Dear Members:

As we get ready to turn the calendar to November, the 2022 holiday season will quickly be upon us. I hope all of you will enjoy meaningful time with friends and family this year. It’s become a tradition to express what we’re thankful for during this season, and I’m especially thankful for several things right now, such as the opportunity to lead an organization that is partnered with so many members who help us drive forward our cooperative mission of people helping people.

To continue the tradition of sharing what we’re thankful for during the holidays, I thought I’d once again turn the spotlight on our ELT (including me) so you can get to know us a little better. Below are our answers to questions posed to us about the holiday season.   

What was your most memorable holiday as a kid?

Denise Brown, EVP, Chief Financial Officer: After Christmas Eve service one year, my dad got “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” video for the family to snuggle in and watch. Midway through the movie, he brought out a huge bucket of various chocolates. As a little kid, it was quite the Christmas Eve celebration!

Tammy Cantrell, EVP, Chief Product Strategist: Being a military brat, Christmas was the most memorable holiday as that was one of the few times throughout the year that we were able to go home and visit with family. And, of course, opening presents and seeing Santa Claus!

Prashanta Pradhan, EVP/Chief Information Officer: I attended a boarding school from 5th grade until the completion of 10th grade. The school was in a remote, mountainous location, and we didn’t get home until the winter holidays at the end of the school year or a religious holiday in spring. As a kid, I looked forward to these two holidays. Since the whole country followed the same schedule, it also meant that my friends and cousins had the same time off. I enjoyed having no schedule, no homework, and just complete freedom from responsibilities and duties. Don’t we all wish we were kids again?

Melissa Ashley: As a kid we spent Christmas Eve with my mom’s parents who owned a dairy farm. We would help do chores, which meant feeding and milking the cows before dinner. Once we were done, my grandpa and uncle helped us lay out hay for Santa’s reindeer, and we would look to the winter skyline, hoping to see any glimpse of Santa even though it was early. One year after dinner, we heard cow bells ringing, and a real live Santa walked right into the farmhouse. We sat on his knee, and he gave us presents from a big bag. It was magical.     

Michael Gampp, EVP, Chief Risk Officer: I remember all my holidays as a child were spent gathering at our grandparents’ house and enjoying a meal while visiting with the cousins.

What are your favorite holiday treats?

Denise Brown: All the baked goods. I can’t think of anything that I don’t look forward to.

Melissa Ashley: Iced sugar cookies, and they are still my favorite!

Michael Gampp: I am not much of a treat person so would have to answer mashed potatoes.

Tammy Cantrell: My grandmother was quite the cook, so anything she made was amazing!

Prashanta Pradhan: There are so many. But the one most memorable is a type of fried bread my mom used to make every spring holiday. It is call “Sel Roti” (सेल रोटी). My mom would schedule a get-together at one of her sister’s places, and we’d all spend time there. They would then make rice flour from scratch using mortar and pestle, add sugar and spice and everything nice (I suppose), and fry it in butter. This was done once a year, so it was a rare treat. The story goes that my grandma’s recipe they was the best in the country.

What kind of holiday shopper are you: Black Friday? Christmas Eve? Year-long hoarder?

Tammy Cantrell: Black Friday, but all online.

Denise Brown: Year-long hoarder.

Melissa Ashley: Every year I tell myself that I’m going to shop throughout the year and make the holiday a little more relaxing, but it never happens. I’m always scrambling during the month of December at the mall with all the other last-minute shoppers.

Prashanta Pradhan: When I was a kid, a holiday meant we received new clothes or something we had been eyeing for the whole year. It was partially due to economic reasons and the culture back then. Today, my wife and I shop throughout the year whenever we find a good deal. We tried Black Friday once, and that was enough. We do take advantage of Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime days. Also, we buy when needed, but we are careful to distinguish what we need from what we want.  

What is your favorite holiday movie? 

Tammy Cantrell: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” That’s actually one of my favorite movies of all time. 

Denise Brown: It’s a tie between “A Christmas Story” and “Elf.”

Michael Gampp: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Melissa Ashley: “Christmas Vacation.” No matter how many times I’ve watched it, it never gets old. One of my favorite quotes: "If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised." — Clark

Who would you like to be intentional about thanking or serving in this season of thanksgiving?

Denise Brown: My mom. Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday, and she works so hard to make it a wonderful, loving holiday with all the family. This year she had both her knees replaced, so my siblings and I will be working to fill her shoes and let her put her feet up.

Tammy Cantrell: My parents. They are getting older and it’s getting harder for them to get around. They love the holidays and the family gathering, but it’s becoming more challenging. I admire them for the love, care, and generosity they give to the family even as they struggle.

Melissa Ashley: In the last months of my dad’s life, he had to stay in a nursing home due to memory loss.  After he passed, in his honor, I began donating annually to the Staff Christmas Gift Fund at the nursing home where he stayed. The fund is used to give bonuses to the nursing home staff who take such good care of the residents. I am deeply thankful for the people who devote themselves to taking care of the elderly during such a difficult time in their lives.

Prashanta Pradhan: My life is filled with people whom I am thankful for. Without being clichéd, I’m thankful for this country. As an immigrant, I have found the people of the U.S to be the most tolerant and accepting. From day one, I have received nothing but love. The ideas generated due to the huge diversity of people have taught me that we are all humans and are the same regardless of race, religion, color, or nationality. I have also learned that there are only two categories of people: fortunate and less fortunate. My family regularly volunteers to help prepare meals, and I’d like to continue that tradition.

Whether you’re traveling far or staying close to home this holiday season, all of us at Corporate One wish you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season.


Melissa Ashley

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