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Editor's Notebook: Newspaper staff shares Christmas memories

Christmas is but a few days away, and that had me thinking about some of the more memorable Christmas moments in my life.

The best gift I ever got as a kid? Probably the Samantha Parkington American Girl doll.

Our family had gotten the American Girl doll magazine for a few years, and my sisters and I would dream of each owning a doll. And when I opened that box with Samantha in it, I was ecstatic. In fact, I used to want to be buried with that doll!

My co-workers shared some of their most memorable Christmas moments as well.

“Growing up with my folks and Austrian grandparents sharing the same Fox Valley home, we included festive European traditions,” remembered Kane Weekend editor and Batavia reporter Renee Tomell. “Each December, I had to resist the wonderful sugar cookies my grandmother would bake as ornaments, each tied with a colorful ribbon to the fresh evergreen tree. Come Christmas morning, they became fair game for hungry early risers.”

From Geneva reporter Brenda Schory: “I was about 6 and wanted to know how all the presents got under the tree. My father said he and Santa had a beer together as Santa had had enough of milk and cookies. They discussed my behavior for the year and determined that I was deserving of the gifts under the tree. I checked the yard for footprints and marks of the sleigh, but there were none. My father said Santa parked the sleigh and reindeer on the roof, so there wouldn’t be any marks in the snow. And I believed it.”

Intern Eva Hartigan said one of the best gifts her parents ever gave her was a sense of wonder.

“Specifically through the tale of Santa Claus,” she wrote in an email. “Santa would always [leave] a handwritten letter, and I never questioned why his handwriting was almost identical to my father’s. To this day, my mother won’t reveal to me where they got a long, white beard hair to stick on the cookies! How could a 6-year-old deny St. Nick’s existence with solid evidence like that?”

Local editor Zack Van Vuren recalled something more recent.

“My favorite Christmas memory didn’t happen when I was a child,” he remembered. “It revolves around a gift I gave to my father as an adult. I wanted to show my father how much I appreciate him by giving him a personalized work of art. My wife and I bought a bamboo cutting board off the internet and had it engraved with an image of my dad’s face using a laser cutter, courtesy of the Aurora Public Library. I’ve never seen my dad laugh so hard; I’m pretty sure my mom cried.”

Sure, the holidays can be stressful (for adults, anyway). But memories are to be made during this time! So enjoy every moment as best you can.

Here’s to wishing you and yours a merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Kathy Balcazar is weekly group editor for the Kane County Chronicle, Elburn Herald, Sugar Grove Herald and Suburban Life Media, and is a member of the Northern Illinois Newspaper Association Board. Contact her at or 630-845-5368. Learn more about NINA at

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