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Seniors share holiday memories

SCV seniors reminisce about favorite traditions and family

Posted: December 21, 2008 8:03 p.m.
Updated: December 22, 2008 4:55 a.m.

The winter holidays evoke all kinds of emotions, from excitement over presents and Santa to reverence towards the birth of Christ to the lessons of Hanukkah.

For many seniors in the Santa Clarita Valley the holiday season invokes memories of time spent with family. Seniors at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center recently shared a few of their favorite holiday memories.

Angie Palmer, 76, of Newhall, said as a young girl she looked forward to her grandmother's Christmas Eve dinner every year.

"I grew up in an Italian family and my grandma would make 12 different types of fish for our Christmas Eve dinner," she said.

"She used to make a thing that I loved a lot. She would take broccoli and cauliflower and some kind of fish and she would put it in a bread dough and then deep fry it. They were so good."

Palmer carries on a tradition with her grandchildren to celebrate Christ's birth.

"We have a birthday cake for Jesus every Christmas," she said.

Hilda Mather, 82, of Santa Clarita, said she participated in a lot of activities with her family around Christmas time.

"My mother and father had two daughters, and he made sure we had sleds and skates for winter," she said. "We lived in the midwest in an apple orchard and he (my father) built a hill up so we could slide down the hill. My dad always cut our Christmas tree and all of our Christmas things were homemade. We (popped) popcorn that was strung on the tree."

Joyce Larson, 72, of Santa Clarita, looks forward to spending Christmas time with her family.

"We just open our presents and we usually have a nice dinner," she said.

"I usually spend it with my son and three grandchildren. Being with the ones I love is nice."

Merrill Nedrud, 77, of Santa Clarita, said his most memorable Christmas was when he returned home to North Dakota after serving in the Korean War.

"When I got out of Korea, that was a holiday memory!" he said. "I got home to see my family and I was happy as I could be on Christmas in 1952. My mother would make ice cream and everything else."

Bill Stehle, 67, of Newhall said his most memorable Christmas was when he came home from Vietnam in 1966.

"I was in Vietnam with the fighting and came home and had a first Christmas here," he said. "I was glad I was alive."

Stehle said snow also brings back Christmas memories. "Bing Crosby's ‘I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas' is my favorite song," he said. "I associate that with Christmas."

Several seniors said they celebrate Hanukkah and enjoy special holiday traditions with their families.

"We have potato pancakes, traditionally associated with Hanukkah," Art Kessler said, 72, of Granda Hills.

"One (tradition) is giving gifts; the other is to light candles. Every night for eight nights you light different colored candles and it's rather pretty. We traditionally have a dinner with food that is typically associated with the holiday."

Cecil Bernstein, 82, of Santa Clarita, said she made a lot of memories celebrating Hanukkah with her family.

"What I love about it the most is being with my family, grandchildren and great-grand children and (having) traditional potato pancakes and all that good stuff." she said.

"I'm sure what the kids love about it the most is getting presents. When you get to be my age, really all we have is our families and looking forward to being with them on holidays. It's very special."


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