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Public servants prepare for fun

December 24, 2005

Whether you call it Christmas or Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, Yule or solstice, many Ashlanders celebrate some sort of holiday this time of year.

As it turns out, many of Ashland&

s civic leaders celebrate the version known as Christmas, and each practices a holiday celebration as diverse as is our city government.

Mayor John Morrison hosts a &

crab feed&

at his house on Christmas Eve, a tradition he has been practicing since growing up on a dairy farm in coastal Tillamook.

&

Everyone has a bowl of oyster stew, and we eat crab until we can&

t eat anymore,&

he said. Like so many other families, they open just one present on Christmas Eve.

Police Chief Mike Bianca said his holiday celebration will start with a Christmas Eve mass and continue with his wife&

s traditional Christmas morning breakfast, which he referred to affectionately as &

Jeannie&

s cinnamon rolls.&

Ashland fire department Chief Keith Woodley will have five of his six children home for Christmas this year, as well as 16 grandchildren. His youngest son won&

t be there this year because he is on a mission for their church in Argentina.

Woodley will read to his family Luke 2, which is the story of the Nativity, and a little-known Charles Dickens story, that he wrote not for publication but for his own children, called &

The Life of Our Lord.&

Gino Grimaldi, Ashland&

s city administrator, will be spending the holiday weekend participating in some winter sports. On Christmas Eve he plans to take his wife, two sons and one daughter to Mt. Ashland for a day of skiing. And on Christmas day, after their traditional breakfast of eggs benedict, they&

ll go ice skating at the Darex Ice Rink next to Lithia Park, he said.

Ashland&

s city councilors also have their own unique ways of spending the holidays.

Alex Amarotico and his wife Danielle will be watching their children Ella Claire, 4, and Taylor, 6 open their presents.

He felt confident leaking to this newspaper that Taylor would be getting some model train engines and Ella Claire would be getting a new bicycle, which will be hidden in the water heater room.

Later, Danielle will prepare a brunch spread for their extended family before Alex has to go to his restaurant, Standing Stone Brewery, to change the bricks in the brick-fired oven. Being one of only two days of the year that the restaurant is closed, it&

s the only time the oven is cool enough to switch the bricks.

David Chapman has a Christmas party for about 25 people that they call &

the orphans&

&

Christmas for people who don&

t have family in the area. He said they have kugel, a Jewish noodle casserole, and latkes, which are Jewish potato pancake.

Chapman said his holiday is relatively non-denominational but, he added, &

my stomach is Jewish.&

Russ Silbiger half-joked that &

one of my goals for the holiday is staying as far away from city business as possible until the new year.&

Beyond that, he said, he has no tried and true tradition, other than spending the holiday with his girlfriend and other friends.

Jack Hardesty and his wife Alice are straying from their traditional turkey dinner to indulge in an Italian Christmas dinner: lasagna. They have also asked their children to make a donation to the Jackson County Fuel Committee, in lieu of presents.

&

We told our kids we didn&

t want any more stuff,&

Alice said.

Kate Jackson said her holiday is &

all about friends and family.&

She said her and her husband Chuck Keil will stay home Christmas morning and open a few presents.

&

My tendency is to go skiing, but my shoulder isn&

t healed yet,&

she said, making reference to recent surgery she had.

Cate Hartzell said her holiday celebration is &

a time to slow down and share with family.&

She said one of her favorite parts of the holiday season is the Christmas songs and carols. She has a favorite Christmas movie &

&

One Magic Christmas&

&

that she watches with her family.

And then, of course, there are our civic leaders who have to work for the holidays. Six police officers and nine firefighters will be on duty Christmas day.

But don&

t feel too bad for them, there is somewhat of a holiday tradition around Ashland to bring a little sample of a holiday dinner down to the police department and firehouse. More donations are always welcome.

&

It&

s generally pretty quiet on Christmas day,&

said Sgt. Bob Smith, of the Ashland Police Department.

&

Maybe criminals take Christmas off,&

he joked.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x 226 or bplain@dailytidings.com.