What the Holidays Mean to Me: Metro employees share the importance of this season

December 23, 2021

One of Louisville’s greatest qualities is that it’s a melting pot of nationalities, cultures, ethnicities, religious beliefs, and agnostic values, that observe and celebrate the holiday season in reverent and unique ways. Therefore, for this year’s “What the Holidays Mean to Me” series, Lean Into Louisville has chosen to spotlight a distinguished group of Metro employees to share what the holidays mean to them.

*Lean Into Louisville was launched in January 2019 by Mayor Greg Fischer and is a series of activities, art exhibits, conversations and presentations to explore and confront the history of and legacy of all forms of discrimination and inequality.

 

  • What does this holiday season mean to you?
    ​​​The holidays always mean family to me. The time that we intentionally come together to give thanks, honor the traditions of old and new.
  • How do you celebrate/observe the holiday season (i.e. rituals, traditions, customs, etc.)?
    Every year, we have a Christmas Eve party.  It has traditionally been hosted by my sister, but since the passing of our mother a couple of years ago, she does not like to host; at her home due to the memories that it brings.  So, I have been commissioned to continue this tradition, which was started by myself and my siblings.  We have a good time, just being us.
  • What is your favorite holiday memory?
    My favorite holiday memory would be of me singing at the Mall St. Matthews and my father watching on with pride.  We were all dressed to the nines with long velvet dresses for the girls, and tuxedoes for the boys.  I beamed with pride, my voice going up octaves to ensure that my father heard me.  He died a couple of weeks later in a car accident, but that memory always makes me smile.
  • How has COVID (and if applicable - the loss of a loved one(s)) affected how you celebrate the holiday season?
    Just before COVID shut down the city, my husband and I moved into a big rental house in the Highlands, with two of our daughters and three grandkids, so COVID did not impact us celebrating that much.  Sure, it was difficult not being able to have our yearly Christmas Eve party and visit family members during the holidays, but my kids still stayed close.  We face-timed a lot.  But having the grandkids in the house really brought us joy.  We were blessed not to lose anyone due to COVID, we had one addition to the family during the outbreak of COVID with the birth of our granddaughter, Millie Drew.
Nannette Dix

Nannette Dix, MSSW, is the Program Manager for the Trauma Resilient Communities grant, which centers around violence and trauma at the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods. 

 

  • How we can remember and help those most in need during the holiday season?
    Giving of our time and talents, volunteering when you can.   When our children were much younger, we as a family used to volunteer at a homeless shelter, by feeding the homeless.  Being the parents of six children, we did not have a lot of money to give, but we did share our time and our talents.
  •  How can the city heal and come together during the holidays?
    “This would be my Christmas wish.”  Healing as a city starts with understanding the pain of the person and/or persons, that are hurting. We as a nation, as a people have stopped being our brother’s keeper, we have stopped caring about the welfare of others.  To start to heal we must be intentional, and we must want it for all.
  • How do you plan to have and/or handle difficult discussions with loved ones (social issues, rising violence, COVID, etc.)?
    Part of my job is to have difficult discussions, so when I talk with loved ones about social issues, such as the rise of violence in our community, and the continued impact of COVID, the discussions are honest, open, and sometimes get loud, but they are always without judgment.  If you are going to judge, then the discussion is over.  How can we grow, if we cannot respect each other’s differences of opinion?  “Who, knows, you may learn something?” “But, it always, okay to agree to disagree.”

-- Nannette Dix, Program Manager, Trauma Resilient Communities

 

Monique Williams

Monique Williams (pictured with family) is the Director at Mayor's Office for Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods. She has been with Metro since Sept. 2020.

 

  • What does this holiday season mean to you?
    To me, the holiday season means getting really deliberate and intimate with my favorite F’s – family, faith, food, and friends! It’s the time for me when things are generally slowing down and I’m able to focus a bit more on what and who I love most in ways that I may not get to throughout the year.
     
  • How do you celebrate/observe the holiday season (i.e. rituals, traditions, customs, etc.)?
    In my family, this is the season for decorating, watching holiday movies, listening to holiday-themed music, and cooking all of the hard stuff that you only cook once or twice a year; the kind of cooking that requires generations of wisdom in the kitchen. My siblings, aunts, cousins, family friends, and I travel to my parent’s home and hang out with them for the holidays. My family is huge, my mother is the youngest of 13 siblings, and I am the oldest of 6 siblings, so when we get together for the holidays it’s like a mini family reunion. We lounge a lot, we laugh a lot, we dance a lot, play games and tell family stories. We reflect on the year, highlighting where we’ve been blessed and how God has been good. 
  • What is your favorite holiday memory?
    I think my favorite holiday memory is more so a tradition that happens every year rather than one specific incident. Holiday cooking in my family is a big deal; there are certain moments that I look forward to that make the occasion memorable. While cooking, I look forward to the intergenerational conversations and wisdom sharing, the life lessons and historical reflections, the notions of what the “younger generation” doesn’t know or yet understand about life, and just being able to reflect on my growth within this tradition. You start out as the little kitchen helper, mixing cake batter or pie filling, just soaking up the atmosphere and trying not to insert yourself into “grown folks’ conversations.” Gradually, you become a part of the conversations with life experiences and wisdom to share, as well as an ability to handle more critical kitchen tasks like making dressing and baked macaroni and cheese.
  • How has COVID (and if applicable - the loss of a loved one(s)) affected how you celebrate the holiday season?
    Last year, COVID kept us from traveling or even gathering locally to be with family and/or friends. It was definitely different just being with my immediate family – my husband and children – for the holidays, but we wanted to keep everyone safe. We’d experienced a lot of loss due to COVID already, so we engaged with family virtually and made the best of it. We tried to make our own “holiday traditions” with the kids since it was just us, but they were not feeling it! They wanted what was familiar, they wanted their cousins and grandparents – we all did – so last year was a hard adjustment. 
  • How can we remember and help those most in need during the holiday season?
    The best way to help those most in need during the holiday season is to GIVE; give your time, give your talent, and/or give other tangible resources. There are many organizations whose missions are tied to supporting and uplifting those who are in need; connecting with those organizations to identify what the gaps are and how you, your family, or extended network can fill those gaps is a great way to help. We are in a different state of operations thanks to COVID, so be prepared to engage unconventionally if so required. I can’t stress enough the importance of working through or with an organization that serves particular populations, as they’ve already assessed and know the needs of those populations.
  • How can the city heal and come together during the holidays?
    The holiday season is an emotionally charged time – surges of high emotion, both joyous and painful depending on who you’re engaging with. Adding to the normal ebbs and flows of the holiday season, we are navigating a pandemic, and on the heels of a tragic incident that created deep wounds in our city. While a road to recovery is being paved, I think the holiday season presents a unique opportunity where there seems to be a little extra kindness, forgiveness, and desire to reconcile and be helpful is in the atmosphere. Being intentional about engaging in efforts created to bring people together [in COVID-safe environments] is a healing mechanism for the holiday season. As mentioned above, supporting initiatives and projects geared towards helping those most in need is also a healing strategy for the holiday season. Offering grace and more grace during a time where some in our community have more sorrow than joy is critical during the holiday season as well. We have to acknowledge the difficulties of this particular season, we have to acknowledge ways in which harm has been done, we have to create pathways for reconciliation, and then commit to reformation in a lot of ways.
  • How do you plan to have and/or handle difficult discussions with loved ones (social issues, rising violence, COVID, etc.)
    For my loved ones, these kinds of conversations aren’t difficult, they are a part of everyday life. Social issues and violence are unfortunately embedded in the African American experience, now we’ve added COVID and its disproportionate effects on the African American community; it’s more so tiring than difficult to discuss these things. So, what I focus on related to these topics, is how to remain hopeful for change and grateful for progress. My ability to do this is tied to my faith and intentionality about operating purposefully. We all have a role in social change and making our communities, our cities, our world better places for the generations to come; being comfortable addressing critical topics such as these is key to our success. 

-- Monique Williams, PhD, Director, Office for Safe & Healthy Neighborhoods

 

  • What does this holiday season mean to you?
    The holiday season means [to] celebrate the holiday with families and friends, get together sharing thoughts and ideas on current situations and enjoying foods together and make moments memorable and enjoyable.
  • How do you celebrate/observe the holiday season (i.e. rituals, traditions, customs, etc.)?
    My favorite holiday memory is DIWALI, on days of DIWALI we go to our families’ and friends’ houses and wish them new year wishes and blessings.
  • How can the city heal and come together during the holidays?
    Always help others in our community, people of the city as much as we can, and make their life [better] during the festival time.

-- Suresh Patel, Accounts Receivable Specialist, Office of Management & Budget  

 

  •  What does this holiday season mean to you?
    The holiday season means I will finally be able to be around family that I am unable to see throughout the year for different reasons – because they live out of town or due to my own work obligations. I am typically unable to find time to visit throughout the year.
  • How do you celebrate/observe the holiday season (i.e. rituals, traditions, customs, etc.)?
    My family typically meets at my mother’s house for dinner, but it seems to be more of an event instead of just dinner. We may just sit around watching a football/basketball game on the television and talk or we will break out the games to pass the time until all the food is ready to eat.
  • What is your favorite holiday memory?
    My favorite holiday memory was when I was in high school, where I would spend my holidays traveling from house to house, visiting my father, grandparents and friends’ homes. All that traveling made for a busy day but seeing everyone enjoying themselves made it all worth it in the end.
  • How has COVID (and if applicable - the loss of a loved one(s)) affected how you celebrate the holiday season?
    The recent holidays have been a little different due to COVID. My family has broken away from our traditional large gathering and we now celebrate in smaller clusters, not the most ideal way of celebrating the holidays, but hey, it’s COVID season.
Devin Lovan

Devin Lovan has worked at Metro for four years, with the last three spent in Emergency Services. He is responsible for receiving, recording, and processing incoming information for non-emergency and emergency calls.

  • How we can remember and help those most in need during the holiday season?
    For the past two years, our city has seen its share of tough times ranging from the pandemic to protesting, to the crime rate increasing and our homeless population growing at an alarming rate. There is no “one size fits all” type of answer that would bring everyone together to heal our city, I wish there was but that’s just now the case. Maybe we start with learning how to love people for simply just being people; they don’t have to be family or close friends to get love and attention. I believe with time, hard work and understanding our city will overcome the past to achieve new heights.
     
  • How do you plan to have and/or handle difficult discussions with loved ones (social issues, rising violence, COVID, etc.)
    The holiday times are supposed to be a magical time of hopes and dreams coming true all around the world, well that’s the way it was presented to us as children. I truly wish that our city could be just like the books and movies from my childhood where everyone comes together in song and be one big family. I know it’s naive of me to think that’s possible in these times but maybe one day we will find a way to be more family-like toward each other instead of just being strangers in passing.

-- Devin Lovan, Communications Specialist, Emergency Management Safety/MetroSafe

 

Major Tiffany Tatum

Major Tiffany Tatum, LMPD 4th Division

  • What does this holiday season mean to you?
    Unfortunately, I lost both of my parents this year and their birthdays are before Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, we are still grieving their losses as a family.
  • How do you celebrate/observe the holiday season (i.e. rituals, traditions, customs, etc.)?
    My immediate family does not have any rituals or traditions because I usually work to allow others to be off. I would drive to Lexington to visit family after the holidays to spend time with them.
  • What is your favorite holiday memory?
    My mom loved to volunteer. Whether it was during Thanksgiving with the Salvation Army or in a nursing home. She helped to coordinate gift baskets for ones to have gifts during the holiday season in the nursing home. She had such a giving heart.
  • How has COVID (and if applicable - the loss of a loved one(s)) affected how you celebrate the holiday season?
    COVID and the loss of both parents have impacted how we will view the season. COVID caused us not to be able to visit our loved ones last year and this year we are still in the process of grieving.
  •  How can the city heal and come together during the holidays?
    The city can heal and come together by remembering to love and forgive one another. We all have differences and will not always agree but the healing comes when we look past our differences and work together.
  • How do you plan to have and/or handle difficult discussions with loved ones (social issues, rising violence, COVID, etc.)
    Not being able to see my dad while he was in and out of the hospital during the height of the pandemic. Then when we were notified he was going into hospice care, I had to have many talks with my family about losing our dad.

-- Major Tiffany Tatum, Louisville Metro Police Department, 4th Division

 

  • What does this holiday season mean to you?
    Christmas to me, as well as many other people of Hispanic descent, is very special. A holiday season that brings a lot of joy for all the good things that happen along the year, such as the achievements and experiences of every and each member of the family. But it is also a season that brings melancholy and memories of the life we have had left behind, family members, friends and coworkers who are not present anymore or were left behind on different land.
  • How do you celebrate/observe the holiday season (i.e. rituals, traditions, customs, etc.)?
    Hispanic heritage comes to be incredibly big in traditions and customs, Latin American culture is a vast mix of European and African fusion that is seasoned with a touch of everything else, we have no limits. I will say that mostly all the Latino American people are Catholic per tendency, but we also observe rituals and ceremonies originated under different religious and tribal cultures.There are too many and it can be complicated trying to discern and separate all of them. For this reason, we carry a lot of different ways and means of celebration on this date from Nativity scenes, Villancicos, Misas, Foods and decorations to Purification Ceremonies and rituals for cleaning the spirit and the house that usually come from the Santeria, Palo, or any other African practices. We also have family gatherings, in which a variety of food is served, and gifts and presents are given to all the members of the family.
Geraldo Del Rosario

Gerardo Del Rosario-Gomez (pictured with family) is the Alley Action Crew Supervisor at Louisville Metro Public Works

  • What is your favorite holiday memory?
    Sadly, there is a before and after when we start talking about COVID-19, definitely a big change in life, for every human being on this planet. The last two years have been very hard, especially when festivities approach and you find yourself enclosed and deprived of the freedom of going out to visit and enjoy time with your family and friends. Fortunately, no close member of my family was lost due to the pandemic, in that aspect I really feel grateful and blessed, because I know about the suffering of others and I feel very sorry for them. 
  • How has COVID (and if applicable - the loss of a loved one(s)) affected how you celebrate the holiday season?
    As an immigrant, we always remember those in need, not only on special dates, but throughout the year. Many of us carry on our shoulders the responsibility of providing for our relatives living in our countries during the whole year, each and every year. It is not only the holiday season; we take care of those in need every day since we placed a foot in this country.
  • How can the city heal and come together during the holidays?   
    Our city, as well many others all around the country, is facing a social crisis. I do not think a solution is easy to achieve, but I believe that social discipline and civic education are crucial just to start walking a positive path to organize our society.
  • How do you plan to have and/or handle difficult discussions with loved ones (social issues, rising violence, COVID, etc.)
    This is a very political theme, which I don't think it should be, and I am not inclined to have political discussions. For this reason, I will leave this topic like it is, since the nature is so deep and time-consuming. In my family, discussions and conversations about social issues, violence, COVID, and politics are handled with respect and equity. In the majority of the cases, we all share very balanced opinions, but when this doesn't happen we stop the discussion because, at the end of the day, family is the most important value we all have in common and the best way to preserve it is respecting the opinion of our relatives and focusing on the well-being of the family as a whole.

-- Gerardo Del Rosario-Gomez, Alley Action Crew Supervisor, Louisville Metro Public Works

 

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