Locals recall favorite holiday memories and traditions
LAKE COUNTY — Christmas is a time of wonderment and beauty, of dazzling lights and glowing warm colors — a time of lasting impressions to children of all ages.
Memories of cherished time with friends and family, holiday feasts and treats, Christmas programs, observances of Christ’s birth, beautiful carols and visits from Santa are some of the memories which stand out in people’s minds.
Memories of Childhood down south
Sandy Clarke, of Baldwin, smiles at the nostalgia the holiday season brings each year of childhood in Henry County, Tennessee.
“I grew up in a small family. We would get together with my grandparents at Christmas and would sit around roasting walnuts at their home,” she said. “They had a walnut tree right in their backyard. We would grab the walnuts to roast.”
A not-so-fun Christmas
Bruce Misinski, president of the Lake County Historical Society, said Christmas of 1958 sticks out in his memory.
“In my family, we were allowed to open up one Christmas present on Christmas Eve. One year, I was excited to open a present expecting a toy, but I got a handkerchief instead. This was disappointing to me,” he said, explaining the experience soured his excitement for Christmas morning that year.
Baking with grandma
Victoria Dennett, supervisor of Pinora Township, cherished memories of helping her grandmother make Christmas goodies, a tradition Dennett now continues with her own grandchildren.
“I used to make hot fudge with my grandma, and still have her recipe,” Dennett said. “I make 50 to 70 containers I give to clients, people on my township board and others. A bite of the fudge brings back memories of my grandparents.”
Now, Dennett has her own grandchildren, she is creating memories making cookies with them.
“I love making cookies with my grandkids — watching them decorate and concentrate so hard putting sprinkles on,” she said. “They so look forward to making cookies. We make up to 300 to 400 cookies, so we form an assembly line. Each kid has their own station, such as putting the frosting on, or packaging the finished product. A few days afterward, we always wonder where all the cookies went to? They get eaten quickly.”
Roxanne Ware, librarian for Chase Township Public Library, would like to see more of the simple traditions she cherished from her childhood at Christmastime in today’s world.
Growing up in the O’Neil family, who owned a restaurant at Wolf Lake, her favorite Christmas memory is the goody bag her grandpa would give to all his grandchildren.
“My favorite memory is the bags my grandpa gave us filled with fruit, nuts and candy — always Grandpa’s favorite kinds of candy,” she said.
“When you think about how much Christmas has been commercialized, we all waited for those bags filled with old-fashioned cream drops, the old-fashioned hard candies, oranges, apples, the nuts you had to crack and all kinds peanuts, almonds, pecans, etc. Just a simple, plain lunch bag filled with his favorite treats.”
When the O’Neil family moved to Chase when Ware was a young teen, the holidays also meant caroling with church members at Chase-Barton United Methodist Church.