Some in Cape spend Christmas outside the house

Friday, December 26, 2008
Kamdyn Rhodes, 7, center, receives popcorn from her father, Sondra, before going to see "Bedtime Stories" at Cape West 14 Cine in Cape Girardeau on Thursday. Sondra Rhodes' nieces Kelby Thomas, 5, and Micah Boyd, 8, joined the Rhodes holiday tradition: catching a movie on Christmas Day.

The unwrapping of Christmas presents may have been the most common scene in Southeast Missouri, but others spent their holiday eating out, going to movie theaters or volunteering their time for philanthropic causes.

Richard Marshall of Poplar Bluff, Mo., was eating with his family Thursday at Huddle House in Cape Girardeau. Though he admits the slowing economy has put a strain on many Americans' financial situations, spending time with his loved ones reminded him of what he believes is truly important.

"The economy has hit me and other relatives hard," Marshall said in between bites of his Christmas Day breakfast. "We drove here to see family and spend quality time together. This year we're not concentrating so much on presents."

Marshall and his wife, Dawn, met other family inside the restaurant before spending the holiday with other family members in Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Patton, Mo.

"To me, Christmas is about family," Dawn Marshall said. "It's not so much about getting the presents as it is about spending time with those we love."

Cape West 14 Cine projectionist Phillip Gramlisch starts a reel Thursday afternoon during what is one of the busier days of the year for the theater in Cape Girardeau.

For Easy Stilson of Cape Girardeau, eating breakfast with family members at Huddle House -- one of the few restaurants open in Cape Girardeau on Christmas Day -- was among the many activities planned for the day.

In addition to opening presents, Stilson and some of her family joined about 70 other members of La Croix Church and their friends and relatives that afternoon for deliveries of honey barbecue boneless wings from Buffalo Wild Wings in Cape Girardeau to those who worked on Christmas Day in Cape Girardeau and Jackson. Restaurant owner Bill Zellmer is a member of the Methodist church.

By the conclusion of the day, Zellmer and other church members had cooked about 5,000 wings that were delivered to workers. Teams of three to five people delivered the wings with a card containing the church's name, purpose of the activity and the Bible verse of I John 4:19.

"For most people who work on Christmas Day it's a bummer," said event organizer Marsha Denmark. "This is one way to brighten their day."

The church began delivering wings five years ago after the Rev. Ron Watts read a book about random acts of kindness. That first year 50 volunteers delivered 1,200 wings; this year, the number was 5,000 wings.

"This was a way to spread some holiday cheer and show the love of Christ at the same time," said Watts, who has been pastor of the congregation for 20 years. "I'm really proud of the folks at La Croix who have that servant's heart. That says there's a real hunger in the human heart to spread some love in the community."

Thursday was Jerry Stone's fifth year to participate in the effort. He said it's something he and his family look forward to each Christmas. His team delivered wings to 23 workers at Super 8, Town House Inn and Walgreen's in Cape Girardeau.

"The giving part reminds us of what's really important about celebrating Christmas," Stone said. "It brings a great deal of joy to our hearts."

While those volunteers delivered wings, others, such as Pat Hindman of Cape Girardeau, chose to spend the day watching movies at Cape West 14 Cine.

"My family celebrated our Christmas yesterday, so I thought it would be a great time to get out and watch a movie," said Hindman, who was spending her 25th straight Christmas at a theater. "It wouldn't be Christmas without going to the theater."

"Christmas is traditionally a winding-down day," said Kelly Hoskins, spokeswoman for Wehrenberg Theatres, which owns Cape West 14 Cine. "There are very few entertainment options that are for the whole family and affordable. Going to the theater has become second nature for many people on Christmas."


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