When Melanie Leer was 4 years old, her mother, Susan Luehrs, of Peotone, entered her into the Daily Journal’s Christmas Kids contest.

The contest allows subscribers to nominate a child in their family between the ages of 2 to 5 to be photographed as a Christmas Kid.

Then, starting the day before Thanksgiving, the Daily Journal publishes photos of the lucky children along with reminders of the number of days until Christmas. The countdown ends Christmas Eve.

Among the numerous entries received in 1987, Melanie’s name was chosen in a random draw. She wore a red dress and held a teddy bear named Dudley December for the photo.

Her mother tucked away the dress, bear and photos from the day. Now more than three decades later, Melanie, who now resides in Manteno, filled out that same entry form for her 3-year-old daughter, Lillian, and her twin brother, Lucas.

The twins didn’t get drawn for the 2019 subscriber contest, but a note on the back of Melanie’s entry did draw the Daily Journal’s attention.

She had that same dress and teddy bear from the 1987 photo on hand.

It’s not often that a newspaper’s subscriber tradition has the staying power to span decades, as well as generations, but this long-standing, annual contest has endured thanks to its readers.

The Daily Journal is pleased to continue this tradition for the community, and thankful to the Leers and Luehrs families for sharing their story to kick off the countdown this year.

And with that, we are 29 days from Christmas.

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