Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Let me be your Santa #2

Posted December 10, 2008

What is the most satisfying holiday gift you have given over the years?  What was it about the gift, the recepient and the circumstances that made your gesture so special?

Please share your stories today. We'll put all entries into a hat and draw a winner tomorrow. That person will receive a copy of my coffee table hardback book Blue Ridge Reunion and companion CD by the same name.

One of my favorite stories dates back more than 20 years. Several families in our church, Cary Presbyterian, adopted a needy family near Holly Springs for Christmas. After receiving a wish list from the family we shopped at area stores and presented the gifts on the Sunday afternoon before Christmas. The family we were helping promised to wait til Christmas to open the gifts but we later realized they opened them as soon as we left.  Somehow a wrapped gift intended for me ended up in the pile that was taken to the adopted family. It was a beige London Fog sent from my mother-in-law, Margie, working overseas at the time. She knew every good reporter needed a handsome trench coat.

Christmas Eve my wife Cindy realized the mistake and called the woman to let her know she was coming to the retrieve the coat, The woman was very upset. Even though a trench coat was not on her wish list, this one fit perfectly and she loved the warm lining. Cindy called our covenant group members. Each one dropped what they were doing and went shopping. It wasn’t easy finding an extra large women’s trench coat on Christmas Eve but Joan Haskin came through with the perfect garment. Cindy delivered the new coat. The disadvantaged woman was delighted. She gave back the London Fog intended for me. I would have gladly given up my coat but I didn’t find out about the mix-up until the next day. Despite the drama we all had a Merry Christmas.

Please share your gift stories.

Congratulations to racinjunki!  Your name was pulled from the hat this morning as winner of the first Let Me Be Your Santa drawing. Please send me your name and address and I'll send you a book and CD.


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  • Catalina_Day Dec 11, 2008

    A few years ago my Mom surprised my 3 brothers and I with a gift that is so special. You see, when I was 7, my dad was a coal miner and was killed in a mining accident.
    Some wonderful person had made a recording of my Dad praying during a live broadcast on the local radio station and had given it to my Mother years later. My Mom took that recording and made a very nice CD of the recording. She made a special photo album for each of us. Mine was filled with pictures of me and Daddy fishing, eating apples, playing with our dog and many other happy memories. Also included was a statue made out of coal called "'The Praying Miner" I can't tell you how much this gift means especially to hear my Dad's voice after 24 years. Now my son has been able to hear his voice too. I played a little for him recently (my son is 4) and when my husband came home, from work, he ran to him and excitedly said, "I got to hear Papaw sing from Heaven". It was a very sweet moment.

  • cagerat42 Dec 11, 2008

    One of the gifts that my family enjoys doing are the Toys For
    Tots.We started doing this when my oldest son was one and he is
    now 15.We also participate with Christmas Caroling at the local
    nursing homes.Its fun to see the residents regain some of their
    youthfulness while singing some old favorites.
    The greatest gift I got was a pillow.A few years ago my mother had pillows made out of a guilt my grandmother made.I can remember being 8 or 9 years old and watching her make that guilt.My grandmother passed away three years ago and I was able
    to get one of her rocking chairs.Makes a good resting spot for the pillow.Missing grandmama at Christmas again this year.

  • Southernbornbarb Dec 10, 2008

    This will be a gift that I am giving my daughter this Christmas. She had a cat that lived to be 21 1/2 years old before we had to have her put down because of cancer. She grew up with the cat. I went through my photos and had 13 pictures of the cat made into a calendar to surprise my daughter at Christmas. I know we will all have tears at the memories.

  • mom2kids71 Dec 10, 2008

    The gift I remember giving the most was in 2005. My mom loved the illusionist David Copperfield and I was going to surprise her for Christmas with tickets to the show. She had lost both of her parents in the previous year and Christmas was going to be tough for us all. Unfortunately, my mom's house caught fire on Christmas morning in Fuquay and she never knew I had the tickets. It was a good show and will always remember trying to surprise her.

  • tennispro Dec 10, 2008

    One Christmas my best friend and I were shopping at Cameron village. We saw tww ceramic pie plates in a window. I loved the strawberry one and she loved the blueberry one. Well, on Christms when we exchanged our gifts we had both gotten each other the pie plates. She is now deceased so I treasure my pie plate more than ever now.... Merry Christmas to all!!

  • cornfused Dec 10, 2008

    One year I had gotten together the fabric and supplies for all of my parents' grandchildren to paint anything they wanted on their square. Together with several older aunts in the family, we made it into a quilt for my parents. It was very special to them and a way for each grandchild to participate.

  • tvhartrick Dec 10, 2008

    Actually I have to admit that the best gift I remember is not something I gave, but something that our family received on Christmas 2006 (not exactly going by the rules of the question here).

    The story starts in 2001, with the passing of my wife's sister Beth. Beth had been working on writing a kid's book that teaches the good lessons of life (anti-drug, respect, etc.) thru a fictional character named "Skat Daddy". Unfortunately, Beth passed before she could pull the book together.

    On Christmas 2006, another member of the family pulled the notes and pictures together, had the book made through Lulu, and we all opened our copies that Christmas Day.

    It brought back such wonderful memories of Beth.

  • swharp Dec 10, 2008

    I had a customer who didn't have much but never complained. When Christmas came last year, I gave them a ham and my church gave them a check for $75.00 to help with their heating bill. They were so appreciative and that proved to me that is always better to give than to receive.

  • LMRA Dec 10, 2008

    The gift I gave that meant the most to the recipient was the year my sister and I got my parents a satellite dish. Today that sounds odd but when the small dishes first came out, you could buy them at Best Buy or Sam's Club and then have the provider come out and hook them up.

    I wrote a poem and stuck it on top of the box. I wish I had saved it. In it, I explained to my Mother that we knew how homesick she was for NY sports (and, in the case of my father, his beloved Green Bay Packers). At that time, she could only see the teams when they played on a national station or one of the teams Carolina considers their 'home' team.

    She was SOOOOOOO excited. She wasn't exactly sure how they worked and wanted my father to get the ladder out!

    OH and that was the same year I got my father an official Cheesehead to wear during the Packers games! When he doesn't wear it, they lose!!! We told him that when his time comes, we're going to bury him with that darn cheesehead!

  • anggiet Dec 10, 2008

    Last year my husband put together slide shows on a CD with photos of his parents, sisters, grandkids and siblings along with appropriate music. Although he and I wanted to see the reactions of everyone as we watched the CD together, emotions were too high seeing pictures of his dad, whose been gone for many years. Later, my mother-in-law called to say that she watched the whole thing and cried all the way through it. I don't know if we will ever be able to top that one.




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Bill Leslie