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Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas - Page Text Content

S: Sterling Christmas Memories

BC: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. " Luke, chapter 2 : verse 11. KJV

FC: Presented by Cheryl L Sterling | Christmas | 2010

1: A Christmas To Remember...

4: Uncle Maurice & Aunt Alice

5: Merry Christmas | h | As far back as I can remember I have played Santa Clause. for everyone. I was even Santa on the Ship during WWII! After the war, Alice and I would always go to Jessie's for Christmas. We would have lots of gifts around the beautiful tree Jessie had in the parlor. Alice and I didn't put up a tree at home because we always went to Jessie's. One early cold December winter, as I came home from work, Alice met me at the door as I walked in. There in the corner of the room was a Christmas tree already decorated with lights and everything on it. Alice asked me if I liked it and I said "yes, it is beautiful!" She said "Good! You just bought it!" I can remember those days as if it were yesterday. I am so glad to be here with my family today and "SHHHH!...Be Santa Clause again!"

6: Dear Santa, I want one of everything

7: Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas

9: 70 years ago I was just 7 years old! It was the 1st Christmas that I can remember that I actually asked for 2 gifts. The first gift was a pair of high top shoes with rawhide laces. The second gift was some kind of a toy. I didn't care what it was just any toy. When we gathered in the front room at our cold, cold, cold house with no heat or running water (can you believe that?) our Christmas tree was one my dad cut from the woods and he brought it home. He nailed a board on the bottom of it with 2 braces to hold it. Grandma Sterling (Grandma Little) was taller than the tree! Dad put it on top of the buffet by the picture window. It was all decked out with different colored popcorn balls and 1 string of lights up one side and down the other and some of those silver icicles on it...NICE! A few gifts were scattered around the base of the buffet wrapped in brown paper bags. When I got my first box, it was 2 shoe boxes long! I looked at my brother "Babe's" gift and his looked like the same size as mine. I didn't want him to get the same thing as me. We weren't allowed to say anything or move until Mom said so. My sisters wanted to open their one and only gift up, but Mom said "You be still! The boys are going to be first!" I thought "Boy, my mom turned over a new leaf. We boys got to do something first for a change." I don't think the girls like that too well and they held it against us boys the rest of our lives!!! "You boys are spoiled!"...Boots and Pat would say.

10: Mom finally gave the OK to open our gift. It didn't take long...1 rip and off came the lid and there they were..my high top black leather shoes with rawhide leather strings. Bab and I opened them at the same time and when I saw he got the same thing I said "Dirty Dog!" I thought to myself mine look 2 sizes too big. Then my mom said "I put two pairs of socks in for you Jim." But, for Babe, they fit just perfect. I had to fall down stairs, trip around the house until three years later when they finally fit. I put on those high top shoes and held my second gift in my hand. I thought everyone else might steal it. I looked down in the sack and as I put my hand in I pulled out a block of wood with four wooden thread spools with a nail driven in them for wheels. "Now THAT'S a tractor", is what I thought. It was exactly what I wanted. The moral of the story is..Don't ever complain that you didn't get the right gift or you might get four wooden thread spools for wheels! Tough times,...you don't know how tough, but we all had fun! Merry Christmas!

12: May your days be Merry and Bright, and may all your Christmases be White

13: I just don't know where to start, however, with being one of the oldest present, I do have a lot of memories of CHristmas! I guess I will start with my childhood. You see, I didn't have any other children to play with as there was only my brother Douglas and he was four years older and I was maybe a nuisance to him. Therefore, my childhood Christmas was shared with all the adults. Mom always had Aunt Maude, Maurice & Alice, Uncle John William & Betty Jane, Grandma Ricks and Grandpa Joe there. We had a large tree decorated with all colors and different kinds of ornaments. Our lights were the big outside bulbs. I remember always looking forward | to helping decorate the tree. Mom always had a lot of food and yes we did have ham sandwiches and oyster stew along with a lot of other things. Everyone would all bring food too. WE always got chocolate covered cherries from Grandma Ricks and I really didn't like them. Grandma always used white tissue paper to wrap her gifts with a colored string bow. There were a lot of packages under the tree as they all bought for each other. I felt like my mother always got the most because she always bought for everyone! I know I got many gifts, but I don't remember any special gifts other than dolls. I do remember one time I saw on the dining room table Mom's list for Christmas and by my | name was "Sorry". I thought I guess I'm not getting anything. When I unwrapped the game of "Sorry", I remembered the list! I never told Mom I saw it. It is funny I remember Doug's gifts more than mine. I remember when he got his kit to melt lead and make soldiers and I loved to watch him do that. Then it was so exciting when he got his horse. And I really liked to play football with him in a game that had the defensive and offensive plays that you put under a light and it let you see if you made a touchdown. Maybe that is why I like football today! When I was 13, I finally got a new female member in our family. JoLynn arrived in January and by Christmas she was really cute!

14: I loved taking care of the new little girl. One year, Jim was dating me and he played Santa for JoLynn at her home. That was fun. The years went by fast and we now have four children. After our Christmas Eve. at Mom & Dad's, we came home and got out the presents for our own family. Donnie & JoLynn came over and we played games and got things ready for our kids' Christmas. Time soon passed, and we were having grown married children and the exciting thing was all the darling grandchildren. They brought so much happiness to our family while they were growing up. Watching their faces when Santa arrived to pass out gifts was something else! Maurice & Alice were always with us and we loved them. I remember one year I had gotten everyone red nightshirts and made them all wear them. I'm not sure if they liked that, but it was fun! That was the year we were blessed to have our son Yuichi with us. We had two cute little dolls walking around too. Uncle Gail & Uncle Dallas just loved Abigail & Holiday! AFter my father passed away, Mom started to go to Florida early, so we decided to do one year in Florida and the next in Ohio. Seems our little Meredith was always the emotional one who expressed her feelings and brought tears. Mom had invited Edwin & Mildred Thompson for Christmas Eve. Lilli & Ron were living at the 519 house and we had the exchange there. This was a different experience for me as I played Santa. I will never forget what the faces of the children look like when you are a Santa Clause. The girls helped Santa pass out gifts. We decided to to have everyone open their gifts one by one so we could all see them. Meredith stood up and said "I want my mother to open her gift first, because she means so much to us and we love her so much"> By that time we all had tears. Edwin Thompson said "Gee, I can't take much more of this"! Lillis got a beautiful sequined gold top and hat.

15: After Ron & Lilli divorced, we were able to come to Florida to help Lilli with the first Christmas. I was busy sewing at the time and made a cowgirl outfit for our little "Peanut". She was very small and was jumping around all the time. We got her boots and a horse on a stick with the head on it. Devaron unwrapped her gifts first and just jumped up and down and road the horse all around and was so happy! I must say that was a very crying Christmas. Lilli cried every time she opened a gift. Drinking glasses from her girls as they knew she needed them, a locket from her parents with their pictures in it, a grill from her dad so she could cook for the girls and money from Grandma Jessie. Our Ohio Christmases were special too. I had made the grand kids nightgowns and knitted slippers. We had one Christmas at Gail & Becky's house. I had bought puzzles for all the kids and told them they had to put them together and then they could pick an envelope from a basket. The envelopes had from one to five dollars in them. Boy, they all sure hurried, and some with help from their parents, put them together and the big winner was Stephen who drew the five dollars. All the little kids were so cute. I can't tell you how proud we were of them all. It was so cute to see the three boys, Andrew, Christian & Stephen playing with their gifts. All the little girls were walking around with ruffles and bows and long curls. You could not keep your hands off of them. Ashley, Somer, Vanessa & Candace were just precious. Our youngest grandchild, Addison was so cute in his golf outfit. We started out with four children. Tracy, Lilli, Gail & Dallas. They have blessed us with their spouses, David, Jim, Becky & Cheryl and a total of 14 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren with number 16 on the way. This also includes our special grandchildren, TJ & Marisa which we accepted into our family when Lilli married Jim.

16: They have been an exciting part of our lives. TJ married Rachel and have added twin boys, Heath & Blake, and a sweet little girl Tess. Marisa is married to Mike and has two beautiful girls, Katelyn & Elyse. I have been so blessed to have so many beautiful children and coming from a Christmas gathering years ago with all adults, I really enjoy seeing others get gifts. Their faces with all the happy smiles are what it is all about. I think God for blessing us with all of them. Each one has a special place in our lives. Now we are double blessed with great grandchildren. I also have been blessed with a "second dad" as Uncle Maurice has always called me his "kid". I am so happy he can spend the rest of his life with us. I really miss his beautiful wife, Alice and know she is looking down on us today. What more can we ask of God? Just look around and see all of our BLESSINGS!

19: Holiday Memories Warm Even The Coldest Of Days

20: I decided to write about my first memory of Christmas.The reason is that there have now been 61 Christmas' in my life and no doubt something significant happened in all of them. My Mom's family was pretty large. Mabel, Gladys, Norma, Treva, Lola, Betty, Woneta and Fred, and in those days it was fairly common for everyone to get together. My first memory of Christmas was spent at my Aunt Lola and Uncle "Frock's" house on Charles Street in Ypisilanti, 1954 or 55. Most of my Mom's sisters and their families were there too, in this little post WWii house. Altogether there must've been close to 25 people there. When it was time for the gift exchange, I remember sitting on a crowded floor with my brother and 5 or 6 other cousins, with all the adults crowded around wherever they could fit in a 10x12 living room. The gifts were handed out and when I opened mine I found this gorgeous model car: and Ideal XP600! I had never heard of it, but when I saw it, I realized I loved it already. I have had the same feeling with dozens of cars since then. It had a hood and trunk that opened, with a real tool kit made out of metal and not plastic. Everybody was consumed with ripping open their gifts, but I was already mentally a world away in my new car. Mine was no doubt the best gift of all. I think my brother got a toy rabbit made out of rubber. No, the XP600 was definitely better than a rubber rabbit. Suddenly, one of my Aunts said, "No, David that car doesn't belong to you, there's a mistake". My happy Christmas turned into the worst day

21: of my little life. The car was gone. Was I now to get the rubber rabbit? I wasn't bold enough as a 5 or 6 year old to speak up and demand it be returned to me. This was wholesale robbery! A couple of my other cousins gifts got mixed up, so there was a lot of crying and commotion going on. Disaster loomed on the horizon for the whole family Christmas. Then my Aunt Helen, always the one in charge, stood up with a list and began to straighten it all out. She looked at me and referencing her list said "David, the XP600 is yours". Now on an emotional roller coaster, the love began to come back in my heart. I remember hugging that car. If I still had it today, I would hug it again.

22: My Childhood memories of Christmas Eve are very dear to my heart. I anticipated going to Granpa Bill and Grandma Jessie's house, where so much love, joy, and celebration lived. Family was at the heart of it all. I love being with my cousins Luana, Jill and Jessie Lynn. The air in Grandma's house was filled with the smell of ham roasting in the oven and oyster stew cooking on the stove top. Our eyes would fix on the big chocolate chunks of candy waiting for us to enjoy. We watched and waited for Santa to come and sing "Jingle Bells". Sometimes my cousins would sing "Little Drummer Boy". I loved to hear them sing. After exchanging gifts, off we would go to the Candle light Christmas Eve service. What a glorious evening that was! It is no wonder I was so sad the year I had tonsillitis. Dr. Roberts came for a house visit and said I could not go.My Mom stayed home with me and lovingly took care of me...Thanks Mom! I remember the year I got my Tammy doll and carrying case. It was filled with doll | clothes my mom had sewn or knitted. I was so proud of my dolls wardrobe. My Grand daughters still play with them. As an adult, I remember my first Christmas with my husband. I had prayed and got a man like David. The Christmas at Mom & Dad's where we all got red or red & whited striped nightshirts or gowns. How much fun was that? There were so many presents they spilled out into half of the family room. Being a parent is one of the greatest gifts in my life. Every baby's first Christmas was so special. A mountain of gifts of love would surround our little one. It was so much joy to see my little "source of delight" as her name reflects, as Abigail loved celebrations. She was so excited to see the tree and lights and Santa that sometimes she would shake! Andrew was attentive to every detail always looking for Santa or snowmen. One Christmas Eve at our home we had Mike Benedict play Santa. When Santa arrived, Abigail jumped for joy! Andrew looked and then came close to Santa and asked "You got you

23: deer out there"? Santa chuckled and said "Yes, down the road". Each Christmas with a new grandchild is such a joy for me. What a blessing to see our children following our traditions and making their won too. One December I was in the hospital with a kidney infection. I was so sick but wanted to be home for Christmas. I remember my family and friends praying for me. When I cried out to eh Lord, He heard me. My fever came down just in time to bring me home on Christmas Eve. He is faithful! I was so happy. In my weakened state, my family lovingly took care of me. That was the best gift ever. David fixed a turkey roll and mashed potatoes. They were the best I've ever eaten. I cried a lot that day. I was happy to be home. Happy to be loved. I cannot wait to see what memories of the 2010 Christmas Eve will bring. Let us remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Thank you baby Jesus for coming to take away the sin of the world!

25: Forgive me, a wretched and miserable old Sinner !

26: My Christmas memory is one memory the same over many years, In my house as I grew up, we put up our tree on Christmas Eve. and only put the lights on. The rest was up to Santa Clause. Each year my brothers, sisters and I would always wait anxiously at the top of the stairs to see that Christmas had arrived! The living room was transformed from what it was the night before to a beautiful display of presents, stuffed stockings and a decked out tree. That memory of anticipation meeting the display of love my parents put into Christmas morning is what I cherish from my childhood.

27: It is very hard for me to pinpoint one specific Christmas memory. I don't recall ever wanting one specific thing for Christmas or even not getting that special toy I did want. I'm sure there were those specific things, but I don't recall. I guess I can attribute having no specific memories of Christmas to the fact that our family is blessed. All of our Christmas' were happy, safe and warm. I do remember putting the Christmas tree together with my brother and mom limb by limb. Thank goodness for color coding! I remember the warm feelings of laying between the fireplace and the tree snuggled in a blanket. That still is my favorite thing. I remember how exciting it was to get home after Christmas Eve. with the family and getting to open one gift. I am thankful that God has blessed us with a wonderful family and that our Christmases have been happy and blessed too. They say you could tell your child a thousand times a day that you love them but it's the one time you you call them stupid that they'll remember. I guess that is how I feel about our Christmases. The memories are all entwined with happy, warm, fuzzy feelings since there have never been any bad things to remember.

28: Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

30: I remember several Christmases being special. My parents often invited international students and people without families. Some people never saw so much food (and home cooked). I was impresses with how brave they were to try all the different foods. Most of the years they would share a story about what life was like back home. | Some would sing, some would play instruments and some would talk politics and education. Most years you could guarantee a tear in your eye. I makes me think about strangers, sharing the love of God and thanking God for the life and family he has given me. | I also remember going to Christmas in Michigan. My Grandma's screened in porch was so cold she would keep all the desserts, pies and cookies out there. Was I in heaven or what? My favorite was a Santa sugar cookie with coconut beard and raisin eyes.

31: One of my most touching Christmas memories was two years ago when Tony and Jacob were in our home. It was their first Christmas and we drove down to Florida to spend with both my and Andrew's family. It was just amazing watching both of our families receive the boys as if they were always in and a part of our family. They were blessed not only with gifts, but love and memories that will last their lifetime. They still talk about Jungle Gardens, the beach, Grandma Robin's with Uncle Jim as Santa, and the mass amount of gifts they received. Oh, we will never forget Jacob's observation that Uncle Jim wasn't the real Santa...look at his penny loafer shoes.

33: Dear Santa, I can explain...

34: When Lilli and I lived on Tidy Island, we had 20 plus foot ceilings, thus we decided to get Christmas trees that were 12-14 feet. As one would imagine, this is a heavy tree and we had to bring it up a flight of stairs and install in the base unit. This became a daunting task and by the second or third year, I was ready to spend Christmas in the Bahamas! | I am sure Lilli and the girls were nervous that I would go "crackers". They would leave for the day when I took the tree down (after they had removed the decorations). I had to cut it in half and drag the pieces down the stairs dropping 10,000,000 needles along the way. I then would clean the whole mess up and Lilli and the girls would return home and life was beautiful!

35: Growing up in a family rich in family heritage and blessed with many living generations, we always had Grandparents, Great-Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, friends that we thought were relatives and many "kissing cousins" together for the Holidays. There was a standing invitation for Christmas Eve and we all knew we were expected to be at Grandma Jessie's home. We also knew that we needed to be in our "Sunday best" attire. To this date, we celebrate our Christmas on Christmas Eve. The meal planning is simple..not always the most popular menu, but chuck full of meaningful family tradition. Grandma Jessie started the tradition by serving the following: Plain ham sandwiches (creamy horseradish sauce was a favorite on the side), large, unpeeled naval oranges, mixed whole nuts that you have to "crack open" yourself, chocolate turtles & chocolate covered cherries, Sparkling apple cider served in Grandma's miniature martini glasses, and the infamous oyster stew with oyster crackers. Each and every year this menu was served and that became our first family Christmas tradition that I can remember. It is my belief that Grandma Jessie knew how to entertain and that her simplicity of the Christmas meal was so that she co8udl spend quality time with her family instead of being in the kitchen which she so often did with grace. The "Big affair" of the night would be the arrival of Santa! I remember as a child, how loud the adults would be trying to show excitement by yelling at the children to listen for Santa's arrival. But in reality, it would frighten us all to death! Then out pf nowhere, Santa would appear ringing his sleigh bells (which were 4 bells attached to an old leather strap) and greeting us all with "Merry Christmas..were you a good little boy or girl?" Immediately, the female adults would jump up and start to hug and kiss Santa by displaying affection as a comfort mechanism for all the children to observe. Once the children found their comfort zone, we started to sing Christmas carols and waited patiently for our assigned time to jump up on Santa's lap. Santa was always loving and a memory I will always remember.

36: I don't ever remember Christmas being "all about the gifts". Don't get me wrong, we did have wonderful beautiful gifts, but the focus was always on being together, eating oyster stew and singing Christmas carols. After moving from Ohio 24 years ago, we continued this family tradition in Florida with a few modifications of our own to make it our Family Christmas tradition. This will continue to be introduced from generation to generation in a family rich in family heritage and tradition. God bless us all!

38: I don't have a favorite Christmas memory. I do however love Christmas, I love Christmas cookies, Christmas shopping, finding the perfect gift, decorating the house, seeing Christmas lights and spending time with the family. The first year we were in our house, we had our first argument. I wanted colored lights on the Christmas tree, and Holiday wanted white lights. We argued back and forth about it and finally compromised. | We switch every other year between colored lights and white lights. This year is colored lights and I am in heaven! I think it's just not Christmas without colored lights on the tree! This little dispute has become quite the joke amongst my family.

39: Holiday Memories Warm Even The Coldest Of Days

40: I have several Christmas memories, but most of them are sad! The last Christmas before our family moved to Florida, the first Christmas after Mom & Dad divorce, the Christmas I got the flu and was sick through New Year's...so I'm not going to write about a specific Christmas. I'm going to write about one of our traditions. My Dad invented stocking stuffers. Well, he didn't actually invent them, but he made stocking stuffers a tradition in our family. Each girl got five stocking stuffers, and we opened 1 a day until Christmas. He did this so that we would stay out from under the tree and not beg to open a present early! They were always something small and fun, sometimes silly, sometimes delicious. Every year we got silly string and this led to the inevitable silly string war in the front yard. He spent time thinking up these gifts and made a special trip to the store just to get them. He wrapped them and put them in a bowl or a stocking or a basket and we would each open one in the morning when we got out of bed. Dad said one of his favorite Christmases was the year I figured it all out. We all got the same gifts, you see and one year my little brain figured out that if I told Devaron to open the round one and Meredith to open the square one and I opened the squishy one, I would know what 3 of them were! He said the look on my face was priceless and I just remember him laughing

41: and laughing. The next year, we all agreed to open the same one so that the game wouldn't be spoiled. We three sisters spent a lot of time shaking the stocking stuffers and smelling them and feeling | around to figure out what they were. It was such a fun time and it really did keep us from fussing with the "big" presents! I miss Dad a lot, and I always think of him when I see Silly String!

42: My favorite Christmas memory was when I was 12 years old. My Mom & Dad had just begun their divorce and even as a child I knew we were going through rough times financially. (Some indicators were hand-me-downs instead of new school clothes, manwich or macaroni & milk for sinner, and Grandma Jessie, Grandma Robin and Grandpa Jim often surprised us with dinner of groceries). It was a tough time for us all... I don't know why, but all I wanted for Christmas that year was a karaoke machine and I'm not even a good singer! It was, however, the perfect pre-teen gift because it had TWO tape decks, a radio, and the microphone of course. This way I could make my own mixed tapes from the radio or record my amazing live performances. There was no way we could afford this! Christmas Eve. came and all the regulars that I spent my childhood Christmases with were there: my two sisters, Mom, Grandma Robin & Grandpa Jim, Aunt Alice, Uncle Maurice, Betty and Glen, Aunt Jane and Grandma Jessie. We opened one gift at a time around the room and I could barely stand it. I had been sizing up the gifts every day since we were home from school for Christmas break. None of the boxes were big enough to be my DREAM gift, but I never gave up hope. We opened our gifts, one at a time...PJs, socks, sweaters, board games (they were cool), McDonald's money (Grandma Jessie!!)...the usual. I even got a tape...a karaoke tape! Is this a clue? Did I get my dream gift? I was so excited!

43: But then Mom said, "Sorry, Meredith I thought you could at least have this tape and use our radio. AWW, Man! Oh well...this still rocks. I have my first tape. AS the last present was unwrapped, the older folks headed for coffee and us kids started carrying our stuff to our rooms. That's when I heard it.."Meredith, there's one more gift over here by the entertainment center." OH MY WORD!!! It's BIG!!! Could this be my karaoke machine? I ripped that bad boy open and it WAS!!! We all jumped up and down, we all screamed, we all cried! How could I have been so lucky? Everyone knew how much I wanted that machine and there were also a few more sing-a-long tapes too! We sang Christmas carols for the adults and of course there was a little friendly competition over who got center stage. It's all on video too. My bangs, my chubby cheeks, the large Christmas sweater, stirrup pants, Sam & Libby shoes...oh yeah..it's all documented. Now the sweete4st part about this story was this. One day in December, I ran errands with Mom. On our way out of one of the stores, I got in my change purse and gave my only dollar to the bell ringer from the Salvation Army. This was a big deal that I even had a dollar at the time. Mom told me later that I said to her "I gave my only dollar to the Salvation Army. Maybe somebody else will help something nice happen for me too". This about broke her heart. To this day, I still don't know who actually paid for that machine.But I do know it changed the way I look at Christmas surprises and how I think about doing things for others throughout the year as well. I still give some money to the "bell ringers" from time to time. The karaoke stayed on my bed (literally my twin bed by my feet) for two years, and I'll never forget how that surprise made me feel. I knew this was a BIG gift. AS an adult, I understand that someone probably heard about what I said to Mom that day and their heart told them to help her purchase that gift for me. I know now how it feels when your heart tells yous to do something for others...and because of this story, I always do it. You should too! After all, it's not just your heart talking to you. There's someone bigger out there looking out for all of us and orchestrating these little blessings throughout our lives. Merry Christmas! Ring Ring!

44: May all your Christmas dreams come true

45: Then and Now, the true gifts of Christmas are Peace, Joy and Love

46: My Christmas memory is from WAY back. Mom and Dad had just had their divorce finalized and it was our first Christmas without Dad there. You would think that this would be a sad memory, and it was, but it was also a Christmas to remember. We were so overwhelmed with presents from our family and we were so grateful! | We are truly blessed to have such a great family that was there in Florida with us, and was able to give when we literally had near to nothing. Mom was single, one job, supporting the three of us. We had some amazing gifts. Mere had her heart set on a karaoke machine that she did receive, and I got my famous "cowboy boots and annoying horse". Mom got a replacement grill because ours broke. It was such an emotional Christmas...both good and bad. It's my favorite! Especially with my own divorce, I know what it's like to be on both sides of a divorce and how trying it can be emotionally.

48: I can remember on e of the first Christmases at Grandma Jessie's house. There were tons and tons of gifts around the tree. Uncle Doug and his entire family were there too. I couldn't have been 7 years old, maybe. We had just ate really good food that Grandma Jessie would make. The ham loaf with that horseradish sauce on it. She would always have her roast there with mashed potatoes and gravy. I can still see her with her apron on with that light blue flower print. (a summer apron at Christmas time?) I guess that's the one that made the food taste and smell a little better. Her kool-aid made in that big bowl that we would ladle out into our glasses. Grandpa Bill drinking those"Manhattans" that we kids never knew what they were, but they sure mellowed out Grandpa Bill! So, it must have been something good to drink! All of those gifts around the tree with Grandma

49: But, Santa scared me to death ringing those bells so loud that I was ready to give him a "High Ho Silver" and ride him right out of Dodge. After Santa left, we started to open our gifts. I saw Uncle Maurice enter the room. I looked up at him with a puzzled look and I thought,,"Why is he so hot and sweaty, his face so RED, his hair all messed up and his zipper all the way down with his nicely pressed white shirt sticking out through the zipper hole! Oh well, I guess that's the way Christmas was supposed to be at the Sterling, Hess and Hough Christmas. I think I need a "Manhattan"! | Jessie playing the piano and singing Christmas Carols. Then through the window, everyone said "Look, look. It's Santa Clause". And when I looked out the window, it really was Santa that looked like Uncle Maurice. He scared me to death when he came in and gave us big hugs and kisses. Santa was ringing those leather sleigh bells so hard I thought he better stop making so much noise of I am going to "Jingle his Bells"! I then thought why was Aunt Alice laughing so hard when Santa came in? I remember all of this! Then when Santa came by her he squeezed her really long and so hard I was ready to "Jingle his Bells" again if he wouldn't let her go. Isn't that something, in the mind of a 7 year old boy. I wanted to believe in Santa, but I thought it was Uncle Maurice, who kissed all the girls, especially Aunt Alice.

50: Because I grew up in a minister's home, we always had a great Christmas! It actually started in early December with people bringing in their home-made "goodies". I really liked the lasagna that Mary Lee Benedict would bring for our family and never could forget Betsy Beach's cinnamon roll. Oh the blessings of being a "preacher's kid". There were six kids in our family and we always would celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. What usually happened was someone would call and be sick or in the hospital and my folks would have to leave and go pray for them.I must say, this was the one time of the year when all of us got along really well. We actually loved each other and acted like it! You would only understand if you had lots of kids in your family! While they were gone, us kids would squeal with delight waiting for it to get dark. I would make sure the house was all clean and all the lights were turned on to make it look beautiful! )something I still like doing to this day)! We knew Mom & Dad would bring a pizza from either Jac & Do's or Dark Horse, depending on where we lived. I loved pizza and still do! After we ate, my father would have us all sit around and he would tell us the Christmas story, like only he could! Then he would have each of us pray and thank God for all of his blessings to our family that year. Our prayers were not real long, due to the fact we wanted to see our gifts! What we did from there may be different than you are used to, but very common for us "Vegh" kids. All of us kids would pick out a chair or sofa where we would like our gifts to be laid out on. Marcus would pick the biggest place like the sofa because he thought the bigger it was, the more gifts he would get! Then we would tell Mom & Dad which "place" was ours and run upstairs. We all stayed in a bedroom and waited with great anticipation for the "call" to come downstairs and see what we all got for Christmas. We listened carefully and we heard some funny noises like shopping bags being carried in or a bike or a B B gun or whatever we could think of. Marcus would make us giggle...boy do I miss him!

51: My father would call for us to come down by age, youngest to oldest. So, Mike would lead the way and down the stairs all six Vegh children would come with a smile from ear to ear. Dad would take movies. We all looked so cute in our p.j.'s! As we came into the room where our "chairs" were, we would all scream! :Oh my gosh...I got it! Thanks Mom & Dad" is what you would hear in the house. We were always thrilled to see what they got us. I know now why my mother never wrapped our gifts. With six kids, what a job that would be! After staying up as late as we could, we would carry our gifts to our rooms. I think I can still hear the sigh of relief of my parents saying "Well, Moses, we did it...we sure did Betty"! Then they would sit alone by the fire together in silence for a long time. Just them, no kids. What a wonderful childhood life I had and I'm so thankful to God for it! Great Memories!

55: When we were like 10 years old Mom & Dad asked us if we wanted presents or money for Christmas. Stephen & I decided we would take the money. Our parents told us not tot cry then when Ashely gets a lot of gifts and you only get an envelope with cash in it. We didn't mind at all because we liked to take our cash and go the place in Findlay where you could buy sports cards. Every year we would come downstairs and see our envelopes on the tree and then all the gifts for Ashley. But..one year when we were older and lived in Waterford, I came downstairs and saw our envelopes and Stephen had gifts too! Earlier that year in like June, he had needed money for something so Dad told him he would buy his Michael Jordan cards from him. So Dad paid top dollar and bought the cards and gave Stephen the money. So, this Christmas Dad had put our envelopes on the tree as usual PLUS he wrapped up all of Stephen's cards and gave them back to him. This same thing happened again the next year. During the summer, Stephen needed money for something, so my dad bought all of his cards from him again. The very next Christmas I come downstairs and there were our envelopes on the tree and a box wrapped up for Stephen with all of his cards in it. It was the gift that just kept on giving!

56: These memories are not about one specific Christmas morning, but an accumulation of the most WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR in my life! Christmas was such a magical and special time in our family. We had many traditions when I was a little girl that I now share with my own daughter. My Christmas stories would begin the morning of Christmas Eve. Knowing we would be staying late that evening at my "Gerschutz's" side ( my mom's side)for a Christmas celebration, we would be too tired and exhausted to get up early Christmas morning. So, Santa would visit our house the night of the 23rd. Although I would wake up early in the morning, I would stay in bed and pretend to be asleep until my dad would come upstairs to get me. I thought that if I stayed in bed until the last possible second, Santa would have all the time he needed in case he forgot a present and needed to return. The longer I lay in my bed, my heartbeat increased by the minute. By the time my dad and the camcorder entered my room I could barely stand it any longer. We would walk downstairs where my mom already had her cup of coffee in hand, a crackling fire lit in the family room, carols are playing in the background, and the smell of cinnamon & pecans coming from the kitchen. The first thing all three of us girls would do was walk over to the fireplace and get our stockings that were always chalked-full of "goodies" and Dollar Tree gems! The best was when I received highlighters with the name "Dawn" on them...that one slipped by Santa! I can remember carefully sorting and examining each and every little surprise to make it last as long as possible. It was a really good year when Santa couldn't even fit everything in the stocking and there might be a stack of extra stuff on the brick fireplace ledge! It was now time for coffee and cinnamon rolls. We would take a short break to get the rolls out of the oven and take our breakfast back to the family room where all three girls would gather around the tree and try to decipher which wrapping paper Santa wrapped our gifts in.

57: He would use a different kind for each of us girls. As soon as that issue was solved, the next thing to do was to count the number of each gifts under the tree according to your very own paper. We would then take turns, reviling in the complete joy and abundance of the Holiday season by unwrapping one gift at a time, making sure that we "ooohh" & "ahhh" over everyone's gift. We would try to squeeze our school made gifts into the mix for Mom & Dad when we felt like they needed to open something too. I would continue the sorting and organizing of my loot just as I did with the stocking for the rest of the day. Before the morning was over, my dad would gather all of us around the nativity set that was set out weeks earlier and read from the Bible the story of Christmas. Although respecting the moment, I was plotting and planning in my head what I would tell my best friend I got for Christmas on the phone call I was planning on making within 2 minutes. Knowing she would be jealous because Christmas was always a day earlier at my house. Although this is only a snapshot into the first few hours of our most favorite day, I knew that this sequence of events would be what I came to expect each Christmas. I now can see that all these moments which meant so much to me as a little girl, are patches of family traditions that began to be quilted together many years ago, and it's my hope that my daughter continues the stitches of tradition so she can unwrap and cover herself in memories of LOVE each and every Christmas.

58: As I fade away into the infinite regress of my mind and draw from it Christmas memories, I find that these memories do not include most of my 5 senses. I do not remember voices. I don't remember what was said or to whom. I do remember the adults cooking food, but I don't remember how it smelled or how it tasted. I don't remember how the girt wrapping felt as it fell like ribbons to my feet. I can't replay these memories in my mind and watch them over again like a silent film. All I have are snap shots of glowing faces, blurry at best. However, more than residual sensory perceptions past down from distant events, I hold within these memories a certainty that cannot be proven by science but is as real to me as my own self understanding. As I gaze further down the long road of Christmases past, I see staring back at me with distilled clarity an unidentified sense of knowing without a doubt, that at these moments in time, these people, these snapshots, my family loved me. It is by this love that we gather to celebrate a life that has changed us all. This belief in the person of Jesus of Nazareth is predicated upon Him coming into being at birth and then rising from the dead three days after His crucifixion. This forgiveness and love, which is the foundation of the Christian faith, is undeservingly given to us. As Christians we are faced each day with the

59: responsibility of accepting forgiveness because accepting forgiveness implies three things. 1. We are a people in need of forgiveness 2. We are able and willing to forgive others 3. We can and will forgive ourselves

60: My Christmas memories are from when I was about 6-9 years old I would say. Growing up in California, we obviously never got Christmas weather. When it was 50 degrees out, that was freezing and that's what made it feel more like Christmas. But my favorite times were waking up about 2 a.m and never being able to fall back to sleep, walking down the halls and seeing if everyone was up yet. I would always be so excited to wake up and open presents. When it got to be a more reasonable time like 5 a.m., I couldn't wait any longer. | I had already looked through all the stockings and sneek a peek at about 2 of my presents...I had to wake everyone up. Christmas was never a huge family get together for us, but it was just enough to be with my immediate family. Now a day, I would say my favorite part of Christmas is just the feeling of the Holidays and get- togethers with the families. I'm more of a giver and I really enjoy watching people open up gifts and seeing their faces when they get what they want. So, Merry Christmas and I'm glad I get to spend this year with all the Sterling family.

61: When I think of Christmas, I think of glowing fires, Christmas music playing in a beautifully decorated house, Christmas cookies, "See's" candy, being with my family and lots of yummy food. Only a few Christmas memories stand out in my mind. I vividly remember opening up a blond haired blue eyed baby doll that my mom bought for me on a girl's church trip to Shipshewana when I was in kindergarten. I was so excited, I remember picking her up in the air and spinning her around ( the doll, not my mom). It's funny that as a five year old, I knew my mom got it for me and where from. I guess my parents cut to the chase early with the Santa phenomenon! One of my favorite presents that I received was the pair of hand knitted slippers that Grandma made for each girl, which I still have to this day!

62: More recent Christmas memories involve me living on my own at Christmas time. SInce my mother hired people to put up our tree every year (who she often found screwing around while on the clock, sometimes having ornaments swinging from their ears), it was exciting for me to get my own tree and spend time decorating it with ornaments that I picked out. Last year was my first year with a real tree and I loved it! I treasure creating traditions and celebrating old ones. Now that Collin & I are married, I look forward to starting new traditions with our family and hopefully continuing on a few (I guess I have to learn how to knit)! One thing I know for sure...it's not a good Christmas Eve. unless my dad tries on the shirt he just received...in front of everyone...in the living room...topless! Anyone remember THAT?!

64: I would say that this year is my favorite Christmas ever! But, that wouldn't be fair to all of you. As you can tell, my beautiful wife, Cheryl, is blessed with a creative mind. First, the idea to have an Ohio Christmas. Then to have each of you tell a Christmas story. But, mostly the time we have spent together planning this one event has been incredibly enjoyable. So, on to the assignment. Well, I could tell of the year it was 18 degrees below zero and both Gail & I had diesel automobiles that required us to plug them in at Mom & Dad's. Or, that special Christmas when the kids were all put to bed and Cheryl said "I think I'll get a bath before heading to sleep". Shortly after that, I heard her say "Dallas, I think I'm having labor pains"! This prompted us to the hospital on Christmas Day night to make our final addition to our family. | Joy to the World

65: children & grandchildren. One particular Christmas ( on the Perkins side), my father-in-law, Bob shared with us the story of Christ's birth and how we celebrate this. He then shared about Christ's death. I was a little puzzled. Did he have his Holidays confused? But he shared how the two cannot be separated. As he shared, he went to each of us and placed an old rugged nail in our palms. I felt the roughness and jaggedness of the nail in my palm and thought about the pain associated with it. This served only as a reminder of what Christ did for me and why he was born..so that He could die for me! And that this little baby, Jesus would one day take away all of my sins. It is through His birth, death & resurrection that I have the promise of a new birth and resurrection with Jesus Christ my savior. I hope that you remember at this Christmas season, and every Christmas season, God's gift to us..."For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life". John 3:16 | But, the Christmas that I will share is one of a true Christmas story. I have been blessed to have Christ be the center of both sides of my family. The Sterlings and the Perkins. Both know the love of Christ and I am thankful for the Godly heritage that they have shared and I can pass down to my

66: Well, Christmas sure is a lot different now than when I was a kid and we used to get 3 presents...something we needed (like boots or a new coat), something we wanted, usually a toy of some sort and pajamas...always pajamas! ( a tradition which I carried on to my children as well). I have so many Christmas memories like the year my brother Steve bought me a "Barbie" watch that I had been dying for. Or the year I finally got a "Barbie" townhouse...oh how I loved to play "Barbies"! Also, as kids we used to get together each year with the other neighborhood kids and go door to door Christmas caroling bundling up in our mittens and scarves. We scored big if someone actually invited us in to get warm or offered us some hot cocoa. But most of my favorite memories are not about getting gifts, but about the times we were able to give to others who were in need. Like one year, a man in our church had just lost his job and didn't know how he would provide any type of Christmas at all for his family. My Mom & Dad (who were dirt poor) decided we would all pitch in and put together a gift basket for them. We bought a turkey, canned goods and my mom made baked goods and we loaded it full of food, some gifts for their kids and an envelope with a little cash in it. Then we drove to their house and put it on the front porch. My dad rang the doorbell and we all ran around the corner and hid and watched as they opened the door and saw the basket. We honestly got more joy from that than they did! ANd there was the year that my sister told us that her family didn't have the means to exchange gifts for Christmas.

67: . So, my mom, being ever resourceful, and not wanting to skip giving gifts, decided that we would still draw names as a family, but instead of buying gifts for that person, we would give them something that we already owned. I watched as my kids parted with their favorite toys, books and videos. It was very touching to watch them give away something to their little cousins that they really liked and probably wanted to keep. It taught them the true meaning of giving. | I love the tradition of making our Christmas cut-out cookies with my girls every year. My mom always said "You're not just making cookies, you're making memories"! How true! I was surprised last year when Vanessa and Candace both asked me to make them a recipe box with all of our family favorites. It ended up being a labor of love, as they wanted them all "in Mom's hand writing". All three girls loved it and hopefully will treasure it for years. I also have to tell about Christmas the year that Somer gave us our first grand baby. The circumstances leading up to this had been very trying for me. But, holding little Scarlett in my arms made all of that fade away. I remember thinking how this little baby had brought so much peace and healing into our family and we all adored her and couldn't imagine our lives without her or our family now, without Bob.

68: Since then we have been blessed with 3 more beautiful grandchildren. Little Gabriel, so cute and so smart, Lyla Lee with her deep voice that makes me laugh and Preston who is just a happy baby. I love his belly laughs! But, my 2 favorite Christmas memories have to do with the 2 special guys in my life...Dallas & Addison. One of the years that Uncle David played "Scrooge" at church, at the end of the performance he asked if anyone wanted to give their heart to Jesus. I watch Addison raise his little hand, boy his head and ask Jesus to forgive his sins and cine into his heart. I am forever grateful for the time and sacrifice that David put into being "Scrooge"...it truly was a ministry for him! And lastly, my favorite Christmas was when I was 17~Dallas asked me to marry him and become part of this great family. I am stilled amazed that of all the girls he could've chosen, he chose me.

70: My favorite Christmas was my first one with my own family. I have never looked forward to Christmas throughout the years, because with my family being divorced all I did on Christmas day was just drive from house to house and it never was any fun! I loved the Christmas of 2007 the best because we had a house that everyone came to,. It was my first Christmas with Scarlett and Somer, and the house was all decorated and we did not have to go anywhere. I loved how our tree was right in the window and that Somer had all of her Dickens village houses up. It just made me completely grateful for everything I had and everything that God had done in my life this past year!. Hopefully in the future, we will have many more Christmases that will be as enjoyable as that one had been. | The McClain's

71: As I look back over the years, I really do not have a favorite Christmas because there are so many little memories of each and every Christmas that I remember that make them my favorite. I remember the first year that I decided to buy my siblings Christmas presents. Since my parents did not give ma an allowance, I remember raking leaves for Aunt Tracy or doing other random odd and end jobs so that way I could buy everyone something. I remember that I bought Addison a fake tool belt and he wore it all day. I remember the year that I got a porcelain doll that was my favorite until someone ( not mentioning names ) threw it down the stairs and broke her face. I remember the one year that all of us girls were single (2006 to be exact) and that Mom & Dad made us with each present passed out, tell why we liked each other. We had to dig deep, but in the end it was worth it! I remember my first Christmas as a married wife and mother and howI wanted to decorate the house since Christmas is my favorite. I also remember when I volunteered at the Salvation Army and passed out toys for kids that did not have any. Since that year, I have always sponsored a kid through "toys for tots" or through an "angel tree" at church. I remember the year that I filled 6 shoe boxes for "operation Christmas Child" to represent the 6 kids that I would have one day. ( and I think we are definitely done at 3!) What I remember most, is that our family has always kept Christ first in Christmas by reading Luke chapter 2 (one year Dad actually let me read it) and by my grand parents taking this opportunity of gathering to witness to the lost people in our own family. Overall, I have had great Christmases and I'm looking forward to those to come!

74: My favorite memory has got to be all the traditions that we have. I love listening to Christmas music for the first time when we make Christmas cookies, especially "Kenny G". I also love reading the story of Jesus' birth before we open our presents Christmas morning. Another tradition that I have grown to love, is that we have NEVER, been able to open a single present on Christmas Eve., no matter how much we beg! I also enjoy decorating for Christmas even though it is always a huge job. I guess the thing I love most is getting to spend so much time with family that we normally don't get to see on a regular basis.

76: When I think of Christmas, I think of many things. All the Christmas music, the decorating, shopping, making Christmas cookies as a family, wrapping presents, spending time with friends, family and loved ones. Outside of begging to open at least one present on Christmas Eve., and not wanting to go to bed because of the excitement Christmas morning would bring, I remember on several Christmas mornings waking up anywhere between 2am and 7am to run downstairs and see | all the presents. Some years, a couple of us enjoyed our sleep (Vanessa & myself) more than others (Somer & Addison). And even one year, when Mom & Dad needed a little more sleep than we gave them considering we had to wake them up and none of the presents were even out yet. However, I always enjoyed coming downstairs in our pajamas and blankets Christmas morning. Dad would have cinnamon rolls or breakfast of some sort in the oven. Then when we were all settled in and together, we would read the Christmas story out of the Bible. It was and is my favorite way to start Christmas morning. Not only is it shared with happiness, a few tears here and there, presents, love and family, but it has always remained about the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it. I am very thankful and blessed to have the family immediate and extended to share those beliefs with and look forward to continuing that same truth and some of the traditions with Gabriel. | 2010

78: Ah, here's a memory that brings back good times. Yes, here's a memory that will last for all times. On December 24th, little Addi all full of joy decided he couldn't wait to receive that new toy. Without thinking twice, little Addi went downstiars. He stopped in front of the tree with nothing but stares. A mountain of presents made him drop his jaw, a mountain of presents was all that he saw He then looked for the names that started with "A", for that was all little Addi's vocab could say. After he got his arms piled high, and let out some sighs, he ran up the stairs to unwrap his surprise. Then little Addi heard a sound. What's this?, he thought. "Christmas", so profound. He hid all the wrappings and rushed out with cheer, but little Addi forgot to look in the mirror.

79: He came down the stairs as if it were a race but his parents had an odd look on their face. For there stood little Addi confused to see that he was still in his new "Christmas" jammies.

82: Tuesday, December 24, 1974 This is a busy day. All plans are being made for the big Christmas Eve. family party tonight. Praise God for His blessings, how great! This a.m., I went to JoLynn's, got my hair done and skipped into town. Got the last bit of groceries etc. Came home, fixed our lunch and then got the tables set as tonight after 4:00 p.m. Holy Communion, we all come here for oyster stew and ham sandwiches. At 6:00 p.m., everyone is arriving and happy for the blessed day. John Fegley and new bride Sherie are joining us tonight. Glad to see them and happy to have them. John is just now out of the service and going to college this January. We all received beautiful gifts and how can the love of God be more than showing our wonderful family together. We gave each of our grandchildren and kids each 100.00 dollars. Blessed Christmas! | from the diary of Jessie Hess

83: Wednesday, December 25, 1974 Blessed Christmas. I am up early and starting to clean up the house. I have pies to bake for the dinner to day as we all are going to Doug and Patty's for our Christmas day dinner, We drove the little car it is fun to go in it. Altho' the roads weren't to good so we drove very careful. Had a lovely day, good food too.All were there but JoLynn's. Gram, Pa. A. Maud, Alice, Maurice, Betty Jane & Glenn, Dorie Sterling, Pat, Doug, Doris Pope, Robin, Jim, Tracy, Lilli, Gale, Dallas, Dr., Pat, Lu, Doug, Paul, Erika, Jill, Tom, Julia, Jessie Lynn, Doug Wm. John & Cherie Fegley dropped in for awhile as the were on their way to Wilson's. It has been a good Christmas day and now we are home. Full stomaches of course and now this ends the over eating again. Back to W.W. diet. Tomorrow will be a busy day lots of work to do. | from the diary of Jessie Hess

85: Although it's been said, many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you!

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  • Title: Merry Christmas
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