2016-12-22 / Columns

Local Residents Share Their Special Memories and Wishes for Christmas

All About The Town
By Betty Browning

Local residents have shared their special Christmas memories and wishes this week.

‘Looking Forward to New Tradition’

Bazil Stanley

U.S. Coast Guard

My wife Gao and I have always traveled back and forth to our families for Christmas. It’s never been just us, so this year will be our first Christmas with just the two of us.

I’m excited to be starting a new tradition with her.

She is excited to be doing Christmas baking, so we’re both having fun, and it’s her first year with real snow because she is from Arkansas, and where she lived they only get a little bit of snow.

‘Early Christmas Morning’

Colton Piepenbrok

U.S. Coast Guard

I remember when I was about 8 years old, and on Christmas morning, my sister Brittany and I got up super early, like 3 a.m. We couldn’t sleep anymore because we were so excited to see what Santa had brought us.


Bazil Stanley Bazil Stanley We quietly went downstairs, only to find my mom already there waiting for us.

She said, “What are you waiting for?”

It was great to see that she was just as excited as we were for Christmas morning.

‘Ice Fishing at the Cabin’

Jason Jarvi

U.S. Coast Guard

I don’t remember how old I was, but every year we’d get together with my dad’s family, and one year we went out to my grandpa’s cabin. The roads weren’t plowed, and snow was everywhere.

It was about5 below zero and my dad, William, and I went ice fishing.


Colton Piepenbrok Colton Piepenbrok We didn’t catch anything, but it was okay, because I got to spend the day alone with my dad. It was great.

When I think about past Christmas memories, that day was one of the best. ‘Christmas With New Baby Boy’

Patrick Lavrinaitis

U.S. Coast Guard

This Christmas I’m excited to be starting a new tradition with my wife, Emily and our new son, Brady, who is only 4 months old.

I look forward to building our Christmas traditions as a family, and for many more years to come.

‘A Long Christmas Eve With Toby’

Mary Jo Savard

St. Ignace

When I was about 10 years old, the excitement of Christmas Eve was so overwhelming that I couldn’t stand it and it made sleeping impossible for me.


Jason Jarvi Jason Jarvi My mom sent me to bed and I took my dog Toby with me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I made him go to bed, too.

My bedroom was on the upper floor and we didn’t have carpet up there.

We went to bed, but Toby didn’t want to be there. He wanted to be with my mom.

When he would jump out of bed, I’d hear his nails on the hardwood floors “tap, tap, tap,” so I’d jump out of bed and go get him and put him back in bed. This went on for hours.

In the middle of the night I woke up because I heard this quiet “tap, tap, tap.” He seemed to be tiptoeing across the floor so he wouldn’t wake me up.

I jumped out of bed and he took off out the door a hundred miles an hour and headed downstairs, and he got away from me.

Today I can still hear his little nails tiptoeing, “tap, tap, tap” on that hardwood floor, sneaking out of the bedroom.


Patrick Lavrinaitis Patrick Lavrinaitis ‘The Best Christmas Party Ever’

Betty Browning

Writer, The St. Ignace News

It has been more than 30 years now, but the memory stays with me, and today it still warms my heart.

My children grew up in Hudson Township, out in Garnet.

It had been an extremely hard year for everyone, it seemed. People between our township and the neighboring township of Hendricks seemed to have so many families that were struggling to just pay the bills and keep food on their tables. I knew Christmas that year was going to be very lean for so many, so my husband and I came up with an idea that we hoped would put a little joy and cheer into their lives.

We went to the township board and asked for $125, and requested that they purchase a Santa suit.

There were one 106 children between the two townships, and I (being a very thrifty shopper) guaranteed the township that I could buy a gift for each child on my list, and that we were going to put on the best Christmas party ever.

You see, I had gone to every house in advance where children lived. I got their names, and their addresses.

The township agreed.

We bought the gifts, sent out postcards from Santa inviting each child, and asking that if Mom could bring a plate of cookies also, that would be wonderful.

All 106 children showed up that day, all full of excitement and wonder as they waited for Santa.

Santa (my husband) arrived. We sang songs, ate cookies, and then he began calling out their names.

They were in awe that he knew each and every one of them, and he took the time to ask each one of them, all the important questions that Santa needed to know.

“So, Dennis, have you been a good boy this year?” He asked a little boy who had quietly waited to hear his name.

Little eight-year-old Dennis’ eyes got big and he nodded his head “yes.”

“And what can Santa bring you this year?”

Dennis looked at him, then lowered his head. He took a deep breath and looked up and said, “All I really want is a picture of me and you, Santa, for my mom, for a Christmas gift.”

As my eyes filled with tears, I looked at Santa and could see his eyes mist over as he smiled at me.

“I think, Dennis, we can give you that gift right now.”

I picked up my Polaroid camera and both of them looked up at me.

I will never forget the smile on little Dennis’ face as I snapped the picture for him.

Over the years, I have wondered about Christmas morning at Dennis’ house, and the joy he felt knowing he had the best gift of all to give his mother, a memory to last a lifetime.

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