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Tri-State area residents tell their favorite memories of Christmas

December 23, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Mike Stoner of Hagerstown, Md.
Mike Stoner of Hagerstown, Md.

Hagerstown resident Mike Stoner's favorite Christmas memory involves a tradition that sent his children scurrying to bed in advance of Santa's arrival.

Stoner, who recently was collecting money for The Salvation Army at Valley Mall, said that memory dates back 30 years, to when his children were young.

"We would get the kids to the window, and I would go up in the attic with a bell and say, 'Santa Claus is coming,'" said Stoner, 69. "The kids would run and get in bed because they were sure that they heard sleigh bells."

Stoner was one of a number of area residents who were asked this week about their favorite holiday memory.

Thurmont, Md., resident Jeff Fraley, 41, also was collecting money for The Salvation Army. He said his favorite Christmas memory is of going to Eylers Valley Chapel in Sabillasville, Md., every Christmas Eve.

"It's an old chapel that has no electricity; it has candles," he said. "It's a very peaceful experience going up there for Christmas Eve services."  

Hagerstown resident Kirk Stroup, 50, said when he was between the ages of 5 and 8 he always enjoyed family moments on Christmas Eve.

"My father and mother would set up the Christmas tree, and I would leave out cookies and an orange for Santa," he said. "Then around midnight, my father would eat the cookies, peel the orange, and throw the rind on the roof of the second floor and show it to me the next day as proof that Santa came. The care and concern my parents showed for me was great."

Dominique Perry, 18, of Chambersburg, Pa., was at Valley Mall with her family, many of them in line to see Santa Claus, when she talked about how her favorite holiday memory is something her family still does every year.

"On Christmas Eve, my whole entire family has a big Christmas Eve dinner, and then we all go out and get hot chocolate and go look at Christmas lights," she said. "Every year is pretty special; it's always different."

John Thew of Kearneysville, W.Va., was portraying Santa Claus at Valley Mall, something he said he has been doing for about 50 years. He said his favority memory is a new one, something a youngster said to him this year while he was in his Santa role.

"An 8-year old girl crossed my lap and said, 'Santa, the only thing I want is peace and for the kids to have toys that I have,'" he said. "Santa had a little trouble holding things together at that moment."

Thew's wife, Joicey, was acting as Mrs. Claus at Valley Mall, and she said that her favorite memory was when her husband one Christmas decorated a church in Gaithersburg, Md., that they used to attend.

"They had the children and the choir come up and sing after he decorated it," she said. "It was just so beautiful; he made everything that was up on the stage."

Irvin Ezekiel of Hagerstown said this Christmas is becoming his favorite memory because of how appreciative he is to be around family and friends. Ezekiel said he suffered a stroke two days before Thanksgiving this year.

"My favorite memory growing up was all the toys I got, including an electric train set and drum set when I was 13," he said. "Now, since I have survived a stroke, I am just thankful that I wake up every day and get to be around people I care about."

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