2016-12-15 / Columns

Local Residents Share Their Special Memories of ‘Christmas Past’

All About The Town
By Betty Browning

Local residents have shared their favorite Christmas memories from years gone by.

Cheryl Rountree

St. Ignace

It was Christmas 2011 and our grandson, Tanner, was born four months early. He weighed only 1 pound, 10 ounces.

He was in Ann Arbor along with his mommy and daddy and Christmas seemed empty at our house. Our church gave us some money so we could spend Christmas there with him. So we went, his Papa, Grandma, and uncles Derek and Leonard.

The faith and bonding we shared as a family in that Christmas are the true miracles in life.

Claris Snyder

St. Ignace

Evergreen Living Center

I remember when my twin brother and I were about five years old.

My aunt, who didn’t live near us, would send gifts because she knew my family struggled to make ends meet, and she knew it would brighten our Christmas.

That year she sent me a doll carriage for my dolls. I never thought I’d get anything like that! I loved it, and it became one of my most cherished Christmas memories ever.

Denise Smith

Mackinac County

Prosecutors Office

My favorite Christmas memory was the year I was about eight years old and my twin brothers were about five. Our neighbor came over dressed as Santa Claus.

My mom and dad and all of us kids had a great time. We had cookies out and sang Christmas carols, and Santa Ho Ho Ho’d. He was an awesome sight. It was snowy out.

I can’t remember if we really thought he was Santa Claus, but we all had a great time.

Emily Nowicki

My best Christmas memories are definitely my brother and sister and I and our whole family would get together with my Grandma. All the aunts and uncles and cousins. There were about 30 of us and it was chaos, but it was fun.

I really miss doing that now that Grandma is gone, and I really, really miss her apple pie! No one can make a pie like hers.

Fred Paquin

St. Ignace

My best Christmas memory I have happened just last year.

I got to spend Christmas with all six of my granddaughters.

The fun we had and the memories we made will stay with me forever.

Gerry Glenn

Mackinac County Courthouse

My family’s favorite Christmas tradition starts at Thanksgiving.

After Thanksgiving dinner, we take everyone who wants to go to the Christmas tree farm. Every family picks out their Christmas tree and cuts it down. Afterward, we have hot chocolate.

It is so much fun to watch the children, the little girls in their boots and dresses, jumping in the snow.

It is a wonderful memory and tradition that we all look forward to each year, and I hope it goes on for many years to come.

Judy St. Louis

St. Ignace

My best memory of Christmas was about 25 years ago, and my mom was living on Truckey Street.

It was in December on one of those winter nights where it was snowing that beautiful Christmas snow.

Winkelmans was having a halfoff sale, and we didn’t want to drive, we wanted to walk in the quiet night. So we walked there from her home, and we shopped and shopped and walked back in the snow, with all the packages.

We had at least 60 gifts and loads of bags, gifts for nieces and nephews, and cousins.

It was a wonderful memory, and over the years we talked about that night and how much fun we had.

I lost my Mother 10 months ago, but in my heart I will carry that wonderful memory of my Mother and me, and all the fun we had.

Kelli Green

St. Ignace

My favorite Christmas memory was my first Christmas with my daughter.

She was only two months old and I was a new mother, and it was wonderful.

She didn’t have joy in presents or anything, but it was my most special Christmas being a new mom and being with her.

Kelly Moran

St. Ignace

One of my favorite Christmas memories growing up, our family and many other families in town would go over to the Walkers house and celebrate Christmas Eve after Mass.

Nowadays we go to my brother’s house and do the same thing.

Christmas Eve is such a magical night of the year. It’s always festive and the children always have a blast.

Lani Fettig

St. Ignace

My favorite memories are the Christmas traditions my family and

I have done for the past four years.

The staff here at the Evergreen Living Center all draw residents’ names and buys them each a gift that Santa will deliver to them on Christmas day.

My wonderful husband, Gregg, will dress up as Santa, and this year all four of my sons, Hogan, 9, Colt, 7, Case, 4, and Harbaugh, 3 months, will dress up as elves.

They will bring their wagon filled with gifts and we will all visit with each resident as Santa passes out the presents.

My children get to learn that Christmas isn’t just about what Santa brings you, they learn that the true meaning of Christmas is about what we give to others.

It’s a wonderful time, and a wonderful memory for all of us to cherish.

Lori Johnston

St. Ignace

My memory is spending Christmas at my aunt and uncle’s house with my cousins.

We were so excited to see if Santa had come yet, we all woke up in the middle of the night. We got our flashlights out to sneak downstairs. We had to be careful because my parents were sleeping in the room where the tree was.

We flashed our lights to the tree and we discovered that Santa had been there, then we hightailed it back upstairs so that we didn’t get in trouble.

Michele Paquin

St. Ignace

My favorite memory is going to my mom and dad’s house. All of us were married and grown.

We’d get to their house and my dad would make us all breakfast.

It was always, and still is today, a great time, and the making of wonderful memories for my whole family.

Nick Adams

Mackinac County Courthouse

One of my favorite Christmas memories is the year we went to Florida to visit my sister.

It was a great memory because my older brother, Chris, was there as well as my two brothers Bob and Dave, and my mom and dad were there also.

It was very different because it was the first time I remember spending Christmas out of Michigan, and there was no snow. It was a tropical climate and different, but it was definitely a good Christmas because I was with all of my siblings and my parents.

Christmas is a special time of year for me, because of spending time with family.

It gets harder to be together because everyone goes their separate ways and they could be working in different locations, so it means a lot when we can be together.

Rebecca Schmidt

St. Ignace

My favorite Christmas memory was last Christmas.

My home is in California, and I hadn’t been home in about six months. So I bought a plane ticket to go see my family without telling them.

I called my brother-in-law to pick me up at the airport.

He picked me up, brought me home, and my whole family was there because it was Christmas Eve.

I walked in and said “Merry Christmas!” My mom’s jaw dropped and my dad said, “What?”

It was great because they had no idea what was going on. My husband is in the Coast Guard, and I can never surprise my family because they always know where I am.

It happened to be the last year I would spend with my sister Christine. She passed away two weeks after Christmas.

I think about how I wasn’t going to go home. It was kind of a lastminute surprise, and how it was meant to be that I went home to see her.

She even said that, too. She said, “I’m so glad we got to spend some more time together.”

Two weeks later, she was gone.

We played games, and drank hot chocolate, and laughed. It was great.

I will always have that memory of last Christmas, and the precious time I had with my sister. I can truly say it was not a coincidence that I decided to go home. It was meant to be.

Rena Fenlon

St. Ignace

Evergreen Living Center

My husband, John, and I raised 14 children, and it was our boys that were in charge of going out and getting us a Christmas tree every year.

That year my husband kept saying to the boys, “You boys better go and get the tree.”

The boys would laugh and tell him they had plenty of time, and they kept putting it off.

Without our knowing, our youngest son, Joe, who was only 12 at the time, went off on his own.

He went to the woods, found a tree, cut it down, and dragged it home all by himself.

When his brothers saw the tree, they all laughed at him and said we would never use that ugly tree.

“There is no way mom and dad will let you even bring it into the house,” was their comment to him, “and we’ll still have to go and get one.”

Well you know, we would have used that tree no matter what.

We couldn’t believe he had done such a thoughtful thing for us, all on his own.

We put the bad side to the back, got it decorated, and it was wonderful and we were so proud of him.

I am 92 years old now, and my son Joe is gone, but every time I look at a Christmas tree, I think of him.

As long as I live, I will remember that Christmas. I will feel again the pride and love I had for him, and the love that lives on in all of our hearts today.

Rosella Prater

St. Ignace

Evergreen Living Center

There were 11 children in my family, and times were very hard. I was seven years old that year, and more than anything, my girlfriend and I wanted manicure sets. They cost 39 cents, and my dad only made a dollar a day. I knew we couldn’t afford anything like that.

It’s amazing, though, the love a father has for his children, because come Christmas morning, you can imagine my surprise and delight when I opened my gift to find the very manicure set I had wanted.

I will never know how long my dad had saved, or how hard he had to work to be able to afford gifts for each one of us, but I will never forget the love he had for his family.

Tammy Kovacs

St. Ignace

One of my favorite memories from my childhood Christmas was when I was around seven or eight years old. Many years prior to that, I had loved working on play cash registers. I really, really wanted a real cash register. When we’d go to the store, I was so intrigued with them.

That Christmas morning we opened all the presents, and the very last gift under the tree was for me. My step-dad had to walk around to the back of the tree, because they hid it in the back.

He got it out and handed it to me, and it was a real cash register.

I think that was the Christmas that I actually cried tears of happiness because I was so excited.

I spent hours that day playing pretend store, with my fake money, but I used real food, like canned goods. I bagged them up just like I was in a real grocery store.

That was my favorite Christmas memory from my childhood.

Tanya Johnston

St. Ignace

My best Christmas memories are going to my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve. My whole family would be there, aunts and uncles, my cousins.

We would play music and instruments and have a great time and hang out with family.

My grandma, Bernice Hoss, would sing and she even has some of her singing recorded, which is wonderful because we can still hear her.

We did that every year. It was always a full house, as 20 or more of us would be there.

It’s great memories because we don’t do that any more because Grandma is gone and we’re all spread out, but we have the memories, and Grandma’s singing.

Terri Ingalls

Evergreen Living Center


As children we’d all get under the tree when my parents were sleeping and open the ends of our gifts so we’d know what we were getting.

We couldn’t close them right, so we’d stick them back under the tree, but when my parents got up they knew we had rifled through them.

My parents were not happy with us, but we still got our gifts, and had a happy Christmas.


Evergreen Living Center

My best Christmas memory is from last Christmas. I needed a home, and these wonderful people here at the Evergreen Living Center took me in. They let me become part of their family here.

They feed me and play with me and love me.

I get to sit with the residents, listen to their stories as they pet me, and sometimes, they sneak me treats.

I have been very good this year, so I know that Santa will bring me very tasty presents.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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