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Smith enjoys Christmas here at home

Editor’s note: The Suffolk News-Herald is sharing Christmas memories of local people throughout the holiday season to promote the Cheer Fund, which collects donations to purchase toys for local children on Christmas.

Suffolk’s 2018 First Citizen has celebrated Christmas all over the world, but it’s fair to say her favorite Christmases have been right in the community of Crittenden and Eclipse where she lives.

“Dad was in the Navy, so we were pretty much everywhere,” Smith said.

Smith recalls that her family — her parents and four siblings and herself — always went to midnight Mass.

“There were five kids in my family. We just had what you think of as a normal 1950s Christmas.”

As her family moved around the world, her father would always invite fellow sailors who did not have a place to go for Christmas.

“We always seemed to have other people there,” Smith said. “They did that at Thanksgiving as well, if Dad was in town.”

Smith also recalls that her family picked up European Christmas traditions while living in Germany.

“One of the traditions from there was that you would get an orange in your stocking,” she said. “When I was growing up, we always got an orange in our stocking, and that was left over from that tradition.”

Her family eventually settled in Portsmouth, and Smith began teaching. She moved to Eclipse later with friends before she got married.

“When I finally settled in Suffolk, this particular community, the traditions were so much more set in place for the holidays,” she said. “The Methodist church always had a Christmas play or a Christmas concert. There were things that would happen every year that my children would be a part of growing up. It was a multigenerational time when you knew all kinds of people that visited each other and celebrated Christmas together.”

After Karla married her husband, Jimmy, the Smiths would have Christmas brunch at their home when their daughters, Caroline and Sarah, were young. They’ve also cherished the tradition of driving through the neighborhood and seeing all the lights.

“Out here, it’s kind of neat,” Karla said. “You know it’s Christmas when the Christmas concert is happening and everybody goes to that and you see everybody. It was just old-fashioned community.”

To donate to the Cheer Fund, send a check to P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439, or bring it to our office, 130 S. Saratoga St., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit the Suffolk Cheer Fund on Facebook to find an online giving link.

We will list your donation in the newspaper, but it can be marked “anonymous” if you like. Donations may be made in honor of or in memory of someone. If you bring the check to our office, we’ll even take your photo as you hand it to one of our staff.

For more information on the Cheer Fund, call 934-9609.