'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the home of FMU student, Michael Linhardt’s grandmother, are children and grandchildren awaiting their Christmas Eve dinner.
This is the tale Linhardt shared with his friend, FMU student David Lyles of Aynor, just before leaving for the Christmas break.
As has been the tradition for many years, Linhardt, a Chapin native, his three siblings and parents sit down to a meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese and cobbler on Christmas Eve before watching a video taped episode of “It’s Christmastime Again Charlie Brown.”
The children whose ages range from 15 to 23 still find the ritual enjoyable. With him and two of his sisters being away at college most of the year, Linhardt said holidays are about reuniting as a family.
“If you don’t make time for your family, everything else goes,” he said.
While many families have moved away from traditional Christmas experiences, the Linhardt family has found a way to keep the lights burning and the children anticipating the arrival of Santa.
Upon leaving grandmother’s house each Christmas Eve for as long as Linhardt can remember, the family plays a few rounds of cards before retiring to bed. All four children claim to still believe in Santa.
“If I ever told my parents I didn’t believe, even now, I wouldn’t get a thing,” said Linhardt.
Instead of awakening to open gifts on Christmas morning, the Linhardt children get up to dress themselves for church. They arrive home by 10:30 a.m. and have breakfast which is prepared by their father. Following breakfast, the oldest child arranges gifts before the family sits down to open them at nearly 2 p.m. on Christmas Day. From the youngest to the oldest, the children begin opening gifts as mom memorializes the event by taking pictures. Half-way through this sacrament, the Linhardts break for a picnic lunch.
It isn’t until the children return from lunch that they are allowed to open their “Santa” gift.
“This is the biggest gift ever – the one you’ve wanted all year,” Linhardt said.
In fact, last year Linhardt received a computer. When asked what he would like this year, he responded, “I would rather not say what I want, that way I don’t set myself up for disappointment. Instead, I will say I will be happy with whatever Santa brings me.”
# 91 /12-15-06