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What makes a memorable Christmas? Four Nevadans remember

Randomly ask four Las Vegans for memories of their best Christmas ever, and the four disparate answers range from the gift of life to the gift of Pong.

Let’s let the lady go first.

Pauline Sando has a lot of Christmases under her belt — she’s 94.

Not long ago, Cathy Reinsch, a social worker from the state Division of Aging visited her at Sunrise Senior Village and casually asked what she would like for Christmas. "I said I was too old to learn how to use the computer, but I’d love an electric typewriter to write my memoirs," Sando said.

A few days ago, Reinsch delivered that typewriter, so Sando can begin working on her life story.

The gift was part of an 11-year-old Secret Santa program for the senior and disabled clients. Though Santa is anonymous, the gifts come from churches, businesses, youth groups and government employees.

Someone who didn’t know Pauline Sando performed an act of unexpected kindness that thrilled the widow. "This is the best Christmas ever in my life, the surprise was so shocking," she said.

See, Christmas isn’t just for children.

• • •

For Kent Oram, owner of OIZ Advertising, today is hands-down the best Christmas ever because he’s alive and his heart is pumping strong.

"Just saying ‘Merry Christmas’ doesn’t portray my real feelings. I know without my family and all of you, I probably wouldn’t be here," he wrote in his Christmas message to friends and family. He thanked everyone, especially his wife, Becky, for supporting him during his medical travails that began Feb. 1 with heart surgery and included five weeks in an intensive care unit and a tough rehab program.

"How does one collectively thank so many people, who, literally, helped me get my life back?" Oram wrote. "I no longer take ANYTHING for granted … but one thing is certain … when Becky plays holiday songs and I hear "I’ll Be Home for Christmas" … thanks to you … I really am home … and it’s not just in my dreams."

• • •

Michael Mack, the marketing director of Las Vegas Events, didn’t hesitate one second before remembering the primo Christmas he enjoyed as a teen.

‘Twas the winter of 1982, and a huge blizzard hit Denver. About 30 inches of snow trapped his family in the house for an entire week. They even had a surprise guest for Christmas: The milkman also was snowbound and spent the night sleeping on their couch — better than a manger.

Mack’s mom already had the fixings for a big turkey dinner, so that went as planned.

On Christmas Day, he and his brother and sister played the new video games they had received as gifts. Their snowy backyard became their playground.

"There was a lot to be thankful for and we made the best of it," Mack remembered.

Teaching your children how to make the best of bad times certainly is a gift worth giving.

• • •

Darwin Morgan holds a Christmas memory of technology, which seems appropriate, considering his job as spokesman for the Department of Energy in Nevada.

"The most vivid memory had to be a Christmas we spent, when I was a child, in Wichita Falls, Texas, at my aunt’s house," he wrote in reply to my question.

One of his cousins received "the greatest thing I had ever seen," he wrote.

"We could not stop playing with it throughout the day. It was mesmerizing, it was addictive, it was cutting edge technology. It was Pong!"

It was the 1970s, but Morgan’s memory of the first popular home video game remains sharp.

"How wonderful to have these white lines on your TV screen and you could actually move one of them up and down and ‘hit’ this white ‘ball.’"

He has great memories of his first Christmas with his wife and their first Christmas with their son.

"The one though that is most vivid is the Christmas when the first TV video game came into the American home," Morgan wrote.

Obviously the gift of life is the most precious, but apparently a cutting-edge video game, an electric typewriter to capture a lifetime of memories, and being trapped at home with the entire family, all ranked up there in making for memorable and joyful Christmases.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/morrison/

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