One of the great things about living in a small town is the traditions that come with it. Our home, from the time Haley was a baby, was on Shilling Street. It was a great place to grow up. Our neighbors were all friendly, most had little kids too, and everyone had a big yard. Two doors down was the Von der Leith’s home. They didn’t have any little kids anymore, everyone was grown and moved out, but they had grandkids. The first year we lived there, Bill and Margi invited us over on Christmas Eve, they said Santa was coming at six, if we would come over about 5:30, that would be great. We had no idea what to expect.
At 5:30, we walked down the front sidewalk. The house was full of people. All of the local neighbors, all of the Von der Lieth kids and grandkids, there were probably 50 people, kids and adults alike. Cocktails were served in the den, hor d’oerves in the kitchen, and Christmas in the front living room. The phone rang just before six, everyone was rushed to the living room, kids on the floor circling the big Christmas tree in the corner. The doorbell rang, and Santa came in. Margi pulled a big bag of wrapped gifts from the corner and Santa gave gifts to all the kids in the room. Not just the grandkids, but all the local kids too. I was shocked, who knew that we had such awesome neighbors. Every year thereafter, we planned our Christmas celebrations around Christmas Eve at the Von der Lieth’s. Every year, they were so generous. The best part was that Santa knew my name, my kids were always impressed by that. I’m not sure, to this day, they ever figured out who Santa was, he was as authentic as can be.
Christmas Eve stopped at the Von der Lieth’s about five years ago, Santa was in ill health and Margi passed away, times were changing, but the memories of sharing a wonderful evening with all of neighbors lives on as a great holiday tradition.