Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Memories of Christmas (Part 1 of 2)

Memories of Christmas (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family listeners share touching memories – both poignant and heartwarming – of Christmastime. (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date: December 24, 2009

Greg: My name is Greg and I had the most incredible Christmas. I was a heart transplant recipient and I got a new heart for Christmas.

Jim Daly: That is great. Way to go, Greg, a new heart for Christmas. I can’t think of a better gift than that. And speaking of gifts, we’ve got something a little bit different for you today and tomorrow.

Hi, I’m Jim Daly with FOF. John Fuller and I aren’t actually in the studio today, which is a good thing. I think my kids would be very upset if I were here in the studio and not with them at home.

John Fuller: Mine would be pretty disappointed, as well, I think.

Jim: (Chuckling) And as it should be. Uh … so, we recorded this program in advance, so that we can all enjoy some heartwarming memories about Christmas and what it means to us and how God has worked in our lives.

John: I … I think that’s one of the benefits of this time of year, Jim. The combination of Christmas and New Year[s] just makes me reflect on the past year and the many, many things God has done. This is a pretty special program, as you indicated, because we’ve asked our friends to call and record a special Christmas memory. We put those together and uh … woven them together with some music. And I think this is a pretty nice gift for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Jim: Well, I’m looking forward to it, John because we have so many great stories uh … that reflect the many different experiences families have at this time of year. The common thread you’ll hear throughout all these powerful stories is a reminder of how God came into this world to save us, to show us His love, and to transform our lives.

John: And uh … with that, let’s go ahead and launch right into this Christmas Eve edition of Focus on the Family, featuring special friends like you.

(Christmas Music Transition)

Deborah: My memories of Christmas of growing up were with my dad as a law enforcement agent. And so, he just wasn’t home on Christmas until his lunch break came. And so, I remember my brother and I watching for a patrol car to drive up even more than we watched for Santa. We’d both be looking out the windows and “He’s coming, Mom! He’s coming, Mom!”

And even sometimes, he probably shouldn’t have, but he’d turn the siren on just briefly and the flashing lights as he was pulling into the driveway. And we would be all ready for him. We’d have all the presents out. And my mother would have Christmas music playing in the background and he’d have (Chuckling) to bring in his police radio. And so, we’d hear, “Silent Night,” “Car 32, will you please check on an unidentified…” “Holy night.” (Laughing) But we didn’t care. It was a wonderful Christmas, even though it could only last 30 minutes. And it was so sad when he’d have to drive away and we’d watch him go. But we knew he was doing something really important and we were so proud of him. And I know that in his latter days, after he retired, he looked back with sadness that things weren’t different for us but we didn’t care. And to this day, I still think we had the best Christmases ever.

Rick: It was Christmas. My dad drove a truck and he wasn’t gonna make it home for Christmas. And so, there’s my mom and four boys and she sat down with us and asked us what we wanted to do. Well, we didn’t want to spend Christmas without Dad, so we opened one present on Christmas morning and we waited a week. And when Dad got home a week later, that’s when we had our Christmas. And that was the best Christmas, I think, I ever had.

(MUSIC TRANSITION: Hark the Herald Angels Sing)

Woman #1: When our youngest was about 6, she gave her daddy some socks that played Christmas tunes. She gave them to him, so that he could wear them to the Christmas Eve service. The message was a … quite a stern message about keeping Christ in Christmas and Santa Claus out. When Steve crossed his legs, you could hear, “Here comes Santa Claus; here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane.” He was so embarrassed. He tried to stop it but pushed the repeat button. I don’t know if I regret that gift or not, because it has surely given us joy in the retelling over the years.

Dan: Well, growing up, anytime any one of the kids, any … and my brother or my sister or I, would get on any of the furniture, uh … our parents would always uh … or my mother would always yell at us and say, “What do you think this is, Christmas?” So, we’ve taken that, even now., we’ve all grown up and moved out of the house and even have grandkids for … for my parents. And uh … ah … every Christmas, we’d get up on the table and uh … because it’s Christmas and … and they told us we could. So, my mom can’t say anything. She says, “You gotta watch what you say to your kids because it is Christmas and I guess it’s okay to get up on the furniture.”

Chip: My son would put a star on the Christmas tree and I would always pick him up to … to make him reach the top. And then he … we started a tradition where he would sit on my shoulders, uh … to be able to reach to the top of the tree. And we started this [when] my son was about 3 and uh … he’ll be 17 this year. And he’s almost as big as I am, so it’s gotten to be a real fun part of decoratin’ the tree, with him climbing up on my shoulders and I’m doing my best to uh … support him and not uh … collapse onto the tree. But uh … we always get a good picture and a good laugh out of it.


Elizabeth: It was October in 1991 when I came back on a Sunday afternoon to find out that our dog had been hit by a car and was in the emergency hospital. The next day we had to transfer him the … to another surgeon and … only to find out that the operation surgery was gonna be very, very expensive. So, we didn’t have a lot of money and I had to make a difficult choice and I told my kids and husband, “Well, we either get the dog fixed or we don’t and we have Christmas presents. So, we either have Christmas presents or a dog.” So, on Christmas morning, we did have a Christmas tree that year with a very, very few gifts, but we tried a big huge ribbon around Murphy’s neck and put her next to the tree and so, that was our Christmas in 1991.

Kitty: A Christmas I’ll never forget was the year 2002. And my youngest daughter, Kim and her husband, Mark, had moved to Hawaii. It was to be our first Christmas without her and it was the very first year that Kim and I did not bake our special Christmas cookies. From the time she was 8-years-old, we made Butterhorns together. She would help me roll out the dough and sprinkle on the pecans and sugar. And that December, I made the dough and placed it in the refrigerator, but when it was time to roll them out, I cried. I placed the dough back in the refrigerator.

Two days before Christmas, I received a telephone call from Kim and she knew how much I missed her. I told her that I wasn’t able to make the Butterhorns without her. So, we made a deal. She said she would call me the next day at 1 o’clock. She would talk to me while I made them. Well, the next day, I was happy and ready to carry out our plans, but she never called. I tried making the cookies, but I kept crying. And while we were home, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and there stood Kim and Mark. I think I screamed, “Chuck, come down here!” We hugged and we cried. It so happened that they were able to get a last-minute flight. On Christmas Day, we made the Butterhorns and it was a Christmas I will never forget.


Woman #2: My grandparents always had this family in for Christmas Eve for a dinner and celebration. Now my grandfather headed up the local fire department, uh … volunteer fire department. And on this particular Christmas Eve, a call came out that there was a fire. And so, all the men in our family headed out and down the road to give aid to this family. The rest of us stayed back, cooking and cleaning. And when they came back from the fire, my uncles headed out to their homes to take their showers and clean up from the fire, but my grandfather went and sat underneath the tree. My cousins and I went and gathered around him and he told us that the fire had happened to a family who had five small children. They had lost their trailer, their Christmas and everything.

And as he got up to go into the house, you … turned and he said, “You know, I have a lot of gifts under my Christmas tree. I’m gonna give one of my gifts to the father of that family. And as he went in the house, we knew he wanted us to do the same. But we sat there for a while until finally my cousin, Donna stood up and said, she was gonna do it. And within it just seems like, just minutes, the whole hillside was just ablaze in activity as everyone was collecting canned goods and clothing and furniture and anything we thought the family might need, including the gifts that my grandfather had suggested.

I’ll never forget the looks on the faces of the family gathered around the truck and we were handing off all these supplies that we had brought. But the joy that came over me at the time when we handed the Christmas gifts to those little children! My grandfather gave me the greatest gift that Christmas. He gave me the gift of giving and after all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about?


Woman #3: When I was a little girl, my mom would always make sure that we took care of families at Christmas time who were in need. I particularly remember in the middle of the night, running to houses, ringing the doorbell after leaving gifts on their front step and running to meet my mom who had parked around the corner. It seemed silly and it was maybe a little bit like a prank, but the reality was, that these families received gifts that they had no idea where they came from and who was looking out for them. That has impacted how I parent my kids today and I’m so grateful for that memory.

Jeff: “Yes, I remember I was in an abusive foster home, I had been abused in several foster homes before, and I was at a Christmas party sponsored by the state. And one of the boys from a previous home who had um … harmed me was there and I was kind of hiding in a corner by myself most of the night, and then I remember a man dressed in a Santa suit called me over and he gave me a toy, and it was a car that looked like a compact car. And when you wound it up and pushed a button, it rolled down the um … floor and opened up to a sports car. And I just thought that was the best thing that uh … could’ve happened to me at that Christmas. And it just kind of gave me a spark of hope that somebody cared enough to give me a gift like that. And uh … now I’m um … a pastor, and I’m healed up and I’m born again. And so, I just want to do my best to help out disadvantaged children when I have an opportunity on Christmas, as well.”


David: It was about 15 years ago; my wife and I were newly returned from the mission field. I was already depressed. November was a horrible month. I couldn’t find work. Our income was almost nil. A teacher at the Christian school my children attended had me in to make a presentation on our field to her class. And at the end, as I was putting away my projector and things, said, “The class is looking for a needy family to help this Christmas. Would you be offended if we were to make you our needy family?” I assured her I would not be offended.

She asked for a list of things that we could use. And several days later, the class made a field trip to our house and they started to sing, “We wish you a Merry Christmas” and a little line of 5th grade “ants” started out to the school vans and brought in boxes of food, boxes of clothing for each of us, a big box of presents for each of the children, gift certificates for oil change and other things like that. And I stood there and wept as I saw the goodness of God being played out in the lives of a couple of Christian schoolteachers and a bunch of 5th graders, who made their Christmas a little poorer, that ours could be a little richer.


John: Well this is a special holiday edition of Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly. And today we’re featuring some wonderful Christmas memories and stories from listeners like you.

Jim: And it’s fantastic, John. Let me say thanks to so many of our friends who have supported this family ministry throughout the year. And also, thanks to those that called in and shared some of their personal and deepest thoughts.

Our next caller is a little bit difficult to understand. He has cerebral palsy but listen carefully as Jamey recalls a special gift he received at his church many, many years ago.


Jamey: I was born with cerebral palsy and my parents were told I would probably never walk or talk. On Christmas of 1988, I was 3-years-old. I seemed to hadn’t been able to walk very well. And on Christmas Sunday, our church always handed out of Christmas treat sacks. And the Lord just showed His power and goodness. And of my own accord, I got up, walked to the front of the church, got a treat sack and went back and sat down. And my parents say that there wasn’t a dry eye in that service. To them, it was a complete miracle of God. I’m now married with two kids, who each thank God for all of His goodness and Merry Christmas.

Carolyn: I was a student at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia. And one of my favorite memories, every Christmas, we had two caroling groups. And by the time Christmastime came, we had like, 40 to 50 carols that we knew and we knew like three verses to each carol. And we would have gorgeous uh … programs in the rotunda at school and the rotunda had a gorgeous echo to it. And also, the school had these beautiful uh … Christmas trees uh … elaborately decorated, I was always told. And boy, between the … the sounds of the carols and the smell from the Christmas trees, it was just awesome.

Bob: While stationed at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, in December I got a slip to pick up a package at the base post office. I took the package back to my room and opened it. There was a small, healthy pine tree that smelled great. My wife Carol and our 4 children had also packed in a tree stand, a string of lights, paper chains, cutout snowflakes with a string attached to tape to the ceiling. And then there was an incredible fireplace drawing on brown paper bags with red flames drawn above the logs. This was exciting and really cheered me up.

Word of this spread quickly. At different hours, I would get a knock on my door and when I went to the door, there would be four or eight guys from other aircraft crews standing there looking hopefully at me. One would say “Are you the guy who has a Christmas scene in your room?” I’d say “Yes, and come on in.” They would stand or sit on my bed and stare at the cheerful scene. There were tears in the eyes of some. It was usually quiet for a while, then soft talk of back home. It was a solemn but encouraging time. I’ve had many good Christmas’, but this is the one that I remember the most. Thank you, and Merry Christmas. It means a lot to the service men and women overseas to remember them in special ways.”

Craig: I had recently received a promotion at work, which took me away from home for several months. Although I tried to get home as often as possible, it was exceptionally difficult on my little girl, Caitlyn, who was 5 at the time. When it came time to say goodbye again, I looked at Caitlyn and said, “I love you.” And she said, “I love you better.” At first, I was taken back and then said, “Better than what?” And after a moment of hesitation and a glance at the Christmas tree, she said, “I love you, better, better, better than Christmas.” At that moment, I realized just how much my little girl loved her daddy, for what could be greater to a 5-year-old than Christmas? From that day on, Caitlyn would sign cards and love notes, as well as verbally express her love to me by saying, “I love you better, better, better than Christmas.” This past June, I had to do one of the hardest things any dad has to do. I walked Caitlyn down the aisle and gave her away. After the reception just before leaving for her honeymoon, my little girl wrapped her arms around my neck and whispered in my ear, “I love you better, better, better than Christmas.”


Rachel: It was right after church service on Christmas Eve, my whole family and I stopped by a convenience store to pick up some ice cream and it was very, very cold, as it is here in the Northeast. And um … my husband, before we married, was going to be at our home. And I walked in and I thought we had been robbed, because all I had to do was touch the door and all I saw when I walked in the home was this big box. And when I walked in, he popped out and he proposed. (Laughing) Oh, so um … it was a big blessing and it was a very memorable Christmas.

Woman #4: When I was a little girl, I was the only child and I always prayed to God to bring me a baby brother or sister on Christmas. And I never got that prayer answered. But when I was pregnant for the first time with my firstborn son, his due date was Christmas Day. And I just thought, only God knew that. And that was just so amazing, that He answered my prayer with a baby on Christmas.


Kristin: I come from a large family and we have a Christmas tradition. Every Christmas Eve before we open presents, we have a family Christmas show. And this one particular year in 1999, my husband and I announced that we had something to perform at the end of the show. And we said that after seven years of marriage (Choking with emotion), God had blessed us with our own child and we were expecting our first child at the same time that God gave us His Son to this earth. It was a wonderful Christmas memory.

Julie: I live in the country and we just had the worst ice-storm I can ever recall. The roads were glistening black ribbons. But I knew that I had to somehow, with God’s help, creep the 25 miles into town to the hospital. When I arrived, all but one brother was there. I knew this was serious. This was the beginning of my mom’s journey home.

What a privilege and honor it was to sing (Emotional), pray and read to her from her Bible. We filled her room with decorations and her three daughters had sacred slumber parties with her, in which we would have 3 a.m. talks. She couldn’t speak, but we knew she understood. When our last brother arrived from Texas on the 21st, we felt that she would at last feel a release to go home. But she lingered and we didn’t understand why. By the 23rd I said, “I think she wants to be with us one more Christmas and then go home.” Indeed, at 1:57 a.m. December 25th, as her six children were around her praying and speaking to her and showing her how much we loved her, we gave Jesus our best Christmas gift. We love you, Glenna Rose, and we wish you a very blessed Christmas this year with your Savior.


Peggy: I left my parents’ home at 18 with no hope, no goals, no future. I hated much, including Christmas. I hated buying presents for people I hated. I didn’t want to live. Suicide looked like a friend…often. I wanted out. In my car going 70 miles an hour down the freeway, through my tears, I could not see clearly and I was hoping I would have an accident and die. In this state, I just said, “Jesus, if You’re really real, then I need You.” Instantly, I knew He was real. One day in early December as I was walking along a deserted street, I was singing all the Christmas carols I could think of at the top of my lungs. In the carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” when I got to the part, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight,” I stopped dead in my tracks.

(MUSIC THEME: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)

Peggy (cont’d): It dawned on me, that Jesus really does satisfy all my hopes and Jesus heals all my fears. It’s been 37 years now. I’ve grown more in love with Him and it’s still true. Now I love Christmas. Now I am no longer defeated. I have hope: hope in Him, hope in the future. He has a plan for me. What a celebration! We should celebrate Christmas all year long.

John: Well, what a tender story there about how God used Christmas to bring new life to that dear woman. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and we’ve been so touched by some funny stories here today and some other memories from our listeners that were just so heartwarming.

Jim: Well, John, we really have. And what a privilege it is for us to hear your stories and see how the Lord continues to work miracles in so many lives. And that woman we just heard from… John, that struck a chord with me, because so many people, especially around the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, there’s just loneliness that can creep in. I remember being on a college campus. I had nowhere to go. Um … you know, my mom and dad were both gone and my brothers and sisters were far from me at that time. And so, I stayed on the campus. Electricity was shut off and thankfully, the school let me stay in the dorm rooms. But boy, it was lonely, eating that meal out of a vending machine and not being able to go somewhere. So, I could relate with those folks that are feeling desperate.

And you may be wondering whether or not life is worth living. Believe me, it is. Um … just fight through this time and these emotions. And uh … if you’re in that spot, you can go online at Focus on the Family. We have a booklet there called “Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family.” Uh … if you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, that is the place to start. Uh … read the New Testament. Just break it open.

At that same time in my life in college, I remember feeling very despondent. I didn’t know what to do. I began to read God’s Word for the first time, really. Uh … I became a Christian at 15 but didn’t really delve into the Scripture. Boy, I poured myself into it and the Lord spoke to my heart and I found purpose and meaning. That will happen for you, too. I hope you will seek Him.

John: That really is our prayer, especially today and at this time of year – that you will discover the great love God has for you. That’s what Christmas is about and that’s why Christ came to this earth more than 2000 years ago – to show that love.

Now Jim mentioned that booklet, Coming Home. It is complimentary and you’ll find it at

Well, for future reference because our offices are closed today and tomorrow to let our staff have a well-deserved day off or two, and some time with family, write down our phone number and give us a call if you have any questions about what we shared today or if there’s any follow-up that we can offer to you. That toll-free number 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here, thanks so much for listening today. I’m John Fuller. And certainly a “Merry Christmas!” to you and your family! And join us again next time as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ!

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Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God's Family

Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God's Family

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