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Gina: Every year when my brother and I were little, my dad packed up the car and drove us all from Chattanooga, TN to Atlanta, GA and went to see our grandparents. On Christmas Eve we were at my Grandmother and Granddaddy's house and opened presents with my mom's side of the family. On Christmas morning there were presents from Santa under the tree for both my brother and me. Later in the day on Christmas, we drove over to my Grannie and Grandpa's house and opened presents with my dad's side of the family. At some point during my childhood, my dad threw up his hands and said he wasn't doing it anymore. We were going to stay in Chattanooga and if the Georgia family wanted to see us they could come to our house. I guess a guy can only take so much for so long lol.    

Kelly: When I was a kid, Christmas was the greatest. We would wake up really early Christmas morning, and find our pile of gifts which were not wrapped. We were able to dig in right away and play with everything.

Rick: Wake up at 5am and sneak downstairs to find my pile on unwrapped gifts. Get yelled at by Mom to go back upstairs.

Steve: So much fun. I think of trying to get to sleep so Santa would come, waking up early and opening presents. Then Mom and Dad making all kinds of food for relatives coming and going throughout Christmas Day. I always loved and looked forward to the Christmas Eve bash that Mom & Dad would have where all the brothers would come back home.

Mike: When I was little, I remember waking up early on Christmas morning at our Detroit house, sneaking downstairs while trying not to wake my brothers, and seeing piles of unwrapped presents around the Christmas tree! Unfortunately, I was not alone, because my brothers had the same idea, and were frequently up before me. One McCarty urban legend is that the first brother up was able to switch a present he didn’t like by taking a gift from another pile and replacing it with the unwanted gift. This all changed with Karen joined the family, and suddenly the gifts were wrapped! Also, in the days before Christmas (considered part of Christmas), Sussex neighbors would stop by our house for some holiday cheer: highballs or beer. However, I do not remember Ma and Dad going to other neighbors’ houses. Just hosts, I guess.

Margaret: Christmas Eve was spent at one of my uncles homes or at our home. This was based on birth order. My dad was #3 out of 4. There were also 14 cousins and we always had a great time. Lots of Polish cuisine & presents.

Kristen: Christmas Eve was always spent at my grandparents house with my mom's side of the family. There would be a big spread of southern dishes and we would fill our plates and then sit around the Christmas tree and open our gifts. And every year Santa would show up to give each one of us kids a special gift. Christmas Day would be at home and my grandparents would come over for dinner.

Austin: Spend Xmas eve at Grandma Jean's, sharing stories, songs and food. Play video games with the cousins. Wake up in the middle of the night to find presents under the tree, and I would end up sorting them into groups by recipient. Aunt Marianne, Uncle Bill, Grandma Lil, Lee and Nancy would come over for lunch, having the best food. Ham, kielbasa, cranberry sauce, perogies, and more. Food coma awaits! 

Dennis: Riding the bus with Mom to go Christmas shopping at Northland and Grand River / Greenfield. Riding in the car with Dad to Piedmont Hardware and seeing all the artificial Christmas trees and hearing the Christmas music.

Larry: Christmas was a magical time. We always had a live Christmas tree where we 'carefully' hung tinsels on. Who knew they were supposed to be applied one at a time. I laid on the floor under the tree and looked up at the lights and ornaments through the branches. On Christmas morning, I woke up early to see if DJ was awake. If not, I'd wake him up. We had no clock upstairs, so it could have been 2 or 3 am for all I knew. We'd sneak to the basement where Santa left our presents in piles with our names. If we saw something we liked in someone else's pile, we'd move it to ours

Gene: Santa brought everything, except for the live, naked tree that my parents bought and setup. When I went to sleep, Santa decorated the tree and left presents under it for me to open up. Back then Santa was extremely big on tinsel!

Brad: Christmas Eve, we would go to celebrate with all of the extended family at Grandma Jean's. Christmas morning was for our family to open presents, and then we would host the Rzepka side of the family for lunch on Christmas Day.

Kristina: On our typical Christmas when I was little, we would open our presents on Christmas Eve and also go to church before we made gingerbread cookies for him. Santa always left underwear in the stockings

Kitty: Just a typical Christmas with tree and baby Jesus under the Christmas tree

Modris: Church on Christmas Eve. Christmas dinner and then open presents

Metra: I remember singing songs and telling stories like the birth of Christ.

Valerie: Stay up late to try and catch Santa, and pass out in the loft area.

Karen: On Christmas Eve, we went to Grandma and Grandpa Demske’s. We went to church on Christmas Eve. Opened all of our presents on Christmas morning.

Chris: Christmas Eve at Grandma & Grandpa McCarty’s house. This always included a good lunch meat and veggie spread. Uncle Rick loading up his veggies with a weeks worth of ranch dressing. Ceiling fan chain kicking competition and Super Nintendo in the basement. Christmas at our house. I remember the piles of presents and lights of the Christmas tree contrasted by the darkness outside as I’m sure the present opening festivities began before 6am. Christmas lunch was out our house with the Rzepkas. Turkey and/or Ham and kielbasa, always kielbasa. After the presents and lunch, we’d make the journey to the local movie theater for a Christmas Day movie.

Amanda: We were not allowed to go downstairs until we woke up Mom. She would run down first to make final checks just to make sure everything was ready. Stockings first, we’d open presents one by one and never all at once.

Alexa & Cooper: Christmas Eve at our house with Grammy Lin. Dad making fish tacos and Grammy making clam chowder. Christmas morning at our house. So many presents. Christmas lunch at our house as well with Uncle Kyle, Aunt Cierra, Sorenson and their family. So many presents!


Jim: Typical Christmas was going to Grandma Schmelzers on Christmas Eve for the big party. That was the best day of the year. Then have the Murray family Christmas on Christmas Day.



Gene: The two presents that I remember wanting and getting were a Lionel Train and, are you ready for this, an Easy Bake Oven! I still remember both!

Gina: One year I got a Sno-Cone machine and thought it was the coolest thing EVER! I used up all the ingredients the first day I had it. Another year, I got a rabbit fur muff (a muff is a fashion accessory made of a cylinder of fur or fabric with the ends opened up for keeping the hands warm) with matching hat. I thought I was so pretty in my new furry accessories. One other memorable gift was the year I got the game Mouse Trap. I loved to just assemble the board, watch the metal ball go through the whole setup, and then see the grand finale when the trap would come down and catch the mouse. A thrill every time!

Kelly: My favorite presents were one year I got a Sizzler's Race Car set with an oval track, gas pump and lap counter. Another year I got a Mr. Kelly’s Car Wash to clean all of my Hot Wheel and Matchbox cars. Christmas was always fun opening all the presents in the basement on Sussex.

Steve: Hands down... Verti-Bird

Rick: I remember the gifts Michael got because they were way better than all the rest of ours

Mike: I do not remember specific presents that I received, however, I do recall being wired and a sense of wonderment on Christmas morning, along with Dad and Ma’s look of pride and happiness at being able to provide a wonderful Christmas for their kids – which is a memorable gift. I recall Jerry once got a Vertibird helicopter, and Jerry used it to pick up donkeys and the baby Jesus from the manger scene. Which is probably why I remember that gift.

Larry: We always got great gifts. Favorites... a race car set, tracer guns that shot plastic disks, and a quick draw target game.

Kristen: One year I got a 10-speed bike and a new winter coat. That was a big deal to get 2 big gifts. I remember my bike was outside on our deck all assembled and ready to go when the snow melted

Margaret: I remember waking up on Christmas Eve and my family was awake & Santa had already stopped by, so each of us got to open 1 present. I got a 3 foot long stuffed caterpillar.

Dennis: Kenner Vac-U-Form plastic toy maker. Kenner Give A Show projector. Kenner Styrofoam wood-working shop. A two-wheel bicycle for my 7th Birthday. Embarrassing Mom with unusual record names, knowing that she would have to go to Miracle Mart and say “I want (1) Bon Do Wah and (1) Do Wah Ditty.”

Kitty: The present that I remember most was a "Tony" doll. Tony home perms were the big thing back in the old days and they had a doll which was kind of like today's Barbie doll. I wanted it really bad but I did not get one for Christmas and I remember crying. I eventually did get my Tony doll, but not on Christmas. 

Brad: I remember Uncle Danny getting Uncle Dennis some sort of small doll with a hand pump. When you squeezed the pump, his pants would fall down. That was so funny as a kid!

Austin: Getting the Game Boy & Game Boy Advance - those were the best game systems. The Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage stuffed wrestling dolls were so much fun. Recreating stone cold stunner and D-generation-X moves. Surprising Brad with the GameCube was a lot of fun to set up and plan - we had a family meeting to tell him we were upset with him, but it was all a trick and we gave him the GameCube as a present instead. One time we got cardboard bricks and those were the best, as well as the Lego and Bionicle sets. Probably why I got so interested in engineering hah. Even though I think we got them around thanksgiving, Furbys were the best, as well as Tomagachis. 

Kristina: Knockoff razor scooter. American Girl doll. Those were the ones I was most excited for.

Modris: My favorite gift was a BB gun

Metra: Operation and other board games

Karen: Clothes. Big stuffed animal from Grandma and Grandma Denske.

Chris: Nintendo, skateboard, stereo

Jim: Best presents were the basketball game with the ping pong ball.
Also the hockey game with the hand controls.


Amanda: When we had Christmas at the beach with my Aunt and Uncle, I remember coming downstairs to a huge teddy bear and ski jacket.

Alexa - American Girl dolls (specifically Rebecca & Grace)

Valerie: A giant stuffed whale that was longer than me.  It scared me because it was at the end of my bed when I woke up.


Rick: St. Nicholas Day was celebrated before Christmas and Dad chucked hard candy at us. It would hurt but it's still candy!

Mike: On Christmas Eve, we would always go to Grandma and Grandpa's house. There would be some presents opened, and, of course, the traditional poker game at the kitchen table featuring Dad and Uncles Tommy and Larry and other Schmelzers, plus... lots of smoke.

Kelly: Visiting Dad's brothers & sisters. Christmas Eve at Grandma's. Uncle Jack hiding presents under his bed. High balls!

Steve: Christmas Eve family party. Going to 4pm “Midnight” mass and the traffic chaos leaving St. Michael afterwards.

Dennis: Christmas hard candy was always stuck together and never tasted very good. Grandma and her sisters would visit during Christmas week and bring Belgium pastries and cookies. The spice balls tasted bad; the Angel Wings were bland but covered with powdered sugar. Grandpa drove Grandma and her sisters over but couldn’t stand all their chattering. So after a short visit, he would go just outside and wait / sit in his car and listen to the radio in front of the house.

Kristen: Every year Christmas season started with our church Christmas Cantata/Program. It was always such a fun time at church to watch the choirs perform and listen to some great music.

Metra: Performing dances in costume by the tree. I took tap dancing and ballet classes. Also, cutting down a Christmas tree for the house.

Larry: Christmas Eve at Grandma's house (mom's side of the family). On the way home, dad would turn on the radio and NORAD would interrupt saying that Santa's sleigh had been spotted on radar headed toward the US. We were told we had to go right to bed when we got home so Santa wouldn't pass us by if we were awake. 

Kitty: When I was young, we we went to bed early on Christmas Eve. When I got older, we always went to midnight mass on Christmas Eve!

Gene: The special family tradition I remember was driving from house to house on Christmas day to visit all of my Michigan relatives. My father had four brothers and one sister. We made sure that we visited everyone including all of my cousins and Grandma and Grandpa as well. It wasn’t too difficult, since they all lived in Hamtramck! LOL

Brad: Christmas Wafer (Oplatki). A wafer thin sheet of paper, like the wafers given at Communion on Sunday. We supposed to bestow wishes upon everyone else at the Christmas gathering while slowly breaking off pieces of each other's wafer sheet and eating them piece by piece. Not so good in these COVID times.

Kristina: I had to do a skit prior to opening presents, play the piano, play a game like jeopardy or sing. Baking gingerbread cookies and desserts.

Austin: The polish wafer (oplatki) where we would wish each other “health, wealth, and happiness” along with whatever else we wanted to wish for the other person. Polish kielbasa was the GOAT! Spending Christmas Eve at Grandma Jean’s was always a treat - sharing presents and playing with them with the cousins and then retreating to beat super Mario World or get destroyed at Jurassic Park was always a good time. Also the organ songs she’d play and tootsie roll pops she gave always were great too. 

Karen: Mom’s eggnog with raw eggs. Visiting family and friends during Christmas week

Amanda: Only 1 present on Christmas Eve and reading 'The Night Before Christmas'.

Cooper - Baking cookies

Alexa - Giving Santa cookies and the reindeer carrots

Chris: Christmas Day movies

Modris: We used to sing songs 

Jim: Going to the Schmelzer house on Christmas Eve. Also the big Murray football game on Christmas Day, which I lead in all time wins.

Valerie: Midnight mass, they would hand out small candles with rings of paper to everyone..


Steve: Bad Bad LeRoy Brown


Rick: All I want for Christmas is my 2 front teeth

Metra: Silent Night, Joy to the World

Modris: O' Christmas Tree

Kitty: Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer of course, and Frosty the Snowman

Gina: Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

Kelly: Mom playing songs on the piano including 'Something Barked On Christmas Morning' and Jerry had the part of the dog barking. Some other faves from my childhood were 'Silent Night', 'O Christmas Tree', and 'The Christmas Song' (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).

Kristen: Songs that I remember were 'Silent Night', 'Jingle Bells', 'Here Come Santa Claus', 'What Child is This?'

Brad: Mom and I every year love to listen to Celine Dion's Christmas album.  It's our favorite. 'God Bless Us Everyone'!

Dennis: “Something Barfed (barked) on Christmas Morning”. “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. And of course “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”

Mike: The song I remember most as a kid is “Nuttin’ for Christmas” by Stan Freberg (1955). With Ma at the piano, Jerry would sing the “bad stuff” in the lyrics, such as “I put a tack on teacher’s chair,” and we would all say, “Somebody snitched on me.” Some of the other songs that I will always associate with my Christmas childhood include: “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late),” David Seville & The Chipmunks, 1958; “Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree,” Brenda Lee, 1960; “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” Burl Ives, 1964; “Jingle Bell Rock,” Brenda Lee’s 1964 remake of a Bobby Helms 1957 song), and “Blue Christmas,” Elvis Presley, 1964.

Larry: I remember all the hits from Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, etc. We'd play those records when my dad's side of the family came over for a Christmas party.

Austin: We had this Christmas Douglas Fir (a toy which would sing when someone walked near it). Songs “Deck the Halls” and other songs he would sing). The Celine Dion Christmas album.

Kristina: Latvian language versions of Christmas songs (silent night, jingle bells, etc). Backstreet Boys Christmas.

Gene: White Christmas and Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer were the biggies; however All I want for Christmas is My 2 Front Teeth and the Chipmunks Christmas Song became staples as well. We also sang and listened to all the traditional songs and of course, Little Drummer Boy.

Amanda: White Christmas

Karen: Silent Night

Chris: Organ tunes with Grandma Jean

Cooper - All I want for Christmas is you

Alexa - Jingle Bells, Santa is coming for us


Valerie: Christmas Don't Be Late


Jim: Silent night, Rudolf the red nose reindeer, Grandma got run down by a reindeer.



Steve: It’s a wonderful life. Now it is Elf.

Kristen: I loved Snoopy, Charlie Brown Christmas

Gina: The 1964 movie with Burl Ives in 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer' with the poor animation of felt-crafted creatures that had jerky moves. What a classic!

Kelly: As a kid, I didn't have any favorite movies. TV was great, including Charlie Brown, Rudolf, Twas The Night Before Christmas, and I always like the Bing Crosby Christmas specials.

Rick: A Christmas Story. The movie was only so-so, but I enjoyed Dad laughing every time Darin McGavin went on a cussing binge

Mike: Hands down, “It’s a Wonderful Life” is still my favorite Christmas movie of all time. I was not born when this uplifting Jimmy Stewart movie came out (1946), but I would see it on television during the Christmas season. “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) also came out before I was born, but I also saw that one on TV at Christmastime. Also on TV, I remember specials about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. I think both of them were narrated by Burl Ives.

Austin: Christmas story and Elf. Christmas episodes of Futurama where Santa is an evil robot, Invader Zim, and South Park (sorry mom!) were all fun memories that I can recall.

Modris: I did not have a television until I was 12 years old.

Metra: Miracle on 34th Street, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer 

Dennis: "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians"

Larry: Charlie Brown's Christmas, Burl Ives Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and of course Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. 

Brad:  A Christmas Story (12 times over)

Gene: All of the Cartoon / Claymation Christmas specials were a must watch and all of them were “brand new” when I was a kid! You can tell that by the size of the TV in my Christmas photo to the right! My favorite movie at Christmas when I was a kid was and always will be “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I still get emotional every time I watch it, or even think about it. A true classic.

Kristina: Home Alone

Kitty: Don't remember shows or movies! I know we had a black and white TV.

Amanda: Charlie Brown Christmas

Karen: It’s a Wonderful Life

Chris: 24 hour Christmas Story marathon, Christmas vacation, Charlie Brown Christmas

Cooper - Christmas Chronicles
Alexa - How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Valerie: All Christmas claymation movies

Jim: Bing Crosby, Charlie Brown




Christmas is a time for desserts and sweets, from cookies to brownies, to cakes and pies all the way to candy canes, peppermint bark, and other candies. We want to know...

What were all your favorite Christmas treats as a kid?
(if cookies, pies, or cakes, please be specific like sugar cookies or pecan pie, or German chocolate cake)


Your responses will be in the next edition of the McCarty Metro

What was your favorite chocolate candy bar of all time to get at Hallo

There was a tie for the top vote getter.
Reeses Peanut Butter Cup and the Heath Bar.

Others in order of votes received...

3 Musketeers, Mounds, Baby Ruth, Almond Joy, Kit Kat, Snickers, Hershey Bar, Mr. Goodbar

If you have a submission, or idea for "When I Was A Kid", please submit it to mccartymetro@gmail.com


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