Sharing Christmas Memories

By Mike Steely

The Knoxville Focus asked several people to share a Christmas Memory in one sentence. We asked all types of folks— office holders, community leaders and Focus Fans. We had such an overwhelming response that we cannot share each reply, but here are the ones we can fit:

Vivian Shipe: I remember all of us getting up at two in the morning on Christmas Day to have Family Christmas with our dad who had to work a 14-hour day at the post office.

Buzz Buswell: A couple of days before Christmas, my then teenage daughter and I gleaned extras from The Angel Tree, added food donated by Ramsey’s Cafeteria, and helped a frail oncology patient at Children’s Hospital and three generations of his family celebrate the holiday.

Marshall Stair: I remember Tom McAdams, my dad’s law partner, giving us some sort of cow gift to remind my dad of his investment in a dairy farm which failed miserably.

Betty Mahan: I remember all four of us sisters sleeping in one bed like a slumber party on Christmas Eve so my grandparents could stay over and be part of Christmas morning with all five of us (I have a brother also).

Pete Gawda: I remember one Christmas when I was a poor seminary student and my wife and I lived in an old rented mobile home on a farm. There were many cedar trees growing on the property and the landlord said we could use one for a Christmas tree, so I cut the top off of one of them and we had a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Dan Andrews: As a child I would pretend a wooden block was a radio walkie talkie. So for Christmas, when I got real walkie talkies, it began my passion to become radio communications  amateur radio operator KN4CTF.

Patricia Robledo: Christmas time in Colombia always involved a lot of family and fun. We had novenas: the nine days before Christmas we would go to different homes to visit the nativity scenes, pray and sing villancicos (Christmas carols). Traditional Colombian Christmas food includes buñuelos (cheese fritters) and natilla (custard dessert).

Charlie Busler: I remember the Christmas that all five of my grandchildren were together the last time.

Cherel Henderson: I remember the thrill when my daddy came in from the outside cold to tell us that he heard bells jingle and then looked up to see Santa and his reindeer and sleigh fly over.

Bob Thomas: As a kid one of the gifts I remember the most was the Dick Tracy Two-Way Radio that Santa brought me. Luckily he happened to bring my best friend down the street one too. Santa is a smart guy.

Gloria Johnson: Christmas makes me think of family… and smells, my favorite is the smell of a live tree. It’s not Christmas to me without it!

David Williams: Got a tricycle with a wagon bed attached and it was lots of fun hauling stuff. I believe it was the Christmas before I entered first grade.

  1. C. Tumblin: Christmas 1938. Having just turned Boy Scout at the age of 12 in October, I was thrilled to get my Boy Scout uniform (shirt, pants and neckerchief) for Christmas.

Jamie Rowe: Sitting on our hearth with immediate family and aunt and cousins and only Christmas tree lights, singing Christmas carols- that has stayed with me as the best time ever.

Mike Cohen: In 1977 a friend asked me to dress up as Santa for his son and visit their house. And the kid totally believed I was Santa Claus…and the pure joy and excitement from that boy believing not just in Santa, but that I WAS Santa is a great memory. So is every Christmas morning with my own kids…and the year my parents gave my brother and I a tabletop hockey set. Best toy ever.

Indya Kincannon: I remember lighting real candles on our tree on Christmas Eve, dimming all the lights, singing Christmas carols together, and then carefully putting out all the candles with a snuffer.

Eddie Mannis: As a little boy I never knew when my mother was going to put the Christmas tree up. We would just come home from school one afternoon and as we walked down the street from school we could see the silver Christmas tree in the front window of the house.

Kaye Graybeal: I loved the Festival of Lights in Krutch Park during my first Christmas in Knoxville in 2012.

Chris Albrecht: Lights. It was and is all about lights for me. Outdoor lights, lights on the Christmas tree, bubble lights, mini lights, lights that when one goes out, they all go out… Christmas lights of all shapes and colors!

Becky Roberts Harmon: As a young child, on Christmas Eve, I remember waking up in the middle of the night and going into the living room where I found my father busily trying to assemble a bicycle. He said Santa was very busy and just left it with him in the box so he was doing this because Santa asked him to.

Lauren Rider: More memorable than any presents, my favorite part of Christmas was seeing my cousins at grandma’s house. They were my best friends growing up and holidays guaranteed we’d see each other.

Rebecca Parr: The last Christmas that my parents were still married was when I was four and my siblings and I got up on Christmas Eve and caught them dancing by the light of the tree in their PJs to Elvis music. We were discovered and sent back to bed, but still today it is the most beautiful memory I have of my parents together.

Charles Rhodamer: When Mom and Dad would let me open one present on Christmas Eve which wasn’t underwear, socks, clothing or deodorant, that was when I knew it was Christmas. Now every time I see Mom and Dad it is Christmas.

Debbie Sharp: We woke up early on Christmas morning, went running down the hall, saw snow footprints in the carpet indicating that Santa had been there, and I screamed with delight!  As I opened my presents, one of them was a watch with some Disney character, which I do not remember now, but I LOVED it. I looked up the chimney and said, “Thank you, Santa!” Fun memories!!

Eric Vreeland: My mom was Mrs. Christmas – tins of cookies, exquisite indoor and outdoor decorations, ribbon and a hand-tied bow on every present. My sisters and I hoarded Mom’s bows and reused them for decades – that’s how beautiful they were.