Sheriff's deputies in Hendricks County, Ind., thought it was a familiar Christmas story: a young carpenter was unable to find adequate accommodations for his wife and newborn at Christmas. So, the deputies decided it was appropriate to bring gifts, several carloads in fact, to Clayton W. Maupin, his wife, Tamela, and three children, including a 6-week-old girl, Sasha, who were living in a motel room in Plainfield. The other children are Scott, 3, and Brandy, 18 months. "I'm not a religious man, but with his being a carpenter, the baby, the motel, it kinda brings it all home doesn't it?" Sheriff's Sgt. Stephen Golden asked. Deputies were calling the couple "our own Mary and Joseph," he added. The family moved to Maupin's hometown of Plainfield after he was laid off from his job in Indianapolis. Since then, Maupin has worked at odd jobs. Money from the sheriff's Christmas fund was used to pay the $270 in back rent for the room, and another $134 bought baby clothing, bedding and food.
--You're never too old to enjoy the holiday. Just ask Susan Brunson, a former slave's daughter who celebrated her 116th birthday Thursday. "Thank the Lord for giving me Christmas one more time," she said. The small, white-haired woman who has outlived three husbands and 10 children, was feted in her daughter's home in Roosevelt, N.Y., by her family, including more than 35 great-grandchildren. "I'm feeling good," Brunson said. But her daughter, Mary McDaniel, 80, said the centenarian has lost her eyesight and has trouble hearing. Brunson bowled regularly until she was 105, but does not go out much any more, McDaniel said. Born in Bamberg, S.C., on Dec. 25, 1870, Brunson is believed to be the oldest living American, but officials have been unable to document her age.
--Fruitcake is not only a tradition at Christmas for the Ford family, it's a family heirloom. It all started when Fridelia Ford died in 1879. To honor her, the family decided to keep her last fruitcake, made in November, 1878, in her Ohio farmhouse. Twenty years ago, Uncle Amos Ford even nibbled on the rum-flavored treasure. "We like to say that he lived for two years more, so it couldn't have been too bad," said Morgan Ford, Fridelia's great-grandson of Tecumseh, Mich., who took over guardian duties in 1952. Will there be future heirlooms? "We buy 'em. We don't make them," Ford said.