Area residents recall memories of Christmases past

Author Laura Ingalls Wilder is often credited with remarking that "our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."Christmas can be a particularly special time for children, and they often make memories that they carry with them throughout the rest of their lives. Several current and former residents of Elk County recently shared with The Daily Press some of their fondest Christmas memories from their childhood. St. Marys resident Donna Florio agreed that Christmas was always a special time when she was growing up."Everything about it was exciting," Florio said.In particular, Florio recalled shopping in downtown St. Marys at stores such as Murphy's and Kanter's. "I loved going to Kanter's and getting a surprise package that cost 50 cents. You never knew what was in them, but it was fun to get them," Florio said. One of the most significant items individuals purchased during the holiday season was a real Christmas tree. St. Marys resident Donna Wehler noted that while she was growing up, her family would always go to Zwack's grove to find the perfect Christmas tree. "We would go up and down the hill and finally we'd find the perfect tree," Wehler said. "I think they had some type of saw there and you would go down and get the saw and then you'd cut your own tree and drag it up."Johnsonburg native Kathy Reuscher recalled that her family initially had a real tree for Christmas each year. "Where I grew up, we had a very long, narrow living room and my mom always wanted a skinny tree," Reuscher said. "Every year when we would go get the tree and it would come home, it was never skinny enough for my mom. We used to fight about the tree all the time until one year my dad got so mad he went to Sears and Roebuck Company and bought an artificial tree. It looked just like it was a black, shredded plastic bag. It was horrible, but no matter what tree was ever brought into our home, my mother made it the most special and beautiful Christmas tree - even the one that looked like the plastic bag." Florio's family always had a real tree as well. She reminisced that they would pick it out about a week before Christmas, but then it would sit in their carport for a few days before being brought into their house.