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A Christmas memory

Readers, staffers recall memorable gifts

As our number of Christmases grows, the memories of holidays past become a little more fuzzy, each year blending into the backgrounds of others. Photos are helpful and pleasant reminders, but save perhaps the years with a special event – a new baby, a change of venue, an unexpected influx of relatives crowding around the table – many Christmas mornings are much like the ones before.

But for most adults, there is at least one Christmas that stands out. Always, the most memorable gifts are the treasured memories we create.

Some of our readers, as well as staffers at Alabama Living, are sharing their personal stories to help capture the spirit of the holiday. Read on and reflect on your own favorite Christmas memory. And enjoy making some new ones this year.


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Allison Griffin

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Managing editor of Alabama Living:

My mom had a fun little game that is in my earliest childhood memories: The first person awake in the house on Christmas morning could sneak around to anyone still sleeping and shout “Christmas gift!” The shouter was the “winner,” though there was no official prize. Mom, who was an early riser, always won.

This Christmas will be our first without my mom, and thinking about not having her here prompted this memory. I have no doubt she’ll be looking down on us that morning, long before sunrise. I’m betting I’ll sense a little whisper, not a shout this time, that awakens me with a “Christmas gift.”


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Laura Stewart

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Communications coordinator, Alabama Rural Electric Association:

When we bought our first home, our current office was painted royal blue. It boasted a very rustic light switch cover featuring a moose standing in a forest. I mentioned to my family several times that as soon as we moved in, it would have to go! My father-in-law, Buddy, volunteered to replace the light switch covers in several rooms while we unpacked boxes.

Little did I know, he took the moose light switch cover with him! Last Christmas, he presented me with a gift bag, and told me that this was my main gift, that he had picked it out himself, to be prepared, because it would make me emotional. I was nervous after he had built up such anticipation for this gift — to find the much dreaded moose light switch cover in the bag. It has become a running joke now and I am looking forward to returning the favor this Christmas!


Linda Partin

Office assistant, Alabama Rural Electric Association:

In my small hometown, Morehead, Ky., my uncle owned a department store. Of course, he had a department store Santa.  Every year on Christmas Eve, Santa came to our house and brought our Christmas gifts.

One year, apparently my uncle had hired his son to play Santa.  When he came to our house, he was afraid we might recognize him, so he spread his fluffy white beard all over his face.  We have a picture of me giggling, standing beside a very bearded Santa.  Considering the fact that I still believed in Santa after that, apparently the “full” beard fooled me.


Elizabeth Kane:

On the weekend before Christmas in 1945, my mother, daddy and I visited a hunting buddy of my dad’s in Tuscaloosa County. The friend’s beagle had recently had puppies, and they were adorable to a 5-year-old girl who had asked Santa for a puppy for Christmas. Not especially counting on Santa, since other years had been disappointing, I started the age-old practice of begging. After my daddy and his friend talked, I went home with a puppy I named Spooky.

My daddy’s youngest brother was in the Army, home on leave for the birth of his first baby. Our house was three blocks from West End Baptist Hospital, so he was staying with us. His baby was born on Dec. 23. The same day Santa delivered my present to my daddy at work. He brought home a cute, tiny Pekingese I named Peewee. That night my uncle slept on the couch with Spooky, and I slept in a chair holding Peewee, the best Christmas gifts ever.


Rondi Mosteller:

(My most memorable gift) is a pair of diamond earrings from my dad, after he got mad at me for letting my friend pierce my ears! I was a senior in high school. He was mad, but not for long. And yes, I still have the earrings. A girl’s first diamond should come from her daddy!


Janice Woulfe Charlesworth:

On Christmas Eve back in the 1960s, my sister, who is four years older than me, opened a gift from an aunt. It was a beautiful jewelry box. She immediately turned to me and said I could have her “old one.” Then I opened a package from the same aunt and I, too, received a jewelry box.


Vicki Howell:

We were living in Mojave, Calif., when I was a child. (One year) my dad gave me a Tiny Tears doll, and a stuffed doll with a plastic face. I still have both of them and I’m 60 years old.


Barbara Findley Harrington:

My Grandmother Chesser was the mother of nine children, which meant lots of children, their spouses and grands to give gifts to, which were usually handmade. My favorite gift, when we were living near Milton, Fla., was a sweet sock monkey named Jo Jo that I still have 55 years later.


Diana George:

I received a bride doll from “Santa” when I was in the third grade and lived in Somerville, Ala. I assume Santa was my teacher, Mrs. Prince. She probably realized that was the only Christmas present I would receive.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the doll. The reason I treasure the memory is the dear teacher that I was sure was my secret Santa. Most loving teacher ever.