holidays

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The New Year is a natural time for people to reflect on years past, and look for ways to improve their lots going forward. Today, we do too. First, we discuss the dilemmas American history educators face when teaching inclusive lessons about such a diverse country. After that, a hard look at resolutions. We get expert advice from some very motivated people, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer. They share tips about making resolutions you can keep, and keeping the resolutions that you make.

Shelby L. Bell / Google Images -- CC

It's the time of year when KC expats come home for the holidays. We take a look at the restaurant meals that they have to have during their visit, and a chat with a KC native whose New York barbeque restaurant has become a hangout for homesick Kansas Citians.

Plus: we say goodbye to Fun House Pizza in Raytown, which is closing after 53 years, and our Food Critics search out the best pizza in and around town.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Every once in a while, a Kansas City band releases an original Christmas song. But it’s unusual for area musicians to put out an entire album of holiday standards.

That’s what the bluegrass band Old Sound did this year, but making it happen involved something like a Christmas miracle.

“This is one those instances where the universe starts kind of opening up and giving you signs,” says guitarist Chad Brothers.

Courtesy The Floozies

The Floozies, a Lawrence based electro-funk duo, are one of the region’s most popular party bands. Their celebratory, dance-oriented concerts, accentuated with colorful lighting and video displays, have made the band a fixture on the summer festival circuit.

Brothers Mark (drums) and Matt (guitar) Hill have been honing their self-described “future funk” for more than a decade. In September they released their most fully realized album, the irreverently titled "Funk Jesus."

Danie Alexander / KCUR 89.3

Before reaching for a bottle of red or white from California, Italy or France, you might think again about shopping a little more close-to-home. Today, Master Sommelier Doug Frost returns to give us the low-down on the award-winning local vino that deserves your attention, and which bottles are garnering attention from winemakers around the country.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

In the early 20th century, people didn't have a lot of options for making the tradition of unwrapping gifts more festive. They'd cover packages with brown shipping paper or newspaper, or sometimes wallpaper or fabric.

Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards, Inc., gets credit for starting the modern-day gift wrap industry 100 years ago, an invention created out of necessity during the holiday season. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

As always during this season, Kansas City musicians are booked for holiday gatherings.

"Christmas is the busiest time of year. We all have a million gigs," says Johnny Hamil, an area bass player and teacher (among his efforts to promote his instrument, Hamil lures esteemed bass players from around the world to town for his annual Kansas City Bass Workshop).

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Gingerbread houses crafted by Kansas City Public Schools culinary arts students are on their way to Union Station, where they’ll be on display until Christmas.

“They make some amazing things,” says Rashawn Caruthers, director of Career and Technical Education for KCPS. “One year they made SpongeBob’s house. It’s not just your traditional gingerbread house.”

Courtesy Kansas City Jazz Orchestra

The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra is the region’s most prominent big band, dedicated to preserving and advancing the tradition of iconic Kansas City jazz ensembles led by William “Count” Basie, Andy Kirk and Bennie Moten. Guest vocalist Marilyn Maye, after all, performed at the band's debut concert in 2003.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The hulking, richly ornate Vaile Mansion, designed by famed architect Asa Beebe Cross, sits alone on a postage stamp of its former grounds in a mostly working-class residential neighborhood in Independence, Missouri. It looks more like a rip in time and space than a wonderland of Victorian Christmas cheer.

The holiday season brings a surge of many of things: shopping, twinkling lights in public places, men in white beards roaming around malls. But the seasonal spirit can spur something else, too — volunteering.

 

While many nonprofits are searching for help, the gift of time can sometimes be a bit overwhelming this time of year.

 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Squinting? This weekend’s brilliant entertainment possibilities are arguably blinding.

There’s a vivid touring production of one of the most popular Broadway musicals in history, two differently dazzling takes on a Christmastime dance classic, gifted singer/songwriters with names as glittery as their talents and a family friendly rock band consisting of guys with exceptional gleams in their eyes.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

It's the holiday season once again, when many of us look to donate some time to a worthwhile cause. Today, we ask representatives of local non-profits what makes a great seasonal or year-round volunteer, and how you can have the most impact when you give back to the community. Then, learn about a debate that has been raging since the 1940s — what is the better winter holiday snack; the latke or the hamantash? It may sound like apples and oranges, but the Hanukkah potato pancake and the Purim stuffed cookie square off year after year to help debaters hone their craft.

When it comes to fighting for a cause, some may picture protestors chaining themselves to machinery or going on hunger strikes. But a former journalist in Kansas fought a proposal for saltwater injection wells in a different way: she read a lot of documents and examined the tiny administrative details.

Then: two area researchers on how dogs and humans became friends, then an encore presentation of how a local musician found one family's long-lost Christmas tape at a thrift store.

Guests:

Courtesy Ami Ayars

In a town like Kansas City, no one has an excuse for sending anything but locally crafted, one-of-a-kind gifts to their relatives in less creative parts of the world.

The artisans who'll be selling their wares at the events below have created something for every person on your list, and buying from them will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling because you’re buying local.

Courtesy Joe Darling

Remember sitting by the Christmas tree, peeling back the wrapping on what could only be an LP – but which one? And by which of your favorite bands? Then listening for days, flipping that record from the A side to the B side, memorizing the lyrics on the liner notes, devouring the graphics.

Admittedly, some of you might be too young for those kinds of memories. But take it from someone who’s collected John Denver records since she was seven: A new album pressed on vinyl is a gift you receive several times over, every time the music plays.

Joe Darling agrees.

Cory Weaver / Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Ten years ago, when Eric Rosen was angling for the job as artistic director of Kansas City Repertory Theatre, he pitched a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol. It was something he'd wanted to do for years while running a theater company in Chicago. Now he's finally bringing it to the stage.

"It's sort of a dream project in the sense of having a scope and a cast and a capacity to make something huge that we don't often get to do," Rosen says. 

elisfkc / Flickr--CC

An estimated 40,000 travelers will pass through Kansas City International Airport Tuesday. Airport officials expect about 12 percent more passengers this holiday season compared to 2015.

They’ve seen 31 consecutive months of growth.

“We’re really busy, not only with folks traveling home after spending the Christmas weekend with family, but also those that are ready to depart on a winter break vacation, maybe a ski trip,” airport spokesman Justin Meyer says.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Out in Sugar Creek, Missouri, on top of a snowy hill, there are three houses with a long history. Every year around this time, that history comes to life, with the help of Stan and Barbara Salva. 

Stan was born and raised in Sugar Creek, and he spent a long stint as the town's mayor. Barbara has lived there since they married 50 years ago, but she's absorbed the history of the place "like a sponge."

Nearly 100 years ago, four sisters lived in four houses on top of that same hill. They were craftswomen, well-known for their dolls. They started out with an elf-like figure called the "troll."

Southbank Centre / Flickr - CC

Entertainment is all over the place this Christmas holiday weekend, offering the perfect opportunity to get out and see a show with family or friends.

Wait, you still have presents to wrap? Food to prepare? Relatives to practice being nice around? Then you really do need a diversion.

And if you find yourself flying solo, don’t fret. Your brothers and sisters in holiday fun are out there, just waiting to lift you up. Now let me give you a hand.

​1. Radkey

Paul Andrews

The world doesn’t need any more Christmas music. But with the complex emotions of the season so unavoidable, songwriters like David George can be forgiven for succumbing to them – especially when it results in more risqué holiday tunes, which the world might be able to use.

Dmitry Grigoriev / Flickr - CC

Today, the Ethics Professors take on what's been a prickly issue for Shawnee Mission schools. Should teachers be allowed to wear safety pins in classrooms?

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has endured for decades, but former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell believes a nonviolent resolution is still possible. Then, one data scientist says expanding misuse of algorithms and mathematical modeling is creating Weapons of Math Destruction.

When Central Standard left off for the holiday, a lot of our listeners were anticipating a highly politicized and contentious Thanksgiving. Some were dreading conversations, others were ready to bond in either agony or excitement. We check in with a few people across that spectrum to reflect on the recent holiday.

Guests:

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver held a holiday party and interfaith rally at Union Station Sunday evening to show support for Kansas City's Muslim community.

Several hundred people of all faiths came to the event to mingle, eat and enjoy the holidays together. Since terrorist attacks in Paris left more than 100 dead in November, Cleaver says, Islamophobic rhetoric in America has gone too far and risks alienating moral, law-abiding citizens.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Dozens of families who've suffered loss due to homicide came to the Lucile Bluford branch of the Kansas City Public Library for gifts, food and support Saturday. 

The AdHoc Group Against Crime and Laura E. Mason Foundation organized the Toys for Tots event to help children suffering after the death of loved ones. Organizer Nae-na Oliver has personal experience dealing with homicide and the influence it can have on kids.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

 This post was first published in December, 2015.

For more than a decade, the downtown Marriott Hotel's lighting display has played a key role in brightening up the Kansas City skyline — especially during the holidays.

But who controls those iconic lights? Just one man named Mike Davis. 

Facebook - Niall

Running into the same old Kansas City-themed gift ideas?

Barbecue Sauce. Sports memorabilia. Plaza gift cards. Boulevard Beer.

All are great gifts to give and receive, but at this point they're a little ... expected.

Instead, you can innovate your gift giving and stuff those stockings with Kansas City-made gadgets and gizmos, while simultaneously letting loved ones know that Kansas City is the place for entrepreneurs and inventors.

What Is The Carbon Footprint Of A Typical Thanksgiving Dinner?

Nov 24, 2015
Jack Amick / Flickr -- CC

Mike Berners-Lee may not be an expert on the American Thanksgiving. A native of the UK, he’s never actually had the pleasure of experiencing one. But as one of the world’s leading researchers on the carbon footprint of—well—everything (he even wrote a book subtitled “The Carbon Footprint of Everything”), he’s plenty familiar with the impacts of the foods that star in the traditional Thanksgiving Day spread.

Jen Mann

Mouthy blogger and New York Times bestselling author Jen Mann is at it again.

In her latest book, Spending the Holidays With People I Want to Punch in the Throat, the Overland Park writer takes down "humblebraggers," elves and bell-ringers alike. 

Whether its her love/hate relationship with chocolate covered peanut butter balls, or her love/hate relationship with her kids being home on winter break, she's got something to say. 

Here is an excerpt from the book, in which Mann lists the things she hates most about the holidays:

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