Thank you all for submitting your favorite Christmas stories for us to share on The Huckabee Report radio show and here at MikeHuckabee.com. I’m sorry there’s not enough time in our short radio show to share them all, but you can find them all here – the funny, the inspirational, and the downright heartbreaking – and I guarantee they’ll put you into a Christmas spirit that will stay with you all the way to next Christmas.

One personal note before we start: some folks used the Christmas story form to send personal or political messages, or stories or poems that were copyrighted by third parties. We couldn’t include those in the stories posted below, but rest assured that every message sent to me was received and read.

And now, I turn it over to you! Merry Christmas and have a safe and happy New Year!

- Mike Huckabee

Debra from Alabama:

When I was a little girl of 9, living in a small town in Michigan, my dad had back surgery and my mom was working, but not making enough by herself to pay our bills or buy Christmas gifts for my two brothers, 3 and 4 and myself. We were going to The Church of the Nazerene and were possibly the poorest family attending church there. I came home from school a few days before Christmas, I suppose it was when our Christmas break began. My Mom met me at the door with my two little brother and she was crying. I was afraid something had happened to my Daddy in the hospital. She said "Look what our church brought us!"

Our tree had so many presents under it and the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator were full of all kinds of food, some left on the counter that couldn't fit in the cabinets. Our Christmas was the best one we ever had and the people from the church were the most loving people I have ever met. Thank you all for really showing the love for a poor little girl and her family. I will never forget your kindness. You all were true Christians and showed the true meaning of Christmas. I am now 56 years old.

Gloria from Tennessee:

I am 82 yrs old, and I have written a book called "Reflections On A Time That Has Past the 2nd World War Years 1939-1945" My brother age 4 and myself age 9 were evacuated from England in Sept 1939 and returned May 1944 exactly one year BEFORE the war was over.It is about our adventures during the time spent in America, near Rochester New York. The generosity of the American families that took us in, and then the year back in England moving around to avoid the German's new form of warfare the Vengeance weapon I or Doodle bug as it was nicknamed. This is not a Christmas story however I felt The Lord telling me to contact you and this was the only way that I could find to do so. You always have interesting people on your programs that i have watched for as long as you have had one, so "Nothing Venture nothing Gain." God Bless you for all the encouragment you give people in this time of American History. I can send you a book, or it is on Xlibris New Releases 6th one down. If I miss you on Sat night I rush home from church to watch your program on Sunday night. May God continue to Bless you as your bless us.

Joanne from Arizona:

A few years ago I had a wonderful Christmas experience that forever changed how I celebrate the season. I recorded that experience and I share it with my family and friends each year:

I've been running around like a crazy person the last few weeks trying to get ready for Christmas... buying gifts for all the kids & family, filling orders for Ebay, baking, parties, deadlines, late nights... AARRGH!! So yesterday I took the 3 little ones to Walmart for last minute stuff, fighting traffic, ready to prounce on the next open parking spot... and I thought to myself "where the heck is the true meaning of Christmas in all of this?" So I finished shopping and I was walking towards the exit when I noticed an older man sitting on the bench inside the entrance with an envelope in his hand. He reached out to a younger, modestly dressed man who was walking by him and handed him something and said "Merry Christmas". It was a $20 bill. The younger man said "Are you serious", and the older man said "Yes, Merry Christmas", and the younger man thanked him and walked on smiling. I was fascinated, I pulled my cart over to the opposite side of the entry and fiddled with my purse and the kids while I watched him out of the corner of my eye, handing out bills to unsuspecting yet very grateful shoppers leaving the store. Then he got up and walked over to me and asked, smiling "Where did you get those beautiful children?" I smiled back and thanked him and he pulled a $50 bill out of his envelope and handed it to me saying, "Merry Christmas". I said "Sir, I don't need 50 dollars" in a thankful tone. He said, "Well then, find someone who does, Merry Christmas", and he left smiling as I thanked him.

I thought hard about it walking to the car, what a kind man he was, and how many people he helped out that day. He was discreet, you would really have to be paying attention to notice what he was doing, and you could tell he truly enjoyed meeting those people he was helping, if only for a brief moment. But why did he choose me? We were all dressed nicely to go to a party later, so I was a bit confused. As I thought about it I realized that he had possibly helped me more than he helped anyone else that day, because that was the first time I had felt the Christmas spirit all season. So I'll pay it forward, and I'll find someone who needs that $50, and meanwhile, I'll find time to read my scriptures, and teach my kids about love, and charity, and kindness, and about Christ, and finally feel the peace that the Christmas season can bring. Merry Christmas everyone!

Irene from Oregon:

I have sung in the Portland Singing Christmas Tree for twelve years. This year was the 50th anniversary! We are the largest Singing Christmas Tree in the country with approx. 300 adults and 40 youth. We have fun with Santa stories, but the most profound is our Nativity. The real Christmas story is proclaimed from the stage of the largest auditorium in Portland. I live in a wheelchair as does another choir member, but we are allowed to participate and sing for our Lord and Savior. Literally more than a million have heard the message from us. Our prayer always, is that it will change hearts and lives.

Judy from Texas:

I was raised in a family that enjoyed material wealth but were lacking in Christian values. Father was abusive, especially to me the middle child. A normal Christmas consisted of presents, good food and lovely decorations God was not spoken about or taught in our home. When I was 16 several friends planned to attend mid-night mass at the Washington Cathedral in St. Louis, we took several cars. It was snowy and icy. Before we arrived for the services an elderly homeless lady stepped out from between two cars. No one could see her. The lead car could not stop and hit her. The police came and took all of us to the station where we stayed for many hours. I had always believed in God but had never honored him properly. We were all numb and confused.The boy driving that car was studying for the priesthood. He asked us all to humble ourselves, kneel on the cold police station floor and pray for that little lady and for our healing. I know my guardian angel was with me as I could feel a warm shroud of heaing over my shoulders and in my heart. That was the beginning of my personal healing and forgiveness of my parents. That night will forever be in my memory for all my days. God is Love now and forever.

Erika from Arkansas:

When I started asking my children what they want for Christmas, my eight year old replied, that he did not deserve presents because he has been mean to his brothers. He asked that I take his presents and donate them to the children in need. He even went one step beyond voicing his concern to myself. He asked a teacher at his school, he is in the third grade, to provide a list of students to would benifit for that might not be receiving any at home. This is truly an example of how God works through the innocents of children. I am so proud to know that he is my son.

Lori from Massachusetts:

When my brother & sister were little, every Christmas season my dad would have them watch the movie, “White Christmas.” The tradition continues. My brother & sister & I have grown up. My siblings have kids, my dad is gone, and every year we watch “White Christmas” and ask trivia questions about it.

Melvin from Oregon:

Christmas 1945 I am five years old dad is not home yet but soon will be and we are still staying with my grandparents.

A little history about my father He was in Japan in the Second World War his two brothers were in the European theater all three came home OK. I thank God for that and for all of the men that have gone before thank you and may god bless you always.

We are trimming the Christmas tree. Grandpa comes in and he has all of these walnuts that he has painted silver and put a yarn loop on to hang them with. Well I think there neat but that’s about it. Christmas morning I come down and I start opening my presents. Grandpa says “why don't you open one of those walnuts.” I say “Naw I got to open my presents.” I’m throwing wrapping paper and ribbons this way and that. Well grandpa keeps after me. Finally I say “OK” so I crack a walnut open and a penny falls out. Now I'm opening walnuts. There's dimes, nickel's, and penny’s when I get done I have about a dollar fifty and that’s big money in 1945. But what I think of this is that my grandfather thought enough of me to take the time to cut the walnuts open take out the meat for grandma to cook with. Then he put a coin in and glued each one back together just to make a little five year old boy happy on Christmas morning.

Sixty five years later I don't remember anything else I got that Christmas but I remember the walnuts and the love that went into making them. That might be something for young parents to think about as they read this. It really is the little things that count the most.

Jerry from Florida:

My greatest Christmas was when I was 5 years old. My mother had taken my brother, sister and myself away from an abusive father and we were on our own. To say we were poor would be an understatement. My mom rented an old house and she supported us on a waitress’ wages. She refused to accept welfare and told us that as long as we had each other and love that we would make it. We had our own garden and even as small kids worked to help. We had so very little. Quite often we had to drink powdered milk and eat bread and gravy 3 times a day. A hot dog was considered a luxury.

Christmas that year looked bleak. We had no money but it was the happiest time of my life because we had love. Love of family and neighbors. There was one present for each of us kids that Christmas Eve as we went to bed. On Christmas morning we all came down to open our present. An unbelievable sight awaited us. We got to the door of the living room and our eyes widened. There were so many toys and presents that you couldn’t even hardly get in the room. Toy trucks!! Bicycles !!! Our joy and surprise were great.

We lived in a small town in Illinois. Williamsfield, Illinois. Our neighbors knew we had so little. After us kids had gone to bed on Christmas Eve the knocks on the door started. People from all over town brought things. That is the type of people I had the honor to grow up with. No government. No welfare. Just neighbors helping neighbors by living the Christian values we were all taught.

I think of that Christmas morning so long ago today and still get a smile and a tear. It was the greatest Christmas I ever had.

My mom....Erma...went on to remarry to a great guy Gordon who adopted us. They worked hard to provide us a better life and live the American Dream. Mom went back to college after we were older and at the age of 38 graduated Summa Cum Laude and taught school for years. Today they live comfortably in retirement.

I think of those days and how poor we were but I also think of the values instilled in me by a loving mother and a great community. Values that taught us about self reliance and helping your neighbor. These were the greatest lessons learned from my greatest Christmas.

Peg from Ohio:

1980, my husband had to quit his job for health reasons. We had 5 kids, no gifts and no Christmas meal. On Christmas eve I was very depressed, and envious, because a friend had gotten help from 2 agencies, and then her family was adopted. I called a friend whose husband was Pastor of a Wesleyan Methodist Church. I only called to wish them a Merry Christmas. She asked if we needed anything for Christmas, and I hesitated to answer, I didn't want to lie but my pride prevented me from speaking after a few seconds, I lied and said we were fine.

We had a bad storm that evening, snow piling up, roads very dangerous, a knock came, and when I answered there was my friend and her husband. He had the flu, but got out of bed so she didn't have to drive about 20 miles, and they brought all the fixing for a wonderful Christmas dinner. Later I asked her how she knew, and she told me that someone had donated the money to the church and they were to find someone who needed it, when my friend prayed, the Lord showed her my face, then when I hesitated she knew I was lying. Jesus Promises to supply our needs, and he has done that for me more times than I can count

Jeff from Florida:

Dad had been the Mall Santa enough years that he earned the privilege to be the official Santa for the arrival to mark the beginning of the Holiday season. The Mall wanted to add extra special characters to add to the excitement. Dad asked if a friend and I would be interested, so Frosty and Rudolph were added to the arrival festivities. I was to be Frosty. Shortly before Santa’s arrival the three of us, in costume were held in a secluded location waiting for the arrival signal. I have to admit I was excited and a bit nervous regarding the prospects of playing the part for the children anxiously waiting. When the signal was given Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph entered a large area at the center of the Mall. In the middle of this area was a large waterfall and pool area near Santa’s chair. A crowd of several hundred children and parents were assembled. Santa was to make his way to his chair at Santa’s workshop. Frosty and Rudolph were to mingle among the children and assist in forming a line to visit Santa. The Frosty suit involved a large round fiberglass middle and head, Frosty’s mouth was a black screen through which I was to see and navigate through the crowd. As I maneuvered through the children, they were very excited to see Frosty, shake his hand, along with countless hugs. At this time I had lost sight of Santa and had no idea where Rudolph was. Due to my excitement and the encounters with all the children I began to lose my sense of direction, adding to my nervousness.

My vision makes it necessary that I wear glasses. Slowly, the heat being generated inside Frosty’s head caused condensation to fog my glasses. It was about this time that I remembered the waterfall and pool. Visions of Frosty falling into the water filled my head, adding to the anxiety and fogging my classes even more. Since my face was completely encased inside Frosty’s head I was unable to get to my glasses. I soon learned that if I took a deep breath and blow out of Frosty’s mouth it would help lessen the fog on my glasses. However, after taking several breaths and with great effort to exhale out of Frosty’s mouth, I began to get a little lightheaded. And, all this time I could feel all the little hands touching and hearing how much they loved Frosty as I blindly wondered among the children. Trying very hard to remain in character and not ruin such a happy time, I realized I had to regain control. Just then, I realized that I could rub my face against the inside of Frosty’s head and knock my glasses off. This of course, improved my sense of direction, though still not very clear. I was able to continue Frosty’s journey through the throngs of children without incident and especially avoid falling into the waterfall pool.

Beginning the Holiday season with Santa’s arrival taught me many things that day, most importantly, the joyful rewards of seeing the Christmas spirit in children’s eyes as they got to see the wonder of Santa Claus and hug Frosty the Snowman with his magic hat and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Raven from Illinois:

We are homeless .evicted on a 7 day notice december 1st by the family we were staying with . However - my 19 year old daughter is back with me and our real home is in each other ~with our pets .even if its in a car . We have a small tree . A few good friends encouraging us from other far off places . im employed but only part time . It will be the first christmas ever to be homeless . But we have faith in God and in each other . Even if the social safety net is not working our faith is sustaining us . Im glad we are together .

Rebecca from Kentucky:

When I was a young girl, probably about 10 years old, my maternal grandfather made a wonderful wooden 6-room dollhouse for me and my mother worked in our basement probably for months painting and decorating it. The outside of it had wonderful windows, doors and shrubbery/flowers painted on it. She completely hand-decorated the inside of it including making scale-made rugs for it out of velvet remnants and using paper swatches from old wallpaper books to make the wallpaper for it. Absolutely best gift I ever received when I was young.

Andrea from Texas:

During the time Carter was president, my mother was working 2 jobs. We still couldn't afford a Christmas tree. Living in Yuma, Arizona made it hard to find one to cut & use, obviously. One day my brother and I decide to surprise her before she came home. We found a tumble weed of good size and made a stand for it. We made a star for the top out of the tree out of cardboard wrapping it in aluminum foil. Having some school glue and some glitter, we took little trinkets and decorated them, attached string and hung on the tumble weed. When she came home she couldn't believe her eyes. That was the prettiest Christmas (weed) tree. Although we didn't have any gifts and not much of anything else, it was one of the happiest Christmas's we ever had. We told jokes and Christmas cheer in our little home was abundant. I was only 13 but till this day that is one the most memorable Christmas ever. God Bless and Merry Christmas to All!

Russell from Mississippi:

We all know that the greatest gift is when God gave His Son to us. We would be lost without Him.

I have a favorite Christmas story I would like to share.

It was 1990, I was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during Desert Shield. At the beginning of December, a few of us were talking about the great entertainer Bob Hope and how he did all those Christmas shows where ever we had troops in combat, from WWII to Vietnam. If we had folks at war, he went to entertain them, and not just in safe places either. We thought about how wonderful that had to be for morale. He had a genuine love for our troops.

However, because he was 87 years old, we knew that even though he would want, there was no way he could be there with us. After all, he was too old to do that kind of stuff, and there would be no lost respect for the man.

I think we found out on the 23rd, that Bob Hope WILL be coming to see us. The excitement was incredible and morale was high. On Christmas Eve, we had two flatbed trailers, side-by-side, for a stage and we sat on a hill of desert sand and out came Bob and Delores Hope, Johnny Bench, Aaron Tippin and a few other America loving patriots. The standing ovation lasted 15 minutes before the show could really start.

Now because of rules from the Saudi government, there was no entourage of sexy women for the show, but that really didn't matter. We got to see Bob Hope! It was the best show I have ever been to. Our audience was full of soldiers and airmen and there was not a dry eye in the place.

When Bob Hope died at 100 years old we all cried. We thought that even if he doesn't meet the requirements for burial at Arlington, he deserved it. He is in fact the only person to never have served a day in the military to be given war veteran status by a declaration of Congress, and he truly deserves that status you will never hear one of us war veterans say otherwise.

Of course no one even comes close to the greatness of Jesus Christ, but for those of us who have seen Bob Hope in a combat zone, he is as close as a mere man could be.

We love you Bob and you are truly missed.

Betty from Delaware:

Are you in a school where someone could die,

Are you in a church where people don't cry.

Are you in a job attaining a goal for life,

Are you in a home muddled in strife.

The dilemma is quite an alarming sight,

Yet three little letters arrest it's fright.

The problems summary is simply Sin,

The summary answer is let GOD in.

Oh embrace the God who made you to have

your understanding blessed,

Oh embrace the God who is building a place

for those He has dressed.

Working with God for a purposeful life,

Is a glorious call, His exceptional wife.

As you think on truth of the Holy babe born

Throw away the life that's weary and worn.

Embrace the Saviour who is coming again,

And be not His enemy but be His friend.

bj fenimore

Christmas 2012

To you and your media friends on FOX

Mary from Pennsylvania:

This is a favorite story of mine from Christmas 1956-It is longer than 150 words but could be shortened..if not, just enjoy! : )

http://dearbabyboomer.blogspot.com/2007/12/christmas-eve-1956.html

RoseAnne from New York:

I am 38, Mother of 3. Dr's took my money, and wrote me off, repeatedly. My young son seemed to know, what trained Dr's didn't... I was dying! I dropped to a helpless 83lbs! I walked my frail body on my front walkway, and I asked God to "please, help me", to "guide me". I listened to what he spoke in my heart, word for word. After very clouded thinking, I ended up saving my own life. I am an American, who never left American soil. I had a foreign illness, that kills 4 out of 5 people. I am that 1 that survived, at my own hand, in my own home, and the assistance of my family. I've met God before, at the death of my 2 other son's. I trusted him then, as I do now. The Doctors, National Geographic, and the CDC have since reviewed my records. I am not angry, I am proud of my Messiah, and my family. Doctor's asked "how I did it?" I used what God provided me, on earth...Nature! This is my 2nd Christmas since that event, and yes... I do get better gifts now!

Brendan from Tennessee:

Dear Governor, This is my hope: To redirect Christmas from Wants/Needs in the face of tragedy and to use our gifts/talents/resources in helpful ways. I re-wrote Twas the Night Before Christmas for our modern situation. Merry Christmas!

Twas the Night Before Christmas® – Remixed by Brendan Quigley 12-21-12

Twas the night before Christmas® and all through the town,

The people were frazzled by running around.

The stores were jam packed as frantic parents

Had just enough cash to pay this month’s rent.

The children were restless on their older smart phones,

Playing Angry Birds - Attack of the Drones®.

And Papa was doing all that he can

To afford the latest shared data plan.

When up in their bedrooms there arose great commotion,

The Pig Clones had won and the kids threw conniptions.

Last year’s big ticket was now worthless junk

And they threw I-Phone 4S ® into their toy trunks.

They sprang from their beds straight to the I-Pads®

And Tweeted® poor Santa this season’s must-haves:

From Apple® to Sony® to Best Buy® to Gap®,

Tweet® upon Tweet®: “I gotta have that!”

When the little old driver, glanced down at his phone,

His sleigh veered into a FannieMae® owned home.

More rapid than eagles, bystanders appeared,

Shocked to see Reindeer and the man with a beard.

“Oh, DASHER! and, DANCER! and, PRANCER and VIXEN!

Oh, COMET! Oh CUPID! Oh, DONDER and BLITZEN!

Even poor RUDOLPH, took a great fall.

I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t have taken that call!”

Out came the smart phones from everyone’s pocket.

They Googled® for help and called their best Vet.

In minutes, emergency responders arrived,

And triaged the Reindeer so all would survive.

The kids on their IPads® up in their rooms

Were soon watching You Tube® on this breaking news.

The web was ablaze with all kinds of chatter

As video viraled of this Christmas “disaster.”

The toys were destroyed and the red sleigh was towed,

By Elves from the Shelves® back to the North Pole.

The children responded with tears on their cheeks,

And millions sent Santa Get-Well-Soon Tweets®.

The must-haves kids wanted under their trees,

Changed in an instant—180-degrees.

Lines in the stores dispersed like the gnomes.

And parents drove frantically back to their homes.

The families then gathered around the flat screens,

And watched as Huckabee updated the scene.

An on-site reporter caught her big break,

As Santa showed up to give her his take.

He was dressed in faux fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

An electronic pipe held tight in his teeth,

And the vapor it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

“Excuse me, Dear Santa,” the reporter had asked,

“Since Christmas is over, how can you laugh?”

Santa replied, “With all due respect,

Christmas was lost way before my big wreck.

“We wanted. We needed. We cried and we got

Bunches and bunches of gobbledy-gop,

But now with this pain comes better perspective

Of what is true need and how we can have it.

“We have it by sharing the resources we have

To help those in need whenever we can.”

Santa then motioned to all those around

And thanked them for helping him off the ground.

“Day is approaching, and I have to leave.

Time’s running out on this Christmas Eve.

My children, if nothing is under your tree,

You can still have Christmas with your family.”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So Santa spun upward and away he flew,

Back to his family to have Christmas too.

Mbaocha from Imo State, Nigeria:

25th December is a day set aside by Christians to celebrate Jesus’ birth which brought libration and redemption to man. He showed us how we might live our life here on earth. Have you made him your saviour? He still loves you. Happy Christmas.

Lori From Massachusetts:

Every year my mom would pick out Christmas cards with angels on them. Now, she is gone, and I carry on the tradition of sending the exact same angel Christmas cards to special people who have touched my life. One of my friends told me Sunday the angel Christmas card I sent her was the last type of Christmas card her mother mailed out before going to a nursing home last year.

James from SC/Georgia/Virginia:

Christmas has always been the highlight of the year for my family. This is my personal story about Christmas and what my Baptist minister father shared with me about it.

I can barely remember my first six Christmases at home with my parents. I do remember the seventh. In December, 1941 I was in the first grade Christmas pageant at school and my mother made my costume and was there to see it. Right after the play she was taken to the hospital.

On my 7th Christmas morning, December 25, 1941 I found my first bicycle under the tree at my grandmother's home in Columbia, South Carolina, but everyone except me had gone to the hospital to visit my mother who had suffered from lingering illnesses for as long as I could remember. She was 33 years of age. I was very anxious to ride my new bike but I knew my mother was in very serious condition.

Finally they returned, but I could see my grandmother's face through the glass front door. She was crying as she turned the key . My grandmother had already lost her husband, two babies and a daughter 20 years old. Of her whole family only my mother and I remained.

I knew instantly that my dear mother had passed away. My father took me to South Carolina Baptist Hospital to say goodbye before they moved her to the funeral home. As he did he explained to me that though we were very sad and would miss my mother terribly, she had gone to heaven to be with Jesus, that she would no longer be sick and that there was great rejoicing and celebrating in heaven upon her arrival. He explained what a wondrous time it was for her to arrive in heaven on the birthday of the Savior. He said that my mother would be rejoicing and celebrating Jesus' birth above as we celebrated her going to heaven and Christ's birthday here on earth. I found that very hard to understand but did my best as I gave my mother a final kiss in the hospital room. I don't remember much more of that day except that after a sad Christmas dinner my father took me out to the sidewalk to ride my new bicycle. He ran along beside me as I tried to balance. It must have been very difficult for him but he was anxious to help me at last try out the bike. They said I was too young to go to the funeral. I do remember one thing...my grandmother specifically requested that the hymn "Till we meet again" be sung. She was very emphatic about that. My mother was buried at Elmwood Cemetery on December 28, 1941 on the coldest day I could remember.

After that, every year at Christmas we had a wondrous celebration. We had two things to celebrate. My father was always with me, his only son, almost every Christmas for 50 years. On those Christmases while I lived in South America he would fly down at great expense to be with us. He especially enjoyed passing out the gifts to the children and later to the grandchildren as well each Christmas and we had many wonderful Christmas celebrations together. Christmas was really always a joyous time for us as a family even as we remembered my mother in heaven celebrating too.

It was in early December of 1992 when I received the call to fly quickly to Atlanta to be with my father who was in serious condition. Though he had never smoked, he had lung cancer after earlier having had a heart attack and wearing a pacemaker for a year. He was 86. I took two of my sons with me. The doctor told me that I had better bring the rest of the family quickly as he would not last long. An older son drove them down. To the doctor's surprise my father held on. With the aid of an angelic nurse provided by the Lord over two weeks passed as he lay at home on a hospital bed beside the Christmas tree in the living room. The bedroom was too small for visitors and family. Although he did not speak, he was conscious and we were sure he could hear us and the friends who visited talk to him.

Christmas day arrived. The presents were under the tree as usual. We decided to open the gifts with the family gathered around and the only difference with previous years was that this year I distributed the gifts for the first time. Once that was done we gradually drifted away from his bedside but then we were called back as he breathed his last. He had waited for our family Christmas celebration before he left us. It was December 25, 1992; exactly 51 years after my mother had gone to glory on Christmas day.

The memories flooded back as again I stood at Elmwood Cemetery in Columbia on another freezing cold December 28th when my father was laid at my mother's side. Just as 51 years before, I was sure again that there was great celebration in Heaven as my parents were reunited to celebrate with the Lord his birthday.

Twenty more years have passed but each Christmas our family has a triple reason to celebrate on December 25 and we do...

Nancy from NY:

When I was a child we had a run-down cabin on our property. A family convinced my dad to let them rent it. They had a son who spent a lot of time at our house. Sometimes too much! Which was annoying. At times he appeared unkempt, and it was obvious his family was poor. But he wasn't a bad kid and never caused any trouble. That Christmas we had just finished our meal when we heard bells and a knock on our door. There stood our neighbor ringing bells and carrying a feed bag. He came in-stomping snow from his feet. Saying ho-ho-ho he opened the bag and took out a jack knife with a broken blade for my dad, a deck of cards (some missing) for my brother, a bottle of opened perfume for mom, and a worn book with pop out pages for me! I loved it! He didn't stay -just wished us a Merry Christmas and left smiling. We never forgot that Christmas nor what we received-much more that the gifts in the feed bag!

Art from New Jersey:

My Christmas is simple...my wife and three daughters. Every day.

Melissa from California:

God is Love, God is Christmas if we can escort him out that means we can also usher Him in. In my attempt to do that it is my desire to designate a national day of remembrance by honoring the victims with one day of sales in businesses around the world to have fundraising where a percentage of sales would be donated to families. Please help me. I need publicity. Contact me for further assistance be a part of Gods love..Thank you

Melody from Florida:

When I was about 5 years old my parents had to tell us they could not afford gifts for Christmas. I kept telling my mom I wanted a barbie doll! She said pray about it. So I did. That Christmas morning no gifts were under the tree, I was sad but also knew that it was ok because our family together is more important and it was Jesus' day and not mine! As my mom was making breakfast there was a knock on the door. No one was there but a couple huge bags and a big box of food was! When we opened them it was all gifts wrapped for us marked from Jesus! Not one footprint was in the snow either in upstate NY. It was a true gift from God that He answered what I prayed for! And I had a few Barbie dolls that day! As today I dont have money to buy anyone a gift this year but I know Jesus is the reason for the season and I thanke Him for my family! I pray that people tell there children why we celebrate Christmas and not lie to there children about Santa. God bless you and thank u for the opportunity to share. I am 33 now and blessed because I know God looks out for us all! Even down to the little things! Merry Christmas to your family and staff!

Lorayne from Florida:

Writing on behalf of 1974 National Finals Bull Rider, Barry Brown (at present in VA hospital with Cancer- undergoing Chemo and Radiation). I just called him for permission to do this for him. I am his sister Lorayne Pate referred to in his book.

Please order my brothers Book, Bionic Bull Rider, and share the first chapter with your audience… The first Chap. tells of going after a Christmas Tree for his little daughter, and this cowboy's horse got spooked by the tree, ran off, causing injury and being dragged, and the Cowboy (Barry lee Brown) calling out "Lord Help Me" and as soon as he said it the rope broke and left him laying there. the rest of the story tells how he barely crawled thru the field and to the Interstate lying on the edge of hwy trying to flag down help. He gives God the Glory.

Please look at his site. www.bionicbullrider.com He has lots of good reviews, and was honored by State of Michigan Library for Notable authors in 2012. Exciting true life experiences (I'm on pg. 14) no cuss words or anything dirty. A fine book for Christian reading, funny, sad, (eating grass when starving) washing teeth in a mud puddle, etc.

Thank you, God Bless You.

Susan from Missouri:

One of my favorite Christmases actually began on Thanksgiving. I was in high school and my older married brothers were eating elsewhere. So, Dad took Mom and I to Memphis to eat at Piccadilly Cafe. Afterward, my MS preacher Dad headed to the hospital. Mom asked who was there. His reply was a lot of people. He went directly to ICU. Ministers are nearly always allowed access. My sweet dad went Fromm room to room comforting folks. One little girl had been hit by a car crossing the street on her bike anxious to get to G'ma's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Turns out she was a neighbor to my mom''s sister. Dad held her little hand and prayed with her family while she lay in a comatose state.The week before Christmas, we went to the hospital again to visit her in her room. As we walked into the room with our gift, she smiled and sat up in bed. She hugged my Dad who had prayed she would be home for Christmas.

She began to chatter and laughingly told my Dad that she would get to go home for Christmas. She told us that she was going to her church Christmas pageant and told us her wishes for Santa. As we were leaving, her older sister asked how we knew her little sister. Dad told her the story. She was amazed b/c her little sister was extremely shy and rarely talked to strangers. She asked her sister if she remembered him. Her reply... Of course, he is the man who prayed and asked God to let me be home for Christmas on the day I had my accident and I was very sick! What an impact that made on our lives! God is good!

Virginia from Texas:

Christmas time 1973 and I was in a deep depression again. I just wanted to die and was at the end of my rope. I got a call from a new friend who always told me I needed Jesus in my life. I had heard it before, but this time I prayed and asked Him to come in. Luke 2 speaks of Jesus being a "light to bring revelation", and when I prayed a "light" was lit in my heart and for the first time I had hope for my future. It changed my life!!! The best present I ever got!!!

Dorothy from Florida:

I am enclosing my testimony of being healed of kidney cancer in 1991. I have all of the medical documentation of my healing, including a letter from the Physician.

"HEALED OF CANCER"

www.healingroomsministries.com

My husband Rich and I moved to Kansas City in June of 1991 to attend Mike Bickle's Bible School & Church Fellowship. While working as a nurse for 12 Physicians who all knew the Lord Jesus, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. I had two ultrasounds done, an IVP (they inject dye and take x-rays of your urinary system), and the last test they did was a cat scan. On all four of these tests, I was found to have a large cancerous tumor on my left kidney.

Dr. Mark Kahler, who was the head Physician where I worked, sent me to see Dr. Halvorson, who is a Urologist. I met with him on Sept. 3rd, 1991, upon reviewing all of my tests results he shared with me that I had transitional cell carcinoma (a type of cancer) of my left kidney. He stated that it looked like it had already broken through the wall of the kidney and had begun to spread. He shared with me that I would need to have an operation as soon as possible.

As he shared all of this with me, I sat in his office, with the peace of God enveloping me. I said to him: "Dr. Halverson, I have no fear in what you are telling me, for I am a Christian and my life is in the hands of a Loving Father." He then shared with me that he too was a Christian. He then called Olathe Hospital, and scheduled me to have my kidney, ureter and a portion of my bladder removed 3 days later, on Friday, Sept. 6th, 1991.

Now during all of this I had received prayer ministry from Mike Bickle, Jim Goll, Wes Adams, Bob Jones, David Ravenhill and Bill Greenman. They ministered to me in the Might and Power of the Holy Spirit, as the Lord led them in praying for complete and total healing of this kidney cancer.

On Wednesday, Sept. 4th, our Pastor Wes Adams came up to us after the prayer meeting that was held at the Olathe Church. Wes began to declare over me healing and to speak life and health to my kidney. He shared with me that he sensed that the Lord was indeed working a miracle in me and that I might want to consider delaying the surgery to see what the Lord was doing. Wes is now Vice President of the 'Healing Rooms Ministries of South Florida'. Wes is co-author of the 'Life In The Spirit Study Bible' published by Zondervan.

That same day on Wednesday, Sept. 4th, while I was worshipping the Lord and reading scriptures that pertained to healing, the Lord spoke to my own heart and said to me: "Am I not the Healer, and can I not heal you?" I replied to the Lord: "Yes Lord, You are the Healer, and yes You can heal me." As I spoke those words to the Lord, He gave me His faith to believe. I knew that I knew, that I knew that I was healed. The Lord had given to me His faith to be healed of this cancer.

I then called the Urologist - Dr. Halvorson, and I shared with him that the Lord Jesus had completely healed me and that I wanted to cancel the operation that was scheduled for that Friday. Dr. Halvorson shared with me that he would cancel the surgery, but that he wanted me to go into the hospital on Tuesday, Sept. 10th, and allow him to go into the kidney with a scope to view the interior of my kidney. This was not an operation, it was a procedure to view the interior of my kidney to see if there was any cancer that was still present.

I went into the hospital that Tuesday. Before they put me under the anesthesia, I said: "Dr. Halvorson, today you are going to see a miracle. You're going to go into that kidney, and not find any cancer or tumor, nothing at all, just a normal healthy kidney.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room. My husband Rich came in about one hour later. I looked up at him, and he said: "You don't know yet?" I said no. He said: "Honey, the Dr. went into your kidney, and there was nothing there. No tumor, no cancer, nothing, just a normal healthy kidney." My husband and I rejoiced in the miracle that the Lord Jesus had done in my body. Hallelujah!! He is King of Kings, and Lord of Lord's, there is nothing to difficult for our God to accomplish. What He has done for me, He will do for you. Believe Him for you miracle!!

Dr. Halvorson called me at home that evening to see how I was doing. I shared with him that I was doing well. I asked him if he had ever seen a miracle before. He replied that yes he had seen miracles before, but nothing in the magnitude of my healing of kidney cancer. Hallelujah, all things are possible with the Lord Jesus.

I asked Dr. Halvorson to write a letter to Dr. Wes Adams, who was our Pastor and Bible School Teacher as that time. Dr. Halvorson writes in part: "I have indeed seen many unexplained beneficial occurrences in medicine in my twenty five year experience, however I would conclude that this truly is a miraculous cure and could only be brought about by the Lord's healing power."

That Sunday, Mike Bickle asked me to share my testimony of being healed of the kidney cancer. There were several thousand people who were present that day who heard my miracle testimony. Hallelujah - with our God all things are possible. There is nothing to difficult for our God - for He is King of Kings and He is Lord of Lords!!

This miracle healing took place in 1991, I remain cancer free today.

Rob from Arizona:

The story I tell is of a small and simple blessing of the kind that go

seemingly unnoticed yet add up one at a time to make a lifetime full.

While standing in a Long line at the grocery store with a dozen or more

frowning faced patrons I noticed the Checker glancing at us when an

almost whimsical smile grew on her face. She spoke out cheerfully in a

friendly voice loud enough for all of us to hear "MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!".

Everyone replied immediately without hesitation "MERRY CHRISTMAS". We all

left with many smiles and were still smiling as we loaded our groceries in

our vehicles. I thought to myself "Gee, Christmas is still alive and well.

Why would I have thought otherwise.

I find it sad, actually deplorable, That the moral majority as we are now,

have to struggle to remain moral and tolerant of others as they attempt to

oppress us. We attempt to accomodate a political correctness that is dictated

to us by those who would choose to eliminate our spiritual beliefs from which

our social values are derived. This causes us to be more subtle, almost mum,

in our very effort to live by our own correct and invaluable moral convictions.

Thank God for people like this checker willing to brighten our days with a

cheerful "MERRY CHRISTMAS"! May God bless you Mike, and others who speak up.

Lisa from Texas:

44 yrs ago this Christmas, my brother and I were adopted into a wonderful family!! Before my adopted parents entered the foster home where we were in Indiana, we were put in wrapped tall boxes as a gift to our adopted parents, once they entered, we popped out and said hi mom, hi dad!!! What a great Christmas, not only a gift to our new parents, but a gift to us also!!!

David from Pennsylvania:

I believe that the true meaning of Christmas has been taken out of context, even in the Christian faith. While it is definitely a time of remembering the little baby boy that was born in a manger in Bethlehem, it is also a time to remember what happened leading up to that point. If we translate the term "Christmas" based on the Greek, Hebrew, and Latin translations, it literally means "Messiah sent." Additionally, John 20:21 reads, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." Therefore, we can conclude that Christmas is not only a noun referring to the actual birth of Christ, but is also a verb referring to God coming down from Heaven and becoming a human. This action further calls us Christians to preach the Great Commission for 365 days of the year. It is not just "Christmas," it is a call "to Christmas." The fact of the matter is this: The transcendent, all-powerful, mighty God, with the power to destroy cities and the unconditional love to forgive all sins, turned himself into an innocent, unexpected baby. In essence, God showed up.

Jan from Florida:

Hi Mike,

I have been divorced for many years and my daughters are now grown. I have kept our traditions the same or as close to what they knew as children. This year I have decided to start a new tradition. A female acquaintance who is a former marine asked for donations to put together baskets to take to patients at the VA Hospital in Tampa for the fourth year. I donated for two baskets and then asked her if she would like a volunteer to come along with her to distribute the baskets and to spend some time with these heroes who gave so unselfishly. She said, "Absolutely"! So... I will be spending my afternoon at the hospital and hopefully spreading some Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas,

Jan

Connie from New Mexico:

When I was 7 I stayed up to see Santa for myself. I wanted to thank him for whatever he decided to give me and give him a big hug. Back then Santa did it all. He put up and decorated as well as placed the unwrapped gifts under and around the tree. Sometime, way after everyone had gone to bed I sat on the cold Illinois hard wood floor with the door barely cracked open, waiting for Santa. Suddenly, I heard the sound of footsteps and then voices. OMGoodness, it was my parents! I wanted to tell them to go to bed b/c Santa wasn't going to stop at our house if they were up, when I saw them bringing in a decorated tree and gifts! Suddenly I realized that my parents were Santa! I quietly shut the door and crawled into bed beside my brother Mike and then I cried b/c my tiny little heart was broken. There wasn't a Santa and I was grief stricken. Once I stopped crying I made up my mind that I wasn't going to tell my brother or sister what I had seen. I wasn't about to take away their excitement and joy. I became aware also about how blessed I was to have parents that took the time to pretend and make Christmas special for us.

I kept this secret for years and it wasn't until some 54 (now)years later that I realized that I had also given my siblings a gift too that Christmas, that was pretty special. I didn't know then that I was giving them the gift of innocence, wonder and joy. The following summer my parents divorced. That was the last Christmas we were together as a family. I'll always remember ........ it's a little bit bitter sweet, my memories but I'm glad I have them.

Lee from Mississippi:

Every year my family gathers together at my Grandparents' on Christmas eve. From My Grandparents, to their children, to their children's children, and even their children's children's children. We all have a meal together, we pray before we eat, then we gather in my Grandparents' living room and my Grandpa reads the Christmas story, the one from the book of Luke, Christ's birth. My Grandpa will then ask the little kids various questions about the story he just read and educates them. The last thing we do is exchange presents, but that's never the focus of what we're there for. Our family makes sure to place the importance on the right things, worshiping God and spending time as a family.

Edward from Tennessee:

I was eight or nine and we were living in compton california. Dad could not make a living at that time in tn. We rented a house with a one car garage in back. I awoke on Christmas morning to find no presents under the tree for me. Before i could start to cry, i heard a train whistle and was directed to the garage by my mom. When i went into the garage there was a train layout with a lionel and a marx train complete with a two train transformer, towns, rivers, and a tunnel my dad had built. What an exciting time. It was unbelievable. The trains were used, but i did not know that or care. I still have those two trains today, and i am 64 yrs. old. My dad and Mom are both gone now, but i will never forget that Christmas. We moved back to TN. soon after that.

Anna from Georgia:

Chocolate Covered Cherries always had a special meaning for my dad and me.

Every Christmas my mother bought my dad a box of chocolates covered cherries from the time they were married. She knew they were his favorite.

When my older brother was born Daddy shared the chocolates with my older brother but he never took to them. Then I was born and as soon as I was old enough to eat chocolate covered cherries my dad shared them with me. I fell in love. From my youngest Christmas, before I can recall, a special game started between us with those chocolates. It was a simple silly game, a game that we drew out not eating the chocolates all at once but lasting into the new year with the winner being crowned to the last person who ate the chocolate in the box. Our sweet game offered us many memories as all year long we would tease, share and rib the loser saying "I'm going to win next Christmas."

Marriage and a child never interrupted our game. However, it was Christmas 1981 daddy had decided to opt out of the game. He decided to completely opt out of life.

My world was completely destroyed!

In the late 70's early 1980's, hard economic times reminiscent of days like today, my sweet dad got caught up in his personal business not being able to buy materials due to high oil prices and his business went under. He gathered himself, stood tall with his family behind him and embarked on another venture of buying up small homes completely remodeling to doll-houses when the interest rate shoots to 21% leaving him holding all these houses. In his own mind he thought his family would be better off without dead than alive. September 29, 1981 he committed suicide.

That dark day my world turned completely upside down leaving me confused, thinking everything I once knew about our strong family headed by our fabulous father, my hero, a man of integrity was a lie. My mind could not fathom him taking his own life by his own hands leaving us.

As Christmas 1981 began to barrel down on me, and the thought of our game, I made my mother promise "Never to purchase the chocolates again."

She never did, after all that was the rule.

In the wake of suicides many look to blame someone in order to direct their anger away from their loved who commits suicide to someone else. I never had a desire to blame anyone other than God. Our family were His people. After all, "How could you have allowed this? Why?"

Five years. Five long years every morning I asked God the same angry redundant questions of "How and Why?" Complete silence was always the answer.

And each Christmas that rolled around I found myself in the grocery store standing before neatly stocked chocolates talking to them, asking them, "How could you have done this? Why?" Frustrated, I would walk out most times forgetting to pick up the items I needed due to the same deafening silence from them as with God.

Finally, one summer day I had to ride to Columbia, SC for the day. For some odd reason, really unknown to myself, I didn't ask God in anger that particular morning, I didn't speak at all, gave Him the same silent treatment He had given me all those years. However, almost half way through my ride, on 1-20, at mile marker 28 (my favorite number 14 times 2) surprising myself, I began to speak to Him asking, "God if you will not tell me "How and Why?" could you please tell me "What? What can I do to make a difference?"

Immediately, but not hearing a voice, it was more like something within my spirit-I knew that I knew I was to start a suicide awareness program. I was instantly transformed! The black cloud over my life seemed instantly removed, my vile angry spirit evaporated right there at mile marker 28.

In my excitement, I couldn't wait to return back home to stop by Mother's to tell her, "I am starting a suicide awareness program." From that day on I worked writing letters, forming a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, gathering a Board of Directors to create, Love For Life, Inc. On September 14, 1989, almost 8 years to date of my daddy's death, South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell was flown in by helicopter to our town's local high school and implemented Love For Life, Inc. He could only be at one school so I had hired a humor speaker, Terryl Bechtol, to go to other schools for the week to talk with teenagers about loving life in hopes of preventing suicides that were growing higher among teens.

Love For Life was a great success, although Terryl and the Governor's message couldn't be measured, I know God had it reach someone's heart and mind.

Three years working non-stop in my spare time on Love For Life, working a full time job, raising a small child, I was exhausted. So I promised the Lord I would one day turn our story into a book, "Chocolate Covered Cherries."

After Love For Life, as Christmas 1989 began to approach, I knew in order for absolute healing I had to face the chocolate covered cherries. I finally talked myself into purchasing a box. The day I gained strength for the purchase I left the grocery store with uncontrollable tears flowing down my face.

I waited several days to calm myself, then one day home alone I bravely opened the box with plans to eat every one in the box remembering something special of daddy from each Christmas. With the wrapping off the box, I was shocked to find myself immediately asking the same redundant questions I hadn't asked in years, "How could you have done this to me? Why did you do this?"

My plan of sweet memories seemed a dismal failure. The years of research on suicide, the strength I thought I had gained through educating myself for Love For Life left me in a split second in the opening of our special game box. Anger sets in as I think of Love For Life being in vain. There was nothing left to do but discard the box, "Next year, maybe next year I will be able to resume the game."

Standing over the trash, looking down at the chocolates in the trash, feeling like waste myself to be back in my old spot, a message was placed in my heart to write the candy company a "Thank you." I actually thought it to be a rather ridiculous request but I obeyed. I pulled out paper,pen, and wrote the thank you. I quickly mailed it out in order not to talk myself out of sending this crazy message. Somehow I thought the process was a therapeutic one for me, I just didn't know how.

Christmas 1989 came and went. One day into the new year after returning home from work I walked to my mailbox to find in the stack a masthead from the candy company. I tore open the letter to read:

Dear Ms. Seigler,

Your letter of December 18th was poignant. In 1979 I tried to take my own life..........................

It wasn't until I read your letter that I discovered the damage I would have caused my children.

Signed,

President of Candy Company.

A miracle arranged by God, the chocolates did talk to me. Through the President of the candy company my dad and I shared our sweet Christmas game with, God mapped out a plan for answers to my "How and Why?"

It was my dad's complete choice to end his life. Suicide is never the answer. The adage, "A permanent solution to a temporary problem," in my dad's permanent solution he never realized the heartache he would create in his family, too many tears to be counted as his family missed him, nor the damage of bad feelings left between loved ones.

Please know suicide is NEVER the answer!

This Christmas and each Christmas I buy chocolate covered cherries and have sweet memories!

Merry Christmas!

Craig from Florida:

Christmas for my family will be different this year. My 26-year old son Brandon is spending his first Christmas in Heaven with Jesus this year and not with us. I am happy for him to be with Jesus; but, I do miss him dearly. My only peace is that I will be with Brandon one day. He will always have a special place in our thoughts, hearts and prayers. Merry Christmas to all and a blessed and prosperous New Year.

Bob from Kentucky:

Several years ago we were really scrapping to just get by. I was out of work, my wife was working but it really wasn't enough. We had bills coming in on every side and some we were behind on. We had already committed that we would be having no Christmas that year, for us that was fine but we had a 6 year old who loved Christmas. What he loved the most was the tree. I explained to him we couldn't afford a tree and he shouldered it well. My wife wrapped some empty boxes and placed them in the corner of the room and said, "Maybe it will look like Christmas anyway". That Christmas eve I went to look for a tree for my son, all he wanted that year was a tree. I looked everywhere and finally found one at Lowes, $12. All I had to spend was $10, I thought what the heck and called the manager and told him my story to my surprise he called the salesman and told him to let me have it for $10. I brought it home and my son's eyes lit up like bright candles. He began to put the boxes in the tree. No lights, no tinsel, empty boxes and he sat and looked at that tree until he fell asleep. That's when God began to bless, the next day, everywhere we went my son received a gift. His words later that night was, "Dad, this is the best Christmas.”

Our Greatest Christmas was when we had the least, but by God's Grace it was the best. For years later I keep that tree and put it up somewhere in the house, lest we forget!

Ed from Florida:

Mike, I know you too well to address you as Mr. Huckabee, I watch you on FOX and believe you are blessed. Your insight on all religions is touching. I wish all my non Jewish friends "Merry Christmas" just as they wish me "Happy Hanukah"

Albert from Texas:

Hello Mr.Huckabee, Christmas is celebrating his birth with our family and friends. Also for what Jesus has done and continuing to do for us. We are all giving the act for asking Jesus into our heart the best gift anyone could receive. Forgiving us of our sins, teaching us how to love unconditionally. For I could go on and on. But there is no greater LOVE than the LOVE of JESUS loves everyone. If this nations people were saved by the Love of Jesus the way he loves us. This nation and the people would be AWESOME

Kay from Kentucky:

Christmas was, is, and shall forever be the celebration of My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I love giving and receiving presents BUT by far the BEST present ever was Jesus being born so that we, a lost people, could be saved by the marvelous GRACE of God! Praise to HIM and HIM alone.

Rebecca from Ohio:

Growing up there was six of us plus our parents in a small house. We were so excited to come down stairs to see what Santa brought us. However, our parents rule was no one was aloud to go down stairs till we all went down together. Youngest to oldest. ;) we were always pushing and coaxing the oldest siblings to get moving. Great memories of Christmas.

Ramona from Louisiana:

In our family, we have always followed the Cuban tradition (my husband is from Cuba) of celebrating Jesus’ birth on Christmas. When our daughter was little, we had a Birthday party for Jesus in the afternoon and read the Nativity story from the Bible, concluding with the Wise Men bringing the gifts. We shared our gifts on King's Day, Jan.6th, because it was the Kings who brought the gifts.

Mary from Tennessee:

A number of years ago I was a single mom...couldn't afford much but wanted my kids to realize the blessings of giving. We chose an elderly neighbor and we took them a small gift each day...the first day, one item, the second day two, the third three, etc. You get the idea. The best part was when we left the gift, rang the door bell and then hid. They never knew for sure (though I think they suspected), who their gift givers were. It was a simple but great experience that I, or my children, will never forget. We still laugh at how we struggled to hide to keep from being "caught".

Betty from North Carolina:

My husband, Jim, was in the army and stationed on Okinawa in 1953. Our daughter, Janis, was born in February of that year. I looked forward to Jim coming home for Christmas and seeing his baby daughter for the first time.

As time went by and it got closer to Christmas, I prayed that Jim would be able to be home to celebrate Jesus birthday with us.

On Christmas Eve, I began to pray and look out the window, then pray and then look out the window, expecting him to come home. I put Janis to bed and kept praying.

About 11 pm, I heard a car door slam, ran to the door and there he was !!!!!!!!!! After a big hug, he went to the baby bed and saw his daughter for the first time. God heard and answered my prayers that day, and you know what ????? He still does. Praise His Name.

Kimberle from Michigan:

Mike, My story / self published book: Santa, Why do you come on Jesus' Birthday? was written out of a desire to allow our children the magic of Santa Claus, while keeping the focus on the true meaning of CHRISTmas.

I think you will love the story. I've been told my story helps bring gift giving back in perspective (Jesus received 3 gifts).

After all CHRISTmas is about Christ's Birthday, even to Santa!

In this delightful story Santa shares his life journey. You'll discover how he has been blessed with the gifts of love and giving, found the North Pole, met Mrs. Claus, loves Jesus, and so much more..As of 12-14-12 available on Kindle / Amazon.

Thanks for reading and considering my story. Kim

Craig from Tennessee:

This is the first Christmas in four years that I have a bed to sleep on. I lost my career...and my home...when the mortgage industry collapsed in 2008. I stayed here in Nashville because I have a daughter who is now 14. Thankfully her mom remarried and they have a home. I stayed here, worked odd jobs, slept in my car, showered at the rec center and rebuilt my life. In May I graduated from Liberty University, completing my degree 28 years after I was a freshman there. In November, my Christmas book was published, "A Ragamuffin Christmas" which was a collection of stories I wrote for my daughter while I was homeless and trying to hang on to Christmas. I start Seminary next month and I have a small carpentry business. God has totally rebuilt and reshaped my life. I wouldn't want to be homeless again...but I'm thankful for all he let me go through so that I could be who I am now.

Benjamin from Kentucky:

This year has been an exceptionally low year for me. Nothing terrible has happened, but plenty of small things have built up in my life the last six months or so. I have been sad, depressed, lonely, unmotivated, and have reached the point to where I just want to throw the towel in!

Yesterday, in Connecticut, I learned that it could be so much worse! I learned that I was hardly caring about my closest friends and family. I learned that no one knew how important they are to me. I was thinking of myself!

I wish it didn't take such a terrible event to show me what is important in life. Some people question why it takes something like this to make people come together. I guess my only response is, what good would come of these tragic events if everyone was perfect?

Raffaela from North Carolina:

Mine isn't a long story, just a realization I have come to..finally! Having raised 4 children who now range in age from 43 to 53 I have decided to make this a Christmas of Jesus is the Reason....We are not exchanging gifts. We are going to rejoice in the true meaning of the day and spend our time together as a Family and enjoy each other just to enjoy each other! And to thank God for be able to still do that. We are all way past the Santa Claus stage, but never past the Jesus Stage!

Steven from Tennessee:

Here's an awesome Christmas poem that really puts things in perspective. I thought you would appreciate it:

His arrival was eagerly anticipated, but not by children

He came on Christmas day, but not down the chimney

He worked in a wood shop, but not making toys

He had a beard, but it was not white

He had some helpers, but they were not elves

He did a miracle, but not on 34th street

He rode into town, but not on a sleigh

He carried a lot of weight, but he was not heavy

He decorated a tree, but not as an ornament

He disappeared into the clouds, but not to the North Pole

His return is eagerly anticipated but not predictable

So every year at Christmas time let all traditions become a sign, to point us back so long ago, when God came to earth for the world to know. he didn't want to be a stranger, so with a gift specially wrapped in swaddling clothes he lay down in a manger

(It's actually a poem I wrote back in 97. It was in the Christian bookstores for a few years. And even though it has been off the market for a decade, you can still find various versions of it floating around the web today. I own full rights to it)

Heidi from Illinois:

In March of 2012 my brother was in Afghanistan. His unit was under fire and he was shot 4 times. He died. Fighting for a country that wasn't initially his. With the voices of his daughter and grandfather telling him to come back, we are lucky to have him home for Christmas. He has a different leg and is undergoing therapy on his shoulder. We will have my healthy, brave, heroic, absolutely wonderful brother home for Christmas. We are thankful for you, John Goudie.

Tiffany from Louisiana:

April 29th, 2012 I kissed my youngest son (6) Luke on his head, felt his soft hair, and looked in his big brown eyes, told him I loved him very much and Mommy and Daddy would be back soon. We had just brought him to his grandma's house for a few hours to go run Saturday errands. On our way home to pick him up we got a phone call that no parent ever wants. There had been a vehicle accident. My mother in law had died instantly, they were stablizing Luke and airmeding him to the hospital. He was not conscious. Hours went by in the ER only to learn he was being airmeded to another hospital for lifesaving measures. We arrived at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport only to learn that he may not make it threw the night. He had a traumatic brain injury, compression fractures in his spine, in his neck, and a collapsed lung. He was on a ventilator and in a coma. My whole world stopped, my knees hit the ground next to my son's bed. I did not question God why this happened to him, to me, to us. Luke is one of God's and Jesus' biggest fans. I prayed in Luke's ear everyday, because he couldn't. I prayed and prayed, and desperate as a parent when I was exhausted, I just gave it all to GOD. We were told there is a less than 7% chance of full recovery and a 90% of severe 'life limitations' if he does survive. We just continued to pray and understood that all children were God's children but just prayed that we could still have him here in our life. For Luke is the light in our life. The child that dances and sings everyday, and carries the Baby Jesus from the Mardi Gras cake in his pocket everyday! One day the neuro team came in as always, asked Luke if he could hear them to give us a thumbs up, and on that day, still in a coma, he raised both hands with both thumbs up. Two months later after extensive rehabilitation, we came home with a miracle of God's work. Luke came home, out of the wheelchair, walking and talking at an almost 100% recovery. He said he knew God fixed him, but took his Grandma to be an angel. He understands that he was a miracle.

People may go their whole lives never experiencing first hand a miracle of God. We are forever blessed to have witnessed this. So this Christmas, as it should be every Christmas, is completely emphasized on the Miracle Birth of Jesus on Decemember 25th. This Christmas we are celebrating TWO miracles that are very special and dear to our Hearts. God Bless your Family, from Ours.

P.S. I was trying to make it to your Book Tour in Alexandria, LA, I even RSVP and was excited to meet you, but Luke's physical therapy in Alexandria carried over that day and they asked us to stay so he could have his picture taken for their Christmas Card. We couldn't decline. Maybe Next time!

Philis from Arkansas:

In 1989, my youngest daughter was in the hospital with a ruptured appendix. She was there for 28 days, and the doctor did not expect here to live. I was student teaching, and we were living on my husband's teaching salary of under $20000, and we had two other children. To say the least money was tight, but we were praising the Lord that He had performed a miracle and our little girl was alive.

I had already told the children that Christmas was going to be very little, because of this money situation. Our church got together and had a money tree for us. They said people gave who never had given to any money tree. They collected over $400 to give to us. To say the least this really humbled us. We had always been the ones to give to money trees, and it was very hard to be given to. It brought to mind that "it is more blessed to give than receive." We thanked God and the people for all they did to make my kid's Christmas, but also my prayer was that I never had to be in the position where I had to receive rather than give. God has answered that prayer, and I we feel blessed to be able to continue to give to the Lord's work.

That is such a memorable Christmas, because it shows how God's people came together to help their brothers and sister in Christ when there was a need. It continues to touch my heart to remember how much Christ and his people love each other.

Lorraine from Georgia:

My favorite Christmas memory happened every Christmas Eve of my childhood. My grandmother owned a shop in our small, close-knit Ohio community. At the close of the Christmas Eve business day, she took all the merchandise out of the display window and replaced it with a Nativity scene. The light in her store window was a many faceted star. The store was completely dark except for this one light shining over the manger scene. Then came Christmas Eve services. After church, the family -- grandmas, aunts and uncles, siblings, and cousins -- would go from house to house, sharing refreshments, while laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Finally about midnight the last house had been visited. The hustle and bustle was over. We were exhausted, but full of joy. Now that I am the grandma, I hold these sweet memories close to my heart and am truly thankful for the special family God has blessed me with.

Barbara from California:

Memories are everything when one is 76 years old!! Now I have no living relatives at all, that I know of! I'm a widow, living alone, in a very liberal/unfriendly/strange town, and don't have connections for the holidays. However, I have my treasured memories of my grandma Grisham's Christmas gatherings. These just happened to be the last time I saw most of my immediate relatives. But back to the precious memories of her and grandpa's house...the smells of the dinner, smell of the beautiful large green pine tree that was decorated in a simple, bright way...NO ONE CAN TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME!!! And little did I know how very important these simple Christmas gatherings would be. She always had the figures of the baby Jesus out under the tree...I wasn't quite a Christian then, but it was forming in my spirit/heart.

Now I feel so sad for the people that have to do and feel "politically correct" stuff!! I feel sorry that many of them have no moral standards or responsibilities to anyone. I feel for them when they tell their children that have low IQs that he/she can conquer the world and become CEOs!!! This has been one of the greatest downfalls of the United States!! Each child should know and accept their level of IQ in society, and not be sold a bill of goods that they can never live up to.

One of my favorite books that brings me back to center in times of stress is Corrie Ten Boom's "The Hiding Place." There are a million lessons in that book...for everyone!!!

God bless you and keep you safe and happy!

Sidney from New York:

This is a poem I wrote to the mother of my friend who passed from cancer. She is a firm believer of God! During the funeral to my surpise the priest read it! After the funeral the priest told me he was going to use it! It is a message from those who have passed. It is titled,

If you could hear me.

My time on earth has come to an end,

weep not for me I'm with Jesus amen.

A glorious place eventually you will see,

when God calls you to come join me.

Weep not for me because I'm not there,

instead rejoice I'm under God's care.

I'm an angel with God,

in his kingdom of love.

Watching my loved ones,

from my new home above.

To all those hurt by this act I send my prayers!

Sid Penny

Mary Ann from Tennessee:

My husband bought his first ever new bike this past Spring, at age 71. Shortly after that he began collecting and refurbishing lonely, dusty, rusty bikes with the intent to give them as Christmas gifts. He connected with the principal of our closest elementary school and delivered donor bikes just a few days ago for the children the school would serve this Christmas. Since then, he has identified several other needy families. In his red truck (not a fire truck / no suit) he has delivered twenty sets of wheels of joy. The sharing of his gifts and the donation of the dusty or rusty bikes from friends and neighbors for the less fortunate has brought a lot of happiness to his giving heart from his greasy hands.

Ashley from Ohio:

Christmas means CHRIST to me. It is about giving & love, being a good Samaritan to everyone we encounter & remembering Jesus CHRIST is the epitome of love and kindness.

Debbie from Wisconsin:

My daughter, son-in-law,

grandkids and me...

We’re all going to Texas

where our special gift will be

The van is fully packed

with all that is needed...

We begin our long drive

with good rules heeded

Stops along the way

just to eat and go potty...

No lollygagging for us

and never be naughty

Many miles are traveled

with grandkids good as gold...

Playing quiet word games

and doing as they are told

Pleasantly time passes

into the long, long night...

All the while feeling a spirit

of Christmas delight

Closer and closer

until finally we are there...

Our hearts feel the joy

of Christmas in the air

We see our gift waiting -

it is my son and his family...

Now all together for Christmas

we thank God for His charity

Hugs, smiles and sweet tears

and all praising glory...

United with loved ones

ends my happy Christmas story

Rick from New York:

On Christmas Eve, 2006, my wife, six year old son, and I were are getting ready to go to a candlelight service at our church. My wife, who was 3 months pregnant, suddenly started having severe cramping and bleeding. We had experienced a miscarriage in the past and these symptoms seemed to be exactly the same.

We quickly called someone to watch our son, and began to rush to the emergency room. On the way, I also called my pastor and let him know why we would not be at the service and to pray for us. When we arrived at the hospital, my wife was given an ultrasound. We were soon informed that there was a fairly large tear on the wall of the uterus right next to the baby, and that we would most likely lose our child. Around this time, I had a sense of peace come about me, knowing that God was in control. After another grueling couple hours, she was given a more detailed, 3D ultrasound. Shortly after, we were told the tear was much smaller than thought, that it was much further from the fetus, and the baby would most likely survive.

Shortly after that, our pastor showed up to comfort us and pray with us. When we told him the news, he proceeded to tell us how they had stopped the Christmas service, and that the entire congregation had been praying for us over the past couple hours.

Our second son was born six months later, happy and healthy.

Christmas, for me, is about faith and trust in our Lord.

Preston from Arkansas:

This Christmas I have decided not to consume and ask others to consume for me, instead I am going to let the true nature of the Holiday take shape and simply be there with my loved ones.

God only asks that we be quiet and listen to him, why should I ask of others more than what God asks of me?

Kimo from Hawaii:

The big question this time of year is why do my people (Jewish people) eat Chinese food on Christmas?

It's a tradition that started since most Chinese people are not Christian and do not celebrate the holiday, therefore those in the restaurant business stay open when literally everything form shopping malls, movie theaters, bowling alleys, sporting events, public libraries, public pools, even grocery and drug stores are closed on Christmas.

On December 25th, the United States is pretty much closed down, but 90 years ago, things were really closed . It was either church or family and friends at home. Therefore Jewish people had nothing to do until they discovered Chinese restaurants were open.

Chinese restaurant owners did not discriminate. They did not care whether they served blacks, Jews, Portuguese or space aliens. They treated all their customers with due respect. This was unique at a time when a Jewish person could be turned away at the door of a restaurant since anti-Semitism was a real thing. The Chinese restaurant owners didn't care and the more people meant more money.

One obstruction for Jews to get over was that Chinese food was filled with non-kosher ingredients like shellfish and pork. Some just held their nose and ate it. In the late 1950s, there evolved this humorous concept of “safe treyf.” (non kosher food) Obviously, treyf (non-kosher food) is forbidden but “safe treyf” means it’s prohibited but OK. If you can’t see the pork in the won-ton soup stock, Or if the shrimp in the shrimp chow mein is chopped up into little tiny pieces that you really can’t recognize then it’s OK.

The irony about all this hoopla of Jews having nothing else to do on Christmas is that Jesus himself was a practicing Jew and I would bet my matzo ball soup he would most likely had eaten kosher Chinese food on December 25th with a message of peace and aloha to one and all.

Merry solstice, Happy Christmas and rejoice in Chanukah!

Stephanie from Washington:

When my children were in elementary school I decided to write each of them a letter. I started each letter with "I LOVE YOU THE BEST BECAUSE..." I put the letters in envelopes and put them on the tree for kids to find the next morning and they did. They each read their letters -- and I knew that because i could hear in the back of the house "ha! ha! mom loves me best!" so I went back to explain that I loved them all best because I loved them all differently: for different reasons and in different ways. My sons could not be my only daughter. The two younger children could not be my first child. My middle child who was so sick as a baby was the one to teach me how to care for a sick child. I loved them all the same because they were my children; all differently because of who they were.

My oldest son just died at the age of 43, and the day before he died we talked about how special I was to him and he was to me. I thank God for all my children and every precious moment I have had with them.

Ruth from Ohio:

Christmas for me is celebrating Christ's birthday and all the gifts I receive as a result of His birth! He has given me a family including two daughters my husband and I adopted from China. I am so thankful for every gift Jesus has giving me! My kids will ask "How many gifts will we get Momma?" and my wallet is limited but I do the best I can! Christ just keeps giving and giving and I know He still has more to give! He is a wonderful Father! Thank you Father for all you do and continue to do and for your most unspeakable gift, Your son, Jesus Christ!

Melody from Illinois:

What makes it "Christmas" is not about finding the perfect gift or going to all the parties at this time of year. Christmas is about Jesus and making Him the reason for the season and the reason you get up in the morning and live out your day to day life. Christmas is about love, time spent with our loved ones, cherishing one another and life itself. The meaning of Christmas is found in the simplicity of a normal day, giving of oneself, asking how we can make this world a better place and contribute to that, each and every day. Each day is a gift from God and we are to show God to others by the way we live our lives and let everything we say, do and are, point to Him. Living that out is what makes it Christmas. At Christmas, we hear the Christmas story in the bible, remember, celebrate and honor that. Christmas is love and it's in the heart.

Patricia from Virginia:

In 1998, when our daughters were two and less than one year old, we moved to Virginia's Eastern shore. On December 24, there was a great ice storm, and our power went out. We spent the night huddled in sleeping bags, feeding the fire, keeping the girls warm. It was about 40 degrees in the morning inside our house. We left and found shelter at a local motel that had power, and just as we were settling in, we heard a knock on the door. We were invited by a friend of the owner's to join the owner and some friends for their Christmas dinner. We were tired, cold, and hungry, and when we walked into the closed dining room, we realized it was a feast! It would be difficult to describe how beautiful and warm the room itself was, but it was exceeded by the kindness and warmth of the people who invited us there. Although we were not at home, and it was cold outside, inside this room was one of the best Christmases we ever had!

Jeff from New York:

Christmas is a special time of year. It is a time to give. It is a time to let your family, friends, and neighbors know how much they mean to you. It is not about giving gifts; it is about giving love.

There are also so many people in this world hurting (especially in the wake of the shooting in Connecticut). We, as Christian people in a Christian nation, need to keep the two great commandments: Love God and then love others; and part of that is sharing the true meaning of Christmas. God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus, so that we made be saved. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

I'm thankful for Christmas and a time of year when we can remember how God gave us the greatest Gift - now it is our turn to share it.

As a husband, father, and teacher, my prayer for America is that she would remember the Christ in Christmas.

As a personal Christmas story, I would add that I am grateful for my parents who couldn't give my brothers and I much as kids, but who always sacrificed to give us what we needed - putting us before themselves. Who spent time with us and taught us right from wrong. Who made sure we spent time together as a family each night around the dinner table. Who taught us the meaning of hard work. And now that we are all older, we can still spend time together with them, my brothers, our wives, and children. What more could I ask for?

Juanita from Kentucky:

I was born in 1948 in Southeastern KY. We were poor, but didn't know it. All our neighbors were pretty much like us. We grew a little tobacco for our money crop. (We didn't know it was bad for you back then). My Dad had two mules he farmed with. We raised our own vegetables, chickens, cattle and hogs. There was even a little coal seam on our property that my Dad and Uncle managed to get some coal from to go along with firewood for heat in the winter. We got the usual fare for Christmas in those days, candy, fruit and one toy of some kind. We were happy as larks and so were the other children in our area. A handshake was a binding contract. The people in these hills had pride of work and family. Then came the Johnson administration and Lady Bird Johnson came to "help" us poor Appalachian people. Folks learned that it was easier to go to the courthouse and apply for everything possible, Medical, Heat, Food and Clothing. Three generations later, we are the meth capital of the nation along with the pain pill trade. Gone is pride in family or even self. Charity groups bring tractor trailer loads of toys and clothing from the Eastern and Northern states. They are so proud of helping us! But, you can go to the Pawn Shops and buy the bicycles for $10 each a few days after Christmas. Pride in accomplishment has been replaced with an outstretched hand saying, "GIMME". I long for those days gone by....

Mary from Alaska:

LISTEN CHILDREN

Listen children to a story angels witnessed long ago

Heaven's trumpets sounded as the Son approached his Father's throne

"Father people cry "deliverance!" Earth is in despair below,

Will I bring your people to us? Is it not yet time to go?"

"Yes my Son the hour has come but for the last time I must know,

Can you forsake all your glory in a woman's womb below?"

"Take Man's flesh and blood upon you, imprisoned there in earthly form?

Become one with pain and suffering, tempted by the Evil One?"

"Son, there'll come a moment when you're covered in the sins of Man,

Even I won't look upon you . . . . . even I forsake you then."

The Son knelt silent at the throne and looked down on Mankind below

The chasm between Man and Maker had never seemed so wide before

"Yes my Father strength and comfort I would see this battle won,

The salvation of your people demands that the job be done."

"Gabriel, go and prepare Mary! . . . . . Michael, gather troops above!

Evil One will stop at nothing, to prevent this Gift of Love!"

Son bid farewell to his Father . . . . . Holy Spirit bore to birth

Michael's warriors battled forces, as God's seed descended Earth

And in time, God stretched his hand forth, placed a bright star in the sky

Angels suddenly grew silent, as they heard His newborn cry

Through the silent halls of Heaven, echoed that exuberant cry

As the Father watched in silence, a single tear formed in his eye

Angelic choir quickly gathered to proclaim this wondrous birth

And God's army resumed vigil, victorious song filled all the Earth!

But in Heaven the Almighty sat in silence on his throne

The tear turned crimson as He whispered, "It has begun, my Son is born."

Yes, Heaven's trumpets will be blowing, come the judgement day

When His Son returns in glory, what then will Man have to say?

Mary J. Ausdahl 1998

This was written to the tune 'One Tin Soldier' but not note for note as I don't read or write music...ear only...so always adopt my own style:)

Evelyn from Edmondson:

Several years back my husband was on a job that they put a stop work order on and we had put every dollar we had in it and it was 3days before Christmas he started on the job again but still no money for gifts for my 4 kids so I prayed a lot then on Christmas Eve we went to the bank to check our account there was 50.00 in it we never check the savings account because we never put money in there so we did check it that day and Thank God we did because in the account was 3800.00 dollars all I can say is Thank you Lord for hearing my Prayers.

Thomas from Ontario, Canada:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ”

Here in North America we have all heard the story of the angels saying peace on earth, goodwill to men, but what does it mean really? In the 2000 years since the first Christmas, there has been anything but lasting peace on earth. More people have been killed in wars than for any other reason. So clearly they were not predicting a time of lasting world peace. What kind of peace were they referring to? As I review the Christmas story, I find several kinds of genuine peace that start from that amazing night.

Peace with God:

Making “peace with our maker” is often spoken about as we near death. We some how tend to see the need for it when our time is running down. Deep in our hearts we really do understand that there is a problem between a perfect God and us. The Bible makes it clear that none of us really needs anyone to tell us that there is a perfect God “out there” and though many of us spend a lot of effort to deny that reality, when we stop to think about it, there is that unmistakable fact that all this order and beauty we see around us just couldn't happen by accident. We know from a study of the laws of physics that things in a state of order tend to decay to a state of uniform chaos. Why do we make up excuses when it comes to the origin of things? Because we recognize that if there is a perfect Creator, He has the right to direct what is right and wrong. Any one of us can see that compared to perfection, we really don't measure up very high, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ” . So, where does that leave us? This perfect God is at enmity against all our sin. Thats the beauty of the Christmas message. Peace is possible! Though we were once enemies, For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly, reconciling us with His Father. His perfection is given to us, while our sin fell on Him. Christmas is the start of this amazing salvation. Foretold through the prophets, finally God's plan of salvation was rolling out for all to see. It would take another 33 years and the horror of Good Friday before it was completed, but undeniably it had begun.

To those who had the eyes of faith to see it, the arrival of Jesus was a pivotal time in world history. As Simeon the priest declared, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation”

Peace with each other: What is the ultimate root of all the wars we see around us? Sure, we are quick to blame the “other guy” but James clearly tells us the reason: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” We can only truly conquer our selfish tendencies by the power given by the Holy Spirit. This power is granted to all who have been reconciled with God. Only when we no longer live to ourselves can we truly be at peace with our neighbors.

A future Peace in the Universe:

Christmas not only marks the beginning of Gods plan for our salvation, it also holds the promise of the next time that Jesus Christ will be coming back to earth. In the last book of the Bible, we are told of an amazing future, a new heaven and a new earth where the wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD” The old order of things will pass away. Because we can look backward to see how the story began, we can be even more certain of how the story ends. It ends with a new beginning where every day, God makes things new forever more! This hope surpasses anything that can be wrapped and received under a tree. In fact, this hope is the reason for our existence. God has been in the process of creating for Himself a people who love Him and who desire to be with Him forever. He will be our God and we will be His people. “What eye did not see and ear did not hear, and what never entered the human mind—God prepared this for those who love Him”

Kandy from Massachusetts:

This Christmas my gift is my family. While we can not afford Christmas due to the medical bills we have this year I am just happy to have my family alive. In this year alone

Find out I need surgery for hyperparathyroidism. (Found out in january. Still need to get it done because I have been to busy dealing with everyone elses health problems)MANY MANY tests that need to be redone because Youngest son need surgery same time I did so I canceled mine. (parathyroid scan, ultrasound and other scans and blood tests)

1 son was in and out of the doctors multiple times for an ear infection. He ended up with surgery.

We found out I have nerofibromatosis

son hosipitilized with VERY high fever and dehydration for 3 days.

1 child starts having seizures. 2 ambulance rides. MRI, Cat scan and other things. The first seizure he had was at the top of our stairs and he went down face first.

I need MRI find out I have brain tumors

Find out youngest (Same child who was hospitlized and needed surgery) has nerofibromatosis as well.

(these are just some of the events of this year. We have 5 kids and we went through a bought where everyone was getting sick fora few weeks)

Find out I MIGHT need brain surgery. Another MRI and a meeting with neurosurgeon will tell me.

There is much more than this that has gone "wrong". The fact that we are still all alive and able to have each other is what really matters though. Yes the kids may not be getting a lot, yes we won't be able to give out to charity this year but we have each other. Everyone is alive and able to function to a point. (I have been unable to work for a long time due to my migraines which I now find out stem from the Nerofibromatosis and tumors)

Joe from Oklahoma:

The Christmas when I was 7 years old was one of the post magical and hilarious of all. After waking I did what all children do: I, with my 2 siblings, flew down the stairs to see what Santa had left behind.

While most children find sipped milk, stuffed stockings, and presents galore, I found mayhem! Our dining room table has a toppled glass of milk, violently tossed chairs, and a Christmas tree laying on it's side. The magic of Christmas morning was replaced by horror!- well... at least panic.

I went to wake my parents as me and my 2 siblings jumped on the bed. My parents woke can came downstairs with crafty smiles. This is the story I was told:

Santa had spilled milk and refused to clean up after himself. He was then very rude to my police officer father. This resulted in a "tussle" that spread across the downstairs of our town home and lead into the backyard, as I found out. In our yard was a huge dirt mound the size of a fresh grace! To my horror I pleaded with my dad. He assured me Santa had escaped with his life, however "Rudolph would never pee on our roof again"

Merry Christmas

Krista from Kentucky:

My husband is a Marine, my boss is a Vietnam Veteran. My father and grandfather are veterans. Day after day I watch the Christian foundations of this country being dismantled and I feel for lack of a better word, helpless. The only thing that has given me a glimmer of hope is that maybe revival could still come to America through the military. Having spent over a year collaborating on a historic prayer collection, only to realize that trying to distribute it is futile, unless it come from and by the people.

www.giveprayer.org is a campaign we started to try to do this very thing and get prayer back in the hands of soldiers. We have taken up the charge to make a difference in the lives of those fighting for a country that is falling apart at the seams. No one else is going to do it for us, but that doesn't mean we should not try. We just need someone to help us get the word out. You asked for Christmas stories from people. This isn't a story, but to me as of late, Christmas reminds me of a hope that came in an unexpected way when all hope seemed lost. Maybe this book and prayer can be our unexpected hope.

God bless and Merry Christmas.

Larry from Oklahoma:

Excerpt from "My Story Your Story His Story" by Larry Toller, Foreword by Governor Mike Huckabee

www.SecondWindResources.org

The Light of Christmas

Part I

I've always had a problem with those impatient folk who have their Christmas present opening

on Christmas Eve.

When I was a child,

we always had to wait until Christmas Morning

Christmas Eve was

the longest night of the year.

It was bad enough, waiting for days,

watching the presents under the tree,

imagining what could be under the wrapping.

What could be that shape,

weigh that much and

fit in that box?

We counted the days and

finally it would be soon.

"Soon" took so long.

Trying to go to sleep.

Waking up looking at the clock.

1:00.

Again,

3:24.

Again,

5:30.

So close but I dare not get up;

I could ruin it all.

Waiting.

Waiting.

Waiting for the light of Christmas Day.

Then the sound of movement.

In what seemed to be seconds

we tore into the presents.

Part II

Christmas is an exciting time.

It touches our hearts and stirs our emotions.

Christmas is more than tinsel, toys and trees.

Christmas is more than

gifts,

greetings and

goodwill.

Christmas is Immanuel.

IMMANUEL! GOD WITH US!

It is God reaching down to lift me out of sin.

God made a strange entrance

into our world that first Christmas.

It was a humble entrance.

No fanfare,

no reception,

no parade,

no glittering decorations;

No first-class, royal treatment for the King of Kings.

Rags.

Straw.

Silence.

The smell of barnyard animals.

He came among us in a human body.

Our kind of body.

A body that became tired and weary.

A body that needed rest and nourishment.

A body that felt all the emotions and

hurts we feel.

Immanuel.

God looked at his creation through

our kind of eyes.

Heard with our kind of ears.

Smelled, tasted and felt just like us.

When we say, "I'm hungry."

He says, "I know how you feel."

When we say, "I'm lonely."

He says, "I know how you feel."

When we say, "I hurt."

He says, "I know how you feel."

He identified with us.

Immanuel.

Part III

I remember so vividly the Christmas of 1960.

I was seven.

My dad had just lost his job.

We would have to move out of our house

right after Christmas.

My brother, Stanley, had just died in childbirth

on December 19th.

My mother had returned home from the hospital just days before Christmas but was in bed resting and mourning the loss of her baby.

In spite of the darkness

that seemed to engulf my family;

that Christmas seemed so much

brighter

than any in my memory.

The colors of the

tree,

toys,

books and

clothes are

so vividly etched on my mind.

Although we did not attend any church at this time, Christian people gave us Christmas that year, bringing a tree, toys, and food.

The darkness of that season of our lives

was dispelled by God's special light

reflected through His special people.

We were given the

most wonderful Christmas gift of all –

Love.

Matthew 1:23 (NLT)

"Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us)."

Luke 2:6-7 (NLT)

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn.

Note for Mike: If you still have the CD I gave you with the songs that accompanied the book, My brother's song is a great song. You have permission to use it as well.

"Tiny Child, Tiny Babe"

Tiny child, tiny babe

Gift of love to us all

Through the sacrifice made

Born to die, born to save

God so loved the world that he gave

God so loved the world that he gave

In this child so small

Despair became hope

Redemption was born

Angels all up above

Saying "Glory to God"

Bowing shepherds adored

And wrapped up in a manger

God presented salvation to us

Tiny child, tiny babe

Gift of love to us all

Through the sacrifice made

Born to die, born to save

God so loved the world that he gave

God so loved the world that he gave

Hanging wounded and bare

On an old rugged cross

Scorned and despised

Was the dear Lamb of God

Taking my sin

But from death He did rise

And in that promised moment

God presented salvation to us

Tiny child, tiny babe

Gift of love to us all

Through the sacrifice made

Born to die, born to save

God so loved the world that he gave

God so loved the world that he gave

For unto us a child is born

A Son is given, a Son is given

Tiny child, tiny babe

Gift of love to us all

Through the sacrifice made

Born to die, born to save

God so loved the world that he gave

God so loved the world that he gave

Words and Music By Wes Toller

Tiny Child, Tiny Babe ©2005 Wes Toller

Used by Permission

Margaret from Washington:

An Adult Family Home Christmas Story

My sister Liz lives in an Adult Family Home. She is in her late sixties, has cerebral palsy, autism and the mental capacity of a six-year old. Liz is in constant pain from two broken hips and fractures in her spine. She has limited speech most of he time due to medications for anxiety and pain. There is not much she looks forward to in her life but she has always loved Christmas and Santa. When my siblings and I were young my mother did a terrific job making us believe there was a fellow who could make your dreams come true once a year. Mom would throw a rope with huge sleigh bells on it over the roof and shake it around and it sounded like Santa landing and taking off. Liz remembers and loved those times. She is still a Santa believer.

Back at the home Liz has a great caregiver named Crissie. She always has some news of what is going on with my sister when I come for a visit. This week she told me she took Liz and her housemate, Alice, to the mall to see Santa. My sister is on Medicaid and does not have much money so Crissie waited until Liz and Alice both had twenty dollars which is what it took to get your picture taken with Santa. And off they went.

Crissie said they stood in line about an hour which is forever for Liz. When they checked in as they were next in line to see Santa Crissie gave their names and started to hand over their twenty dollar bills. Turns out the price was twenty-three dollars, with the tax, to get the picture taken. Crissie tried to talk with the cashiers but they said no exceptions. Next she called the headquarters of the home and was told she could not use her own money for residents. She was peeved to put it mildly. Crissie told Liz and signed to Alice who is deaf what had happened. No Santa. She turned Liz’s wheelchair around and started moving away. My sister started screaming and throwing a fit as only she can. Crissie pushed the wheelchair as fast as she could with Alice following behind as fast as she could. Liz continued to let it all out with screams echoing through the mall.

They were all very disappointed as they made their way out of the mall to the car. After about five minutes Crissie heard someone yelling, “Liz wait, wait.” Crissie turned around and much to her dismay, there ran Santa Claus towards them, with his gloved hand waving, full of candy canes. He caught up, out of breath, offering Liz and Alice the candy. Liz stopped screaming and Alice was ecstatic.

Santa said he came to have his picture taken with Liz and Alice. Crissie told him they only had the twenty dollars each and her cell phone camera. Santa said he did not want anything, except to have his photo taken with both of them. Liz was silent as a mouse except to say softly, “Thank you Santa.” Santa hugged them both and gave them a big, “HO, HO, HO and Merry Christmas,” and then he rode, I mean walked, out of sight.

After I left the visit that day, Crissie sent the photo to my email. It turned out to be an amazing picture. Everybody looked great and the Santa seemed to have a real white beard and long hair. I thought about this kind gesture for a few days and thought it deserved a special thank you. I went to the mall’s office later that week with a thank you card and the picture to identify that Santa.

I showed the front-desk person the photo and explained what had happened. She got up and took it back to the manager’s office. The manager came out and told me she thought it was a great photo, but that was not their Santa.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

( I have changed the names of the caregiver and the other resident)

Mona from Kentucky:

When I was a child we had a coal stove. One of those pot bellied stoves. Of course with those stoves there was a small pipe that went out the ceiling so the smoke would not get in the house. I remember wondering how Santa got down that skinny pipe. So one day I asked Mom how he got down that pipe. I guess I really put her on the spot because she replied, he has a house key. And that satisfied me.

Steve from California:

I joined the Navy in 1977 a year out of high school. I was designated to be a "nuke", a Navy Nuclear Power plant Operator, and a submariner. My training program took a little over two years with Boot Camp, "A" School, Nuclear Power School and Nuclear Power Prototype Training. I hit the fleet in 1979 at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo CA 30-miles from my home in San Francisco, and for the next 18-months nursed the boat (subs are boats not ships) I was assigned to through the shipyards.

I am from a close Catholic family with wonderful Christmas traditions; family gatherings on Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass at St Dominic's; and Christmas Day with the whole clan at my Aunt Elaine's. Through those first four Christmas celebrations of my enlistment, I always made it home for Christmas.

1981 came and we left the shipyard and became an operational boat. Ronald Reagan was President, and the Navy was very busy keeping tabs and pressure on the Soviet's. We became part of that effort.

We left for our first WesPac, a six month deployment to the Western Pacific, in June and conducted a number of operations. Soon it was December and we were in the Northern Pacific operating in sensitive areas frequented by Soviet submarines. Finally, we received orders to head home for San Diego. Everyone was happy as we were to arrive in time for Christmas. Fate, however, intervened in the form of a Soviet Ballistic Missile Submarine that was detected operating in the Western Pacific, essentially conducting a strategic patrol off the west coast of the United States. We were diverted from our homeward course to find her and follow her. We were all professionals; we all knew we had a job to do; but still we all knew what this meant, we wouldn't make it home for Christmas this year.

Well, we found the Soviet; we followed her, she was clueless as to our presence; and in a war she would have been sent to the bottom of the ocean. Finally, the SubPac (Submarine Force Pacific) God's were satisfied. We had done our duty and we were given to green light to head home. They opened a lane for us across the Pacific, and we proceeded at Ahead Flank and transited at top speed all the way back to San Diego.

After a good number of days, we arrived in San Diego in the afternoon of December 24th. I had my leave papers, but mooring a boat is only the beginning of things for a "Nuke". While the rest of the crew is heading for the beach, the engineers have to bring on shore power, shutdown the reactor and set the duty station before anyone goes home. Once again we did our duty, in a very expeditious manner for sure, but placed the plant in a safe condition and headed for the long term parking lot.

Somewhere around 5 PM I was heading North on Highway 5 for the 500 mile drive back to San Francisco. My goal was to make it back to the city by 11:30 PM to arrive at St Dominic’s for the caroling before mass and surprise my parents, whom I just knew would be there.

Well not to put myself on report regarding infractions of any speed laws, I made it to St Dominic’s at the anticipated time. I entered the Church still smelling of stale submarine air which permeated my clothes, hair and everything else. I proceeded to the place I knew my parents would be sitting, and to my utter disappointment, they were not there. I had not been in touch for them for a couple of months since my last call from the Philippines, with the exception of several letters mailed along the way. I was very disappointed at that moment and more than a little worried.

Mass was beautiful, I sail my hellos to everyone I knew then headed home arriving at 2AM or so. I entered the house and went straight for my parent's bedroom. I knocked on my parent's door in a somewhat abrupt manner. My startled and confused parent's woke up and told me to come in. I entered and commenced to chastise them for not going to midnight mass. They had decided to do mass on Christmas since I would not be there. they got up, we hugged, went to the kitchen, had some coffee, shared some sea stories, Navy adventures, reflections from midnight mass and the plans for Christmas Day.

It was a wonderful Christmas. I had five more during my naval enlistment, all of which I was able to share with family, not necessarily back home. The Christmas of 1981 stands out in my mind because of all that had to happen to get us back to homeport for it; for me to make it back to the city to be with my parents, and for the wonderful celebration of the birth of Our Savior it was for all of us.

My Mother passed away in 1989 and my Father in 2009. I miss them very much especially at Christmas.

Linda from Mississippi:

German Christmas (first published Dec 26, 1986 in Tupelo Daily Journal)

by Linda Shackelford Vandiver

My fondest Christmas memories come from the time when letters written to me could reach me by addressing them APO, New York, or to be more specific 236 Argonne Avenue, Grafenwohr, West Germany. Being the daughter of an Army career man, for three years our mail was delivered there.

The first recollection would be of trudging through what seemed to be mountains of snow to a girl of six, wearing flannel-lined dungarees underneath my school dress. The dungarees would be removed and hung in the cloakroom, as girls were not allowed to wear jeans to school back then. They served as protection from the bitter cold, and served me well when I decided to take the long way home through the woods where the tale of "Hansel and Gretel" would come to life in my imagination while walking down the path cut through the trees.

As Christmas grew nearer, my mother would take us to German-town, where the narrow cobblestone streets were lined with the centuries-old shops.

First, a stop in one of the scrumptious candy shops, then on to the wonderful, rich smell of the leather shop, where the leather goods hung for our selection.

Next, to the clockmaker, to hear the synchronized ticking of the world-famous German clocks. On to the butcher shop where the fresh meat hung in seemingly endless strands of sausages, and all the smells there, and the sounds of the butcher trying to make out the English and broken German that Mother was attempting to speak to get the cuts of meat she wanted for the season.

Sledding down the "Big Hill," the hill on the corner down at the end of our street, is a favorite memory until I remember the time I collided with a boy who dragged his sled up the middle of the hill, (the ups were supposed to go to the outside of the hill.) I still recall the taste in my mouth, and the sight of the red blood on the gleaming white snow. Six traumatic stitches for a six-year old, right in the crook of my nostril.

Another memory is that of my patience in opening the little doors of my Advent calendar, day by day, and how my older sister couldn't wait to open hers, and would open them all at once and then beg me to do the same. No, I would tell her, that would take some of the fun out of it.

I remember fondly the buildings on the post, and especially the water tower, built like our fire towers here in Mississippi, but with the bottom enclosed by stucco walls. The water tower was the tallest building on the post, and we always had to pass it on the way to the movie theater. The movies were our greatest source of entertainment in that place, as all the television programs were in German.

Then, Christmas Eve would finally arrive, and everything would get as quiet as it could be with four kids in the house awaiting the moment St. Nick would appear. You know we never did see the old elf, but we knew he had been there because of all the gifts he had left for us.

Then, Christmas morning, and new-fallen snow, opening gifts, all the candies and goodies, the bloated feeling of eating too much, and the deflated feeling of "is this all there is?" amid piles and piles of games and toys strewn around the room.

That scene finished, it was off to the magnificent stained-glass cathedral, where all the denominations on the post came for the carol service. The acoustics in those old churches were fantastic, and even the sourest notes sounded like heavenly music.

But truly my fondest memory of Christmas came many years later, when I realized what the day really was, and how the most precious gift ever given to mankind was born on the day we celebrate as Christmas. I remember how I was allowed to visit the manger site in Bethlehem, and to see the hills of Judea, where the shepherds witnessed the most spectacular birth announcement in history: "For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."

That is how I would like to end my memory, with the same "...and on earth peace, good will to men."

By the way, as I type with tear-filled eyes, "Thanks for the memory."

Debbie from Michigan:

Christmas is when a king came into the world as a baby in a manager who should of been in a castle,but came as lowley as possible, just to love us to the fullest,to love us more than we could ever imagine,what love is,just to save us, any many ways,help us ande use us for His Glory! He loves us more than we can comprhend,what a beautiiful time of year to celebrate a love like no other! I couldn't love him more in my human sense of the word.What a blessed love. Merry Christmas, Jesus is the reason for the season. Thank God! Keep Christ in Christmas!

Linda from Texas:

I was a high school senior in Indiana. It was a cold snowy day in our rural community. My grandfather had a bad heart and obviously needed to go to the hospital. My dad went out to warm up the car, scrape the windshield, etc. Grandpa refused to go until dad came in and opened his present. Turns out he had drawn dad's name. Grandpa died less than 3 months later. The shirt hang in dad's closet until he died many years later but he refused to wear it as it was a keepsake. I will never forget that day!

Annette from Texas:

THE HIDDEN CROSS

About the time my twin sister and I became teens, a tradition was started at our small church in Pascagoula, Mississippi. I don't know whose creative mind was at work (and play) or even if this event was suggested in Baptist literature of that time in the late 1950s. It was an awesome task and it took many organizational skills and talents to pull off something of the magnitude of a Live Nativity Scene.

Work behind the scenes took months of planning. And we, the characters who were to play the parts, needed coaching and teaching to instill in us the skill to "be still and know God." His eyes and the eyes of all of Pascagoula would be on us night after night. It was necessary for us to be alive without being lively. This was a portrayal in 3-D, not a time to move about or even hardly to breathe. (The planners forgot to instruct the live animals!)

The cars passing in reverence and awe at our portrayal were maybe 20 or 25 feet from the center of the Nativity. Even the slightest movement could be seen. Fidgeting certainly would take away from the reverence of the moment; that was hammered home from the minute we signed up to play a part.

To be sure, there were distinctive male and female roles. But our female peers far outnumbered those of the male persuasion. So it came upon all of us gals the need to don a bathrobe and scarf over the head and become a shepherd. From time to time, we were chosen to put on crown and velvet covering and depict the coveted role of a wise man.

That fell to only a few because the younger and more timid among us were afraid to spend a 30-minute shift standing a foot away from a live camel. Goats were an entirely different matter altogether, but the sheep were cuddly as kittens.

Only the older, more disciplined got to be Mary. Those who never got into trouble and always did what the teachers said were chosen for that mother of all roles. Behind those goody-two-shoe minds there must have been a question as to how Mary could be a virgin and still be a mother. We were all just too obedient to express that doubt. The rebel 60s had not arrived, so such thoughts stayed in the recesses of our minds.

That first night I wasn't Mary, but my role did become for me an actual spiritual experience. I was the angel on high – 20 feet high to be exact. Night after night, the shifts for the others lasted half an hour. But when the angel climbed rickety, dark stairs at the back of the makeshift manger stall, the act itself took such fortitude and perseverance that the spotlight on her was snuffed every 15 minutes and a new angel would appear as fast as she could safely make that climb.

I prayed for all I was worth: not to fall, not to faint, and not to freeze to death. In that town a few blocks from the Gulf, we never knew if we would have freezing cold or temps so hot at Christmas we could have worn bikinis under our angel attire – IF that would not have been a sin. Even short-shorts were a NO-NO those days.

But I digress. We were told that angels could not move a muscle. Even if the nose itched (or some other place) or if we felt a sneeze coming on, we HAD to remain perfectly still. I wish it had been in that stillness, with the animals moving below, that I came to realize how important relaxed stillness is to our minds and bodies. Being 20 feet off the ground with arms outstretched for 15 minutes and a thin wooden support-cross hidden behind me in my white robe, I couldn't help but know—or pray for—God's presence. I wish I could say now that I felt the analogy of that cross hidden in the scene, or that I was so at peace, or that I knew God was calling me to something special.

None of that happened; or I don't remember it. I did believe the tiny baby in the trough of that make-believe stable represented, to me, God's greatest gift—His love. I didn't always remember that lesson when I most needed it. But the knowledge has come back to me time and again; when I needed steering in another direction; when I needed to trust things would work out somehow for my well being; when I needed to know that stillness can bring a peace that passes all understanding. And God reveals Himself to us in His son through His Holy Spirit. And I don't need angel wings or a halo to fly to His Presence, just that hidden cross of His support for me, His child.

Marie from North Carolina:

Growing up and into young adulthood Christmas was about giving and receiving gifts. As a kid I couldn't wait to see what Santa had brought me. It was all worldly -nothing spiritual. Then when I was 26 years old with 2 children I was invited to church and after a few weeks I gave my heart to the Lord. That opened up a whole new world to me. Now Christmas is about the best gift -the Savior. I know when this life is over I will have a new body, no more suffering and I will live with Him forever. Oh that all the world would know Him -what a difference it would make. That was 43 years ago and He still has lst place in my heart. I still love to gift gifts and I still love to receive gifts but the best gift I ever got was Jesus.

John from Arizona:

Christmas is about giving - God giving us His beloved Son to free us from the penalty of sin "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:6)

I ADMIRE AND APPRECIATE YOU MR. HUCKABEE!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A BLESSED NEW YEAR!

Matthew from New York:

I was 5 years old and the youngest of 4 boys, that Christmas I woke up around 4 am and went downstairs and opened up my presents, then I opened up all my brothers presents and played with them, obviously pretty roughly because I accidently broke them all in one way or another, and then went back to bed, when they woke up they couldn't figure out why I wasn't excited to get up and open my presents, then I heard the shouts from downstairs.....yikes

Shirley from Texas:

I grew up in Houston,and at about 9 years old I was crazy about the sound of a motor cycle. Gonna' tell my age now, it was the year that there was this thing you put on you bicycle to make a motor cycle sound. It was called a varoom. That's all I wanted. About a week before Christmas someone stole my bike and Santa had already decided to bring my varoom, so now I had no place to put it. My older brother had a really cool bike and somehow Santa gave me his bike with a varoom on it and he even left a banana peel hanging on the handlebars. I remember that Christmas better than any other one. I always wondered how Santa knew that my brother didn't ride his bike anymore and that he would be ok with that. Merry Christmas to You Mike Huckabee and staff.

Debby from California:

The best Christmases I ever had were as a child growing up in Pennsylvania. I am 50 years old and live in California now, a far cry from those days, but I can still call up the memories of those Pennsylvania Christmases. The sights, the sounds, and the excitement waiting for the arrival of old St. Nick but even more importantly the story of a little baby that born in a far away place named Bethlehem. His name was Jesus and he was a very important person because he was God's only Son. Christmas is about family, the closeness, and the bonds that hold us together. Not only our earthly family but as members of God's Family as well.

Erie from Washington:

Christmas is the joy of giving,sharing and helping others as well. We celebrate Christmas in commemoration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James from Michigan:

For several years after my 18th birthday i had A horrible dislike for Christmas, never wanted to see it come around. Reason being my Mom who i had spent a short time of my life with had died on Christmas Day at 6:40 pm in 1961. Even tho she had been saved on her death bed, i still was bitter. 10 years later i accepted Christ as my savior and started a family of my own. I am 69 years old now, have a great family, grandkids and all. I now realize what a awesome Christmas she had back in 1961 meeting her Lord and Savior on his birthday and i know someday i will have the same, and reunite with her and all my family.

Geraldine from South Carolina:

Background:

Woodruff High School, Woodruff, SC

Presbyterian College, Clinton SC

Middlebury College, Bread Loaf School of English

North Carolina Department Of Education: Taught in the Virginia, North and South Carolina Public Schools for 37 years.

My Christmas Story:

There are two Christmas rituals I’ve carried out over the years. First: Everywhere I have ever lived, I have bought the house in which I lived a Christmas present. Second: I give myself the gift of a good book. This evening, I finished reading Jon Meacham’s Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, a work which every American should read. In my lifetime, I have never seen a Presidential election as...bitter as the one this past November 2012. American citizens are in need of some of the inspiration and the guidance found in this book. Jefferson was a major architect of the road our country has traveled since its beginning. Was the United States united then? No. Is our nation united now? No. Will we ever be united? Perhaps not, except for brief periods like 9/11 when our very way of life came under attack. Jefferson’s brilliant mind, his travels, experience, reading, and imagination led him to believe in and to support a “republican democracy,” a government that made little people bigger and big people littler. As a teacher, I loved the thought of “Jeffersonian Democracy,” which purports the rise of genius out of the masses, and I saw this dream come to fruition many times.”

Are we near collapse? I think not. We are a nation born of and strengthened by rebellion. In Jefferson’s day, collapse often seemed to be near. So, how do we now prevail unto tomorrow? We can read and follow Jefferson who advised, “ Know your history, allow reason to prevail over heated rhetoric, work for consensus, balance political factions, and love your country. A recent President saluted Jefferson’s “transforming genius” by saying, “the persuit of science, the study of the great works, the value of free inquiry, in short, the very idea of living the life of the mind…had their first and firmest advocate, and their greatest embodiment (in Jefferson).” This book gets beyond Jefferson’s sad moral failings and to his genius as a political architect of democracy. Happy reading, I hope, and Merry Christmas!!

Rod and Amy from North Carolina:

Almost 26 years ago, we were filling out paperwork to adopt from Korea. Our then 3 year old prayed every night that her baby would be home for Christmas and she told everyone who asked that she was getting a little sister for Christmas. When Christmas came and went and we still hadn't heard from the adoption agency, we feared our little one's faith in a God who hears our prayers would be weakened.

In Febuary, we got the long-awaited call telling us about a gorgeous little girl named Joo Bin. Imagine our amazement, joy, and awe when we heard her birthday was December 24. We had NO DOUBT she was ours!

GOD bless you at Christmas and always. You have our complete admiration and respect for all you do to help align the spinning moral compass of our great country!

Blessings!

Thomas from New York:

I am 57 now. My father has passed. My father would be spending some Christmas time drinking with his friends at the local family bar. I would stand by the window on Christmas Eve (I was about 5 years old when the tradition started) waiting for my father to come down the street. And, we would decorate the tree with lights, ornaments, and (at that time) tinsel; top with a star. The tinsel had to go on one strand at a time. That was my favorite part. It made the tree look beautiful. Afterwards, I would get the cookies and milk and place them on the table for Santa, say goodnight to mom and dad, and wake up to a beautiful Christmas day with my 7 brothers and sisters. But it was decorating the Christmas tree that was the most special present.

Jo from Tennessee:

In May of 1991, my husband died suddenly of a heart attack. I was a "stay at home" mom of 3 boys, ages 6, 8, and 10. We had $10,000 in life insurance and debt up to our eyeballs. I was so afraid we would wind up homeless that Christmas was put out of my mind, until the church secretary called me into her office and gave me an envelope with my name on it. It had been left for me anonymously and even my name was stenciled on the front, so I could not identify the writing. It contained $100 and I will never forget it. My kids are grown and have their own homes now, but that gift made our Christmas easier when we were very sad and will be in my heart forever.

Natalie from Ohio:

Christmas has become so much more to our family than Santa, Elves on Shelves and crazy holiday shopping. In November my husband lost his job and our new little family went from feeling secure to financially unsure. In the chaos of the unknown we have found peace in Jesus, falling in love with that sweet baby Jesus who came to break chains, set people free and provide our every need. We teach our 3 year old that Jesus got 3 gifts and he was the King of the Earth, so if 3 gifts were good enough for a King, they are good enough for her :-) And we find ourselves spending evenings at home around our tree rather than shopping at the mall. And my 3 year old has started finding change in the couch cushions and saving it to give to kids who "don't have anything." This Christmas will look much different than all the others before...but it's already become one of my most favorite. Happy Birthday Jesus!

Phillip from Maine:

When I was in the third grade in Gladstone, Oregon a young boy stated to the class: "Yes, teacher, it's just like some kids still believe in Santa Claus." Well, overcome with a desire to correct this misstatement, I immediately took the floor in Santa's defense. Turns out the teacher, Mrs. Bailey didn't really give me much backing. So I caught that little communist outside at recess, straddled him and made him confess that there was indeed a Santa Claus.In fact, I threw in Superman, the Lone Ranger and John Wayne, to which he readily agreed. Tell ME!

Pam from Oregon:

A few years ago my son was on his 1st deployment to Iraq. His National Guard Unit was deployed with old trucks from the 60's. They were sent to Kuwait to have their trucks 'up-armored'. Below is an excerpt from a letter he sent home, that was comforting to me.....Just knowing he was focused on his salvation meant more to me than I can tell you.

"He works in mysterious ways....When we were in Kuwait not too long ao, all of us on the convoy had to help weld armor onto the new up-armored Gun trucks. The shop where we were working in was straight out of a movie, these big trucks with men and women standing atop them in this giant sort of hangar. Through the sparks you could see a large size U.S. flag draped on the back wall, and as i walked out to have a moment, I noticed that there was scripture in large bold lettering on the face of the hangar, streching from one end to the other. It read "PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD"..... Well I was very touched by this, seeing as how we were receiving our salvation, not from some extra steel, but from God.

All you see now is how a good number of people in the world just want to put themselves in denial and take God out of every aspect of their lives. Here, deep in the middle east, where we face death every day, there is no denying faith....

Kristin from Nevada:

I worked for the airlines as a flight attendant for many years. In my early years I never had Christmas off. I had 3 young babies. My husband was in law school so I had to keep working. One year he took the kids down to his parents in Georgia for Christmas. We lived in Chicago at that time. At the last minute my trip was rerouted and I ended up home, alone, away from my cute family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I would out again Christmas night. I was called at the last minute by someone at church to take a meal to a family with sickness. I spent all day cooking for this large family and delivered the meal, with some little gifts Christmas Eve. The love of God filled my heart. Self pity left me. Joy and gratitude filled my heart. To this day it is my favorite Christmas memory.

Robynn from Washington:

Merry Christmas! You don’t see or hear that very often.

Anyway, our Christmas story is very simple. We all know the meaning of Christmas and that its not about Santa or reindeer or even presents. Our traditions every year is to read the Night before Christmas Story, but the twist is a few of our family members write it about the funny and weird and crazy things that have happened to us in the past year. My dad and sister go into another room and you can hear them giggling and laughing while they brain storm and think up the lines to The Night Before Christmas. It’s now been our tradition every year for the past 15 yrs and we look foward to hearing it at dinner after we say grace. I love it, we laugh and are reminded how funny, stupid and Did I do that moments. Hope this story makes you laugh as much as it does me.

Merry Christmas and God Bless.

Claudine from North Dakota:

When my kids were little, the church was getting together some toys, gifts and food items for a poor family who had just moved to our area at Christmas time.

While looking in the pantry to see what we might have extras of, I asked my children what they would like to give. My daughter - then 6 yrs old - went to her room and brought down her Barbie doll complete with Barbie outfits, that she loved to play with. It was her only one.

When I said, "Oh, honey, you don't have to give your favorite doll", she said to me, "Mommy, if you just give what you don't want, it's not really giving, is it?"

I can't tell you how her words hit me, and are impacting me still, and they ring through my spirit many times during the year, but especially at Christmas time.

Naila from Illinois:

The true meaning of Christmas is the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We always celebrate Christmas with our 3 girls by giving them each 3 gifts, just as Jesus received from the 3 Wise Men. Those gifts are usually very small gifts, sometimes not even a total worth of $100. As soon as the girls have been old enough to understand the "number" of gifts they've received, we then explain to them why they only received 3 gifts and continue to tell them the story about the birth of Jesus-our Greatest gift of all. We want them to know that it's not about them or the gifts they receive, but about the FREE gift we've been given by our Heavenly Father. By doing this, the girls have a very good understanding that when it's their birthday, we celebrate them and we do more for them in terms of "gifts" and when it's Jesus'birthday, we are celebrating Him, and sharing with others What Jesus has done for each one of us. I often ask my girls what they think Jesus would want for His birthday and often they reply "to live in our hearts" or "to tell other people about Jesus" or "to obey God"...I think they are getting to know the real meaning of Christmas and I hope they will do the same when they're older, married and have kids of their own. It's all about the True Gospel of Who Jesus was and why He came and what He did for each of us.

Michelle from New Jersey:

One year, I wanted to get my daughter a Little Tikes Country Kitchen. It was huge, and would not fit in the trunk of my mid-size car. The manager at the Wal-Mart where I bought it allowed one of the employees to take time to deliver it to my house in his pick up; he followed me home on the spot.

Megan from Pennsylvania:

Christmas to me means hope. Hope wrapped up in swaddling clothes in the form of a baby. Hope that would grow to become a man who would die for all of us, no matter who we are or what we have done. My favorite Christmas hymn is "O Holy Night" and if you listen to the words of that song, you'll see what Christmas is truly to be about. I have two sons and as I held them as babies, I have to wonder how Mary felt holding that tiny baby boy, her son, the sole hope for this world. We need to heed the words of that song and fall to our knees and remember why we celebrate this wonderful holiday.

Judith from Mississippi:

We plan a Christmas before Mass, with Christmas Carols, and games. I have made Christmas ornaments from Flour and Salt, which my youngest grand daughter will help decorate for each family member to have for Christmas, her dad was out of work for a year and half, and now has a good job, but is catching up on past. My son lost his job after about twenty years, and is in a industry school program, but we will to celebrate the birth of our Lord, with or with out present, and the holiday will still be joyous by singing and enjoying family.

Kathy from Texas:

I believe Christmas is a time for miracles. My daughter is a living miracle. At the age of 12 she suffered a massive stroke due to a bleed in her brain. She had zero chance of survival but we insisted the surgeon try to save her life. While in the waiting room, I was sitting and crying when I felt a tap on my shoulder and a voice saying 'Don't cry, she will be okay'. I looked around and no one was near me. When the surgeon came to talk to us, I told him she would be okay...he had his doubts. I saw the man go from believing he was a god to believing in God as my daughter healed. It is now 20 years later and she is married with 2 kids and is as normal as anyone else. The surgeon said he didn't have anything to do with her recovery. I said he did. God guided his hands. All he said with tears in his eyes is 'God is real'.

Rodger from Oklahoma:

I started dreading the Christmas of 1984 in November. Earlier that year my mother had been killed in a car accident at the age of 49. She was an Angel on earth and the rock of our family. I was 24 and had a new family of my own and knew I had to do something to keep my mind off of her death. It was then that I decided to begin building Christmas decorations. I made Santa and Rudolph and a firplace with stockings, cut carefully our of plywood. But my favorite was the manger scene. I decorated my house with each piece along with multi colored lights. It was good therapy to help me cope with the absence of my mother.

Two years later in October, my father unexpectedly passed away at the age of 54. My youngest brother, who was 13 at the time, came to live with my family and me. One of the first things he said to me was " I sure am dreading Christmas." I put my arm around him and led him to my old pickup truck, and off to the lumber yard we went. We built more figures and bought more lights and worked a full week decorating our house. At night, we worked by the two Coleman lanterns my Father had owned. We become known as "Clark" and "Rusty" in our town after the characters on the movie "Christmas Vacation". Some people thought we were crazy, but car after car came to see our creation every night. And,our new hobby got us through some tough times. At night, as we would look at our "masterpiece", one of our signs always reminded us that our Mother and Father were just fine. It read, " JESUS, the only hope we have and the only hope we need."

Tiffany from Texas:

My father was born on Christmas Day, so it was fitting that his favorite holiday was Christmas. Every year he would begin the season, at Thanksgiving, by playing Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole's holiday albums. I remember coming down seeing him dancing in the living room, by himself mind you, and singing loudly. My father understood that Christmas time was a special time of year - it was a time of magic, fun, and reverence. He encouraged us to believe in the unbelievable- that there really was a Santa and that many years ago a Savior was born. I remember one Christmas sneaking down the stairs because I believed I had heard Santa. I peeked around the corner to see my father sitting by the fireside, Christmas tree lights illuminating his face, drinking hot chocolate. He then turned around and said, "Why don't you come here and wait on Santa with me." I jumped into his lap and snuggled deep; comforted by the thought that my father believed in Santa too. I never saw Santa that night, due to the fact that I fell asleep; but in the morning there was a letter addressed to me from Santa. It said, "Sorry I missed you little one. I kissed you on the cheek. Merry Christmas, Your Santa"

From then on I never forgot to write Santa a letter, and every year he would write me back. Until 3 years ago, I wrote my last letter to Santa and will never receive another letter from "My Santa". I believe that what "My Santa" wrote embodies the true meaning of Christmas.

Dear Ones,

The Ringing in your hearts will never cease as long as there is believing - in love, in goodness, in gentleness, in kindness, in Christ. No light can ever go dim, nor ever cease, but only brighten with Christmas in our hearts. The lights and bells of Christmastime will always remind us to hold fast to these truths. My joy is knowing you have chosen well for all Christmas'.

Merry Christmas, Your Santa

God Bless You Daddy - I will always find you at Christmas time and hear your voice in the ringing of every bell.

Reed from Texas:

Our Christmas in the 1950's started at around the 10th of December. My mom would send all of us boys, four in all, out to the fields when we lived in the Kentucky country side to find that perfect Christmas tree. It would be about 4 foot to five feet tall. Dragging it back we could feel the magical season excitement already stirring in our hearts. With so little at the house all year the thought of new toys and candy were enough to set the minds of our young souls on fire for the next 15 days and even after Christmas day.

That Christmas eve after opening our traditional presents to each other (simple gifts of course) the front door flew open and in walked Santa Claus with his big bag of presents. Yelling out his best HO HO Ho he asked us if we all had been good all year and of course we all ansered yes we had. He then opened his big bag and handed out each a nice toy and then closed his bag and headed to the door but turned around and said for us to get to bed early and he will return for some more goodies for us to open in the morning on Christmas day. Waving goodbye he shouted Merry Christmas to us all. My mom told us for years later that she had no idea who that was and no neighbor would confess it was any of them..!! Who was it, well it was of course Santa Claus, only he would have a key to our front door, right...??

Scott from South Carolina:

We have 3 kids and all I heard was we want. That got our family to stop buying for them and buy for others. They got the message and started thinking of others not themselves. We also read the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Elena from Colorado:

Christmas to me is about John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

This is my short answer to a controversy, that is dictated by misinterpration.

It is not a religion. Rules and regulations, traditions that are established in an organization.

No it is more, its love, and God sent it, and I receive it. I wish all a Happy John 3:16.

Thank you, Elena http://elenasjustmythoughts.wordpress.com

Frances from Ohio:

When I was a small girl living in a small house on a farm in Kentucky, I didn't get much for Christmas, but it was an awesome time for me. We always had the birth of Jesus plays at school and at church. I lived in a community with lots of my relatives, and we would always get together for candy making, singing Christmas carols and just enjoying each others company. We didn't even go Christmas shopping until approximately one week before Christmas. We didn't have electric except for one of my aunts. She put up her outside lights about one week before Christmas and her tree on Christmas eve. We would all meet at her house to see Santa on Christmas Eve and eat a lot of sweet treats, nuts and fruit. My parents and family always made traditional sweets for Christmas and one favorite was the stack cake made with molasses and dried apples made into a delicious spread between the layers of the cake.

My most special Christmas was early one morning before dawn we had a nice clean snow. My dad woke me up around six or seven and took me outside to see the tracks that Santa's sleigh had made on our roof and lawn. There was a very full moon that morning. At least that is the way I remember it. Enough light to see the tracks, but it was also dark. Of course I know now that he made them, but it was awesome to me as a child. I got a stocking full of fruit and candy. I have good, good memories of Christmas living in the country with my parents, relatives and friends.

Danella of Texas:

Growing up in Saskatchewan, Canada It was always a 'White Christmas'. Christmas morning was always cold in the house when I would get up to get my stocking, and looked to see what Sanata had brought me. It was usually before Daddy had fired up the furnace to warm the house up. Our stockings were whe only gift we were allowed to have before getting dressed and having breakfast. Then everyone gathered around the Christmas tree while Daddy read the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2, and we children explained 'why we celebrated Christmas with gifts'. Every year it was the same. After I grew up and had children of my own we did the same and now when my grandchildren come for Christmas we wait to open gifts until the Christma Story is read and we all know why we celebrate with gifts.

My parents knew how to make sure we children knew that Christ really was in Christmas.

Lynne from Oregon:

Christmas to me has never been about shopping or spending money. I was a single mom of 2. We never have much ...Ever. When my kids would ask why the naughty kids down the street got such great gifts . I would tell them "moms and dads have to give Santa money to build the gifts I guess their mom gave Santa more money." The Christmas of 1987 my children had nothing under the tree. Our dinner, was 3 hot dogs for a $1.00 from Arco. The next year, we lived in the country. I came home from work and my kids had chopped their tree from the yard and made all the ornaments. We had 4 turkeys that year. Just the 3 of us. Best Christmas I've ever had with the 2 people I love most in the world. That's Christmas to me....

Mary from Arkansas:

I come from a large family, 7 children and two wonderful parents that taught us how to love, how to appreciate what we had, which was not much when we were children, as my father was dis-abled and times were hard. When Christmas came, all of the children, young and older ones that were married came together on Christmas Eve, laughing, eating, playing games. There was not much under the tree, not much in our stockings, maybe just some fruit and nuts but we were completely happy being together! Everyone spent the night, to get up on Christmas morning together. It did not matter that there were not enough beds, that the floor was hard and cold, all that mattered was that we spent this time together, loving each other, grateful for what we had. We fully understood what Christmas was all about, a giving God and a loving Son! Time changes things but it cannot change our love and the true meaning of Christmas.

Nila from Texas:

On Feb 6 1983 my 3 children one by one had all come to Jesus I was at church watching my youngest Teresa 11 years old being baptized in water.I felt the love of Jesus all around me like a big comforter all wrapped up and wanted to go to the alter where my 3 children were but felt intimidated to do it.Then Teresa came and sat with me I told her what I was feeling.She grabbed my hand and took off up the isle me in tow behind her she deposited me behind my son. A few mins later a man came and asked if I had ever said the sinners prayer? I asked the what? than I prayed asking Jesus to come into my heart. I'm still serving Jesus with all my heart. Teresa now lives with Jesus.

Marjorie from Texas:

Our son SSgt. Travis Demarest has served in the USAF for 6 years. He has only been home once for Christmas in that time period. He deploys and works on Christmas so others can have safe and worry free Christmas days with their families. Last year he was again deployed to Kuwait. However, we got word he would return to the US on December 25th and back to his base on the 26th. So, Christmas day of 2011 we spent the entire day on planes and eating in airports......just to be reunited with our hero in Dayton, OH the next day. It was all worth it as that is the true meaning of Christmas.....unconditional love to your loved ones AND unconditional service to our country.....flaws and all. Travis is deployed again this year and we hope to talk to him on the phone. Merry Christmas Gov.!

Cheri from Michigan:

My Dad was a farmer and factory worker. He scraped to make ends meet. There were five of us kids but only three of us worked the farm while my mother and sisters worked in the house, which is not an easy task either. Christmas came one year and we had nothing to offer my Dad for a present. We knew Dad needed a drill press to repair the farming equipment during the seasons so my mother found one we might find a way to buy him. My brother Tom saved a load of silver dollar pieces and with his contribution, Mom bought DAD the drill press. It was heavy of course so we had it delivered to the shed back in the barn yard. Someone, I suspect was my brother Tom or Mom, wrapped it and put a red bow on top, then when DAD got home, he was sent to the shed for his present. He was slow and tired and I expect he didn't think it would be much but when he got in and looked inside the box, we could hear him yell for joy. I caught him crying but he always said his eyes were watering. That was the best Christmas I remember.

Peggy from Oklahoma:

Every year we loaded the car with Santa's gifts and headed over the mountains to Hon, Arkansas, to spend Christmas with Grandma Florence. It was like a step back in time and we loved the family tradition. One Christmas Eve our 10 year old daughter prayed for snow, though we had never had a white Christmas in that valley. Before bedtime a few flakes began to fall. She was thrilled and thanked the Lord for answering her prayer. The next morning the fence posts were piled high with 14 inches of the most beautiful wet snow we had ever seen! It truly was a miracle because the snow didn't extend beyond the Poteau Mountains.

Larry from Iowa:

I am 73 years old and we were not a rich family. And there were four of us boys,We wanted a Electris Train, But not much room in our house. We went to church that day to celebrate Jesus birth. When we came home on our floor was a small train that was nailed on a door,so Daddy could put it up against the wall when we were done playing with it. Christmas means the birth of Jesus and family. it is an amazing memory to all of us.My grandson will become a Lutheren Minister in July, and I told him that story so he can keep that memory alive along with his ministry of our Lord and savior.

Thank You

Stephanie from Arkansas:

It was Christmas Eve, 1995, my grandmother, on my father's side, had passed away recently, and with her our Christmas Eve tradition of gathering at her house to fellowship and exchange gifts. We decided to meet at my dad's house this year but it seemed it was just a sad ragtag few of us, lost without her, and an undercurrent of melancholy and sadness mixed with a forced Christmas cheer from my dad. He was putting on a good face but I could see he was suffering with is mama now gone. The evening passed far more quickly than in years past and we were soon all waving goodbye to dad and back in our own homes and beds. I was staying at my mother's, as her and my dad have long been divorced. I was in her spare room and sharing the bed with my then 5 year old son. It was midnight and all was quiet, the room was dark, and I had been silently praying for about 10 minutes. I assumed my son was fast asleep. At the end of my SILENT prayer, I said to my "guardian angel", "If you really do exist, could you go watch over my dad tonight?"....and at that exact moment my son sat bolt upright in the bed and said "Who said that?" And I asked him, "who said what?" And my son answered, "Someone just said, I WILL." I know that was my angel answering me. I've oftened wondered why only my son could hear it, but in my heart I know it was because I didn't EXPECT a real answer. Oh, if only we could all just believe through the innocence of a child, what a different world we would see. Merry Christmas and may your hearts be open to receive the greatest gift of all this Christmas, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Terry from South Carolina:

Five years ago on Dec 19, 2007 we pulled into Hanahan, SC to spend our life with our daughter Ramey, our grandson Judah and her husband officer John Reeves. We came because of unusual circumstances in some ways, but none the less, we came to spend our lives with our eldest daughter and her family. She had always wanted mom & dad to come down and live by her and be a part of her life. Little did we know that it would be our "last" Christmas to spend with our precious daughter. January 19, 2008, one month after we pulled into town - I receive a call from Ramey - she's at the hospital and they just did a CT scan. They found an aberration on her brain. A shadow of sorts which could be a number of things. The unknown turns to worse. Ramey is diagnosed with a stage 4 glioma brain tumor which is incurable. We fought hard for her life, but on July 9, 2008 the good Lord took Ramey Home. This is a small part of Ramey' story, because Ramey was a "believer". The last thing my daughter said to me the night before her final surgery was this: "Daddy, I'm not afraid to die". I would never speak to her again. I don’t know if I’d have that kind of courage when facing death in the face. She was 28 days in NICU at MUSC, SC. Inscribed on her gravestone are these words, "Jesus is coming - I can't wait to see you guys again" Rame’ They said her type of tumor had tentacles that continued to reach and grow, and so the tumor could never be fully extracted, but Ramey’s life & testimony as a believer in her Lord & Savior Jesus Christ had tentacles far more reaching and lasting than any disease could ever muster. She was the most courageous person I’ve ever known, and when her ultimate trial tested her - her faith and testimony stood out like a glistening pillar! Because of her unshakeable faith I've been strengthened and emboldened to be a better Christian myself everyday. To make a difference like my Ramey. To make a lasting and eternal difference!

Jacquelyn from Florida:

This story is about my mom's unconditional love and sacrifice that provided my brother and me the best Christmas's ever. My dad was an alcoholic and my mom was a stay at home mom with no income to call her own. Mom had a weekly budget of $20.00 to feed a family of 4 on. Mom used to scrimp and save from that meager budget all year to save for our Christmas gifts. She silently, uncomplainingly went about staying in the same coat, shoes and cloths year after year so we could enjoy a wonder filled Christmas morning. She did all the preparations herself, sometimes with a little help from my great aunt and grandmother, but mostly by herself. She bought and decorated our Christmas tree and then lovingly placed wonderful gifts under the Christmas tree from Santa. The smell of freshly baked annual family tradition cookies and pies filled the air. Mom would have been up all night and then then begin cooking/baking at about 4:00am to feed our entire family including Aunts Uncles,cousins and grandparents etc. My brother died 2 days before his 21st birthday and I one thing I know for certain is that he had joy-filled childhood Christmas's thanks to my loving mom (who is turning 87 this year). I will always be grateful to God for giving me my mother. I love you mom!

Jacquelyn from Wisconsin:

My story happen around 35 yrs ago . I am the youngest of 9, six girls 3 boys , Are sister pam was very sick in the hospital for christmas pam had cancer n mom was @ the hospital most of the time but we never notice mom always made time for all of us, Dad was @ the house with us Pam had not open her eyes for @ lease A week dad was sitting in her room with this little paper bk bible he might of got from the hospital i remember sitting there with him n my sister n brother it was the first time i remember ever seeing my dad pray n seeing the tears in his eyes i was 9 @ the time I was not sure if i was afraid of seeing him cry or just like its christmas i hope he is not crying because santa is not comming But my dad knew something we didnt know this was going to be Pams last christmas with us n he was praying see would open her eyes n come home to us.

As i sat there looking @ my dad i somehow knew life was going to change , my sister was sick for around 10 yrs so we never knew life any other way mom always took care of all of us she had more love in her baby finger for her children than most . The phone rang n as my dad was talking on the phone he had this smile in his eyes that we have not saw in a long time , my sister open her eyes on christmas eve what a blessing . The next morning are house was full of food n gifts ok i know now where this blessing came from but at the time WOW Santa was one cool dude . Dad n mom brought Pam home around 2 weeks after Christmas she ask my mom if they thought she would still be here when she turn 18 my mother knew she would Pam turn 18 on Feb 18 n died on March 4th As it was the sadest time for all of us we still remember my sister open her eyes on christmas eve and God gave us the most awesome christmas blessing . Love you mom n pam miss you awlays .

Mary from FloridaL

As a child I came out to our Christmas tree and saw Santa had come. The baby doll I had asked for (Chatty Cathy) sat under our tree. We were not allowed to open or touch presents until our parents allowed us. Dad had us sit and told us the story of Jesus, then he added another story.

My father was stationed in Korea told us the story of its people. How little food they have and how the children did not have toys. Christmas was made real to me for the first time. I had the Christmas story read to me every year, but thought it a long time ago and didn't really think of the gift Christ gave. I saw that a gift of giving, giving something you really want to someone that had nothing. My parents talked me into keeping my gifts.

Jesse from Florida:

The true meaning of Christmas. A man come to give a gift to all man kind to change the world an.save them from their sins. THank you Jesus for.coming.to.this.earth to die so we could be saved.

Carol from Alabama:

How ironic that you should ask.....we are so blessed in this country with family, friends, among so much more. Even with the bad economy & instability of world affairs, we are so, so fortunate! I met a wonderful lady from Lousianna on FB months ago; we have become fast friends. Her nephew, an awesome 19 year old, PFC Army Infantry, was seriously injuried by an IED in Afghanistan in August of this year and is now recovering in Tacoma, Washington. He is single and this will be his second Christmas away from family & friends. I am honored that he allowed me to "adopt" him. He needs lots of encouragement right now. I am a registered nurse and just love people. I just finished his Christmas package to mail today, with lots of home-cooked goodies & a few special gifts....the cooking was just a labor of love. I know he will share this package with other buddies there, and I hope it brings some joy to the season for them. I am telling you this story to, hopefully, encourage others of your audience to consider "adoption"......it means so much to our soldiers! Thank you for the opportunity to share Mike! We love you out here!

Amanda from Kentucky:

On December 19th, 2007 doctors came in and gave us the terrible news that our daughter would not make it and there was nothing more they could do, we needed to make a decision. Our options were to either take her off of life support and keep her sedated while she passed away in my arms or leave her hooked up to life support, but that would give her a violent death,and they said we should let her die with dignity and take her off of the support. We chose to trust God and leave her hooked up. 150 words is not near enough space to tell all that occurred that cold December night, but in short it was a miracle and our daughter lived! Doctors came from all over the hospital to see our miracle and they said she was the sickest child they have ever seen live in Cincinnati Children's PICU! All glory to God, for that year He gave us a Christmas miracle!

Rhonda from Mississippi:

I always told my children when they were small that Christmas was not about the gifts, lights, decorations, and stuff you buy. It's about the birth of our Lord and Savior, and a personal relationship with Him. I would say if we ever lost everything we owned and there were no gifts, we could still celebrate Christmas with the same joy! My children are aldults now, except for our oldest son who celebrates Christmas in heaven. And I'm blessed to say they now find more joy in giving than in receiving at Christmas, and enjoy a personal relationship with the living Lord!

Carol from Tennessee:

My pre-teen (at the time) children and I were in dire straits for Christmas this one particular Christmas. Absolutely no money, no decorations, no tree, ipso facto, no presents. Christmas cards from friends and relatives were coming in regularly though. "Idea" We cut out all the pictures on the front of the cards, poked hole at the top, bread tie through that and instant decoration for a tree. We went out and pulled up a little Charlie Brown tree, propped it up and hung ribbon on it with our handmade decorations. We didn't have any lights, but candle light at night gave it the right effect. Christmas day, some God blessed people showed up with a Christmas dinner fit for a king and some presents for the children and a hug and smile for me. I praise God for that seed planted in my heart, that brought me to Him later for my salvation. That was the best tree and Christmas I've ever had!!!

Margo from Florida:

I can't remember exactly, but I believe I was about 7/8 years young. My two cousins and I were sitting on the floor as close to the TV as we could get away with watching the Macys Thanksgiving Parade. Of course we were waiting for Santa to appear. The grown ups were in the Kitchen (that was always where they gathered, playing euchre or talking and drinking tea, Canadians eh!). Then our waiting finally was over, there was Santa tossing candies out to the kids along the street, what a big sleigh, when out of the TV a bag of candy landed in each of our laps...we jumped up yelling and my Uncle Lloyed came running, he was as excited as we were. To this day I have no clue how he got those bags of candy in our laps. It was a magical Christmas that year for us, and every year when I watch that parade I think of Uncle Lloyd. May he rest in peace.

Dick from Texas:

PRETTY LADY

A Christmas Fable by Dick Bramblitt

Emma rocked near the fireplace as she finished knitting the small mittens for her grandchildren. She smiled with pride as she admired the first three pair. She felt a special joy that only a grandmother can experience. Yes, Emma felt joy and peace on that Christmas Eve morning. Then tears filled her eyes as she held the fourth pair of mittens in her hands. The mittens were the same as the others except she had knitted them for a special stocking with Linda’s name on it. She clutched the mittens to her heart and wept openly as she looked at the fireplace mantel which held the special stocking with “LINDA” embroidered in silver thread.

Her thoughts were interrupted as Howard, her husband, stomped the snow from his boots on the front porch. She ran to the front door of the country home with the excitement of a young girl. She opened the door with haste to fine Howard shaking the snow from the fresh cut Christmas tree and still stomping his boots.

Emma exclaimed, “Oh Howard, it’s just perfect.”

Howard nailed the stand to the bottom of the tree as Emma started removing the ornaments from the wooden box which she kept stored in the top of the closet from year to year. She sorted each ornament on the table with ease and care, admiring each one as she removed it from the box. Each one held a special place in her heart over the years.

Howard stood the tree in front of the window and attached the little gold angel to the top. He stepped back and asked, “How’s that Miss Emma?”

She said, “Howard that’s just wonderful. Now Hun, you just sit over by the fire and drink this hot cup of coffee while I check the sweet potato pie in the oven.”

She then thought: the cornbread is ready for the dressing, the turkey is plucked and dressed, the fruit is ready to be pared for the salad, and I’ll get up extra early in the morning and get the wood cook stove going.

Howard lit his pipe and sipped the coffee while watching with joy as Emma busily double checked every detail. He turned to the fireplace mantel with equal pride as he smiled at each stocking. He held back the tears as he stared at Linda’s stocking. He had held the same tears back each Christmas for the past 19 years. Emma saw Howard staring at Linda’s stocking, and she went to his side; they held each other tenderly.

Howard finally said, “Miss Emma, the Lord willing, we’ll find her someday.”

It had been 19 long and heart breaking years since little two year old Linda had wandered off in a big department store during the Christmas rush.

Miss Emma cried and said, “Howard, it’s just as painful now as it was 19 years ago. Sometimes I think that I’m going out of my mind.”

Howard said, “I know Miss Emma, but just think of the good times and the joy we’ve shared with Bill and Alice in their growing years. And now, little Bobby, Susie, and Mary Ann. Those grandkids will be here any minute now and I’ve got a feeling this is going to be the best Christmas ever.”

“Howard, I love you so much. I just don’t know what I would have done all these years without you.”

Howard playfully patted Miss Emma on the backside and said, “Let’s get busy lady those grandkids will be here anytime now.”

Howard stood warming his back to the fire while watching Miss Emma finish laying out the ornaments. Emma then took down another box from the closet and neatly placed each gift by the tree. Each gift was handmade by Emma; there was a Raggedy Ann doll, a knitted cap, doll clothes, socks, a sweater with snow flakes, and then she placed the mittens with the other gifts--there were 19 in all. It was a ceremonial time held each year at Christmas in remembrance of little Linda.

They suddenly heard the honking of a car coming up the lane. Miss Emma excitedly said, “It’s the kids.”

Bill and his wife with little Bobby came driving into the driveway honking and yelling, “Christmas Eve gift.”

Before they could get out of the car, another car came honking up the lane. It was Alice, her husband, and little Susie and Mary Ann. Howard and Emma were overjoyed. The whole family hugged and kissed out in the snow filled yard.

Finally, Miss Emma said, “Ya’ll come on in the house before we catch our death of cold. We have to get the tree decorated. I can’t wait for ya’ll to see it.”

The home burst forth with excitement that only the Christmas Season can bring. Howard and the men sat near the fire drinking coffee and talking old times. The women were busy as bees helping the kids decorate the tree and place the packages beneath. The home was filled with sweet scents of spices, burning candles, pies and candies cooking, and all the other sweet scents of Christmas.

That night, Howard added an extra log to the fire. The snow became heavier and the chilly north wind howled. As the family gathered around the fire, they roasted nuts and marsh mallows and sang Christmas carols. Howard opened the Bible and started reading the Christmas Story.

The reading was interrupted by the sound of a car driving up the lane. They all gathered at the window and saw a brilliant white light shinning from above beaming through the snow down on the car. The car stopped and the driver got out and approached the house. Howard quickly opened the door and invited the stranger in.

The man said, “Hello, I have my wife and baby daughter out in the car. We are trying to get home for Christmas, but this snow is just too heavy. I tried all the motels back yonder in town, but there was no room. We were trying to make the next town, but suddenly about a mile back, my headlights went out. Anyway, we are in desperate need of shelter. . .”

Howard said, “Sure, let’s get you and the family in the house--we’ll worry about the car later.”

The man said, “I’m much obliged. You know the strangest light appeared from the sky--a light that seemed to guide us to this very place.”

The man wrapped his baby girl in a blanket and carried her in his arms while Howard helped the young wife through the snow into the house.

As the strange family huddled around the fire, Miss Emma brought hot spiced tea and coffee. She said, “Ya’ll just drink this and I’ll fix you a bite to eat.”

The young woman began looking around the room with amazement and awe. She glanced to the tree and then steadily up to the little gold angel on top. She unconsciously said, “Pretty Lady.”

Miss Emma and Howard froze--each quickly looking at the other with amazement. Miss Emma went to the young woman and asked, “What did you just say?”

The young woman was bewildered and said, “I’ve the strangest feeling that I’ve been in this room before. I called the little gold angel Pretty Lady.”

Miss Emma took the young woman by the hand and asked, “May I please look at the left side of your neck?”

The young woman was again bewildered as Miss Emma found the mark she prayed for. It was a tiny red birthmark shaped like a little Christmas tree. Miss Emma then exposed her neck with an identical birthmark. The two women stood staring in disbelief at one another. Tears came to Miss Emma’s eyes as she warmly said, “Linda.”

The young woman astonishingly said, “Mama?”

Miss Emma and the young woman wept tears of joy while embracing. The young woman said, “My adoptive parents named me Janice. Oh, how I’ve dreamed of this day all of my life. Oh mama, I can’t believe this is true. I want ya’ll to meet my husband Carl.”

And as she unwrapped the baby girl from the blanket, Miss Emma could plainly see the same tiny red Christmas tree birthmark on the baby girl’s neck.

Janice, with tears in her eyes, said, “Mama, I want you to hold your granddaughter, Linda.”

The whole family danced with joy and excitement. Miss Emma clutched granddaughter Linda and Janice to her bosom. She could hear the rolling thunder, the trumpets sound, the Little Drummer Boy play, and the angelic choir singing “O, HOLY NIGHT.”

She raised her eyes toward heaven thanking God for her Christmas miracle. The miracle of joy, peace and goodwill toward men, glad tidings, and love abounding for evermore.

A wisp of bright light from heaven beamed through the window illuminating the angel at the top of the tree. The little gold angel smiled down with a wink, and silently said, “Merry Christmas, Miss Emma.”

The End

Eric from California:

Mike,

One of my very favorite Christmas Story is the O. Henry story "The Gift of the Magi". The text can be found at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7256. I have recorded this story for my sons which can be heard at http://www.facebook.com/StoriesIReadToMySons.

Anton from North Carolina:

On duty WSFD Firefighter/EMT saved by crew and the Forsyth County EMS, Defibrillated at Wake Forest Baptist Medical center and had a near death experience

http://www.wxii12.com/news/local-news/piedmont/WSFD-Firefighter-survives-heart-attack-on-the-job/-/10703612/17686050/-/o0jjva/-/index.html?absolute=true

Catherine from Georgia:

I was about six years old and my brother was about three.

It was Christmas Eve and we were very wound up, probably due to candy and CoCola... It was bedtime and we were jumping on the bed like crazy. All of a sudden we heard *SLEIGH BELLS* outside of the bedroom windows! SANTA?

Santa is just outside? We dove under the covers right quick!

This is a vivid memory for me, my Grandfather was the sleigh bell ringer under the window but to this day I still believe it was Santa Claus himself!

Jan from Michigan:

Hi Mike, This is a current Christmas story that is presently unfolding, yet it is anchored to my past also. I love the Lord, and seek to follow Him, although there is always so much more room for growth and spiritual tweaking! A large part of my faith walk has centered in praying for others. I love to pray and watch God work as He reveals more of Himself to His children in response to prayer!

Years ago, God met me in perhaps one of the most faith-challenging and life-altering situations. At the time we had two precious daughters, both gifts from God. The youngest was not to be with us long. She had a heart defect and the Lord took her home before Thanksgiving just days before she would have turned 8 months old. Grief was deep, tears were frequent, and prayer continually ascended to the throne of grace. God met us in that place, He was gracious to catch every tear and in spite of the grief, strengthen and bless my marriage. He provided the words and comfort we needed to give our young daughter. In His economy, on one of my bad days, this precious preschooler saw my tears and pulled on my pants leg saying, "Mommy let's pray"! Truly God was teaching us how much He loved us, and how tighly He was holding onto us.

In the midst of walking through the healing journey, God grabbed my attention one day through a speaker on the radio who proclaimed, "God will not use you greatly until He has hurt you deeply" Now I am not sure how correct this is theologically, but I remember hearing this, grabbing onto it, and pleading with the Lord to use my daughter's death to glorify His name.

Fast forward to current day. God has met me time and again to show me how much He loves me. One of the ways is through revelations He gives me through His Scripture. God will often pour out a fresh nugget of revelation through His Word, and at times all I can do is sit back in wonder at the power and glory of God! Over the years I have gathered a collection of biblical nuggets God has given. They are now being self published under the title "Throwing Grapes and Moving Mountains" This is a HUGE faith walk for me, and it has me clinging tightly to the Lord's hand for wisdom and guidance throughout the process of writing and trying to share a word about this endeavor. It has been my prayer that this collection would be available by Christmas.

Right now it is at the printer -- God moved mightily to get it past the revision stage. The manuscript went back and forth between the publisher and myself in the revision process. I had a deadline of Dec 5th to submit the final copy so that the book would be avaialble by Christmas Eve. My last round of revisions was submitted on 11/29 and the publisher's time frame to add corrections is normally two to three weeks, which would put the book online well after Christmas. God had other ideas .. I got the changes back in only a few days, praise God! Only by His grace was I able to sign off on the manuscript within minutes after the deadline on Dec 5. Miracle number 1!

Next obstacle is the press release and PR .. I am a complete novice in this area, and am leaning heavily on the Lord for this phase. By His grace, again I "stumbled" upon (read that another miracle) a PR firm to write a press release for the last phase of the Christmas publicity push - their deadline for the last push of publicity before Christmas was December 12. By God's grace again, I found this site on the 10th and by the 11th the press release was written and submitted - another God sighting!

Now I am again in the waiting room for the book to be processed through the printer in order for it go live online - again praying this happens by next week Dec 18th.... After seeing God move two boulders of deadlines, I am excited to see how He will lead and guide with this last piece of the puzzle!

In all of this, my most heart-felt prayer, is that many people will be deeply blessed by these writings - for they touch hearts with a deeper truth than a mere surface reading of Scripture can give. As God's word is pondered, lives are changed and His love is revealed as heaven leans down to touch earth one heart at a time. I wonder, in my Mother's heart, if this is what God has birthed as a result of those long ago prayers after Lori's death. Only He knows. He is faithful, and He holds our prayers close to His heart to fulfill them in His perfect way and in His perfect time. God is good, all the time!

Merry Christmas!

PS - Just got a call from the publisher - the book is online as of 12/11 - a week earlier than what I had been praying for! Jesus does all things well! Miracle #3!

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/AdvancedSearch/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=Hegelein

Matthew from California:

Dear Mike,

I try to brighten people's day, every day, by reading off their ABC's to Success- All by memory! (@ least the first two out of three stanzas!) I would love to share this on your show some time! It reads the following: A B Cs to Success

Assertive Attitude

Balance Behavior

Creative Character

Dynamic Devotion

Enriching Enthusiasm

Faithful Fidelity

Generous Gratitude

Helpful Humility

Ingenious Improvement

Joyous Jubilance

Keen Knowledge

Loving Loyalty

Motivative Morale

Natural Nobility

Openly Optimistic

Positive Progress

Quantum Quality

Responsible Respect

Spiritual Strength

Thoughtful Trust

Uplifting & Understanding

Versatile Virtue

Win-Win Wisdom

Exceeding Excellence

Youthful Years

Zealous Zest

‘Do you know how to apply these to life?’

Apply Ambition

Building Beginnings

Colossal Creations

Devine Divinity

Enormous Ease

Fantastic Formation

Gigantic Grace

Huge Harmony

Incredible Incentives

Joyous Journeys

Kind Kinship

Living Liberty

Merging Mercy

Newly Nice

Organized Opportunities

Pure Peace

Quaint Quietness

Rejoicing Rapture

Showering Spirit

Teaching Truth

Universal Uniqueness

Vivid Values

Welcoming Wit

Extremely Excellent

Your Young

Zippy Zeal

And to Accomplish These…

Affirmative Accomplishments

Beneficial Brilliance

Couragious Conduct

Devoted Dignity

Emotional Esteem

Fulfilling Foundations

Genuine Gifts

Honorable Honesty

Intelligent Inspiration

Justified Judgment

Knacking Knowledge

Large Leadership

Managed Meliorate

Nimble Nexus

Official Oratory

Prevailing Principles

Quick Quip

Rewarding Righteousness

Successful Sincerity

Trustworthy Technique

Upright Undauntedness

Very Valid

Worthy Will

Exciting Experience

Yielding Yoke

Zinging Zenith

Short Version: Always Believe in Christ -(c)Matthew L. Stegall

Melvin from Oregon:

Christmas 1944 I am four years old and my dad is still overseas so mom and I are staying with my grandparents. Christmas eve it's time for me to hang up my sock well I'm just getting ready to hang it on the mantle when grandpa comes in. He has a giant sock and a big metal wash tub. I ask him “what he is doing?” And this is what he tells me “I'm going to hang this big old sock up.” He hangs his sock up then he puts the wash tub under the sock. He shows me that there is a hole in the toe of the sock and it has a tennis ball in the hole. He then tells me that “when Santa comes tonight he will start putting good stuff in his big old sock and the tennis ball will fall out.” Santa will keep stuffing his sock and the presents will fall into the wash tub and he will get way more stuff than I will in my little old sock. Well I'm only four years old but I know this ain't right. I go running to grandma and tell her that grandpa is going to cheat Santa. Grandma says “don't worry because I know that Santa is much smarter than your grandpa is.” So I go off to bed but I am not happy. Well Christmas morning comes I run downstairs and see that my grandpa has a sour look on his face. I see my sock has all kinds of good stuff in it. I look at grandpa’s sock and the wash tub is full. It has and old rubber boot with a big hole in it, a big half rotten squash, some chunks of coal, an old broken shovel etc., etc. I guess grandma was right after all Santa is smarter than grandpa.

Kate from Wisconsin:

Christmas is fast approaching

Jesus is the star of the show

But there are those who are yelling

That, that "Jesus guy", He's got to go!!

They want to take away Christmas

It should not be allowed they say

Not everyone believes in the Bethlehem story

And the Christ Child who slept on the hay.

His name should not be mentioned

Not even in as much as one song

And the manager scene that tells His story

Well, that they say is SO wrong.

If No Christmas,,then no need for celebration.

There would be no holiday,,,RIGHT??

For the reason we celebrate IS

The Christ Child's birth on that night.

Then no need for gifts, partys,,no spending.

But yet there will be a GREAT cost,

For in the end our right to our religious beliefs,

Will be what we are going to have lost!!

How can this not be considered

A crime that is labeled as "hate"

Christians MUST take a stand, we must act now,

Or believe me, we'll find it's too late.

They who do not believe, do not have to

That's okay, with me it's just fine,

But I do wish that as they have their beliefs

They would not try to take away mine!!!

Bonnie from North Carolina:

The news media is fast to put stuff out there that non Christians believe in. But do little to show the Christian positive side and how they are going to war over this. This video needs to be seen by everyone. Remind everyone why we celebrate this time of the year. Merry Christmas!

It is refreshing to see there are still people out there who know why we celebrate Christmas.

GOD BLESS US ALL EVERYONE

Beth from North Carolina:

Governor Huckabee,

I am a registered independent, an Emory University political science graduate, a former reporter and a native Southerner, who grew up playing the piano in my rural, Baptist church.

I have a Christmas challenge and wish for Republicans, Democrats and every other American at this time of great division. In seeking help from conservatives, I am reaching out first to you. I plan to ask liberal/other media for assistance, as well.

This began for me in 2006, when my father suddenly passed away...it became a calling I cannot answer alone. I need help from many, many volunteers across the country...volunteers of every political persuasion, working together in their own communities.

With the nation so divided, I can't think of anything which could do more to heal this chasm than to begin by uniting behind a common, non-political purpose...in this case, a project which lifts up and celebrates the beauty of every life journey, in an incredibly meaningful way...a project which will bless thousands and thousands of lives (the work is detailed in a very personal story, pasted below).

http://storiedlifefoundation.org/Storied_Life_Foundation/Founders_Story.html

Thank you so much!

Susan from Pennsylvania:

I was trying to explain to my daughters the true meaning of Christmas. My Uncle wrote a Christmas book because he too wanted his grandchildren to understand the true meaning of Christmas. The book is called, “The Carpenter Who Saved Christmas”. It is a beautiful story that incorporates both the birth of Jesus and Santa.

Below is the youtube link of the story that is animated and my Uncle narrating the story. I really hope that you will share this story and link on your radio show because it is a wonderful book about the true meaning of Christmas. I read this book to my daughters. We also watch the link so they can hear their Great Uncle Wally tell the story.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN_09EmYcRQ

Saundra from Ohio

Christmas Hotel

--available on amazon or barnes & noble

Upon receiving a telegram from the United States Navy that her husband has been killed at Pearl Harbor, Jerilyn Marlene Seifert boards a train for Nashville to meet her husband’s estranged family. After being robbed, she ends her course in Franklin, Kentucky. Widowed, four months pregnant, and penniless, Jerilyn is stranded in a town in which she knows nobody. She has separated herself from the Lord for many years and feels she can no longer turn to Him; however, in her hotel room, she finds a mysterious diary that will change her life forever. Secrets and surprises at Christmas Hotel set her upon an unexpected journey. It is a story about repentance, forgiveness, love, redemption, and the amazing grace of our Lord.

Saundra Staats McLemore

Ohio small business owner/

Inspirational novelist

Chris Noel from Montana:

With a name like "CHRIS CHRISTMAS", perhaps I was destined to be a protector of the traditional values and beliefs of the holiday season.

At age 60, I have lived in NW Montana, AKA "Last Best Place", since 1977. I have been blessed with raising my four children in a natural environment surrounded by horses, wildlife and the pursuit of happiness.

Now grown and busy with their own lives, two live in Seattle along with my Grandchildren. One has been working in North Dakota like so many Montanas in an effort to make a living. Christmas in Seattle is typically grey and rainy, North Dakota so cold and windy the snow is blown away! They miss their native Montana home with the picture perfect snowy winters and the need to be reunited at this special time of year. Therefore I started a family tradition that we have vowed to keep alive forever.

Snuggled deep in the mountains bordering Glacier National Park, yet only a short drive from my home in the Flathead Valley, is the most PERFECT place you can imagine to gather for an old fashioned family Christmas.

Glacier Wilderness Resort is a collection of just a few spacious log cabins, each with real fireplaces and completely equipped. We rent two cabins for a full week, bring all our own food, Christmas gifts, tree lights, Holiday CD's for music and settle in for quality family time.

There is no cell service (Yeah!!). We pass the time playing board games, baking Christmas cookies, and making home made Christmas tree decorations.

The whole family treks out into the forest with an ax and sled in pursuit of the best wild tree we can find! I only bring the lights and stockings. The rule is we have to make everything else! From the old fashioned hand cut cardboard star wrapped with aluminum foil for the tree top, stringing popcorn plus an amazing array of original ideas, our tree turns out to be absolutely breathtaking.

The resort provides cross country skiis and shoes in an old shed for visitors to rumage through trying to find anything that comes close to fitting. Although none of us are experienced at this sport, it doesn't matter. We trudge along on the snowy trails determined to make it to the frozen waterfall above. The silence is deafening, the only sound is the creek gurgling under the ice. Rarely does anyone in the world today have the opportunity to hear silence. It may be my favorite holiday experience, along with seeing the rosey cheeks of my family gathered around.

Christmas Eve is postcard material, complete with the crackling fire, the stockings hung on the mantle with care, hot buttered rums, delicious aromas encircling the cabin, old holiday songs on the CD player, laughter, and lots and lots of love.

On Christmas morning we make a ceremony of exchanging gifts. Sitting in a giant circle with coffee and hot cocoa, admiring our ggorgeous sparkling tree, the presents are handed out one at a time. This takes us until noon but it is so much fun to see the faces of each person as they open their gifts!

While I am busy preparing the Christmas dinner, the kids make snowmen, feed the Blue Jays, go skiing or swimming in the indoor pool while the adults enjoy not worrying about "The Real World" outside.

This is the real blessing of it all. Being away from modern conveniences and away from home truly allows us to put our troubles on the back burner for a few days and simply enjoy "BEING". That is a rare and wonderous priviledge in this hectic and uncertain world.

I am lucky to live in an area of the United States where most folks still covet the meaning of Christmas and don't give a darn about the politics of the rest of the world. I am thankful for being an old fashioned American and for another Christmas with my beloved family.

Merry Christmas Mr. Huckabee! We love your show and you!

Kathy from Texas:

Christmas is not just a one day event; it is the enduring history and promise that God so loved us that he came to us as a child, destined to die for our sins and rise again that we might also have eternal life. It is a day and event that lives in our hearts each day of the year; not just one. It is a way of life for Christians that requires us to look to our Lord for guidance as we live on His earth, and to follow Jesus' teachings in how we treat all of His children.

Christmas celebrations are a relatively new development. Puritans in the Massachusetts Colony did not permit any festivities on or around that day. Even the date of December 25th was an arbitrary date chosen by church leaders centuries after Christ's death and is not necessarily the actual date of the nativity. Pagan revelries at the time of the winter solstice existed prior to the growth of Christianity and it was their December observances that led to the celebration of Christ's mass on December 25th. Christmas became one of many holy days (or "holi-days") observed by the church.

So, whether I call the decorated tree in my living room this month a Christmas tree or a holiday tree is of no relevance to my sincerity as a Christian. Neither is it of any import whether I respond more strongly to an ad for Holiday Shopping or Christmas Shopping. Spending time and energy on fighting a fictitious "war on Christmas" divert our time and energy from the real work that Christ expects of us.

Being persuaded by retail advertisers to spend lots of money in December on gifts for people who really don't need much doesn't prove my worth as a Christian. I think Jesus would be appalled to see the spending madness that occurs in His name. Giving to those who are really in need . . .all year long . . is what Jesus calls us to do. Making daily sacrifices and regular contribution of time talent and treasure to causes that further His Kingdom are our Christian commission.

We'll celebrate the holidays between now and January 1st. We'll gather with loved ones around our decorated tree and exchange small gifts chosen with care. But we'll celebrate Christmas during our December 24th and 25th church services, and try to keep Christmas in our hearts all year long.

Dianne from Wisconsin:

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So many forget that Christmas is all about Jesus not the presents under the tree. He is "The Greatest Gift"

When I think of Christmas, it's a time to celebrate,

The greatest gift that we were giv'n 'twas on that special date.

Although we think of tinsel and presents 'neath the tree,

There's none with so much meaning , as what God gave to me.

Not just to me but all the world, He gave the infant child,

Born of a virgin long ago, he was so meek and mild.

They laid him in a manger upon a bed of hay, this precious little baby boy would give his life one day. The shepherds and the wisemen, brought frankincense and mryhh, the star shone bright from o'er the east, it was the saviors birth. His life he gave upon a cross so this world could be saved. The load of sin he bore alone, the greatest gift God gave.

Author Dianne Marquardt

Mike from California:

In December of 1992, I had back surgery to remove to two herniated discs. I couldn't work due to pain, and as a result, my wife and I lost the house that we had been renting, as I had no income. My mother took me into her home to recover and my wife's best friend took her, our two daughters, and our son into her home. My mother lived 25 miles away from where my family was staying, yet the Lord was gracious, as he allowed our separated family to be together on Christmas Day. He even provided money for gifts for our children! I was grateful to see my children that day if only for a few hours. I recovered, went back to work, and was able to rent another house with the Lord's help.

Catrina from Georgia:

Our oldest son and his wife invited my husband and I over for a weekday supper. I came in the front hallway , looked down the hall to the kitchen. Our son had a huge grin on his face. I assumed he and his wife wanted to show us that our grandson started walking. I headed for the kitchen, and looked on the floor to where our grandson was (not walking), all of a sudden I got a tap on my left shoulder and a voice said "Merry Christmas mom!" There stood our youngest son behind me who arrived that afternoon in from military leave from Saudi Arabia! afternoon. Everyone knew but me! What a Christmas!

Linda from Kentucky:

I HAVE 3 DAUGHTERS & SEVERAL NIECES & NEWPHEWS..THERE WERE SO MANY & MY PARENTS WERE ON A LIMITED INCOME, SO ON CHRISTMAS EVE,MY FAMILY, ALL MY BROTHERS & THEIR FAMILIES, MY SISTER & HER FAMILY.. THEIR WASN'T MUCH MONEY, BUT WE ALL ENJOYED A BIG SUPPER,THEN AT GIFT GIVING, MY PARENTS WERE THE ONLY ONES WHO GOT BIG GIFTS, AFTER THEY OPENED THEIRS, MOM WOULD GET OUT A BAG & GIVE EACH GRANDCHILD A NEW QUARTER.DAD ALWAYS MADE SURE THEY HAD ONE. THATS ALL THEY COULD AFFORD.. THE GRANDCHILDREN WOULD WAIT ANXIOUSLY FOR THIS, EVEN IF THEY DID KNOW WHAT IT WAS.. MY DAUGHTERS TODAY STILL REMEMBER THIS & ONE YEAR I GAVE MY GRANDCHILDREN & DAUGHTERS A NEW QUARTER IN REMEMBERANCE OF THEIR GRANNIE & PA.

ALSO ON THAT NIGHT,MY FATHER WOULD GET THE GROWN MEN TOGETHER, THEY WOULD GO BEHIND THE HOUSE IN THE WOODS & HE WOULD SHOT OFF A DYNAMITE CAP.IT WOULD MAKE A LOUD BOOM,,THEN WE KNEW CHRISTMAS WAS HERE... REALLY MISS THOSE TIMES.

Deborah from Texas:

It was Christmas Eve and the man I was dating and I, were out all day finishing his shopping. When it got to be evening, I said I was going to Christmas Eve service and invited him to go with me. He said he wasn't ready to go back to church because he hadn't changed his life. I asked him again and told him, you're not going to change your life until you go back to church. I left him and headed off to attend the service by myself. As I took my seat, I'd never felt so alone. I was looking down and someone sat beside me. I looked at his shoes and then up. It was him. He told me he just couldn't let me be by myself on Christmas Eve. The next year, on Christmas Eve, we were married. This year will be our 13th anniversary. It has always been, and now even more so, my favorite day of the year.

Dale from Illinois:

My most memorable Christmas was the one that I asked for no gifts. we didn't decorate or even put up a tree. 7 weeks earlier we had a new grandson. Carter was born with heart problems and and was airlifted to a hospital in Peoria Illinois where they did heart surgery on new borns. He spent the first 5 weeks of his life in Intensive care after 2 open heart surgeries. My wife and I were so grateful to God for our grandson that we accepted Carter Dale as our gift. There was nothing that could compete with God's gift of healing. Our grandson made a wonderful Christmas.

Sara from Illinois:

I wrote this story for my blog on the Women's Outdoor News last year. It is the one way I can, in some little way, hope to shift the negative paradigm toward police officers. My husband and I work in a profession that is pretty despised thanks to negative media coverage, but most every man and woman I have ever worked and served with have big hearts. You have to have a big heart to remain in this profession for the long run, because its too hard on people and their families to keep it for a paycheck. God has blessed me with an outlet to communicate and relate to people and to serve and protect. I don't question his plan, but honestly, the holidays are hard. I hope people remember all of the police, fire, emergency medical personnel and last, but certainly not least, our military on Christmas.

http://www.womensoutdoornews.com/2011/12/sara-ahrens-offbeat-a-police-officers-christmas/

This can be reprinted, but it would be nice if it could be directed to the website that hosts it, or at least referenced as coming from the Blog OffBeat on the Women's Outdoor News website.

Joe from Georgia:

When my son was 7 years old our church had an annual Christmas Pancake Breakfast on the Saturday before Christmas. The tradition included a giant Happy Birthday Jesus cake. Then during our Christmas Eve worship we celebrated with the Lord's Supper. This year, when the Lord's Supper was starting to be served, my 7 year old son tugged on my sleeve and looked up into my eyes and asked, "Dad, why am I allowed to eat the Lord's Breakfast but not his supper?"

Anita from New Mexico:

In the 1950's my step father suffered a severe illness. Christmas had always been "light weight", altho we didn't know it, there was love to go around and a great dinner. On Christmas Eve the door bell rang and there stood a group of church people, not from our church, with gifts, some wrapped, others were second hand, but they were new to us!!!! There were more gifts than we had ever seen before, and my mother made sure some went to other homes. I hadn't experienced such a love of giving before & it always makes my memories of Christmas special to the point that I enjoy helping where I can and just enjoying the day with my husband with food and remembering exactly what the day is all about.

Mary from Ohio:

This is a little story to make us think outside of the box. Our 6 year old granson, Isaiah, who was adopted from Guatemala, posed this question to his parents: "Was Baby Jesus adopted?"

Wow! The answer is so deep, and leads to so many other Biblical references to adoption.

Joseph wasn't Jesus' father - God was, but Joseph raised him here on earth. When we accept Jesus, we're adopted into His Heavenly Family, so we're all brothers and sisters. When we become a member of Jesus' family, we're also adopted into the Family of His chosen people, the Jews.

So...it seems to me, not only was Jesus adopted, He was the author of Adoption.

Ahhhh...from the mouths of babes.

Teri from Oregon:

My 3 siblings have all passed away from diabetes, and my dad from heart disease. One Christmas a few years ago I really needed to have my family together even though I was married with two kids of my own. Impossible right? I collected all the stockings that our family used when we were growing up. Some family members thought I needed therapy but none the less I got them all and for the first time in a lot of years we were all together again and have been every year since.

Ellen from Oregon:

My mother died last January. Maybe it’s the holidays, maybe it’s the approaching one-year anniversary of her death, but I find that I am suddenly so prone to tears. Songs, commercials, jokes… almost anything can suddenly twist my heart and I wish that Mom was here.

I went to down to see her last December for what turned out to be my last visit. The brain tumor had taken over, and my bright, funny, sweet Mom was still there, but much slower mentally, not able to connect the dots, and often doing things that were harmless, but so non-sensical that my sisters and I couldn’t help but to try to cover our giggles. She struggled with tiny things, or would decide something was an absolutely critical matter, minutes later to wonder who would have come up with such a ridiculous idea.

Mom needed Christmas stamps, so we got in the car and I drove her to the local post office. She pondered in the car which stamp design she would choose. She chattered and chattered about it, weighing the options of one design over the other. When we got there, she stopped in front of the poster and studied it, then studied it some more. Finger to lips, shifting from one foot to the other, she didn’t dare make a mistake on such a critical decision. Finally, she said in that special way she had of delivering grand news that she was going to get the Jingle Bell design.

We stood in line, while she happily anticipated how pretty her stamps were going to be. At the counter, the clerk was confused, for they didn’t carry Jingle Bell stamps. We finally realized that what she saw as Jingle Bells were actually ornaments (heck, I didn’t notice it either!). Still, she loved them, so the clerk tucked a few sheets of “Jingle Bell” stamps into an onion skin envelope and we were on our way.

Back at home, Mom got the onion skin envelope out and carefully wrote “Christmas Stamps” on the outside and set the envelope up in the dining room windowsill where she could see it. Over the next several hours she’d occasionally look over at her onion skin envelope of Jingle Bell stamps and smile to herself.

My sister came over later and saw the stamps there and asked if maybe they should be put in the drawer with the other stamps so they wouldn’t get lost. No, Mom said, she wanted to be sure she knew where they were. So in the windowsill they stayed.

The next morning Mom got up and was having her hard-boiled egg and coffee, when I suddenly heard “ELLEN! ELLEN!” and I came running into the room to see what was wrong. WHY, she wanted to know, were her stamps in the WINDOWSILL? That’s not where stamps go, and they might get lost. I giggled to myself and agreed that it was a silly place to keep stamps, and put them dutifully in the drawer.

In January, when I went back to Sacramento for Mom’s Celebration of Life, my sisters, aunt, cousins and I were going through Mom’s house, trying to get things in order. I found those Jingle Bell stamps in their little onion skin envelope, and took them into the bathroom and cried.

With my sisters’ permission, I took the Jingle Bell stamps home with me. Mom had used more than half of them, and I used some more for her estate settlement items, and a few personal items. They’re still in their little onion skin envelope with “Christmas Stamps” in Mom’s handwriting on the outside. And to me, even though they are ornaments, they are the Jingle Bell stamps.

Yesterday my husband and I needed to mail something, so I went to get a stamp. I pulled out that little onion skin envelope, and sat down to cry. It’s almost as if when those stamps are gone, one more thread will be cut. There are only three left. Only three. I couldn’t bear to pare it down to two.

I don’t know if I will ever use the last three Jingle Bell stamps. But somehow I know I will never give up that little onion skin envelope. Whenever I buy stamps, it will always be in sheets and I will always tuck them into that little onion skin envelope.

I miss my Mom every single day. I wish I could hear her laugh, share something silly, ask her advice. But even though she is not here for those things, I know she will never leave my heart.

Ni from California:

The Christmas Doll Maker

(Note: Tante means Aunt in French)

The doll underneath this Christmas tree reminds me of Tante Seraphine and why she loves making her dolls so much. Tante lost her first child, a daughter named Sercy, to cholera when the baby was only six months old. But in her grief Tante found solace in volunteering at Charity Hospital helping the Daughters of Charity nuns take care of children sick from cholera and yellow fever.

Tante was inspired by the compassion of the other women around her. Some were wealthy matrons like herself; some were prostitutes from Storyville. But she held her highest admiration for the elderly black women who would caress and rock the suffering children while crooning lullabies all night long to help ease their pain.

On one chilly December night Sister Anne asked Tante to oversee tucking the children into bed and to assist with their nightly prayers. One little redheaded boy named Edwin had a serious case of Asiatic Cholera. He was severely dehydrated, and his high-fever would not go down. He told Tante that he must get better because his father had promised him a big toy he wished for, a black choo-choo train with lots of tracks for Christmas.

After his prayer, Tante told him to pretend that he was the engineer of his locomotive and that he could direct the long train to the land of “Dreams Ville.” But, sadly, little Edwin succumbed to his high fever and died that very same night.

Tante overheard another unselfish child praying for their Christmas wish to be divine protection for the wonderful doctors and nurses against infection from the fever, bringing a tear to her eyes.

Still another, a seven-year-old named Tamara, asked a saint for healing intercession. She also asked for a big, beautiful doll with blue eyes, long curly hair, with a dress of blue velvet and a satin sash. “I promise,” Tamara appealed, “if my prayers are answered, I will become a nurse and care for the sick for the rest of my days.”

The next day Tante went to the market to buy the biggest doll she could find. The prices of the dolls were exorbitant! Tante could afford to purchase any doll she wished, but she knew that most families could not afford such expense. At that moment an idea came into her mind.

After much inquiry, Tante obtained the name and address of a local maker of dolls named Mr. Juneau. He was a German man whose shop was on Royal Street in the French Quarter. He made his creations for the rich Creoles and prosperous Americans who lived in the Garden District.

Tante had my Uncle Charles pick her up in a horse drawn carriage and take her to the Doll Shop on Royal Street. Tante knocked on Mr. Juneau’s big, black front door that had a brass knocker shaped into the face of a doll. She waited for quite some time, but finally the door slowly opened. Before her was a small, old, bearded man wearing a gold-trimmed monocle over his right eye. His dress was impeccable, marred only by a few drops of paint on his clean, white apron. After Tante introduced herself and her purpose, Mr. Juneau, speaking with a heavy German accent, showed Tante around his shop. The variety of dolls was endless! They were displayed in all sizes and shapes and dressed in all manner of fancy costumes.

Over a cup of tea, Tante told the old master the sad story of the sick little girl at Charity Hospital with her special Christmas wish and how the little girl’s time was short. Tante also told him that she wished to become his apprentice and never to be his competitor. She had no illusions of achieving his level of craftsmanship anyway, all the dolls she would make would be for the poor and ill children at Charity. She would be more than pleased to pay him for his instructions and materials.

The old master stiffened his back, adjusted his monocle, and looked her up and down. He sighed.

“Well,” he said, “we have no time to waste. Let’s get to work.”

First he taught her how to pour the porcelain bisque into molds to make the heads; then they did the same with the torso, arms, hands and legs. They worked late into the night. Taking the head from the firing kiln, he examined it for signs of hairline cracks. Slowly and carefully, he cut out the holes for the glass eyes.

“For Tante, making any shape of creature she desired, with eyes big or small and coloring the lips in all different shades of pink, was euphoric!”] She learned to sand the skin on the doll’s face to a satiny finish, paint in feathery eyebrows, and add a rosy blush to the cheeks. As a final touch to the face, Mr. Juneau drew long, thin eyelashes one at a time with a fine sable brush. After another firing in the kiln and a few more cups of tea, the master and his new apprentice installed the eyes, which were made of fine Italian hand-blown glass.

Dawn was coming when he told her that the next step was for his seamstress Marchaux to create the doll’s clothing. Marchaux would be arriving soon. Did Tante have any thoughts about the dress?

When Tante returned to Charity Hospital for her evening shift, she found the doctor hovering over Tamara’s bed. The child’s fever was rising.

“If her fever does not come down,” said the doctor, “I doubt she will last through the night.”

Tamera’s eyes were bloodshot, her mouth dry and cracking. She thrashed about the bed and moaned. Under the physician’s directions, Tante collected towels and cool water to dab all over Tamara's body. “And please try to get her to drink some quinine water or some broth,” the doctor urged. “She needs all the fluids she can get.”

Tante did not leave Tamara’s bedside. She blotted the dampened towels on Tamara and prayed and prayed. The child’s body was shaking with such force that Tante had to hold her down. As she did, Tante whispered into the girl’s ear, “You must fight the fever, you must with all your might! Picture yourself on Christmas day with your family and your wonderful new doll.”

In the child’s delirium, she wailed the truth. She had no family. Her mother, father and brother were dead of the same fever that now attacked her. She only knew of an aunt and uncle in Biloxi, Mississippi.

“Then I will get you to them when you are well,” Tante vowed. “So that your aunt and uncle may have the joy of raising a wonderful little girl like you gives you all the more reason to get well. You must live to bless them as their Christmas gift from God. You must.” Tante had no plans of letting go of the life of this child. She would cling to every good thought that she could muster to her lips.

As sunlight crept through the windows of the room, Tamara’s fever broke. By the time the sun was bright, Tamara was sleeping peacefully and Tante was on her way to St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square to offer her thanks for a life spared. After the she left the cathedral, Tante headed down the cobblestones to Royal Street and the doll maker.

When she arrived, the seamstress Marchaux was busy with the last touches to the clothing for Tamara’s doll. The doll’s dress, as ordered, was blue velvet with a big ecru-colored satin sash. Underneath the frock was a white chemise trimmed with pink embroidered roses. A set of kidskin shoes with pearl buckles finished off the outfit. To the head, Tante was allowed the honors of gluing a wig of auburn ringlets into place. The doll was complete.

As she began digging through her purse, Tante asked her teacher how much she owed him for his wonderful instructions and materials for the final product.

Mr. Juneau removed his monocle, paused, and said, “For my teaching, that will be one silver dollar, Madam. Just do not tell anyone of this—I don't want the word getting out that I make my little creations for nothing. My seamstress and I make this our gift to your sweet Tamara.” Marchaux smiled and nodded.

“And from now on,” the master doll maker continued, “you come once a week to me, use my tools, make your charity dolls for the poor. You pay me for materials, nothing more. I will guide you, but the work will be mostly yours. You learn fast and well. And I rather enjoy the whiffs of your fine perfume in the air of my humble workshop.”

Tante smiled and thanked him. She liked the bargain.

From the doll maker’s she hurried home in a carriage to prepare a note to Uncle Charles. She needed his help and special flourishes to bring a little girl’s dream to true, and she knew Uncle Charles would enjoy helping her. She gave instructions to her chambermaid for the note’s delivery as well as for the delivery of a carefully wrapped package. Then she retired for a very long nap to recover from her great loss of sleep.

When Tante awoke there was a return message from Uncle Charles approving her plan. That evening when she returned to Charity, Tamara was sitting up in bed and eating well. The girl would be released in two days after regaining her strength.

Tante went about her evening ministrations in the hospital with a lightness to her step, and when sunshine brightened the ward the next morning, she hurried to Tamara’s bed. A few days later she helped Tamara dress and gather her few belongings. Tamara kept asking where she was going and where she would live. Tante just smiled and told her not to worry.

Tamara was carried down the flights of stairs by one of the hospital’s strong male staff members and placed in a wheelchair. Tante wheeled the girl out the front door. At the entrance what met Tamara’s eyes was a fine carriage drawn by two white horses. Then Uncle Charles appeared and, while opening the carriage door, offered a dramatic bow. Tamara looked up at Tante. Tante smiled. “Your carriage awaits,” she said. The girl was wide eyed as Tante helped her into the vehicle and sat beside her, across her was Tante's chamber maid that would help accompany little Tamara.

Tante tucked a blanket around Tamera as she explained, “My brother Charles is taking you to your aunt and uncle in Mississippi.” Tante pointed to a basket. “Here is food for your trip. Now you must eat to build up your strength,” she instructed.

Tamara was trying to take it all in when she spied something nestled on the cushioned leather seat and covered with a small blanket sitting next to the maid. “What's under the blanket?” she asked.

Tante carefully lifted up the blanket. “This is for you, sweetheart.” There settled on the black leather seat was the most beautiful doll Tamara's eyes had ever seen!

Tamara could barely believe what was happening and shook her head. She gently stroked the doll’s velvet dress. Tears began to fall on the auburn hair that Tante had so carefully glued into place. The little girl looked at Tante. In answer to the gaze, Tante said, “The doll is all yours. Merry Christmas!”

“For me?” she said in a shaky voice.

“Of course for you! It’s for being alive and fighting off that dreadful yellow fever my dear.”

More tears rolled down Tamara’s cheeks and touched the smile that was forming. As if the girl knew of Tante’s little Sercy, she asked, “Miss Seraphine, I would like to call my new friend 'Sercy' if that's all right with you.” Now Tante had tear in her eye, but she managed to say, “That would make me very happy.”

Uncle Charles interrupted, “The day is moving on, and we must too. Seraphine, please give your good-byes.”

Tamara grabbed Tante, and Tante hugged her for a minute. Then Tante pulled the young arms from her. Tamara bravely cooperated.

Tante removed herself from the carriage. She swallowed against the lump forming in her throat.

Uncle Charles mounted to the seat next to the coachman, and the carriage began to move. Tamara peeped her head out of the window for one last look toward Tante.

As she waved farewell, Tante heard the little girl say, “I do believe in angels, and I believe you are truly one. When I grow up, I am going to help children just like you have!”

Tante waved until the carriage with its precious cargo was out of sight. Then and only then did she allow her own tears to come.

One thing was certain, Tante decided as she gathered her skirts and headed up the steps of Charity Hospital. All of my dolls will be named Sercy.

Ryan from Hawaii:

My parents once got me a Casio CTK-3000 keyboard from Amazon for Christmas of 2011. But when I unwrapped it, not only was there a chip on the side, but there was also a giant crack on one of the speakers! Thankfully, we were able to return it and get a new one for no charge.

Sue from Arizona:

After I was grown and out of the house with kids of my own. We always went over to my parents house Christmas Eve. My brother Tom would dress up like Santa and climb to the roof on their house. Well of course the kids would be so excited. The funny part is my parents’ house was on the corner of the main street leading into their subdivision. It literally stopped traffic.

Bernie from New Jersey:

Dear Governor, Growing up with 4 siblings, NOTHING appeared until Christmas morning. We never even saw the tree, the wrapped presents, the dresses my Mother would sew for my Sisters, or the cookies they would bake. All of this Christmas "magic" came together after we children went to bed on Christmas Eve. Early on Christmas morning, we would wake up and line up (in age order) at the top of the stairs and go down to wonders of Christmas morning. After we opened our presents, my Father would cook a wonderful breakfast and we would get ready and go to Mass and then visit our Grand Parents.

Have a Blessed Christmas!!!

Kim from Ohio:

One year we were going to Iowa to spend Christmas with my family. Our youngest was so worried that my husband had to write a note for Santa and put it on our fireplace screen. It said "Dear Santa, we will be in Iowa for Christmas at my grandma’s house. Her address is... Please deliver our presents there. Thank you. Love Connor”

Molly from Washington:

AN ANGEL’S EYES

I remember our Christmas’ at home. They were magical. Although we didn't have much the rest of the year, my mother would somehow transform our house and our lives into a magical wonderland once a year. There was always snow in VA and there was always Christmas all around the town. Christmas meant that we would be getting our stockings filled with goodies that we rarely, if ever, got throughout the year. We would always have a small handful of nuts, a small handful of hard candies (green and white ribbons were my favorite!) and an orange. What more could you want? The house was decorated with all of our treasures that we had collected over the years. Mama had a village that lit up and it twinkled on a bed of white snowy cotton. The tree had beautiful lights and all of the ornaments we had made and collected. At the very top of the tree was an angel. She had golden blonde hair and there were clear strands of thin plastic that shot out all around her. When we lit her up every Christmas, it was my favorite moment! She just shimmered and seemed to have an ethereal glow. I always felt like I had just found my long lost friend and I knew that she would be watching over me. We always had a fresh tree and the smell would fill the house. It was such a happy time!

It was almost Christmas of 1958. I was 11 and my brother, Jimmy, was 13. It was the first Christmas that I remember us being so excited. We didn't get a lot of presents or toys throughout the year so we always looked forward to getting our one present. This year, I was surprised to see that my brother and I had the exact same box under the tree. It was the same size, same weight, and was wrapped the same. When we shook them, they sounded the same too. There was no sound at all! We were hoping for a rattle or jingle that would give us a clue as to what was inside. Half of the fun was trying to figure out what it could be. We were truly puzzled this year. How could they buy us the same thing? He was a boy and I was a girl. The presents felt like they could have a book inside. I did not want a book for Christmas! I was always an avid reader and I did love books but I could get them at the library or from a friend. I did not want to find a book under the tree. I decided I would just have to wait and find out.

It was two days before Christmas and my mother and stepfather went into town to do some shopping.

That left Jimmy and I there alone. We were sitting there not long after they had driven out of the driveway when Jimmy suddenly had a brainstorm. Why not open the presents and see what we were getting? He was sure he could do it so nobody would know. I told him that I didn't think that was a good idea. We would surely be caught and then it would ruin our holiday. He said he was going to do it anyway. He went to the tree and began to slowly and very gently pull the tape off of one end of the present. I was watching from a distance and when he said he had it nearly open, I couldn't stand it anymore and I ran over to see what was inside. As he pulled back the paper from the end of the package, we both let out a squeal! It was a transistor radio! We were thrilled! We carefully put the tape back and put the present right where it had been.

I looked up and there was the angel staring right at me! I had just committed a great sin and all in her presence. It felt like her eyes were burning into my soul! Oh, if only I could redo the last few minutes! But it was too late. I had sinned and there was no way to change it!

Christmas morning came and everyone went downstairs to begin the celebration. I opened my sock first and popped a piece of candy in my mouth. It was so good. I was so thrilled to get some treats and I always made them last as long as I could. Then it was time to open our present. I ripped mine open and tried to look very surprised and excited. I felt so bad! I felt like a thief and liar. I was feeling so guilty and it felt like I had a 50 pound weight hanging on my back and I could not get rid of it. As I sat there, I looked up at my beautiful angel and I felt her eyes upon me once again. There seemed to be sadness in her eyes. I asked her to please forgive me. I never enjoyed the radio as much as I would have if I had waited until Christmas morning to open it! It was like a constant reminder that I was a liar! As we all gathered around the table to eat our wonderful dinner, I felt my stomach drop and I couldn't eat very much at all. I loved Christmas dinner almost as much as I enjoyed getting a present but this year I just couldn't get an appetite.

The following year, I waited until Christmas morning and I got a nice coat with a fur collar. I was thrilled! My brother suggested peeking again but I told him that I was never going to do that again! I had learned my lesson and it was one that would last me a lifetime! I looked up at my angel and she seemed to be glowing brighter than ever! And she seemed to have a much more peaceful look on her face. I knew then that I was forgiven and I promised her that I would never peek at presents again!

Debra from Missouri:

This story will make you cry and then it will make you think, wow what a beautiful story of love and devotion. Back in the winter of 05 my son found out he was a father but still in high school, so we started seeing this little guy to get to know him. (Jeremiah)was just a little over a year old. We had Christmas at my brother Troy's house and watching my son hold this little boy I thought what a great dad he is going to be.

Well little did I know December 17, 2005 would be the last time I would see my son Isaiah hold his son. That night he went out and was in a car accident that killed him. He had hit a tree head on. His friend and him both gone. Well it was around 4 in the morning and I woke up feeling something terrible had happened, and watching the news I found it to be true. Pulling out front of my house was the Chaplin and the Independence Police. I had already known this to be true before they told me my son Isaiah was gone.

But the story gets better even with the loss of my son. My grandson is being raised by my son's best friend from grade school and will soon adopt my grandson. I know my son is looking down and smiling because now Jeremiah will not grow up without a father. I was at first not too happy about the adoption but my son has come to me in several dreams, one that he is okay and that he is happy that Jeremiah will grow and be a happy child and this some how was God's plan and what better plan to be raised by your real dad's best friend. A Christmas Story that still brings tears to my eyes and happiness to my heart, thanks to God for allowing my grandson not to be without a Dad.

Wanda from Alabama:

My 16 year old daughter had a 4-wheeler accident on June 22, 2003. After one month in intensive care in a hospital in Birmingham, AL, she was sent to a catastrophic spinal cord injury hospital in Atlanta, GA. After several months there, she was sent back to the Birmingham hospital to recover from a major set-back. After a few weeks of recovery, she went back to the Atlanta Hospital. I wasn’t able to shop, decorate, bake, or cook, but the day before Christmas, 2003, my daughter and I returned home to find a new 3-foot plug-in Christmas tree on a table, no other decorations, no gifts, my other daughters and their children, a simple dinner with many of the vegetables my husband had grown in the back yard garden, and our whole family back together again. So thankful to our LORD and Savior Jesus for so many blessings and the best Christmas ever!

noreply@mikehuckabee.com

Rebecca from Rhode Island:

Our Christmases were magical, joyous and reverant. We knew it was Jesus' birthday, and we celebrated that first and foremost. There wasn't any visible stress in the Dailey home. Mom and Daddy made the whole season look easy and natural. I learned later that, of course they stressed about affording the toys we wanted, and there was always the question that loomed large, would my sister Gail and her family be able to get home for the holiday.But for us kids, there were no worries. Just snowmen to build, sledding paths to be broken, and icy cheeks to be warmed by mommy's kisses.

My sister Linda was 9 years older than me, and Gail was 9 years older than her. By the time I was 5, Gail had given birth to my nephew Ron. Each 9 months brought a new baby till she had 5. Being so close in age, My nephews and neice were like brothers and a sister to me. I adored them all, and missed them terribly, as they lived in Gary, Indiana, 10 whole hours away.

Every year as Christmas neared, Daddy and Mommy would sit Linda and I down and ask the same question; would we rather have the things on our list, or did we want to take that money to send to Gail , Art and the kids to come home ? I wonder if they ever doubted what our answer would be. If they did, it was needless, as we would have happily forgotten every gift we had asked for, just to have them home with us. As we agreed it was what we wanted, Mom would call Gail and ask if they could come , we could help with the money, and Gail would ask Art, and we could hear the kids in the background begging... mommy please!!! daddy please!!!!... and finally they would agree that they should come. Every year we went through the same ritual, and every year it seemed as new and as exciting as if it was the first time we had thought of it. It was wonderful!

And only then would our plans begin to take on the wonder and joy of our Christmases.

I was 9 years old the year I decided that Santa was for babies. Daddy was a master at letting us learn about things at our own pace. I was always thankful for that, cause we got to stay little as long as we wanted to, then ease our little minds and hearts into the cold hard facts as we were able to appreciate them. We were encouraged to be "elves" and carry on the secret traditions, and that turned out to be as wondrous as when we were "believers". It taught us about giving and really doing for our loved ones instead of being consumed with our own wants.

At another time I will tell you other Christmas stories, as I have so many to tell, but the Christmas of 1963 was an especially important one to me, because of "the sleigh bells".

Because I had decided to be an elf that year, I was privy to all of the grown-ups secrets. But before I helped Mommy stuff the stockings and helped the "Men" put together the gifts from Santa, after new pajamas with trees and and snowmen and reindeer on them were put on freshly bathed, sweet smelling little bodies, after Daddy told us the Story of Christ's birth and after he read "The night Before Christmas", after chattering little tots got their final drink of water and subsequent trip to the potty, I got my time with "Santa".

"Wooty," Daddy said, " Go ask Mom for the sleigh bells and bring them to me, please." I had no idea what bells he was talking about, but i asked mom, and she got them out of a box, wrapped in red tissue paper, with a warning to be careful with them. I vowed with all my being that I would take care of them, sensing their importance. Seeing a chance to sneak a little girl cuddle with my daddy, i crawled up in his lap holding the bells and asked about them.

"These bells kept me alive when I was a little boy, Wooty!"

" How, Daddy!?"

Daddy told me that when he was about 3 years old, he had eaten some kind of poison. Gram never told him what kind of poison it was, but it was serious. Gramp took the old draft horse out of the barn and rode to town to get the doc. The doctor told Gram that if daddy went to sleep, he would die. If, however she could keep him awake, the poison would work its way through his system and her little boy would live.

Gram stayed up with Daddy for a long while, but she finally started dozing off. She would wake with a start and panic, afraid the baby had dozed off too. Finally Grampa had an idea. He went out to the barn and took the sleigh bells off the reins. He brought them to Gram, and every time Daddy would start to get sleepy, she would shake those big bells and wake him up!

As Daddy told me the story, I started to shake the bells, But he stopped me.

"No , Wooty, wait!! I'll show you what we do with them in a little while. For now, we need to keep them very quiet, ok?"

So we put together bycicles and dolly carriages, wagons and train sets. We snuck out things for the big people and covered them so we could surprise them. We wrote notes in big block letters that explained how the north pole was fresh out of what someone asked for, but Santa made this just for them instead. When our living room looked like a North Pole workshop, we got out the cookies and milk for santa, and the carrots for the reindeer. We stood back and admired our work. I remember being more amazed by seeing how hard they worked to make our winter wonderland than I had ever been seeing it on Christmas morning. It was wonderful!

"Now you can get the bells, Wooty. Keep them quiet though, and follow Art and I outside , ok?"

I happily put on my little coat and boots and followed them out. They had put a ladder up on the side of the house, and already Art was up on the roof! Daddy told me to come up, and i carefully climbed up the ladder a ways. Then it dawned on me. Every Christmas I ever remembered, I woke to the sound of reindeer paws on the roof, Santa ho-ho-ho ing, and SLEIGH BELLS !!!

"OH Daddy, can I do it? "

"You sure can, Wooty".

Both my dad and Art were tromping around on the roof with their heavy work boots, genuinely belly laughing at the little girl who thought she was all grown up, hanging on the ladder for dear life, shaking the big leather strap full of tarnished old sleigh bells. The sleigh bells that saved her Daddy's life.

noreply@mikehuckabee.com

Gerry from North Carolina:

Mama's Christmas Prayer

Twas the night before Christmas

Behind the door the kids are asleep.

Hubby is dozing on the couch

Even the bird isn't making a peep.

I look around this tiny room

with the tree and lights so bright

And wonder what the kids will say

When it comes the morning light.

When they see our "Charlie Brown" tree

is still empty and bare

Santa didn't come & leave presents there.

That's what they'll think and say

so I don't have to take the heat.

It's Santa that's the bad guy

He'll be the one that's a cheat.

How can I stand the look in their eyes

The disappointment dragging them down

There's no way I can cheer them up

It'll do no good to laugh and clown.

God, help me find a way to get a little prize

Tho it's not Christian,it'd put light in their eyes.

Then I could have a good day and praise

you forever more.

Let me be a hero to them when they walk

through that door.

Mary from Texas:

When i was a child i remember christmas well but i was not disappointed if i didnt get gifts i have always believed that it is jesus birthday and you celebrate him and him only we just was poor and didnt have anything thats wasnt important to me but i do say christmas is for the little children not us grown people there is some children that won’t even have christmas this year its going to be bad now because the president will put a stop to christmas all together he has taken away evertthing else so why not this well mr huckabee i thank you for letting me share this with you and by the way thinking about buying your book want to read it to my grandkids you have some beautiful ones yourself they are cuties you have a blessed christmas thanks mary

Linda from Florida:

In 1998 I had just lost my job due to a sale out and it was just weeks before the holidays. My daughter who had just joined the Army had just received word that her husband was filing for a divorce. The holidays not looking so good for me or my daughter I ask her, If I were a millionaire and could buy you anything in the world what would you ask for? My daughter Sarah answer was, Would you please find my brother for me. You see several years before my daughter's father and I had divorce and I nor my daughter had any contact with her brother or her father. She was only a year old the last time she had seen her brother and that was some 19 years earlier.

With no job and plenty of spare time on my hands I began my search to find her brother. I knew that 19 yrs ago her brother was living in the state of California, so that is where I started looking. Every day for hours I would look and look but with no luck. For some reason I started checking the military records and emailing the different branches. One day I got a letter from a lady who worked with the Navy Seals. She explained to me that some years back there had been a young man by the name of Michael Haven who had been a Navy Seal. But since he was no longer a Seal they had no info on him. With this news I was about to give up all hope and Christmas was getting closer by the day.

On Christmas Eve morning I got another email from this same lady from the Navy Seals. She had not given up on the search and had located a phone number for a Mick Haven because that was what he was calling himself now. Not thinking about the time of day I called the phone number. On the other end of line a voice answered and said, Hello, and I ask who might I be speaking with? The reply was Mick, and who is this. I then ask, Do you happen to know a young lady by the name of Sarah Haven? With total silence from the other end of the line which seemed like a life time he finally said YES, she is my sister, is this Sarah. I told him no, that I was her mother Linda and began to tell him how all she wanted was for me to find her brother for Christmas. He ask me not to tell her that I had located him, because he wanted to call her later that night as a surprise. He said I might be giving my sister her Christmas present, but you have just given me my Christmas present.

I have always said things happen for a reason, in November of 1999 my daughter remarries. December of 2001 my daughter Sarah was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer. Her daughter Hailey who was born in September 2000 had just turned One year old and Sarah now pregnant with her second child. It took the doctors until January to match a name to type of cancer she had and they wasn't sure if she or the baby would make it. But after many answered prayers my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, name Hope.

Christmas of 2003 my daughter leaves with her unit for Iraq for a year. My daughter not fully released from her treatments from the chemo and cancer treatments her Company Command agreed that she would be sent to Germany every three months for checkups.

My daughter in September 2012 just returned back home from a tour in Afghanistan where she received a Bronze Star.

Also my daughter now has three daughters and this last little girl is named Haven.

For Thanksgiving my daughter with her husband and three girls flew to California to celebrate with her brother Mick Haven and his twin daughters.

I truly do believe things happen for a reason.

My daughter CW2 Sarah N Villegas, is stationed at Fort Bennings, Ga with the CID of the Army.

Thank you for letting me share my Christmas story with you.

Dolores from Texas:

Depression days in Kansas, when about 3 and 5 years old, we had the best Christmas ever. My sister and I found beautiful Betsy Wetsy dolls on the tree with a little suitcase made by our Dad. Mother had cleaned up our dolls like new and made a wardrobe of new clothes with new bottle and diapers. We were so excited, we did not even know they were our old dolls.

noreply@mikehuckabee.com

Barbara from Kansas:

My parents were grocery store managers during the 1940s where we,(a family of three children) lived in an apartment above the grocery store, located on Main St.

There are so many wonderful memories of those years, because one of my most vivid memories is viewing that small town's Main street come alive and go to sleep. Around 1946, as a nine-year-old, I was watching from the window as a large truck pulled in front of the store and my dad, along with others were unloading

Christmas trees and standing them in front of the glass window. It was early, but while watching them I got so excited to put our tree up that I went down stairs and begged my dad to let me pick out our tree. I then coaxed my sister to help me drag the largest tree I could manage up the stairs and decorate it. I so wanted every one who drove Main street to look up in our window and admire our tree.

I don't know if they did, but the day after Christmas, the tree was so dry the needles were dropping aroud the gifts still around the tree. My sister and I were taking the tinsel from the tree when suddenly a pop, and a hiss, then a whosh sounded. My parents were home eating lunch when I yelled, "Dad, the tree's on fire"

Needless to say, everyone became excited as the tree went a blaze so fast;quickly setting the long velvet drapes a blaze. My mother yelled to the two of us, "You girls get on out of her, run as fast and as far as you can. We may lose the apartment! We may lose the store. We may even lose this whole damn town!, " she said. Run we did, so embarrassed we said nothing to anyone. My sister and I stood in front of Tebow's Drug Store as quiet as we had ever been on Main Street sidewalk. Our neighbor's were the merchants and ordinarly we loved teasing with them,but not this day. I knew that the tree on fire was my fault because I had said, "Let's leave the lights on while we undecorate the tree," wanting to prolong the admiration.

After what seemed like a long time, my barefoot sister and I crept slowly back to the stairway. A dripping garden hose led up to the top of stairs. The smell of smoke came from the apartment door, and inside the apartment was complete silence.

My parents managed to put out the fire, we girls had managed to keep still, but our apartment was unliveable. Mother and Dad did what people did back then. They managed. The family was all moved into a room, used for storage until the apartment could be remodeled. It turned out even better than before. My sister and I have never since had a real tree in our home. We have seen first hand just how fast a dry tree can burn. (p.s. the cause of the fire was the end of a tinsel swayed into an empty light socket.) I wanted that tree to be admired, oh my what I learned about admiration that day is enough to write a book.

Have a safe Christmas. ~0~

Sherry from Wisconsin:

Diary of my Dad's Journey to Heaven

*November 30

We spent Tue-Sat. at the Marshfield Hospital to get Gil stabilized. Yes, the hospital did serve him real turkey! He has had the constant impulse to get up out of bed every few minutes, 24 hours a day, there is a term for that, however, it escapes me now. His daughters, all very lovely if I don't say so myself, (humor helps), and adoring wife, have been caring for him at home, always one or two of us keeping watch. We are to the point that we couldn't keep up with Dad's schedule of only 3-4 total hours of sleep a day, all in 10-45 min blocks. He is an amazing man! We are home now, and just today have found the right mix of meds to keep him "comfortable". Through this all, he is still very funny and we find ourselves crying tears of laughter in-between the tears of sorrow and exhaustion. He is not eating or drinking much today, and not speaking more than a few words. He is a very good patient, taking his meds and letting us move him around. My Mom is an inspiration to all that witness her grace. If I look at just the right angle, I think I can see her halo! Would you believe that she just knows when Dad is waking up, even if she is in a different room? She magically appears when he needs her, and she can't explain how she does it.

Feel free to pass this message on to anyone that may be interested. I am happy to add them to the list of our friends and relatives that we will be sending updates to. Thanks for all the cards, letters and prayers. Last Monday night he had me read and re-read to him, all the personal letters some of you have sent with wonderful memories.

Love to all!

Sherry

December 1

Thanks, everyone, for your prayers. Dad is restful today, but very confused. He always knows who we are and can recall past memories, but struggles with what is happening now, he knows he is mixed up and tells us so. He talks about building stuff and numbers, as if we are about to build it with him now, that's why he thinks he has to get up. Always work to do at the Mages farm!! We have hired some home health care to help in-between. Dad's hospice nurse is the most wonderful person, Mom and Dad connect with her and they very much look forward to her visits. She (Karen) loves coming out to the farm to see Dad's driveway pets, the life size George the giraffe, Alice the alligator, and Chip and Skip monkeys hanging in the trees!

Good night for now!

December 2nd

He slept through the night! This is a first for a very long time. He stood up a few times early this AM, took his meds and went back to bed. He is not eating or drinking anything of substance anymore. Mom and Darcie had the night shift last night, so with Dad sleeping, they sounded well rested today.

My Dad loves listening to the Larry Mages Family Band CD that Clete gave him. We found the CD info on line and sent Larry an e-mail. Would you believe he called me this morning? We had a great talk!

Have a good day everyone!

December 6

Hello! I was in Milwaukee, just got back yesterday. I was gone 3 days and there is a marked difference in Dad. He lost a lot of weight. Still no food or drinks as he can no longer swallow, not even pills. Hospice nurse just brought us liquid morphine so that is a relief. It is going straight into his port. Dad doesn't say much of anything and we don't think he can see us; however, we are hopeful that he hears us tell him how much we all love him. Mom is doing great, but the work is getting physically more demanding. He can't help us when we move him around anymore. Good thing he trained three ex-farmhand daughters so well! It may sound strange, but we are cherishing every moment of caring for him. We also have two neighbors that are here almost round the clock when Darcie, Lisa or I can't be there with Mom. Between the daughters and neighbors, we keep Mom off night shift. It is going as well as can be expected like this.

Thanks for the prayers! We keep asking Agnes to help Dad find the way....he said earlier in the week that he couldn't wait to see his Mom.

Sherry

December 7th

Hello Everyone.

Dad slept all through the night! We didn't even wake up until 6AM. Darcie and I heard him cough and we both bolted off our couch. Besides a little arm raising and leg raising, he seems very peaceful. Father Tom will be out later today to celebrate the Eucharist. Mom & Dad's neighbor, Jane, who really is more like family, has also brought us Communion. We know that really likes that, I am sure he misses going to mass. He used to go most week days to the chapel and celebrate with the Sisters. I know they enjoyed him as much as he enjoyed them!

Another interesting thing we talk about is how naturally the 5 grandkids are dealing with Grandpa's condition. They are all used to him "tractor surfing", building stuff, playing with trains, etc, however they are all at ease when they see him "resting". They hold his hand and kiss him without apprehension or fear. Abi even fed Grandpa in the hospital. The things we learn from kids.....

Not much else to report, we are calm and peaceful. We still wonder how Mom does it. Truly, she is the most amazing person, along with my Dad. What a pair they have been.

Sherry

December 9th

What a fighter! He is so very weak and frail, thin, can't talk anymore, but he is still struggling to get up. If we get very close to his face we think he can see and hear us because he moves his eyebrows when we talk to him. We tell him that in heaven he won't have to take anymore meds and he can roam around all he wants. Thanks for all the kind works, I copied all the messages for Mom and Darcie last night and Mom wants all you to know how blessed she is to have family & friends like all of you.

We got lots of snow last night, beautiful fluffy snow. Be careful traveling out there!

Sherry

December 10th

We are nearing the end. Breathing is erratic along with the other end of life symptoms. We are fairly sure he has no pain; we keep pushing his morphine button all day and night. The thought of Dad seeing his Mom, Agnes, and Dad and Richard and all those who went before him makes us smile. We tell him how much you all love him. Sometimes when we talk to him, we see a tear escape from his eye. We still feel his love around us, and we believe we always will. We hope you will feel it too!

Darcie has gone back home now, so I am headed back now for the night. Love to all....

Sherry

December 11th

Dad passed away this morning just past 6AM. His angel on earth, his wife, knew God was very near. A short time before he died, around 5AM, Mom looked at me and said,” I don't know why, but I am unwrapping Baby Jesus". So she put on my coat and out she went to the nativity scene and brushed the snow off Baby Jesus and unwrapped him. She usually only does that on Christmas. I turned on the Christmas music and we sat with him. He left us so peacefully that if we were not right there we may have missed it. We are happy that the pain is over now. As we waited for Hospice to arrive, we opened the curtains that hang over the picture window and as the sun was coming up over the snow covered field, the light shining on Dad made him look like an angel. He was glowing. Beautiful. Peaceful.

We felt all your prayers and thank you very much. Love to all!

P.S. Dad told Darcie a few weeks ago, "no tears, only laughter". We will get there soon.

Kathy from Kentucky:

To start with it was a Christmas I will never forget. I had married at age fourteen, partly to escape the hand of life I was dealt with parents of which neither seemed to want me or my siblings. We were shuffled from here to there staying with family or staying alone many night by ourselves by the time I was 11 years old.

I had married so young trying to escape and have some kind of normal family. At least that what I felt at the time. I was much more mature at age 14 than most 25 year olds today. It was our 2nd Christmas together and we didn't have very much money but I was 16 by this time and was expecting our first of four children I would eventually have. I so much wanted to have a Christmas tree and decorate it.

Well, with my meager budget I felt the old fashioned way might be my best bet. My tree had a few hand me down ornaments that were scratched and tattered. I also managed to but a pack of the old fashioned icicles that looked like shredded aluminum foil shavings. In 1973 we didn't have all the new shimmering decorations.

I also took a bag of cranberries and some popcorn and strung it to make a stream of garland. I thought our little hand cut cedar tree was beautiful. It had taken me all day to strong the cranberries and popcorn. I strung them around the tree trying to cut corners so they would cover more area. Finally the tree was decorated.

That night I went to bed with a few little presents and a beautiful tree. At the time we lived in an old house we rented and there were cracks big enough you could throw a cat through around the windows. I was used to cold houses and not so fine furnishings. At 16 I was doing pretty good I thought. I just couldn't wait to show my Christmas tree and what a fine job I had done

.

I woke up the next morning and walked in our simple little living room to see my tree. My heart sank, I just couldn't believe it, the mice had eaten all my popcorn and several of the cranberries. I was devastated, but after the shock wore off my husband and I just laughed and laughed.

Even after that I still put popcorn strings on our tree, later my four kids would help. The most happy Christmas I remember was ones that we had very little materially but had generosity in our hearts.

I have since went to college with those 4 kids and am now a retired teacher. The one thing I always tried to teach my kids as well as my students is that it's not how much money you spend , it us about how much love and generosity is in your heart. Money does not make you happy , love does .

Joy from Arizona:

The one Christmas memory I want to share(I have many) When I was 2 or 3 Santa Claus brought me a saddle, horses were my Dad and I past time and another Christmas Memory is growing up we would have our own Family Christmas then go to my Grandparents( my Mom's parents) then to my Aunt's ( Dads sister). At each other’s house we would have the Christmas Dinner, Grandpa then my Uncle Ed at my Aunt's or sometimes it was my Dad that wiggle read the Scripture then the do the gift exchange at both houses.

Kim from Virginia:

In 1962-65, my Dad was a Naval Supply Corps Officer stationed at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station in Oahu, Hawaii. That last Christmas, we (my sister, brother, and I) must have been really bad in the behavior category and my Dad said if we didn't straighten up, there'd be NO Christmas tree! Well, he was a very busy Navy man and as Christmas approached he "forgot" what he'd said. My Dad searched the island for a tree, any tree, but none was to be found. Everything that wasn't produced on the island had to be flown in for consumers. He was beside himself. Some of his co-workers checked other islands while on other duties and none was found.

Needless to say, we were devastated. Christmas morning arrived and we had no tree. My young brother went out very early that morning and found that one of the neighbors had celebrated early, put the used tree out for the garbage collectors and went on vacation to another island. My brother drug that tree home and we decorated it as our own.

My family laughed about this for a long time and although my parents are not with me, it continues to be one of my fondest memories of our family life.

Thanks for letting me share. Kim

Pat from Georgia:

Both my granddaughter and her husband are in the Air Force and stationed in Alaska. The little town they live in is North Pole, AK. Last year I thought it would be fun to make up letters from Santa Clause to all the little children I know and then send them to my granddaughter to be postmarked from the "North Pole". The letters mentioned something they were hoping Santa would bring them and he promised he would since they had been such good children.

The children were delighted with their personalized letters and I can't remember when I have had a Christmas that was so much fun.

By the way, I was at your book signing in Albany, GA last week.

Merry JESUSmas!!!

Sydney from Texas:

For many years my sister (who teaches Kindergarten) and I would deliver any gifts from the Angel tree at K-Mart that had not been picked up by Christmas Eve. Many of the names were ones familiar to my sister and we loaded up the car and put on our Santa hats and went delivering in everything from snow to rain.....this is us was the true meaning of Christmas. One place we would always stop about half-way through our deliveries was the Beasley Memorial Funeral Home - it had a drive up viewing window in front! The first Christmas after K-Mart closed my sister and I were both at loose ends on Christmas Eve. I drove us over to sit in the driveway of the funeral home so it felt more like Christmas Eve. Happy to say some of our best Christmas Eves were spent sitting in that driveway! Merry Christmas to you

Rev. Lloyd McDougall from Liwonde, Machinga, Malawi, Africa:

After having been raised up in urban North American culture, it was refreshing but also a bit disorientating to spend first Christmas in Africa in 2009. There was a Baptist Church of course, but no Christmas Trees and no Carroling in the streets and no mad dash to the Mall to buy presents. The mixed congregation of Ex-Pats and Nationals who attended the Christmas Sunday service sang the carols we were accustomed to, but there appeared to be far less exvitement. It turns out this is the "Hungry Times" when most folks, aside from us Ex-Pats are living off of the stored up remnant of last years harvest, with an eye to how little there is left and how long till the next harvest comes in. Nevertheless, on the morning after Christmas we were all called to return to the Church and bring food and clothing and the Word of God and prepare to visit Zomba Central Prison to distribute some hope and good cheer. This Prison is a daunting facility built by Colonialists in the 1930's that, today, houses twice as many inmates as it was designed for. We shared the goods andd the Gospel with inmates, in both men's wing and women's wing.

And so, for me, began a ministry of Prison Chaplaincy in the Prisons of southern Malawi. Today, three years on, its "Hungry Time" again, but I thank God that the inmates are hungry for the Gospel and in the six Prisons and Prison Farms where we work we have seen over 240 decisions to accept Christ (including many from Muslim backgrounds) and 160 inmates Baptized and inmates are being transformed by the power of God. Some of those concelled before release are eager to return to their villages and tell others of the one who came as our Savior that first christmas morning and for that, I'll forever enjoy a different kind of Christmas. Rev. Lloyd McDougall, serving with Emmanuel International Mission (for Web Site information on supporting the Prison Ministry in Malawi see http://www.eim-us.org/eim-us/support.aspx

Melinda from Texas:

In the summer of 2006, God laid a dream on my heart. I had no idea how this dream would come to pass but I couldn't let it go! I had volunteered at Texas Baptist Home for Children (located in Waxahachie, TX) for quite some time and this dream, that God gave me, was for every child, receiving care at TBHC, to receive a new bicycle for Christmas. I had NO IDEA where to start! My sister worked for Pilgrim's Pride at the time and she mentioned my dream to Bo Pilgrim. Low and behold, on my birthday (in October), I receive a check for $1,000 from Bo Pilgrim for the bicycles. My husband then instructs me to get in touch with Huffy Bicycles, so I call them. They happened to have a program for people like me. We were able to purchase 47 bicycles that year at a cost of $1824.50! The following year we purchased 54 bicycles. In 2008, 58 bicycles. 2009, 14 bicycles. I am ashamed to admit it but in 2010 I didn't even get in touch with The Home about the bicycles so we didn't do anything that year. In 2011, we were able to purchase 55 bicycles. This year we have our largest order yet..... 62 bicycles! God has been faithful! I totalled up the bicycle count and we stand at 290 at a cost of over $12,000! This money has been raised by me and my husband just asking people to donate to our cause. The response has been amazing! We will never know what these little machines mean to these children!

Upon making our first delivery, Bro. Eddie (the President of The Home) told me this story. He said that in years past The Home would only get 1 or 2 bicycles donated each year for Christmas. Most of the time the bicycles were small and they would have a hard time picking out one or two children to receive the new bicycle. If I remember correctly, this story happened in 2005. There was a young child (around 4 years old) who was selected to receive the new bicycle at Christmas that year. Bro. Eddie tells the child that she has a new bicycle and points to where the bicycle is parked. The child turns to her mother and asks "Can I touch it?" Her mother says yes and the little girl runs over and touches the bicycle and runs right back to her Mom. She then asks if she can sit on it. Her Mom says yes and assures her that the bicycle is hers and she can do whatever she'd like with the bicycle. The little girl goes over and sits on the bicycle and once again returns to her Mom. She then asks if she can ride the bicycle. Her Mom AND Bro. Eddie assure her the bicycle is hers and yes, she can ride it. She rides the bike around and then parks it back where it was. She returns to her Mom and Bro. Eddie. The little girl and her Mom are saying their goodbyes and the little girl's Mom tells her to go get her bike. With all the excitement a child can have over a new bike, she exclaims "YOU MEAN I GET TO KEEP IT???!!???". Even as I type this it brings tears to my eyes. I am told that these children (of all ages) can't imagine why some stranger purchases them a new bicycle..... It means so much to these children. It reminds me of our Father's love. We can't fathom why He loves us so much but He does! I love these children and with God's help will make sure we never repeat 2010! So, yeah, I am the bicycle lady..... a name I am proud to have!

Angie from Wyoming:

My 82 year old mother began a Christmas tradition over 60 years ago when she was a young mother. At times I think she wishes she would not have started it but there is no stopping it. Years ago she found a pattern in what she believes was Better Homes and Gardens magazine for knitted Christmas stockings. She had three small children at the time and knit each one a stocking which is personalized with their names knit into the pattern...the tradition began. Not only has she hand knit Christmas stockings for several of her friends children as well as nieces and nephews, She has knit stockings for all of her 8 children and their spouses, 24 grand children and their spouses and over 30 great grand children. The Christmas stockings are such a big deal, I had to change the spelling of my oldest daughters name so it would fit within the parameters of the stocking pattern.

Each stocking takes weeks to complete and has the years have gone by, they are getting larger as her crippled hands knit more loosely than when she knit her very first one. To date, the last stocking was finished days ago for my Grandaughter, Anston. Some day as she grows older, hopefully she will cherish the hands and heart that created such a masterpiece. I am grateful for my mother's selfless determination to carry on this tradtion and know it hasn't been easy. I love her so much for that and am convinced I am going to have to learn to knit, not because my future grandchildren need matching stockings, but because I want her legacy of love to continue.

Jim from Alabama:

I was stationed in Furth Germany (suburb of Nurenberg) 1973 being born and reared in the south I had never met people from Puerto Rico. But we had 4 guys from PR & Queens NY & Jose Feliciano's Feliz Navidad would play on armed forces radio & these guys made us all start to dance & sing along, they sure knew how to have a good time. They helped us all not be so homesick

Dorothy from North Carolina:

It's been a few years ago now, that through an unusual set of circumstances I met a dear Christian lady named Hilda Norris. Hilda had endured many hardships in life: an abusive alcoholic husband and the loss of her 16 year old daughter, mysteriously murdered. Now, in the later years of her life when I met her, she lived in abject poverty with a cruel and painful crippling arthritis. It was Christmas and I had a gift for Hilda. Mark and I were dating at the time and I asked him to go with me to Hilda's humble home in Greensboro, NC. I don't remember now what I gave her, but it wasn't my gift that I've remembered all these years.....it was HER gift, given liberally out of her poverty, that I will never forget.

She and I had exchanged gifts, her gift to me a small ceramic bell with a cross at the top from the dollar store. And then came the moment I cherish yet today. She looked at Mark apologetically and reached down into the cushion of the chair where she sat, fumbling until she finally retrieved a small, zippered change purse. Her gnarled, misshapen fingers (terribly twisted from the arthritis) moved slowly and with painful effort she managed to open the purse. We sat in silent wonderment as she took a moment to find what she wanted. Finally, she turned to Mark and pulling out a folded, crumpled $1.00 bill she held it out to him. Her soft, quiet voice and loving manner gave eloquence to the gesture. "I didn't know YOU were coming so I didn't have a gift for you." "Here", she handed him the dollar bill, "Merry Christmas". Tears sprang to my eyes as I knew what a sacrifice was represented in the giving of the dollar bill. Her heart of love and her desire to share the little she had gave HER gift more meaning than a purse full of gold.

Fran from New York:

2,000 families here in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, NY have been affected by Hurrican Sandy. Many, many families have lost everything and don't have the funds to give their children the Christmas they are used to getting. It is not fair that an act of nature will stop these children from enjoying the best holiday.

A community organization is collecting toys and asking for sponsors of the children affected by Hurricane Sandy in our neighborhood. Anything you can do to help put a smile back on their faces, where smiles are few and far between here, will be appreciated.

Please contact

https://www.facebook.com/GiftsForGerritsen

Thank you

Lanette from Georgia:

I come a family of six children. Mom was a stay at home and ruled the roost. My father was the sole wage earner. He did ALL the Christmas shopping (wouldn't allow anyone else to spend HIS earnings) and he would hide his purchases in the root cellar in the basement. I was the "lucky" one who was assigned to wrap the gifts. I was eleven. I didn't finish until 1 AM. In the late of the night, my Dad placed all the gifts under the tree. We always got socks, underwear and pajamas. If there were toys, it was something we could all share whether we liked it or not.

K. L. from Kansas:

NATURAL VARIABLES

In the light, the streets were soft with abundance, the top layer of snow, glittering crystals. It was morning, Christmas morning, there was no traffic, and we had animals at home to tend to, so despite the sub-zero wind-chill, we divided ourselves between our two vehicles, the two oldest daughters and me in the oldest one’s Blazer and my husband and the youngest daughter in my X-terra, and headed west out of town.

We had spent the night at my parents’ house because our youngest daughter, 18, had worn heels with her outfit and a bathrobe for a coat. My husband had found this unacceptable for the forty minute drive to our country home that night but had changed his mind with the light. I had noticed the bathrobe when we left but figured we’d be in the car, which has 4 wheel drive, then in the house, so it didn’t seem an issue worth debating. The oldest daughter, 22, who has the smallest feet in our family, had offered the Uggs my mother had given her for Christmas the previous year and borrowed an extra pair of snow boots from my mother, who has the smallest feet of us all. I had wanted to go home that night precisely because it was snowing; when I was growing up, my mother had always loved going out in the fresh snowfall with my brother and me, no matter the hour, to feel the magic of it.

By morning, it had become too frigid for precipitation but still seemed to be snowing wildly as a stiff north wind was blowing the top layer that had earlier lain on the ground. Still, we were out of town in minutes, easily navigating the first five of the thirty-some miles that stretched ahead due to the buildings that functioned as wind blocks. The initial drifts we encountered had whipped up from the northwest; the largest appeared as miniature mountains the width of the road. We drove through them spraying snow in our wake. My husband normally drives slowly, but to blaze the trail and hit the drifts with some velocity, he remained a steady distance ahead, the oldest daughter cautious and attentive to the ripples and peaks of snow that surrounded us. In the distance between suburban and rural, the wind had progressed from steady and harsh to severe and howling. We could feel it pushing the car around the old two-lane highway and see it reshaping the contours of the land. If one were disoriented in time and place, it could have seemed a sandstorm. I looked at my daughter hunched over the wheel. “You all right?”

“Yeah,” she said, “but these boots are really starting to hurt my feet.”

“Unzip them and rest your heels over the backs; I’ll hold the wheel.”

She shifted out of her boots.

“I’ve never seen Dad drive fast.”

“I know,” I said. “It’d make a great science fair project.” We all loved experiments. For some reason, in our rural town science fairs were considered important in grade school and junior high, but not in high school when the hypotheses would be more complex and instructive.

“What, you mean the most effective way to drive through drifts?”

“Yeah,” I said, but, in truth it was my husband I was trying to learn about. He had been the subject of numerous experiments over the years, the one, for example, to prove whether or not poison ivy spreads by scratching the affected skin (it doesn’t, as he predicted and scratched with wild abandon, but the fact that he willingly let the girls expose him with a leaf on his hand when we all knew that he was hypersensitive to it, and, indeed, it progressed to looking like a severe case of impetigo, proved something else to me), or the experiment that disproved that my husband’s and my sides of the bed were different temperatures, where the girls monitored thermometers on each side, mine piled with blankets, as I had not been able to get warm since living in the desert just before we’d eloped, and his with a single sheet, which resulted in the revelatory fact that we were actually striving for the same temperature, surprising him as much as the jolt of my frozen toes. Every experiment helped me understand him a little better.

She turned on the defrost. “This is easier than it was driving from my house last night.”

She had moved to the city after graduating, to try to make it as a freelance photographer. “It was like driving through confetti. Kind of cool when it was just me, but it got a little dicey when a car or semi appeared out of nowhere.” She reached for a random piece of paper and rubbed at the spot on the windshield above the steering wheel. “I should make a confetti filter,” she said with a lilt in her voice.

“You never mentioned the drive last night,” I said.

“The fam always gets together on Christmas eve.” She smiled. “We never change our plans for the weather.”

It was true; we prided ourselves on adapting. I shifted to look at the middle daughter, who was sleeping with her head against the window. “It’s the drive to get home.”

By the time we turned off the highway and onto the main gravel road that ribboned along the Flint Hills just seven miles from our house, it was as if we had entered another world. The miniature mountain drifts had gained altitude and developed into a range, peaking every ten feet or so, alternating with bare gravel road. I flicked on the radio, which had been turned up loud causing some mild stirring in the backseat, and tuned it to the local a.m. ag channel. The north wind was reported as gusting at 50 miles an hour with a wind chill of 20 below. Wisps of snow and glitter swirled and pelted against the windows as we motored along within the otherwise hushed confines of the car. It was not unusual that there was no traffic on that road; it’s a quiet stretch even in mild weather, an occasional rancher hauling hay or cattle, someone from the city inching along the scenic hills, a lone painter or photographer trying to capture the subtle repetition of beauty, a rolling pattern of land and sky. No one on a day like this, not even the mail carrier.

When we reached the turn to our north-south road, my husband was waiting for us. The oldest daughter stopped and looked both ways. The middle one rallied in the back, rubbing her window with the sleeve of her coat, and uttered her first word, “Wow.” The drifts were solid across the road in both directions, several feet tall, massive and gorgeous. There was no way we could make it through.

My husband got out of the car and came to our driver’s side window. “There’s no way we can make it through,” he said. “I’m going to hike down to the house, check on the animals.” A half dozen quarter horses, a couple of dogs and cats, and a lovebird from our oldest daughter’s former high school boyfriend, though my husband would not remember the lovebird. It has a peach face and a vivid green body, bright and intense as first love captured in a cage. Except it was a single lovebird, the daughter and the boyfriend had broken up before adding its partner, and then the pet shop guy had advised against adding another bird so late. I had cared for it since my daughter had left home, but it was more out of empathy than love. “You might as well take the vehicles around the long way. I’ll have the fire blazing in the woodstove by the time you get there,” my husband said.

It was a mile from the crossroads on Skyline, half the distance to the crest, then a steep decline to our house in the valley. To circle around on the back road to get to our house from the other direction was 16 miles. I knew that exactly after spending several months in the fall training for a marathon the oldest daughter and I had run just to prove to ourselves that we could and because it was in San Antonio in November.

The middle daughter, fresh from her nap and fully awakened to the situation, took the driver’s seat my husband had vacated beside the youngest, and followed us. We glided along a half dozen miles and passed the Doppler tower that hovered like a giant snowball in the absence of the sun or moon above the land. We were navigating along smoothly until we came to a slope, so insignificant that I had barely registered it when running, and started sliding, slow motion, sideways. Since we were the first to drive on it, the snow was fluffy, entirely uncompacted; our tires gathered it as we went. “Give it more gas,” I said, as the car, seemingly weightless, drifted into the depths. I got out and pushed to realign the car into a parallel position to the road, tires spinning, our other vehicle stopped at the base of the slope. I was struggling but making progress and noted that the youngest two did not make a move to help, obviously showing their confidence that I could do it myself. I’d grown up in the seventies and had raised them to be independent. As soon as the car was straightened out and backed down the hill, a tractor appeared, scaled the slope, and disappeared. The middle daughter walked over to our driver’s side window. “I think we can make it; that tractor just did.”

“It was a tractor,” I said. Purple. I hadn’t recognized it nor the driver who also obviously thought we could do whatever we were doing ourselves. The oldest daughter and I waited and watched as the other girls progressed confidently up the hill only to slide into the same drift. “Do you think they need help?” My words hovered in little clouds in the now frosty air inside the car.

Once they had backed down and we were all on slightly more solid ground, I suggested we turn around and park our vehicles at the crossroads, where we’d let their father off, and walk home. “At least then we know it’s only a mile. We’re six miles from home now.” We found a bare spot in the road between the drifts and made the 180 a few sub zero degrees at a time, and then we started back the way we came. “It’s funny how our perceptions of distance and time change over time and distance.”

“What?” the oldest said, her eyes focused straight ahead.

“Six miles.” She and I had run 26.2 the month before and had logged countless training miles before that. Our fitness levels, both physical and mental, had peaked on that day, and now such muscle and grit seemed in the distant past.

“It’d be rough running through deep snow in this cold,” she said. “But it’d be a crosswind at least.”

I looked at her bare hands gripping the wheel. “You don’t have any gloves. And it’d take us over an hour. With this wind, in 30 minutes we’d have frost bite,” I said. “At least.”

We drove the rest of the distance in silence. Perhaps she was thinking about mortality, but she had a pleasant look that registered the faces of the familiar hills she’d grown up with, now completely veiled in white. It reminded me of the haunting bleak beauty of the Sahara, a bleached landscape shifting in the wind under a bleached sky.

We parked as close to the side of the road as we dared, leaving enough room for a snowplow to get through. I looked at the youngest daughter standing in a foot of snow in her fuzzy green bathrobe. “There’s got to be a coat or blanket or something in the car.”

“There isn’t,” she said, “but I’m fine. I’ve got a jacket on under this, and I’ve got these.”

She lifted one foot up and shook the snow off an Ugg. I was shivering in my old Eddie Bauer’s down coat. As a mother, I had to offer it to her; it was natural, instinctive to be protective, but as a woman, I hesitated. I needed to know that she could survive the consequences of her actions, that they all could manage the variables, both introduced and unexpected. It was why I hadn’t offered to drive and why I wouldn’t give her my coat unless it became vital. My own mother would not approve, but she had grown up in the 40s, a variable in time and environment.

“It’s only a mile,” she said. The middle daughter locked the doors and started toward the hill. I’d grabbed my purse out of habit and followed, not wanting to waste any time. The oldest abruptly turned back. “My camera. My computer. I can’t leave them in the car; they’ll freeze.”

“You don’t want to lug all that extra weight,” I said. You’ll sink into the drifts; it’ll slow you down.” I shoved my freezing hands into my pockets. “Take only what’s absolutely necessary. We can come back for the rest once the plow’s been through.” She took the keys from her sister, disappeared into the car and reappeared with her purse, backpack, and duffle bag.

“I need these,” she said. “You don’t have to carry them.” She set them down momentarily while she jammed her feet into my mother’s boots, re-zipped, and then re-gathered her belongings. “Let’s go.”

We started walking south toward the hill. The wind was not from the north as I’d thought, hoping it would counteract the weight of the extra baggage by pushing us up the hill; it seemed to be gusting from different directions, though mainly from the west. There was a bald section of pasture on that side of the road that had accidently been burned some weeks before; the snow accumulated without the impediment of the tall grass to slow it down, the cause of the major drifting along the road.

Everything was a vivid white so that it was both difficult and painful to tell where the land ended and the sky began. I watched the middle daughter in the lead, who was trying to take the path of least resistance by moving toward higher ground. But the natural rises of the land weren’t necessarily less drifted than the road itself. When she’d sink to her waist, I tried another route, taking a few steps and looking back to make sure everyone was still moving. The youngest now had the pack, and I considered trudging back and taking it from her but hoped the extra energy it required would keep her warmer and that the oldest daughter’s feet in the too small boots would at least be numb. We were all slogging forward, our heads down to break the wind from our faces where the moisture from our eyes froze to our skin.

When we crested, I hesitated. I’d stopped at that point many times before when running home or driving back in the car from somewhere else. It’s a lovely view above the wide expanse of contours, rich and subtle, undulating into the horizon. I’d wept from the everness of it more than once, but I wasn’t looking at it now. I could not see that far in the distance or even imagine the future as far as making it home. It was as if we were fixed in the present moment, as if that was all there was or would ever be.

I wished someone were filming us, maybe my husband was, as we had filmed the girls’ activities through the years. A documentary of the four figures of us in color against the bleak landscape, appearing to be tied together an equal distance apart like mountain climbers, the oldest daughter in her olive and white coat, her face trimmed in fake fur, leaning into the hill against gravity with a cerulean Nike duffle bag slung close to her body like a baby, the youngest daughter in her bottle green bathrobe slightly hunched with her arm extended to keep it from flapping open, me huddled within the dark smudge of my coat, the middle daughter in the lead, her brown and pink plaid wool jacket pressing against the invisible resistance of wind.

It felt like sepia, though. Like slow motion. The only sound the static of the wind. We would appear grainy in the footage, frozen bits of snow pelting our faces like sand, like the harmattan wind in the desert dislocating the earth into the sky. I had survived the beautiful torturous Saharan landscape for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer with nomads who spent the whole of their lives in such brutal elements every day. They traveled for months sometimes before returning to their home encampments, sparse but rich with extended family. The women there asked me to attend their labors and the births of their children for good luck, and it was an honor, although I wasn’t certain what luck they were referring to. That I had traveled such a distance by myself and had survived? I attended their children’s deaths, too. The women had multiple offspring because they knew they would sacrifice some to the landscape itself. The shrill keening of the women’s lamentations has stayed with me; I carry it and the entire desert inside, my own daughters anchored by shifting sand. I look back at the youngest wrenching herself from a drift, the oldest horizontal with effort; just ahead, the middle daughter is turning onto the lane to our house, the final drive home.


Comments 1-1 of 1

  • Jean Repose

    12/24/2012 08:29 AM

    My favorite Christmas was when I received a Howdy Doody doll in an old fashioned doll stroller and a Wanda the walking doll. I was so happy to get those from Santa.

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