for me. Great gift sis! To be honest, I love gifts like anyone else, but I cherish the gift and value of life over anything. Waking up in the morning, opening my eyes, taking that first step, taking that first breath, I am grateful for those little, yet so important, things.
Coach Dave- Oh boy, that is very difficult. Christmas was always a big day at our house as a child. My mother made sure of this. My parents did not spend money foolishly, but we always enjoyed a great Christmas. I recall and blue Schwinn Stingray bicycle (banana seat) when I was about 8 years-old, and a shiny olive-green Schwinn 10-speed (collegiate, I believe) bike when I was 12 or 13. Nothing more exciting than sneaking out of bed at 4 in the morning and squinting through the darkness to see what Santa had left for you. I could never sleep before Christmas. It was just a matter of knowing when it was appropriate to go sneak a peek. I think the most vivid memory of a Christmas gift was the fancy race-car track that my Uncle Dave gave my brother, Steve, and I when I was about 10-years-old. It was the "berries". We set that baby up on the living room floor on Christmas Day and it stayed there for a long, long time. The two cars were Camaro bodies. One was yellow and the other was blue. Driving those muscle cars around the track was a learned skill. I loved that race-car set. I have had so many wonderful Christmas gifts. Now, I just look forward to celebrating the day with my family and watching them enjoy the day like I always did. With my first grandchild on board, this Christmas will mean even more.
Your own personal wish for 2015?
Kelsey- To fully enjoy every opportunity and moment of 2015 :)
Cassidy- I feel like I already have so many gifts, personally. I just would like humanity's love to hate ratio to increase as much as possible please.
Nicole- Continued success, health and happiness for my all those people in my life who have had an impact on my own.
Kristin- Complain less, show more gratitude.
Jeff- I cannot tell anyone my actual wish for the year of 2015 right? I heard it doesn't come true if you tell someone. Whether that is nonsense or not, I will tell you that my ultimate goal for the next 365 days is to find personal happiness. Success makes me happy. Past success is great, but consistent success is what I strive for. I will find out once again who "Jeff Reed" is without tricking myself.
Coach Dave- When you have children, you want the best for them. We have experienced so many blessings in the past few years. Three daughters married in the past 15 months (quality husbands), the first grandchild for Angie and I (Zeke - almost 5 months), and everybody is healthy. Our three daughters and only son have been blessed with my wife's disposition and are naturally happy. However, there will always be challenges in their lives. I hope this New Year brings continued love and hope to our family. One very important thing that I learned from my mother and father is that volleyball is just a game. We take it pretty serious in the Shondell house, but it does not compare to family. I pray for another wonderful year of health and happiness for my family and friends - and peace around the world.
My own answers...
Tradition? Christmas Eve meal with my family. I have two brothers and two sisters who mean so much to me! Now they have children, and we all get together on Christmas Eve, let the kids open gifts and eat the traditional foods from our Italian heritage. My mother isn't able to do all the preparation like she used to, so everybody kicks in. The food is great, but the togetherness easily trumps it!
Song? So many come to mind, so I will take the time to mention just a few... A sad one that has been important in the healing process is "Where are You Christmas?" From our favorite Christmas movie, "The Muppet's Christmas Carole", "Bless Us All"... Gets me every time! Lastly I mentioned in a blog post last week, The Goo Goo Dolls, "Better Days". Just an outstanding message!!!
Food Item? My Grandmothers both loved baking when we were growing up. They had a battle royale over Christmas cookies, always trying to out bake the other... Grandma Ann was best at the traditional, "Honey Cookie", Grandma Dorothy made the very best "Sugar Cookies". We were the winners, because they made soooooo many cookies!
Holiday away from home? Haven't had one, but Ellen and I are heading to Florida to escape the Pittsburgh winter in mid-January. Tampa in January sounds real good!
All-time gift? Like Coach I also got the Schwinn Stingray, Banana Seat bike! Mine was a purple 3 speed with the shifter mounted on the center bar. It seemed like a good idea until you had to brake quickly... Loved that bike!
Wish for 2015? It is pretty obvious. 2014 was fabulous, everything we could wish it would be. What a way to put 2013 way in the rear view. My hope, of course is for continued great health, first for my everything, Ellen Toy, and then on out, into our loving family, our tremendously supportive friends and community, and on out into the world. My hope for you is the same. May the load challenge you to the core, may you carry it with courage and grace, and may you enjoy the good health you earn in the process! Here is to a joyous 2015!
God's Blessings to all of you, this Christmas season!
Jam the Gym, Content Manager