Sharing Christmas Memories


Wesley residents share some special personal stories.

Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year. The colorful lights and Christmas decorations, laughing children, crisp weather and the celebration of the birth of Christ define the holiday season. These elements make the season joyful.

Christmas is also significant because of the time we spend with friends and family. Wesley residents readily shared some cherished Christmas memories.

Patty Deal, Wesley Bradley Park resident, shared two special Christmas memories involving her dad. When Patty was six years old, her father had been in Europe for three months. He was setting up housing for the family’s move to Germany. When he returned for Christmas, Patty’s most vivid memory of the reunion was the beautiful doll he gave her.

She then revealed the second time she was reunited with her father very close to Christmas, just five years later. This time Patty’s dad returned after spending one year in Vietnam away from his family. She recalled that her mom kept his return a secret because she wanted it to be a surprise. Patty declared, “That was the best Christmas present ever!”

At Wesley Lea Hill, resident Katherine Hanson remembered Christmas at the home of her grandparents. She came from a large family of three girls and two boys.

Christmas brought many grandchildren and grand cousins together. She recalled that the grandchildren were not allowed in the living room. Handsome French doors were closed between the living room and dining room. The children would press their noses against the windows waiting for Santa’s arrival. The only time the children were allowed in the living room was when Santa came to hand out presents. One of the men in the neighborhood always played the part of Santa.

Enduring bonds were created amongst all those cousins. As adults, the cousins got together every Christmas. “We were a very close family,” said Katherine.

Another Lea Hill resident, Sandra Fokkema, offered an international perspective on the Christmas season. Sandra has lived in Auburn for 60 years, but her richest memories of Christmas are from her time growing up in Holland.

“In Holland, the birth of Christ Jesus is celebrated on December 25th with church services on December 25th and 26th,” said Sandra.

Santa does play a part in the Christmas season in Holland. However, Santa makes his appearance on December 5th. He traditionally arrives from Spain on a steamship, not in a sleigh with reindeer. Gifts are delivered by Santa on December 5th, hidden and then opened on December 6th. Also, special Santa Claus songs are sung during this time.

Sandra recalled of her childhood neighborhood, “Santa rode in on a horse and climbed on the roofs and dropped candies down the chimney. It was all so wonderful!”

Take the opportunity this Christmastime to share your memories of the season, large or small. It’s a time for friends and family, after all.