Many of us have special memories around Christmastime, and in 2014, we asked some of our Gospel artists to share theirs with you. We hope you enjoy this time of nostalgia. Merry Christmas!
“I’d wanted a bike for so long and to my great surprise, on Christmas morning when I was about nine, it was there under the tree. And to top it off, it wasn’t the normal red and white or blue and white, it was green and white. Nobody that I knew had a green one, making it
even more special. I did learn later than Santa had gotten a good discount on this one because of the color, but I know it was just waiting for me! I woke up that Christmas morning very, very, very early…as always. I saw that beautiful form sitting there in the dark room. I just couldn’t help myself, I got that bike out the door and rode it all over the property (our farm was wide open) before daylight – and it didn’t even have a light. I found out later that Santa had had to be creative in hiding away that bike…it found a temporary home in the hayloft, Santa explained through my Daddy. To this day, that bike is hung on the wall of Daddy’s shop on that farm, and Santa Daddy has been in Heaven over 30 years. When I’m down on the farm, I have to visit that memory often.” – Ann Downing www.anndowning.com
“I will never forget when I was about five years old and Santa Claus actually came to our house! He delivered a red pedal car. I’m sure there were other presents but I don’t have a clue what they were. I became a bit nervous when he asked me if I had been a ‘good little boy’ because I knew there were several areas in which I had failed. I won’t mention them here. But I got the shiny pedal car in spite of my misdeeds. I also remember looking out our window and seeing our neighbor ironing a big red suit through the window next door prior to Santa’s arrival. Although I knew something was up it didn’t take away a bit of the excitement. But, I think it might have been the first Christmas that I really began to understand that the holiday was much more about the birth of our Savior, than a big man in a red suit.” – Donnie Williamson williamsonsmusic.com/
“Christmas 2006, Ferrell and I had been dating since June. On Christmas morning as I had finished preparing my dishes to take to my mother’s for lunch, Ferrell came to help me load my food and gifts. He came into the kitchen with his arms folded, waving an engagement ring on his pinky. He proposed. And it was a Christmas to remember! We married the following July 7th and I am still wearing that Christmas gift with pride!” – Jeanie Byrd Bailey thesingingbyrds.org
“Christmas has always been a season filled with music at the Brown house. One of my fondest memories is Christmas caroling together. Mom has always had a way of making things special and out of the ordinary! Many years ago she had an idea for The Browns. She went to an old fur company and they took her up to their warehouse where she picked out remnants for hats, muffs and coat collars. Then she took a trip to a bridal store, again, back in the warehouse, where she found big antique hoop skirts and little tux coats with tails for the boys. After piecing together all of her clever finds our family looked like we had stepped out of the pages of a Charles Dickens Christmas novel! With our new Victorian caroling outfits we stuffed those big hoop skirts in our little mini van and caroled in parades, Christmas parties, and of course, on the steps of our neighbors and friends who couldn’t venture our in our cold Iowa winters. The Brown kids will all admit that it may not have been our favorite thing to do at the time, but now that we are older, we all cherish those memories as special times! Although we have outgrown those old Victorian costumes, we have not stopped the tradition. Last season we had new Victorian caroling outfits tailor-made for our Branson Style Christmas Shows, and we look forward to many more Christmas seasons of Victorian Caroling!” – Michaela Brown thebrownsmusic.com
“One of my favorite Christmas memories is the first Christmas that Ken and I were married. He not only married me, but he acquired an instant family with my daughter and son. Since he had never been married before, he had never had a family Christmas in his home because he would always go to another family member’s home for the day. It was a day of opening gifts with a new family in our own home and a day of having other family members come to our house. I can still remember the look on his face through the day, which said, ‘I have my own family now in my own house.’ I never want to forget this very special memory.” – Jean Grady gospelmusictoday.com
“Growing up, we always opened our presents with our parents on Christmas Eve and then went to church service at midnight as a family. The next morning, our mother would make a Mexican breakfast, which is basically the most delicious food you can think of, wrapped in tortillas. After that, we would go to the movies, because the best movies would always come out on Christmas day! Of course, we were practically by ourselves in the theater, which was a good thing, just in case an extra taco made it in with us.” – The Hagees differencemedia.org/Artist/View/thehagees
“My fondest memory of Christmas is going to my Mamaw and Papaw Duncan’s house. They had an open wood-burning fireplace. My papaw would have a huge fire going, and every few minutes, he would grab the poker and stoke the fire. Every once in a while he would let me do it. When I was 10 years old that was a big deal! The whole family would be there and my cousins and I would shoot fireworks. One year, I climbed on the roof and shot a bottle rocket down the chimney and it went off in the fireplace. Scared everyone to death! And of course the food was delicious. Nobody can cook like my mamaw. If I could have one wish, it would be to go back to those days of Christmas at Grandmas!” – Tim Duncan timduncanonline.com
“A few years ago, I decided to do a fun Christmas card. I was really worn out from the ministry and always being so serious, that I decided to just have some laughs. So I went to a costume shop and looked for an outfit from The Christmas Story, which is my favorite Christmas movie. The only outfit they had for me to dress like Ralphie, was the pink rabbit outfit. So I dressed as the Pink Rabbit and my brother Shawn dressed as Santa Claus. Then I went and bought a BB Gun because Ralphie always wanted a Red Rider BB Gun. After we got into our outfits we went to Oglebay Park and took pictures with our camera girl and her family. While posing as the Rabbit and Santa we had the camera girl’s daughter pose with us to make it really a cute shot. All of a sudden the Ranger stopped us. He told us that there was a warrant put out by the sheriff’s department for a deranged rabbit with a gun and Santa Claus with a child on the loose. So then he realized that we were the Chrisagis Brothers and said, “Brian and Shawn, you better get those outfits off and get in your cars and get out of here.” Well we got into our car and so did our camera girl and her family. We were like OJ Simpson on the freeway driving like mad men but didn’t get the outfits off in time. Five Sheriff’s Department men surrounded us. They asked us to get out of our cars and I hopped out as the rabbit and Shawn got out as Santa. They put us up against the car and then frisked us for weapons. People stopped and took video and pictures of our arrest. Then they asked us where our weapon was and I said, “Here it is.” I grabbed the BB Gun and they all pulled their guns on us. Shawn started crying cause we had a bad year and because I was never shutting up and just kept explaining things to the police and it kept getting worse. Suddenly one of the young policemen realized we were the Chrisagis Brothers and said, “I can’t put them in jail. My kids love their music.” God has a sense of humor. He created us and laughter and I believe He watches us like a sitcom daily to see what laughs He can get. That was the most unforgettable Christmas for me!” – Brian Chrisagis chrisagisbrothersministries.org
“I have two memories. One was when we were children and our entire family was together. It wasn’t about the gifts but about the Giver of the gifts. Our mom always made sure that we celebrated Christmas for Christ. Our grandmother would make the biggest meal and our dad would decorate the biggest tree and put all the decorations around the house. It was like being in Disneyland. But our mom really spent it explaining who Jesus was to us when we were young. She had us write up a play for the Nativity and we would have to decide who got what part. Since there were three of us boys (brothers: Anthony, Brian and Shawn) we got to play the Wise Men. Then we gave our mom the part of Mary and our dad was Joseph. We had our grandmother play the angel and our grandfather play the shepherd. Then we would carry the baby Jesus from room to room and finally put Him in the manger as we sang all the great Christmas carols. Then our Mom brought out a huge decorated cake that she had baked and had us help make with her. We all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus. We always had Evie Tornquist music playing as well. It was truly beautiful. Jesus was the Star of each Christmas we had as a family, as our Mom reminded us that Jesus was the Reason for the season and that family stood for the acronyms Forget About Me I Love You. Now our Mom and Grandparents are in Heaven but the message remains and we miss the love we once had as a family but feel them always with us. The second Christmas I remember and loved was a recent one that we had our dreams come true in doing Christmas Concerts with people we truly admire and were inspired by, like Evie Tornquist and Farrell and Farrell. After our Mom died around the Christmas holiday we stopped putting up the tree, but we always celebrated Jesus. Still, there was always a longing for our mom and grandparents, and our brother Anthony who now lives in Las Vegas with his family. So Christmas is not the same, but in the past few years God has blessed us with time spent with those mighty ministries that we always loved and dreamed of working with. They have now become family to us and we cherish the time we have spent ministering with them around the holidays. It gave us new memories for Christmas to cherish and to be grateful for. And I know that our mom and grandparents are looking down, having orchestrated it all, and they are very pleased; kind of like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ when Clarence orchestrated everything for Jimmy Stewart and made Christmas worth living again. It is the Season of miracles and dreams, and my memories are showing dreams and miracles still can take place and come true.
– Shawn Chrisagis chrisagisbrothersministries.org