Oh What Fun!

Staff Memory Snapshots

It’s fun to reminisce this time of year about holidays past. Here are some favorite memories from members of our Bright Lights staff. 


“This photo was taken when I was four years old and shows me cooking a meal of hot dogs on my play stove. I don’t really remember much about the playset, other than the hot dogs were solid plastic and remained in my play food collection for a very long time. This is a good Christmas memory to share, because I think it’s the beginning of my love for all things play food … although my tastes have matured a bit over time. These days, I delight in making play sandwiches topped with felt lettuce and tomatoes you can “cut” using a plastic knife and running between the Velcro. And yes, I play with my grandson, but I’m definitely ok playing by myself. We’ve joked at the Bright Lights office that I might have room in my office for a small play kitchen. Oh, and a sushi set! Are you listening, Santa??”

–Renee Ford, executive director


“It was Christmas 1979.  I was a 6th grader.  We were at my grandparent’s home, unwrapping gifts.  I received several with writing and art supplies, including a multicolor retractable pen (one of my favorites), when I announced to my family that I wanted to be a teacher someday!” 

–Bob Reeker, summer staff


“One of my favorite Christmas gift memories is from early elementary school when my Grandma got me a stuffed Cheer Bear Care Bear. Keep in mind that this particular bear was much desired by MANY kids that year so they were NOT easy to find! But she somehow got me one and it was well-loved and traveled with me everywhere for a lot years. In fact, I still have it!”

–Lindsey Walsh, marketing specialist


“When I was about 7 I asked for Raggedy Ann for Christmas. When my three siblings and I entered the living room, there she was laying under the tree, unwrapped and ready to play with. On a future Christmas, Raggedy Ann was once again under the tree, this time adorned in a satiny white wedding dress so she could marry the Raggedy Andy I’d acquired. I had that Raggedy Ann for years, and she was my favorite doll, even better than Barbie!”

–Jodi Fuson, camp assistant specialist


“Growing up in Austin, TX, I had a lot of great Christmas memories– opening Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve after church, my Dad hiding baby Jesus from the manger scene and us having to find him on Christmas morning, gathering with extended family and NEVER having a white Christmas. Christmas day was usually cool and crisp, but sunny and we’d eat and play games outside. Throughout my childhood, my mom, who is an artist, curated a collection of Santas. They’d sit on the mantle all season and I loved watching her collection grow and helping contribute to it as I traveled and grew up– I even found a Santa for her at an open-air market in Hong Kong! Now that I’m an adult with children, I started my own collection of Christmas trees. My kids enjoy helping me unwrap them each December and we can remember special places we found them and have stories connected to them.

–Megan Ockander, development specialist 


“I find Christmas more fun when you have kids to share it with. And of course, we always want to spoil them. When my daughter Abby was 2, Santa brought her a wooden train table with all of the accessories. He also put several colorful pairs of socks in her stocking. When we were done opening presents, her favorite item that she got was the socks– not the train set!– which she proudly laid out in pairs in front of her.  Needless to say, children are very easy to please as long as you love them.”

 –Kristi Whitmer, registration specialist 


“When I was little, we spent a lot of time traveling during the holidays. However, there is one Christmas I remember waking up at home on Christmas morning. I walked out of my room to find a giant doll house waiting for my sisters and me in the living room. It was so much fun and one of my absolute favorite gifts that created so many fun memories with my sisters.”

–Lindsey Murrish, program specialist