Another contest brings another round of wonderment! From heartwarming stories that create teardrops to funny stories that also cause teardrops of humor. There’s not a dry eye in the house!
We’re so honored that so many of our players shared their heartfelt stories. Thank you all for taking the time and making the effort! They really all were winners. But that’s not how a contest works!
As you can guess, the hard part is narrowing down the many stories and making a decision on which one gets first, which gets second, and which gets third. Thankfully, we have a group of employees who were kind enough to take time out of their busy days and read through every story and help us find the winners in the haystack of winners.
And without further ado, here are the winners, and their winning stories (some slightly edited from the original to fix any typos or grammar issues):
FIRST PLACE, Best Reuniting Story: Bilmare’s “Finding our Parents”.
My two sisters and I were in foster care and were adopted at ages 4, 5, and 6 years of age. We grew up and when we were in our 20’s my middle sister got our court case reopened to find our real parents and it happened to be in December. The court had to make contact with our real father to make sure it would be okay to tell us their identity. He said okay and we left from North Carolina and drove to Georgia, where we lived half our life, pulled up at this white house to see about 20 people standing on the porch.
It was amazing meeting my biological father and mother. We had five half-sisters and one-half brother. All this “real” family. It was like getting a second chance all over again. It’s truly one of the best Christmas presents ever! Being reunited and finding out there were reasons out of anyone’s control for us getting put in the foster system. All’s well that end well!
FIRST PLACE, Best Crazy Relatives Story: Darsanga’s “The Christmas Tree Conundrum”
Growing up we never had much, but what we did have is fun and one crazy Momma. The year I was 9, I remember my Mother deciding she could save money to buy gifts by cutting down a tree in the woods on our country acreage. The only issue being my Father absolutely refusing to allow her to do so. This wasn’t as much of an issue as I thought at 9 years old.
You see my father worked on the railroad. One day in early December, he got called in for a 3 day run and said: “See, Linda, overtime; We have plenty for Christmas.” He really should have known her better than that. The moment he kissed her bye, she was on the phone with her best friend, Frances, who owned the farm across the road. She sat us kids down with popcorn, string, and everything we might need to add to our assortment of decorations. By this time it was dark, but this did not deter them.
An hour later, we hear: “Y’all open the back door and get out of the way!” As we obliged, the eldest of us, my sister, saw the tree and the look on her face warned the rest of us. Momma and Frances drug the tree in the back door, and kept at it until the base was out the front door. They had cut down a 17 foot tree in the day 8-foot ceilings were standard. By this time the adults were full of Christmas “cheer” and rolling on the ground laughing, while the kids were determined this was THE tree. Someone finally pointed out we could cut down the top and use it. My oldest brother measured and axed it right there in the middle of the living room.
Can you imagine the surprise on my Dad’s face when he got home from his trip to find a 10 foot around Christmas tree taking up a full 1/3 of the living room. You couldn’t see anything for that tree. It was glorious. Until the day he died, he never left the house in December without having a tree up.
FIRST PLACE, Best Child’s Gift Story: Amber_Byrd, “The Forever Home”
My husband and I were unable to conceive. So we decided in February of 2014 to become foster parents.
We became a family of four in as little as three weeks after the classes and training. We welcomed a boy and a girl into our home. They had lived in eight different homes before they came to us. These sweet kids looked just like us. As if they were chosen by Him to be with us. We knew after a few short nights that we would work to adopt them. To adopt children from the foster system is very hard. It took a long time as well as many court dates and hearings. Those two kids wanted nothing more than to stop being in foster care and have a forever home.
We went to see Santa at the annual Christmas at the zoo. The oldest boy told Santa that the only thing he wanted for Christmas was for him and his sister to be adopted. And on December 23rd I got the call that we had finally had the states approval to adopt.
Santa had written a very special letter and placed it in the tree. It was addresses to both kids. When he read the letter he screamed and jumped up and down. His younger sister asked “We never have to move again? We can be a family forever?” By far the most amazing moment and joy we’ve ever experienced.
FIRST PLACE, Best Stuck at Home Story: Holly_Demko, “Puppies for Christmas!”
Last Christmas, my car was unfortunately in the shop and I couldn’t go anywhere all day. My family usually has presents In the morning and then everyone leaves and comes back for dinner. I was upset since I was home alone because I didn’t feel like being a bother to anyone asking for a ride on Christmas. My dog was pregnant at the time, so it was just me and my dog. About 2 hours after everyone left I heard my dog crying, I found her and below here, two puppies! She ended up having 8!
And that really made my day better since I was able to keep her company and see all the cute little pups! We ended up naming them after the reindeer since they were born on Christmas. We ended keeping one and re-named her Bear. Sometimes things don’t go as planned but it turned out great anyways.
FIRST PLACE, Best Doing for Others Story: Dawn_Slippy_Clarke, “First Christmas in 30 Years”
When I was growing up, my parents ran a Crisis Center. It was nothing to have dinner with the homeless, stranded or runaways. Each year at Christmas my mom would find out what the newest arrival would need and wrap gifts for them and place them under the tree.
One year we had a man who showed up at our door with nothing but a tattered coat and shoes that had seen better days. It was the middle of winter so my mom opened the clothes closet and started digging. After a warm meal and a warm place to sleep, he awoke to Christmas Day. Watching everyone open gifts you could tell he was uncomfortable. That is, until my mom placed several packages in his lap. As he started opening new socks, a razor, deodorant and the likes, his face changed. With tears rolling down his face he told my mom that it had been over 30 years since he was given a Christmas gift as he had been homeless that long. We all sat there in silence as he told us his life and how we had just blessed him with the best gifts ever.
It was just toiletries, we thought, but to him it was much more. I will never forget him or his face. May we always remember it’s the little things that matter.
FIRST PLACE, Funniest Holiday Story: PMgrftn, “The Wrong Kind of Secret”
I have three kids and three grandkids that I spend Christmas with. My kids are my son who is 34, who is father to my three grandkids, and my two daughters who are 23 and 16. Let’s not discuss why my kids are that many years apart, that’s a story for another day.
Last year we were all together opening our presents and everyone was having a good time. Somehow when I was wrapping presents I put my son’s name on one of my oldest daughters presents. Needless to say when he opened that gift there was 7 pairs of women’s thong underwear from Victoria Secret in it. My son’s face turned blood red as the rest of us were dying laughing. Needless to say the two youngest boys who were 4 and 6 were running around with thong underwear on their head. Both my son and oldest daughter were dying of embarrassment. I definitely won’t make that mistake again.
SECOND PLACE, Best Reuniting Story: L4yl4z3, ” Mum Finding Her Dad”
My mum has been looking for her dad since she was 16 years-old and was only told his nickname and that he was Irish by her mum. (he came to England on a tunnel job and got with my nan for 3 years , my nan left him because they weren’t married and she didn’t want to have a kid out of wedlock and didn’t want to get married to him when he proposed and she did a “runner”) Her mum has abandonment issues and never really wanted my mum to meet her dad. Sucks really .
In 2017 I got with a guy from Donegal, Ireland. And as time went by I told him bits and Bob’s about my family and that I dont know my grandad but he is Irish . He told me people in Ireland know each other from all across the land and that if we really wanted to track him down he could message a few people to at least see if he is alive or dead or if he has been heard of. So I gave him his nickname, ‘Rocky’ and told him everything I knew and just by chance one of our Irish friends who lives in England near by who I see regularly told us that the name Rocky is from Buncranna (on the Inishowen peninsula located in Donegal ) and that it may be him. After a few phone calls to the wrong people we thought it was a lost cause.
However as time went by my mum was desperate and contacted a guy from an ancestry company and told him what information we found out and he wasn’t hopeful and we didn’t have too much. After months of looking he said that that name (there were a lot of tunnelers that came to Coventry during the 60s for construction of the ring road from Donegal) but the name rocky didn’t come up much however there was a guy named Henry Doherty. He keeps popping up and currently has no children . However he has lots of brothers and sisters. Nieces and nephews and cousins etc.
My mum, on the other hand, has no brothers or sisters and one uncle. She always dreamed of having a big family and one day to meet her dad and hopefully find out she has more brothers and sisters or just more family . Anyway she wrote this letter and without rewriting it she basically told him how he may not be the right person, but it’s the only option she has right now . And that she doesn’t care why he left she just wants to know he exists or is alive or dead, she doesn’t have to meet him and basically that she has looked for him all her life.
Two weeks later my mum receives a phone call and it is him. She asked him her date of birth and her mum’s name and other things to make sure it was really him. And he passed with flying colours.
She went over and met him the next week. Me and my partner and daughter and herself all got in our jeep and we drove to Ireland. He invited us to his niece’s wedding and there we met our family. At the wedding they announced the news and they were asked to have the first dance. I have never been so emotional in all my life . My mum would always say she would die feeling incomplete and unhappy if she never had the chance to meet him.
And she did ! 6 months later she sold her house and brought one 5 miles away from him and now she seems him regularly. And when I go to Ireland I can see my big family and my mum happy .
This is now my mums second xmas with him and she has never looked back.
SECOND PLACE, Best Crazy Relatives Story: Shelley_Morton, “Mantyhose”
Many many years ago my mom decided to get my grandpa a gag gift for Christmas. She went to Spencer’s and bought him a pair of “mantyhose”. (Panty hose for men with room for… well, the hose! LOL). So, here we all were, opening gifts with all of us kids gathered around the tree when pappaw opened his gift. Now mom thought he would open it, everyone would get a big laugh and that was it.
Pappaw had other ideas! He disappeared into his room when no-one was paying attention. The next thing we knew he was running down the hallway wearing nothing but the mantyhose! (He had a sock covering his ” hose”.) This happened probably 35 years ago. Needless to say that it’s something neither I nor my cousins will ever forget! I think there’s probably still a Polaroid or two still floating around somewhere!
SECOND PLACE, Best Child’s Gift Story: Aileen, “Hidden Cash”
We have three kids who gave us 10 wonderful grandchildren, and all but one of them are now teenagers and three are in their 20’s. We started giving them money instead of gifts several years ago, but I have always missed giving them wrapped gifts and watching them open them. Last year before Christmas I was in The Dollar Store when I had a lightbulb moment! I bought 10 gifts that were completely enclosed in plastic packaging. I took them home and very carefully opened them and put the money where it wouldn’t be found without a little effort. Then I wrapped them and waited for big day.
Time for gift exchange! I handed out all the gifts and they began opening! Oh what fun!!! The boys opened their laser pens and began playing with them! The girls were comparing and talking about their make up kits! Then the youngest opened her Elsa flashlight and when it didn’t work, she opened it to see if it had a battery and pulled the $50 Bill out!!Then the scramble began!!! They all grabbed up their discarded packaging and began digging around to find their money!!! It made giving cash so much more fun but the thing that warmed our hearts was that they were all happy with Gramma and Poppa’s Dollar Store gifts way before they found the cash! And THAT was a precious gift of love to us!!!
SECOND PLACE, Best Stuck and Home Story: Falcon1996, “Never Forget”
Saturday night at about midnight, I awoke to hearing my daughter, CJ, coming out of her room, go downstairs, rustle around for a minute or two, then return upstairs to her room. I was on the verge of freaking out because HELLO… MIDNIGHT… STILL AWAKE!!!
So I got up, went in her room and started to lay into her. She calmly tried to explain she had left a surprise downstairs for us for the morning and begged me not to ruin the surprise and not go check. So, I took a chance and trusted her, that she wasn’t sneaking around doing something she shouldn’t be (sorry…I’m always on my toes around my two tasmanian devils), or helping herself to a midnight snack. The next morning this was our surprise and I melted.
Teenagering is hard, and parenting a teenager is even harder… and then they have these moments when they show you what they’re really like deep down… and you see and feel the hope… and pray it lasts, or at least the memory of the moment holds you over at least long enough until the next time. This time I have a
necklace that will hopefully remind me too.
The note says:
I made you guys some necklaces.
The bracelet – dad’s
The white and purple – mom’s
The purple – Keegan’s
I hope you like them. I stade up late to make them extra special for you guys.
If your item breaks plz stop by my office. My office hours are whenever.
Lots of Love
SECOND PLACE, Best Doing for Others Story: Tleaf, “Unexpected Angel”
I was in a miserable abusive marriage but told no one. A friend in the choir I sang in must have recognised a kindred spirit because she one day said that hers was always a place to run if I ever needed it. I was surprised and taken aback as I hadn’t known her very long.
Fast forward 18 months and I had to run when he threatened to kill me. 3:00AM in the morning I text my friend and briefly told her what had happened as he was being arrested. She told me where to find a key and turn up whenever.
She gave me a safe place until I could get back on my feet. That was 3 years ago and I’m happy and safe and she is my best friend. I know that without her help I couldn’t have got away and for that I will be eternally grateful.
SECOND PLACE, Funniest Holiday Story: Jenn_Youzwa, “The Veggies Were Good!”
My sister bought a new house and decided she would hold Christmas at her place. She has never cooked before. She said she would do turkey, potatoes and veggies, she even had dessert!
I got there and she pulls out this turkey, it is burnt on top and frozen in the middle -she cooked it from frozen. The potatoes she forgot to boil, so they were still uncooked and hard . Veggies were ok. The dessert was still in the freezer -rock solid… so we all sat around with our plates of just veggies and told her how good they were… she took up cooking classes soon after.
THIRD PLACE, Best Reuniting Story: Debra_Petersen_Daley, “The Return of Christmas Snow”
My favorite Christmas story begins on Christmas in 1995 when “Santa” surprised our two little girls with a cute little fluffy white puppy for Christmas. The girls named our new pup, Chrissy Snow for “Christmas Snow”.
It was one of the best Christmas’s as Chrissy brought so much love and joy into our family. Exactly one year later on Christmas Day, Chrissy got out of the yard and went missing. It was a sad day and many weeks of tears followed as we canvassed the neighborhood looking for our lost puppy. We knocked on doors, called shelters and rescues, and plastered the neighborhood with “Lost Dog” flyers. But all our efforts were to no avail. Our flyers resulted in a few hopeful spottings, but none resulted in finding our Chrissy.
My heart was broken. On the next Christmas Day, we thought of Chrissy. When pondering down memory lane, talks of Chrissy brought us to smiles, but likewise, moments of grief were felt as well. We all missed Chrissy. But just as our festivities were wrapping up, a true Christmas miracle happened.
Just as my husband was seeing his mother and father to their car, Chrissy returned home. Chrissy Snow jumped into my husbands arms, reunited with wet kisses and a waggly tail. He immediately brought her into the house. My girls and I couldn’t believe our eyes, we all wept in pure joy. Chrissy never left again and lived out her days bringing us much love.
Chrissy has long passed since that fateful Christmas Day, but she will always be In our hearts, and the memories that we share will always be cherished. We will never know where Chrissy was for an entire year to be exact, but we suspect that some grinch or a Scrooge in the neighborhood stole our Christmas Snow- ignoring the flyers.
THIRD PLACE, Best Crazy Relatives Story: Charityr04, “Christmas Fox Incident”
A few years ago my family was preparing to celebrate Christmas together. My brother called and asked if his partner, Troy, could bring a costume, and dress up for the kids. They had bought stuffed animals to hand out. This sounded like a great idea and both my sister and I were onboard!
My brother and his partner showed up and after a bit they snuck out to get Troy in costume. We all expected a Santa costume or something festive. Imagine our surprise when he walked in wearing a giant and realistic Fox costume.
Two children began to scream and the third stuck her head in a box. Discovering that this was not a good situation, we told Troy that he better leave the house and get changed, the kids were just too frightened. My brother and Troy walked outside. We began to calm the children down and re-assure them that the giant fox was gone, when the giant Fox’s head popped up in our living room window and he knocked and began waving at the children. This ensued a whole new round of terror. The kids hid and began crying. Needless to say, this terrifying experience has gone down in family history as the never forgotten “Christmas Fox Incident”.
THIRD PLACE, Best Child’s Gift Story: Christopher_Wood, “The Loudest Christmas”
I grew up in a household where music lessons were required. Both of my parents played clarinet and my older sister played piano. So, after I had taken piano lessons for about four years and tirelessly refused to practice, I was looking for a way out.
“I want to play the drums”, I said to my mom. I loved music with a good beat and I thought drums would be a good fit for me. So my wish for Christmas that year would be a drum set.
Christmas morning I get up and look downstairs by the tree and what do I see? No drum set that’s for sure. But there were plenty of gifts. So, I get to open my gifts one at a time until the very last one – a pair of drum sticks.
“What am I supposed to do with these?” I asked. “I don’t have any drums.” To which my mom replied “you might want to look in the basement.” So I did. And what do you know? There was my drum set. And that turned out to be the loudest Christmas ever!
THIRD PLACE, Best Stuck at Home Story: gatrd, “REALLY Stuck at Home”
I know something about being “Stuck at home.” I broke my neck in an auto accident on December 28, 1988. My birthday is the 29th, which also makes Christmas a little sad. My name is Donna. I lived on my own at time of accident. When I was discharged from hospital I went back home to my parents house with two little brothers and one younger sister.
They were the whole reason I moved out. Living there now being paralyzed was the toughest thing I’ve gone through. Depending on others for every little thing we all take for granted. A sip of water, a bite of food, dressing, bathing, help sleeping… ugh… I did not think I was going to make it. Being “stuck” day after day OMG.
This went on for 9 months. Luckily there was finally room at a rehab that taught me to basically live on my own – best thing ever!