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Share your Christmas traditions with us

I keep thinking about the onion man.

About a month ago, Roy Champagne was so proud of the giant Ailsa Craig onion he grew in his garden, he just had to bring a boxful down to The News offices to show them off.

And we just had to run his photo in the paper the next day.

That’s because The Alpena News maintains a connection to its community that too many daily papers have lost. We haven’t given up on telling your stories in favor of click-bait scandals or distanced ourselves from you to make room for national politics.

I love working for a newspaper that still maintains a daily Lifestyles page filled with news about students making college deans’ lists or earning scholarships, about upcoming spaghetti dinners and church functions.

I love working in a newsroom where our readers feel free to walk on up the steps and proudly drop off pictures of their grandchildren’s accomplishments, knowing they’ll have a space in their hometown newspaper.

I love that The News remains part of its community’s traditions. Maybe you have an Alpena News calendar hanging on your wall right now or one of our Christmas bulbs packed away, ready to hang on your tree. Maybe you spend Saturday nights playing gin rummy with a deck of Alpena News cards.

We’re like family.

Like family, we occasionally have to tell you things you don’t wanna hear. We have to write the tough stories so you can face some of our struggles head-on, fully armed with all the information we can get you.

But being family means we also get to celebrate your successes, no matter how small.

A lot of papers have given up on that kind of stuff in the cost-cutting era, because it’s hard work to pull all that together.

It’s more than a full day’s work most weeks to put together the Community Calendar of Events for every Tuesday edition, and it takes time type up the weekly Bridge Club winners. The few minutes reporter Julie Riddle spent with Mr. Champaign and his onions was a few minutes she was away from her other daily deadlines.

But it’s worth it and we keep at it because it’s important to us that, 100 years from now, Northeast Michigan historians will know what life was like not just for the politicians in our area, but for the hardworking men, women, and students who really make this city click.

In keeping with that ethos, we’d like you to join us this year in one of our holiday traditions.

Every year, The News runs on its front page at least one holiday-themed story every day between Black Friday and Christmas.

Last year, some of those stories were personal ones from the history of our newsroom staffers. You got to hear about our favorite Christmas traditions and see (sometimes embarrassing) old photos of us at Christmastime.

This year, we want to hear from you.

Did you have a favorite Christmas tradition you’ve kept growing up, or have you made a new one in recent years? Do you have a funny, sad, or touching story of a Christmas gone wonderfully wrong or perfectly right?

We want to hear about it.

Between now and November, we’ll collect your stories to run on the front page throughout the Christmas season.

If you’ve got one, type it up in 800 or fewer words and email it to me at jhinkley@thealpenanews.com or mail it the old-fashioned wayto The News, 130 Park Place, Alpena, Michigan, 49707. Or stop on by and say hello and drop it off.

Make sure to tell me your name and the town or township where you live (no anonymous submissions).

We’d love to see your photos, too, and the older, the better. You can get those to us the same way. Make sure to include information about who’s who in the photograph and when and where it was taken.

We’ll print 22 editions this Christmas season, and I’d love to have one of your stories and photos on the front page of every one of them.

So break out your typewriter or computer and get writing, and let’s make a new tradition together.

Justin A. Hinkley can be reached at 989-358-5686 or jhinkley@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHinkley.