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12-24-03: Add twinkle to holidays with tradition

Grand Lake area residents share families’ memories of season


Holiday traditions fill our memories and warm our hearts. And nearly all involve a trip to grandma’s house, according to area residents.
“Santa always comes at midnight at Grandma (Carole) Huber’s house,” said Airyelle Howell of Coldwater, as she hung out at the school playground this week with friends.
The 11-year-old, who rolled her eyes at the mention of St. Nick’s name, said she always looks forward to her Christmas Eve retreat. “It’s just neat when we’re all there together. And sometimes a little crowded.”
Howell’s second favorite tradition is the homemade chocolate cake with sweet white icing prepared by her other grandmother, Virginia Weyandt of Celina.
Food — mainly sweets, heavily laden with ingredients we seldom use any other time of the year — seems to take a front seat at every holiday gathering. And fruitcake is to Christmas as eggs are to Easter.
“Mom would always have fruitcake in the house at Christmastime,” said Frank Snyder, publisher of The Daily Standard. “It was good and gooey and would stick to your teeth. I’ve never understood why fruitcake gets such a bad rap. I was ‘imprinted’ to love fruitcake at an early age.”
The Rich Seas family challenges the “melt in your mouth, not in your hands” promise each year with a traditional game that began in his Coldwater home about seven years ago.
“We pour M&M’s into a container and the kids pick one out each day,” said his wife, Lorna, mother of nine. “This starts back on the first of December.”
A point system is used and each candy color is given a worth, explained Rich Seas, Coldwater schools newest superintendent. Brown, the most abundant of the colors, scores a meager “one,” he explained.
A tally is kept and the winner gets an extra gift at Christmas, the couple said.
“The kids really look forward to it. The older ones pick for the littler ones and they get to eat the candy when they’re done. Of course they always ask to pick again,” Rich Seas said with a laugh.
Seas said he’s carrying on a similar version of the Christmas tradition his own mother started.
“Thinking about it takes me back to when things were much slower paced and there was more time spent with family,” he said. “I think we all could use more time with our families.”
Ruth Ann Foote, retired family and consumer science specialist with the Ohio State University Extension office in Celina, agreed.
“The meals, the gift giving, they’re all traditions that help bring families together,” Foote said. “Traditions can occur every day, too, not just at Christmas. It can be a Friday night movie or just pancakes on Saturday ... traditions give us structure in our busy lives.”
Joann Liette of Chickasaw said her family’s tradition starts on Christmas Eve at her in-laws home and commemorates the true meaning of the holiday: Jesus’ birth.
“Before any gifts are open, all the grandkids pick a statue from the nativity set and stand in line,” she said.
All lights, except for the crib, are turned off.
“Everyone starts to sing ‘Silent Night’ as the kids take turns placing the statues back in the nativity crib,” she said. “When baby Jesus is put in place, ‘Happy Birthday’ is sung.”
The tradition has been in her family for 40-plus years, she said, and always puts the family in the Christmas spirit.
The customs we pass down from generation to generation sometimes reflect sad times in our lives that can make us grateful for friends and family who surround us.
“Before we open presents each year, we light a candle for my husband who passed away in 1999,” said Linda Priddy of St. Marys. “It’s a small way to keep him in our hearts that special day.”
Bob Lynch, also of St. Marys, said he’d like to start a similar tradition for his grandson. Lynch’s own son, John Patrick Lynch, was killed in an accident in October 2002. The young man left behind a son, 4-year-old Hunter.
“We always open presents with Hunter on Christmas Eve. I guess, right now, that’s our little tradition,” Bob Lynch said.
Whatever you do, it’s never too late to create those moments that become our heritage, Foote said.
“What’s important is you make time to share with the people you love.”


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