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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"My favorite Christmas memory comes from a time in my childhood, and has stayed with me through all these years. I'm not really sure how old I was (though if I'd ask mom, she would be sure to remember). My story really begins during apple season, here in Ohio. On this particular day, my Aunt Faith and Uncle Eddie had come to supper (like they so often did) and when we were done eating, they and my dad walked up the street to my Uncle Vernon's house. Uncle Vernon had an apple tree in the backyard, which was full of apples, just ripe for picking. I don't know just when they decided to pick all the apples (my family didn't do a lot of preplanning back then), but at some point, they decided to pick those apples. Daddy, being the youngest, decided climbing the tree was his job. Things were going well until he stepped on a branch that was rotted in the middle. He fell out of the tree and landed on his back, just inches from a metal property stake and an eternity as a lost soul. The ambulance was summoned and daddy was taken to our local hospital where it was determined that he had multiple bruises and a severely broken wrist. He would be off work for quite some time. Mom immediately began to worry. When she didn't think my sister and I would hear, she began to talk of how hard it was to make ends meet, and how afraid she was there'd be no Christmas for us girls. She walked around rather teary eyed that whole fall, and as Christmas drew near and Daddy was still not back to work, the tears multiplied. Sis and I never really worried though. Daddy and Mom always managed to take care of us, and though we knew something was up, we knew it would all be okay. (Sounds a lot like our heavenly Daddy doesn't it?) Christmas finally came, and there were presents under the tree---just what, I couldn't tell you. But what came next, I don't think I'll ever forget. The doorbell rang, and Mom answered it. Standing in the cold with a pack on his back was SANTA CLAUS! She invited him in and he began to pass out a few things. Daddy got a pipe and tobacco holder, Mom got a game, and Sis and I got dolls, both named Amy. I still have my Amy, packed away in my cedar chest and taken out once a year just to remember. The Santa that showed up that year was none other than my Uncle Vernon, who couldn't stand to see his own sister and nieces not have a Christmas with gifts. Uncle Vernon played Santa at our local grocery store and in other places during the season, but for us, he was the real deal. I am 44 now, and will always remember that Christmas. If you ask me who my Santa is, it is always Uncle Vernon. He is gone now, as are my Aunt Faith (this will be her first Christmas in heaven) and my Uncle Eddie, but the memories will be there forever. By the way, some years later, just before Easter, my Daddy came to know the Lord!" — Cindy Stevens. Orrville, OH

"We have a "Yankee Swap" each Christmas. My wife Lois and I have a large family, total of 31 with spouses, all walking with the Lord. Three sons, eleven grandchildren, and eight greatgrands. So Christmas is a bit hectic. In order to not break the bank, each guy brings one gift for a guy, and each gal brings a gift for a gal -- $20 limit. Each person is given three or four cards, and after the gifts are opened, as each person's card is called, he or she can "swipe" or swap their gift for a gift from someone else. This continues until all the cards are called — the last person gets to select from all the gifts. There is always a gag gift mixed into the gifts. There are lots of options to Yankee Swap on line. Lots of laughs and a good time.

"In 2006, I decided to pass on my blessings to each of the family that attended that Christmas. Before our Yankee Swap, I sat on a high stool in the middle of the room and one by one read the blessings I had prepared for each of the family or couples. I had printed up the blessings on good paper stock, and gave the printed blessing to each family member. The family found it very meaningful, and several have mounted their blessings in order to preserve them. Attached is a copy of all the blessings. I encourage dads, granddads, and great-granddads to do this for their family." — Fred Scott

"My most precious Christmas memories come from the early years of our marriage when my grandmother, her sister, and my husbands grandparents would sit around our dinner table all afternoon and into the evening reminiscing about years past. Those conversations held a wealth of information and I wish I had them recorded, but those are sweet memories which our whole family will never forget." — Carol Stehr

"One of the traditions started recently is attending a Christmas Eve service. Since there wasn't one in our town, our church started one. Our pastor had returned from Hawaii with his family, where he had been employed, and performed for our congregation. He played the guitar, his two young boys and he sang while their mom did the Hawaiian Hula to the tune of "Do You Hear What I Hear". Her fluid hand movements and peaceful, almost angelic look on her face mixed with the traditional mumu dress in serene blue brought home the story in a different way.

"Mary's thoughts that night and God's presence (present) and assurance reminded me that NOTHING is impossible when God is in the center of it all, just stop, look, listen and follow what God has to say." — Charlotte Siedsma, Summersville Missouri

"When my Grandmother was very small, she learned a poem that she recited each Christmas for us at our Christmas dinner. It was entitled "Santa On The Train". Christmas of 1977 she was very sick but many family members encouraged her to recite it for us. This was the last time we heard her recite that poem! That was a very precious Christmas for me! We do have it recorded on CD to hear since then. She also updated this by writing herself "Santa On The Plane". She was a very good, Christian woman who was an example to me in many ways!" — Jeanie Peterson, Indianapolis, IN

"One Christmas I was among several Chaplain Assistants assigned to assist in the Christmas Eve Mass that was held every year on post. There were usually three to four hundred (if not more) in attendance each year. This assignment meant that I would not be home on Christmas Day. My home at the time was in Douglasville, Georgia, which was four hundred miles away, an eight to nine hour trip. With the Mass being held before midnight on Christmas Eve that meant I would be too sleepy to make the drive home.

"I was attending a church off post called Northwood Temple and there was a lady whose name was Mary, her husband, Lyle, was in the military as well. I and my two roommates became good friends with them and their family. Mary asked if we were going to get to go home for Christmas. I shared with her my assignment and ironically my roommates were not going to be able to leave until Christmas Day themselves.

"The following Sunday Mary came up to us and handed each of us a piece of rolled paper. She asked us to unroll them and read them. We took the ribbon off and read that it was an invitation to her house on Christmas day for fellowship, fun, and a traditional Christmas dinner. We shared with Mary and Lyle that we did not want to intrude on their family time at Christmas but her response really blessed us. They shared how they considered us as family and besides they knew what it was like not to be home for Christmas and that they wanted to bless us that way. Without any other hesitation, we accepted.

"My roommates and I arrived at the designated time and was greeted with open arms. After the meal, we were in the living room talking and Mary went over to the tree and took out three rolled up pieces of paper, tied with ribbon, and gave each of us one. She said this was a Christmas present from all of them (especially her). When we opened them, it was an invitation to a home cooked meal once the holidays were over (now you know why especially from her, she would do the cooking). Tears swelled in my eyes because of being blessed in such a way.

"A while later I and my roommates were waking up from a long restful nap. We apologized for falling asleep but they were very gracious and told us that it did their hearts good to see that we were able to sleep and feel at home in their house. They made sure that we weren’t disturbed by any of the children as well.

"After 30 years I still remember the kindness and the Love of Jesus pouring from both Mary and Lyle to three fellow military soldiers away from home on Christmas day." — Gerald L. Cooper

"My favorite Christmas memory is 2004. We live in South Texas about 25 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Our tradition is to have friends over Christmas Eve, along with our daughter, for snacks and to play games. Our daughter received a phone call from one of her friends and said that it was snowing. We checked outside and sure enough it was! I really didn't think that it would keep snowing or even stay on the ground. Our company left around 11 PM and it was still snowing, HARD! My daughter and I were so excited that we couldn't sleep much that night and kept getting up to see if it was still snowing. YEP, it was, HARD! We got up Christmas morning to a beautiful WHITE CHRISTMAS! I never had a white Christmas before in my whole 54 years. We ended up with 6-8 inches of snow. We built a snowwoman golfer! It was the most wonderful Christmas I had ever had!" — Jeannie Barrett

"Christmas is a special time of year. Our family gathers at our parents' house, the Christmas story is read and we say a prayer thanking God for His blessings in our lives and allowing us to be together another year.

"Our parents have raised us in church since we were born. Our favorite Christmas song they sing every year, since they wed 48 years ago, is "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem". Truly that light still shines out today to a lost and dying world. Mary wrapped the greatest gift that night in Bethlehem this world will ever know." — Melinda Davis, Raven, Virginia

"'Will we have a tree for Christmas this year?' four-year-old Patty asked.

"'We’ll see,' I half promised, not knowing if we would even have a house for Christmas. We had moved from Michigan to Arizona for my husband’s health three weeks before, and hadn’t been able to find an affordable house.

"Then some friends decided to move and we signed papers at the real estate office to rent their house. On the phone the woman had told me, 'We had to leave a bunch of stuff. Anything you don’t want, just throw away.'

"Now we could get a tree! On the way to our new home, we passed a lot posting a $3 sign and made our selection. 'Eighteen dollars,' the salesman said. Shocked, we discovered the tree was three dollars a foot! 'At least we have a house,' we told the teary-eyed Patty, as we drove our loaded car to the house.

"On that day, however, we found that God does give more than we ask or think. For in the corner of the living room, in answer to a four-year-old’s prayers, stood a Christmas tree the family had left behind, still decorated!" — Donna Clark Goodrich

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