It was Christmas morning 1946, 30 degrees and almost 7 inches of snow in Holyoke, Mass. when a 12-year-old Lee Lapointe bounded down the stairs in anticipation of what Santa Claus brought the night before. 

“I came down the stairs and saw the bicycle sitting there,” said Lapointe, now 88. “That was a big deal, I waited for that bicycle and (the memory) still comes to me every year.”

She described the bicycle as being blue and full-sized — because she was a tall girl back then. 

“That morning, did I believe in Santa Claus?” Lapointe said with a laugh. “I really did. Santa Claus must’ve brought it because I don’t know who else would’ve.”

Though Santa got the credit, Lapointe’s mother and aunt hid the bicycle in the attic until Christmas morning. 

“It was very special; it was so wonderful; I could still almost cry,” Lapointe said.

In 1963, Lapointe moved to Marthasville with her late husband Gene, who was hired by Monsanto. She is now a resident at Victorian Place in Washington. 

“To me, Christmas means the birth of Christ, that’s the biggie,” she said. “Other than that, it’s being with family and watching the kids. I’m looking forward to seeing them.”

Lapointe will be spending Christmas in Marthasville this year with her family for Christmas dinner.

As a child, she remembers her mother making Manna, also known as God’s bread, for Christmas. 

“She’d bake 150 loaves and share them with the neighbors,” she said. “That’s a lot of bread to bake. But that was important to me, I still remember it.”

Lapointe followed in her mother’s tradition, but with a twist. She decided to make Christmas cookies every year to share with family, friends and neighbors.

She continued to participate in the holiday spirit with her kids.

“I did all of the Santa stuff when my kids were little,” Lapointe said. “I think there’s nothing wrong with little kids still believing in Santa. It’s just part of the season.”

Though she could do without the commercialism of Christmas, the holiday remains close to her heart. Lapointe recalls going to church for candlelight services every year and singing “Silent Night.”

“I’m a firm believer when it’s time for Christmas Eve to come and Christmas to come and Jesus to come, it still just tears me apart,” she said. 

Bob Miller, 95 and resident at Victorian Place in Washington, remembers attending church when he was a boy.

“Naturally, when we were young I was always in church,” he said. “We lived three miles from town, and one mile down a dirt road and if you could get down the road you were at church on Sundays.”

Over the years, the meaning of Christmas has changed for Miller.

“Recent years it has been about getting family together, naturally there’s a lot of good food,” he explained. “But some earlier years it wasn’t so good.”

Like in Christmas of 1932, when a five-year-old Miller hung up his stocking with his older brother on Christmas Eve. The next morning they were filled with great anticipation to see what was left in their stockings.

“What we found was a pencil,” said Miller with a somber look upon his face. “There was a pencil in each stocking. That’s what we got for Christmas.” 

He said he and his brother should have known better because it was the beginning of the Great Depression. 

“There were three small community banks near my dad’s farm, and they all three folded. So, the normal things people do today, we didn’t have the money to do,” he explained. “It’s so different, the holidays were just another day then.”  

Another unforgettable Christmas for Miller was during the Korean War. 

“I’d been in the service before, signed up for the reserve, and called back in for the war in December 1950,” he remembered. “We were in Japan at the time, and a big feast was put on for us. But it was solemn because each one of us knew we were going to be in a combat zone soon. There wasn’t much laughter or joy that day.”

Christmas of 1976 was more joyous for Miller. His oldest son, Steve, joined the Navy and had been gone for a year and a half. 

“The house was all decorated for Christmas, my wife was cooking up a big meal, we had a fairly new great-grandson on hand, and my son got some leave to come home,” Miller said. “So that put the family together for the first time in a year and a half, so that’s one I’ll always remember.”

Like Lapointe, Miller believed in Santa as a boy. 

“I believed in Santa, yes and no,” he said. “With older brothers, you know. Probably up until three or four. We put our socks up to kind of humor my mother.” 

Don Schulte, 91, said jokingly, “I believed in Santa probably until I was 20.”

Schulte, born and raised in Washington and now a resident at Aspen Valley, remembers the dining room and living room being blocked off while “Santa” decorated their Christmas tree. 

“My sister would peek down through the cracks in the floors and the doors, and she’d be like ‘I see a tree, I see a tree.’” 

He said he remembered Christmas Eve being “a long time coming.” That he was always anxious to get to the living room with all the presents, but had to wait till early evening when his dad arrived home from work.

“I was anxious and all the anticipation,” Schulte said. But it was worth it. 

“I got a BB gun one year,” Schulte said. “I was waiting for that since I was 10 years old. All the other kids in the neighborhood had a BB gun and were shooting the streetlights out. So when I finally got mine, my dad told me if I ever shot out the lights he’d be on to me and I won’t get my gun back. So I didn’t do it.” 

“Christmases with my kids are great,” he added. 

“He enjoyed Christmas,” said Chris, one of Schulte’s kids. “He used to dress up as The Grinch.”

Chris also remembered his father participating at St. Vincent’s Church in Dutzow. “He was a big part of the church’s Christmas and their Christmas songs,” he said.

A resident at Victorian Place in Union, Karen Rush, 62, also enjoys Christmas with her family.

When it comes to their family traditions, Rush said she can count on her dad making a joke about her mother’s turkey.

“My dad teases my mom about her first turkey dinner,” she said. “She forgot to take her turkey out of the freezer two days before she was supposed to cook it. So she took it directly from the freezer to the oven, and couldn’t understand why it was not done. So every Thanksgiving and Christmas we toast the turkey.”

Rush, a Chicago native, also remembers her dad playing in the snow with her. 

“I like snow,” said Rush. “I miss it. Dad would come out with us and make snowmen and snow forts. We used to have a good time.”

So as a kid Christmas meant a lot of snow for Rush. Thinking about her childhood reminded her of her favorite Christmas present — a felt, paint-by-number set of a horse’s head.

Rush, Schulte, Miller and Lapointe are all looking forward to spending Christmas with their family and friends this year.

And with her parting words, Lapointe shouted, “Santa Claus is coming to town.”