Christmas memories

Family. Probably not surprisingly, that is decidedly one theme that runs through the thoughts and memories of many in our community this time of year.

Spending time with family is big on locals’ holiday list


Probably not surprisingly, that is decidedly one theme that runs through the thoughts and memories of many in our community this time of year.

Asked what his favorite Christmas memory is, newly appointed Kenmore City Manager Frederick Stouder can’t help but recall his days as a consultant based in Renton.

Come several Christmas Eves, he drove from that city to catch a red-eye flight, often at around midnight, to Chicago. From there, he would jump in a rental car and make his way to where he grew up in Indiana, spending Christmas with his family.

“The (Christmases) you remember are the one’s with family,” Stouder said.

Stouder added that, surprisingly, those late-night flights were usually enjoyable, with everyone on board showing some Christmas spirit.

“It was a pretty festive occasion,” he said.

That family is a part of the memories of Larry Francois is hardly a surprise as the Northshore School District superintendent is the youngest of 12 brothers and sisters.

For whatever reason, Francois said his parents never put too many presents under the tree prior to Christmas morning.

But when he and his siblings would creep downstairs on the big day, Francois talked about “an explosion” of presents that had appeared under the family tree. Each person had, he added, his or her own stack of gifts. Discovering those gifts was just “a magical moment,” Francois said.

“You had to kind of wonder, ‘Where did they all come from?’” he added.

“One of my favorite memories of Christmas is the year we flew up from California to surprise my in-laws,” said Pastor Mark Rogers of the Kenmore Community Church.

“They were at a dinner party with friends and we drove to the home, knocked on the door and began singing Christmas carols,” Rogers continued.

He said it took a few minutes for those inside to figure out who was outside.

Across town at Bothell’s Emanuel Presbyterian Church, Pastor Steve Knowles said the yearly gatherings at his grandparent’s home in Long Beach, Calif., were the highlights of his childhood holidays. He said the parties always would include plenty of aunts, uncles and cousins.

“There was that joy of just being together with people that you didn’t necessarily see that often,” Knowles said.

On a different note, Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb said, as a child, he remembers waking up in the middle of Christmas Eve and swearing he could hear Santa Claus rummaging around downstairs.

“I have a very distinct memory of trying to hear Santa,” he said.

But if that was Lamb’s earliest memory of Christmas, his more recent memories, like those of the others, revolve around family. Married with three children who may or may not spend Christmas Eve listening for Santa, those children do spend part of that night listening to their dad read the Christmas story from the Bible before being allowed to open one present each.

“From a spiritual perspective, every Christmas is special to me because it gives me the opportunity to reflect again on the wonder of it all,” Rogers added.