Jane Strawhecker Christmas: pingpong, a new tree and ‘Elf’

strawhecker-holiday-rotatorBy ANDREW HANSON
UNK Communications

KEARNEY – There’s nothing more important to Jane Strawhecker during the holidays than family.

But spending extra time with her siblings and parents also means one thing – a little competition.

Growing up in a household full of tennis players, it was only natural for her family to start an annual Christmas day pingpong tournament about 15 years ago.

“We used to do a kids and an adult tournament, but they got better than some of the adults so we combined it all,” said Strawhecker, a professor in teacher education. “There are about 20 of us, and we just draw names out of a hat and play doubles. Everybody enjoys it. There’s a little bit of competiveness innately in us.”

What are your go-to holiday foods?
“I love turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing. My mom would throw in prime rib for one of the meals, and that’s okay, but I’m more satisfied with a turkey meal. For my sweet tooth, I like spritz cookies. They’ve got just the right amount of sweetness.”

Do you have any current holiday traditions?
“My husband, Ty, and the three boys all work on Christmas Eve. (The Strawheckers own Luke & Jake’s Bar-B-Q in Kearney). Our staff is a little thin at the restaurant that day, so we’ll close early. That gives me time to do last-minute preparations for Christmas.”

Your favorite holiday Carol?
“On Christmas Eve at church they always have a tradition of lighting the candles and singing “Silent Night.” That is the most sentimental to me, just from how far it dates back.”

What’s on your list for Santa?
“Gifts hand-picked for me from the boys or family are certainly special. A few things that spruce up my wardrobe would be great, and I always enjoy getting a good book to curl up and read on a cold, wintery day. But if Santa brings my family and me happiness and good health, that’s the greatest gift of all.”

What should Santa bring UNK?
“Definitely tennis courts – indoor and outdoor, preferably. That would be very beneficial to the college team and community folks.”

Your favorite holiday movie?
“I like “Elf,” but the boys say we’ve watched it too many times. That we have to come up with something better. I like the escalator scene and the belching scene – those are two of my favorites.”

What makes the holidays special to you?
“It’s a good time to reflect on the prosperity of the year, to set goals for the upcoming year and to remember what the season represents. It’s special to have a little more time to gather and be with family.”

What does your Christmas tree look like?
“This year, it has all new ornaments. We finally removed all of the kid and teacher ornaments. The upstairs tree has all clear lights and a red star on top with red and gold ornaments. I think it’s beautiful.”

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution?
“I was looking at something President (Hank) Bounds tweeted. It’s more of a perspective than resolution. But Hank Bounds said, ‘The choices you make will determine the life you lead. It all starts with kindness.’ It’s just putting things in the perspective of looking for the good in whatever situation is presented.”