The holiday season is kept alive in traditions and the memories born from them. There can be much to do this time of year and traditions vary.
By Sean Wojtkiewicz, Contributing Writer
The holiday season is kept alive in traditions and the memories born from them. There can be much to do this time of year and traditions vary. Some people may see movies with family members returning home for the holidays, while others might opt for baking delicious treats for the family. Several Chillicothe residents, who have witnessed many Christmases and new years, have shared with the C-T some of their treasured memories from the holiday season and insight for the new year. Berva Hapes, 90, says her favorite memories were that of a full house around Christmas. Her children and their children would stay over at her house. “We had the rooms, and the children laid out on their blanket beds in the living room. I didn’t mind all the cooking. I loved it.” Berva recalled the importance of family, especially during this time of year. “I hear about families that just fall apart,” she said. “I may just be old fashioned, but I believe in sticking it out, and making it work. Nothing is going to be as important as family.” Louise Houston, 97, shared a story about her older brother. He was too excited to wait for Christmas morning to see her reaction to the gift he had selected for her, so he woke her up in the middle of the night. He had gotten her a brand new doll. “I named her Betty Sue, and she came with everything,” Louise said. “She had a bed, a nice dress, and a stroller, too.” Louise shared the fate of her doll. “I thought since my hair grows back, hers would too!” Louise said she knitted lots of hats for her doll. “Yeah, that poor thing was bald,” she recalled. June Campbell, 95, is affectionately referred to as June-bug. Her holiday tale is deeply personal and happened roughly 76 years ago. Her then-future husband, Bill, had lived across the street from her when she was born. “He was about five years or so older than me,” June recalled. “So, his mother had brought him by to show him what a baby looked like. I didn’t know it and neither did he. We both moved away, out of those houses.” They didn’t reconnect until June was in high school, and her Bill was in college. It was initially because her best friend had sparked her interest in Bill. “It all might not have happened without her,” said June. “I hadn’t thought too much of him until she talked to me about him.” They had dated for awhile when and then Bill proposed to her – on Christmas Day. June motioned her hand around as she talked about showing the engagement ring to her family. “It wasn’t this ring here,” she said, “He was only in college.” However, things changed while Bill was away at college. “It was October, I think, in the following year. I sent him his ring back.” But, that wasn’t the end of their relationship. Bill would return to her again on the next Christmas with the ring. “He said if I were to give him his ring back, that I’d have to give him both back,” June said. “He meant the wedding ring.” The couple set out to prepare for their marriage and were wed on December 28th after church that Sunday. Betty Jo Wooden, 87, remembers her Christmases as ones spent with family. “It was the Depression, and we didn’t have a lot,” she said. Her mother used to cook candies and desserts for her family. “My mother made all sorts of things at Christmas... divinity, little hard candy buttons, you name it, she could probably make it.” Betty Jo also recalled not even knowing who Santa was until much later in her childhood. “But, that was okay because we didn’t need anything. We were happy. We had each other, and that’s what makes Christmas,” she said. “You won’t remember what was under that tree, but you’ll remember who was there with you.” Betty Jo offered advice for a younger generation going into the new year. “You have to be nicer to one another,” she said. “Respect each other and their place next to yours in the world. Put down your phones and toys and things, and not just get to know the outside but each other. Someday, that might be all you have.” Betty recalled someone she knows who routinely looks for her brother and calls out for her father. She lost her brother around Christmas years ago, and she misses him dearly. “Loving one another and getting along is important,” she said. “And, for goodness sake, hug somebody. It doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t cost you a thing.”