26 thoughts on “Christmas Memories on Christmas Eve

  1. Neal Clayton says:

    I heard your story about being in Vienna alone on Christmas Eve. I didn’t have to put out a fire, but I spent a Christmas Eve in a small town in Senegal (West Africa). I decided on the spur of the moment to go to the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at the local church, but being Baptist and American and not overly familiar with Catholic ways, I thought maybe I would just slip in the back and kind of stay out of the way. When I walked in, the place was packed. It was a large building. I found a seat on a bench literally at the back wall among elderly men. The service progressed in a combination of French, Wolof, and Diola. I followed the French but not the other languages. Suddenly, from directly above where I was seated, came the music of an unseen choir accompanied by African drums. It was the dream-like mixture of Western liturgical chant and African rhythms, soft and stirring and entirely angelic. Walking back to my little house in those early hours under the shining stars, I thought that must have been like the music of the shepherds returning from Bethlehem.
    Thank you WDAV for all you’ve done this year. What would we do without you! You are worth every penny we’ve given you, and much more.

  2. Fred Pullen says:

    My wife April and I thought it would be incredibly romantic to get married on Christmas Eve, in Sedona, Arizona. Now that we have kids, we spend every anniversary assembling toys and wrapping presents! But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Merry Christmas, everyone!

  3. Earleen Mobley says:

    When I was five years old, Santa brought me a beautiful, tall, blonde, bride doll. The only way I could have learned to love her more came about the next Christmas when Santa brought a trunkful of clothes and accessories for that doll. What a genius Santa was! Many of the outfits matched the ones I wore myself, which my mother had sewn for me over the year. Also, that brilliant Santa knew I was having a bit of trouble with tiny buttons, so any piece of clothing that appeared to button up really had snaps with buttons sewn over them. I still have that wonderful 58-year-old doll and her miraculous wardrobe. Most of all I have the memories of marveling at how well “Santa Claus” knew and cared for me.

  4. Jennifer Foster says:

    Thanks, all, for your stories! What wonderful fun!
    Earleen, would you have any photographs of this doll and her clothing?

  5. Barbara Bryan says:

    Jennifer: I’ve loved hearing your stories (and learned about your Virginia roots, etc.) My most “memorable” Christmas morning began much earlier than it should have and totally against family rules. My father was an Episcopal priest who celebrated Midnight Communion and couldn’t get to bed before 2 or 3 a.m. IF everything was assembled. The rule was that we always stayed in our rooms, usually in bed, and Mother would bring our stockings containing lots of goodies and plenty to keep us busy. Well, when we lived in Gainesville, Fla. and my youngest sister was two, she was getting a red tricycle for Christmas. Our other sister and I couldn’t wait to watch her face when she saw it. I don’t recall whether the youngest was awake or if we helped her start Christmas early, but I do know the three of us made our way down the stairs and certainly broke the sleep of our parents not to mention their anticipated joy. What happened next was very funny later but not so much at the time. Mother dashed downstairs and whisked the protesting infant back to bed. We were scolded and sent back upstairs; but, we managed to peak around the corner and through the rail to watch what happened downstairs when she tried to reassemble things under the Christmas tree. Bottom line was that her shoulder tipped over the tree that was filled with those old-fashioned very breakable round ornaments. There was all kinds of quiet crashing and sickening splintering, at least three times, giving off the kind of sound that let one know there would be so much cleaning up before any little ones or barefoot children could enter the room or touch a present. We raced off to bed before she realized we knew what our mother would be doing until our father awaked to face the day. From that point on, as long as we lived at home, we did NOT leave our bedrooms on Christmas morning well into our 20’s.

  6. Bill Cobb says:

    I lived in Charlotte my first Christmas after graduating from college. As I with many young employees, often lowest on the company totem pole, I had to work very late on Christmas Eve. I was driving home from work, bummed, as I had no plans for Christmas Day, and really not much too eat, as I had neglected to go to the grocery store! In short, I was really feeling sorry for myself.
    When I arrived home, there was a overnight package at my doorstep. Inside was a roundtrip ticket from Charlotte to my hometown – leaving early Christmas morning and returning late Christmas night.
    Somehow, my parents knew. That few hours back home was, perhaps, the best Christmas present I have ever been given. Twenty-five years ago tomorrow.

  7. Henry Lebedinsky says:

    When I was director of music at a large church outside of Boston, my former college frat brother was organist at a large church on the other side of town. We would meet every Christmas Eve between services at a sushi restaurant of our choosing. We would eat, drink, and be merry until it was time for us to go off to our respective churches for the late show – quitesstuffed, rather drunk, and full of holiday cheer. And raw fish.

  8. Henry B. Patterson says:

    My most favorite Christmas memory is when I was about 6 and I came down to see what Santa had brought me and around the tree was a train track with a train chugging around and in the coal car was a puppy. How my parents got that puppy to stay on that train until I saw him I’ll never know but I couldn’t decide which gift to be more excited about, the puppy or the train.

  9. Marvin D. Bass says:

    While in the Army in Germany on Christmas,1957 our chaplain arranged to have a group of children from a nearby orphanage to come to our base for lunch, gifts, Santa Claus etc. Each child was assigned a soldier to be their “big brother.” A five year old blond boy was assigned to me. We had lunch together and waited for St Nick. When he arrived with gifts, the child with me screamed SAINT NICHOLAUS, NICHOLAUS!
    I will never forget the event

  10. Cheryl Clayton says:

    I grew up in a wonderful, small town in southern New Jersey. On Christmas Eve in 1978, my mother came home from the hospital after her first mastectomy. There were five of us, ages 9 – 15, and we spent the night taking turns rubbing her back on the couch with the dog immovably by her side. It was a wonderful Christmas Eve and certainly the best Christmas present to have her home.
    The next morning, as happened on every Christmas morning, Santa drove through town on a convertible, waving to admirers while his pixies handed out candy canes to the children. Even my mother rose and made it to the door. Upon seeing my mother, the convertible stopped and Santa, the pixies, neighbors and the driver all came to greet my mother and our family. The 9 year old pixies handed candy cane after candy cane to my mother and neighbors brought goodies. As she openly wept, our whole community was touched with the joy of giving and love bestowed and received.
    Thank you, WDAV for encouraging these memories and for all you do! As we do every year, we waited with great anticipation for the Lessons and Carols this morning! What a blessing it is to hear each year! Merry Christmas!

  11. Mike O'Hara says:

    One thing you can almost always count on in Syracuse is a white Christmas. One year when we lived there and the kids were little, though, Christmas Eve came with no snow on the ground and none in sight — the forecast was for some rain that night. Sure enough, rain came about dusk, but as the evening wore on some snowflakes began to join the mix, and eventually it was all snow. We sat by the fire watching White Christmas on TV and feeling very cozy.
    By morning, 18 inches had fallen. Since it was unexpected, most of the road crews were off for the holiday, and there was no hope of getting out of the neighborhood that day. Our next door neighbors usually went to Utica on Christmas morning to celebrate with their family, so they had nothing for dinner. We, of course, had enough food for an army, so they joined us for the day. We even found some things to exchange as gifts. It was one of the best Christmases ever, and we still remember it when we get together with those old neighbors, still in Syracuse and still good friends.

  12. Don Just says:

    I have two Christmas memories which stand out.. 1) It was on a very snowy Christmas eve in North Dakota that my father asked my brother and me to help him decorate the harnesses with colorful ribbon.. We then proceeded to pick up neighbors by horses and sled and take them to worship that evening. 2) I was in Viet Nam as a Chaplain the Christmas of 1968. The Commander asked if I had any special needs. I told him that if a helicopter crew would get me around to the various units and that I could probably do Christmas eve services at each site. Well, he summoned a crew (with accompaning gun ship for protection) and we went to each site for Christmas eve worship.. He read the Christmas Gospel and the singing of Silent Night was never more meaningful. I shall never forget that Christmas.

  13. Rebecca says:

    Love hearing the stories. What a great idea! Would like to share my favorite Christmas story. My parents married during WWII, not much money but my mother had a modest engagement ring and wedding band. Years later when I was just a baby, my mother was entertaining me with her engagement ring. I promptly threw it in the yard never to be found again. Flash forward to a Christmas about 15 years later. My father decided to get my mother a new wedding ring for Christmas. He left a large package under the tree to keep her from guessing. But instead of the usual smaller boxes inside, he decided to send her on a hunt with the next box providing another clue. By the time my mother reached the last box, she was in the end of the house in her bedroom. When we heard the literal screams of delight, we knew she had found her ring. My father had a big grin on his face and was then smothered with kisses. One of the best Christmases ever!

  14. Charlie WIlson says:

    Listening to all of the beautiful choral music today causes me to hum along and think of singing in the choir at our Church’s love feast on Christmas Eve. The fall was always a stressful time and we frequently did not think we would get our pieces ready, but they always sounded good in the candlelit sanctuary on December 24.

  15. Dan Hurley says:

    My Best Christmas Present Ever
    I returned to Charlotte in 1996 for parent care. My dad had lung cancer, and got his final wish to come home to die a few days before Christmas. My sister came over with a bunch of stuff and we celebrated at his bedside. After she left, my mom noticed that he seemed agitated, and thought it was because he felt bad about not having any presents to give us.
    Later on, I was watching with him and doing a jigsaw puzzle, when I noticed something extraordinary. Normally, my mind is on whatever is coming tomorrow, next week or next year, never completely in the present. At that moment, though, I wasn’t thinking about anything else at all. I knew I was exactly where I needed to be, and there was nothing else to plan for. It was a time of the most profound peace. I realized it was Dad’s Christmas gift to me, the best I’ve ever gotten. Thank you, Dad. You will always be with us at Christmas.

  16. Alice Lee says:

    My favorite Christmas was the year I was in 4th grade. Several of my friends were getting watches for Christmas so knowing I would most likely get clothes, I asked for a watch anyway. On Christmas morning draped over the sofa was green jumper and yeloow blouse. My Dad suggested I look under the jumper and there it was a Bulova Watch.
    I’ve had several watches but that remains my favorite.
    erry Christmas!

  17. Fred Pfeiffer says:

    When I was about 7 or 8 years old, Flash Gordon was my hero. He wore a dark suit with a red lightning bolt on the front and carried a gun that emitted rays of some bright electromagnetic radiation. Just as we were going to bed on Christmas Eve, I told my mother that I had asked Santa for a Flash Gordon outfit for Christmas. She didn’t seem surprised. Fifty-two Christmases later, I can’t recall if I just thought of the request on Christmas Eve or if I really whispered it in Santas ear at Ivey’s department store while my parents watched without hearing. Of course there was no time to go buy, let alone find a Flash Gordon outfit on Christmas Eve. Sick, as any parent would be, that I would be disappointed in the morning, my mother stayed up sewing a large red lightning bolt onto a black vest sweater that they must have either found in a store or diverted from my father’s wardrobe. My father went out and came up with a gun that made noises and sparks enough that I was convinced I was Flash Gordon. I remember being impressed that I actually got such a realistic and well made real Flash Gordon vest and gun. It wasn’t until years later that my parents told me how they had stayed up and gotten the outfit made before morning. Knowing the whole story now and being a parent myself makes this the best Christmas present ever.

  18. Amanda Brown says:

    I remember the day that my whole family was at my house at the very same time. What a joy! Everything was perfect; snow, the fireplace, laughter as we sat around the living room. I’ll never forget the sound of my mother as her water broke. The reason being, because it wasn’t a scream, but a deep laughter followed by tears and screams of excitment. The best Christmas present I’ve ever gotten was the gift of a baby brother named Matthew. What a glorious day! Thank you for letting me laugh again as I remembered my favorite Christmas!

  19. Leland McKeithan says:

    It’s not Christmas until we attend a Christmas Eve Lovefeast service in Winston-Salem. There’s nothing like it in all the places I’ve lived across the world…not in Boston or New York City or even Geneva, Switzerland. We’re not Moravians but like many Winston-Salemites we attend a service every year and we feel the warmth and the spirit and smell the beeswax candles and know that at last Christmas has really arrived. Each year when my sister and I return home to visit our parents for the holidays the thing we most look forward to is bundling into the car – my sister hurrying everyone and declaring that we’re going to be late – squeezing together on the pew and anticipating the joy we know we will feel when the lights are dimmed and the candle-light fills the sanctuary. Sometimes the little angel singing Morning Star is squeaky and nervous and that makes it all the better. With our coffee and buns and candles, we attempt to sing carols pitched as high as the roof and we let ourselves get sappy and are grateful that the year is coming to an end and that it is time for a new start. We are very non-traditional southern family but God bless the Moravians for making Christmas real for my family.

  20. Meg says:

    Jennifer, your request for stories took me back to a Christmas in 1960. I was 12, and we were living in East Tennessee–a Tidewater family transplanted for a few years in the beautiful Tennessee mountains.It was a lean Christmas–maybe they all were, but we had just moved to a smaller house, one story, and i could hear my parents’ conversations in ways I had not before. Maybe I was just old enough to catch on to the stress in more particular ways. But I was not expecting much from Santa that year, and i remember trying to manage the expectations of my little sister and brother about Christmas morning. To make matters worse, our tree was steadily shedding needles, and was almost bare by Christmas Eve! Daddy went out on a mission and came home with a new tree. We completely dismantled the increasingly naked one and started all over again. Then it started to snow! The huge fir tree in our front yard seemed magical. We all went out to play in the snow after dinner. SOmehow, the next morning, the living room was filled with things we wanted–or didn’t even know we wanted. I got a radio and a hair dryer–the kind with a bonnet and a hose–do people remember them? It was a wonderful Christmas. All that worrying for nothing. This year has been a little lean, too, and I have not worried a bit.

  21. Jim Willoughby says:

    As I am a DODO, dad of daughters only, I was thrilled when on Christmas 2004, my daughter presented me with a grandson. We arrived in Raleigh after Jackson was born so I rushed to the nursery to see the baby. A gentleman standing next to me asked: “Is that your baby?” As my wife and I were a little over 60 years of age at the time, this was a tremendous complement! What a great gift to receive at Christmas — a new grandson and flattery from a perfect stanger.

  22. Susan Maxon says:

    In 1968, I was a senior in high school, and my father was in Vietnam. This was his second Christmas in a war zone and the third (but not the last) Christmas that my career Marine father would be stationed overseas away from the family, and we missed him terribly.
    The Apollo 8 astronauts orbited the moon that Christmas eve and saw the Earthrise over the horizon of the moon for the first time. The TV broadcast of the Apollo 8 crew reading from the book of Genesis, with the now iconic view of earth, was so poignant and somehow helped connect me with my father halfway around the world. After all, from the point of view of moon orbit, the astronauts could see us all in a single glance.
    Thank you, Jennifer, for bringing these memories back. Merry Christmas!

  23. Bill says:

    One of my most memorable Christmas was when I was about 10 years old. With my Mom, Dad, Sisters and Brother we would go to Grandma’s on Christmas Day.I was so sick I could not travel and had to stay home with Mom. My Father and Siblings went to Grandma and I had to wait for them to get back, not only with my Christmas Present but my Birthday (most of the time combined)Presents since Christmas is my Birthday. Well it turned out that my Grandmother, Aunts and Uncles all bought me Pajama’s. I now had pajamas for everynight of the week. It did turn out alright after the exchanges and I was able to get what I wanted.

  24. Jill Taylor says:

    My favorite Christmas was the year I was 4. On Christmas Eve my mother, father, and I went to my great grandmother’s house for her annual Christmas party. We returned home late or at least it seemed late to a four year old. It was probably only 8:00! But Santa Claus had already come to our house! As my mother explained, “He must have thought you were already sleeping!” I don’t remember what the presents were, but I will never forget that night. My mother worked at the hospital and she had to work on Christmas. As ticked off as she was about that fact, she managed to pull off a wonderful Christmas for her daughter and as I recall, she always did no matter the work schedules or financial circumstances. Thanks, Mom!

  25. Ann says:

    Jennifer, Your program today has been so wonderful! I think because you spent Thanksgiving with you at my sister and brother-inlaw’s house, I can envision you as you discuss the music, recall Christmas memories and helping make a beautiful day even better. Enjoy your family Christmas celebration!

  26. Ben Wilson says:

    Jennifer ; Such great and moving stories which we all appreciate so much for Christmas. Missed telling mine about my father, oldest of 11 children who received an orange
    ( only ) for his total Christmas in his early years. This story creates an appreciation in all our families for Christmas.
    Merry Christmas to all !!

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