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Yuletide memories live on in our hearts
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Christmas memories flavor our yuletide seasons for years to come.  It was my hope to touch on the happier side of life no matter how simple it might have been at the time.  The fact that some things of a positive nature can stay with us and be passed on to our children and often from generation to generation is a gift in itself.

With the thought of a “good feelings” piece in mind, I chatted with past and present members of the newspaper staff and delved into my own psyche as well to get a feel in the positive in personal and family history.

Bulletin publisher Dave Winegarden grinned ear to ear when I asked the question.  His thoughts sped back to when he was four years old and his younger sister was just a toddler at two.  He told of their dad doing his creative best to enforce the belief in Santa Claus.

Both kids were still asleep one morning shortly before Christmas when they were awakened by the front door violently slamming down stairs.

Shouts came from their dad saying that Santa had just run out the front door and his pants got caught in the door jamb as he rushed beyond the stairwell of their home.  “Hurry, get down here and you might get to see him,” he yelled.

Both Dave and his sister charged down the stairs and past the swath of cloth fabric caught in the door knowing they would be able to see Santa in his sleigh and with his reindeers coursing skyward.  They weren’t quick enough – he had disappeared beyond their roof in a flash.

Dave remembered how they were sure Santa was real for a few more years to come.  They had been made believers.


That brings back memories of my own that continued for several years in acting the part of the jolly old elf for the benefit of two of our grandchildren.  When our daughter Sharon’s family visited around the holidays, the kids would always ask if Santa would know they were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

We both assured them he definitely would.  They didn’t know their Grandpa had a suit of his own and loved to play the part.  As they busied themselves watching Christmas specials I would slip out into the garage and dress in Santa’s suit.  The patio sliding glass door was right next to the TV so the stage was set.   With a “ho-ho-ho” and some jingling of bells outside in the dark and a quick and fleeting appearance outside that family room door – the kids were spellbound.

The trick was getting back into the garage and into street clothes – calmly walking back into the house while not having been missed.  There they were, two excited grandchildren, breathlessly telling me about their vision of Santa and hearing the sleigh bells in the back yard.


A supervisor in the Bulletin’s composing department, Kay Garcia, developed a warm expression on her face as I asked her the question about Christmas memories – it was all about a grandmother who has since passed away.

That special woman, Grandma King, had 10 children and many grandchildren.  Christmas was celebrated in her home year after year.  She would have it no other way and everybody came – the house splitting at the seams.

It was her wish to create the Christmas dinner for her family that included her four choices of homemade pies that came out of her oven filling the kitchen and laundry room.  One long table ran through the house with enough room for everyone to eat as a family – it was her wish and her legacy.  Apple, berry, mince and rhubarb pies were a must every year. The smells of the pies and the dinner had been absorbed long ago into the Christmas recollections of all those grandchildren– now with their own families continuing her memorable celebrations.


Bulletin circulation manager Drew Savage remembers clearly wanting snow Christmas morning when growing up in Southern California.  It never happened until later in his life and set in a profession when he woke up in Kansas City on Christmas morning with a fresh and full blanket of snow covering his home.  That early wish came true, albeit many years later.


Cindy Bouthillier from the Bulletin’s front counter tells of her teenage daughter Hailee recognizing a couple in need and doing something about it two years ago.  Hailee, 17, was participating in a dance class in Modesto preparing for a coming-of-age ceremony for a friend.   She and a boyfriend drove down the freeway spotting a homeless couple standing alongside the road.  

She talked with them and learned they lived under a bridge over a river in Modesto and she vowed she was going to do something about their situation.  Always going with a boy friend or her dad she has taken the couple, Mark and Jackie, the clothes and food to be there for them.


Melissa King surprised us with a basket filled with packets of almonds from her and her husband Rick.  It was a show of appreciation to the staff in supporting the Great Valley Writing Project’s educational programs.

She had her own pleasant recall in making “clay” ornaments while still in elementary school for the family Christmas tree under the tutelage of her mother Lucille Harris.   She said the only problem was that the clay made the ornaments heavy for the branches.

 “We had a droopy tree that year,” she laughed.  “You know my mother; they all had to be color coordinated.”


It was a true gift to talk with Marge Craig on the phone.  Marge was the very accomplished classified advertising director at the Bulletin for more than 25 years garnering more than her share of layout and sales awards.

Marge put it all in her own mindset, saying that in the eyes of the world what they have accumulated is insignificant.  “We have so much value in our faith and in our love.”

A woman she met in K-Mart last week – one she had mentored earlier – gave her a hug saying it felt like getting a hug from her own mother.