The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 24, 2012

Holidays survive family changes, new technology

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Stockings still are hung by the chimney with care, trees still are decorated with cherished ornaments, and cookie baking, present wrapping and candlelight church services still fill the Christmas season.

But while much of the best survives, the 21st century Christmas, with its nontraditional families and fingertip technology, is worlds away from Christmases of the past.

This morning, Pittsburg father Aaron Hurt will use a smartphone to take photos of his children unwrapping presents and will send the images instantly to relatives living all over the country.

In some households, the old Christmas standards playing in the background will be from playlists on pocket-sized mobile devices capable of holding thousands of songs. The tunes might be on an iPod that Josie Franklin, 9, of Pittsburg, requested from Santa via a letter she emailed him on her computer.

Two households, one yearbook

And the gifts that the Rosebrough siblings — Zach, 13, and Ali, 10, of Frontenac — will give to their grandparents were created online using digital photography and layout.

“It all began with my grandmother, who showed me pictures of my dad she had in a shoe box,” said their dad, Steve Rosebrough, of the project on which he and his ex-wife, Tabitha, work together each Christmas.

“I thought a book format would be a much better way to keep track of the memories our kids are making,” he said.

Since 2007, Rosebrough, a photographer, has captured images of the children throughout each calendar year — at ballgames, school plays, the swimming pool, trick-or-treating and birthday parties.

“Then at the end of the year, I can use the computer to design a yearbook of those pictures, and Tabitha does the journaling on each page to describe what’s going on,” he said. They upload the finished product to Mpix, a locally based national photography company, which prints custom copies in a matter of days.

They also are steadfast about making their children a priority on Christmas, despite having two different households.

“We alternate each year where the kids sleep on Christmas Eve, and Santa knows where to find them,” Steve Rosebrough said. “If it’s at her house, I go over early and wait for them to wake up so both of us can be there to see them open their presents. We pretty much made it clear with the people we’re dating that we do this because it’s in the best interest of the kids.”

This year, the 21st century also is reflected in the gift Zach hopes is under the tree for him this morning: a pair of headphones for his iPod.

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