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Celebrating time-honored traditions

Among the most cherished parts of the holidays are the traditions that families hold sacred across generations. Traditions help keep the stories of our families alive in the minds of future generations and provide a link to the past.

We asked a few of our residents and staff to share some of their favorite holiday traditions.

Cecelia Anderson

The Swedish families always celebrate Christmas on the eve of the 24th - NOT Christmas day.

All my growing up years we went to our grandma’s in Lindsborg. Our Christmas Eve meal included Swedish foods like Lutefisk, Swedish meatballs, pickled herring, and beef roast for meat. After the meal and dishes were done, we always read the Christmas story from Luke 2 in the Bible, followed by singing Christmas carols. Lastly, we opened all our gifts. Christmas Day is spent relaxing, looking over our gifts and being so thankful Jesus came into our lives!

Virgil Windholz

Virgil Windholz, maintenance technician here at SPM, has a twist on Christmas Traditions.

Originally from Victoria, Kansas, Mom Louise and Father Virgil Sr. moved the family to Ness City in the late 60s. Virgil is third in the pecking order but the oldest of the three boys.

"It's all about mom and dad,” Virgil said. “We made a promise to them and now over the past 30 years the family has been meeting up in late June to do their family Christmas.”

A typical gathering consists of great food, memories, live music, and a little competition with yard games (nothing like sibling rivalry). Each year, two siblings are put in charge of picking a theme for the gathering, "White Elephant" gifts are exchanged for all men, women, and children.
Louise and Virgil Sr. started their family of eight kids, and it continues to grow with numbers coming in at 27 grandkids, 50+ great grand kids and soon to be great-great grandkids. This family of one hundred plus knows the meaning of love and tradition. This picture was taken in June of 2023 at Cedar Bluff Lake where a house has been purchased for all future Windholz gatherings.

Photo: windholz family

Connie Johnson

When I was a little girl, I would wake up on Christmas morning and Santa Claus would be at the foot of my bed jingling his bells. He would never talk, just dance, and jingle his bells. Usually, he would bring me a gift from my friends Mary and Sue Connell. Mother would tell me that he stopped first at the Connell's home and that they sent their gift with him.

I asked my father if I could go with him to take Santa to his sleigh. I wanted to see his reindeer. Daddy would always explain that he was only going to take Santa to another child's home and that the sleigh and reindeer were parked way out in the country.

As I grew older, I wondered about the real Santa.

It was a custom of our family to go to Sue and Mary's home on East Iron in Salina for dinner on Christmas night. One of those times I went into the bedroom and Santa's red suit was laying on the bed. At last, I knew why Santa never talked. My Santa Claus was Mary Connell.

Years later when we would drive down East Iron Avenue, I would point out the Connell home to my children and grandchildren and tell them that was where Santa Claus lived. I am sure they thought I was rather strange!

But you know I still believe in Santa Claus. He lives on today in my heart and in my precious memories.

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