Anyone picking up the print edition of The Laker/Lutz News this week will find a little something special from many of the people who help put the newspaper together each and every week.
Everyone here in our Land O’ Lakes office was given an opportunity to share a favorite holiday memory, whether it be something recent, or even something from their childhood or past. Nine of our crew here shared their stories, which you will find scattered in the Christmas Eve edition of your community paper.
Here are some snippets of what you will find. The first is from account manager Suzanne Beauchaine, talking about a crazy cold, yet warm Christmas.
The house would be full of light and warmth for about an hour, and then poof — everything was dark. There was no way to know how long we would be without light.
Typically, the power would be out for an hour or two, but sometimes it would be out for three.
We were forced to sit and relax by candlelight, and we found ourselves engaged in pleasant conversation. We had no idea when we would receive the glorious gift of electrical power again.
Customer service manager Carolyn Bennett shared her royal Christmas fit for a princess.
I wanted a bedroom fir for a princess. I wanted pink walls and a full-sized white canopy bed with layers of purple ruffles, white nightstands with small lamps that were fitting, and a white fur rug to place my princess feet upon. This was a Christmas wish.
As the gifts started going under the tree, I would try to figure out which part of my princess room could fit into the box. The day arrived when a very large, but flat, gift appeared. Could it be my princess bed?
My parents asked me if I really thought a big canopy princess bed could fit into such a box. How could it? I knew they were right: No way a bed could fit into that box.
Why should Christmas come to our home when my one and only wish was not coming true?
Our accounting manager Mary Eberhard talked about making wonderful memories at the holidays.
My parents had this great idea and rented two cabins at Mohican State Park. They drove up early, and since we were only staying there a few days, my mom brought just a handful of small Christmas decorations to make the cabin look a little festive before the rest of the family arrived.
They didn’t have room to bring a tree, so my mom jokingly said that if we saw a tree lying in the road to bring it with us.
My sister, brother and I were driving up to the cabin, and sure enough, there was a beautiful blue spruce tree on the side of the road.
My mom couldn’t believe it.
Michael Hinman, our news editor, explored the cultural differences when it comes to religion and the holidays by attending a Christmas Eve Mass in his Pennsylvania hometown.
Once the priest arrived at the altar, he started talking. I’m sure what he was saying was profound, but what really got my attention is that behind me from a balcony on the second story, a small choir started a low, dramatic hum.
The priest continued to talk, and he held out his hands, first at waist level, and then on a slow rise up. As his hands ascended higher and higher, so did the crescendo of the choir behind us.
Suddenly, the priest’s hands shot straight up into the air, and the choir was in full majestic sound. At the same time, all the holiday lighting came to life around the beautifully adorned sanctuary, and it was as if a small slice of heaven had enveloped the room.
I was shocked and I was awed. I was overwhelmed by the sound, the light, the energy.
Publisher Diane Kortus discovered how wonderful it was for childhood Christmas ornaments to find new homes.
The most emotional unveilings are of ornaments given to me the first Christmas after the births of my son and my daughter. My favorites are a little brown ceramic bear with dangling arms that a sister-in-law made for Andy in 1988. And a pink Hallmark carousel pony with Rachel’s name and birthday, May 4, 1992.
My Christmas boxes seem to have more ornaments for “Baby’s First Christmas” than any other theme. There is something endearing about the birth of a child that prompts friends and relatives to bestow these special ornaments on parents.
And then, in what seeks like no time at all, reindeers made out of clothespins and glitter-globbed Santas with cotton ball bears take over the ornament box.
Community editor B.C. Manion is probably one of the most festive people in our office when it comes to Christmas, but there was even a time when she needed an act of kindness to rekindle her Christmas spirit.
I have always looked forward to Christmas
Except for one year.
My sister Anne Marie was very ill, and I just couldn’t feel the joy of the season.
So instead of going to get a freshly cut tree from a lot and decorating it with my friends, Bob and Heather, I decided not to put up a tree.
When I told Heather that I was skipping our annual tradition, she invited me to come to their place and help them to decorate their tree. As I put ornaments on their tree’s branches, I knew the decorations evoked memories of happy events, important places, and special moments for my friends.
And I thought to myself: I have a fine collection of ornaments, too.
Editorial assistant Mary Rathman says there’s nothing like a Polish Christmas.
Christmas Eve, or “Wigilia,” was our most important holiday tradition. We’d eat delicious pierogi and break bread. The bread, or Christmas wafer called oplatek, was imprinted with a holy picture. We offered our oplatek to family and friends to ask for their forgiveness, or to extend a wish for happiness.
Also on Christmas Eve, I or one of my three sisters would add hay to our creche in preparation for the Christ child. We’d then dress in our Sunday best, pile in the car, and attend midnight Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Even though we didn’t understand the language of our parents — no matter how hard they tried to teach us — just listening to the Polish Christmas carols gave me more reasons to love the season.
Our administrative coordinator, Kathy Welton, talked a little bit about a shy boy making his singing debut one Christmas.
When my son was a little older than 3, the blond-headed, blue-eyed tyke was extremely shy. Whenever someone he didn’t know well would drop over, Michael would try to hide behind me.
That is until one Christmas when we had a house full of visitors.
I had mentioned to my brother, Tom, Michael’s tendency to shy away from people. So during our gathering, Tom asked Michael, “What’s your favorite song?”
Without missing a beat, Michael said, “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”
“Can you sing it?” Tom asked.
And finally, senior account manager Terri Williamson shared how the spirit of giving comes full circle.
We lived in Flint, Michigan, the hub of the automobile industry. My mom worked at General Motors and was bringing up four children on her own. She couldn’t afford big Christmas presents, and while we never went hungry, we sure ate a lot of hamburger casserole meals.
We loved mom’s company party. We hardly ever got to go to a movie, and if we did, we never got popcorn. Plus, the gifts were always things we enjoyed.
Those holiday parties made a real difference in my life, and to this day, they have inspired me to want to bring cheer to children who otherwise might not receive Christmas presents.
Want to read the full vignettes from everyone? There’s only one way to do it: Check out the Dec. 24 print edition of The Laker/Lutz News.