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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Christmas with the Scott Family

For Drew and Jonathan’s family, the holidays are a very, very big deal.

christmas with the scotts illustrations

Back in the day

JIM: When the boys were young, it was usually rainy [near Vancouver], but there was one Christmas when we got a lot of snow and the roads were all cut out. Joanne had to go down to the corner store on horseback to get groceries.

JD: I remember it was snowy and very Christmasy. We’d go tobogganing. It was magical. I was always trying to get my parents to prove that Santa was real. One year I asked for a hoofprint from Rudolph. When I woke up on Christmas morning, sure enough there was a hoofprint on a little card that read “Merry Christmas, Daniel.” That was all the proof I needed.

DREW: My parents weren’t into buying expensive decorations. We would make everything. I remember spending hours cutting intricate patterns for giant paper snowflakes, and making shelf sitters out of toilet paper rolls. It’s part of how we became the creative design types we are. We had to think outside the box.

DREW: Jonathan had to know everything and see everything. At night he would sneak down and go under the tree and open everyone’s gifts to see what they were. And then rewrap them. Not just his gifts—everyone’s.

JONATHAN: I didn’t open them to see what everyone had. I rewrapped them so they’d look prettier.

JIM: Their mother always wanted a yellow Labrador, so the four of us went around and found the ideal puppy. And then on Christmas Eve the boys said, “Mom, you have to open just one gift.”

JOANNE: We never opened any gifts on Christmas Eve.

JIM: Of course, Joanne said, “There’s no way I’m going to do that.” It took a lot of convincing. Finally, we brought in this puppy with a ribbon around her neck. Joanne named her Brandy.

DREW: We said the puppy was for Mom, but really it was for us. When we were really little, we gave Mom a hamster as a gift but we wanted it for ourselves. Brandy was just this adorable little yellow Lab. She came in fast and cleared all the glasses off the table with her tail.

JONATHAN: And then she peed on the floor.

“At night, Jonathan would sneak down and open everyone’s gifts to see what they were!”


Meet the Crew

A-caroling we go

JONATHAN: We’re not a big gifting family. It was always more about the experiences. We would go caroling to all the neighbors. We’d have candles and hot cider.

JOANNE: When we moved to the mountains of Alberta, we started caroling there, too. As the years went on, this got to be so popular that different families would join us. We had people bringing guitars and violins.

DREW: Instead of buying candle holders, we’d make our own with Styrofoam cups. By the end of the night the candle would be dripping on your hands. But you know what? It’s Christmas, so you take it!

JONATHAN: We laugh about it now, but my dad could never get the lyrics right. We would sing the same songs every year. And Dad would go, “Joy to the Earth…” Those aren’t the lyrics!

DREW: We loved it. I think it was our idea. We sang in the church choir. Jonathan and I loved the attention. JD was never into it.

JD: I refused to do the caroling when I was younger. We’ve all been teenagers, and kids at school are relentless if you give them fodder.

JONATHAN: Even as an adult, JD thinks it’s nerdy. It’s fun! Christmas 2009 was the first Christmas we celebrated at my house in Vegas. Mom and Dad were like, “Let’s go caroling.” I was like, “Uh, you don’t want to go banging on people’s doors here in the middle of the night. It’s not the same as in rural Canada.”

JOANNE: We still do our caroling when we have Christmas in L.A. at Linda and Drew’s place. We caroled in their neighborhood last year.

JIM: The neighbors had never been caroled before.

“We’d go caroling and Dad could never get the lyrics right. He’d say ‘Joy to the Earth…”


JOANNE: Some of the people were opening the door just a crack. Some of them watched us as we went up the street, and when we came past their house they were still looking out the window. We were all wearing Santa hats. We had Linda’s little nieces and nephew with us, and their dog—everything you need for a good time at Christmas.

DREW: Not too long ago, at our parents’, instead of giving gifts to each other, we did a sleigh ride pulled by Clydesdales. It was supposed to be all magical and whimsical and enchanting, except it was about -35 degrees out.

JONATHAN: I found myself contemplating my own mortality. I was thinking about making a break for it across the meadows so I could get back to the barn and warm up. I was calculating the risk: Would I die faster staying on the ride or making a break for it?

In lieu of presents

LINDA: We always say, “No gifts this year. And if it’s going to be a gift, it has to be an experience.” I’ll follow that rule, but Drew will always surprise me. One year we had to craft something. He got a long, flat jewelry box and made a little Christmas scene on a beach. He made a person lying on the beach on some sand; he got some miniature trees and when you pulled a string the trees popped up. That was very memorable.

ANNALEE: If we’re going to talk about love languages, gifts are my least favorite. I treasure quality time, which JD doesn’t like to hear because he loves giving gifts. And he’s good at it. One year he got me a necklace that’s half a heart and his is the other half. If we’re filming on location and we’ll be apart, I always take the necklace with me.

JD: I had an F-150 truck for 20-plus years. A couple of years ago, it broke down. Randomly, my brothers surprised us with a truck. I was working at my office and I heard a knock at the door. I wasn’t expecting anyone. I went outside and there was this truck in the driveway with a giant bow on it. I was like, What is going on? Did I win some sort of sweepstakes? But Jonathan was hiding around the corner. Annalee was out getting groceries, so we got to set up the surprise again for her.

ANNALEE: I got to the office and saw the truck with the bow on it. And JD is there with this big grin. And I was like, What is this? And then the office door opens and this little phone comes out and it was Jonathan recording me.

JD: And she bursts into tears.

JONATHAN: One year, when I was starting to do more real estate stuff, Drew gave me a suit. But he knows I’m very particular about clothing… so Drew took 400 individual one-dollar bills and taped them into a suit jacket so I could go and buy whatever suit I wanted. Taking the taped bills out and the tape off the bills took forever.

DREW: I sized the suit to myself, so I knew it would fit Jonathan.

JONATHAN: Where we grew up, there was this place that would sell an entire outfit: dress shirt, suit, tie. Instead of getting one suit for $400, I got, like, three. Needless to say, they weren’t well-tailored and I looked like I was wearing my dad’s clothes.

Open-door policy

JOANNE: We have always had a lot of extra people in the house at Christmas, especially people who were alone or who wouldn’t be seeing family that year.

JONATHAN: At the college we went to, there were lots of international students with nowhere to go. Our parents always had an open-door policy.

LINDA: Last year in L.A., we had about 18 people staying with us. Extended family will come, plus friends from college or high school. Everyone is welcome. It sounds overwhelming and it can feel that way leading up to it, but once you’re in, it’s so fun and cozy.

Drew and Linda in decorated home with christmas presents
Drew and Linda went to town with their decorations in 2018, the first Christmas they celebrated in their L.A. home.

JD: At Christmas, our house became the Island of Misfit Toys. It’s where people who didn’t have somewhere to go were welcome. When I first met Annalee, I invited her to come for Christmas.

ANNALEE: I was a misfit toy! It was intimidating. But as soon as I got there, everyone was so nice and welcoming. And everyone in the family has their kooky holiday things. We are collectors of weird ornaments.

JD: There’s a little Rudolph.

ANNALEE: We have one that’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You have your little He-Man.

JD: It’s a ThunderCat.

JONATHAN: We have this tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life. And Scrooge. And Elf. We’ve been watching Elf for years, and now that it’s my girlfriend in the movie, it feels a little weird.

ZOOEY: We had a great get-together last year. It was really fun, and we had dinner followed by a white elephant game. I love it that both Jonathan and I are very close with our families.

LINDA: I love how Dad and Drew will always play the guitar and sing together. We sit around and tell stories and play games. With us “kids,” it’s Codenames. It can get very loud and very intense. Drew will say that he’s always on the winning team. That’s not true.

ZOOEY: I fit in with this crowd because Christmas is my favorite time of year. Last year Jonathan had cookies made to look like the whole family. That was so fun!

JONATHAN: It’s those little things. That’s how you have a good life. You have to enjoy those little moments, especially the ones around family.

JOANNE: I love the snow and the mountains up in Canada, but nothing outranks family. Being together is the absolute top of the mountain. We could be in a tent in the most desolate place on earth, but if we were there with our family, that would be the best.

“At Christmas, our house became the Island of Misfit Toys, a place where everyone who didn’t have anywhere to go was welcome.”

family in festive christmas sweaters
The boys and their folks get sweatered up in 2016. “We’re always down for getting a little silly with our Christmas outfits,” says Drew.

Holiday Playlist

Guitars and sing-alongs. Christmas caroling. Evenings spent around the fire listening to music. It wouldn’t be a Scott family Christmas without holiday tunes. Here are some of their favorites.

  • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” Bing Crosby
  • “White Christmas” Bing Crosby
  • “All I Want for Christmas Is You” Mariah Carey
  • “The Christmas Song” Nat King Cole
  • “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Andy Williams
  • “The Christmas Waltz” She & Him
  • “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
  • “Joy to the World” Bing Crosby
  • “Blue Christmas” Elvis Presley
  • “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Favorite Flicks

These are the movies that get Drew, Jonathan, and the rest of the family in the holiday spirit. Grab the popcorn!

  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Elf
  • A Christmas Carol (1951 version with Alastair Sim)
  • A Christmas Story
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Home Alone
  • Love Actually
  • Miracle on 34th Street
  • Edward Scissorhands

By John Ortved | Illustration by Peter Oumanski | Food Photographs by Chelsea Kyle | Zooey Deschanel photograph by Sergio Necoechea | Scott Family images courtesy of the Scott Brothers | Food Styling by Drew Aichele | Prop Styling by Astrid Chastka

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