Land Park residents will add new, cherished memories this Christmas

With Christmas just a couple of days away, the timing is right to share fond memories of this popular holiday. And during a recent trek around the Land Park community, The Land Park News found several locals who were willing to share such memories.

Among these people, including some who shared their classic family photographs, were Land Park residents Gary and Missy Stonehouse.

First Land Park Christmas

Gary recalled a moment during the 1970s, when he and his wife showed their holiday spirit on Christmas Day.

“We moved in Labor Day (1972), so Christmas of 1972 was our first Christmas (in Land Park),” Gary said. “One of our first years here, on Christmas morning, there was a woman waiting for the bus across the street and we invited her in to wait for the bus, because it was cold outside.”

After moving to Land Park, Gary and Missy began their longtime tradition of placing a Christmas tree in the front window of their home. Each year, the tree features a wide variety of ornaments, which have different meanings such as a drum ornament because one of their sons plays the drums and a cocker spaniel ornament representing the family’s dog that lived for 17 years.

Christmas cards with photographs of Gary and Missy’s sons, David and Patrick, were always an adventure to create, Missy explained.

“Sometime before Christmas cards went out, the boys would go down to (William) Land Park with me and we’d choose a place where they were willing to pose for a Christmas picture to send out,” Missy said. “Every year they would humor me and do one serious (photograph) and then they would do goofy things (for another photograph), like one of them would hang upside down from a tree and the other (would do) something else. We would end up sending out one of the (photographs) they were goofing around on, rather than the ones where they had a nice pose.”

Family memories

Land Park resident Michelle (Parrott) Barraza, the daughter of Russell Parrot, Jr. and Roberta (Ackman) Parrot, shared details about several of her own Christmastime traditions.

“I would visit with my (now late) grandparents {Russell Parrot, Sr. and Bernice (Cifuentes) Parrot, who lived on Swanston Drive, near Riverside Boulevard} and the way I have my Christmas tree set up reminds me of my grandmother,” Barraza said. “I also make sugar cookies with my daughter like the ones that my grandmother used to make.”

Also among Barazza’s fond Christmas memories is the story of how her father would try to make his children believe that Santa Claus was at their house.

“My sister and I were lying in bed and my dad would have these reindeer bells and he’d be on the roof and he’d be going, ‘Ho, ho, ho.’ So, that is a good memory.”

Land Park decorations

Like many Sacramento area neighborhoods during Christmastime, Land Park draws attention for its various holiday-themed, decorated homes.

Land Park native Thomas Van Acker said that he enjoys seeing the area’s many decorated homes at the end of each year and added that he does have a favorite group of decorated homes.

“My favorite thing is driving down by (William Land) Park on 13th Avenue and (seeing) a lot of those bigger houses with really nice decorations,” Van Acker said. “They have beautiful lights out. I also like that one (decorated) house, about a block south of Vic’s (Ice Cream) on Riverside (Boulevard). They deck it out.”

The joy of gifting

Kendra Daijogo, who grew up in Lodi and recently moved to Land Park, said that one of her favorite Christmas memories is presenting gifts to her nephews and niece when they were younger.

“My nephews and my niece, when they were younger, were just as excited for a bike as they were for drawing paper or markers or crayons,” Daijogo said. “It’s just kind of neat to see how when you’re that young, it’s just the joy of getting a gift.”

Daijogo, who has many ancestors from Japan, added that she also enjoyed her Christmas dinners, which were a mixture of Japanese and traditional American food.

A Zombie Hut Christmas

Curtis Popp, a 1989 Jesuit High School graduate who grew up on Markham Way, said that he also has nice memories about his Christmastime dinners.

“What I fondly remember is going to the Zombie Hut (restaurant at 5635 Freeport Blvd.),” Popp said. “My grandfather used to take us there for Christmas Eve. And after that closed down, we went to Neptune’s Table (at 5990 South Land Park Drive). That was kind of our traditional Christmas Eve dinner that we would do every year. I got together with all my cousins there. I was an only child, so we always had these big dinners.”

Family time
Ernestine Morrison, who moved to Sacramento from Indiana in 1945 and has been a Land Park resident in 1963, said that Christmastime is about spending time with her family.

“(Christmas) means family,” Morrison said. “The gifts don’t mean too much, really. My sister and brother and I used to get together. That was always a tradition for us. The last one we had together was with my brother, just him and I. He’s gone now, but we still kept that tradition up until the last minute.”

Morrison said that she does not spend her Christmases alone, however, since she has two daughters, Pamela and Roberta.

Janet Feil, who grew up in East Sacramento and has been a resident of Land Park since 1969, said that she also has memories of spending time with her family during Christmastime.

“It was all family (time), like Christmas Eve was one grandmother and those aunts and uncles and Christmas afternoon was the other grandmother and the other aunts and uncles,” Feil said. “So, we just spent Christmastime going from one part of town to the other and seeing all the relatives and stuff.”

With the new holiday season, it is once again time for adding to our many cherished Christmastime memories, ranging from special times with the family and festive dinners to gift giving and spreading the holiday spirit.