The holidays are a special time for most. Ornaments and lights decorate the neighboring streets, stockings are hung, dreidels are spun, and the smell of freshly baked cookies fills the cold winter air, eliciting a warm childhood feeling inside even the grouchiest of adults as families gather together to create novel memories.

It is these treasured memories that bring us back to the festivities of yesteryear, when everything was tranquil and jubilant, and prepare us for the ones yet to come. Some may remember the first time they saw Santa Claus munching on a plate of chocolate chip cookies left for him by the tree; others might reminisce about the first of eight presents they received on Chanukah, or the flickering flame of the candle in the Menorah or on the Christmas tree. While still others might look back to the time when the first snowflake appeared in the sky on Christmas Day making it a true white Christmas that one sometimes only hears in carolers’ songs. A memory I constantly replay in my mind during this time of year is one of me at age three or four, looking out the window in Warsaw, Poland, scavenging the sky for that first star — so that the family could sit down to the Christmas Eve supper, sharing in the abundant laughter and scrumptious food.

Partaking in the holiday spirit, here are a few unique stories and memories from renowned artists from around the world.

Ivan Jenson: American painter, sculptor, and writer, who recently released a novel, entitled Dead Artist, which journeys through the life of an artist who not only converses with the ghosts of Van Gogh and Picasso, but also wishes to get back into the inner circle of the art world and all its fame and glory. Yet it is his poetry and art that have brought Jenson high acclaim. Published both nationally and internationally, as well as having his art auctioned at Christie’s in New York and printed on the pages of ArtNews, he has achieved what his character in Dead Artist so profoundly dreams of.

Though currently working on his second novel, Jenson found a moment to write his Kris Kringle Was I story for GALO.

“When I was 19 I found out what it was like to be the very center of what Christmas is all about for I was Santa at the White Plains Galleria in New York. Each morning I would arrive to a long line of people waiting for the chance to sit on my lap. My manager told me that I was the most popular Santa they had ever seen. I was a wisecracking, joke telling, deep basso voiced, Ho-Ho-Hoing Santa. Groups of teenagers sat on my lap [as well as] entire families [and] beautiful women, and little girls gave me tips of $5 and $10, and I would bellow my thanks, and pocket the cash.

As a Santa I was loved by everyone, from the motley jean jacketed thugs that roamed the mall, to the snow white haired elderly. I think the young mothers could see that under the stuffing, and the beard, was a kid of 19 with a youthful sparkle in his eyes. It was not easy under the hot photo lights. Back then all the children wanted, Cabbage Patch Kids.

One afternoon, as I arrived to do the second shift, I could not find my beard and was told I would have to wear the beard of the guy who had just finished his shift. He took off his sweaty beard to give it to me and I spotted a massive lip sore on his lower lip. Frantically I searched the room for my beard and found it in the nick of time.

That following spring I took my art out to display it on the streets of Times Square. Suddenly people stood in line to have their portraits drawn or to buy my paintings. So when I got that call to be the Easter Bunny, I just said, “No thanks.’”

Carmindy: American makeup artist and adventurer at heart, she is best known for her makeup tips on TLC’s What Not To Wear. But her professional endeavors do not end there as she continuously tries on new things. Hoping to someday soon come out with her own TV show solely dedicated to makeup, she is presently immersed in the planning of her own makeup line and working on private makeup consultations with her fans, when she’s not on the plan of the show.

Despite her tight packed schedule, and packing for her trip to South Africa, Carmindy shared her familial Christmas story.

“Growing up in my home during the holidays was always extra special. My family lives in Huntington Beach, California, so there was never a white Christmas, but my parents always made sure we felt the holiday spirit Cali style.

Every year we would cruise through Huntington Harbor on our boat to see all the Christmas lights decorating the other boats and homes, and the reflection of those lights would sparkle like diamonds on the water. My father told us that Santa showed up on a surfboard in our town, and the night before Christmas, he would always read us the story of the same name. And when we went to sleep he would stay up late putting boot prints in the fireplace ashes, taking a bite out of cookies laid out for Santa and his elves, so it looked like he had been there. He would also never forget to put a glass of bubbly out for Mrs. Claus and a whisky neat out for Santa. Did I mention my family is Irish?”

(Article continued on next page)