Focus on the Family Broadcast

Memories of Christmas (Part 2 of 2)

Memories of Christmas (Part 2 of 2)

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

Original Air Date: December 25, 2009

Craig: 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.”

John Fuller:  Hm.  Well, that’s a heartwarming memory.  It brings tears to my eyes–

Jim Daly:  Yeah, me, too.

John:  –Jim, from a father named Craig, one of the man listeners who shared their Christmas stories with us yesterday and today.

I’m John Fuller.  This is Focus on the Family with Focus president and author, Jim Daly and what a special day it is, Jim.

Jim: It is a very special day and Merry Christmas, John!

John: Well, thank you.

Jim: Um … you know, and I want to say a very Merry Christmas to all of you, as well, from Focus on the Family.

I hope you’re home with your family and friends, celebrating this birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. I mean, this, to me, is the most poignant moment in all of history, when God’s very Son came in the flesh to walk among us. I mean, it is amazing when you think about what He has done for us.

John:  Uh-hm.

Jim:  Uh … in case you’re wondering, John and I aren’t actually in the studio today.  We’re not sittin’ here while our family’s opening up presents at home.  We’re with ’em.  We recorded this several days ago, so that we, too, can be home celebrating with our families.

But as you mentioned, John, some time ago, we invited Focus listeners to share their holidays memories with us and we recorded those and began sharing them on Christmas Eve, yesterday. And we have more for you today. These are great stories and I think they’re gonna warm your heart.

John: They will and you might grab a tissue or two because some of these are pretty tender, even the one we just heard there from Craig.

Jim: Yeah.

John: You might also just have a cup of coffee or tea or hot cocoa with you and sit back, relax and enjoy this special Christmas gift from Focus on the Family and our listeners.


Brooke:  My little brother, Lane and I wanted a puppy so bad.  So, Mamma started contacting kennels and the local newspapers to find the best one.  She found a kennel in Ryan, Georgia, that had two Cockapoos.  Finally, three days before Christmas, Gran and Granddaddy came over to our house to watch us while Momma and Daddy got a Christmas present for us.  They got home about 5 o’clock and told us to sit on the couch and close our eyes. “I know it was a few days before Christmas, but would you all mind opening an early Christmas present?” I remember my daddy’s asking.  Of course, no objections were made to that. So, we sat on the couch and closed our eyes.  When our parents told us to open, there was a cute furry Cockapoo in a stocking in front of us.  We loved her so much.  We decided to name her Biscuit.  We spent one of my favorite Christmases with the family and my sweet dog, Biscuit.

Mickie:  One Christmas season, I called my granddaughter, Michelina and suggested that I send her a pre-Christmas present so that when I arrived the following week, we could share the fun together.  The 3-year-old agreed.  I sent a child’s tea set.  When I arrived, I found her positioned in the living room, seated at her personal table and chair set, waiting for Grandma.  We sipped and laughed, sipped and laughed for about a half hour and finally, the tea pot was empty.  Finally, I thought, I thanked her and commented how much fun that was and we should do it again, some time.  She replied, “I’ll fill the pot now, Grandma and we’ll do it all over again.”  I swallowed hard and with a reluctant smile, agreed.  She picked up the pot and headed out to fill it again.  I said, “Michelina, how are you filling the pot?  You’re not tall enough to reach the kitchen sink.”  She said, “Out of the toilet bowl.”  I promised myself never to attend another tea party with Michelina.  She’s in college now and we’ve laughed many times about her famous Christmas tea party.

John:  I’m 14-years old and last Christmas, I found a golden ticket inside of my stocking in my chocolate.  And just like the one in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And it said to be in the van at 8 o’clock in the morning and my experience would be beyond my wildest imagination and it sure was.  My mom and dad took my brother and I to Arizona and we got to experience the Grand Canyon and we had a snowball fight and you know; it was just an unforgettable experience.  And I … I’m gonna remember that for the rest of my life.


Celeste:  One particular Christmas I was feeling pretty grown up because I was in the living room talking with the adults while my three younger brothers were elsewhere in the house, probably playing with their Christmas toys.  As the conversation went on, one of the bulbs on the tree exploded.  We looked around and we thought it was strange but nobody had the inclination to do anything about it at that moment.  So, we went on talking and after a while, another bulb exploded and then another one and another and another.  Well, finally, we got up to find out that one of my brothers, who had gotten one of those suction-cup guns for Christmas, was under the dining room table, picking these bulbs off one at a time.

Pamela:  Our adopted 3-year-old had joined us for our Advent services for the first year. Every night during Advent, we meet around the candles and sing and tell part of the Christmas story.  And he was old enough to get to choose a song.  And everybody else had already chosen their songs.  We had been to him twice.  He kept asking for “The Cookie Song.”  And we just kept looking at him, like, “I don’t have a clue.”  And finally, in desperation he said, “You do know this song. It’s (Singing) “O, O, O, Oreos,” at which point, the entire family started laughing.  He got very upset.  But it’s a family tradition now — at Christmas time we tell the The Oreo Story.


Ronald:  The year of 1988, I was stationed in Germany and I was at a remote missile site. And I was on post on Christmas Eve that year when a set of car lights came up on my post.  And I … I … I walked out to ascertain what the people had needed, when uh … an elderly gentleman got out of the car and went around and helped his wife out and she was carrying a … a huge basket.  And through their broken English and my broken understanding of German, I was to understand that uh … they had been doing this for years. And I had asked why they were doing it and so, he brandished his left forearm and I could see (Emotional) his dated tattoo that it was of … (pause) … uh … from the Nazi death camps.  And they gave me a … a basket of wine and cheese and deli meats and uh … it was a yearly tradition for them to say thank you for uh … our service to their country.  And that was my most fondest memory of Christmas.

Herb:  I’m Herb Fleming or really my first name was Horst and we lived in East Prussia. And when the Russians came closer we didn’t know whether Dad was alive or not.  He had to stay with his unit and he was captured by the Russians and it happened to be on Christmas Eve that we were … he was supposed to come home or we expected him home.  So, we heard a knock on the door and the neighbor, that … another refugee family coming from the … came and knocked on our door and said, “There’s someone that wants to see you.”  So, my mom, we all like run … Mom first out of the door and then she hollered, “Otto!”  That was my dad’s first name.  And she went and hugged him. And we said hi to each other.  Then he had to … he had to introduce us … ourselves to him. “Is this Horst?  Is this Carl?  Is this MaryAnn?  Is this Waltraut?” and so on.  We had to let him know who we were because he hadn’t seen us for about five years.

Then he walked into that room and Dad asked Mom, “What … what were you doing?” She said, “Well, we just started our Christmas devotions.”  And uh … she … he said, “Well, you go ahead now.”  And he … she said, “No, you take over.  (Emotional) You are the head of the household.” Pardon me; I’m still gettin’ emotions.  And uh … my dad started to read the Bible and we sang Christmas carols and we were there, just celebrating Christmas, the best Christmas I’ve had.  Even so we didn’t have no gifts because we were refugees.  We had lost everything.  But God was good.  He brought Dad home again and that in essence was our best … the best Christmas I ever had.

Bob:  My wife and I do foster care and we got this little girl in the foster care who was 3-months-old.  I took her to church with me that Christmas Eve.  On that particular day, I had to uh … operate the camera at church.  And so, I had a lady that goes to church with us to watch the baby for me while I was working the camera.

As she was watching this child, she came back to me and she said, “I just … I have absolutely fallen in love with this child.  And you know, we want to see what we can do to adopt her.”  And I told her, I said, “This baby is not up for adoption. Um … we’re just doing emergency foster care and uh … she’s not available for adoption.”

Well, as it would be, she was able to adopt that baby.  And now (emotional) they’re living in Haiti, serving the ministry full time and she’s just as precious as she was the day we picked her up.  But who would have thought, you know, uh … that this little baby was gonna be a full-time missionary kid on the field in Haiti?  And this child has flourished and grown and just … uh … that was a wonderful Christmas.

Jeanette:  One Christmas when I was just a little girl, our family didn’t have any money.  I lived with my father; parents’ divorced.  And um … woke up and Santa hadn’t come. (Laughing) And remembered uh … being very upset and didn’t even talk to my family, just walked out the door, across the street to my best friend’s house and was crying.  Uh … and her mother opened the door and um … and I … and I began to tell her this story.  And she told me that Santa had gotten mixed up and left um … this beautiful pair of pink fuzzy house slippers for me at their home, which clearly they were intended for her daughter, my best friend and certainly not for me.  But she was just so sweet and um … I just love that memory.

Lynn:  My husband had run across some podcast from a church out in Portland.  And I was listening to this idea that maybe we’ve like, sort of gotten lost in the consumer culture of our country.  And … and it just broke my heart. And I thought, you know, that’s the heart of God.  Here are all these people who have this abundance and who go out and spend $1,000 on average, a family at Christmas to, you know, pick up the latest gadget or sweater that’s gonna get tossed in the closet in a few months.  And there are children of God across the world, who are just suffering.

And I knew at that moment, that Christmas would not be the same for our family.  And so, we like drastically changed our Christmas spending. We really cut our budget about in half.  And um … in addition to that, we also chose to give some charitable giving type gifts.  We bought sleeping bags–12 sleeping bags–for a homeless um … outreach in our community.  And in each person’s Christmas stocking at … with our family, we gave them a little rolled up piece of paper and said, “A sleeping bag has been bought in your name for a person on the streets, who will now be warmer this Christmas season.”

And you know normally what we would’ve spent on our children, we spent half and we talked to them about it.  And it was not easy. (Laughing) I know my husband and I were wrapping presents right before Christmas and we had wrapped all the gifts that we’d bought for our two boys.  And my husband was like, “Is this it?” And I’m like, “Yeah, this is it.” (Laughing) And it was a challenge for us to … to take a stand against all the spending and all the excess and say, you know, “This isn’t really the story and we want to come back to `The Story.”

Kim:  We sent my nephew in Honduras um … a pair of new shoes for Christmas.  And he um … called us on Christmas, crying.  And I asked him, “Papito, why are you crying?” And he said, “I’ve never had two pairs of shoes.  I don’t know which ones to wear to church.”

John:  That’s a good reminder every Christmas season, that most of us really don’t need all that extra stuff that collects under the tree.

I’m John Fuller and you’re listening to a special holiday edition, a Christmas edition of Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.  And uh … I can relate to the woman a moment ago who called and talked about cutting back on the gift budget so her family could learn more about giving to those who truly are in need.

Jim: You know, I think most of us with kids, especially with younger children, want to teach those lessons to our kids. And–

John:  Yeah.

Jim:  –that story right there at the end is such a poignant one.  You know, which pair am I gonna wear to church?” To be flummoxed by that.  I mean, that is powerful.

Uh … I don’t want to sound like a Scrooge and say, take away all the presents, because it’s fun to share those gifts. And sometimes that’s the person’s love language, is gifts.  And uh … we want to recognize that. But all of us can learn the values of sacrifice and giving to others and serving others at this time of year.

John:  Hm.  Well, we do have a few more Christmas memories to share with you. Our listeners called in and this particular story we’re going to hear next comes from a listener named Carrie.

Carrie:  My most wonderful Christmas memory was the birth of my daughter.  After two miscarriages, we gave birth to our first little girl on December 25 at 6:40 in the evening

Husband:  When my wife and I, we were first newlyweds and we really didn’t have a lot of money and I knew it wasn’t much, but I went to a tree farm and I bought a really cheap tree.

Wife:  And I remember coming home from work and there was a little Christmas tree in the corner with a … he’d strung the lights and the little tree was there.

Husband:  And it was about 3-foot tall and looked like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. And I was able to, you know, go and get some of the really small decorations and I … and I put it around it and …

Wife:  There were no presents under the tree that year but two–one for him and one for me.

Husband:  At the time, my wife was working and she came home and she was so floored by that and … and so taken away.

Wife:  It was the best Christmas ever, because each gift and each thing we did was for each other from the heart.

Husband: It was the best Christmas that we ever had, that … that I can still remember. Now even though nine children later, we … we still have a lot of great holidays, but that was the one that God really allowed me to share with my wife and that was my best Christmas memory yet.

Lea:  I remember I was 12-years-old and my dad decided it would be a great idea to give me a covenant ring.  When he gave that to me, it was kinda confusing to me, but shortly after that, he took me to a couple of abstinence seminars and uh … my dad passed away when I was 16.  But because of that gift and the promise and the covenant that I made with my dad and with Christ, he gave me the greatest gift I’d ever received. Because of that. I have a wonderful marriage now.

Madeline:  As a bride, our first Christmas, I didn’t have enough money to spend, so I gave my husband a[n] 8×10 Christmas card.  And I gave it to him and that’s what we did for Christmas; we exchanged cards.  That next year, I kept … I kept it for the next year as a decoration.  And so, I put it out.  And then, the next year, I did the same, realizing by this time, I had this card uh … three years.  And uh … we still have that card today and it will be 58-years-old.  And I give it back to my husband every year as a memento, sign it and wish him Merry Christmas and I love you.  My children do it now (Emotional) and my grandchildren.

Maria:  Four years ago, my parents sent a Christmas ornament to our eldest daughter, who was 2 at the time.  It was a talking ornament on which they had recorded their voices, singing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” with a short greeting at the end for their first grandchild.  Over the past several years, our children have loved playing with that ornament and pressing the button over and over and over to hear their Oma and Opa’s voices, wishing them a Merry Christmas.  This July, I lost my dad to lung cancer, so this year, I’ll probably be the one pressing the button over and over and over again to hear his voice, singing Merry Christmas to us.  This Christmas make sure you love your family for who they are and cherish every moment you have with them.


Sandy:  “My best Christmas memory was 2005.  In 2004 I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with 3-percent chance of survival.  2004 we had the saddest, darkest Christmas in ever, and 2005 was the best, because I had survived and it just brought me back to simplicity, a closer walk with God, family, and just to be with those that I love, and to be alive, and to know that Jesus was the center of everything and that He can do all things.  So, Christmas of 2005 (Emotional) was the most precious Christmas ever, and every day after that.

Pamela:  Raising two little boys as a single mom, every year um … our travels was to go home to Florida to be with family for Christmas, since I didn’t have any in this state.  And one year, we were coming home, a friend of mine was traveling with us and in the middle of the night, we had car trouble.  And the exit they pulled off onto was very dark.  There was a little store.  Everything was dark.

And my 3-year-old little boy in the back seat all huddled up, he said, “Mamma,” he said, “What are we gonna eat?  We don’t have any food.”  And he was just all concerned that we were there alone, stranded in the middle of the night.

And I began to tell him the story about how that Mary and Joseph had traveled all night and how that when they got to the city, there were no stores open. There was no one awake and they had to wind up staying in a stall where there were animals.  And the Baby Jesus, they laid Him in a manger with hay.  But when God sent the shepherds to show them where the Baby was, God knew exactly where He was. And the angels told the shepherds where to find Baby Jesus and that God’s eye was exactly on where we were.

And as it turned out, even though the station was closed, it had a little uh … counter that they were open all night, so I was able to give my children cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk.  And when God said He’s a Father to the fatherless, He really is.

Sherry:  My Christmas memory happened about 10 years ago.  After 16 years of suffering from infertility um … we flew out from Michigan to Oregon and we witnessed the birth of a beautiful baby girl.  And then the birth mom then um … decided that she wanted to take the baby home and just spend some time with it.  We knew that we went into it saying that this is God’s child.  If she changes her mind or if she wants to keep it, that is God’s plan.  So, she took the baby home for two nights and three days. Very, very long days.  But then that Saturday um … we all met at her apartment.  It was the nurse and the pastors and so forth.  And um … we just shared some Scripture and she presented us with her arms held out, um … gave us this precious little bundle out of love and sacrificial love.  And it was right before Christmas, and I just cannot help but think of God’s sacrificial gift of Jesus that um … I just kind of took for granted until I went through this (Emotional) beautiful experience.

Shauna:  It was Christmas 1979, our second Christmas as a missionary family in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  We were quickly learning that following Jesus meant leaving behind all that was familiar, including many of the Christmas traditions that I had known in my 11 years of life.

A few days before Christmas, my father brought a bucket of sand into the living room with several cut palm fronds sticking upright inside.  When we kids asked him what the bucket was for, he told us that this is our African Christmas tree.

My sister and brother and I looked at each other bewildered.  Dad told us to use our imaginations and come up with ornaments for the tree.  We pulled out some construction paper and crayons and made homemade decorations, strung with yarn.

That Christmas is still my favorite one.  That ugly little tree is such a precious memory to me.  We didn’t have a lot.  We were far away from home, but Jesus met us in the Congo that Christmas.

It wasn’t about the presents or the dinner or the snow, but the gift of His presence in our family.  It was the Christmas I started to understand that He didn’t need our American traditions for Him to show up and give us joy wherever we were in the world.  Merry Christmas everyone and may December 25th be all about Him.


John:  What a great thought there, as we wrap up this two-day program of special Christmas memories on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.

Jim:  John, this has been a really delightful time and my heart is just full after listening to all of those stories, even the more painful ones.  Um … you know, the wonderful thing is, God is there with us in all of it and that for me, puts a smile on my face.

You know, when I think back to all the Christmases when I was a boy… We had one, I was 7-years-old and my mom was workin’ two or three jobs, five kids. And I remember we didn’t have enough for a Christmas tree. We went out and we got the Charlie Brown Christmas [tree].  It was a scrap at a Christmas tree lot. And we brought it home.

I was embarrassed at first, but then you know what?  My mom’s love just uh … made so much more out of that Christmas than the stuff. Just her willingness to spend time and make cookies and even though we didn’t have a lot, in fact, I wanted that football uniform, you know, with the pads and the helmet–

John:  Oh, yeah.

Jim: –all she can afford were the pajamas and I wore them outside and my neighbor next door got his football outfit.

John:  Ooh.

Jim:  And uh … but you know, even with all that pain, um … it still is a fond memory for me, just again, thinkin’ of my mom’s love.  That is what Christmas is really all about.  It’s about the love of God being shown through our family and hopefully from us, to our family members.  It’s about giving and serving, generosity, yes, the food and family and friends.

Of course, the most important gift of all and we cannot end this program without saying it, it’s about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who came to save us from our sins and give us the gift of eternal life, so that we can live forever with Him in eternity.  Folks, if you have not taken the challenge to figure out whether the words of Jesus are what they are, I would encourage you to do so. Don’t delay, because that decision will be the most important decision of your life.

John:  Uh-hm. And it’s been a long time since I made that decision. No looking back. I’m so glad that I decided that the truth claims of Christ were real and that I could trust him with my very life.

And I hope that if you’re not aware of the gift, why we celebrate his birth at this time of year, what Jesus means to this world, stop by our website. We have a complimentary booklet you can see and download. It’s called, Coming Home: An Invitation To Join God’s Family. It’s free, and tens of thousands of people have gone through that and committed their lives to Christ. I think it’d make some really wonderful Christmas reading for you today.

You’ll find that at

Well, we’re closed today because of the holiday, but we will be back here tomorrow and so jot this number down and give us a call if you have any questions about what you’ve heard today. If you read that booklet and you have any thoughts or concerns we’d be happy to walk through that with you.

Or if you’d just like to contribute to the work of Focus on the Family, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here at Focus on the Family, thanks so much for listening.  I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

(MUSIC TRANSITION: “Joy to the World” (Upbeat Gospel style))

Today's Guests

Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God's Family

Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God's Family

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