Most Memorable Christmas

Several weeks ago, we asked Ramona Sentinel readers to share their most memorable Christmas with the community. We received some heartwarming stories. They range from a grandmother of 11 who awaited the birth of her first child 55 years ago to a young girl who recently received “A Sister for Christmas.” One woman tells of the outpouring of gifts she and her son received during a particularly trying period in their lives, another tells of the last words she shared with her father one Christmas morning, and a third recounts the story of a special gift her sister and brother-in-law presented nearly 40 years ago.

We thank them for sharing their Most Memorable Christmas with the community, and we send best wishes to our readers for a most memorable holiday season.

Christmas Angels

By Claudia Dufresne

Some of our most memorable Christmas mornings are related to the amazing gift we received, like a new car, tied with a large red bow or a dream vacation to Paris. We also remember that mountain cabin, where it snowed on Christmas Eve and the whole family was together drinking hot chocolate.

For my son and me the most memorable Christmas came when we learned about the true spirit of the holiday, The Spirit of Giving.

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As a single parent of a chronically ill 5-year-old, my life was difficult. After I injured my back, and was no longer able to work, it became almost impossible. But on one early December day, I was pushed far beyond the limits of my experience. I was unsure how I was going to survive this one.

Due to complications related to my son’s asthma, Kory developed an infection in the fluid of his hip. After seven hours in the emergency room, he was diagnosed and scheduled for surgery at midnight. As they wheeled him into surgery, I was so lost and couldn’t imagine how I would cope with what was to follow. He woke up the following morning, in a full body cast, screaming to get out.

Several days later, I took him home to face the most difficult task, caring for him day and night, by myself. He would require

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I.V. antibiotics twice daily and have to be rotated several times during the night. The cast would rub on his slim frame and he would cry out every couple of hours from the pain. Still battling excruciating pain from my injury, I patiently cared for him for three of the longest weeks of my life. The cast was to be removed on Christmas Eve.

A few days before Christmas a group of professional women called and said they would like to come over and sing Christmas carols to my son and me. When they arrived, they were carrying bags of toys and food. Tears streamed down my face as an entire pickup truck full of treasures entered my home. I was amazed at the generosity of these strangers.

The following day, a neighbor told me she was coming by with a few things for Kory and me. When she arrived, I learned that her church had selected our family as the recipients of the Christmas food donation drive. She and her children proceeded to unload box after box of food, depositing them into my tiny kitchen. My refrigerator and freezer were full to capacity and we brought in shelves from the garage to house the overflow of canned goods. I was so overwhelmed, I could hardly speak.

The following day, my sister arrived with a carload of food and toys, donated by her children’s preschool. The children brought in the food and toys and made paper chains and cards for Kory’s room. We decorated a small tree and hung the colorful construction paper cards on the wall. He was overjoyed to have his own tree. On Christmas morning, out of his cast, but still unable to walk, Kory crawled out of bed and dragged himself into the living room.

Beneath the tree were gifts I was unable to buy, and a bounty of food for Christmas dinner. Throughout the day, neighbors I had never spoken to arrived at my door. One by one they presented us with plates of cookies and small wrapped packages filled with toy trucks, coloring books and crayons.

The food sustained us for over six months, but the memory of the season will remain with us for a lifetime. Each year when I decorate my tree, I place two small angels, tied to a package that year, at the top of the tree. And, I remember the Spirit of Christmas is in the giving to benefit others.

A Sister for Christmas

By Paige Ganci

This Christmas will be my most memorable Christmas ever! Even though this is her third Christmas in our home, it’s the first

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one as my sister. In 2010 Savannah came to live with us. We thought she’d only be part of our family for a few weeks. When she came into our home she could barely speak and now with lots of help she will talk to anyone and everyone.

I was an only child for almost 10 years. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be a Big Sister.

On Nov. 2, 2012, our family became complete with the adoption of Savannah. Life is different now, but the best thing is, she thinks we have been sisters all along. My little sister is a caring, cute, sweet girl, and I’m glad she found her forever family.

I got the best Christmas present of all — a sister named Savannah!

Paige is 12 years old.

Dreams Come True

By Marlene Robershaw Being born in America many years ago, all my Christmases have been wonderful and full of joy, family and the riches available through each decade. But the one that stands out as the most memorable was the poorest and loneliest, but filled with joy unspeakable!! On Dec. 19, 1957, I was alone awaiting the birth of my first child. This was an event I had waited for since childhood. I was an only child and used to daydream about having a big family of my own. Then after marriage I had to wait until my husband finished college to start that family. Finally it was going to happen. We lived in a 25-foot trailer, my husband was working nights, and my labor pains began. What a joy, to be having a baby during the Christmas season! What should I do? Well, I had already planned to have my baby at home, not in a hospital, so I was in the right place. I got some writing paper out, and proceeded to paint a picture of the Nativity (Mary sitting at the manger looking over her first baby). What a wonderful labor of love, to paint and wait! I could feel the presence of God, not loneliness. The hours went by, and my painting was finally finished. My labor lasted into the next day, 18 hours total. When the baby girl came into this world, I cried loud with joy, such a miracle, and as a mother, for a short time, I was part of God’s creation process. (I have since been blessed with three other children, and 11 grandchildren. Those early daydreams became reality.)

A Wonderful Gift

Eschleman.DarrenJenFamily0108.WEB By Josie Eschleman Christmas 1973 would be considered the most celebrated for our family. Unable to have children of their own, my sister Sharon and her husband Tom Dugan introduced us to the newest addition to our family: Darren Thomas Dugan, born Nov. 24, 1973. We all rejoiced and immediately took this beautiful bundle into the family and our hearts. Sadly, Darren lost his mother to a congenital heart defect when he was 7 and his father was killed in a plane crash when Darren was just 13. In spite of so much loss at such a young age, Darren grew into a happy, well-adjusted young man. Today Darren is serving our country as a commander in the U.S. Navy with a wife and three children of his own. Darren and his family are very much loved and celebrated by all of us, including a very large extended family. We are all so thankful that Sharon and Tom brought such a wonderful person into our hearts that Christmas, 1973.

Our Last Words

By Deanna Palmer Christmas morning 1952 was hectic. Mother was home from the hospital with the new baby. I had hoped for a baby sister. Instead I got another brother, David. I had asked Santa for a doll that year. “Once I got my doll, I would console myself with her,” I thought. Every year our uncle in New York sent a box of Christmas presents. We opened them first that Christmas morning. My younger sister, Dorothy, excitedly showed me the doll that Uncle Floyd had sent. My gift was a practical sweater. As we began to open the presents from Santa, I saw one box that was obviously a doll. I was so excited. The name, however, read “Dorothy,” not “Deanna.” I struggled to not show my disappointment. I can’t even remember what I got from Santa that year. After the Christmas service at our church, all our relatives got together, as usual, to go to Grandma’s house for dinner. Each of the children were always given a gift from their godparents. We opened the gifts, one at a time, for everyone to see and enjoy. As it came time for Dorothy to unwrap her gift, we all watched as she unwrapped — twin dolls! After that, it was difficult to be thankful for the flannel pajamas that I received. Actually, I was glad when the day was over and I could go to bed. The next morning, however, my father announced that he had errands to run after breakfast and he specifically said that I could go with him. We went to the National Dollar Store on University Avenue in North Park (at that time there were no shopping centers and very few department stores). My father took me to the toy department. He stopped at the aisle with dolls. With a smile that I’ll never forget, he told me to pick out a doll. He explained that he had understood how I felt, and that it hurt him to see me sad because he loved me. Only then did I cry. Christmas morning 2007, I phoned my father to wish him a Merry Christmas. Tearfully, he told me, “I love you very much.” I was so touched. My family rarely expresses feelings or emotions. I told him that I loved him, too, and that we would be driving from San Diego to his home in Arizona the next day. At the time, I didn’t know that those were the last words that we would speak to each other. Shortly after that phone call, my father passed away. Dad had gone to spend Christmas with Jesus. What a wonderful memory my father’s words continue to be: “I love you.”

   
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