Standout Christmas stories in St. Michael and Little Falls


When the photographer said "Grandma, look over here," three of five generations of women turned their heads toward the camera. WCCO has the story of a remarkable Christmas photograph.

Great-great-grandma was the star.

She had 12 children starting in the 1930s. She now has 47 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and 16 great-great grandchildren, most of them still in Minnesota.

Her daughter, and her daughter's daughter were in the photo too. The baby, Ella, just six week old, stole the show. She is the daughter's daughter's daughter's daughter.

Besides a fruitcake recipe and a hearty constitution, the generations have passed along a love of family and an appreciation for tradition.

Ella's mother, Shannon, said she marvels at her great-grandmother's stories of horse-and-buggy days, and wonders what inventions lie ahead for her little girl.

In Little Falls, a different tradition turns the community into family for Christmas. KARE 11 reported that Charlie Peterka, owner of Charlie's Pizza, threw open the doors of the pizza place for anyone who wanted company and a meal. He started the tradition three years ago, in memory of his late daughter.

"It's very emotional," Peterka said. "My daughter died a few years ago and Christmases have been really hard."

His nephew suggested the open house. Peterka said he serves at least 400 people on Christmas. Volunteers and donors make sure there are gifts for children who need them too.

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