Show Notes: Anne Costa, Murder Maybe; Christmas in Michigan

This show, “Michigan and other Mayhem”, is a sort of factual, slightly comical, always earnest podcast about interesting stuff in Michigan and around the world. It is done by two sisters-in-law (Ali and Jenn) that like to talk about random interesting stories.  Expect cults, mysteries, murder, fast talking, and a couple of mental palate cleansers… and cuss words.  Those happen on this show, a lot.

Episode 65: Anne Costa, Murder Maybe; Christmas in Michigan


  • Pretend podcast music because Jenn likes it. 
  • Ali has a weird laugh.  It is often loud.

Ali talks about how tough her sister Poppy is, and her weakness as a superhero.

Anne Costa, Murder Maybe

The Costa Family had been through tragedy in August 2016 when a cousin, Lisa Fabbri, of the family was shot and killed. Lisa had been murdered by her boyfriend, Jeremiah Bashell. Jeremiah was charged with 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

On June 2018, Anne Costa filed for divorce from her husband Loris Costa. There were married for 26 years. Loris and Anne both worked for General Motors for many years, had their home paid off, and their last minor child was almost an adult. Loris was said to be okay with the divorce and didn’t believe they would have any significant disagreements.

On Christmas Eve 2018, the immediate family was in the home. Anne, Loris, and their sons, ages 17, 23, and 26 were all in the house. Loris shot his wife with a handgun around 11:00 p.m. and then killed himself. Anne was taken to the hospital in critical condition being shot in the upper torso.

The children confirmed the two were arguing prior to shots being fired. I couldn’t find any obituary for Anne, so she may have survived the shooting.

Christmas in Michigan, 2019 version

Christmas, Michigan

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, there is a small town named Christmas. The town was built up around a factory that created Christmas baubles and decorations starting in 1938. The factory has since closed but the town remains. They have a population of about 400, including a 35-foot tall Santa Claus. People often visit the town as a snowmobile resort and tourists like to mail cards from the post office, having them stamped Christmas, as the sender.

Michigan’s Chance at a White Christmas

According to an mlive article (listed below) the lower eastside of Michigan has the lowest chance of having a white Christmas, with the area only getting one white Christmas out of every three Christmases. The article has the definition of a white Christmas listed as one inch of snow on the ground. Those who live in the UP have 98% chance of having a white Christmas.  The westside of Michigan, both north and south sees more snow than the eastside.

The article also provides a snow map of Michigan and Wisconsin.

Eastern White Pine

The Eastern White Pine is Michigan’s state tree. It’s a beautiful pine tree that grows too large to become Christmas trees for homes, but they are pretty enough that they capture the spirit. All but one percent of old growth Eastern White Pine forests remained after heavy logging.

Michigan is one of the top states of the United States for producing Christmas trees, which are typically evergreens. The industry brings in about $60 million dollars annually. There are between 780 and 850 tree farms in Michigan which export about 75% of their trees for the Christmas season.

Chris Van Allsburg

Chris Van Allsburg is from East Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan, while focusing on sculpture. At home Chris began sketching illustrations, eventually becoming an illustrator for children’s books. Chris is now known for writing the children’s books Jumanji and Polar Express. Both were later made into movies, with Polar Express becoming part of Christmas traditions.

Michigan does have a train line that runs during the Christmas season called the North Pole Express. It is a one-hour train ride from Owosso to the village of Ashley. The train is pulled by an old-fashioned engine, Pere Marquette 1225, which looks like the engine in the animated Polar Express story. As a matter of fact, the blueprints from the Pere Marquette 1225 were used as the prototype for the train in the animated film. They even used the sounds of the Pere Marquette 1225 in the movie Polar Express.

In Ashley, the village is made to look like a 1940’s Christmas wonderland. There are quaint shops, horse drawn carriages, a hobo camp, eateries, and handmade gifts. The North Pole Express is available from the middle of November to a few days before Christmas each year, only on weekends.

Christmas Towns

Most people in Michigan are aware of Bronner’s Christmas store at Frankenmuth. Not everyone knowns about other stores and towns dedicated to the celebration of Christmas.

Olde World Canterbury Village is located in Lake Orion. It is a beautiful year-round but during the Christmas season it is transformed to a gorgeous holiday destination. Inside the village is a store called Always Christmas, that is filled to the seams with Christmas do-dads. There are also 56 village displays in the building.

Holland, Michigan also holds Kerstmarkt, which translates to Christmas Market. The city opens wooden booths and stalls for local artisans to sell their wares. The goods being sold feature wooden toys, handmade pottery and jewelry, along with pine wreaths and holly bushes. During the same time, the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park holds their Christmas and Holiday Traditions Around the World exhibit. It is a short drive between the two.

Greenfield Village, which is in Dearborn, is set in the late 19th, early 20th century year-round. During the holiday season, the village fills with carolers, fiddlers, and wagons joining in a sing-along. An ice-skating rink is opened, and kids can visit with Santa and his reindeer. The village ends its night with a fantastic fireworks display.

Christmas Rankings

Century Link had a ranking of all the states and their level of holiday cheer. They used two broad criteria to create their list, online searches and the area’s culture.

Online Activity

  • Google searches for Christmas movies and gingerbread houses (29%)
  • Google shopping trends for wrapping paper, Christmas cards, Christmas ornaments, and “Elf on a Shelf” (28%)
  • Christmas music streaming (14.5%)
  • Tweeting about Christmas (7%)

Area Culture

  • Number of Christmas tree farms per capita (7%)
  • Charitable giving (14.5%)

Century Link’s Ranking of States with the Most Christmas Cheer

  1. Washington
  2. South Dakota
  3. Utah
  4. Missouri
  5. Maine
  6. Tennessee
  7. Alabama
  8. Arkansas
  9. Virginia
  10. North Carolina
  11. Pennsylvania
  12. Indiana
  13. West Virginia
  14. Wisconsin
  15. Mississippi
  16. Rhode Island  
  17. Idaho
  18. Wyoming
  19. North Dakota
  20. Ohio
  21. Massachusetts
  22. Oregon
  23. South Carolina
  24. Iowa
  25. Nebraska
  26. Kentucky
  27. Oklahoma
  28. Vermont
  29. Kansas
  30. Colorado
  31. New Hampshire
  32. Maryland
  33. Connecticut
  34. New  York
  35. Delaware
  36. Louisiana
  37. Illinois
  38. Texas
  39. Montana
  40. Georgia
  41. New Mexico
  42. California
  43. Arizona
  44. Minnesota
  45. Nevada
  46. Michigan
  47. New Jersey
  48. Florida
  49. Hawaii
  50. Alaska

Ali = Christmas is what taught me that each family has their own traditions and what is normal to me is weird to another person.

In my early 20’s a coworker and I were talking about Christmas and she mentioned something about Santa leaving gifts under the tree. That got my attention. Then she mentioned that a selected family member would then dole out the gifts and then they would wait as one by one each person opened their gifts, starting with the youngest.

I mentioned that wasn’t what we did Christmas morning at my family home. She replied with, “I know. No everyone waits for each person to open a gift.” In fact, my mind was blown that Santa put gifts under their tree. That’s when I broke down our family tradition and blew her mind when I said this is what I thought the norm was… We would leave Santa a note, telling him where we would like our gifts. We would always pick a piece of furniture in the living room, with the couch being the prime spot. When we woke up there weren’t any name tags, your gifts were in your spot. For the years that we didn’t have a stocking, the elves left us gifts and hid our gifts with clues. Not all our gifts were wrapped, some were just sitting in your pile, exposed. (I learned that was weird when Arianna’s stepdad, Jenn’s brother, helped with the first Christmas. Horrified, he wrapped the gifts. Eight years later, he sees it my way.)

No one waited. The moment our parents gave us the nod, we tore into our gift pile like a bunch of wild animals.

It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I found out there are so many different shades of normal.

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Warning: This podcast occasionally contains strong language which may be unsuitable for children.

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