When we asked for your best Christmas stories a few weeks ahead of our Christmas Eve storytelling hour, we weren't necessarily sure that you'd deliver.
But deliver, you did. Your funny, touching and altogether beautiful collection of stories moved all of us here at On Point in a big way, and we're grateful that our listeners are so willing to share these quiet parts of their lives with us.
We've collected your stories here, and we hope you enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of the On Point production process. Without you, we'd have no show, especially on shows like this one. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!
Your Christmas Stories
"Christmas 1997, and I am a 21 year old sailor on the USS George Washington, it's my first time having Christmas at sea. In late Nov. I had gotten an enormous box from my mom, that said, "do not open till Dec 1st."So on December 1st I open it up, and inside this enormous box are all of these smaller boxes, wrapped in Christmas paper and with a date on it. The first one is this little 12 inch plastic and wire Christmas tree that I put up in my work center. And for the next several days the boxes are these little tiny ornaments my mom had made to decorate the little tree. And then it's chocolate covered cherries which we always used to eat at home after decorating the tree. And it goes on and on like this until Christmas day - all these things our family shared at Christmas time ---- And then the box for Christmas day, I open that up, and it has even more wrapped boxes inside - my Christmas presents from my family. So there I am in the middle of the Arabian Gulf, thousands of miles from home - And my mom sent me Christmas. She sent Christmas to me. And so even though I missed my family that year, that will always be the best, the best Christmas that I’ve ever had."
"My most memorable Christmas was 1997. I was in the Navy station in Norfolk and for the first time I wasn't going to be spending the holiday with my family. But some Navy buddies and I left work early on Christmas Eve and we went to one of the dive bars just off base. And by early evening, we had gotten to the bottom of several pitchers of beer when all my friends left to go home to their families. And I didn't have anything better to do than just stay in the bar. So, um, I woke up Christmas morning all alone. I had a rotten hangover and just a terrible cold, and I cried and I cried and I felt so sorry for myself. And then later in the afternoon the door bell rings-it rang, and it was the FedEx guy. And I couldn't even imagine how much it must cost to send a FedEx package that arrives on Christmas Day?!? But anyway I opened it up, and it was Al Green's greatest hits and it was sent from a guy who was in the creative writing class I took a couple of nights a week, and he'd never spoken to me before and I have no idea how he got my address. But it was the greatest gift I ever got - because someone completely unexpected had gone to so much trouble to let me know that I was thought of - and I spent the rest of that day dancing to 'Let's Stay Together' and the rest of Al Green's awesome songs, counting my blessings. And I will always remember that."
"It was a very cold Christmas Eve, 1944, Syracuse, New York, I was 14 years old. The star on the flag in the window of our house was a star for my brother and my brother in law. My sister who was married and three months pregnant and living with us and her husband was flying B-25s in England. My brother enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and was on an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic, we hadn't heard from them, either boy for a while, and we were very concerned. We came home from Mass and it was very very late. Mom and Dad had gone to bed and I was sitting alone in the living room under the tree wishing so much my brother were there with me like old times. As i climbed the stares for bed I thought I heard his sharp whistle. I thought it must just be my wish to hear it again. I walked up the stairs over to the window, the street light was on and as I looked out I heard the whistle again, and over there was my brother in his Navy pea coat and white sailor uniform looking up at the house. Then I heard my mother call "What was that I just heard?" I screamed "He's home!" My Dad was on his feet, slippers on and we all headed down to the front door. My brother had made it home. He had made the train and taken a cab up to the end of the street, and he had gotten into Syracuse via train and the taxi let him off at the corner, because he wanted to walk a short distance and surprise us. And he sure did, and it turned out to be probably my very best Christmas."
"My story is in Schellsburg, Pennsylvania, where I am currently the pastor of the church. I was adopted by some parishioners for Christmas morning the first Christmas I was here, and that has become a wonderful tradition. And in 2009, when my parents were visiting and spending Christmas for the first time with my family in many, many years because it's hard for a pastor to get away - not only did they invite us to come down to their house, they had gifts for my parents and stockings and it was really quite a wonderful experience, and I'm going back there this year with three people that have become a part of my extended family in the past 6 months. It's really been quite wonderful."
"I'm a nurse, two Christmases ago I was working from 7 am to 7:30 pm on Christmas day, and my family, being the amazing family they are, decided to move Christmas to the day after Christmas, so that I could celebrate with all of them. And I will never forget driving home on Christmas night, even though everyone else had celebrated Christmas and the presents had all been unwrapped and people were basking in their Christmas dinner comas. I was driving home from work and I knew that I still had Christmas ahead of me. And I was so grateful for my family and the way they rearranged their schedule and they chose to make Christmas special even for me. Even though it was not your typical Christmas and it ended up being a delightful day. It's a very simple story but it's one I don’t' think I’ll ever forget, and we get to re-enact it this Christmas since I’m working again this year."
"It was a Christmas Eve many decades ago, I was 7 and my brother was 5. We were in our beds talking about what Santa might bring us. I had this overwhelming urge to look out the window to see if I could see a sleigh and reindeer in the sky, but I didn't want Santa to think I was spying. I told my brother that maybe we should go to the window to look for Santa. I told him to sit up in his bed, thus, to my way of thinking, if Santa was watching he would notice my brother doing this first. As soon as he sat up i sat up, I told him to put his feet on the floor, and I did the same. I told him to stand up, little brothers are easy to manipulate. Finally I went over to the window and saw a bright red glow two blocks away. I flew to my bed, pulled the covers over my head, then my brother started crying, saying 'Now Santa won't bring us any toys!' The next morning It was a great relief to see stacks of presents under the tree. The following summer it was a hot night with no breeze and I couldn’t sleep. Looking out my window I was shocked to see the 'Santa Glow' again. I called my brother over: 'There's Santa again!' My brother looked out the window and looked at me in disgust, saying, "That's the red neon sign over at the Moose Lodge."
"My Dad did 30 years in the military. Thanks to the Lord above I did 10, I’m now medically retired. My lovely wife and my beautiful 10 year old and all that. I used to live in Richmond, Virginia before my dad went off to the Vietnam war, '68-'69, and my grandparents were there, they were in Richmond, Virginia on Maggie Walker Avenue, which is subsequently where other cousins were on that same street. Anyway, my Christmas story is that I always believed about the flying reindeer. And so in our little house in Richmond, Virginia way back in the day when I was in grade school, I probably was like six, seven, eight, somewhere around there, and this was probably in the late '60s, early '70s. I looked out my window because I wanted to see if I could see Santa Claus and the reindeer. And so all night long before Christmas on Christmas Eve, I kept looking out the window. Finally, I saw what I thought looked like maybe Santa Claus's sleigh, maybe the reindeer walking around. Well next day when I woke up, the house was full of Christmas presents. You know our preverbal Christmas tree with the light that reflected the different colors. I figured Santa Claus must have come there, the reindeer must have been walking around in my yard and all, and so I got all them wonderful presents. Of course I know now as my daughter would say you should be believing in Santa Claus, and whether you believe in Santa Clause or not, it’s not that that much matters in all that. Christmas is from the heart."
"In 1976, I was in my first experience of parish ministry. I went to be the assistant minister in San Francisco, and my Christmas story is about my first Christmas Eve services, which was interrupted by a person who styled himself as Jesus Christ-Satan. He entered the church, which was dark, lit by hundreds of candles, and came jingling up the aisle in long robes, his arms full of things, he had a bull whip, which he cracked on the chancel of the church. He had a dog under his arm who was howling, because he was holding it next to a tambourine, which was jingling. But most disturbingly, he had a can of gasoline. He had come to burn down the church and set the service on fire. And so my story is about how in the course of this service I managed to wrestle the gasoline from him, hand it to the sexton who ran off with it, and as I awaited the expectation of help coming, I managed to keep him suppressed by telling him he could speak at the end of the service. Later at the end of the congregation, he got up on the pulpit and started haranguing the congregation, so we ended early."
"Last year I went to Vegas to help a friend and we drove to Palm Desert, and I did something I never even thought I would be able to do in my 40 years. Last year, just before Christmas I met Barry Manilow, I've wanted to do that since I was five years old."
"Christmas 2009, I knew I was going to be without friends or family that Christmas, but I was bound and determined to have a great day for myself with all the fixings. Had my chops set for a spectacular turkey dinner, not to mention the turkey sandwitch the next day, it was going to be a solo Christmas but I was going to make it a good one. And I worked a long day Christmas Eve, and I came home really done in. A few friends came by, and after they left I took my recently bought turkey out of the fridge to get it ready to pop into the oven next morning . But as I opened the plastic wrap, I knew there was something terribly wrong. The reek of putrid poltry vapors was indescribable. This turkey must have been left over from Thanksgiving, or something, and gotten in with the Christmas turkey. It was only just after seven so I packed up this offensive turkey in five plastic bags and drove it to the supermarket to see if I could switch it for another. Of couse, the market was closed, there were no cars in the parkinglot no one around, but the store was still all lit up and I had a speck of hope there might be a guard or someone who would take pity on me. I walked up to the store and knocked and knocked on the window, but sadly not a creature was stirring. It's hard to describe standing by yourself holding a bag of rancid turkey looking in at a huge brightly lit supermarket knowing your Christmas plans were dashed. as I walked back to my car, which was easy to find for once, hauling my plastic bag sack, I looked up to a beautifully clear starry-lit sky and I was overcome with a gush of self-indulgent tears and loathes of self pity. Pathetic, but slowly like the Grinch, a thought occured. Two days before a dear fun-loving friend of my family age 62 had died unexpectedly. And I thought, my friend will never again have the opportunity to be with the warmth of family, to have a brilliant new idea, to laugh and laugh, to suffer the pain of aging, to talk with a friend until things are right, to misbehave, to joke, to work much too hard, or to come home beaten and have his plans dashed. Or to look to up to a beautifully clear, starlit sky for whatever reason. So appreciate well."
"My mother's very first Christmas in the United States, being born in Greece, and having a very favorite Christmas carol, and then coming to the United States and hearing this song on the radio and saying 'Hey they stole our song!' And the song was 'Silent Night' but she only knew it as a Greek song as a child....and the sad truth is my mom just passed away this past week, and I knew how much she loved Christmas and loved this song, so I thought I'd share it with you."
A listener also wrote in to suggest we listen and share the Vermont Public Radio story of "Favor Johnson," told yearly on the main public radio affiliate in the state of Vermont. (We talked about that story during our planning meetings for this hour, Doug. Thanks for the great suggestion!)
Thanks to all our listeners for their lovely Christmas tales! We're glad you were able to be a part of the On Point Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone, and thanks for listening!
This program aired on December 24, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.