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Writer Jean Gordon compiled a few Christmas stories we thought you'd enjoy reading this week.

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Sheriff Aaron Ellenburg and family.

I was eight years old when Santa brought me this truck with a microphone and speaker. It was his way of helping me prepare to make my dream of being a radio announcer a reality. A few years later, knowing that my sister Sarah and I would not both get rather expensive Christmas gifts, I somehow convinced her that we could go in together and ask for a reel-to-reel tape recorder. I don't remember what I had to promise to make that happen but it did and it was a major step to my career in local radio. Radio is the reason that I spent my first Christmas away from my family in Spindale. I was working at my first full-time job in radio at WDSC in Dillon, SC and was required to work on Christmas day. One of the other employees brought me a delicious traditional Christmas lunch that day. It was not long after that I was able to return home and begin my years at WBBO. I will never forget last Christmas. I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's day in rehab at Fair Haven Forest City after breaking both ankles in a fall that required surgery on both ankles. I can never say enough about how my family, church family, friends and the wonderful staff at Fair Haven did everything possible to make my holidays "merry and bright."I am just thankful that I am out and about this year attending and making pictures of all the meaningful and beautiful things happening in our communities. Pat Nanney, Forest City

"The silliness of the perfect Christmas gift" This may seem strange as a "favorite Christmas memory," but it always comes to mind when people ask about such stuff. My oldest son's mother and I went to store after store in Greensboro and High Point hunting a "car that goes and gets the gas." Pepper had seen it on TV. No big deal right? Well in three-year-old language, it is no big deal, but store clerks, customer service people, and other parents in the aisles of the stores had no dog gone idea what we were talking about. We were in the weeds, as the saying goes. Now, 40 years later the Pepper in question has no idea what we're talking about either because, after all, how many of us can remember what we asked for as three year olds? But what I remember most about that ill-fated night was standing in the last parking lot of the last store we could think of and holding each other while we both cried. There was no car that goes to get the gas. We never did find one even after Christmas. Maybe it never existed, and maybe that is the point of this story.Isn't looking for the perfect Christmas gift just a little bit silly, a little bit sacrilegious in light of the reason for the season being a baby born in a manger 2,000 years ago? Many toys under many trees later, those kids are all grown now and having kids of their own. There will be eggnog and lighted trees all over the world, especially here, Canada, Mexico, Europe, many many homes where the birth of Jesus is celebrated, but the real deal will be in the hearts of those who remember, "Fear not, for I am with you always," and not those poor frustrated parents who couldn't find the car that goes to get the gas. Pat Jobe, Forest City

Our Christmas is always spent with family. My favorite memories are watching the kids grow up and seeing the excitement of them coming downstairs on Christmas morning. After the kids open gifts, we enjoy the family tradition of a big Christmas breakfast together. Sheriff Aaron Ellenburg

"Jesus is the reason for the season" "It's easy to think of Christmas as just a holiday where you receive presents and just to have fun. I mean don't get me wrong, I love getting presents and spending time with family. But, to me Christmas is so much more than that. The first Christmas was when a precious baby came down to earth for everyone. That baby's name was Jesus. Even the people that were mean to him, the people that sin, and even the people that don't believe in him, he still came down to earth for all of us. I sometimes get caught up in the presents and Santa and all of the happiness. But I will try to remember that I would not have all of this happiness if it wasn't for Jesus. I will always try to keep Jesus at the center of Christmas. It is because of Jesus that I am able to tuck away memories that shine His goodness and grace. A Christmas memory that has hit the top of the list for me is getting to turn on the Christmas lights in downtown Forest City. The Christmas lights are something I have looked forward to every year since I can remember. This year, Mayor Steve Holland asked me to help turn the lights on for Christmas. Many gathered in the streets downtown to listen to the Christmas music, the mayor, and watch the lights come on. It is always a magical moment, but this year it was even better getting to hit the button that lit the streets with Christmas colors! I would have never thought I would be honored to do this job. My life after having a heart transplant has not been easy, in fact, it has had many obstacles and made me grow in uncomfortable ways. However, I am very thankful for all of the opportunities I have been given to make this journey not all doom and gloom. The grace that Jesus brought a long time ago has been extended to me through my heart transplant journey and through fun moments like turning on the Christmas lights. I hope when everyone drives through downtown this Christmas season, they think of their own Christmas memories, get out and make new Christmas memories, and not only look at the beautiful lights, but look for Jesus' grace in their lives. Merry Christmas to you all, and I hope your new year is full of blessings!" Addi, young heart transplant recipient

"Santa came while we were at Mass" From my earliest memories and throughout my childhood, my family attended Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. As a young child, I had to nap prior to getting ready for church and Santa always came while I was sleeping. I had the great anticipation of seeing gifts under the tree and wondering what joys awaited my siblings and me when we returned from church in the wee hours of the morning. The sound of the church bells ringing in the clear, cold night and the excitement that surrounded our Christmas celebration following Midnight Mass- opening gifts, laughing together and enjoying my mother's holiday treats, often including many friends and community members from other churches in our town- continue to be some of my most precious memories of my childhood holidays. Margaret H. Annunziata, Isothermal Community College

Our fondest Christmas memories over the years have been plentiful and have been blessings during our 52 years of marriage. From traveling "home" to Galax, VA and to Sparta, NC to be with our families, to visiting with extended family and friends, to choosing our Christmas tree for many years at a tree farm in Ennice, NC. For years as our daughter Suzanne was growing up, we looked forward to making the trip on Christmas Eve to eat at The Beacon in Spartanburg, then getting on I-85 to McAdenville where we drove slowly through the mill town to see every yard decorated with lights provided by Pharr Mills. Then we returned to Rutherfordton to attend the 11PM service at First United Methodist Church to quietly reflect on the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ as church bells rang in Christmas Day. It was always a silent drive home as each one of us thought about Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in that humble stable. With the addition to our family of our now 5-year-old grandson Jackson, our very favorite memory of the holiday season now is having him and his parents ride with us in the Rutherfordton Christmas Parade. Of course he likes the gator we ride in, so that's excitement enough for him. We enjoy seeing and waving to everyone that comes to watch the floats, fire trucks, bands, and Santa come down Main. We know we are blessed to live in Rutherfordton where we have lived more than 40 years, and where so many exciting things are on the horizon for our Town. We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year! Mayor Jimmy Dancy, Rutherfordton

"Spirits remains at holiday breakfast" My favorite holiday tradition is the Basil Whitener Holiday Breakfast that happens the last Saturday before Christmas. A group gathered on that day at Ron and Eddy's in 1945 to talk about the end of the war and what's next in the life of the community. That spirit remains today and many of the attendees have been coming for decades. It's great to see old friends every year and to share a little fellowship and the joy of the season.' Michael Gavin, Isothermal Community College

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