US Army Corps of Engineers
Sacramento District Website

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District employees celebrate holidays with unique traditions

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
Published Dec. 16, 2019
Updated: Dec. 16, 2019
man in cone-shaped hat leaning against a file cabinet

Gerry Slattery, project manager for the Folsom Dam Raise project, shows off his holiday headgear during the annual door decorating contest at the Sacramento District headquarters, Dec. 6, 2019. The contest, a 13-year tradition in the office started by MPC Chief Linda Finley, pitted different project teams against each other for a prize of restaurant gift cards and year-long prestige.

three women talking and laughing in an office

Sacramento District employees Ashley Franklin, Melanie Tymes, and Kimberly Core share a laugh in the Mega Projects Center during the annual door decorating contest at the District headquarters, Dec. 6, 2019. The contest, a 13-year tradition in the office started by MPC Chief Linda Finley, pitted different project teams against each other for a prize of restaurant gift cards and year-long prestige.

three office doors covered in holiday wrapping paper and decorations

Doors in the Mega Projects Center overflowing with holiday cheer during the annual door decorating contest at the Sacramento District headquarters, Dec. 6, 2019. The contest, a 13-year tradition in the office started by MPC Chief Linda Finley, pitted different project teams against each other for a prize of restaurant gift cards and year-long prestige.

SACRAMENTO, California -- Sacramento District employees sure know how to throw a party—just ask them what they do for the holidays.

Depending on who you talk to, you may find yourself invited to Christmas dinner at midnight, rocking out to some karaoke tunes, or boxing up Thanksgiving leftovers for people in need.

“When I was growing up, Christmas dinner happened at midnight,” said Sara Platt, a paralegal specialist in the Office of Counsel. “And when we woke up in the morning, we’d have presents on our bed, not under the tree.”

Once, Platt tried a creative trick to switch things up a bit.

“I even slept under the Christmas tree one year, but the presents still ended up on my bed!” she laughed.

If you work in the Mega Projects Center, you’ll probably get swept up into a door decorating contest—a tradition that MPC Chief Linda Finley has carried on for the last 13 years of her career.

In the MPC, various project teams decorate the office doors according to a theme, and then Finley chooses first and second place, who both receive gift cards to local restaurants.

Hang out with Tambour Eller, and you’re likely to end up in the performing arts! The deputy district engineer for programs and project management recalls her parents’ first holiday together:

“Mom is a rock and roll singer and my stepfather was the drummer in a high school band,” said Eller. “Both sides of the family got together, rented a DJ booth at a local restaurant and sang karaoke.”

For others, the holidays are a chance to get away and enjoy nature.

Saira Afzal, a human resources specialist in the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC), says that her family always rents a cabin in Tahoe near the end of the year. They enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and just spending time together.

Some employees spent time overseas when they were growing up, and this time in another country has influenced the way they celebrate the holidays.

Rachel Mahimer, also in the CPAC, has fond memories of Simbang Gabi, a Christmas novena (nine days of prayer) celebration native to the Philippines. In addition to religious services, this event also involves plenty of delicious food! Local favorites include lechon kawali, pancit, lumpia, and adobo, as well as midnight snacks with hot chocolate and queso de bola.

Yari Johnson, a biological science environmental manager, spent 11 years in Taiwan and still celebrates Lunar New Year with his family. Lunar New Year is celebrated across East Asia, and Yari remembers firecrackers (his favorite part!), gifts of money in red envelopes, and large feasts. Everyone pitches in to prepare large platters of food, then takes turns roasting it over a hot pot.

“Sometimes we cheat and make dumplings instead,” Yari admits (Shhhh!).

Laura Clark, a safety administrative assistant in the Safety Office, has a holiday tradition that should inspire us all.

“Any time we have a big holiday meal, like Thanksgiving, my kids and I box up the leftovers,” said Clark. “Then we give them to people in need.”

“And I always make sure there’s plenty of mac and cheese!” she added.

No matter what holiday you celebrate, all of us at the Sacramento District wish you a joyous holiday season filled with the same spirit of generosity and goodwill!

Happy holidays!