Donuts, family, and holiday cheer: the story behind a West Michigan Christmas tradition

Posted at 2:47 PM, Dec 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-25 14:47:51-05

WYOMING. Mich. – Christmas is about family, giving and of course, food! But one sweet West Michigan tradition has stood out among all others. Just walk in to Marge’s Donut Den in Wyoming on any given Christmas morning, and you’ll see what keeps people coming back year after year.

Marge’s opened its doors back in June of 1975, and for 40 years has been serving the West Michigan community seven days a week – including Christmas Day. The employees that work on Christmas morning do so on a volunteer basis. The tradition is something the shop’s founder, Marge Wilson, looks forward to with each passing holiday season.

“Every year the stories are different,” Marge told me today. “Why would I stay home on Christmas when those same people who support me all year long need a place to go on Christmas? It would be wrong.”

There’s nothing wrong with the donuts though – take my word for it. But the real joy of this holiday staple is the atmosphere. Marge tells me many of the same people have been walking through the door on Christmas, some for the entirety of the shop’s four-decade existence. During our interview, she often broke away to say hello to an old friend or wish a new customer a ‘merry Christmas.’ It was easy to why Marge kept the tradition going; not because of the joy she got out of it, but because of the joy her customers did.

“The real reason [we do it] is because the customers support us all year long,” she said. “How can I close the door when they need us? So, you have to be here for them. A lot of the kids that have grown up and moved some place – they come home for the holidays and I get to see them.”

This morning we talked to Josh Stoneburner, who was there enjoying breakfast with his family now in their tenth or so year of Christmas morning at Marge’s. Josh still remembers his first donut there as a young boy, when Marge let him come behind the counter to ring up his own transaction. She also paid him for his work at the register. Don’t do the math on that, just know it left a lasting impression on Josh – one he plans to pass on to his son who was just today spending his first Christmas morning at Marge’s.

“It was quite the experience,” said Josh, “and it’s been a fun place ever since. It’s hard to forget a memory like that.”

“This is a family place. It’s been here for years. And through thick and thin I’ve seen it grow.”

And through it all, Marge and her customers have grown too. The faces may change – maybe even a donut flavor here and there too – but what has remained the same for forty years of Christmas mornings is that you can always count on Marge’s doors to be open.