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Jennifer Hall | reporter After stuffing ourselves with a Thanksgiving feast, we sit and watch “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”
Kevin Krauskopf | designer When I think of the holidays, I think of two things: one, my Grandpa’s pumpkin pie, and two, pestering my parents until they let me and my sisters open our presents on Christmas Eve.
Jess DeHaven | editor my family always got a real Christmas tree, and I still like doing that. Even more fun was watching dad try to get it to stay upright in the tree holder once we got it home.
Steve Booher | columnist We open our presents Christmas morning, not Christmas Eve... no matter how much I beg.
SYLVIA ANDERSON A little about me: Sylvia Anderson is Kin’s lead reporter. She and her husband have three children, one grandson and a full-figured pug named Twinkles. Although she doesn’t like sports, she has willingly watched more sports games as a parent than your average fan and is now missing being in the bleachers.
05 Eat better this holiday. 06 Light up your front yard with an inexpensive do-it-yourself holiday creation. 07 Tips for a kid-friendly holiday trip. 08 A warm-weather taste for cold nights. 09 Pictures can go from digital to physical thanks to these printers. 10 How much financial help should you give an adult child? 12 Area families share the unique holiday celebrations that bring them closer. 16 How long should you let your kids believe in Old Saint Nick? 18 Yes, it’s the holidays, but take some time out for fun. 20 Some tips for keeping your holiday shopping from breaking the bank. a slice of HealtH | By Jennifer GorDon
Make an outDoor tree Decoration | By GeorGe stanton
country cluB Plaza | By sylvia anDerson
fiesta cHicken encHilaDas | By Dawn forsBerG
MoMents in HanD | By Blake Hannon
GrowinG Pains | By eBoni lacey
cHristMas traDition | By sylvia anDerson
tHe trutH aBout santa | By Jennifer Hall Busy, Busy
celeBrate witHout oversPenDinG | By erin wisDoM
Have a story idea or photo you’d like to see in Kin? Send it to email@example.com or call (816) 271-8563.
Kin’s editor is Jess DeHaven Paul Branson is the presentation editor The photo editor is todd weddle
On the cOver: The Mensching family of Gower, Mo., has a Christmas tradition to secretly give 12 gifts to someone. Jessica stewart/St. Joseph News-Press
We asked our staff the following question: What is your holiday
My husband and my sister have an unusual holiday tradition. They exchange pig gifts: stuffed pigs, pig soaps, pig T-shirts, pigs that snort — you name it. It began with a gift from my sister — a piggy bank that had a big cork in its mouth, which she delighted in pointing out. (They have total opposite views on politics and life.) My husband got revenge the next year by giving her a realistic-looking cast-iron pig. Though it started as a joke, the pig tradition is something they both look forward to 30-plus years later. In fact, when we went to Memphis in October, instead of bringing back Graceland souvenirs, my husband found this year’s pig. It’s a big pink one you wear like a hat. When you pull the ties under your chin, the pig’s wings flap. He’s still laughing. Silly, yes, but it’s brought much fun to our holiday celebrations. We also have more solemn traditions, such as holding hands and singing “Silent Night” before we eat Christmas dinner. My point is that you don’t have to do all the elaborate baking, decorating, cards, carols and parties in order to have a merry Christmas. It’s sometimes the little things that give real joy. In my story this month, “Christmas tradition,” you’ll read about three families and some of the things they do. Hopefully, it will inspire you to celebrate the holidays this year in a way that adds joy and meaning to your life for years to come.
The parenting plunge
Living with a food allergy
By Betsy Lee
A little about me: Betsy Lee is a freelance journalist. She lives in a perpetually messy house with her husband, two children and a neglected basset hound mix. You can e-mail her at contactbetsylee@gmail. com.
I took my 20-month-old son to a library story time Wednesday morning. Because it was the last class of the season, the wonderful teacher brought in some cookies for the kids. J picked out one that I assumed was chocolate chip — turns out it was peanut butter and chocolate chip. Editor’s note And even though our pediatrician Kin columnist Betsy Lee wrote two pieces about her initial recommended that we experiences as the parent of a child with food allergies. The first, avoid peanut butter printed here, describes what happened when she first discovered until he was 2, I don’t his allergy. The second, written shortly after their visit to the ER, think I would’ve even can be read at www.kinmagazine.com. been too concerned had I known it was covered in hives. a peanut butter cookie. He’s had peanut I have to admit, I panicked a bit. I products before, even eaten granola bars stripped him of his clothes and started to with peanuts in them, with no discernible draw a bath. Then I thought better of it and problem. He’s four months from 2 years tried to call the pediatrician again. I hung old. Let the kid have his cookie. Within seconds of consuming the cookie, up before the call was completed. Then I rushed through the house, carrying my naJ developed hives around his mouth. He ked child on my shoulder, grabbing extra asked for water, so I picked him up and, diapers, his shoes, my shoes, etc. I’d almost when I did, he just laid his head on my made it to the door when I realized that my shoulder. By the time I put him down near poor, bawling child was still not clothed. I the fountain, just 10 steps or so away, he’d put a new diaper, pants and a shirt on him started drooling. I rushed him to the car and we headed back to the ER. and called the pediatrician. They recomAs we drove, J screamed, coughed and mended that we head immediately to the reached for me from his car seat. He would emergency room. only calm a bit when I could reach back But by the time we arrived, the hives with one hand to stroke his, while singing were gone and J was just his normal, to him. I honked at people going the speed happy self. The triage nurse looked him limit and cursed a man who took moments over and agreed with us that there was nothing wrong with our little guy. We went too long to go over a speed bump. I’ve never felt so out of control in my home, ate lunch and my husband went life. Having no experience with these kinds back to work. of things, I didn’t know if the next step J and I proceeded with our day as usual. was major breathing trouble. I didn’t know We played a bit and then he and I settled if J could lose consciousness. I just didn’t down for “quiet time” before his nap. As know anything except that if I could’ve we lay on the bed, I noticed that his ears were a bit red. Not too worried, I continued taken his pain away, I would have done it. Instantly. reading Dr. Seuss. They got us right in at the hospital and I Then he started fussing and trying to was able to calm J by cuddling with him in pull up my shirt so that he could lay his bed. The doctor got him a steroid and some head on my skin, something he always Benadryl, which seemed to make him feel does when he’s not feeling well. Assuming that he just needed to nap, I took him to his better within 30 minutes or so. After an hour, he was back to his old self bedroom and started to change his diaper. and his original color. Now we’re trying His whole diaper area was completely to sift through information and figure out scarlet. And when I raised his shirt, it was where to go from here. even worse. His chest and stomach were
Eat better this holiday
Holidays are all about splurging, especially when it comes to nutrition. Calorie count and diets tend to get lost in all of the gingerbread and slices of ice-cream topped pecan pie. “It’s a time when everything’s out there, and everything looks good. It’s a time when all our eyes are bigger than our stomachs,” says Robin Rhodes, director of nutrition services for the St. Joseph School District. But keeping an eye on what you’re eating isn’t as painstaking (or painful) as it sounds. For starters, you
can cook healthier. Everyone has to watch their sodium intake, so put down the salt shaker and season dishes with a dash of chili powder or curry instead. Be wary of recipes that call for meats to be cooked in their own juices because that ends up cooking fat back into the food, Rhodes says. Removing skin from turkey and chicken also cuts down on fat content. With ham, opt for leaner cuts of meat and smaller portions. Presentation and visual appeal of healthy side dishes will go a
long way with younger kids. Think along the lines of marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes. Fruit pieces assembled to look like animals can be as tempting as baked goods. During dinner, keep desserts out of sight. If the cookies and pie are put away, kids will be more likely to fill up on good-for-them food and not the sweets they think are good for them. Mixing in zucchini bread or carrot cake also will boost a dessert tray’s nutritional value. “It’s always the simple, little things that when used together make a good impact,” Rhodes says. — Jennifer Gordon, Kin magazine
A slice of health
Make an outdoor Christmas tree decoration
Light up your front yard with an inexpensive do-it-yourself holiday creation 1. Make a point.
Take the 2 x 2-inch post and fashion a point at one end using a hand axe. This will help to drive the post into the ground. NOTE: You may want to paint your post black or dark green to hide it from the lights before moving on to the next step.
› 4 boxes of 100-string outdoor lights.
2. pilot hole.
› Phillips screwdriver.
Using your 3/16-inch bit, drill a pilot hole for the screw at the top of your post.
› Hammer. › 3-inch wood screw.
3. Choose a loCation.
› 5- to 6-foot 2 x 2 post.
Mark a spot on the lawn and drive the post about a foot into the ground with your hammer as straight as possible.
4. attaCh the sCrew. After securing the post, take your 3-inch screw and attach it to the top of the post leaving about 2½ inches exposed.
› Drill and 3/16 inch bit. › 8 to 10 tent stakes or pieces of heavy gauge wire. › A dozen twist-ties.
› Hand axe.
5. string the lights.
7. tie up loose ends.
Begin stringing the lights about 28 to 36 inches away from the post. Partially drive your tent stakes or wire evenly in a circle around the post. NOTE: Having as many strands of lights as possible coming from the post will enable it to look more like a tree from a distance instead of a pyramid as the author has discovered.
Take your twist-ties and secure any loose strands that are drooping or sagging.
8. light it up. Flip the switch or plug it in to light up some Christmas spirit in your neighborhood. Best enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate.
6. staking the lights. Start your first pass with the plug closest to the electrical source. Secure the plug end in place with your tent stake. Take the strand to the screw tautly and wrap it around it once and move to the opposite end. Secure a loop with the tent stake and take it back up to the screw, doubling the strand. Repeat this step until all your tent stakes are used.
Illustrations and story by George Stanton If you have a suggestion or idea on illustrating a how to, please contact George Stanton at george.stanton @newspressnow.com.
Tips for a kid-friendly holiday trip
Country Club Plaza The Country Club Plaza lights up for the Christmas season.
Country Club Plaza is well known around the country as a premiere shopping district, though with primarily upscale businesses it may not be on your list of places to take the kids. But it should be. During the holidays, the Plaza looks like a magical kingdom with Christmas lights lining every building, and you can indeed find some family-friendly things to do. The season kicks off with the lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. They flip the switch and all the lights turn on at 6:50 p.m. followed by fireworks above the InterContinental Hotel. As you can imagine, the whole area is packed with people. The secret to avoiding the traffic jams is to come early, says Gayle Terry, director of marketing. “What often happens is the
last rush to get in slows down and blocks the perimeter of the plaza. We have many open spots, but people can’t get to them,” Terry says. “If people can be on the Plaza 30 minutes before the ceremony starts, you should be fine.” The Christmas lights come on every evening through Jan. 16, so there are plenty of other evenings to come as well. For a unique way to see the lights, take a carriage ride. There are two companies on the Plaza, Kansas City Carriages and Surrey Carriages, that offer rides from 5 to 11 p.m. in vintage carriages and every little girl’s favorite, the Cinderella carriage. Prices are $50 to $60 for two people, $10 for each additional adult and $5 for additional children. Reservations are suggested, but you can sometimes walk up to the booth and
Carriage rides are a popular family activity on the Plaza.
get a ride if they are available. Make reservations by calling Kansas City Carriages at (816) 531-1999 or Surrey Carriages at (816) 531-2673. A fun place to eat with kids is Blanc Burgers & Bottles. It’s a casual, locally owned restaurant with great burgers. They also have a huge menu of floats, milkshakes and malts. California Pizza Kitchen is another dining possibility, with a good kids’ menu and price points. A traditional stop for many families is Topsy’s Popcorn, which has been on the Plaza since 1950. Also, make sure to take the kids to the new toy store, Zoom. It moved to the Plaza from Crown Center last year and has 6,500 square feet of toys to explore. Or take in a holiday movie at Cinemark Theater on one of its 14 screens. A recent addition to the Plaza that’s especially good to remember when you’ve got young children along is the new Customer Service Center, which has nice public restrooms. There’s a lounge area, free coffee, tea and hot chocolate, too. It’s at Nichols and Broadway, just south of Helzberg’s by Pottery Barn Kids, which also has fun holiday activities going on. Check out these and all the Plaza events by going to countryclubplaza.com. — Sylvia anderSon, Kin magazine
Todd Weddle/Kin magazine
Fiesta chicken enchiladas
The bright and cheery colors in these enchiladas make them perfect for the holidays. They are easy to make and so flavorful. Adults and children alike will love them. The leftovers freeze well and are perfect for quick reheating in the microwave. I usually serve this with Mexican rice and refried beans. When served with sides, this recipe will easily feed eight to 10 people. The recipe can be halved or doubled. Especially during the holidays, having a prepared frozen dinner waiting in the freezer can be a lifesaver. A couple variations on this dish: Omit the tortillas and replace with cooked pasta. Just mix all ingredients together, spread in a greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan, sprinkle with cheese and bake for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees. You also can make a soup out of it by omitting the tortillas, mixing the remaining ingredients together in a soup pot and adding 2 to 4 cups of chicken broth or stock and slowly heating over medium heat, being careful not to let the soup boil. Thin with chicken broth until desired consistency is achieved.
A little about me: Dawn Forsberg is the author of “Dawn’s Kitchen Cuisine” and has won numerous contests in magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens, Cook’s Country, Taste of Home and Better Recipes (the online affiliation of Better Homes and Gardens). Before moving to St. Joseph, she lived in San Diego, Calif., where she had her own By Dawn ForsBerg business “It Dawned On Me!”, making and selling fruit salsas, chutneys, mustards, soups, salads and pickles. She is currently a vendor at the Pony Express Farmer’s Market, Wednesdays and Saturdays. She is mom to two children, two stepchildren and five grandchildren.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped 1 teaspoon dried oregano 2 teaspoons ground cumin 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded 15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed and drained 11 ounces shoepeg corn, drained 28 ounces green enchilada sauce, divided use 8 ounces cream cheese (or reduced-fat cream cheese) 12 fajita-size flour tortillas 1/3 cup grated cheese (Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack or Cheddar) Chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
dIrectIons Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper and sauté for about five minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from scorching. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, oregano and cumin. Continue cooking until the spices are fragrant, about one minute. Add the cooked chicken, black beans and corn to the pan, along with 1/2 cup enchilada sauce. Turn the heat off and add the cream cheese. Gently mix until the cream cheese has melted. Place the flour tortillas between moistened paper towels and heat in the microwave for about one to two minutes. Spray a 9-by-13inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the baking pan. Take about 1/3 cup of chicken filling and spread it down the center of each tortilla. Roll the tortilla up and place in baking pan. Continue filling remaining tortillas. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly over tortillas and sprinkle with grated cheese. Place in oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro (if using), and let rest for five minutes. Use a spatula to serve enchiladas. Serves six.
Pictures can go from digital to physical thanks to these photo printers
Moments in hand
Digital cameras have certainly been innovative. They allow you to view your pictures seconds after you capture them, send them to family and friends or post them online for everyone to see. But some of these pictures might be worthy of more — to be taken out of cyberspace and printed out to be placed on a wall, mantle or other esteemed viewing spots in your home or office. Instead of traveling to get them developed elsewhere or using a standard printer — which could give less than stellar results — it might be a good idea to invest in a solid photo printer to get the best out of your pictures. Here are a few options you could consider to develop your own photos for the holiday season and beyond. — Blake Hannon, kin magazine
HP PHOTOSMART A646 (starting at $149.99. Available at Best Buy and hpshopping.com) If you want a photo printer with a few more bells and whistles, you’ll have a hard time beating the HP Photosmart A646. It’s Bluetooth compatible so you can print photos from your cell phone. Photos can be printed as large as 5-by-7 inches, and you can design them or doctor them with more than 300 creative elements on the ample 3.4-inch TouchSmart screen with an on-screen keyboard to add your own photo captions.
EPSON PICTUREMATE CHARM (starting at $149.99. Available at Best Buy, Office Depot, Amazon.com and Epson.com) It may look like a big white cooler you’d bring to a family function, but the Epson PictureMate Charm delivers big where it counts. It prints sharp, clear and colorful photos in less than a minute at a low cost-per-print ratio. And its 2.5-inch LCD screen makes it easy to apply applications like red-eye correction before printing.
CANON SELPHY CP780 (starting at $99.99. Available at Office Depot, Amazon. com and Canon.com) For solid functionality at a reasonable price, the Canon Selphy CP780 offers customers plenty as an entry-level photo printer. Its thermal-dye print engine prints photos that are both water- and scratch-resistant as big as 4-by-8 inches. It reads multiple sizes of memory cards. Plus, its compact size makes it easy to transport.
Growing pains How much financial help should you give an adult child?
or many college students, graduation is one of the best moments of their lives. All their hard work has finally paid off as they receive their degrees, and the burdens of college are lifted from their shoulders. Itâ€™s a great feeling. That is, until they realize how deeply in debt they are due to student loans and, in many cases, credit cards. So, until they land that first job, graduates often turn to mom and dad for financial help and, sometimes, a place to live. But parents may wonder how much help to give and how long that help should last. The help can be sorely needed. According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 64 percent of all college graduates owe at least $1,843 on their credit cards, and one in five has credit card debt of $10,000 or more. Adding more
— Eboni LacEy, Kin magazine
Prepare financially for college graduation • Stay on top of FAFSA. Though they are tedious forms that must be submitted every year, they are used for a reason; to give money where money is due. According to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid website, the program is used to “maximize eligibility for student aid” and receive “federal and state aids, work study, Pell grants and benefits.” • Apply for scholarships as much as possible. Through many institutions, you can apply for scholarships every year. This is especially for students who already have declared a major or students who are double majors. Go to your college’s website and search for scholarship applications. For some, it’s as easy as faxing a yearly application or submitting a form online. • Build a credit history. A credit history can allow a college graduate to achieve great credit benefits such as being able to purchase a bigger house or receive a better auto loan. “Start getting things in their name at a young age,” Cargill says. “Teach them how to invest their money.” • Set high yet achievable goals. By setting goals — such as retiring by 60 or getting a good career by 27 — the graduate has something in mind to aim for. “As you’re growing up, you can decide how you want to live in the future,” Cargill says. “You can set up an individual retirement account and can get a tax deduction. So, when you retire that money is tax-free.” • Use your credit card only for emergencies. Sometimes we use credit cards to live outside of our means. Though credit might allow you to think you have money right at your fingertips, it is not free. It is money you will spend, plus interest, as you pay off the balances. So, determine whether what you’re buying on your card is truly worth the time it takes to pay it back. “You should only use your card for emergencies,” Mollus says. “If you can eat it, drink it or wear it, then it is not an emergency.” • Find an internship or part-time job. By finding a good job or internship before graduation, you can get familiar with what kind of work you will be doing in the future. Often, a successful internship at a company can lead to a full-time position there after graduation, helping in what can be a rough job search. • Use loans wisely. Many students get huge loans so they have money for school and pocket change for themselves. A loan should never allow you to live outside of your means. “Borrowing extra is not a good idea,” Mollus says. “It teaches the students bad habits, and they are hard to break.” • Educate yourself financially. Take a personal finance class to educate yourself on how to live well and escape debt. A class can get you a free elective and teach good habits and financial discipline at the same time. • Read the fine print on your credit card agreements. Though credit can be good if established properly, interest can be a tough thing to handle if payments are made late or missed altogether. Make sure you choose a credit card with a low interest rate and stay ahead of payments. You also should make sure you are always paying a greater amount then the minimum payment so that the card can get paid off within a reasonable time. “Credit card companies reserve the right to raise your interest rate,” Mollus says. “If you’re late, they can raise your interest rate to over 30 percent. With that rate, you will never pay off the credit card making the minimum payment. Sometimes your minimum payment is never even covering your interest.” For more details on credit, go to www.youcandealwithit.com and use a debt repayment calculator to see how many months it will take you to pay off debt based on your interest rate and monthly payment.
worry, the unemployment rate remains well above 9 percent. However, the decision of what parents should do and what they can actually afford differs from family to family. “It’s a case-by-case basis and depends on the situation,” says Patrick R. Cargill, a St. Joseph certified public accountant and investment advisor representative. “If the parents can help the kids out, it’s a good idea. If you can give them a boost, you can get them going in the right direction. In today’s environment, jobs are scarce.” The consequences of helping — too little or too much — must be weighed. Too little help and the new graduate may struggle to build a career and start a new stage of life. Too much help and the graduate could become too parent-dependant and wind up at home for another five or 10 years. So, where’s the balance? Northwest Missouri State University accounting instructor Doni Mollus says that allowing your kid to borrow money from you can be a good option — if they understand that the money is a favor and not an expectation. “You should not borrow more than you absolutely need,” Mollus says. “Children should not expect their parents to pay for everything. There isn’t anything they absolutely should pay for.” However, there are some reasonable expenses that a parent could help their child pay. “A car or house payment, or health insurance, are some reasonable things,” Cargill says. “Insurance is one of those things people skip out on. But, if a problem with health or car insurance occurs, it can be a very devastating thing.” Before this becomes an issue, both the child and parent can prepare financially. Since there are so many social and economic dynamics, there are many important things to consider, Cargill says. “Kids should get credit cards with low rates at an early age so they understand how they work,” Cargill says. “If parents teach them how to use them, it can be beneficial. Help kids build their credit so they can have credit history. Kids should also try to get a job or intern over the summer. It will give them a taste of what the real world will be like.” With some planning and, if needed, a little financial boost from their parents, a college graduate should be able to get through the transition into the work force with a little less stress. Though the details may be tricky, knowing how to stick to a budget and moderate spending should be the ultimate goal for your child before they even put on the cap and gown. “The best thing about it that I have seen is a billboard in Kansas City. It said, ‘If you can’t afford it, wait for it,’” Mollus says. “It’s really hard to abide by, but you want a good foundation. Once you get into debt it’s hard to get out of it.”
Area fami share unique holi celebrati that br them clo toget
tmas tradition By Sylvia anderSon
How do you know itâ€™s Christmas? Is it the presents around the tree and a ham in the oven? Maybe itâ€™s Christmas lights and midnight mass. We all have family traditions that make the holiday special. Some are common, others are uniquely ours. Silly or solemn, they all shape our family memories and bond us together through the years. We share a few from three local families with hopes you will be inspired to start some new ones of your own. Please see Page 14
The Mensching family, of Gower, Mo., including parents rachel and Paul and their four children, pictured, has a longstanding tradition called the Twelve days of Christmas, where they give an unsuspecting neighbor, person or family a gift each day for 12 days then reveal themselves as the gift givers. Submitted photo
ilies e the iday ions ring oser ther
The Tigh family
Kelly and Mark Tigh
“I grew up in a very tight Italian family where all the uncles, aunts and cousins came together every Sunday,” says Kelly Tigh of St. Joseph. “It was like the ‘Big Fat Greek Wedding’ and ‘The Godfather,’ with a little ‘Roseanne’ mixed in.” Family get-togethers have always been large, she says. There are 65 people on her mother’s side. Then she and her husband, Mark — who also is from a large family — have five children. They have numerous Christmas traditions. Some were short-lived, such as being on the Christmas home tours for Allied Arts. “It wasn’t just a homes tour. The whole weekend had entertainment all weekend,” she remembers. “It was so awesome. A bagpipe player started it off by playing ‘Amazing Grace’ off the front porch.”
When their children were younger, visiting Santa Claus at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art and making a gingerbread house were always on the list. So was making an Advent calendar, driving around to see the lights and putting on plays about the nativity, which were often more fun than serious. As the children got older, they started a competition of who would bring the best family video. The year “Napoleon Dynamite” was popular, her son, Daniel, was both Napoleon and Pedro. “It was hilarious,” she says. The families also play Bunco, dominoes and Texas Hold ’Em together. “When we get together with the big group, Bunco is crazy with all the yelling and screaming,” she says. Games are usually played after the longest standing tradition:
| Submitted photo
pasta. Every year the whole family makes Cavatelli from scratch. “That is our gift as a family,” she says. “You roll it out like thick spaghetti, then as you cut these bite-size pieces, it’s rolled and makes like a shell.” They serve it with a thick, red sauce, along with Italian bread and a salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Sometimes her aunts and uncles make homemade ravioli, too. The family also has had red sauce competitions, to see who can make the best. “Nobody’s tastes the same, and we all have our grandparents’ recipe,” she laughs. For dessert, Kelly makes pies with her own homemade crust and cannoli with chocolate, almonds and homemade ricotta. Above all, Kelly says she tries not to get hung up on whether everything turns out perfectly. “Sometimes we try so hard, we
Rachel and Paul Mensching Rachel and Paul Mensching of Gower, Mo., have a Christmas tradition of giving their four children one gift each from Santa and three gifts representing the three gifts Christ was given. But the longest-standing tradition is called the Twelve Days of Christmas. They pick a family or a person, and for each of 12 days, they put a gift on their doorstep, first ringing the door, then running away. On the 12th day, which is Christmas Eve, they sometimes reveal themselves, singing carols and bringing a plate of cookies. “We maybe didn’t know them that well before, but we end up with all these great friends,” Rachel says. The recipients might be neighbors, someone in need, or someone who is lonely from the death of a spouse or inability to get out of the house. It’s a bittersweet tradition that began when Rachel was a child. Rachel has two brothers, and when she was about 10 years old, she says her parents sat them down and asked if they would like to do Christmas for another family, although it would mean less gifts for them. They agreed. So for a couple of years, they picked a needy family and dropped Christmas at their door. But soon it evolved into something else, she says. Her mother had cancer and died. “One of the last things she told me was she wanted me to carry on the tradition,” Rachel says. So she did. When she married Paul, she told him about the tradition, which they have continued together. After they moved to Gower, they began to include their children — since she and Paul were getting a little slow ringing and running from the doors, she jokes. It has always been a positive experience, she says. One woman they visited wrote in her journal about how she prayed they would come each night. The gifts also have evolved over time. Although they originally tried to go
with the Twelve Days of Christmas theme (a partridge in a pear tree and so on), they now drop off one piece of a 12-piece nativity set each night. The first night they give the manger, with instructions explaining that they are Secret Santas and will be leaving a gift each night. On Christmas Eve, the note promises, they will reveal themselves. “We put them all under the Christmas tree, then each night we will drive to where we are going or run to the neighbors, with our hoods up so they can’t see who we are. Then on Christmas Eve we take a plate of cookies and box with special wrapping that has the baby Jesus,” she says. “It’s really fun.” The best part of the tradition, though, is that it’s catching on in town. “I think it’s great,” she says. “The more the merrier, and then people really won’t know who it is.”
Judy and Larry McCoy Christmas for many of us is all about the gifts. The anticipation of what’s inside is part of the excitement. But for St. Joseph residents Judy and Larry McCoy — particularly Larry — the fun is all about how
Larry McCoy gets an assortment of nuts each year from his family. | Submitted photo
the gift is wrapped. You see, Larry has been getting the same gift for close to 15 years. “The secret is not to have them rattle,” says Rachel McCoy, who got involved with the mystery packaging after marrying Judy and Larry’s son, Luke. The gift started out as a simple bag of mixed, unshelled nuts that Luke and his sister, Deanna, gave to their father. Larry is not the easiest person to buy gifts for, Judy says, but he does like nuts. So after that first time, the kids began to disguise the box the gift was in. One year, Luke took a cardboard wrapping paper roll, filled it with nuts and then put stuffing in to keep them from shaking. Another year, he wrapped a box holding only one nut with a note saying more were to come. Larry is a John Deere fan, so another year they got him a small John Deere mailbox and put mixed nuts inside. “He knew he was going to get nuts but didn’t know in what,” Judy says. Even after Luke and Deanna left home and got married, they have continued the tradition, alternating between them to come up with the best disguise. “They have gotten very creative,” Rachel says. “It’s kind of a rivalry each year to see who can come up with the best hiding place.” Deanna now lives in Germany but has managed to carry on when it’s her turn. One of the best packages, Judy says, was three or four years ago when Deanna discovered her son was allergic to cashews, but not pea peanuts. She bought a large piece of Styrofoam and secured close to 90 peanuts one at a time in rows, spelling out a Christmas message as well. Equally clever was the year Deanna and her husband used a shrink wrap machine so the nuts wouldn’t shake. Even though they all know the outcome, it’s become something they continue to look forward to every year. “He always shakes each gift,” Rachel says, “and says even before he opens it, ‘It’s nuts, isn’t it?’” 15 | DECEMBER2010.kin
disappoint ourselves. Christmas is about hope, and you get your hope from Christ.”
How long should you let your kids believe in Old Saint Nick?
The truth about Santa I caught on to Santa Claus pretty early. Like most children, I questioned how he managed to get my brother and me exactly what we wanted every year — especially the gifts we didn’t tell him we wanted while sitting on his lap at the mall. But no matter how we posed the idea to our parents, they always reinforced to us he was real. We believed in the Easter Bunny longer than we should’ve, too. Children find out the truth about Old Saint Nick between the ages of 8 and 10, according to many experts. “Instead of you letting the cat out of the bag, (parents) should wait until their children are ready,” says Cynthia Mangfield, a counselor in St. Joseph. “There’s really no harm either way. But the dam-
age they could do to other children who still believe is a lot worse.” There is no clear outline of when parents should tell their children the truth about Santa, but parents are encouraged to get them involved with the process once they find out. Melissa Ebling says her oldest son began helping her and her husband put out the gifts for the younger kids. “He really got a kick out of pretending he was sleeping and then sneaking out of bed to come find me,” the St. Joseph mother says. The act quickly became a holiday tradition all in itself, one that was passed down and included each child as he or
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she became older. “It’s really fun now because they all know what’s going on, so (my husband and I) are back to doing it by ourselves,” Ebling says. “They know we did it, but it’s still fun.” And even if your children are on to the scheme, chances are there is some part of them that believes in Santa Claus, she says. Between advertising and a Santa Claus at most stores across the country, it’s pretty hard for them to not get excited about the big guy in the red suit. I’m not sure what was more fun — trying to pinpoint which family member was actually filling our stockings or pretending the next morning that I actually believed a 300-pound man fit down the chimney. Regardless of what and when you choose to tell your child, just remember that it’s all in good fun. — Jennifer Hall, Kin magazine
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kids stuff 11I16
Things to do with young people
Breakfast with Santa/Gingerbread House Workshop. Santa’s pancakes are served hot off the griddle with sau sausage, juice, coffee and a special treat for the kids. Seatings are available at 9 and 10:30 a.m., reservations required. Workshops are at 10 and 11:30 a.m. Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, $10 per person. 233-7003.
Storytime for Preschoolers. 11 a.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Dec. 1, Rolling Hills Consolidated Library, Savannah branch. Santa will visit storytime on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. 324-4569. There also will be storytimes at the Belt branch in St. Joseph at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 17 and 18 and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 18. 232-5479.
Angel decorations craft class. 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Rolling Hills Consolidated Library, Savannah branch. 324-4569.
Tricky Tuesday Thanksgiving Crafts. Make Thanksgiving crafts to take home. It’s free, and there’s no need to sign up in advance. 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Washington Park Library. 232-2052.
Thanksgiving Centerpieces craft class. 3:30 p.m., Rolling Hills Consolidated Library, Savannah branch. 324-4569.
Teen Zumba exercise class. 4 p.m., Rolling Hills Consolidated Library, Belt branch. 232-5479.
Building Block Read-a-Long. Featuring the 10 childrens’ books nominated for the 2011 Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award. 11 a.m., Rolling Hills Consolidated Library, Savannah branch. 324-4569.
Independence Square Tree Lighting. Activities include live entertainment, caroling, face painting, cookie decorating, a coloring station and more — and Santa will be there from 3 to 5 p.m. Independence Square, Liberty and Main streets, Independence, Mo. 3 to 6 p.m. (816) 461-0065. Teen Kitchen 101 with Chef Jeremy. Chef Jeremy from Basil’s Italian Restaurant will demonstrate essential kitchen skills for teens ages 12 to 17. 6:30 to 8 p.m., East Hills Library. Free, registration required. 236-2136.
herself, a first-grader who is funny, silly and lovable but irreverent. Runs through Dec. 30 at Theatre for Young America at Union Station in Kansas City. (816) 460-2083, www.unionstation.org.
Financial Champions. A financial program for teens on how to earn, spend and save money responsibly. 4 p.m., Mondays through Dec. 6. Rolling Hills Consolidated Library, Savannah Branch. 324-4569.
‘Junie B in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.’ Based on the Junie B. Jones books, this happy musical features Junie
Day after Thanksgiving at Crown Center. The lighting of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree caps off a day that includes Santa’s arrival and the opening of Crayola Christmas Land and Santa’s Gingerbread Village. (816) 274-8444, www.crown center.com. Funky Mama Children’s Concert. Kids and parents will enjoy the fun, kid-friendly music and stories. Kids will dance, sing and have a great time with other kids while listening to live entertainment. Free, 10 a.m., Tomahawk Ridge Community Center, Overland Park, Kan. (913) 8956390, www.opkansas.org.
‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ A Christmas production by the Children’s Performing Theater. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 12. $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 12 and younger.
Synchronized Swimming Holiday Water Show. Free. 2 p.m., YMCA pool, 315 S. Sixth St. 232-3344, www.stjoymca.org.
Teen Movie Riff Event. To get in the holiday spirit, come creatively criticize the unrated movie “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” Sign-up is required. 6 to 7:45 p.m., East Hill Library. 2362136.
Teen Scrapbooking class. 6 p.m., Rolling Hills Consolidated Library, Belt branch. 232-5479.
Family Movie Night. Come and enjoy “Muppet Christmas Carol” (rated G). Hot Cocoa and cookies will be served, and the movie will be followed by a craft time. 6:30 to 8:15 p.m., East Hills Library. 236-2136.
Teen Movie. 2 p.m., Rolling Hills Consolidated Library, Belt branch. 232-5479.
Movie Night for Adults. Professional movie critic Bob Shultz will present “JFK” (rated R). The movie and popcorn are free. 6:30 to 9 p.m., East Hills Library. 236-2107.
Third Thursday Wine Tasting. Presented by Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits. Learn about and sample a variety of wines. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. $10 per person. 232-9750.
‘Last Comic Standing.’ Presented by the Robidoux Resident Theatre. 7:30 p.m., Missouri Theater. 232-1778.
Mayor’s Thanksgiv Thanksgiving Dinner. Join St. Joseph Mayor Bill Falkner for a Thanksgiving feast. 6 p.m., Civic Arena, $40 a person. 271-4717.
Johntz Home Tour. Enjoy a fabulous wine tasting, a lovely tour of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, lunch at the Tempo cafe and a tour of the Johntz Home in Kansas City. Departs from the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art at 9:30 a.m. and arrives back at 4:30 p.m.. $80, space is limited. 233-7003.
Movie Night for Adults. Professional movie critic Bob Shultz will present “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (rated R). Free, 6:30 to 9 p.m., East Hills Library. 236-2107.
Spirit of Christ Christmas Past Heritage Homes tour. In Independence, Mo., see the Vaile Mansion, the BinghamWaggoner Estate and the Marshals’ home, all decorated for the holidays Through Dec. 30, closed Dec. 23 through 25. $12. (816) 461-3491, www.visitindependence.com. ‘Handel’s Messiah.’ Warm your holiday season with an enduring favorite, performed by the Kansas City Symphony and Chorus along with the 250-voice Independence Messiah Choir. 8 p.m., Community of Christ Auditorium, Independence, Mo. Call (816) 471-0444 for ticket information.
Upcoming Exhibitions opening reception. The new exhibits will be “New Paintings” by Sarah Williams and “Master Printmaker ‘Knotty, Knotty’” by Evan Lindquist. 4 to 7 p.m., Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. www.albrecht-kemper. org, 233-7003.
Friday Wine Tastings. Sample a variety of wines. 5 to 8 p.m., Smooth Endings Fine Wines Spirits & Cigars. Tastings are held every Friday. 749-4WINE or 232-1057.
Corinthian Hall Centennial Celebration. Join the Kansas City Museum for a night that promises to be a highlight of your holiday season. Enjoy spectacular views of downtown Kansas City from the R.A. Long building at 10th and Grand. 6 to 9 p.m. Call (816) 483-8300 ext. 1402 to reserve seats or tables. ‘Christmas Bells are Swingin’!’ A firstclass collection of jazzy holiday tunes performed by the Boston Brass and others. $30 to $40. 8 p.m., Carlsen Center of Performing Arts at Johnson County Community College. (913) 469-4445, www.jccc.edu/theseries.
Movie Night for Adults. Professional movie critic Bob Shultz will present “Imagine: John Lennon” (rated R). Free, 6:30 to 9 p.m., East Hills Library. 2362107. ‘The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller.’ Mannheim Steamrollers’ signature sound combines classical and modern-day rock, acoustic and electronic music. Celebrate the spirit of the season with the “18th century rock band.” 7:30 p.m., Independence Events Center. www.independenceeventscen ter.com.
Larry the Cable Guy. Blue Collar Comedy Tour star comes to the Independence Events Center, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $53.50 to $64. (866) 443-8849, www.GetTix.net. ‘Late Night Catechism: The Christmas Show.’ Presented by the Robidoux Resident Theatre. 2 p.m., Missouri Theater. 232-1778.
‘Yuletide Pops.’ Presented by the Saint Joseph Symphony. 7 p.m., Missouri Theater. 233-7701.
good stuff 11I16
Get a ‘sitter and try out these activities
Todd Weddle/Kin magazine photo illustration
Some tips for keeping your holiday shopping from breaking the bank
Celebrate the season without overspending
aybe youâ€™re enjoying the holiday season. Or maybe youâ€™re wondering how youâ€™ll afford it. As festive and fun as it can be, Christmastime also can be pretty expensive. But Diane Nielson, family and consumer sciences agent for the K-State Research and Extension Office in Atchison, Kan., has some tips for cutting holiday costs. (For more information, go to www.atchison. ksu.edu or e-mail Nielson at nielson @k-state.edu.) At the top of Nielsonâ€™s list is making a list â€” and sticking to it rather than letting emotional buying allow you to overspend. This means knowing before you shop what youâ€™re looking for and how much youâ€™ll spend for it. â€œEven Santa Claus goes over his list and checks it twice,â€? she says. She adds that if you feel youâ€™re likely to spend more than youâ€™ve budgeted, go shopping with cash â€” and only as much as your budget allows â€” rather than credit cards. Where you shop can make a difference, as well. Keep an eye out for sales, and keep in mind that certain items may cost more at specialty stores than elsewhere. Another option is shopping on sites like Craigslist and eBay, although Nielson advises against getting caught up in a bidding war. And donâ€™t forget that being a little creative can both cut your spending and make your gift more meaningful. Creating a cookbook of family recipes or a calendar with birthdays and anniversaries marked on it are ways to give something that canâ€™t be found in a store, Nielson says. She also notes thatâ€™s itâ€™s not too soon to start thinking ahead for next yearâ€™s holiday season. This might mean finding a way to cut your expenses slightly each month â€” such as opting for a less expensive cell phone plan â€” in order to put money aside for holiday spending. Or it might mean knowing what menu youâ€™ll serve during a holiday party, so if you come across those items on sale, you can stock up and put them in the freezer. â€œIf we can plan over the course of a year, it really helps,â€? she says. â€” Erin Wisdom, Kin magazine
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Been there, done that
Better to give than receive
By steve Booher
A little about me: As a parent and stepparent, Steve Booher has tried to keep his sense of humor while helping to raise five kids. He doesn’t claim to be the best parent out there, but he says he’s not the worst, either.
Guys, do you ever wonder what that crushing feeling is in the middle of your chest? Yes, it could be a heart attack. Or, maybe it’s just December — and that means Christmas, and that means getting your wife or girlfriend a gift. Christmas is only weeks away from Valentine’s Day. That means more gift-giving. And, while you’re thinking about buying her gifts, better purchase a 2011 calendar and mark down her birthday, your anniversary and Mother’s Day. These are non-negotiable gift-giving occasions. Of course, one of those ironic, “life-is-not-fair” lessons that most guys learn is that giving gifts is not a two-way street. Most men are clumsy when it comes to buying gifts but get cut absolutely no slack. Most women are adroit at buying presents but often wriggle out from underneath the responsibility by using a lame excuse such as, “Honey, you’re just too hard to buy for.” Here’s an example from my own marriage. Just remember that I’ve exaggerated certain aspects for comedic purposes and it’s told from a male perspective. So don’t judge. My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary recently. Now, I may be only a couple of evolutionary rungs above Cro-Magnon but I’m smart enough to know that anniversaries that end in either a “0” or “5” are really important and the gift must live up to the occasion. Thus, I snuck off to a local jewelry store and bought my wife a unique pearl ring. By looking confused and helpless (an expression I’ve perfected), I convinced the saleswoman to gift
wrap the box and make it pretty. On anniversary evening, I took my wife out to a nice dinner and presented her with the ring. Her reaction was, on a scale of 1 to 10, about a 6.5. That may sound low but keep in mind that I settle for anything above a 4. As the excitement subsided from her tepid reaction, it was her turn. Go ahead, guess what I got. Nothing. Nada. Bubkiss. She said she was going to buy me a shed for the backyard where I could store my yard tools, but didn’t have the money. She did describe the shed that she intended to buy ... one of the more expensive models with a peaked roof, sliding entry door and genuine Plexiglas window. “I know, I know, it’s pathetic,” she said with a sad look. And, somehow that worked. Instead of being angry, I found myself feeling sorry for her and disgusted with myself. What a creep I was for even expecting a gift in the first place. “Ah honey, don’t
worry about it,” I found myself saying. “Just knowing that you love me is enough. Besides, I don’t need anything. Not really.” I’m slow on the uptake so it didn’t hit me until a few days later that there is a double standard on gift-giving. My wife didn’t buy me a present and I let it slide. If I had not bought her a gift on our anniversary, I would be soundly ridiculed by:
• her mother. • her sisters. • her best friend, Lisa. • the girls in the office. • the “girls night out” gang. • all of her Facebook buddies. • all of the above. I’ve vowed revenge, though. Next year, we will be married 11 years and I’ve already planned the perfect evening — dinner and dancing followed by an in-depth description of the two-carat diamond necklace I meant to buy her but just didn’t have the cash. Of course, I’m just kidding. I’ll buy something nice, not because I expect anything in return. I just want to make it to anniversary No. 12.
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