Plain Talk staff shares their<br />favorite Christmas memories

Plain Talk staff shares their
favorite Christmas memories I don't know if it's the economy or trudging through an unsafe six inches of snow,  but I notice myself falling into a "bah humbug" Scrooge-like state this past week. I keep telling myself, I need to get out of this funk I'm in. It's Christmas! It only comes once a year. Then Dave and I were sitting in my office discussing how great some of our Christmas' have been in the past! It got me to thinking about the true meaning of Christmas, what this time of year meant and it really lifted my spirits. So I thought we'd share some of our best memories to get you to start thinking about yours! I was five years old, it was 1981, and we lived on a farm just five miles from Menominee, NE. We belonged to the St. Boniface Parish and got up at 5 a.m. to view the Christmas treasures Santa left under our tree so we had time to play before heading off to Christmas Mass. But that wasn't the only thing Santa left. There was at least a foot of snow on the ground and Dad already had a long, hard night of moving snow and rescuing animals from the cold and bringing them into the barns. Milking was done and Dad came into the house for a nice warm breakfast. It was tradition to go to 8 a.m. Mass on Christmas day, but not this year. Dad said we weren't going anywhere. Father Salvatori was a good family friend and Mom called and wished him a Merry Christmas and to let him know we would not be able to make it to Mass. Father said he thought it would be pretty hard for most members to there and sounded a little down. He said he was going to head home after Mass, but with the snow storm that had hit, he would be spending Christmas alone at the rectory. Mom got off the phone and told Dad she was felt bad that anyone had to spend Christmas alone. I went off to play with my Christmas treasures. Then Mom came into the living room with our snowsuits, hats, mittens and blankets. She said get bundled up tight, we're going to get Father so he didn't have to be alone on Christmas. Dad put us in the loader bucket lined with blankets and hauled us 30 minutes into town (normally a five minute drive). Mom had a thermos of hot chocolate and cookies in the bucket with us and we sang Christmas carols all the way into town. It was a surprise to Father when we showed up and told him to get his coveralls on and ride on the fender with dad back to the house. Father still writes to mom and dad thanking them and remembering that Christmas over 25 years ago. Probably wasn't the safest Christmas but definitely the most memorable. But Mom was one for making our Christmases memorable. Then there are the traditions we've started with our own families. Every Christmas we get all the kids and grandkids a pair of pajamas. They are all the same or at least the same style (quite a feat for children 13 years to 2 years.) You'd think the older they get the more they'd dislike it but they still all get dressed in the pajamas and we take pictures. Then they stay in their pajamas until we head home and they are ready for bed so Santa can come! Another tradition, which I will most likely get fined for after this article, is we buy fireworks during the Fourth of July and save them for Christmas Eve! At 9:45 p.m. the guys go out and start the cars so the kids don't have to stand in the snow and all the kids get bundled up! At 10 p.m. the show starts on the middle of the football field. Last year it was about 10 degrees and the grown ups were all thinking we would just skip one year. But then our kids came into the kitchen with our coats and the fireworks and said "it's tradition." The best is when there's snow on the ground and the fireworks glisten. The kids then run around with sparklers and it actually "sparkles" the snow on the ground. Again, probably not the safest tradition but definitely the most memorable in our children's minds.  Probably the second best Christmas I had was working at another newspaper about eight years ago.  It was 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve, we were just about to close shop, and I was thinking about how much I needed to do before 6 o'clock Mass. I had to get kids showered and in their best clothes. Then one of my employees received a phone call from a mom who was having a rough Christmas and wanted to know if there was anywhere in town that could help. She asked me to take the call. At first I thought, gee I have no idea, and I really need to get out of here if I'm going to make it to Mass, but I took it anyway. When I got on the phone the mom told me the county extension had decided that year to not do a giving tree because they ended up having so many gifts left over at the end of the year that families hadn't picked up the year before. Instead they raised money for the local food pantry so families could have a nice Christmas dinner. This mother had lost her husband the year before and she had four children, but she had nothing to give from Santa. All of the money she was making went towards electricity bills and housing costs. They got by with a meager amount of groceries and her church had helped her out several times this year with babysitting services and other things while she worked. She said her church had done so much for her she didn't feel like she could ask for anymore. I had remembered the toy giveaway the two auto dealers in town did every year, so I took down her name, phone and address and told her I would get back to her. I called the auto dealers and both still had a few toys left over. They said if the mom came down before 5 p.m. she could pick through what was left, so I called her back and let her know where to go.  One of my coworkers overheard, and she said, do they have a tree? She went and talked to the publisher. She remembered we had an artificial Christmas tree up in storage and some decorations. Then she asked if they had groceries. So we all pitched in and went and got a ham and some groceries for Christmas. Then we went to her house and brought about 20 bags of groceries. Some for Christmas, but some as well that they could have on hand. I remember driving up to the house. It was nothing more than a shack. When I rang the doorbell, one of the kids came to the door in her pajamas. The house was clean but no Christmas decorations anywhere. I asked for the mom and she came to the door and we said we have groceries and a tree. She started crying. The kids were so excited. They took the tree out of the box and started putting it up. She told us it had been a really rough year without her husband and we didn't know how much it meant. It was at that point I felt ashamed for almost not taking that phone call and that's when I really knew the true meaning of Christmas. It wasn't how much we spent on the groceries, it was what we gave from our hearts and she knew for that brief moment someone really cared. She said the two businesses she went to were so giving they asked if the kids had wanted anything in particular. While they were small things, one of the businesses had someone run out and grab three gifts on the kids' list to Santa. Maybe not the best part, but something that was so great was going to the grocery store with my coworkers and knowing we were doing something special. It was so fun loading up the tree and being apart of that family's Christmas. Every year I get caught up in the kids and the stress of it all; I forget about those special moments. I have never been this excited for Christmas to come and I hope you all have a great new year!! Heather Heimes Advertising Manager I really don't have a favorite memory, my memory is pretty bad. But what I love about Christmas is having a family like Judy, Shorty and Melissa and the whole crew. There wouldn't be anything special about Christmas without them. They are my family and without them my kids wouldn't know what a family was all about. They are the best Mom, Dad, and sister/friends (Grandma, Papa and aunt) anyone could have. That's what Christmas is all about, family and friends, and this is what I love about Christmas, having a family like this that my kids and I can be a part of. Penny Tucker Office Manager I have a childhood Christmas experience that will always rate as the most memorable. First, a little background. I grew up on dairy farm operated by my dad and uncle. It wasn't unusual for Dad to miss church services, even on Christmas Eve, because he and my uncle had to milk 50 Holsteins and do an assortment of other chores, all by themselves. So there was nothing unusual about the year when, my twin brother Mike and I, both 9, and our younger brother, Jeff, who was only 18 months younger, accompanied Mom to church without Dad. Mom played the organ at church. She made us sit in the very front pew. If there was ever a moment we weren't at our best behavior, she, from her bench behind that large musical instrument, could give us "the look" without missing a beat. I don't think anyone else in church ever saw her give us "the look," but it was so powerful it could pin your shoulders to the hard wooden back of the pew. Anyway, getting back to the Christmas memory. My brothers and I always tried our best to listen to the message of that night. We tried our best to absorb the story of the Savior's birth. But in the back of our minds, we also knew what soon would be store. Since we lived on a dairy farm, the typical June and Ward Cleaver situation, where kids go to bed on Christmas Eve night and wake up at some ungodly hour on Christmas Day to attack the wrapped presents under the tree, just wouldn't work. We always opened our gifts the night of Christmas Eve. By then, Dad and my uncle were done with chores, and had time to go home, shower and change clothes. So naturally, when church was over and we finally arrived, Mike, Jeff and I ran at a sprint for the Christmas tree in the living room. But my Mom (who gave us "the look" a few times) my grandmother, and my aunt, Nancy, blocked the door. For some reason, we were being held prisoner in our kitchen. What was unusual was we couldn't hear any noises coming from the next room. The three of us, by now all going crazy with adrenaline pumping through our bloodstreams, needed to get into the next room. Jeff even tried placing his ear against the wall to see if he could hear an What was unusual was we couldn't hear any noises coming from the next room. The three of us, by now all going crazy with adrenaline pumping through our bloodstreams, needed to get into the next room. Jeff even tried placing his ear against the wall to see if he could hear anything that would provide a clue. Who knew that plaster was so good at muffling sound? The floor in our kitchen was covered with hard linoleum. That was a good thing; had it been covered with carpet, I think my brothers and I would have wore a path in it, we paced back and forth so manything that would provide a clue. Who knew that plaster was so good at muffling sound? The floor in our kitchen was covered with hard linoleum. That was a good thing; had it been covered with carpet, I think my brothers and I would have wore a path in it, we paced back and forth so many times. Finally not one, but two eternities passed, and we were finally allowed to run, full tilt, into the living room. There, under the tree, was Dad and my uncle, standing by three newly assembled 26-inch bicycles. These were just "any bikes." They were Schwinns, with fenders and everything. I'm sure they didn't get a chance to put the bikes together until they were finished with chores and we were still at church. And then, they had to decipher Rube Goldberg-like instructions not once, but three times. Judging by the number of minutes it took them, I don't think that getting one bike fully assembled made putting the other two together any easier. This is one of my favorite childhood Christmas memories. Much later, I was reminded of the importance of home and family during the holidays. Our oldest daughter, Sarah, was only about 4-years-old when she and Cindy and I bundled ourselves up and began the drive from our home in Tripp to my farm home in Humboldt for the traditional Christmas Eve celebration. The weather was a lot like it is right now. Lots of snow and very cold. Our journey was going well until we turned north on Highway 19 at Pumpkin Center for the last seven miles of our trip. Suddenly our car began lurching and sputtering. I had to nearly keep the accelerator floored just to keep the car going about 30 miles per hour. We had just over a half-tank of gas, but I watched the needle on the gas guage begin to dip as our struggled to maintain our slow speed. This was no such things at cell phones. I'm pretty sure at least once I asked Cindy if I should stop, and she thought as long as the car kept moving, we should try to make it. I had to agree, because I had all of these horrible images come to mind. What if the car quit? Should I leave Cindy and Sarah in the car and hike to the nearest farm, hoping I could borrow their phone or see if they would pick up Cindy and Sarah and keep them warm in their house? What if no one was home in that first house? What if I had to wade through deep snow for two or miles with temperatures that were hovering around zero degrees? Thankfully, the car kept running. It even somehow made it up the steep hill to our farm's driveway. Our farmhouse was all lit up, casting a yellow glow out its windows onto the sparkling white snow outside. I'll never forget that image. We were home. It's the best place to be for Christmas. David Lias Editor

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>