Some of the best memories in life are made at Christmas, whether it’s a first gift, favorite foods at grandma’s or traveling to new places.
Anticipation of Christmas vacation and then Christmas Day, the endless waiting, becomes joy, surprise and excitement in seeing loved ones and opening presents
Kallie Dougherty, 5, went ice skating for the first time recently, making a lifetime memory with family. Her mom and dad, Stacy and Joe Dougherty, also put on ice skates for the first time to give their daughter the dream she wanted.
As it turns out, before they could finish one lap around the rink it began to rain, but Kallie won’t soon forget turning five.
“I like decorating the Christmas tree, and I have a silver one in my room,” Kallie said.
Joe Dougherty said his best Christmas memory was when Kallie was born.
“I remember going to see her in the hospital. She weighed 2 pounds and 9 ounces, and was 10 weeks early,” he said.
For his wife, Stacy, a favorite family memory is with her grandparents.
“We always went to my grandma’s house in Tailholt,” Stacy said. “I remember decorating for the holidays and being around family.”
Kallie’s grandmother, Bea Dougherty, remembers her grandmother making date rolls.
“You miss those things, and getting together and eating,” she said.
Families and individuals have varied experiences and expectations of Christmas, including being in another country.
“Our family lived overseas for many Christmases,” said Molly Peterson. “When we lived in Benghazi, Libya, it was impossible to find a Christmas tree in that Muslim country, which is situated in the middle of the Sahara desert. One day, I chased down and caught a tumbleweed. It looked very festive all decorated and sitting in the middle of our dining room table.”
Another Christmas memory for the Peterson’s was in Mexico.
The gifts I had ordered for our children did not arrive until after Christmas, so we looked for another way to celebrate, Peterson said.
“Our children filled a trash bag with little toys and treats and we delivered it to a needy family that lived in a mechanic shop near our house. They were dirt poor and slept under cars when it rained,” Peterson said. “Still, they loved Jesus and celebrated his birth with great emotion. It was one of our best Christmases ever, as we learned that it is more blessed to give than receive.”
Starting new memories, or traditions, happen for families and young couples, like Alyssia Hylton.
“We’re starting a new tradition with family this year,” Hylton said. “My boyfriend, Kyle Kuenning, and I started ‘Elf on a Shelf.’”
‘Elf on the Shelf’ is fun for little kids, she said, but fun for them, too, Hylton said.
“We put a little elf in different places around the house doing something different each morning,” she said. “We got our elf at Edie’s, but you can get one anywhere.”
She left the elf fishing in the fish tank for her boyfriend to find. Next time, he’ll find a place to put it for Hylton to find.
Another couple memory isn’t so recent as this holiday season.
Pat Moss said his best Christmas memory is the first one he spent with his wife, Julie.
“It’s the first time I got a Christmas present, in my whole life,” Moss said.
Barbara McAlister’s favorite memory is the gift of the horse she named Pete.
“He arrived in a trailer at my parents home and mine on Christmas day when I was age seven. It was a bright and shiny morning and I had no idea he would be there,” McAlister said. “My parents said looking out the window, ‘what and who is that pulling up with a horse trailer?’ Out stepped the beautiful bay, a registered Hambletonian trotter that could not race due to injury.”
The newspaper printed a little story a couple of days later, “Christmas present runs away.”
“He had gotten out of the pen, but luckily appeared in a neighbor’s pasture unharmed, so the newspaper printed, ‘Christmas present returns home.’”
Aly Bryan’s was surprised to discover new life at Christmas in a unique way.
“My daughters, Heather and Summer, made a T-shirt for Magi, who was 2 at the time, announcing my new granddaughter, Aly, was coming,” said Bryan.
“It was a fun way of announcing a new baby was coming.”
As children get older, they often wonder if Santa Claus is real. Lela Stowers remembers being a little girl, wondering about Santa.
“As a little girl, I remember the first Christmas I began to doubt there was a Santa,” Stowers said. “I lived on a farm, and got a doll. I went outside to the garden and walked around and around, carrying that doll saying, ‘there has to be a Santa, there has to be a Santa.’”
Matt Rader has many wonderful memories of Christmas.
“But my fondest was waking up on Christmas morning to the smell of warm cinnamon rolls in the oven and tip-toeing downstairs in the twilight hours seeing the lights from the tree bounce off the incredibly wrapped presents and shower an entire room in a kaleidoscope of color, which was just so magical,” said Rader.
Visiting grandparents in North Dakota are memories Heather Winn still cherishes.
“We didn’t go very often, but I remember spending time with Grandma Sand, my dad’s mama. We made Scandinavian cookies and did lots of things I wouldn’t normally do,” Winn said. “We went to a dyke and there was lots of snow. Grandma was always so patient and wanted me to learn about our Scandinavian heritage. She taught me things no one else could,” Winn said.
One of Barbara Williams’ favorite Christmas memories was when her 3-year-old daughter, Erika, and her papa, Bill Howard, were making Christmas cookies.
“The kitchen was a mess, and the cookies turned out rather gaudy and barely edible. I tried to make them feel better so I declared, “There is no such thing as an ugly Christmas cookie,” Williams said. “That has been a catch phrase around our house for any disaster ever since.’”
Another memory is when her daughter, Erika, was helping her decorate the tree.
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