All Over the Map
Celebrating the diverse holiday traditions of
team Blue Water.
As 2018 comes to a close, and as we usher in 2019, the team at Blue Water decided to take stock of what unites us in our efforts to turn digital challenges into digital possibilities. To do this, we ran a dipstick survey of holiday traditions – actually, make that a candy cane survey – to see what makes us tick. Not surprisingly, we found the holiday traditions at Blue Water to be all over the map.
Take Griff Tatarsky, a developer at Blue Water, (who only just recently survived a trip to Africa). Griff embraces his personal tradition out of necessity. “Since I live on the other side of the country from my family, we exchange small gifts in stockings instead of lots or large presents.” Great choice. If anything, it lightens Santa’s load.
Jacob Corbin on the other hand, who works out of his San Diego home office space, starts his holiday tradition as far back as the day after Thanksgiving (AKA Black Friday for the rest of us), bright and early to “get a fresh cut Christmas tree,” and then, on the way home, will typically pick up burritos. But that’s not all, after a day of tree decorating, and perhaps as a side-effect of too much tinsel inhalation, he will watch a looping version of Chevy Chase in the movie “Christmas Vacation.” “You serious, Jake?” we ask him. His reply, “You serious, Clark?” attests to the validity of his story.
As for Madi Tilden, a software developer at Blue Water, it’s a tradition for her and her little sister to open one present on Christmas Eve, and that present, more than likely – especially since the gift was picked out by them personally – will contain matching PJs to wear on Christmas Eve. Santa, if not Marshalls, thanks you Madi, for making the effort!
Josh Peace, account executive at Blue Water, reminisces over a holiday tradition in which he and his family would attend Church on Christmas Eve to sing Christmas hymns, and how the entire congregation would each receive a candle. “The lights would be turned off and one candle would go around the room to light everyone else's candles, until the space would be a-glow with candle light as carols are sung.”
Executive Vice President, Matt Sarro, has a different, if not less illuminated, holiday drill. He meets up with his friends the Wises, who had the wisdom of setting Matt and his wife Dana up on a blind date in the first place. “Dinner is always steak and crab cakes,” he says, and the host, Mrs. Wise, “always writes a note to each of them about a special memory from the year or why she values their friendship.”
But, it is Diana Tasayco, Blue Water’s accounting specialist, who takes the pastel (cake in Spanish!). It is not unheard of for Diana and her family to celebrate Noche Buena with festivities which include a roasted pig and dancing. And the kids – unlike the kids of the aforementioned Matt Sarro, who have to bid their Elf-on-the-Shelf “Jingles” a good night at a much earlier hour – the Tasayco kids are permitted to stay up until midnight to open their gifts.
Patty Hawkins, newly deputized as the Blue Water ‘Agile’ czar, enjoys a family tradition where during Christmas brunch each year, cheese grits are served up as part of the menu, which might explain reports of Santa using the Hawkins residence as a drive-thru.
On the subject of food, and if the name is not a dead-giveaway, pierogies loom large in the Koscielniak holiday tradition. Jen Koscielniak and her sister try to keep up the Polish tradition of making pierogies. Just last Sunday, with Christmas looming, Jen and her sister initiated an impromptu pierogi-making night with her sister and a handful of friends. These – the pierogies, not her friends – will accompany Jen on her long drive to Chicago where the rest of the family reside. Twoje zdrowie! is all we can say.
Of course, not all Holiday traditions involve food, some involve trees. Chris Hodowanec remembers how as a child his parents would place a barren spruce in the living room on Christmas Eve. And then, secretly, while the children slept, they would transform the space, completing the transformation just as the sun came up. Chris, being the youngest, would rush out of bed to find a fully decorated tree illuminating treasures concealed in shiny wrappings.
Christmastime takes Rebecca Rodrigues back to her days growing up in India and the Middle East. Her favorite tradition was re-creating the nativity scene with a box of tiny figurines, unwrapping each from its protective newspaper wrapping, and coming up with creative ways to set up the display. She also remembers making traditional Christmas sweets from recipes that had been passed down for generations, a tradition she hopes to continue with her latest figurine, Alexandra.
For CEO and founder Curt Schwab, the holidays would not be the same without a trip to New York City to see a show, do some shopping, and just enjoy the holiday spirit that a trip to New York brings. “Last year we did Wicked. The kids loved it. This year the Lion King. One of the cool things about having kids, once they start getting a little older, is doing all of the things you loved to do all over again, but with them.”
And speaking of kids, Blue Water’s President, Todd Coen, will host a small group of friends on Christmas Eve and reflect on the year. Not surprisingly, Todd infuses a bit of technology into his tradition: “We put up the NORAD Santa Tracker for the kids,” he reveals, “and when Santa’s getting close, that's time for everyone to head home and put the kids to bed.”
There are more traditions, and more staff members than we have space for, but needless to say, these are diverse and interesting, too. There’s Sameer Khan, for example, and his penchant for horror movies over the holidays, and Craig Strydom who has no choice but to spend Christmas on Camps Bay beach what with the perpetual seventy and sunny weather he has to endure. And not to forget Jorge Calderon and Trevon Reid who follow the age-old tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve!
Ultimately, it is traditions such as these – burritos, NORAD, PJs, cheese grits and pierogies – to mention but a few, that keep us connected to our past and help ground us in our present. From the diverse, amazing and interesting crew at Blue Water, Happy Holidays!
Blue Water is a full-service agency that delivers exceptional online and offline experiences for private and public-sector clients. Leveraging data, we operate at the intersection of experience design, creative, content strategy, technology, and marketing, which we call our Digital Convergence Model (DCM), and work in small, cross-functional teams with clients as our partners and users as our focus. This forms the foundation of our approach to turning digital challenges into endless possibilities.