How do you celebrate Christmas?Readers share what makes the holidays special
We moved from upstate New York to Greenwood when I was in high school. My junior year, my parents decided we would fly home to spend Christmas with my grandparents. We got there on Dec. 22 and they had no tree. My grandparents and my father said they thought why bother, it was so close to Christmas Day. My mother looked at me and said, “Go, get your coat on.” My mother went to the garage, grabbed an ax, turned to me and said, “We are going cut down a tree out back so we can have a Christmas tree.” There was over 3 feet of snow on the ground, and the Leland Cypress trees my grandfather had planted when I was a baby were about 12 feet high. My mother stood by one and proclaimed we would cut it down and then chop off the top for the Christmas tree. As she started chopping, I could see my father and grandfather watching from the upstairs window in amazement. Soon they both came out in hats and gloves muttering under their breath about how they should have just gotten in the car and drove around to find a Christmas tree for my mother.— Jen Mecca, York
Growing up near the Great Lakes, we always had beautiful white snow and lots of it! My sister and I did the requisite snow angels and sled riding as much as we could. Mom always had a cup of hot chocolate waiting when we got back in. The snow was some times exceptionally deep but the horses always needed care no matter what the weather was. My dad never missed work, walking three or four miles across the river to town if the car didn’t start or the bridge was out! When we were very young, Christmas Eve was always spent at my paternal grandparents. Grandma had the first silver aluminum Christmas tree I ever saw and later a flocked pink one, which I remember to this day. Grandma was always more excited about the gifts than the kids seemed to be and remained so the rest of her long life.— Ken Spalding, York
That folks look in the mirror each morning, recite the Golden Rule, and then act upon it. — Bill Hilton Jr., York
World Peace, Equal Marriage Rights for all Americans, continued employment. My biggest wish came true in November! Obama won the election! — Barry Turner-Hunt, York.
I wish that everyone in our world had access to adequate health care, proper nutrition, and someone in their lives who loves and cares about them. — Kim Ramsey, York
I have three children ages 16, 12 and 10. They all love Christmas. Each year, we anxiously await Christmas morning. We wake up early, not to run see what Santa brought, but to sit on Mom and Dad's bed and share the Christmas story from the Bible. My middle daughter Nora Beth has taken it upon herself in the last few years to also share with us a “sermonette” that she feels we need to hear before we begin the hustle and bustle of gift opening. To our amazement, our children have never asked to skip the story part. — Libby Childers, York
My brother and I were always so anxious on Christmas Eve. We always wanted to open a present early. So Mom decided that we could open a small one. One of my mother's sisters was known for giving very small presents (I don't mean size!). So we were allowed to open hers. From then on we always opened the gift from that aunt on Christmas Eve.— Elaine Kershaw, York
When each of my siblings and I were born, my father took a big 6-inch globe ornament, painted it in our respective color (mine was red), and wrote our names on it in gold glitter, in my case, “Billy.” Gaudy, but beautiful. I still have mine after 60 years and it someday will go to our son, who bears my name. — Bill Hilton Jr., York
My son, Justin, went to pre-K at First Baptist. He made an ornament out of a picture of himself and decorated it with beads. It always has a prominent place on my tree, and he's 18 now. — Elaine Kershaw, York
During Christmas 1991 I was in boot camp. My grandmother sent me a care package containing Christmas ornaments. The drill instructors went off the chain over them. — Det. William Mumaw, York City police department
The Christmas when my daughters and I were alone, we didn’t want to put family ornaments on the tree, to avoid being sad. So we cut out an entire book of “Little Women” paper dolls and paper clothes. We glued ribbons on the back and trimmed our tree with them. We used Lily’s Jenny Lind ceramic head doll wearing a pink moiré dress as the tree topper. We weren’t sad anymore. I still have them somewhere.— Barry Turner-Hunt, York
Lenora Meister, a former art teacher at Hunter Street Elementary School, has been making ornaments for my children each year since they were born. These ornaments represent their different interests and milestones throughout the years. I cherish each and every one of these, and it will be difficult for me to give them up when my children move out and have a home of their own. — Kim Ramsey, York
Back in 1988 when the leather bomber jackets were out, I wanted one of those for so long. They’re big jackets with fur on the hood, like the rappers wore in the video. That Christmas I finally got it and it made me feel so cool, like I was one of them. I have no idea where it is now, but they’re coming back in style so I wish I still had it.— Tony Hemingway, assistant principal at Kinard Elementary in Clover
Christmas 1978, I was 8 years old, and all I wanted was an Atari game system. I was assured by my parents that there was no way that I would get one: it was too expensive and almost impossible to get (or so they told me). Of course on Christmas morning, I got one, and it was the best gift ever! The victory of getting it was slightly sweeter because my sister got luggage, which is a very nice gift, but very boring. She still bristles a bit about that Christmas. — Craig Hazlewood, York
When I was little, the only thing we got for Christmas was the chocolate balls that look like bells. We got two of those, a little mint stick and an orange and apple. That’s all my parents could afford. I come from a family of 14, and times were different back then.— Sgt. Frank Sadler, Clover Police Department
The Christmas before she passed, my mother, who was an exceptional seamstress, made me a Western-style flannel shirt. We lost her unexpectedly that following January. As funny as it sounds that special shirt was a source of comfort to me for many of the years that followed.— Ken Spalding, York
Classic Christmas cartoons
Growing up my brothers and sister and I loved to watch the holiday cartoon shows that came on TV only during Christmas time. (This was in the ‘60s and ‘70s before VCRs, so you couldn't go just watch them anytime). It always felt like Christmas when Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Charlie Brown Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas came on TV. We would plan our nights around the TV schedule for these shows. And my absolute favorite was the Grinch. What a great story of how the heart can be changed by the love of others!— Paula Greiner, York
Wendell and I are looking for a charity to make a donation to in our names instead of getting big gifts for each other. We have limited gifts to things that fit into a Christmas stocking. Not because the economy is so bad, but rather because we feel that we have so many blessings. Our health, our family, each other. — Barry Turner-Hunt, York
Favorite Christmas carols
I absolutely love “O Holy Night.” It’s just such a classic Christmas song that makes you want to stop whatever you’re doing and just listen. Usually in December I load the CD player in my car with Christmas tunes, mainly for background music as I run errands and such. But when that song comes on, I crank up the volume. I still get shivers every time I hear it.— Katie Broome, Clover
“Christmas Bells” by Johnny Mathis. I put the CD on and play that same song over and over while I'm decorating. It gets me in the Christmas spirit. — Elaine Kershaw, York
“Little Drummer Boy.” My mother would turn all the lights off except ones on the Christmas tree and play that song when I was little. — Det. William Mumaw, York City police department
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Judy Garland sang it in “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Makes me think of my little girls in their red velvet Christmas dresses. Always makes me sniffle. — Barry Turner-Hunt, York
“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” because I have never witnessed a white Christmas and would love to experience one. I guess I am going to have spend a Christmas in a colder region if I want to see one in my lifetime. — Kim Ramsey, York
Our most memorable Christmas
In October of 1973, I begin thinking of marrying John Myers. He invited me to visit his home state of Iowa and meet his parents and extended family. One evening John and I were alone in their living room (Lloyd and Norma were working at their restaurant) and I said, “I know how we can get married without it costing anything.”
This got his attention. How?
“At Christmas time, my family’s home is decorated, lots of food and everyone is there.” So we agreed to get married there. His parents drove to Tennessee. Mom made us a cake, my brother brought a case of champagne, all the family was there and, since they were a restaurant family also with excellent cooks, there was lots of food.
A friend of Moms performed the ceremony, but we chose to write it and we quoted our vows to each other. My boys were a part of the ceremony and we based our pledges on love, friendship and creating a family home. John’s parents were also celebrating their anniversary since they were also married on Christmas Day.This was indeed a wonderful Christmas memory, even 35 years later.— Jan Myers, Hickory Grove
It was Christmas Eve in 1962; I was 9 years old. We had finished our evening meal when my mom remembered some last-minute items she needed for Christmas dinner, so Dad and I headed to the grocery store.
At the store, Dad went off in one direction in search of the things on Mom’s list and I got side-tracked by the neatest electric race car set that I had ever seen. I got so wrapped up in racing the cars around the track that I didn’t notice anything else. I remember wishing that I had told Santa that I would like a race car set, but now it was surely too late. This was Christmas Eve, and Santa had already loaded his sleigh and had started his flight. I never said a word about how badly I wanted that race car set, and I remember looking up from racing, and Dad was standing there watching me and smiling.
I went to sleep that night as usual and got up early Christmas morning to discover the exact race car set that I had secretly wished for! I couldn’t believe it, but somehow Santa knew how much I wanted it! I hurried and assembled the track and had been playing with it awhile before I noticed my dad watching me from the doorway and he was smiling the same way as in the grocery store.That was the moment that I realized the true meaning of Christmas: that my dad loved me so much that he found a way to get in touch with Santa, even though it was late on Christmas Eve, in time for him to deliver that race car set.— Tom Setzler, Hickory Grove
This story is based on a true incident, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty and maybe a few lies tossed in for interest.
It was a whole different world back in the mid 1950’s when dynamite was available at any dry goods or hardware store. This was the fuse type dynamite that only requires a match to light. When the first electric dynamite caps came out I wasted a box of Kitchen matches trying to light that little wire.
At Christmas some folks liked to explode dynamite in place of firecrackers. Our neighbor, Mr. Crump, was one such person. It was Christmas Eve, so to keep up with tradition, and armed with a bottle of Christmas spirits in one hand and an arm full of dynamite in the other, it was time for the celebration to begin. He told his young daughter, Mauldine Crump, that he was going to scare Santa Claus all the way back to the North Pole. Of course she was very upset with the possibility that her dad might blow up Santa. He seemed to take pride in the fact that she was so upset. So to complete his mission, he found a nice sized rock on which to strike his match. He struck his match and tossed the rock off the front porch onto the drive way, and then he lit the dynamite and did the same. Little did he know that the dynamite landed right beside the rock. The explosion shook the ground, picked up the rock, and carried it right back to the porch hitting Mr. Crump in the back of the head. He staggered through the front door, fell into the first chair he came to and asked Mrs. Crump to bring him another bottle of spirits, a bottle of aspirin, and a band aid big enough to go all the way around his head. Now Mauldine was noticeably amused by the whole situation because she was sure that Santa had reversed the assault on him by sprinkling a little Pixie dust on the dynamite.— Jimmy Wyatt, York