Readers of The Gospel Greats Weekly Newsletter were asked to send in personal stories about favorite Christmas memories.  The original intent was to use some of them on The Gospel Greats broadcast which aired Christmas weekend, 2010.  This was, in fact, done. However, we received so many of them that we wanted to share more of them with you through this special section of our website.  Enjoy perusing these Christmas stories.  And perhaps they will bring to mind some of your own favorite Christmas memories.

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"Christmas is a special time for me in the fact that everything centers around Christ - the Christmas tree symbolizing that Christ died on the tree, Christmas lights symbolizing that Christ is the Light of the World and that we are to be the light to others, giving of gifts is supposed to symbolize that God gave His Son (even though advertisers do not think of that). Another favorite of Christmas for me is the Christmas songs. In 1992 and 1993, we recorded the popular Southern Gospel Christmas songs of that time, including "Grandma's House for Christmas" by Kirk Talley and "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" and I am not sure what male quartet sang that song. At the time of sharing my Christmas story, I have a grandson who will turn 1 year old the week before Christmas, and children when young and grandchildren make Christmas really special." — Daniel D. Miller, Shippenville, PA

"I just wanted to share one of most blessed Christmases. It was about nine or ten years ago. Our church choir was preparing for our Christmas eve service. For weeks on Sunday evenings we'd get together for choir practice. Our choir director asked if anyone was interested in any of the solos to let him know. I was very interested in one and as each solo was assigned, there was only one left that was not filled. It was called "Joy to the World", the one that David Phelps had written. My son TJ was in the choir this year and what a blessing it was to have him there. TJ had finally stopped running from the Lord and given his life to Christ. It had been a long and very rough road but though many, many prayers I got to experience my grown son share his testimony and get baptized earlier at our Thanksgiving service. To make a long story short, our choir director heard TJ singing and asked him if he was interested in singing a solo. TJ had never sung a solo, TJ was in chorus in school and that was the extent of it. TJ said he would listen to the song and let Duane (the choir director) know. He said yes and worked and practiced the song for weeks. I knew TJ could sing, but I didn't know he could SING, if you know what I mean. I had never heard him truly sing. That Christmas Eve TJ sang from his heart and oh did the blessing flow. My heart was so full, there are truly no words to tell you how full. God had promised me years ago that TJ would serve Him one day, and I got to experience that promise. My solo followed TJ and let me tell you by God's grace I made it thru. Today TJ is married and has a family. He is the praise and worship leader for a men's fellowship called The Light House. He has written songs and has been singing for the Lord since. What a blessing!" — Patty Evert

"Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the music, the smells and the feeling of good will that permeates the air around me. I love hearing the story of the First Christmas when Jesus came to the earth in the form of a baby to save the world. Brian Free & Assurance have a song called "A Strange Way To Save The World" that has really become very special to me. We never would have done it that way, but it was the right way and God knew it." — Elaine Harcourt

"Each Christmas, we use traditional ornaments, decorations, etc., to convey the true meaning of Christmas to our grandchildren (and grown children!) and to make present day application. We have birthstone angels for each of us, to hang on the Christmas tree. One year, I used John 8:12 when Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life," and Matthew 5:14 that says, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." We talked about what the verses mean and had the grandchildren hold their birthstone angels in front of one of the Christmas lights on the tree observing how the light shone through them. We then talked about how Jesus' light should shine through us. It was great to see how the meaning of that very simple activity came to life by the expressions on our dear grandchildren's faces. Merry Christmas, Paul and Sheila!" — Corinne Erikson, Indian Trail, NC

"Paul I delayed this until I knew the Lord was calling me to preach. This will be the best Christmas ever and outside his son, the best gift ever. I will be giving my first sermon sometime after the first of the year. The strange part of this is that I will 65 on Dec 30. I feel the need to let people know about my God and how great and awesome he is. I love your program, so keep up the great work. God is and will continue to bless you." — Charles Diaco

"Something that stands out in my mind about Christmas memories are the special things my mother used to plan for certain needy families, usually among our church friends. This was way back years ago before there were a lot of charities and groups who made giving at Christmas a tradition as it is today. But my mother, being the saint she was, loved to buy for a needy family at Christmas. She didn't buy just a couple toys, but she would buy and wrap all kinds of things for their entire Christmas, including the parents. One year she even bought brand new bicycles for a couple boys. Sometimes she would get the whole church congregation involved and other times she would do it individually. And then we would take the gifts to the home a couple days before Christmas and surprise them with it. She always asked us children to contribute one of our good, used toys. She wanted to teach us the joy of giving, and that love of giving has carried on thru our families. My own daughter used to collect for the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes that Franklin Graham started when she was in school.

"My mother passed away this past year, and during her funeral a young woman stood up and shared how "Grandma Anna" always remembered her every year with a new doll baby and toys at Christmas and for her birthday. She came from a very poor home, but she said she always looked forward to receiving those gifts at Christmas and how Anna never forgot about her and treated her the same as her own grandchildren. That testimony meant a lot to our family! God Bless!" — Karen Perry

"The song, 'Memories of Christmas' by the Primitive Quartet, has a very deep meaning for me. We have even played this song at some of our own family Christmases. It is so parallel to our upbringing when we were small, living on a farm on Hog Creek in Marble Hill, Missouri. Dad was a minister but also worked five or six days a week at the brick yard. He visited those in need and always made time to take the family to other services or revivals. Dad and Mom had seven children, and even though we were poor by some standards, we never realized that. We had such a happy life with family and friends, church family, and neighbors. My memories of Christmas were about the same as what Reagan [Riddle] wrote. I remember the trees the family would bring from the woods (they were a scrawny looking lot) but with decorations they always looked just fine! Dad would bring in a basket of apples/oranges and some nuts. Our mom's mother was the only mother our Daddy had ever known and he loved her so much. Each Christmas he would always bring her a huge stick of red and white candy (like the candy canes were made from). This made her so happy because this was her favorite and this was the only time she got some. She loved him too." — Hibernia Hovis

"I remember the first year we had sheep. We were expecting lambs to be born but didn't know exactly when to expect them. I made frequent trips to the barn in the cold and snow, and I'd sit and watch and wait... and wait... and wait... and think and pray. I had to wonder what the stable was like when Jesus was born. I couldn't imagine spending a whole night in our barn with its smell of sheep and no good place to sleep and yet our Savior spent his first night on earth in a stable laying in the hay." — Norma Jean Eddy

"One of my favorite memories is several years ago, when I was at Bible School at Christmastime. I took a student (who didn't have much material things) shopping and she was so excited that she had a NEW dress and personal items. And for the school Christmas banquet, I let her come to my closet and pick out a dress to wear. And I fixed her hair for her. She was in tears and absolutely beautiful that evening." — Marilyn Shrock

"Most Christmas memories are often of family and close friends. Some of my fondest memories in the last seven years are of the travels on the Spirit of Christmas Tour that Stephen Hill and I do each year. With visits to dozens of states in the US, and for the last two years to various cities in Europe, Stephen and I have several memorable moments. I will list a few.

"Our host in Colorado who looks more like Santa than any person I have ever seen. When he took us to the airport the morning following our concert, the church van ran out of gas in eyeshot of the airport. "Santa" flagged down a drywall hanger with two 20 dollar bills to secure our ride to the terminal.

"We hit a deer with our rental car in Wisconsin on the first day of deer season.

"We took a flight to Florida and our luggage did not arrive for over three days!

"One venue promised a great sound system. It had one microphone, and the controls were in a closet in the next room.

"Stephen forgot that his carry-on bag contained a knife one day. To say the least, when it was discovered, we were detained, and missed our flight.

"We did a television show. While watching the playback, we discovered that Stephen's guitar was not in the mix. So, we asked to do the songs again, and we did. This time, my guitar was not in the mix. So, with no time to do it a third time, we left it!

"We were stuck in a plane on the tarmac in Chicago while a sold-out venue in Virginia was waiting!

"One event near Louisville was a banquet. The food warmers and coffee pots were plugged into the same circuit with the sound system, tripping the breaker every 10 minutes or so of our concert.

"With over a dozen concerts per year, these are just a few of the episodes we call the Spirit of Christmas Follies. But head and shoulders above these times are the moments that we know we have encouraged folks during the Christmas season. Christmas is difficult for many folks. For some it is the first Christmas without a loved one lost that year. Some have said that our humor and songs helped them through what is normally a depressing season. Yet others say they were blessed to be reminded of the real meaning of Christmas. So, I count it all joy to experience the trials we have encountered to know that our music and message are resonating with folks who come to experience the Spirit of Christmas!" — Woody Wright

"I'll never forget the Christmas when Santa brought me my bike. I'd wanted one for so long, begged for it and had no idea that this was to be the year.

"On this particular Christmas eve it was as impossible as ever for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. I did finally get to sleep and woke up to find that it was still dark, but I took a chance and got outta bed to look under the tree. There it was, my green and white Western Flyer beauty! I have no idea what time it was when I caught the silhouette of that bicycle, but I do know it took me no time at all to steer it outside and begin riding as daylight was breaking. I think I rode that bike almost ALL DAY. It was like if I got off it might leave.

"The only thing to eclipse that elation was the joy on Mama's and Daddy's faces as they watched their youngest enjoy sooooo much the fun of finally having that bicycle that Daddy later told me that Santa had hidden in the barn loft under some hay those last few days before Christmas eve." — (Anonymous)

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