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‘Tis the season: Missouri officials’ favorite holiday traditions


From making ornaments to talent shows, here’s a look at some of Missouri officials’ most treasured holiday traditions.

Mike Parson

“Gov. Parson enjoys cooking beef enchiladas for his family. It’s a special recipe from his mother. Additionally, Gov. Parson reads the Christmas story to his grandchildren.” 

Mike Kehoe

“Lt. Gov. Kehoe has a tradition that he carries on from his wife’s father. Each Christmas Eve, his father-in-law would take his children Christmas shopping for their mother. Now, Lt. Gov. Kehoe does the same with his four children. He takes them to lunch, and they all go shopping for a gift for his wife, Claudia.”

Eric Schmitt

“Every year on Christmas Eve, my family and I attend mass at the parish that I grew up in. Then, we gather at my parent’s house to open presents and watch ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.’ It never gets old.” 

Jay Ashcroft

“Attending the candlelight service on Christmas Eve at my church with my family.”

Scott Fitzpatrick

“Every year the kids in my family (mainly my sister and cousins) make monkey bread for breakfast on Christmas morning and it is delicious.”

Nicole Galloway

“One of my favorite traditions during the holiday season is packing into the car with my kids and going to see Christmas lights. At our home, we put up lights and are very festive, and we enjoy driving around Columbia to see the light displays of our friends and neighbors. When visiting my family in Fenton, we also get a chance to drive around neighborhoods in St. Louis and see some especially elaborate displays.”

Randall Williams

“Gather family and friends and bundle up and cook outside with an open fire.”

Zora Mulligan 

“Every year we make a HUGE batch of eggnog to share with friends and family. If you think you don’t like eggnog, it’s because you aren’t adding enough Captain.” 

A batch of Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan’s eggnog.

Sarah Steelman

“Every Christmas Eve, as long as I can remember, my father would read a story by candlelight entitled ‘The Manger and the Cross.’ ‘The Manger and the Cross’ is an eye-witness account told by a shepherd who saw both the birth and death of Jesus. The story is a chapter within a book of sermons entitled ‘The News in Religion and other Sermons,’ written by Rev. Gene E. Bartlett. Gene Bartlett married my mom and dad at the First Methodist Church in Columbia in 1947. Mom and Dad started that tradition and for 73 years it has continued. My dad last read the story by candlelight to my family in 2018. After he died, my husband, David, continues the reading. The story is one of the most beautifully written stories that captures the true meaning of Christmas. This tradition has now continued through four generations.”  

 “I am a shepherd. Tonight for the first time in many years I am at peace within myself. Twice within my seventy years has it been given me to see the full glory of God. Both times it was where I least expected to see it. Once it was in a manger and the other time it was on a cross. But tonight there is no doubt in my mind. The manger promise has been fulfilled. And never again shall I be afraid.”  — The Manger and the Cross

Dave Schatz

“We don’t really do anything quirky — we have big family gatherings and dinners at my house. I’m blessed to have a large family and I love to see them.”

Caleb Rowden

“Christmas Eve church service with both sides of our family all together is always pretty special!”

John Rizzo 

“Putting up and decorating our real Christmas tree, making ornaments with the kids, listening to Christmas music or a Christmas movie in the background.”

Jill Schupp 

“Since we have different religions in our household, we do many different things to celebrate. My happiest moments and traditions are still and always will be: celebrating with my family (when we can be together). I also love watching my kids (now in their 30s) open their presents.” 

Denny Hoskins

“Christmas caroling, even though I can’t sing!” 

Bonus question: What is your favorite Christmas carol? 

“Joy to the World”

Cindy O’Laughlin

“Christmas Eve we all go to church. It is one of the few times my family is together in church — just like when they were all young.”

Steve Roberts 

“My parents host an ornament making contest every year, and we rotate judges. There are strict rules in that you can’t use something that’s pre-made. It’s a fun holiday tradition!”

Holly Rehder

“Our family has always gone to the tree farm and winery the day after Thanksgiving instead of Black Friday shopping. We have a light lunch, sample wines (those old enough), and then each of us picks out an ornament to symbolize our year. Those ornaments all go on the family tree. My sisters and I started this many years ago. One has passed and my other isn’t able but all of my kids, their families, and my nieces and nephews all still go. It’s our favorite holiday tradition.”

Elijah Haahr

“Our family always holds a talent show and charades competition — with a winner every year. Another tradition we have: We eat Mexican food on Christmas — nachos and burritos — instead of a Christmas ham.” 

Crystal Quade

“Matching pajamas and watching ‘Die Hard.’”

Wayne Wallingford

“Getting a new board game and playing it with my dad.” 

Bonus question: What is your favorite board game?


Kip Kendrick 

“I love staying up way too late on Christmas Eve (into the morning) and watching Christmas movies with my family. ‘Die Hard’ makes the list yearly. My sister and I usually get into fairly rambunctious discussions with our significant others about how ‘Christmas Vacation’ is the best Christmas movie ever made.”

Travis Fitzwater

“Starting Christmas music in our home on Nov. 1.”