Curious about life at one of the most customer-centric companies in the world? Want to know what type of people call Amazon home five days out of the week?

For this month’s employee Q&A, we’ve asked four Amazonians to think back to holiday seasons past and tell us all about the traditions, tastes, and TV movies they recall from that most magical time of the year.

ProfilesInPay_HolidayEdition_Editorial_Inline_3Thabina Ismail

Title: US Consumer Marketing Specialist

About yourself:

I’m a recent graduate from Georgia State University and made the cross-country move to Seattle a little under one year ago to be a Consumer Marketing Specialist with Amazon. When I’m not working, I usually grab happy hour with some friends, try out random TikTok recipes in my kitchen, or stream a new series on Netflix.

What was the winter weather like where you grew up? Did it snow?

My childhood was in Kansas City, Missouri, and it was COLD. It snowed a lot, and we’d still go to school in 0-degree weather. Each year we could get up to almost a foot of snow, and I’d barely be able to walk through it as a kid.

What holiday traditions do you most fondly recall from your childhood?

I grew up with many cousins my age, and for as long as I can remember, we have always spent the holidays together. My fondest memory is our parents baking, staying up late watching movies, and just spending time together. Each Christmas Eve, we’d always have a hot chocolate and Polar Express night and bake cinnamon rolls Christmas morning.

Is there a memorable gift you have given someone?

One of my favorite gifts I’ve given is a night sky map on the day they were born. It tells you the coordinates of their birth city, the alignment of the stars, and the moon phase that night. It is super unique and personal, especially if you’re interested in space.

What makes you feel most at home now, as an adult?

I define home as cozy, so blankets and candles. I love the comfy feeling of being snuggled up in the softest blankets, and any vanilla/cupcake candle scent is just my go-to — I always stock up on these during holiday sales.

ProfilesInPay_HolidayEdition_Editorial_Inline_1Andrea Krok

Title: Integrated Campaign Manager

About yourself: 

I’m an ever-curious Greenpointer in Brooklyn, New York, who moved to the city 14 years ago on a springboard diving scholarship at Fordham University. I’m deeply connected to my Polish-American roots and my family’s history, surviving WWII and communist Poland. The lessons of my family’s unique past are so ingrained into my being that I naturally gravitate to and admire unconventional new ideas, grit, and people who aren’t afraid to pave their own paths to lead fulfilling lives. As a pastime, I enjoy traveling, photography, movies, the arts, psychology, history, spending time with loved ones, and, most importantly, being a lady of leisure.

What was the winter weather like where you grew up? Did it snow?

I grew up in the Berkshires, Massachusetts, where it snowed heavily. I thought it was normal that my parents would shovel snow off the roof of my childhood home every winter.

What holiday traditions do you most fondly recall from your childhood?

I’m 100% Polish, second-generation American, and one of my favorite holiday traditions is my entire extended family participating in the breaking of oplatek on Christmas Eve. Immediately after opaltek, my cousins and I would race to finish our pierogis, gołąbkis, and borscht, so we could start dividing presents from under the tree into our respective piles. In the background, we’d hear the adults enjoying their dinner with laughter, the clinking of wine glasses, murmurs of “twoje zdrowie,” and gossip that would start in English and end in Polish so we, the kids, couldn’t understand.

Do you recall any massive failures at cooking?

Every year, our main dish on Christmas Day is ham with a bunch of vegetables. One year we forgot to take the ham out of the freezer and, unsurprisingly, it didn’t defrost in time for dinner. My mom felt awful even though it wasn’t her fault — the rest of us made a fun game out of looking for viable main course options, e.g. frozen pizza and leftovers from earlier that week.

ProfilesInPay_HolidayEdition_Editorial_Inline_2Jane Oh Kim

Title: Marketing Manager

About yourself:

I joined the Amazon Pay Product Marketing team five months ago after spending nearly 15 years on the agency side servicing brands such as Wells Fargo, Northrop Grumman, Kawasaki Motors, and Microsoft. I love food and travel. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two rescue dogs, caring for my large collection of houseplants, building my flower garden outdoors, and binge-watching TV.

What was the winter weather like where you grew up? Did it snow?

As a Southern California native, I’ve had my share of unexpected sunny and warm Christmas days. Ninety degrees, no problem.

What was your favorite holiday movie growing up? Why?

Watching Home Alone with my siblings was an annual tradition. We’ve watched Kevin McCallister through TV reruns, VHS, DVD, and now streaming video. All of us can still recite lines from it. 

Are there any foods from the holiday season that remind you of your heritage?

It wasn’t a Korean family meal without kimchi on the table. Kimchi is a traditional Korean spicy pickled condiment commonly made with cabbage.

What traditions did you have around New Year’s Day? 

New Year’s Day, saehae, is important in Korean culture. On this national holiday, we rose early, dressed in hanbok, and ate ddeokguk, rice cake soup, for breakfast. After the meal, we would perform the saebae jul. This is a ritual where children bow to the elders of each household, wishing them prosperity in the new year. The adults imparted wisdom and passed out cash. It’s no wonder I’m not accustomed to New Year’s Eve parties, because we had to rise early. Cash is a great motivator, even if it comes with a lecture. Sadly, I have been disqualified from participating now that I am married. The tradition has come full circle as I now sit on the other side — receiving bows from my nieces and giving, not receiving, cash gifts.

What smells remind you of your childhood home?

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, literally. My aunt wrapped chestnuts and sweet potatoes in foil to roast on the coals in her fireplace. I am a firm believer that this is the best method to cook them. To deter the children from getting close to the hearth, the adults would warn the kids that playing with fire led to wetting the bed. I’m happy to report that this old wives’ tale isn’t true.

ProfilesInPay_HolidayEdition_Editorial_Inline_4Rachit Kapoor

Title: Senior Global Product Marketing Manager

About yourself:

I grew up in India and completed my undergraduate in English Literature at Hansraj College, Delhi University, followed by a research program in American Literature at Northwestern University, U.S. I also hold a master’s degree in Market Research and Consumer Behavior from IE Business School, Spain, and an MBA from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, U.K. I have more than 12 years of experience in B2C — including B2B2C and B2B — marketing, working for various brands globally such as KFC, San Miguel, Mahou, Adidas, and Gulf Oil. I have also managed partnerships and sponsorships with brands such as PlayStation, TAG Heuer, motorsports platforms including F1, and football teams such as Real Madrid CF.

What was the winter weather like where you grew up? Did it snow?

I grew up in different cities across India, and it never snowed in those cities. But I recall watching and fantasizing about being in the snow like Bambi, the next prince yet to be, and taking care of my dear ones.

What do you enjoy the most this time of the year?

I enjoy lamps in general, and this time of the year is all about lamps, lights, and celebrations. I enjoy looking at Christmas lights, the warmth they emit just by looking at them, even from a distance. I can actually stand for hours looking at these lights, and even more with mulled wine in hands.

Can you share a special holiday memory?

I recall going to Simla, a popular hill station in Himachal Pradesh, India, with my parents and elder sisters (my only siblings) when I was 9 years old. I remember crying for a cricket bat bitterly throughout the five-day journey, as if I had to play for India the next day. Now, cricket bats have never been cheap, and a hill station is not a place meant for cricket bats except to meet unnecessary demands of spoiled kids. My dad did get me one eventually, the bat with a Pepsi sticker, on the fourth day of the trip, and everyone finally did get to enjoy the remaining holiday.

What holiday traditions do you most fondly recall from your childhood?

Diwali is one of the biggest festivals in India, and even today, I equally enjoy it. The tradition in my family, so would be true for anyone celebrating, is to first pray to Lord Ram and Ganesh followed by eating sweets, and then by lighting candles and crackers. Most of all, I love exchanging gifts with close ones, as Diwali is also about giving gifts with the intent of bringing good luck.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

It is difficult to pick out one, but I remember my parents taking me to a charity school in Delhi when I was 14 years old, wherein we provided food to some 300 kids who were either partially or fully blind. It was an extraordinary feeling of humility, something that taught me closely how grateful I should be for everything I have. 

Stay connected

Get the latest Amazon Pay updates and insights delivered right to your inbox.