Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Christmas Eve Tradition

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Christmas Eve is our family’s favorite night of the year.

About 18 years ago my sister Deb and I wanted to spice up Christmas Eve so we decided to have a party and invite friends and family members who didn’t have anything going on. Before the party we all attend the children’s mass at Prince of Peace and then we head home and start the party. It began as a few families and last year we celebrated with 60 people and had so much fun. I think our last guest left at 2:00am on Christmas morning.

Hackley Holt

This year is the Neinas family’s turn to host the party and we will be breaking in their new home in downtown Muskegon. Deb and her husband Steve bought a big beautiful historical house called the Hackley-Holt House which will be a perfect place to host our party. Every year the party has grown to be more comfortable because our family and friends are getting to know one another so well.

Neinas  Family

As I look back on those 18 years I think about how our parents used to attend but are now deceased. I think about how young our own children were and how they’re now grown, independent adults with children of their own. Every year our party looks a little bit different but it’s always full of love and good cheer.

Dear Baby Ufnal

Baby Ufnal

Dear Baby Ufnal,

As of right now you are due to arrive on Valentine’s Day, a day already dedicated to love, but we can hardly wait to hold you and kiss you.

Your parents are really cool and you will love them a lot. In fact, you are one of the lucky children in our world because you will always have a lot of love and support surrounding you but also you will be gifted with many comforts that other kids your age will not have. Please never take these comforts for granted because good nutritious food, a comfortable home and clothing are a luxury in many parts of our world.

You are so lucky to have parents that will protect you the best way they know how. They’ll also push back on you sometimes which may seem a little bit overprotective, but this makes you lucky, too. Baby Ufnal, it is important that you make a few mistakes so that you all can learn from them. Mistakes provide some of the best lessons in life even although they may be hard for you and your parents.

Please giggle your whole life because it can create a great atmosphere in your home. If you ever do something mischievous but it is cute, smile sweetly so your parents can capture it by taking a picture rather than getting mad at you.

Learn something every day and explore your world like it is a new adventure. Dig in the dirt and have fun in the rain but do it on purpose and love every minute of it and maybe invite your mom and dad to join your silly fun. You will learn a lot about yourself and your parents, too.

I told your cousins Cole and Peyton to never be afraid to count on your Grandpa, aunts and uncles because they love to play in the dirt and dance in the rain, too.

As I watch your momma’s belly move as you reposition yourself, I smile because I know you will have such a great life.

I love you so much and will always be with you.

Baby Ufnal, you are my favorite.

Love,

Grandma

P.S.  When you get older please make sure you watch the movie “The Family Stone” because this beautiful picture of your mom reminds me of that movie.

Happy Birthday, Chad

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Chad Michael, our firstborn, came into this world 34 years ago today. On the day he was born Mark and I rushed from our home in the Beverley Hills Apartments complex to Hackley Hospital in downtown Muskegon at 5:00am. It was so early in the morning that there were barely any cars on the road so Mark felt the need to run red lights. I asked Mark why he was running red lights and he said, “Because I can.” Shortly after we made it safely to the hospital and Chad was born early that afternoon.

Chad

Chad,

Today we celebrate you with pride. Always keep your kind heart.

We love you like crazy.

Mom and Dad

The Sutherland’s Unconditional Love

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Barney and Janet Sutherland are two of the most loving and giving people I have ever met. They have both dedicated their lives to the students at Reeths-Puffer High School. Their love for all of us at R-P has been unconditional.

Sadly, both Barney and Janet lost their spouses at a very young age while they both were teachers at Reeths-Puffer. After some time had passed they started dating and eventually were married. Together these two pledged their love to each other and to the students of Reeths-Puffer.

They are both retired from teaching now but are still involved with many activities at the school. They try to attend every graduation party, wedding and class reunion that they are invited to. During my 35th class reunion they made a special effort to stop after they attended a wedding.

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Barney turned 80 this year and his family hosted a birthday party in his honor at the high school. Students young and old attended because they wanted to say thank you to a man so dedicated to us. Barney may be 80 but he still remembers most of his students names and the year they graduated, which amazes me.

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While at Barney’s 80th birthday party we heard many wonderful stories. Our friend Margo Burdick Brown, a 1973 graduate, traveled over three hours to attend Barney’s party and so did many others.

Another friend Kay Somerville Bradley, a 1976 graduate, told us a beautiful Barney story. Many years after Kay graduated from high school and was newly divorced, she was wondering how she was going to support herself and her kids. She went to Reeths-Puffer to find Barney because she needed some guidance. Barney happened to be on his break in the teachers lounge. When Kay saw Barney, she immediately burst into tears. He calmed her down and talked with her and helped her formulate a plan for her future. He hired her on the spot to clean his house and found some friends to hire Kay, too. Kay is still very grateful for his love and guidance.

Janet was my dedicated cheerleading coach and made sure we went to cheerleading camp every summer. What I didn’t appreciate back in the early 70s was Janet was a young widow raising kids on her own and was probably in mourning from the death of her husband but she kept living and focused her efforts on helping others.

Barney and Janet’s ministry didn’t stop when they left school because they lovingly  welcomed my friend and classmate Darrell White into their home to live with them. They probably welcomed others too.

Sutherlands

I feel like Barney and Janet mimic the life Mother Teresa lead but instead of ministering to the poor they ministered to the lives of so many of us at Reeths-Puffer.

Barney and Janet,

We love you and we will never forget the gifts you have given us.

Love,

Rosemary and Mark