Memorable Christmases Past: Part 1

Carolyn’s Online Magazine


While working for the Fay-West section of the Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)newspaper one year I wrote an article on memorable Christmas experiences. I’ve always wanted to follow it up because I enjoyed the stories so much, Thus the following is the first report of my asking people the question What was your most memorable Christmas? I hope to continue the stories each year. Below are the stories I’ve collected for 2015.

Chrismon at Wesley United Methodist Church before the 12/18/95 fire.

Chrismon at Wesley United Methodist Church before the 12/18/95 fire.

Told to me by a checkout clerk at an Everything $1.00 store in Walkerton, N. C., 4/27/2015: On the day before Christmas I was in a grocery store. After a woman’s groceries were checked out she handed the clerk a $100 bill. As is routine, the clerk checked the bill’s authenticity. It was a fake. The clerk called the store manager, who then called the sheriff.

The woman had just received the bill from a bank, and was unaware it was counterfeit. She broke down in tears as her full shopping cart was pushed aside, its contents to be replaced on the proper store shelf.

The sheriff questioned her.

“What am I to do?” she said. “This is my family’s Christmas dinner. I have no other money.”

To her amazement, shoppers began collecting money to pay her bill. Her story ended happily as she left with her groceries.

Tree at the Festival of Trees, Ligonier, 2015

Tree at the Festival of Trees, Ligonier, 2015

Rachel Rosenswage Ray, Greensburg (PA): “My oldest son is wed to a Jewish gal,” Rachel said. “She didn’t know anything about Christmas.”

It was 1994, and they lived in Michigan.

“She went to an art store and bought a beautiful glass ornament with swirls on it. She was embarrassed because we only had a 4 foot tree.

“I thought it was touching. Every year the ornament is nestled in the tree. It is a piece of art.”

Unidentified man 12/12/2015: This Christmas (will be my most memorable), because each year I get one step closer to heaven. I’m Catholic, and I believe in heaven. I really do mean that. You want to go to heaven—that’s what it’s all about—I’ll do anything to get to heaven. Why would anyone take a chance on going down?

Our Christmas tree, 2011

Our Christmas tree, 2011

Chrissy, Murraysville (PA): “I think I was 8…when I got a bike. My parents left it on the back porch.

“They ran out of wrapping paper so they used a blue tarp (to wrap it in). It was so wrapped up that it took the whole family to uncover it. It was a huge tarp, like off a wood pile.”

Our cat doesn't quite what to make of the tree and ornaments

Our cat doesn’t quite what to make of the tree and ornaments

Linda McGinnis, Derry (PA): Gee, “I’ve had so many. I don’t know.

You think every year is pretty memorable, let me think.

“I grew up in Penn Township, the oldest of 5 children. I remember the year my father—he would go down and cut our Christmas tree and drag it home. We thought it was funny because Santa always brought our tree on Christmas.

“I always knew it was Christmas when my mother put Christmas curtains up in the kitchen. She sewed.

“We hung red knee socks (on the mantle) and us girls gave socks to our brothers. The socks were filled with oranges, nuts, candy cane and pencils.

“My brother still swears he heard reindeer on the roof.

“Mom and Dad always had toys for us. I got a doll that walked.

“It’s the traditions. Just the old-fashioned Christmas. The train under the tree, mother always made good fudge. It was just a fun time, not a whole lot of commercialism. Nowadays, it’s just different.

“So many different memories.”

Tree by Bethlen apartments, Church St., Ligonier 151206

Tree by Bethlen apartments, Church St., Ligonier 151206

Dottie, Rector (PA): “A long time ago no one put their tree up until Christmas Eve, after the children went to bed.

“In 1937, perhaps—I remember I was little and I went downstairs before Santa left the room. I saw him under the tree, fixing the train.

“The man was not in a Santa outfit. It was my Dad. It shocked me to see him doing the train instead of Santa. My parents assured me my Father was Santa’s helper, because there were too many children for Santa.

“I had many memorable Christmases after that, especially with my children.”

151215 IMG_2252E

Lacey and Clay, Westmoreland County (PA): Both agreed their most memorable Christmas occurred in 2007. It was Lacey’s first Christmas in the United States—she’d recently arrived here from China. On this first Christmas she experienced exposure to new stuff: viewing It’s a Wonderful life, the Christmas tree, gifts, wrapping—she learned to wrap gifts—“I’m still learning,” Lacey said.

Clay also remembers the year he received a bicycle, a black 3-speed racer. “It was in the hardware store and I didn’t expect it,” he said. “It showed up under the tree.”

151216 IMG_3165EJoe, North Huntingdon (PA) “My baby’s first Christmas…that’s a tricky one (question)…When our daughter was born, in September, (that Christmas) we put her under the tree. She was only wearing a Santa hat. We still have the picture.

“Another memorable Christmas occurred when I was just a little kid, about 5, I think. I still believed Santa was real. Then I looked down and saw he was wearing my father’s shoes—Dad was a painter, and his shoes were paint spattered. It was then I realized Dad was dressed as Santa, that Santa was not real.


Elizabeth, Ligonier: “When I was little I thought whenever I die I hope it’s Christmas Eve so I can see baby Jesus.”


Most people have a memorable Christmas story. I hope you enjoyed the ones I shared with you.

I invite you to share your most memorable Christmas with everyone in the comment box at the end of this article.

About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at My novel site is
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1 Response to Memorable Christmases Past: Part 1

  1. Grace ( & Fred) Wells says:

    Good stories – especially about the $100 bill


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