First Things First

The Best Christmas Memories

For many people, Christmas marks one of the most special days of the year. It is a day to spend with family and to celebrate the birth of Jesus. As the day unfolds, people make memories they will remember forever.

When I asked people to share some of their favorite Christmas memories on Facebook, here’s what some of them shared:

In the late 1990s, Cordell Carter II was studying 3,000 miles from home. He and his Irish twin (baby sis by several months) had been warring for some time over decisions she made and his public, visceral response. He was dreading being home for the holidays but, since family tradition was sovereign at that point in his life, he flew back to Virginia Beach, Va., in time for his Dad’s candlelight service. Per tradition, the church broke into family groups toward the end of the service and sung carols together. As Carter looked for his cousins and big sister, someone grabbed his hand. It was his little sister.

“We just sang together,” Carter says, “‘Silent Night,’ in harmony. Much better than apologies, a musical reconciliation. Best Christmas ever.”

When Mical Traynor “was growing up, all stores were closed on Christmas — no exceptions.

“Our neighbors across the street had to borrow a roll of [toilet paper] on Christmas Day. Every year after that, my Dad would wrap a roll and deliver it to them on Christmas Eve.”

James McKissic’s Dad would always drive the family around on Christmas Eve night until they saw Santa’s sleigh in the sky — really just blinking airplane lights. Then they would go home and try their best to sleep. His parents always left a check for Santa along with cookies and milk so the children knew who was paying for all the good things they’d find under the tree on Christmas morning.

Cathy Ritterer’s Dad was always awake “super early” on Christmas.

“Not sure he ever went to bed,” she says. “He always had Elvis on the turntable, playing the ‘Blue Christmas’ album. Mom always making something hot to drink and Santa had made his rounds! Mom and Dad never had anything under the tree until Santa showed up the year [Dad] passed away.”

Leslie Carol Riley had “had four generations living in one house, and I was the only child.”

“I miss Christmas mornings with my family, opening gifts, eating breakfast, and later that day, Christmas dinner,” she says. “My great aunt and uncle, who had no children of their own, enjoyed sharing Christmas with us.

“Every year, I would work in my family’s bakery and get to see all my friends and their families either there or at candlelight church services.”

Joanie Sompayrac’s home was always full of friends and neighbors.

“Christmas Eve we always had an open house with family and friends, especially friends and neighbors who may have had no place else to go for Christmas,” she recalls. “Our house was always full on Christmas Eve, and I think we all loved it. The food, the fun and LOTS of laughter!”

Kim Clausen may have the best memory of Christmas, however.

“My parents were divorced for several years,” she says. “My Dad lived in another state after they divorced. They remarried on Christmas Eve in front of our Christmas tree. I was 15 years old. They were married for another 23 years until my Dad passed away. Best Christmas gift ever… I got my Daddy back.”

Memories are a collage of special moments that tell our story. In the midst of living out these moments, people were probably just sharing a moment together instead of thinking about making memories.

People say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but the memories are priceless. The best gifts really can’t be purchased in a store.

I hope you spend your holidays surrounded by the ones you love, making the moments count.

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