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20 Questions with the Bishop

Lowering expectations over the holidays

Staging a church Christmas program







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A holiday classic earns a special place in her home.

ON THE COVER Santa Claus greeted a crowd in downtown Sioux City when he arrived for the holiday parade in November. The event included floats, music and fireworks. Photo by Tim Hynds

FEATURES 4 Feature home: College special 8 Collections: Moore to savor 11 Food: A great appetizer 12 HOLIDAYS Ice, ice baby 16 HOLIDAYS Gingerbread homes 19 HOLIDAYS Decorating trees 22 20 QUESTIONS with the Bishop 25 HOLIDAYS Christmas programs 29 HOLIDAYS Light time


32 36 38 42 44 45 46 47

HOME SWEET HOME A gingerbread master created tasty structures.

HOLIDAYS Artful season HOLIDAYS Santa among us HOLIDAYS Christmas past HOLIDAYS First Christmas HEALTH Lowered expectations HEALTH New program Doc, I’ve Got a Question Parting Shot

PUBLISHER Steve Griffith EDITOR Bruce Miller EDITORIAL Joanne Fox, Dolly Butz, Tim Gallagher, Earl Horlyk, Nick Hytrek, John Quinlan PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Hynds, Jim Lee, Laura Wehde DESIGN Kathryn Sesser ADVERTISING SALES Nancy Gevik ADVERTISING DESIGN Stacy Pajl, Jill Bisenius ©2012 The Sioux City Journal. Siouxland Life is published monthly by The Sioux City Journal. For advertising information, please call (712) 224-6275. For editorial information, please call (712) 293-4218.


AN ARTFUL HOLIDAY Professors put artistic touch in holiday decorations


December 2012


HOME decking


the halls

December 2012


John and Robin Reynders are shown in the dining room at their home.

The John and Robin Reynders’ home, which is owned and maintained as the college president’s home by Morningside College.



Text by Joanne Fox Photos by Tim Hynds

CHEVY CHASE HAS NOTHING ON Morningside College President John Reynders when it comes to outdoor Christmas decorations. “I told John you could probably see our house from the airport,” joked Robin Reynders about the bright, white lights that surround the house and adorn trees and shrubs. “I love the fact that this house can be decorated to give us an opportunity to entertain during the holiday season,” John Reynders said, with a smile and shrug. “It’s the way this house should be used.” The home was purchased by Morningside College in 1993 as the “president’s house.” The Reynderses have private quarters on one level, while much of the first and lower levels of the residence are used for get-togethers. “Christmas provides us with a great opportunity to open up the house to others,” John explained. For example, the Reynderses will host several holiday receptions this year. “But at other times during the year, we also host our faculty members, donors and alumni,” Robin added. “It is

great we are able to have people experience what a great house this is.” “It can get hectic at times, because we host every freshman student for dinner,” John confided. “I believe we had 25 events going on since July.” The Reynderses put some of their own spin on Christmas decor. “But most of it is done by wonderful people who work for the college and help decide where everything will go and how it will all look,” Robin clarified. Entering the home, one’s eye is immediately drawn to a study with books from floor to ceiling, outlined by green garlad entwined with small yellow lights. “We want people to feel comfortable immediately,” Robin pointed out. “And this library area sets the tone for welcoming.” Right across from the library is a small dining room, with large patio doors that let in the outside light. “It’s a good segue from the study into this room,” John noted. “It allows traffic to move from one area of the entry way to another.” Those who move straight forward from the home’s entrance will walk into the large dining room area, which can serve up to 32 people. White china, which belongs to the

An ornament is shown on a flocked Christmas tree.

college, is ringed in maroon – Morningside’s colors – and highlighted with a gold accent. A full place setting of silverware gleams off the overhead chandelier. Maroon napkins are perfectly folded into the crystal goblets on the table. “When we have place settings at this level, we usually are serving a six-course meal,” Robin said. “Actually, that’s not unusual when we serve in the dining room.” “We do enjoy hosting themed dinners,” John added. “The college food service creates the meals, so we’ve done Italian and French cuisine, to name a couple.” Right down the middle of the table, inside a runner of green pine branches are


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Decorations are shown in a basement-level landing.

lighted, red votive candles. “If need be, we can combine four separate tables into one large table, serving 20,” Robin said. “People say it makes for a really ‘wow’ moment.” THE CENTER FOR HOPE AND HEALING In this room, the focal point is a large fireplace, surrounded by brick with anRadiation Oncology Siouxland Hematology-Oncology Associates oak mantle. Christmas decorations of John Michalak, M.D. Donald Wender, Ph.D., M. greenery and red berries gently enve- Greg Naden, M.D. Radha M. Rao, M.D. Stephen P. Kahanic, M.D. lope a bright red, lighted candle. Massive Charles Murphy, M.D. draping is pulled back to reveal floor-toSudarshan Doddabele, M.D. Kamalesh Bala, MD ceiling windows, curtained in a sheer white fabric. Two 10-foot tall Christmas trees are positioned on either side of the fireplace. Red and gold balls hang from branches, while cranberry sprigs grace the tops. With larger gatherings, guests can make their way to the lower level of the home. Decorating continues with a whimsical oak bench made for two with large white pillows and equally large red bows on a landing. Those who want to take a rest before proceeding on can place their feet on a small red-and-black rug with a large poinsettia bloom. The lower level can accommodate a much larger crowd. Tables can be set up for people to relax. High top black leather chairs contrast the oak bar, bordered with more green garland, but highlighted with gold lights and balls. Here, several smaller, flocked Christmas trees sport a variety of colored balls. Seasonal music is played to create a more relaxed atmosphere. “The trick in this area is to be more flexible,” Robin said. “We use different linens, different table service, different centerpieces. Often, when we entertain here, we have food stations instead of the sit-down approach in the dining room. It allows people to move around and socialize more.” “We want to provide an atmosphere of warmth, comfort, welcoming,” John added. “It’s what we believe Morningside is all about.”

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December 2012



to savor



Text by Joanne Fox Photos by Tim Hynds

SOUTH SIOUX CITY | ASK MARY Macomber how many nights before Christmas and she might answer, “About 170.” That’s how many copies the former South Sioux City educator estimates she owns of “The Night Before Christmas.” If you add up the other items in Macomber’s collection of Clement Moore’s beloved holiday poem, the total goes up exponentially. Some are rare and valuable and some are whimsical and inexpensive. More


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than 150 years after Moore penned his prose, Macomber is keeping it alive in her home every holiday season. Q. What started this collection? A. About 25 years ago, I bought the first book to read to my children. As an art educator, I thought the illustrations were OK. The next year, I went in search of another “Night Before Christmas,” found one and fell in love with the illustrations. That was the start of looking for different books with different illustrations. Q. What’s the appeal for you? A. Christmas just springs to life for me in this poem. I love it. I love to read it. I


love the way he wrote it. Q. What about the illustration aspect? Is that important when you buy the book? A. I’m always evaluating the illustrations. I particularly like the older ones. Q. Where do you find the books? A. Antique stores. Book stores. I’ll usually ask for children’s books. Then, I’ll be more specific and ask for the title. Sometimes, I’ll even add “A Visit from St. Nicholas” or “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” It’s amazing how many different ways the poem is referenced. Q. What unusual presentations have you acquired?

Top: A vintage illustrated book is part of Mary Macomber’s collection of items depicting Clement Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” poem. Left: Dolls are part Macomber’s collection of items depicting the poem. Center: Macomber also has numerous illustrated books in her collection. Right: Even a sweet plush bear has made its way into her home.

A. I have the “Teachers Night Before Christmas,” the “Dogs Night Before Christmas,” the “Rednecks Night Before Christmas,” the “Golfers Night Before Christmas.” They’re cute in that they change the words. In the Golfers Night, for example, the wording is how things are running fine so Santa decided to play a quick nine. Q. So Santa can be presented in different ways? A. He is. Out of every item in my collection, I only have one Santa who is black. So is the entire family in the book. I got that through a Scholastic Book Fair when I was teaching. I also have a book by William Wegman with his weimaraners in various costumes and poses. Q. Your children are grown and you no longer teach. Why continue collecting this? A. It’s for the unique illustrations. Even last year, I found a pop-up book with all of the illustrations as delicate, black silhouettes. I have a book in which the illustrations flicker when you move the book around. Q. Are these items on display all year or just seasonal? A. I’ll put them up right after Thanksgiving and take them down after Jan. 1. I know it must look like a lot, but it really all fits into a couple of Tupperware bins. Q. What’s your most valuable item? A. I have a book illustrated by Grandma Moses. I think I paid $70 for it back in 1991. Q. What are the other ways the poem is presented in your collection? A. I have a bear who reads the poem while a mouse listens. I have a Santa who also reads it. I think those show how technology has been introduced to make the poem more interesting. I also have it on a CD, read by Peter, Paul and Mary. I have a set of dishes from JCPenney. A friend made me pillows with the words on them. I have an afghan. Q. What about clothing? A. I do have a nightgown and I did find a sweater set at Christopher Banks. It has the poem in blue with purple and rose coloring on an ivory background. Q. No “Nightmare Before Christmas” in your collection? A. No. That doesn’t mean Christmas to me. Q. What’s missing in your collection? A. I don’t have a large piece of artwork

Mary Macomber is shown with a portion of her collection of items depicting Clement Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” poem. She is shown in her South Sioux City home.

that has the poem on it. I’ve never found that. Q. Do you collect anything else? A. We have a Westie (White Highland Terrier), so I have a lot of those types of items which are out year-round. My husband’s aunt collected miniature nativity sets and when she died, we were able to choose some of those. Q. Any thought to ever stopping the collecting? A. The older I get, the more I think I should.

DO YOU COLLECT? What kinds of “Christmas-y” things do you have around the house that are either gathering dust, in plastic bins or on display for all to see? We’d love to feature your holiday collection. Call Joanne Fox at 293-4247 or email jfox@siouxcityjournal. com.


December 2012



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Pomegranate and pear salsa made by Hy-Vee dietitian Korie Lown.

quick appetizer



Text by Earl Horlyk Photos by Jim Lee

A POMEGRANATE AND PEAR SALSA can be a flavorful and nutritious side dish for any holiday party. That is, if you’re able to separate the arils (the red edible seeds) from a pomegranate’s pulpy white membranes. “The trick is to break the pomegranate under water,” explained dietitian Korie Lown inside the Marketplace Hy-Vee kitchen. “If you pull the arils from the membrane, the seeds will float to the bottom of your bowl.” “This is obviously easier said than done,” she said at the midway point of the arduous procedure. “But, I swear it’s worth all of the effort.” According to Lown, a fruit salsa can become a holiday, go-to condiment because it can either go on baked tortilla chips or be used to garnish fish or poultry. “When it comes to the holidays, people are looking for versatile recipes that can be made ahead of time,” she said. “That’s why salsas are extremely popular.” POMEGRANATE AND PEAR SALSA Ingredients 2 pomegranates 1/4 cup, 100 percent pomegranate juice I lime 1/4 cup, minced red onion

Above: Hy-Vee dietitian Korie Lown makes pomegranate and pear salsa. Right: The ingredients being used to make pomegranate and pear salsa.

1/4 cup, freshly chopped cilantro 1 medium Bartlett pear 1 tablespoon, sugar Instructions 1) Score each pomegranate and place in a large bowl of water. Break the seed from the pomegranate’s membrane, strain away the water and place seeds into a medium mixing bowl. 2) Add pomegranate juice and lime juice to the seeds, tossing it into an even coat. 3) Add minced red onion, cilantro and diced pear, stirring to combine. Sprinkle sugar over the mixture, stir and combine. The finished product serves 10 people and contains just 41 calories. That’s important to Lown, who said holidays are often troublesome for

people on diets. “There are so many temptations around Christmas,” she said, “that should be looking for healthier alternatives.” Similar in taste to a cranberry, pomegranates provide a sweet crunch that’s natural compared to processed sugars. For dips, Lown often uses healthy Greek yogurt instead of its higher caloric cousins, sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise. “If you don’t enjoy the texture of Greek yogurt, you can certainly switch up recipes to include 50 percent sour cream to 50 percent Greek yogurt,” she continued. Lowe said she even adds black beans to a brownie mix for a healthier holiday dessert. “There are times when my parents enjoy having a dietitian in the family,” she said with a laugh, “and times when they don’t.” Still, Lowe said eating healthy will make the perennial “diet as a New Year’s resolution” obsolete. “If you make good lifestyle choices throughout the year, an occasional holiday indulgence won’t be that bad,” she said.


December 2012







Text by Earl Horlyk Photo by Jim Lee

ROBERT DOWD MAY NOT BE A David-Blaine-in-the-making yet he can turn a 250-pound block of ice into a swan ... or into a giant diamond or, even, theatrical comedy and tragedy masks in time for Mardi Gras. “I like giving folks the ‘wow’ factor,” he said, taking a chain saw to an ice slab. “Ice sculptures always say ‘wow’ in my book.”


December 2012

Dowd, a chef with Distinctive Gourmet – the company which handles catering needs for the Sioux City Convention Center, Tyson Events Center and other city facilities – also happens to be a trained ice sculptor. Whenever a Convention Center function needs an elaborately frozen centerpiece – whether it’s an NAIA Volleyball ceremony or a private wedding reception – Dowd is ready to take out some of the tools of the trade.


Instead of whipping out a spatula or whisk, the chef settles for weaponry with more power, like dremels, chisels and the aforementioned chainsaw. Unlike other ice artisans, Dowd doesn’t chisel away in some ice freezer. “Our freezers aren’t large enough for that,” he said, simply. Dowd merely finds a spot inside the Convention Center’s large kitchen as an impromptu art studio. Yet, it’s not as easy as it sounds.


“I like making sculptures as large as I can,” Dowd notes, “but I can do smaller things as well.” In case you’re wondering if you can make frozen pieces of art at home, Dowd said it’s possible with the right kind of ice. “We use ice from the (Loveland, Colo.based) Clinebell Equipment Co. because their ice won’t melt easily and will freeze clear,” he explained. “Other ice has a tendency to crack or freeze with a cloudy look.” Clear ice, after all, is key since Dowd often uses fluorescent lights to add aura. Colored paints and gels are also used to create drama. Yet, it may be messy creating art with a medium that, um, melts. At receptions, a sculpture sits in a specially designed tray with a small drain. Dowd says flakes of kosher salt is used at the base to prevent the sculpture from toppling over. “I know it sounds strange to use salt to prevent melting,” he said, shaking his head. “It all has to do with the law of physics that I’m not smart enough to understand. But, hey, if it works, that’s fine by me.” Still, most of Dowd’s large sculptures can only last for five or six hours before going down the drain, literally. Yet don’t feel sorry for Dowd, who said there are plenty of perks in creating icy pieces. “An ice sculpture is the dramatic centerpiece of any event,” he said. “It’s where you get your picture taken and it’s what you’ll remember long after the event.” Though creating ice sculpture is very different than creating a gourmet meal, Dowd said both endeavors take creativity and the ability to think outside of the box. “A great meal must also be a dramatic feast for your eyes, so a chef is always thinking visually,” he explained. “Creating ice sculpture, I’m merely adding to an element of drama for the food.”

HAT MELTS Once a design is selected, Dowd creates a template to guide him in lightly etching an outline in the face of the ice block. Later on, he’ll make hard cuts with an electric saw. As the sculpture begins taking shape, Dowd will switch to smaller tools to cut, grind and refine. In total, it may take him two or three hours to complete a piece that can be as large as 40 inches.

Ice Sculptures, photoa submitted by Robert Dowd.


December 2012


Home Grown & Proud to Live & Work in Siouxland




Dr. Laura Giese was born and raised in Sioux City , growing up in the Morningside Area. She attended Heelan High School and graduated in 2000. She then went on to spend the next 8 years at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, receiving her undergraduate degree in Biology in 2004 and her Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree in 2008. In July of 2008, she joined Wheelock and Bursick Dentistry as an associate. Dr. Giese is married to her high school sweetheart, Bob Giese and has a son, Cal. Dr. Giese is committed to providing quality dental care for Siouxland.

Dr. Brian Bursick is a Sioux City native growing up in the Crescent Park area. He attended West High School and graduated in 1986. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from the University of Nebraska Dental School in 1994. After graduation he practiced briefly in Sergeant Bluff, IA. In 1997 he joined Dr. Wheelock as an associate. In 2004 he became a business partner. Away from the office Dr. Bursick is busy with his family. He and his wife Kristy have three young sons. Dr. Bursick is devoted to delivering quality comprehensive dentistry to the people of his hometown, Sioux City, IA.

Dr. Wheelock established his own dental practice in 1977. It originally was only 2 blocks from its current location at 4100 Morningside Avenue. Dr. Wheelock was born and raised in Sioux City graduating from Sioux City Central High School in 1969. He went on to receive his Bachelors of Science degree from Briar Cliff College in 1973. He attended dental school at the University of Iowa and earned his Doctor of Dental Science degree in 1976. After graduation Dr. Wheelock returned to Sioux City. Dr. Wheelock is involved in his community & church. Dr. Wheelock is married to his college sweetheart, Marilyn, and has three adult sons and three daughters in law. He is the proud grandfather of five incredible grandchildren. Dr. Wheelock is proud to call Siouxland home and enjoys providing quality dental care to the community.

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December 2012



a better house




Text by Joanne Fox Photos by Jim Lee, Tim Hynds

WHITE FROSTING, SLICED INTO squares, form the snow-capped tiles on the roof. Alternating red and green gumdrops dot the eaves troughs. Knot-shaped pretzels serve as the siding. Whimsical characters have huge grins on their faces. It’s all captured in photos of the extensive gingerbread house villages that James “Jim” Tallman and his wife, Evon Tallman, created for the enjoyment of others. Jim Tallman grew up in Onawa, Iowa. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II – landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day plus two, being wounded twice in the European Theater and earning a Purple Heart – Tallman decided to locate in Sioux City. Evon Ryder was a Sioux City native, who – following her East High graduation – went to work at Anderson Bakery in Morningside. It’s where she met her future husband. They were married May 17, 1941, in Onawa. With the help of the GI Bill, Jim bought the Madsen Bakery (the name belonged to the previous owners) that same year and became a baker alongside his wife. The couple had three children, Rebecca Clelland, Robert “Bob” Tallman and Mary Nitzschke, all of whom worked at the bakery at one time or another. “That was how we earned our


December 2012

Bob Tallman holds a photograph of Jim and Evon Tallman, his mother and father.


gingerbread village project for the Commons area during the holidays. “It was a huge project, baking and decorating the gingerbread houses at home and transporting them to the college for display,” recalled Bob’s wife Marilyn Tallman. “But it was one he did with precision and extreme care.” Gingerbread’s roots date back to medieval times in Germany when it was baked for Christmas treats. Bakers experimented with a variety of ingredients – sugar, cloves, cinnamon, molasses, flour – and baking times to create crispy or soft creations. Gingerbread houses


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allowance, working after school and on Saturdays,” Clelland said. “Throughout high school, we would faithfully show up with a group of friends on Fridays after football games for the fresh, hot doughnuts just coming out of the fryer.” The Tallmans owned and operated the bakery at 902 Morningside Ave., in Sioux City for 27 years. “Dad was well-known for his chocolate fried rolls,” Bob recalled. “At one point, he was asked for his recipe, and he responded that he didn’t use a recipe.” Mom was also an incredible cook. “She was more of a gourmet cook than Dad,” Bob clarified. “She made fabulous stuffed pork chops. Dad would kid her with, ‘Can’t you ever make a normal pork chop?’ And for as great as Dad was as a baker, he never cooked a meal for us. I don’t think he knew how to boil water.” The folks didn’t encourage their only son to embrace the bakery business. “They wanted an easier life for me, but I ended up working in the packing house,” Bob explained. “But Dad’s hours were what were so brutal. His day would start at 5:30 p.m. when he would figure out the orders for the next day. He would eat supper with us and then nap until 9 p.m. Then, he’d go in and bake until 4:30 or 5 a.m., deliver to the customers, come back home about 8 o’clock and nap again until 5 p.m. It made my day of working from 5 in the morning until 1 or so in the afternoon a breeze.” Bob Tallman recalled his dad’s fondness for Sioux City’s meat packers. “He would take trays of rolls down to Raskin’s and Sioux City Dressed Beef,” he said. “There would be times he would take these huge sheets of cakes for the workers. He knew they worked hard.” The Tallmans originally had two bakeries – in Morningside and Northside. “It was too much,” Bob noted. “They couldn’t be at both places at the same time.” In addition to his culinary skills, Jim Tallman was a shrewd businessman. “He didn’t do fancy stuff. It was very basic, but very good,” he said. “I remember once Dad thought it would be profitable to make eclairs and to sell Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches. He stopped that when we kids would eat all of them.” After selling the bakery in 1968, Jim and Evon began 15 years of baking for Saga Food Services at Morningside College. It was here that Jim began his annual Christmas

BASIC GINGERBREAD 1 1/2 cups flour 1 Tbsp. ground ginger 4 Tbsp. light molasses 3 Tbsp. light brown sugar 1/4 cup butter 1/2 Tsp. baking soda 1 egg, beaten Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and ginger together. In a saucepan, combine molasses, brown sugar and butter. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly melted. Stir the baking soda into he melted mixture and then add this to the four mixture along with the beaten egg and mix to a dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and free from cracks. Roll and cut or mold into shape and bake for 10 to 20 minutes, until a light golden brown.

“It was a huge project, baking and decorating the gingerbread houses at home and transporting them to the college for display. But it was one he did with precision and extreme care.”

Submitted photo


were inspired by the fable “Hansel and Gretel,” in which two youngsters find a house in the woods made of gingerbread. When Europeans immigrated to the United States, they brought their gingerbread knowledge with them. Pictures of the Tallmans’ holiday presentation show multiple houses were trimmed with icing and novelties. “He drew the windows, shutters, doors, roofing and made miniature churches complete with steeples made of ice cream cones,” Marilyn explained. “He also made a Santa’s castle created with sugar cubes.” The investment of time was substantial. Templates of the houses were taken from previous years or out of dog-eared cookbooks. Once the gingerbread was baked and cooled, it needed to sit for a

Jim Tallman, owner of Madsen Baker in Cecelia Park in Sioux City for 26 years, was well-known for his expertise in creating holiday desserts. After selling the bakery in 1968, Jim and his wife Evon began 13 years of baking for Saga Food Service at Morningside College, where Jim began his annual Christmas gingerbread village project.

few days to harden. Frosting was used as mortar to hold the house together. Once that was dry, the final touches – with candy canes, cookies and other decorative items – would be put on. Jim Tallman died in 1993 at age 76. Evon Tallman, 87, died Dec. 29, 2003. “He was a talented baker, a caring husband, father and grandfather, with an incomparable love of family and country,”

Marilyn Tallman said. Did the Tallmans pass on any of their “baker” genes. “Oh, yes, I have a signature dish,” Bob said. “It’s sour cream enchiladas. And they’re so easy, anyone can make them. Of course, my sister, Mary, makes a mean Kahlua Pie. And my other sister, Becka, has been known to make a wedding cake; however, it did tilt a little to one side.”

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HOLIDAYS decorating

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People look at Christmas trees at the Sioux City Jaycees Festival of Trees, a great place to get decorating ideas.


December 2012


adjustments need to be made. Then they decorate it. Whistler said there’s no right or wrong place to put an ornament on your tree, but be sure to keep your theme and colors consistent. “Sometimes it’s those ornaments that you’ve had for years or that have special meaning that make your tree,” she said. “You can always try to work

those in your tree also.” The theme doesn’t stop in your living room or great room. Whistler said the key to decorating for the holidays is carrying that theme throughout your home with a wreath on your door or an arrangement in your front entryway that matches that of your tree. Whistler is tight-lipped about

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“My favorite part of the Christmas season is to be able to acknowledge the gift that is Jesus Christ for the world, and for me as a priest to be able to celebrate that at Mass is a true blessing.� 22 December 2012


20 QUESTIONS with the bishop

the Most Rev. R. Walker Nickless Photograph by Jim Lee | Text by Nick Hytrek

Christmas is a busy season for everyone, but it’s particularly crunch time for the Most Rev. R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of Sioux City. Nick Hytrek checked in with him about the holiday. 1. As bishop, does Christmas bring any special duties? As bishop, I’m the pastor of the whole Diocese of Sioux City, which as their chief shepherd or pastor, I always try to write a special letter to them.

2. How many Masses do you celebrate personally at Christmas? Usually at the Cathedral of the Epiphany at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and at 8:30 Christmas morning at the Carmelite Monastery.

3. How does planning for the Christmas liturgy compare with preparing for Easter?

Obviously Easter is much more complicated because it involves Holy Week. Christmas is much more joyful and easier to prepare for celebration.

4. What’s you favorite part of the Christmas liturgy? Part of the Mass is the blessing of the manger scene. We bless it with holy water and incense it to mark its specialness.

5. Do you prefer midnight Mass or Christmas morning Mass? We tried midnight Mass a couple of times (at the cathedral). Because of its downtown location, I think people are afraid of the parking situation and we’re usually in competition with St. Boniface Church. We’ve found 4 p.m. to be very prayerful.

6. What message do you try to deliver during your Christmas homily?

It depends, but I would always talk about the gratitude we should have for the gift of the savior and that we have received this gift and our gift-giving reflects God’s generosity to us.

7. How do you get people to remember what Christmas is about when we’re surrounded by commercialism during the holiday season? That is always difficult. Lucky for us in

the Catholic Church, we have a four-week preparation called Advent. In this preparation period there’s a call at least from the church to leave the glitter and noise and observe the silence as we prepare for the coming of the Lord. It’s a challenge, but we do the best we can.

We were always hoping for a white Christmas with Colorado, and a couple of times we got blizzards. The beauty of the Rocky Mountains and evergreens and being in that climate at elevation was always something special at Christmas.

8. How can the emphasis be returned to the religious message rather than commercialism?

14. Does that mean it’s not Christmas for you without snow on the ground?

9. What role do you think Santa Claus can play in the home?

15. Growing up surrounded by evergreens, does that mean real Christmas trees over artificial trees?

I don’t think we can ever do away with the commercial message. If we look at this time as a time of peace and recognize the value of each other, then we’ll be doing well.

The best explanation for us is Santa Claus is a corruption of the term St. Nicholas, who was a bishop in Turkey. It’s a commercialization of a Catholic bishop. He was known for his work with the poor. At least we tell our young people the story of St. Nicholas.

10. With all the preparations and Masses, when do you find time to celebrate Christmas yourself?

I usually after the 8:30 Mass on Christmas morning try to get back to Denver and celebrate with my family. After the 4 o’clock Mass on Christmas Eve, the priests at the cathedral and I have Christmas dinner together.

11. Is it hard to be away from your family in Colorado during the Christmas season? I’m the oldest of 10 kids, and all nine are still in the Denver area. It is difficult, but when you’re away from family, you learn to appreciate them more.

12. Do parishioners extend a lot of invitations to Christmas dinner?

In my old age, I’ve come to realize artificial trees are more efficient than trying to keep a real one alive.

16. What’s your favorite family Christmas tradition? On Thanksgiving, we all put each other’s names in a hat and draw a name of the person we’re going to give a gift to. On Christmas, we open them and it’s always fun to see if people like them.

17. Favorite Christmas carol? I think I like “O Holy Night,” but “Silent Night” is a close second.

18. The best gift you ever received was ...? That’s a tough one. I remember when I was in grade school, and this is going to date me, but I received a tape recorder and I began taping speeches of the president and others on television.

19. Do you believe in Christmas miracles? Yes. Miracles happen more often than we think.

Lots of invitations and lots of sweets – cookies and candies and treats, which is appreciated.

13. With all the snow and evergreens, what’s Christmas like growing up in Colorado?

You have to have snow for Christmas or it’s not Christmas.

20. What’s your favorite part of the Christmas season? My favorite part of the Christmas season is to be able to acknowledge the gift that is Jesus Christ for the world, and for me as a priest to be able to celebrate that at Mass is a true blessing.


December 2012


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December 2012




Christmas program




December 2012


LIVING NATIVITY Living nativities, a staple at some churches, bring their own sets of challenges. “If the weather cooperates, it’s way easier the next year to get people to volunteer. The one year it was 2 degrees, we had a little trouble the next year getting volunteers,” said Jean Turner, who coordinates the Living Nativity held each year at Morningside Presbyterian Church and sponsored jointly by Morningside, Third and Westminister Presbyterian churches, joined this year by Lawton Presbyterian. “But it’s falling together. It’s a whole lot easier than it was at the beginning.” It takes a lot of prep work, but after several years, it’s not like they’re reinventing the wheel. “Over the years, we’ve accumulated a lot of our scenery and things like that,” Turner said. “So it’s easier to put on, although we seem to find something new we want to add every year. And it’s a good joint experience for all of us, working together.” The initial three churches had worked together at Vacation Bible Schools before Adults handle all the major roles in each starting the drive-through Living Nativity of the six scenes, and finding volunteers is about 10 years ago. never much of a problem for the two shifts,


Text by John Quinlan Photo by Tim Hynds

CHRISTMAS ISN’T CHRISTMAS FOR many Siouxland churches without pageants and programs re-creating the first Christmas, with children or adults portraying Mary and Joseph, the angels and the manger animals, and some live nativity scenes with real animals, all of it accompanied by lots of beautiful Christmas music. This is a lot of work, but it is well worth the effort, planners and participants say. And it just doesn’t work if the members of the congregation don’t want it to work … and don’t lend a hand. The Rev. Darrin Vick, the new senior pastor at Morningside Lutheran Church in Sioux City, said he is confident his new church has a sysVick tem in place to handle this year’s Christmas programs. “A huge blessing coming into a new congregation is that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, especially at a congregation like Morningside,” he said. “So yeah, it has its challenges, but the challenges are a job, especially this year. We’ve got the kind of typical things you do as a church and we’ve got some kids programs going on and 26

December 2012

some adults programs and some things in observance of Advent. But something that might be different this year is we’re looking to do some specific outreach into the community that will be related to bringing comfort and joy related to Christmas this year.” And he fully expects to follow the adage of a first-year pastor in a new congregation: “Don’t change much of anything the first year.” Mary Wilson once again helps the preschoolers at Morningside Lutheran re-enact the Nativity story, as she has for several years. “I’m used to little kids,” the day care provider said. “And that’s fine. I think it’s kind of easy and fun to see the kids learn. It’s a little stressful, but I don’t think it’s difficult because I don’t expect perfection. I just expect them to have fun and learn something.” The pre-schoolers (ages 3, 4 and 5) will sing songs taught by someone else because she’s no singer. Knowing the story, they will do a little nativity scene with the angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. BACK TO BASICS “That’s all they need to learn. You get back to the basics. It’s supposed to be about the birth of Jesus, not a bunch of fluff and fancy costumes and glorious music. Just the basic little things,


this year at 5:30 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 16. “Several of them have said to me the last few years that it’s not Christmas if we don’t do it,” Turner said. “People like the role of King Herod because you’re sitting. It’s funny because people over the years have developed a spot that they like. We have some people that want to be on the angel float together as a group because, they said, it doesn’t feel like we’re celebrating Christmas if we haven’t done it.” And if newcomers come, well it’s always easy to add another angel or shepherd into the mix. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish at Dakota Dunes also has its annual Live Nativity about two weeks prior to Christmas, with kids in costume first gathering in church to sing a couple Christmas carols. And like the Presbyterian Living Nativity in Sioux City, live animals are used for the pageantry. But getting the kids together isn’t a problem, said the Rev. Bob Lacey, pastor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, “because we’ve got a lot of people that are involved in the parish that help coach the kids, help get them in the costumes, etc., etc… The parents come with the kids. It’s usually a pretty good time.”

and that’s what they’re going to do,” she said.” Unlike at some churches, their costumes are minimal. “The sheep will be wearing a little paper plate of cotton balls and the angels will wear halos,” she said. “It’s very memorable for them.” Last year’s preschool Christmas program was supposed to be a small, impromptu event in the church basement for the parents. But 150 people left the church and came downstairs to see it. “And I thought, omigosh! This is crazy,” she said. So this year’s program will be upstairs, during the church service.” Tina Wright, who is in charge of the kindergarten through fifth-grade students’ program at Morningside Lutheran, said it gets a little crazy when you try to choreograph the approximately 50 Sunday school children involved in the program. “But we have excellent helpers at Morningside Lutheran. We need everybody. Without them, it just doesn’t happen,” she said. Work on this year’s program began in November, with kids having special parts getting extra practices early in December, Wright said. “Every year, I vary the program,” the seasoned director said. “Sometimes I get things from companies and they have some music selected and maybe

a certain program. Last year’s was kind of based on a more retail theme, about whether people really understand the meaning of Christmas or is it all about shopping for gifts? But this year I went with a totally traditional theme, pretty much taking the verses right from the Bible.” There is no competition among the young actors for parts. The fourth- and fifth-graders are told about the acting, speaking and singing parts and encouraged to volunteer, which they do. “I know one little girl who loves to be an angel, some that love to be a star,” she said. And by “star,” she means of the celestial variety. “And again, I have a great group of people that step up and help me get all these kids costumes,” she said. CHANGING TIMES Smaller Sunday school enrollments at some churches have necessitated changes in their Christmas programs. “I think families are so much busier now than they ever were before,” said the Rev. Laurie Rich, pastor of Sioux City’s Morningside Assembly of God. “So sometimes you just have to find what works for the culture that you’re in. Therefore, maybe our programs have gotten a little simpler than they used to be. But I’d have a real strong message.” With families being pulled in so many directions, it can be tough to get the kids together for practice, but there will be a children’s Christmas program, Rich said. St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sioux City, for instance, won’t have a nativity scene this year. “Actually, the last few years, what we’ve done is that we have so many kids go to grandma’s house on Christmas Eve or whatever, that we’ve started to do an Advent event,” said the Rev. Torey Lightcap, rector of St. Thomas. “So we’re kind of marking the time of the season.” Though the regular Christmas pageant has fallen by the wayside, he said, “we might have enough kids around on Christmas Eve to pull this together. Most churches around here have seen a dip in their numbers, and I think that even includes Easter and Christmas, oddly. But there are more people than you would usually have, just fewer than you would have had on an Easter or Christmas 20 or 30 years ago.” Augustana Lutheran Church in Sioux City has seen similar Christmas changes. The holiday program last year, for instance, was done during worship on the fourth Sunday of Advent, said

the Rev. Del Olivier, Augustana’s pastor. “Quite frankly,” he said, “our Sunday school is getting smaller and it’s getting difficult to get parents and grandparents at other times. So this really worked nicely. “And it has been our tradition here for at least the last 12 and a half years that our early service on Christmas Eve is all done by the youth. I’m the only adult person that has a role. So they lead the liturgy, they lead the prayers and they actually give the Christmas message.” But the Christmas season just wouldn’t be Christmas without a youth program, he said.

The Rev. Torey Lightcap of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sioux City says their regular Christmas pageant has falling by the wayside.

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December 2012



December 2012


HOLIDAYS stringing

the lights

Jason and Virginia Anderson and daughter Bailey, 9, are stringing Christmas lights at their home for the first time. His goal: Big display.




Text by John Quinlan Photos by Jim Lee

JASON ANDERSON HAS A PLAN, A budgeted, 5-year plan, to be the Clark Griswold of Cheyenne Boulevard, or at least a more tasteful Clark, starting this Christmas. Jason, his wife ,Virginia and 9-yearold daughter Bailey (with a “Wonderful Life” name) recently moved to a ranch house near 34th Street and Cheyenne in Sioux City, and it presented them with the perfect opportunity to start stringing

Christmas lights and decorations into a “Christmas Vacation” wonderland that would make Clark Griswold (played by Chevy Chase in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”) proud. “Eventually, what I’d like to do is I’d like to have a music display to have our lights go to music,” Jason said of the system some homeowners have of synchronizing their home lights to music that is broadcast over the radio. “I’ve always wanted to do Christmas lights and, moving into a new house, it made sense to start doing it.”

Such was his childhood dream. “We didn’t have Christmas lights when I was a kid. We grew up on West Fourth and Rebecca streets, and my folks didn’t have a whole lot of money growing up. Then we moved out to an acreage, kind of in a secluded area on the westside … and … no lights there either.” A financial adviser today for the Siouxland Investment Group, Jason naturally started doing research, online and off, checking out the city’s best Christmaslit neighborhoods to figure out the best lights for their home. Incandescent or


December 2012


Jason Anderson sets up Christmas lights on his Sioux City home.

LED? Big lights or little lights? It makes a difference, he learned. “After research, it makes complete sense to do the LED lights” he said. “The reason is because using the LED string lights, you can string 85 sets of them together into one plug. You don’t have extension cords all over the place. And because the voltage is so low on those, you can string them all together.” The Andersons budgeted $1,000 for this year’s Christmas decorations and started stringing the lights in October. “We have a budget,” he said. “Every year after this, we’ll add $500 of new Christmas lights to start building the house up. “When you do the research, a lot of these Christmas decorations are very expensive. I mean, you’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars for some of these things. And that just isn’t in our budget, but it’s something that we need to build toward.” A thousand dollars is a good starting budget, letting them do quite a bit the first year, he noted. Checking out the city’s many wondrous Christmas decorations has been an Anderson family tradition for years. “That’s what kind of got us going,” he said. “We always do Applewood, Cherrywood Lane. We always look at the Sioux City Journal and find out who’s in the lighting competition for the year, then we’ll go out and see those lights.” It also helped that his new home had outdoor electrical outlets. Their previous


December 2012

house did not, and that was a real problem when they considered outdoor lighting. This being their first year in a new neighborhood, Jason said he isn’t sure what to expect, lightwise, from his neighbors. But he is hopeful that some sort of neighborhood group could be organized to get decorative Christmas lights put on the light poles along Cheyenne. “If you could put garland or whatever and Christmas lights on every single one of those poles, I think it would be a nice touch for the neighborhood,” he said. His online research uncovered some neat pictures of what homeowners have done with Christmas lights, giving him something to shoot for. But their future Griswold house isn’t likely to boast 250 strands of lights with 100 bulbs per strand for a grand total of 25,000 light bulbs, enough to make the power company turn on its auxiliary nuclear generator. “We’re kind of making it more classy,” he said. “I like the warm white and the pure white. I didn’t know that the warm white looked like the incandescent white lights until someone told me. We’re doing the bigger lights and when you have the LEDs, they actually look blue. So if you do the whites and you want the yellowish white lights, you’ve got to do warm white lights.” The Andersons planned to have lights along the roofline and the driveway, also winding up the sidewalk to the doorway. “And then, my wife is a Husker fan, and I’m a Hawkeye fan. So we’re going


to put an ‘I’ above one side of the roof, a yellow ‘I,’ and then a red ‘N’ on the other side. So it will be Iowa/Nebraska. We have a little competition there,” he said. “And my wife said, make sure the ‘N’ is on the right side.” They will be making next year’s supplemental Christmas purchase right after the holidays, when you can get more bang for your buck, he noted. Fortunately, the new home has plenty of storage space. And even enough room on the roof for a Santa and sleigh, should they ever decide to add one. But the Andersons are moving ahead cautiously. “What you learn in doing your research is that you kind of want to go with one look. You don’t want to have everything kind of jumbled up together and just have a bunch of Christmas decorations out there,” Jason said. “So we’ve got some of those deer in the yard, and we’ve got a snowman and stand already.” As for the cost, Jason estimates spending maybe $70 more this winter because of the new Christmas lights. The LED lights are a bit more expensive than the incandescent would have been, but for basically one month’s use, even on his all-electric house, the power bill isn’t that bad, he reasoned. And nobody but the Andersons will be putting up those lights. “I do it all myself. I’m cheap,” he said. “And I think it’s fun. I think that’s the joy of Christmas is being able to do that kind of stuff.”

Reduce WinteR Fuel costs As temperatures drop during the winter, home fueling costs often increase for home owners. Fuel options for home owners largely depend on the region — in the Northeast, fuel oil or electricity are most prominent while in rural areas, propane and wood are often the main choices. But whatever your heating fuel options are, you have options to reduce your costs. Reducing fuel costs can involve both shortterm and long-term solutions and range from simple, inexpensive changes to major home modifications. Here are some ways that you can keep the cold out and the costs down this winter: Reduce Air Leaks By caulking and sealing air leaks in a home, an average household can cut 10 percent of their monthly energy bill. Use caulk to seal any cracks or small openings on non-moving surfaces such as where window frames meet the house structure. Make sure your weather stripping in exterior door frames hasn’t deteriorated and cracked, if it has, replace it. Sealing windows and doors will help, but the worst culprits are usually utility cut-throughs for pipes (plumping penetrations), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. You can buy material

that expands to fill the gaps and keep air from flowing through.

heat costs over time.

Use Energy Wisely Set the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120 F). If your water heater is older, get an insulating blanket to wrap around it and reduce heat loss. Newer heaters are much more energy efficient and a blanket won’t make a noticeable impact.

Replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescents can save home owners up to three-quarters of the electricity previously used by incandescents. The best targets are 60-100 watt bulbs used for several hours a day. Check the fixtures to ensure they will accommodate the slightly larger compact fluorescents.

Lower the thermostat setting to 50 or 55 degrees when you are using your fireplace and the furnace is on. Some warmed air will still be lost, but the furnace won’t have to use as much fuel to keep the rest of the house at its usual temperature.

The best way to reduce your home’s overall energy consumption is to hire a professional energy auditor to evaluate your home and identify all the inefficiencies. It may cost a couple hundred dollars, but will save you much more over the long run.

Install a programmable smart thermostat that allows you to lower the heat during the workday or at night when you’re asleep, and automatically increase the setting before you get home or awake in the morning.

Visit the National Association of Home Builders website at for more information and tips.

Install Energy-Efficient Products Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances and products such as new HVAC systems, high-performance windows and ENERGYSTAR rated appliances will also help lower your electricity bills. Windows with low-E glass may cost 10 to 30 percent more than conventional glass double-pane windows, but their effectiveness in keeping your wintertime heat indoors will make up for it with lower

Bob Wilcke President Bob Wilcke Construction



December 2012




artful season

December 2012




Text by Earl Horlyk Photos by Jim Lee

NAN WILSON WISHES YOU A VERY Medieval Christmas. Well, at least, that appears to be the case since her favorite holiday decorations are two colorful scrolls she’s made to mimic the Lindisfarne Gospels, a manuscript that demonstrates an Insular art style dating back to 700 A.D. So, does your “Santa Claus Snoopy” now look pretty goofy in comparison? Don’t worry. Wilson, the chair of Briar Cliff University’s art department, said Christmas should reflect one’s individual interest. “Since my interest is in art history,” she explained, “this certainly reflects what I like.” The painted panels – which took Wilson two weeks to complete – reflect her Irish and English heritage as well as her love of bright, bold colors. “Winter days tend to be dark and gloomy, so I like things that will cheer me up,” she said. “I may not want anything so bright and bold all year round but, around the holidays, my panels make me smile.” Christmas colors are also important to Briar Cliff art instructor Jeff Baldus, who likes to display his own green and redhued pottery pieces around his home. A noted ceramic maker, Baldus also likes to collect Latin or Italian pieces that reflect a more spiritual side of the holidays.

Top: Briar Cliff art instructor Nan Wilson makes Medieval scroll art that she uses for Christmas decorations. Bottom left: Morningside College art professor Terri McGaffin with her “green” environmentally friendly Christmas lights. Bottom right: Briar Cliff art instructor Jeff Baldus has many art pieces he uses for Christmas decorations.

Briar Cliff art instructor Jeff Baldus is a fan of holiday nutcrackers.

But more fun are the two Christmas trees he traditionally decorates every Christmas. “I’ve liked nutcrackers ever since I was a kid,” he explained. “When I found nutcracker tree decorations, I decided to create a theme tree.” And, then, after Baldus became enamored with angels, he decided two Christmas trees were better than one. “One tree is dedicated to my nutcracker collections while the other has just angels,” he remarked. “It’s a lot of fun.” Yet one of the problems with Christmas trees is how to dispose of burnedout bulbs. That was a situation that perplexed


December 2012


ask a professional Q: When I get to Grandma’s house, she always has holiday treats, and I can’t resist! Any suggestions? A: If you run into some of Grandma’s

homemade chocolate chip cookies, the best advice is to listen to yourself. If you have problems cutting yourself off, don’t start before you can’t stop. There’s almost always a vegetable tray sitting out too. One cup of Dr. Joel celery contains only 14 calories, verses 100 Pistello, DC plus calories per cookie, depending on the recipe. If that entire cookie gets turned into calories you will later have to burn off, are you willing to hit the gym for an hour just for one cookie? Before you eat a cookie or sweet worth hundreds of weighty calories, ask yourself how long it would take to work off. Now, if you are good at moderation and feel compelled to have one sweet, try this: eat slower and enjoy the treat. When you are eating, it’s lighting up the pleasure center of the brain. If you eat quickly, it can leave you hungry for more, which is a basic need that you will fill with whatever may be around, such as more cookies. Studies have shown us that if you eat slowly and listen to your body, you will get fuller on less food, and get the pleasure from eating that is an important part of a fulfilling meal. One final tip: at some point during your Thanksgiving meal, you will likely put down your fork. Notice it when you do, it’s your body’s way of telling you to stop eating and start dreaming of tomorrow’s turkey sandwich. Bottom line: have a game plan, and stick to it, or end up sticking to the gym in the New Year!

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December 2012


Holiday Greetings

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Briar Cliff art instructor Jeff Baldus has many art pieces that he uses for Christmas decorations.

Morningside College’s associate art professor Terri McGaffin, who was looking for a facility that could strip the bulbs of their copper and plastic, reclaiming them for other uses. “I found a place called Midwest Electronic Recovery in Walford, Iowa, which did the job,” McGaffin said. “As a member of the college’s sustainability committee, I thought collecting burnt Christmas lights would be an excellent project for our faculty.” Last year, the college collected more than 85 pounds worth of burned-out Christmas lights but, this year, McGaffin is hoping for a larger haul. That’s because she has found a local recycling center, Recycletronics of Sioux City, capable of repurposing old Christmas bulbs. “It’s one less thing to take up space in a landfill,” McGaffin said. “Any little thing will help, I guess.” While McGaffin continues to use traditional bulbs for her Christmas tree, she also utilizes bulbs that use solar energy to decorate the exterior of her home. “These bulbs are wonderful,” McGaffin said, admiring a wreath adorned with solar lights in her front yard. “They produce wonderful light and will never burn out.” Echoing a sentiment shared by Wilson, McGaffin said Christmas becomes magical with bright, bold colors. “I love lights,” McGaffin said. “They shine brighter when you know they’re environmentally friendly.”

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December 2012



Santa among us

Dennis Smith and Linda Smith – aka Santa and Mrs. Claus – make a Christmastime visit with residents of Plymouth Manor in Le Mars, Iowa, in 2011.




Text by Tim Gallagher

LE MARS, IOWA | SIOUX CITY. DAKOTA Dunes. Hinton. All over The Ice Cream Capital of the World. Denny Smith practically needs flying reindeer and a sleigh to get from place to place as Christmas draws nigh. Meet Santa. And his wife, Linda Smith. She’s Mrs. Claus. “You name it and we’ll go to it,” says Denny Smith, a retired teacher who has played Jolly Old St. Nick since 2006. Here’s how his Christmas tradition came to be: Denny Smith, a native of Le Mars, always had a short haircut. The year before he retired, however, he let his hair down, literally. “I started to let everything grow the summer before I retired,” he says. “I started a goatee and a mustache and liked it. I


December 2012

wanted to know what the full beard was like. Years ago I’d grown it out, but it was red.” Not this time. Santa white, it came. And it was then that children around Le Mars began staring at Smith. He’d walk through Walmart and sense a child was seeing someone familiar, jolliest of jolly elves. “I know they were wondering who they were looking at,” says Smith, a former American history and economics teacher. As Christmas approached, friends asked Smith to don a red suit and visit children in their homes. He did some looking and found just the right Santa Claus apparel. But, his look wasn’t complete. “Linda was going to drive me around to these appearances and I just thought,


since she is driving, why not get an outfit for Mrs. Claus?” he asked. Linda played the good sport and brought Mrs. Claus to life, a role she’ll likely enjoy even more after retiring last June, closing the book on a 33-year career in the Plymouth County Assessor’s Office. Santa and Mrs. Claus visit various nursing homes in Le Mars each December. They pass out treats, take Christmas requests and pose for photos with residents. They visit a preschool in Dakota Dunes, a business club in Hinton and lead the Earl Utesch Lighted Christmas Parade to kick off the Yuletide season in the Plymouth County seat. There’s also a Saturday night event each December at Pioneer Village on the Plymouth County Fairgrounds. There’s an afternoon at an assisted living facility in Sioux City. And there are more, including

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all kinds of stops at homes where children warm to Santa more readily than they would at the unfamiliar – and sometimes intimidating – surroundings of a mall. “We had one little girl and all she wanted was a Christmas tree,” Denny says. “They’d never had one.” There are other requests from the mouths of babes, as it were, that tug Santa’s heartstrings. “A little boy asked for a kitchen set, and he wanted another kitchen set – a blue one – for his mom,” he says. And then there are children who want nothing to do with Santa. Those are the times when the warmth of Mrs. Claus comes to the rescue. Like Santa, she takes Christmas requests as well. Santa even carries with him to private events a pair of books. One labeled “Naughty,” the other “Nice.” “When we go out, particularly to home visits, we give out an information sheet that lists children’s names, their grades, teachers, parents, favorite foods, their pets and more,” Denny Smith says. “We build all of that up before taking out the ‘Nice’ book and the ‘Naughty’ book,” he says. No child, to his memory, ever landed in the “Naughty” edition. “There have been kids who have told us they should be in the ‘Naughty’ book,” Santa says with a laugh. By the time Christmas Eve approaches, the Smiths, who have maybe worked as many as three appearances in a day, are ready for a break. Besides, the true meaning of Christmas slides Santa and Mrs. Claus into the background come this most holy night. It is then the Smiths head to a Christmas Eve church service. As Mr. and Mrs. Smith, mind you.

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December 2012


HOLIDAYS Christmas

not so long ago




Text by Dolly A. Butz

DOWNTOWN SIOUX CITY WAS THE place to be at Christmastime during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Elaborate lighting displays set the bustling streets aglow. Prancing reindeer, dancing elves


December 2012

and waving Santas decorated YounkerDavidsons and Younker-Martin department store windows, which could rival any of those seen at Macy’s in New York City. Grace Linden, curator of history for the Sioux City Public Museum Research Center and Archives said it was a big


deal for children when Santa came to town. She recalled her mother setting her younger brother on the big jolly man’s lap at Younker-Davidsons. “He just screamed and cried so bad. I don’t think he ever got over it,” she said. A photograph taken by former Sioux City Journal photographer George Newman in 1945, shows thousands of people milling around in the street outside of the Younker-Davidsons store. Santa and his wagon pulled by animals is barely visible in the massive crowd. “They didn’t have a mall, so there

Above: Boy Scouts pull balloons down the street during the December 1950 Christmas Parade in this photo taken by former Sioux City Journal photographer George Newman. The snowstorm was so strong that it reportedly lifted the balloons and the scouts off the ground. Left: This photograph, also taken by George Newman in 1945, shows thousands of people gathered outside Younker-Davidson’s store. Santa and his wagon pulled by animals can be seen at the far right of the photo.

The parade, equipped with 35 balloon figures including the Three Little Pigs and a 125-foot Chinese dragon, started at Fourth and Wall streets, moved down Fourth Street to Pearl Street and turned up to Sixth Street. It ended 2.5 miles later at the Municipal Auditorium ...

wouldn’t be any place like that to see Christmas,” Linden said. “This was where you shopped, so you might as well be seeing something pretty.” Newman’s photographic negatives, which were donated to the museum in 1997, glass bulb ornaments from the 1920s, a folder of newspaper clippings and an inflatable Santa that rises from a chimney are reminders of Christmases past. Although Sioux City still lights its downtown and holds a holiday parade complete with floats, Santa and fireworks, the event pales in comparison

Grace Linden, curator of history for the Sioux City Public Museum Research Center and Archives, unwraps glass bulb ornaments from the 1920s that were donated to the museum.


December 2012


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Three years ago, Marge Willcoxson, of Sioux City, donated this Santa Claus to the Sioux City Public Museum that was featured in Younker-Davidson store displays during the late 1940s. The Santa Claus rises up from a four-foot chimney.

to the Christmas festivities that took place decades ago. According to a Nov. 19, 1964, Sioux City Journal article, some 50,000 people packed the streets of downtown Sioux City for a Thanksgiving parade. The parade, equipped with 35 balloon figures including the Three Little Pigs and a 125-foot Chinese dragon, started at Fourth and Wall streets, moved down Fourth Street to Pearl Street and turned up to Sixth Street. It ended 2.5 miles later at the Municipal Auditorium, according to the article. The Yule Lights was the largest lighting display in the Central Northwest, according to a Sioux City Journal story from Nov. 13, 1961. An article published on Nov. 15, 1966, said it took two weeks to string the lights downtown and check wiring and bulbs. The estimated cost of the lighting spectacle: $10,000 per season. The Greater Siouxland Merchandising Council footed the bill. Santa initially threw the switch and lit up the city, but the task was later assumed by city officials. During the lighting ceremony outside of the old Municipal Auditorium, the Children’s Choir of the Salvation Army sang carols as a crowd of 5,300 patiently awaited Santa’s arrival in a helicopter. Unfortunately Santa had to find alternative transportation - a firetruck. He distributed 10,000 pieces of candy to boys and girls. Dave Levin, Chairman of the holiday promotion committee, called it the “greatest reception” Santa had ever had. What did children hope Santa would place under their trees? Linden said dolls were popular gifts for girls, while boys received sports balls, cars and trucks.

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December 2012




first Christmas

December 2012


“I have never been to a Christian church. I want to go to a Christmas Eve service as a way to experience American culture.”

SHO MORIYAMA Morningside College student from Japan


OPENS IN SIOUX CITY International students excited to attend first Christmas church service


Text and photograph by Tim Gallagher

SIOUX CITY | TWO MORNINGSIDE College freshmen will open a gift of sorts this month in attending their first Christmas church service. Sho Moriyama and Li Zexi hail from Japan and China, respectively. While the Christmas tradition of Jesus’ birth is known to many in both countries, the holiday celebration is not widespread. “Our city has three Christian churches,” says Zexi, who hails from Wuhan, a city of nearly 10 million people. The fact that cultures are diverse in the United States is and was a selling point for both young men to attend college here. Along with that “melting pot” effect, both will be able to experience Christmas

Li Zexi, left, and Sho Moriyama, freshmen at Morningside College, are shown outside Grace United Methodist Church on the college campus. Zexi and Moriyama, who hail from China and Japan, respectively, are anxious to experience their first Christmas in the U.S. They plan to attend a Christmas service at Grace UMC.

music, holiday decorations and the exchange of gifts, although that won’t be a first-time phenomenon. “In China there are discounts at shopping malls on Dec. 24,” Zexi says. “It is a growing trend, mainly among students, to buy Christmas gifts. This occurs for Christians and non-Christians.” Zexi, 17, has purchased gift cards for friends in the past, a tradition he may continue in Sioux City this season. Sho Moriyama, who comes from Sagamihara City, a Japanese city of one million people, has celebrated Christmas with friends in a bar before. “Many Japanese do see Christmas as an event,” says Moriyama, 21. “There are Christmas gifts and sales run at the end of the year.” Moriyama’s family often spends Christmas Day at work, as they would a normal work day. This year will be different as he’ll enjoy a Christmas meal at the home of Gene Ambroson, Morningside College’s alumni director. He’ll also attend a candlelight church service with Ambroson, most likely at Grace United Methodist Church on campus. “I have never been to a Christian church,” Moriyama says. “I want to go to a Christmas Eve service as a way to experience American culture.”

“For 15 years I have hosted our international students, those who do not go home for the holidays, for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Ambroson says. “I’m not sure what we’ll have at Christmas. I’ll probably ask the students what they’d like.” Moriyama, 21, plans to buy his friends Christmas gifts as well. He’s also anticipating seeing more holiday decorations around campus and in Sioux City. “I remember seeing a Christmas tree before, it was part of a park that was illuminated in Japan,” he says. The two Morningside students will spend the bulk of the holiday break on campus, enjoying what areas of the college may be open. Moriyama, a business administration major, plans to see if he can join friends playing basketball, volleyball or even soccer in his idle time. Zexi, a mathematics major, plans to practice his violin, an instrument he began playing one year ago. Moriyama is hopeful he can spend some time doing something during the break, an activity he enjoyed a few times during his childhood in Japan. “I have made a snow house in the past when I have seen snow,” says Moriyama. “I would like to have snow again this year, but only a small amount.”


December 2012


HOLIDAYS lowered





Text by Dolly A. Butz

A CHEERFUL GATHERING WITH YOUR closest friends and family. A mouth-watering home-cooked holiday dinner that all of your guests will love. Loads of presents under the tree sure to satisfy the pickiest receivers. Exquisite decorations sure to win that holiday lighting contest. If you’re hoping to achieve all of these lofty goals you could be setting yourself up for a season of frustration and disappointment, according to Brian Damon, a licensed psychotherapist for the Pathways program at Mer- Brian Damon cy Medical Center - Sioux City. “Dreams that involve other people, that part is unmanageable,” he said. “It’s just the stuff that only takes me to make it happen that makes it manageable and doable.” SET REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS At 20, Damon eagerly anticipated returning home to New York for his family’s Thanksgiving meal. His mother had passed away the year before, and he was hoping to recapture familiar moments. “Within 15 minutes I realized it was not the same. It was never going to be the same again,” he said. “That was really disappointing.” According to Damon, oftentimes people end up feeling stressed and


December 2012

depressed during and after the holidays because they set their expectations too high. Studies, he said, show that people 60 and older are generally happier than the rest of the population because they have lower expectations and are more accepting. “As a result of lower expectations, things usually work out,” he said. “Because they usually work out, people are more satisfied.” Expectations that involve other people, Damon said, are unmanageable. He provided the example of parents expecting their adult children to return home for a visit every weekend, a request he said is unreasonable. The holidays themselves, Damon said, also won’t magically heal strife within families either. To avoid a blow-up, Damon recommends agreeing to set aside a disagreement ahead of time or choosing not to accept that family member or relative’s invitation. “Why even go there during the holidays if you don’t have to? Make the choice not to do that,” he said. Anticipating problems like these that could arise and planning ahead, Damon said, will help you reduce your stress level, as will learning to say, “No.” TEACHING KIDS TO COPE A child’s Christmas list could serve as the perfect tool to teach them how to set reasonable expectations, a skill they can use throughout their life. Greta Siebersma, a registered nurse for the Pathways program, said changing


HOW TO STAY STRESS-FREE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON Plan to reach out during the holidays. Being alone intensifies a difficult situation. Don’t be alone with your feelings. Share them with others. Expect less. Don’t spend money you don’t have. Stay on a budget. Don’t be afraid to say, “No.” Don’t set aside healthy habits during the holidays such as exercising. Take time for yourself. Listen to relaxing music or meditate during your commute to work or the mall. Learn where to shop for pre-made foods. You don’t need to cook everything from scratch. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor if you think you need it. For more information, contact Mercy Pathways at 712-279-5991.

the focus from getting to giving will help a child cope with disappointment. She suggests having your child participate in a fundraiser to buy gifts for other children. Giving your child an “experience” instead of toys, she said, is another way of taking the emphasis off of “stuff.” “Do things that will create memories for your family, rather than giving gifts that end up broken in a few days or outdated technologically in a short time,” she said. “Plan an event that you otherwise wouldn’t do.”

HEALTH Program

offers new level




Text by Dolly A Butz Photo by Laura Wehde

HOLLY SCHENZEL, OF HINTON, IOWA, aspired to be a doctor. When her grandmother was diagnosed with leukemia, the pre-med student decided to pursue a career in nursing. “I really felt like the nurses were at the bedside instead of the physicians,” she said. After graduating in 2005 from Morningside College with a bachelor of science degree in biology and nursing, Schenzel began her career at Mercy Medical Center - Sioux City, as a staff nurse on the neurology/orthopedic floor. Soon Schenzel realized providing hands-on care wasn’t the only way she wanted to impact patients’ lives for the better. Pursuing an advanced degree was always at the back of her mind, as she enjoys research. Three years later, Schenzel enrolled in the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) program at Creighton University. The three-year program is designed to prepare students to provide care to acutely or critically ill patients in the hospital setting. Schnezel will graduate in May with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP), the highest level of training for clinical practice. She is currently doing clinical rotations in Mercy’s Stroke Center. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing created the DNP role in 2004. The DNP, which is expected to replace master’s in nursing programs in preparing advanced practice nurses by 2015, provides education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership, among other areas. “Having those leadership skills was something that really appealed to me,” Schenzel said. “The DNP fits very well with what I’ve done so far and what I look to in the future.” COLLABORATION IS KEY ACNPs go beyond diagnosing, assessing and managing patients, according to Anita Wilson, an ACNP student who is also pursing a DNP at Creighton University.

Acute Care Nursing Practitioner students Anita Wilson, left, of Kingsley, Iowa, and Holly Schenzel, of Hinton, Iowa, are pursing Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees at Creighton University. DNP is expected to replace master’s in nursing programs in preparing advanced practice nurses.

Wilson, of Kingsley, Iowa, said ACNPs are also capable of running arterial lines and inserting chest tubes. Another important aspect of an ACNP’s job is to collaborate with patients, family members and other health care professionals involved in the patient’s care, in an effort to minimize complications and restore the patient to optimum health. When she decided to pursue a career as an ACNP, Wilson said she was almost advised against it, because it was “too specialized.” “Now that’s what a lot of hospitals are going to. Instead of hiring somebody that doesn’t have the experience and education in acute care, that’s what they want,” she said. Wilson enrolled in nursing school at Briar Cliff University in 2003. Nearing the end of her four-year undergraduate experience, Wilson, who was employed as a CNA at Mercy, said she knew that she wanted to continue her education. In 2008, while Wilson was working as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital, she realized that she wanted to stay in the area of acute care. The DNP program offers students

twice as many clinical hours as the master’s program, meaning students get more hands-on experience working with patients suffering from acute and chronic illnesses such heart failure, pneumonia and diabetes. During the DNP program, students also conduct an evidence-based scholarly research project that explores patient outcomes and how to improve the nursing process. “Our education is focused on utilizing research that is out there and bringing it to the bedside to provide evidence-based patient care,” Wilson said. As acute care nurse practitioners, Schenzel said she and Wilson will not only care for patients with acute and chronic health care problems, but they will also find ways to improve the overall patient experience in the hospital. She explained that hospitals often run into problems such as an increase in infection, falls or delirium. Using the latest research, Schenzel said ACNPs devise plans to intervene and improve conditions. Health care policy, insurance reimbursement and overall cost, are factors that Schenzel said will have to be considered.


December 2012


HEALTH Answers

to your questions

‘DOC, I’VE GOT A QUESTION …’ answers to your medical questions

By Jennifer Haden‌

How do I know if what I have is the flu, and what should I do if I have it? Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache and fatigue. You can see your doctor for a nasal swab to confirm influenza. If antiviral medications are started within 24-30 hours of symptoms it can decrease duration of symptoms by one to three days. There has not been proven benefit with using antiviral medications 48 hours after symptom onset. The best thing to do is to rest and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

How can you prevent getting the flu or spreading the flu to others? How long is the flu contagious? To prevent spread of the flu you should avoid contact with others, cover your cough and wash your hands with soap and water frequently. The flu is

PROGRAM LETS NURSES OFFER A NEW LEVEL OF CARE “It just seems like we’re continually seeing more and more outcomes that are being monitored and publicly reported,” she said. MAKING GOOD CHOICES During clinic rotations, Wilson tended to a patient suffering from diabetes and kidney failure. The woman’s condition was so advanced that she would certainly need to 46

December 2012

spread by droplets from people who have the flu. You should stay home for at least 24 hours after fever is gone, but when you return to work you should still practice good hand washing. You can be contagious 1 day before you are symptomatic up to five to seven days after getting sick.

Vaccination recommendations:

MEET THE DOC Dr. Jennifer Haden is a resident physician at the Siouxland Medical Education Foundation, a family medical residency program. She grew up on her family farm in Northwest Iowa where they raised corn, soybeans, hogs and cattle. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa and her medical degree from Des Moines University. She and her husband reside near Sioux City.

antibodies against the virus within about two weeks. Yearly vaccination is recommended because different strains of influenza are in the vaccine each year. Three strains are in this year’s vaccine and this is based on research that looks at the most likely strains of virus that will cause the flu in the upcoming year. There are many strains of the flu and it is possible to get sick with a strain that isn’t covered by the vaccine; however, physicians recommend the flu vaccine to help protect in any way possible against this deadly virus. Information from

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older. Those at especially high risk include: children less than 5 years old, adults over 65 years old, and pregnant women. The flu vaccine does NOT cause influenza. It is a vaccination that causes the body to produce

WHAT KINDS OF HEALTH QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE? Submit your questions and they may be used in this monthly feature. Write to Siouxland Life at 515 Pavonia St., Sioux City, Iowa 51102.

go on dialysis, but Wilson said the woman was reluctant. So Wilson sat down with her patient and explained to her that she would need dialysis before she would be able to receive a kidney transplant. “She actually chose to do dialysis. I can’t say that that was because of the conversation I had with her,” Wilson said. “It felt good to know that she was accepting of me sitting down and talking to her. Sometimes people have their mind made up.” Schenzel and Wilson get to see how patients progress from the day they are admitted to the hospital until the day they are discharged. Since both are employed at Mercy, they

may see patients as nurses, and then as providers accompanied by a preceptor. “It’s just a matter of explaining, ‘Today I’m wearing white versus yesterday I was wearing blue,’” Wilson explained. ACNPs wear white and have a doctorate degree, so does that mean they should be called “doctor”? Schenzel said it’s a matter of personal preference. She said she would rather have her patients call her “Holly.” “There’s a minority of the physicians that have an issue,” she said. “It’s no different than if you look at physical therapists. They have their doctorate degree and they can also be called doctor.”



Bruce Miller



NOTHING BEATS THE SMELL OF turkey wafting from the kitchen on a cozy Christmas Day. But when you don’t have family to share it, alternate plans have to be made. Or so I maintain. One month after Mom died, I told my sister we weren’t going to be two orphans sitting at home pretending it was Christmas as Usual. We were going to Disney World. “But you’ve always wanted to go to Disney World for Christmas,” she said. True. But this was one way we could break from tradition and not have to tear up every time we heard “Silver Bells.” So, I made the arrangements, chose the wrong airport and ended up spending $200 just to get us from a landing strip out in the middle of some swamp to the Magic Kingdom. (Don’t ask. I’ve already heard enough about it.) We arrived Dec. 23 and, immediately, I could tell we weren’t spending Christmas in North Dakota anymore. Mickey and Minnie greeted us in Christmas sweaters. Goofy was strung with lights and Donald sounded like my sister after a particularly brutal card game. As we walked into the hotel, a woman offered us cookies and cider and told us how we could best enjoy Christmas Lights at the Disney Studios (with 3D glasses no less!). We unpacked, made our way to the first theme park and, curiously, I started to sneeze. Before we got to a second ride, I started to feel sick. Really sick (as in “let’s go back to the hotel and take a nap” sick). Not wanting to spoil my sister’s fun (yeah right – she didn’t know Disney World had a “no smoking” policy), I pressed on, made it through the lighting ceremony and, against my own Disney-fied will, suggested we skip the fireworks, beat the rush and get a good night’s sleep. Since the hotel allowed smoking, she was more than willing to bail. That night, my illness just got worse. (But if you’re spending Christmas at Disney World, you don’t complain.) Armed with every drug Mickey is legally able to sell, I pressed on. Christmas Eve, we saw the “Very Merry Mickey Parade” at the Magic Kingdom, ate chicken strips at Pinocchio’s restaurant, and napped for a good hour in “The Hall of Presidents” during a show that even Barack Obama would find snooze-worthy. At night, we watched the castle light up, saw the fireworks and headed home where, surprise, surprise, Santa had left a gift on our nightstand. (No, it wasn’t what I wanted – Tylenol PM – but a Mouse-shaped ornament.) Christmas Day, I looked like I had been run over by a reindeer and Seven Dwarfs. Again, we had tracks to make. Sis tried to be sympathetic (“You wanted to come here. Now we’re going to make the most of it”) but agreed to the pace I was setting. We spent the morning in Epcot (where we ate the traditional Christmas Day “hamburger” lunch) and the evening at the World

Sis and me before the big illness struck. She thought I looked a little goofy. Goofy did, too.

Showcase. There, Steven Curtis Chapman read the Gospel. A jillion people dressed like trees sang. And the tears I thought wouldn’t fall did. They hit somewhere around “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and reached full force on “Silent Night.” Even though Mom and Dad weren’t with us, their spirits were. (“Pull yourself together,” my sister said. “You look terrible already.”) After the service, we saw a sign that said Santa and Mrs. Claus would be greeting people at the American Pavilion. Determined to get an audience, I pulled my sister in that direction and got near an elf who took one look at me and said, “Maybe you want to return tomorrow.” Return tomorrow? It was Christmas Day. Since when did Santa hang around until Dec. 26? “Well, look at yourself,” Sis explained. “You look like hell. Santa doesn’t want to get whatever it is you’ve got.” So I waved from afar, took a picture and realized even Disney World had standards. The next day we left, another $200 cab ride to the airport. Christmas wasn’t the same...and that was fine. I didn’t spend the whole holiday remembering how good it used to be. But I also didn’t forget the true meaning of the season. Christmas, I realized, wasn’t about toys and games or even an expensive four-day vacation. It’s about spending time with the people you love, creating moments that last a lifetime. Tears during a Christmas carol? They’re OK because they jog your memory. Tears at Disney World? They’re OK, too. But when you shed them sitting next to the ones you love, they’re not only appropriate. They’re the best of all. SIOUXLAND LIFE

December 2012


Modern HIstory

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Siouxland Life Magazine - December 2012  

Ho, Ho, Ho Holidays - Santa is just one part of the December celebration

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