NTC Staff Share Their Favorite Holiday Memories

The Ministry Center staff and the district offices share their beloved traditions during this joyous Christmas season

Debra Hobbs MAsonDebra Hobbs Mason, North Central District Superintendent

My father, Jerry Hobbs, was an amazing pianist from the time he was a child. He played by ear. My Grannie, his mother, would ask him if he knew a song and he would say “hum me a few bars” and within moments he could play it and accompany her. Some of my fondest Christmas memories are of us gathered around the piano at home calling out tunes, sacred and secular, him playing the piano and all of us singing together! As of this year, he’s been gone 32 years and sometimes, when my spirit is quiet, I can still hear him playing!

Andy LewisAndy Lewis, Director of Missional Outreach and Assistant to the Bishop

Since our kids were little, we have baked a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve. Then, on Christmas morning, we sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and enjoy a slice of his cake for breakfast before opening gifts. It’s been a fun and yummy way to help our kids remember what Christmas is all about.


Christy DrennerChristy Drenner, Director of Connectional Resources and Treasurer

I buy matching Christmas pjs for our three sons to open on Christmas Eve. They take silly pictures in front of the Christmas Tree after worship before going to bed. The last several years, I have even included my husband, Frank, in on the fun. The best part is after a busy Advent season and Christmas Eve filled with activities and services, we spend all of Christmas Day in our pjs and enjoy a special homemade brunch. Christmas Day is probably my favorite day of the year because we spend the day together without any stress or worry.

Tom CristiansonTom Christian, Associate Director of Connectional Resources

The excitement for Christmas is for all of us, no matter our age. As Linda and I have experienced the joy of having children and then grandchildren I can really affirm that gift giving is special for children. Not that I don't like to receive gifts but the excitement of a child receiving a gift is special. Our youngest granddaughter, Faith, when she was about five years old wanted a large stuffed bear. This bear was larger than her. As far as we knew the bear was only available at Costco; we did not have a card for Costco! Linda had shared with Faith that we did not have a Costco card but we would find a special gift for her anyway. As I was visiting with Carolyn, at our office, I shared the story with her. She said, "I have a Costco card!" So off to Costco we went. We bought the bear. This bear filled up almost all of the space in the back seat of my car.

Not knowing quite how to present the bear to Faith I decided to put the bear at the front door of the house and ring their doorbell at 6 a.m. When the doorbell rang, Faith got excited that it might be one of her friends down the street coming to share their story of their gifts with her. She turned the front light on to the porch, opened the door, and there was the bear. Her parents did not know what I was doing. The sheer excitement of receiving the gift that she wanted at that time in her life was nothing short of pure joy for all of us. Christmas really is for kids.

Jessica VargasJessica Vargas, Ministry Coordinator for the Center for Church Development

A happy memory I can share is seeing my husband and my oldest putting together the tree. The tree is their thing they get the lights, most of the ornaments, etc. All while drinking non-alcoholic coquito (Puerto Rican eggnog) and Christmas music in Spanish and English is playing in the background.


Matt TempleMatt Temple, Associate Director of Church Planting

Every year my family would open our Christmas pjs the night before we celebrate Christmas and then go to the assisted living home where my Grandma lived and walk the halls singing Christmas Carols. It always surprised me how such a simple gesture brought so much joy.  I can remember the people in the rooms listening to us (and we weren’t very good) with tears streaming down their faces.

Monica FrazierMonica Frazier, Communications Coordinator

My mom carried on the German tradition of the feast of St. Nicholas with us when we were growing up. On Dec. 5 we would pick out a shoe to set out and tuck our list for Santa in it. On Dec 6, the feast of St. Nick, we would wake up to candy and treats and our lists would be gone. I remember my 3 siblings and I would argue over who would get to use my dad's giant work boots  surely the bigger the shoe, the bigger the haul of candy! Of course, my parents divided everything equally, but still we hoped! I loved feeling connected to a tradition my mother, grandparents, great grandparents and beyond had all shared. 

Shirley MillerShirley Miller, Associate Director of Pensions

Growing up, we had an Advent wreath in our home and every Sunday evening during Advent, we would gather around it to read the devotional, light the candles and sing a carol. We three children took turns lighting the candles.

Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2021