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For some families, Christmas means gathering and baking cookies or candy, for others it’s letting the grandchildren decorate the family tree and for others it’s putting up a miniature Christmas village, but these scenarios all have on thing in common, they’re all about family.
The News invited readers to share their holiday traditions and here is a sampling of how Grant County families celebrate.
Horton’s enjoy trimming ‘birthday’ tree
Patricia Horton’s five grandchildren have decorated her Christmas tree since they were able to walk.
“But to us it’s not just a tree, it is to us called a birthday tree,” Horton said.
She said she began telling them that Christmas was about celebrating Christ’s birthday.
Three of her grandchildren - Emily, 19; Travis, 16 and Connor, 8, live in Grant County so they still continue the tradition, while her other two grandchildren - Christopher Ellis, 18 and Julie Ellis, 15 now live in Virginia. They will place their ornaments on the tree when they come to Horton’s Crittenden home for Christmas.
“The little ones do the bottom and the older ones do the top and the older ones are not to tell the little ones where they can put the ornaments. Each gets the same amount to put on,” Horton said.
Horton does not re-hang or move the ornaments once the grandchildren have placed them on the tree.
“Regardless of how it looks, that’s the way it stays,” she said. “I look at it and think how blessed I am. My five grandchildren make my life so happy.”
After the tree trimming is complete, they usually enjoy baking cookies and drinking hot chocolate.
Christmas village reminds father of daughter’s battle, victory over childhood cancer
By Bryan Marshall
Christmas means something just a little bit more for Billy Lannigan.
The Crittenden resident’s daughter, Michelle Rose, was 18 months old when he was told that she had stage four neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that develops in tissues of the lymphatic nervous system.
Doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital had to perform a risky surgery on the infant to remove the tumor.
“It was devastating,” Lannigan said. “It was an 18-hour surgery. They cut her in two pieces and removed every body organ. The tumor ran all the way through her whole body.”
Even if she made it through the surgery, Lannigan said he was told little Michelle would only have a 10 to 15-percent chance of survival.
In January, a healthy Michelle will turn 20.
Michelle spent seven years in and out of the hospital for checkups and tests before she was cleared of the cancer
She was allowed to go home right before Christmas after recovering for a month from her initial surgery.
“I remember standing there and I couldn’t do nothing but stomp my feet because I was so excited,” Lannigan said. “It was like, ‘Oh my God, I get to bring my baby home.’ It was something.”
Not even having a Christmas tree up, Lannigan made it a priority to stop at Van Leunens in Edgewood for decorations.
His purchase of a Dickens Christmas Village display was the start of an annual tradition that still flourishes today.
That one box has led to an entire town, featuring carolers, an outdoor ice skating rink, Elvis’ Graceland, a movie theater and more, set up in Lannigan’s family room.
The lighted-collection with a star-sprinkled background has gotten so large that he can only set up about half of the ever-changing display.
“I call it Boo Boo Town,” Lannigan said. “That’s what I called her when she was little, Boo Boo.”
The construction of the town begins every year Thanksgiving evening and the village remains until Jan. 2.
It usually takes a week to set up the nearly 60 buildings and townspeople and wire the display with lights.
“My favorite is the movie theater showing ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” Lannigan said. “My dad went all over town to get that for me before he died. When I was a kid, he was a Christmas nut. That’s where I get it from. We come from a family of six and Christmas a big time of the year.”
Every year, Lannigan buys at least one addition to the ever-growing village.
This year, he added tall trees to the town and a surprise jolly old visitor who brings toys to all the boys and girls.
Michelle now sets up the village as an annual tradition.
“I think it’s awesome,” she said. “This year, I really like the flying Santa. But, I was really excited when we got Ralphie’s house from ‘A Christmas Story.’ It even has the leg lamp. Last year, I brought my youth group from Violet Ridge Christian to see it. They really loved it.”
A storage room filled with 15 30-gallon containers houses the village until it is time to bring the town to life again.
Lannigan said the display has been seen by practically everyone in his Harvesters neighborhood.
“Little kids look at it and think it’s neat,” he said. “But, the adults appreciate it more. They ooh and ash over it.”
Candy brings family closer together during holidays
By Camille McClanahan
It all started with a thought and grew from there.
In the 1980’s Bernice Delph and her sisters, had an idea to make candies as Christmas gifts for her family and friends.
The family has grown and so has the tradition.
There are now three generations and 15-20 family members that participate in making candies.
“It’s our own pre-Christmas,” said Cody Durr, granddaughter of Bernice Delph.
Each person brings a different recipe and the ingredients.
“We love to share what we bring,” said Durr.
Getting together as a family is what Durr looks forward to the most.
“It’s definitely a girl thing,” said Durr.
This year the women met at Dolores Holtman’s home, a cousin to the family to make candies.
The family divides the candy similar to a cookie exchange.
Recently, the family had 30 plates of candy.
The requests for candy come from family, friends and co-workers.
The most requested recipe is Bernice Delph’s Turtle Pecans.
“We have fun together and we get to go home with a variety of candy for our friends and neighbors,” said Durr.
2 cups white sugar 4 qt saucepan
2 cups evaporated milk
½ cup butter
2 cups white corn syrup
A pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla
Add sugar, salt and syrup, stirring occasionally until it reaches 240 degrees. Add butter. Gradually stir in milk, so that mixture does not stop boiling. Stir constantly, cook rapidly to 235 degrees (mixture should be thick and sticks easily.) Add vanilla. Pour into greased (butter). Coo. Cut with a heavy sharp knife, using in a sawing motion. Wrap in waxed paper. Butter two cookies sheets/
Place pecan pieces on waxed paper, about two inches apart while caramel is still warm. Pour a spoonful on center of nuts. Coat with chocolate after Carmel cools. The caramel can be cut in half.