Locals share favorite holiday memories

Glad Tidings around Howard County . . .


Howard County - As the holidays draw near, The Times Plain Dealer contacted residents of Howard County to ask them to share their favorite traditions and memories of the season. What follows is a sampling of current and past residents’ memories of Christmas in Howard County and Northeast Iowa:
Wayne Dotzenrod: We lived a block north of Immanuel Lutheran Church. One Christmas Eve, there was no snow on the ground when we went, but when we came out, there was about six inches on everything. Beautiful!
Barb Zak: When my siblings and I were quite young, my mother bought a jigsaw puzzle and gave it to us on Christmas Eve. We would all gather around the table and try to put the puzzle together. Usually my brother Bob (who passed away three years ago) would be the one to really accept the challenge and often stayed up until 1 or 2 a.m. working on the puzzle. For a long time this was a family tradition. We would always look forward to Christmas Eve to see what kind of challenging puzzle Mom would give us. This was something we enjoyed doing for many years at Christmas.
Dan Mikesh: The model railroad display at the Sears store.
Vicki Schlatter Rein-hart: As a little girl we lived in a farming community. On Christmas Eve the service wouldn't start until 8 p.m., so all the dairy farmers could get done with their chores before the service started. My grandparents lived up the road from the church we attended. We went to the candlelight Christmas Eve service, which was also the Sunday School Christmas program. After the service, we all made our way to Grandpa and Grandma's for supper. Supper seemed to take forever as a young child.
After supper we finally got to open our gifts. After the gifts were opened it was almost Midnight. The parents would go out and start the vehicles so they were nice and toasty warm for the drive home.
Michaela Reinhart:  A couple nights before Christmas, my family would go out to eat and then drive around looking at all of the Christmas lights and decorations around Cresco.
Mary Ann Wolf Baraibar: I remember free movies on Saturdays during Advent so the parents could shop without kids.
Jennifer Yarber: Snoopy Lane! My family has been driving down that street at Christmas time for as long as I can remember. I've lived in Georgia for the past 11 years, but I still insist on going for a drive down Snoopy Lane every time we're home for Christmas. We'll be home again for Christmas in 2017 and I can't wait to introduce my little guy to the tradition. My husband and I have talked about starting a southern location of Snoopy Lane - maybe it will happen!
Marilyn Stein: I remember Snoopy Lane and driving to see pretty lights, Midnight Mass at Assumption-Santa came while we were at church, and we opened gifts when we got home; walking and singing Christmas carols with classmates or camp fire girl group ; many sweet memories!
Elaine Schriver: My parents would make me take a nap on the afternoon before Christmas. I would pretend to sleep and would eventually fall asleep from the exhaustion of the excitement. When I woke up it was time to get ready to go to my grandparents’ farm with aunts, uncles and cousins. So much fun! When my brothers were in high school they brought home a tree that was up in the gymnasium. It was huge! They found out that it was going to be tossed. My older brother could not bear to think that it would be tossed so he asked if they could take it home on the last day before Christmas break. Permission was given so they dragged it onto the bus and down our long driveway. Somehow the tinsel still was on it. My parents (Mom especially) thought they were out of their minds. It was the most beautiful tree we ever had.
Dawn Vagts: I love the magical smell of a real Christmas tree and how my mom decorates the house from top to bottom;  my dad's lasagna on Christmas Day and the smell of a wood fire burning; playing Cribbage with my grandpa while utter chaos was happening all around us; taking the boys to a Christmas tree auction the first year we lived in Los Angeles; the first time I saw Christmas lights wrapped around palm trees; my mom "roasting" someone every year to rounds of much groaning and laughter, and  playing Christmas music all month long!  These are a few of my favorite things.
Deb Roske: I remember my parents taking me to see Santa (there was a small building in front of Court House) and he always gave us a fat candy cane and small paper bag with an apple and peanuts in the shell.
Steve Elwood: Christmas Land in the basement of the Coast to Coast Store.
Pam Schmitt:  That was the best. I even had my picture in the Cresco Times with him.
Katherine Nierling:  My brother, Jason would take me to the "big hill". It was behind a church a couple blocks from the house. He would always take me sledding. I can't recall the church, but it was maybe two blocks away from my house.
Dawn Russell Davidson:  I remember that too. My baby sister was in the newspaper one year (sitting) on this lap.
Carolyn Lyon James:  The whole family went to Christmas Eve services at the Lime Springs Methodist Church. Dad normally sang in the choir, but on Christmas Eve, he sat in the congregation with us. They always turned out the lights, and we lit candles one by one, while singing ‘Silent Night.’
Then, on Christmas Day, we ate Coq au vin for dinner. It was chicken marinated in red wine with bacon and mushrooms - a recipe my mom brought back with her from her years of living in France. Even though Mom is gone now, I still continue the tradition, and make Coq au vin every Christmas.
Mindy Hovey: We would go to my grandma and grandpa's house on Christmas Eve, and all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins would come, including the ones who lived away from here. It was a great time and we all got together in my grandparents’ little house, but it was the best time ever. I would give anything to do this just one more time. Family is what this season is all about.
Gretchen Perkins: Going to the little house where Santa was, downtown Cresco, usually in front on the courthouse. I remember sitting on Santa's lap and getting a candy cane. I also remember when my mother said I was too old to sit on his lap anymore!
Vickie Grube: A favorite Christmas memory is always about having family together celebrating Jesus’s birth. A memory from my young childhood would be when we would get dressed up and all go to the Jerico Lutheran Church on Christmas Eve for the Children’s Christmas Program. Right after church, all the kids received a brown paper bag filled with an assortment of that hard ribbon candy, peanuts and orange or apple. It  was then the trip back home and Dad having us look into the sky to try to spot Santa’s sleigh with Rudolph’s red nose glowing guiding it. I never could ever see him, but I do recall on one Christmas Eve hearing sleigh bells outside the window after returning home from church and I can still hear those bells today when I think back to that night. I remember I really wanted to see him and I was disappointed that we must have just missed him.
Mom always made our favorite cut out sugar Christmas cookies that all of us still carry on today. There was those lutefisk meals we had on Christmas Eve and I was always wondering why Dad, Grandpa and uncle Iver piled meatballs, lutefisk and even mashed potatoes and rolled it up to eat it that way when of course I believed that it was best eaten with butter and sugar.
For many years now (since moving to Cresco when I was in 7th grade and joining the Immanuel Lutheran Church) my favorite memory about Christmas is going to the Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve. The year we adopted our oldest son was a week before Christmas and after the suggestion of our pastor he was baptized at this service which has always been a very special memory.
For my favorite tradition, I have to say it is not just one but many: A tradition for decorating the tree is stringing popcorn. Arlyn and I did this on our first Christmas together and have had popcorn strings on our tree every year but one and that was the year our oldest son was in the hospital in Rochester and we spent Christmas at the hospital that year.
That would be 39 out of 40 years stringing popcorn, as we just celebrated our 40th anniversary this last summer. Some other traditions start with Cresco’s holiday parade and being a clown which to me is my kick off for the season. My start for the season used to be going to the traditional annual lutefisk dinner at Immanuel Lutheran Church of Crane Creek but they have not had it for some years. Now it is going to the lutefisk dinner at Jerico Lutheran Church which kicks off the start of playing Christmas music.
Making lefse for sure is at the top for traditions and I love teaching others how to make it. My grandchildren are acquiring very great skills and tomorrow I’ll have young Kenzie Moellers at my house helping to make lefse. My husband helps make krumkake and we make oodles of them, but most of all enjoy sharing them and Arlyn is finishing up on deliveries to friends after church on Christmas Eve.
Finally, coming home to have oyster stew plus having my husband make homemade pizza; our kids and grandchildren say it is the best ever. One thing I have learned over the years: It’s ok and even fun to change up some of the traditions and make a new one. One huge tradition that changes this year will be to not go visit my mom at Patty Elwood; it’ll be our first Christmas without Mom and Grandma Cool. This easily brings tears and yet there is a peace in my heart knowing that she is sharing her Christmas with Jesus this year in Heaven.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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