To celebrate the season this year, we invited readers to participate in our new Holiday Photo Contest.
Forty-nine people submitted their favorite holiday pictures — and the stories behind them. Their entries ranged from sentimental to hilarious, old and new. A panel of judges narrowed the field to 12 finalists, who faced a period of online public voting. Readers cast more than 1,600 votes to select these winners. Congrats to the top vote-getters, who win gift cards (and bragging rights).
Today, we share with you the photos and essays from the first-, second- and third-place winners, as well as our honorable mention.
You still can view all of the entries, complete with their stories. Visit Kansas.com/hpc and click on “View Entries.”
Thank you to all who entered and voted. And Merry Christmas to all!
This black and white picture was the brainstorm of my two daughters in 2001. The setting is a Christmas tree and a walnut cradle made by “Pa” the Christmas before for his granddaughter’s Bitty Baby. All that was needed were a few scraps of cloth and a 4-year-old, a 3-year-old and a new baby to portray Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. This picture is displayed year-round. It represents a cherished memory of three precious grandchildren.
– Pam Lester, Wichita
The children pictured in the photo are the children of Pam’s two daughters, and they’re now 11 years older. Sydney Clark, who was Mary, is in ninth grade at Independent School. Her brother, Gannon, is a seventh-grader there. And their cousin, W.T. "Dub" Steven, the baby, is a fourth-grader at Independent.
This is our 1-year-old son, Ben, wrapped in Christmas lights. The holidays are so much more fun now that we have him! Can’t wait to see him tear into his Christmas gifts!
– Kassy Harter, Derby
Kassy had the idea to wrap her young son in lights just recently and decided to do it after talking to her cousin about it. She took this photo of Ben a couple of weeks ago. She said he played with the lights and seemed to like them.
"I loved how the picture turned out," Kassy said, "and when I saw the contest, I said, ‘Aw, I have to enter it.’ "
I captured my sweet Caroline and her big brother, Sneebie, observing their first snowfall together. This is what I’m sure she’s saying when I look at this pic: "Brother ... promise we’ll be friends forever?" So sweet.
– Kristin Van Court, Salina
Kristin said she prepared to snap this photo when she saw her 7 1/2-month-old daughter reach for the dachshund and then put her arm around him as they looked out at the first snow of the season this year in Salina. Caroline is all snuggly in a teddy bear jacket.
This is my favorite Christmas photo. I took it in 1980, when my daughter, Susie, was 3. She had just given a gift she made in preschool to her grandfather. It was one of those yarn-wound picture frames. Her grandmother eventually used it to frame a copy of this very photo. The expression on her face brings to mind the Christmas carol "The Little Drummer Boy." With all her strength, she was willing him to like what she had offered. Her grandfather always wore those red plaid pants on Christmas, and we never tired of teasing him about them. Susie had a very special relationship with this dear man. He called her "Susie Q." Although he and my mother-in-law lived in South Carolina, we saw them regularly, and eventually they moved here to Wichita. When her grandfather became ill with Alzheimer’s, Susie, then in her early 20s, was the one in the family most comfortable visiting him at Sandpiper Bay. Having worked at Heartspring during her college years, she related so well to him, and to the other patients. She enjoyed them, and they were more relaxed around her. Susie (who lives in Kansas City) is now a mother herself, and a master social worker, still caring for and sharing her gifts with others.
– Stella Gruenbacher, Wichita