Kathleen Dreis Lange's Christmas memories include shopping at the Five and Dime on 48th and Chicago with her sister, Wendy, and brother, Tim. They would pool their money and spend hours discussing the perfect gifts for their parents. But one year, "Tim broke rank and decided to buy something for Mother on his own. My sister and I were aghast! What! The three of us not give Mother her annual gift of Maybelline Cake Mascara and Brush in the little red plastic case?" Tim could not be deterred and proceeded to buy the cardboard Santa and sleigh, marked 39 cents on the bottom, with six tiny reindeer, which their mother displayed every Christmas. Lange's father, mother and brother are all gone now, but she has continued the tradition in memory of her loved ones and Christmases past. She included a postscript: "Little did we know ... my Mother did not wear mascara." Stephanie Yant's most cherished ornament has a tragic story. In 1976, Yant was a college student on her way to Key West, Fla., for the holidays. Her parents met her plane in Miami, but on the way back down the Keys, their car was hit head-on by a drunk driver. Yant's mother was killed instantly, while Yant and her father were severely injured. Both spent weeks in the hospital. When they returned home, there were gifts waiting under the tree, including a colorful bird ornament, chosen by her mother, along with a note reminding her to never forget Christmas 1976. "This note and ornament has become a cherished, but sad piece of my past and is the first ornament to be placed on our family's tree every year," she wrote.