Earlier this week I walked around campus and twisted a few arms, attempting to get some faculty and staff on camera talking about their favorite Christmas memories and traditions. I found a few willing participants and you can see the results below. The first video has a variety of faculty and staff; the last two videos show that Pete McCown, assistant professor of business, should have a second career as a talk show host.

One of my interviewees was Miriam Wertz, physical plant office manager and hostess extraordinaire. If you’ve ever been to a party that is in any way, shape or form influenced by Miriam, you know that you can expect great decorations and delicious food. In the video she mentions a recipe for spice cookies with pumpkin dip and she was so gracious to share her recipe with all of you. (You’re welcome.) You can find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

My favorite thing about Christmas is the “cookie party” my family has every year. We pull out all the Christmas cookies and treats, make coffee and hot chocolate, light the candles around the house, put on some Christmas music, and then sit at the table and enjoy the treats and each other’s company. I don’t remember when or how this tradition started, and some years it is a very informal affair. There isn’t anything especially grandiose about it but I think the appeal is its simplicity – enjoying time with family and savoring some of the special treats of the season.

After watching the videos, please comment and share YOUR favorite things about Christmas!

Faculty and staff share their favorite things:

Josh Sauerwein and Pete McCown share their favorite Christmas memories:

Pete McCown gives a new perspective on the Christmas story:


From the kitchen of Miriam Wertz


  • 1 1/2¬†cups butter, margarine or butter flavored Crisco
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cream sugar and butter; add eggs and molasses. Combine flour, baking soda and spices. Add and mix well. Chill overnight. Roll in 1/2 inch balls and then roll in sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for six minutes.


  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese – cream first and mix in the rest
  • 1 can (18 oz) pumpkin pie mix
  • 2 Cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ginger