Avis Thomas-Lester
AFRO Executive Editor 

The best gift you ever received: I wanted to be a newspaper woman since I was a little girl. For Christmas when I was 11, Santa brought me my own typewriter. It was beautiful—baby blue with a hard case. My parents got me all the accessories. I started my own little newspaper typing on it that summer—The Thomas Tattler

The gift that you most want: I just want my family to continue to be blessed. If I were to think materially, though I don’t need it, I’d like a Chanel bag. Black. Or Botox on the 11s between my eyes that came from squinting over a computer all these years. I don’t really {need} that either.

Your favorite Christmas memory: The year that my son, Zack, was 3, he wanted a real tree. We put up seven trees, all faux, but that year he wanted a real one. We went to the lot and he fell in love with the oddest shaped three there. It was full on the front, but the back was completely flat. He called it a “triangle tree.” We brought it home and decorated it, but it was front heavy and he knocked it down three times playing with the ornaments. My husband ended up bolting it to the wall somehow. Zack’s 20 now.

Your favorite Christmas song: “The Christmas Song” by Donnie Hathaway. I have DH’s greatest hits CD in my car all the time and play the song frequently. I love it!
Your favorite family holiday tradition: We go to a Christmas Eve service at another church. Most of the service is caroling and it ends with a beautiful candle-lighting ceremony. The pastor’s wife, bless her heart, has a very high-pitched voice. She sings a favorite song each year and we can’t help but giggle. We’ve all almost choked trying. Afterwards, we come home, have hot chocolate and Christmas cookies and read the story of the birth of Jesus together. I love it even more than Christmas Day.

What kind of year was 2013 for you: 2013 was a tough year for our family. Zack had some health challenges. My husband, James, changed jobs after many years and we lost our beloved Freda, my husband’s sister. But we survived. Our faith and strength as a family had never been tested before, but this year proved that we are blessed and strong and we came out of it. As the gospel song says, the Lesters are still “Standing,” thanks to God’s grace. Zack is healthy, James is working and Freda’s with God. We’re looking forward to 2014.

Gregory Dale
AFRO News Editor

The best gift you ever received: When I was a kid, I was a really big fan of the Home Alone franchise, so I had to have the Tiger Talkboy when it came out. It was a voice recorder and cassette player and it allowed you to manipulate the sounds you recorded. At 5 years old, I was pretty mischievous and I really enjoyed taping conversations that I wasn’t supposed to hear!

The gift that you most want: Oddly enough, I need a new voice recorder for work. The one that I’ve used since college stopped working and I’ve been using my iPhone to record certain things. However, it’s really starting to drain my battery and take up a lot of space.

Your favorite Christmas memory: One year, when I was a kid, my mother wanted to teach me and my sister the true meaning of Christmas. According to her, that year we were acting like brats. To teach us a lesson, she took us to a homeless shelter where we gave out gifts to the less fortunate. It was a significant moment for me because it truly made me grateful for the things that I already had. Subsequently, we made it an annual Christmas Eve ritual.

Your favorite Christmas song: “What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?” by the Emotions. It’s a somber song, but I love the beat and I think it really shows another side of Christmas that is a reality for some people. In a way, I think it opens your eyes and helps you remember those who don’t have anyone to spend the holidays with.

Your favorite family holiday tradition: After Christmas, most people are finished celebrating, at least until New Year’s. Not my family. We go to each and every person’s house in the immediate family in the days after Christmas to eat, drink and have a good time. It was a tradition that was started long before I was born and I intend to keep it going when I have a family of my own.

What kind of year was 2013 for you: 2013 was definitely a year of change for me. A lot of changes happened to me in my personal life—both good and bad. However, I do think that every single experience that I’ve had this year has groomed me into a stronger and wiser person. With these experiences under my belt, I’m now ready to take on 2014 with a new set of goals and aspirations.

Rev. Dorothy Boulware
AFRO Managing Editor

The best gift you ever received: One of the best gifts I ever received was a personal tea set with a pot for brewing that rested in a sizeable mug. It wasn’t expensive. It wasn’t even my favorite color. But it was so special to me because I had only worked with my editor, Talibah Chikwendu, for a couple of months and she’d become acquainted with me enough to know how much I love tea and tea time. Loved it!

The gift that you most want: Since I’ve become an Apple techie, I’d like a MacBook Air.

A favorite Christmas memory: Almost 12 years ago, my middle daughter handed out Christmas presents to each of us, and as we unwrapped them to curiously discover rattles and other tiny things, she and her husband announced their first pregnancy.

My favorite Christmas song: Oh What a Wonderful Child! Since I’ve become a woman of a certain age, I’ve taken on my grandmother’s mantle and love to call Jesus’ name many times a day. In this song, I get to sing his name.

My favorite family holiday tradition: We started a tradition about 37 years ago of having a birthday cake for Jesus.

What kind of year was 2013 for you: This year has been one of introspection and getting to know myself better. It’s been interesting to weed out longstanding habits, to consider more carefully before making choices and to look for new challenges. Like the sand particle wedged into the oyster shell, the agitation of 2013 is working out the “pearling” process in my life. Along with my five granddaughters and now my great grandson who bring a new zest for life and push me toward the next thing, whatever that might be.

Ronald Taylor
AFRO Copy Editor

The best gift you ever received: A CD of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird Suite.

The gift that you most want: A copy of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s A Team of Rivals

Your favorite Christmas memory: Snow falling as I finished my paper route Christmas morning in 1962

Your favorite Christmas song: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Your favorite family holiday tradition: A family outing to a first-run movie on Christmas Day.

What kind of year was 2013 for you: Most of the year was spent in slack-jawed amazement that no one has held Obama critics and opponents accountable for the mess they have made of the country, all in the name of denying –strictly along racial lines– a brilliant orator, solid thinker, dazzling husband and father and basketball devotee a graceful entrance into his rightful place in history as the first African American to win the U.S. Presidency. Twice.