By Lorraine Walker
First Published December 2008
As the snow begins to fall and the cold winds blow, many Southern Gospel artists start to plan their Christmas vacations. For most, it is a time to step off the tour whirlwind and relax with family friends while remembering the birth of our Saviour. This year, several singers shared with SGM Radio their favorite Christmas traditions and memories.
Greg Bentley, A&R Director for Crossroads Music, Soloist : “I love Christmas. My favorite Memory of Christmas would probably be way back in 1974. We had just moved from Daleville, AL to Boone, NC and I was 11. Coming from the Deep South, we did not see snow, so I was excited that we might. It actually came early that year. We had a big snow at Thanksgiving and then another one at Christmas. That was my first White Christmas. There are many memories spending time with family too, it's a big deal in the Bentley / Teague families to get together.
My favorite tradition has to do with my favorite thing, food! Every year my mother makes from scratch German Chocolate Cake and Martha Washington Candy. It would not be Christmas without those two sweets. Merry Christmas everyone!”
Gerald Sweatman, Soloist, Songwriter: “My favorite Christmas memory is from when my two sons were growing up. On Christmas Eve, my wife and I would send them to bed early knowing they would wake up really early. After they had gone to sleep and Santa had put their toys under the tree, I would go to their rooms and jingle my car keys letting them know Santa was just leaving. They were afraid to get up because they thought Santa might see them. I would jump quickly into bed, but before long the two little guys would be over the bed saying, ‘Mom, Dad, wake up, Santa came!’ It was several years before they would go down stairs with out Mom and Dad going with them. Now they are grown and married, but when I jingle my keys they look at me and smile. My favorite Christmas tradition is spending Christmas day with my two boys and their families.”
Jason Funderburk, Driven: “My greatest memory of childhood Christmas would be the excitement of that morning on the 25th. I could not wait to get to our living room to see what was there. A tradition my family has always done is when I would find the plate of cookies, or what was left, and beside the plate was a piece of Santa's beard I had asked for. I wanted to know that he was really there! And the milk glass would have his imprint on it and to me that was magical. But my Dad being who he was would always say, ‘Lets not forget the real reason we celebrate Christmas, Jesus died for us, and like Santa you know that He was there and He will always show up when He is supposed to!’”
Mark Bishop, Soloist: “My favorite Christmas memory is when Carolyn and I first were married over 25 years ago. We couldn't afford much but we were just so happy to be together. That year she got a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. We needed one for the new house!”
Gary Casto, Tribute Quartet: “The tradition I remember growing up as a child was on Christmas Eve, my parents would load the vehicle up with lots of presents and food my mother had worked on all day. We would go to both sets of grandparents to celebrate Christmas with the whole family and not get home until late just a few hours before Santa came to visit. Even though all of my grandparents have gone on to be with the Lord, we still carry the tradition of getting together with both sides of the family and spending time reminiscing and celebrating the birth of our Savior, the happiest time of the year.”
Rusty Golden, Songwriter: “My favorite tradition is of course getting together with my whole family, both sides, and fighting over nothing! I’m just kidding about the fighting. My favorite Christmas memory was when I was eleven years old and I got my first set of ‘good’ drums. Within two years I was playing on the road with the Rambos and the Oak Ridge Boys. This coming Christmas will be sort of sad because it will be my whole family’s first Christmas without my dear grandmother ‘Gaggie’. She was my dad’s mother and was a Godly woman. That is the one thing that will give us comfort, that she is in a place she always want to go to, Heaven.”
Woody Wright, Singer, Songwriter: “Christmas Eve was the time for my two brothers and me to choose one gift to open and leave the others for Christmas morning. One year, we all wanted a slot car track set. There was a large package under the tree marked to all three of us. Our Dad told us we could open one present each, or get together and choose to open the one big one on Christmas Eve. Feeling confident that the large package was the slot car set, we decided to open that one. We were shocked to find that the large box turned out to hold pre-fabricated fireplace logs, made from sawdust. Opening the Christmas Eve gift is my favorite tradition. The favorite memory is of my Dad laughing so hard that that year, that he had tears in his eyes! By the way, we did get that slot car set after all!”
Thanks to all of our artists and friends who have shared their memories with us this year. From our house to yours, may you all have a very Blessed Christmas!
Written by Lorraine Walker. First published December 2008 on http://www.sgmradio.com
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