Note: The following story about a TV Christmas program filmed in Almont was printed in the Tri-City Times on December 15, 1982. The filming was on the Jim Trieloff family farm and was written by Tri-City Times reporter, Marianne Jordan.

Out of the pine grove and into the light of an early December afternoon walk the members of a choir. Music fills the air, cameras whirr in the background and the filming of a TV special has begun in Almont.

The setting for this Christmas pageant, to be shown on Channel 62 at 7 p.m. both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was the picturesque farm of the Jim Trieloff family on Tubspring Road.

The film entitled “What Does Christmas Mean To You” is a production of the Zion Evangelistic Temple, a non-demominational congregation whose temple is located in Clawson. Guiding the worshippers is Pastor Leonard Gardner, who is featured in the film along with narrator Truman Kelly and a host of local Almont area residents.

Spokespersons for the group explained the Trieloffs, members of the church, were kind enough to offer the use of their farm for the filming and it was, “Just the country setting we were looking for to make this special.”

Lorrie Trieloff said on Friday when the equipment for the filming arrived and was unloaded in her dining room, “I thought we had been invaded by Martians!”

It didn’t get any less hectic as the filming progressed but some strange and wonderful things happened according to Ms. Trieloff.

She explained the crew had begun their filming by questioning shoppers in Oakland Mall as to what Christmas meant to them. She said one lady, loaded down with packages has answered, “Bills!” while a little child had said, “Santa!”

Next the group has traveled to Nursing Homes and interviewed their residents, finding still different answers to the question posed. Finally, before coming to the Trieloff farm, they had filmed segments of interviews with former prisoners who had been in prison during last year’s Christmas season. This too brought varied answers to “What Does Christmas Mean To You.”

Ms. Trieloff explained, in conveying the real meaning of Christmas to viewers, the special will show first prison bars . . . then the bars fading from view as members of the church choir emerge from the farm’s pine grove into the sunlight, symbolizing the coming from darkness and despair into the sunlight of Christian belief in the miracle of Christ’s birth.

Many of the Almont members of the cast were children and Ms. Trieloff explained this presented some unavoidable technical problems for the crew. One child got so sleepy he dozed off during the filming of the scene with the animals.

This filming, with the Pastor narrating the story of Christ’s birth, was done in the Trieloff’s barn and “with all Almont animals.” Ms. Trieloff said a Dryden gentleman has furnished the burro. Along with it came the story of the cross on each little burro’s back. According to legend burros did not have a cross on their back until after one was used to carry a precious load, Mary, to Bethlehem on that Christmas Eve so many, many years ago. But since then all true burros have the cross on their back signifying their part in the Christmas story.

The animals were put up on ledges around the barn for the filming explained Ms. Trieloff, including chickens, turkeys and rabbits, who for some strange reason all sat quite still on their ordained perches, except one chicken. She laid an egg! One little boy, bored with the proceedings pulled his ski cap down over his entire face, and then wagged his tongue back and forth, back and forth. Ms. Trieloff said she could hear the monitoring crew saying, “For goodness sake who’s that . . . get him out of there!” Another child kept walking over and talking with the animals!

Then came the tale of the filming of two small ones unwrapping Ms. Trieloff’s nativity scene. She said, “When the little girl came to the Baby Jesus she carefully unwrapped the package and then began rubbing the infants tiny feet!”

Afterwards narrator Kelly spoke of the time in his childhood when what he wanted most of all for Christmas was a nativity scene. He said his parents were not religious people and hesitated several years before buying the boy’s wanted gift. When he got it, Kelly whose talents range from a beautiful stage voice to the gift of playing piano by ear, said he remembered he played with all of this here to each figure in the scene and the wonderful feeling it has brought him as each figure seemed transformed with light. He said, “I saw the same look on the boy’s face who unwrapped the figures during our filming”

Unknown to Kelly at the time was the fact this boy is also gifted and plays piano by ear.

Ms. Trieloff said her family was touched in many ways during this past weekend. She said her son, John, is a diabetic and she had made several trips to the doctor during the week because his blood sugar level was five. On Sunday the child’s level was checked. It was perfectly normal. She said, “We were so thankful.”

And so the adventure ended, the crew and cast moved on, leaving behind only equipment and empty hot coffee and chocolate cups… at least that’s all there seems to be . . . but somehow you get the feeling there is something quite wonderful still at the Tubspring farm, something which will always remain there. Something which will surface again and again as the Christmas season comes to Almont each year, perhaps it’s the true answer to the question of the meaning of Christmas.