How one Louisiana couple is safely celebrating Christmas with 104 family members
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In a year with so much bad news, ‘tis the season to count our blessings.
Tom “Mac” Macpherson and his wife Andree keep theirs in a little blue jar. Some are hurriedly jotted on a slip of paper, some scribbled on an old napkin, but everyone is important.
“This one simply says, ‘We appreciate you. Merry Christmas, Bailey and Kate.” Mac said as he read from the folded napkin.
He and Andree have collected 104 of them over the past 23 Christmases.
“Christmas is our big holiday.” Mac chuckles from an over-stuffed recliner inside his living room.
Stockings for him and Andree, their two daughters, son-in-law, and two grandchildren hang from the bookshelf behind him.
“It kind of explodes everywhere: inside, outside. It’s a big deal for us.”
In the corner, a fully lit and decorated Christmas tree turns slowly in its stand. A mound of wrapped presents sit in anticipation of Christmas Eve, but it’s what is outside that has been a blessing all these years.
“Rachel, and Thomas, Joseph, Dan . . .” Mac rattles off names of his other kids like he’s reading Santa’s nice list.
These blessings began in October of 1997 with a Christmas request from his oldest daughter Kate Serio.
“I was probably 7,” Kate remembered. “I told him I wanted big Christmas lights. Lots of lights.”
Along with those lights, Mac made two plywood stockings -- one for each of his daughters.
“We lived down the street from a school at the time.” Mac added. “And we heard so much how the kids love them. So every year, we’d add a few more lights.”
Along with the lights, Mac added stockings for his daughter’s friends. “There’s Rex, and Matthew over there,” Mac said pointing to a green and a yellow stocking planted among the inflatable decorations and lights in his front yard.
He and Andree had no idea how their family was about to grow.
“The neighborhood children would come by and they’d ask, ‘What are all those names on the stockings? Are those all your children?’ Mac laughed when he answered them. “Well, not exactly.”
The next year he added those neighbors’ names to more stockings in his front yard.
“These are a hundred kids that we have come in contact with,” Andree added. “or we handed out Halloween candy to or waved to as they rode their bike through the streets. It touches all of us.”
This year, 104 names grace the stockings in front of the Macpherson home, each one a friend, or neighbor, all of them family.
As in all families, kids grow up, and sometimes apart, but at Christmastime, in the Macpherson’s front yard, they reunite.
Mac remembers a dad walking by his Christmas display pushing his son in a stroller.
“He came back a number of years later because he was shoulder height to me. I said, ‘Do I have a stocking in the yard for you?’ He says, ‘Oh yeah. I’m Henry.” I said, ‘You’re little Henry?’”
After admiring the Macpherson’s decorations for 10 years, Lori Stoeckle and her three sons became part of the family in 2015.
“We wouldn’t miss a Christmas without finding our stockings,” Lori said. Even though they have moved out of the neighborhood, they come back every year. “It’s kind of a little scavenger hunt,” she said. “It’s never in the same spot. You have to search across a hundred stockings.”
“It’s a little thing for us,” Mac said carefully folding his blessings and returning them to the jar. “Apparently, it has some big meaning to other people.”
Daughter Kate sees it a little differently.
“It’s important to see, right now especially, people having big hearts, and they’ve got the biggest,” Kate says.
In a year when many of us will not be gathering with family for Christmas, the Macphersons have found a way to bring everyone home for the holidays, and that is a blessing to us all.
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