With the Christmas holiday fast approaching, many people remember their favorite memories of past Christmases. Friends and family are very precious to many, especially as area senior citizens remember times spent with them during the holidays.

Several residents of the Spring Valley Care Center shared their favorite memories recently.

One resident, Aleda Schwier, reminisced about being at home with her children when Santa came. "Since we didn't have much money, our children's presents often were oranges and clothes," she said. "We couldn't afford to buy many toys."

Although they did not have many toys, the children still enjoyed themselves playing marbles or cards, since there was no such thing as a television at that time. The family decorated the Christmas tree with real candles and traveled to and from friend's homes with a horse and sleigh.

Schwier spoke of the first Christmas she remembered as a 6-year-old. Her father had died when she was very young, so they did not celebrate Christmas much until several years later.

Another resident, Margie Earley, also shared several special memories of her Christmas. Her favorite memory is having all of her family together, children and grandchildren, each bringing food. One tradition she fondly recalled was calling the oldest lady in attendance the "Queen of Christmas."

Along with favorite memories of Christmas came the thoughts of Christmas during World War II. "We were not all together during the war, so Christmases were a little sad," stated Earley.

Elmer Grabau, also a care center resident, told several interesting stories of his Christmas during the war. "I had 10 brothers and sisters, so we always had a good Christmas. But during the war, five of my brothers were in the military," Grabau related. "Since so many brothers were gone, I was deferred to help my father out on the farm, especially since he was not in the greatest health."

Grabau spoke of how his mother would bake a lot during the Christmas season. His aunt and uncle would go out and cut a Christmas tree from the woods. Once the tree was prepared, they would all go to Spring Valley or Wykoff to get presents to send to the brothers overseas.

"When we boxed up the presents to mail to my brothers, we would use popcorn as the filler so they could eat some of home as well," he said.

As he spoke, Grabau chuckled at the story of one of his brothers sending a present back to his mother for Christmas. "Mother opened the box and I heard her shriek. One of the boys had sent her live lizards as a present since that was all he could get his hands on. It scared Mom to death."

Talking to older people about their Christmases past is always a treasure. Many people may not realize what a gem each person's stories are. Whenever possible during this Christmas season, talk to the older generations for a glimpse of what life was like many years ago.