'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' got a modern update. Meet the family behind it.

"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is a classic Christmas favorite, but San Diego musicians Danielle LoPresti and Alicia Champion thought it could use a bit of an update.

So the couple, along with their son Xander Lucien, created a video featuring the three of them: a multiracial, same-sex, foster-adoptive family. The fun video is a great reminder that families aren't one-size-fits-all.


All GIFs via Danielle LoPresti and The Masses/YouTube.

The first time I watched this video, I wondered if it was a little too racy for my taste. But after I thought about it for a while, I was struck by the reality: This scene is just like what I see on TV and online every day.

I realized that the issue isn't that the video is racy. The issue is how uncommon it truly is to see a family comprised of two women and a child portrayed in the same way we portray straight couples with a child. The parents are about to have a little fun (if ya know what I mean) and they're interrupted by their kiddo who wakes up and gets out of bed. Real life as a parent. Funny. No big deal.

Why is it that two moms portrayed this way is an anomaly?

LoPresti and Champion came up with the idea last Christmas after they and their son watched Michael Bublé and Idina Menzel's viral video of "Baby It’s Cold Outside."

The video featured two cute kids acting and dancing to the song and the three of them loved it.

"Our son Lucian is a beautiful mix of African American, Mexican, and White, so we’re constantly introducing him to examples of beautiful, empowered kids who look like him, as well as men and women of color who are doing remarkable things in our communities," LoPresti told me in an email interview.

Immediately after they enjoyed the video as a family, they went to find another holiday video that represented a family that looked similar to theirs.

And they came up with nothing.

So they thought: Why not make our own?

After all, they are musicians and producers. The couple had the resources and skills to make their own version of the modern holiday video. (For real on the skills. Scroll down to watch and hear LoPresti's beautiful voice.)

"We wanted to create a peek into a typical American family that at the core is no different than any other, although many people still don’t know that. How can people know this when we still see so few families like ours represented?" Champion said.

They're just like any other family, and it would be nice to see more like them in the media.

And just like most other happy families, their story about meeting each other and forming their own family is sweet.

Image via Danielle LoPresti and The Masses/YouTube.

Champion, who was born in Singapore, and LoPresti, a San Diego native, met in 2003. "I was on stage finishing my sound check when Danielle’s band was loading in behind me. When I unplugged my guitar and turned toward the stage stairs, my eyes caught hers and I lost my breath," Champion told me. "I used to always think 'love at first sight' was a myth – I was proven wrong that day."

But for a while, it was just a friendship.

Lo Presti says they became fast friends, bonding over shared values and the dreams they had for independent musicians. "We started producing events together and after about eight months, I finally gave in to what had become Alicia’s relentless pursuit," she joked.

Champion said yes to LoPresti's proposal in May 2008, the same month that California began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, when Proposition 8 passed in November that year, the couple, who had been engaged for just six months, wasn't able to fulfill their plans to legally marry. They were finally married in May 2014, thanks to Prop 8 being ruled unconstitutional.

In the midst of the wait, something wonderful happened: They became moms. Lucian, who's 4 years old now, joined their family of two via open adoption when he was just one day old. "[T]here’s not a single day that goes by when I don’t remember how lucky we are to be his parents," LoPresti said. "He's the center of our universe."

Lucian loved starring alongside his moms in this fun, modern video:

So what can we do to ensure that videos like this become a lot more common?

Given the historic Supreme Court ruling this year on same-sex marriage, it might seem like we're all set on equality and acceptance. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I asked the couple what we can do to keep the momentum going.

Photo courtesy of Danielle LoPresti and Alicia Champion, used with permission.

For herself and Champion, LoPresti says it means they're creating work that is reflective of their lives. They also speak out against things that aren't right. "We embrace that injustice against anyone is injustice against everyone and we fold that resolve into our daily lives," she told me.

"Sometimes, the greatest activism we can do is finding the courage to simply be ourselves."

"For others, ‘doing the work’ can simply mean sharing things that help create connection and justice as opposed to separation and fear," LoPresti said. "I truly believe that sometimes the greatest activism we can do is finding the courage to simply be ourselves." She mentioned that their neighbors, with whom they've become close over the past several years, are Christian missionaries.

"Just the simple act of being who we are is showing them that we are a family just like they are, with the same concerns for our kids, the same indescribable love, the same hard days and sweet simple triumphs," she said.

For those of us who don't identify as part of the LBGTQ community, I think we can keep speaking out and sharing more examples of media featuring folks that don't fit the mold of the "traditional family" (and, hopefully, that phrase will become obsolete).

I'm an ally and an advocate, and even I had a moment of pause when I realized I'm not accustomed to seeing very many examples in everyday media featuring complete families like Champion and LoPresti's. Let's work to change that.

People often think of government bureaucrats as being boring stuffed shirts, but whoever runs social media at the National Park Service is proving that at least some of them have a sense of humor.

In a Facebook post, the NPS shared some seasonal advice for park-goers about what to do if they happen to encounter a bear, and it's both helpful and hilarious. Not that a confrontation with a bear in real life is a laughing matter—bears can be dangerous—but humor is a good way to get people to pay attention to important advice.

They wrote:

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People often think of government bureaucrats as being boring stuffed shirts, but whoever runs social media at the National Park Service is proving that at least some of them have a sense of humor.

In a Facebook post, the NPS shared some seasonal advice for park-goers about what to do if they happen to encounter a bear, and it's both helpful and hilarious. Not that a confrontation with a bear in real life is a laughing matter—bears can be dangerous—but humor is a good way to get people to pay attention to important advice.

They wrote:

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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."