Remembering the gifts of Christmas – Herald-Banner


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On Christmas morning, children in many homes throughout the world will awaken and rush to find presents under the tree and in their stockings hung by the chimney with care.

For this holiday season, the Herald-Banner asked readers to share with us some of those special gifts that remain in their memories, which helped make for the best Christmas ever.

Cory Tarrants had his own “Christmas Story” to tell.

“My brother and I wanted a BB gun but we were poor and we thought it was out of the question,” he said. “As Christmas neared, we noticed a wrapped elongated box that was possibly a Daisy box. We hatched a plan and waited for our parents to go to sleep so we could ‘quietly’ tear an edge. The next night we noticed the paper was taped. We forgot that sound travels, so that was the end of our glorious plan. And yes, it was a Daisy BB gun and no, we didn’t shoot an eye out.”

Debbie Pinson-Burt recalled one special holiday morning she shared with her sister, who was close to the same age.

“We always got hand-me-down clothes and toys,” she said. “As my memory goes, when we were about 4 and 5 1/2, we got to put up our aluminum tree with the colored wheel. I can still picture it. We were happy to find on Christmas morning a walking doll. It was almost as tall as me, and my sister got a doll that talked. Brand new! I am 69 years old now, but that Christmas was the best I can remember.”

Kerri Stampley Gibbs was one of the children who wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid for Christmas.

“My Mom couldn’t find one anywhere, they were sold out,” Gibbs recalled. “I was heartbroken. So she made me one. It was nothing like the real ones, but she tried so hard and I loved that doll so much. The next year I finally got a real one but still loved my homemade one better.”

“First thing that comes to mind is a doll house that my dad built and my mom decorated,” Shauna Landguth said. “It was just passed down to my grand niece this past weekend. The second would be a Kitchen Aide stand mixer in yellow. My mom and I were talking on the phone both watching a Julia Child’s show on PBS early one summer. In the background was this yellow mixer. Mom remembered my comment and tracked it down for me as a Christmas present. I did not ask for it because I knew they were expensive. I just sat there crying.”

Of course, like the Grinch learned, many of the best memories are associated with the realization that Christmas doesn't necessarily come from a store and perhaps means a little bit more.

“I just received my great-grandmother’s chicken and dressing recipe in her handwriting on a hand towel for Christmas this year,” Rachel Thurmond said. “She passed away in 2003. I will treasure this forever!”

“Having my son home this Christmas after military deployment,” Tamika Russell said. “My momma heart is soooo happy!  The BEST present ever is having your children’s presence!”

“After being on the transplant list for four weeks, my mom received a heart transplant on 12/22/2012,” Shana Lee said. “This was the best Christmas gift I could have asked for. I pray every day for the donor’s family.”

“Four years after losing a son to congenital heart defects, I was blessed with my third, and last, on 12/21/19,” said Robert Jaykus. “Happy birthday Lucas Ray!”

John Shasteen remembered how his mother worked hard to make Christmas joyful during the recession of the early 80s.

“Dad got laid off from his oil field job. He couldn't find a job for a long time,” Shasteen said. “When Christmas came and there was no money for presents, Mom got the scrap lumber and cloth together and her sewing machine. With her own hands, she made my sisters a dollhouse and dolls. She made several things for my room, including a large pillow with all of the signatures of the guys on my football team. We didn't have money that year, but Mom still made sure there were presents under the tree ... all made by her two hands and creativity.”

Kay Nichols is one of the children with a birthday on Christmas.

“When I was old enough to realize how sweet it was for my mother to take time away from all the festive baking of fruit cakes, cookies, and candy to make a beautiful birthday cake for my Christmas Day birthday, she made my day even more special year after year,” Nicols said. “I truly love the thought of having a tiny share of the most blessed birthday the world has ever known.”

Peggy Sue remembered in 1991, when she and her husband shared their first Christmas together.

“We were as poor as could be but in love and happy,” she said. “I had never had a house and my sweet husband built me a little two-bedroom ,900-square-foot house with the help of his friend Bobby Pickle. Ricky knew I wanted pretty things to add, but knew I was content, so with scrap wood he made me a tall standing clock with shelves and wooden shelves to go over each window. He apologized for them not being ‘perfect’ but they were to me because he had worked so hard on them! That was 30 years ago and we are still happily married to this day!”

Christa Wells remembered one Christmas when her family did not have much money to spend for Christmas.

“I was about 9, and didn't really realize that we were tight on funds,” Wells said. “The doorbell rang on Christmas Eve, and my parents opened the door to church members that brought in bundles of Christmas presents and many bags of groceries. I can't remember the actual gifts, but the gift of giving and the love that was shared that night made a big impression on me. I remember just pondering on how special those people were that night.”

“The present I remember very vividly is that my parents instilled in us (the joy of) giving,” Jill Jarvis said. “I love adopting angel tree kids and helping families that were in need. We did this every Christmas growing up. I still received presents, but my best present was giving to others in my community.”

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