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Spreading Christmas Cheer

Cover Story


Christmas is the perfect time to gather the ones we love close and make memories. Most importantly it’s an opportunity for us to celebrate our Savior’s birth. Enjoy reading about favorite Christmas memories and traditions from these past Birmingham Christian Family (BCF) cover stories and BCF friends!

Ruth Graham, Author of  Forgiving My Father, Forgiving Myself 

Ruth Graham“Christmas was a big deal at our house. We celebrated all aspects of it, but the story of Jesus’ birth was front and center. We knew the real story. Many years my father, Billy Graham, would just be coming home from a trip, stopping in New York on his way home. He took the train from NYC. Invariably, he would have done a bit of shopping – his suitcase bulging. When he got home his eyes would dance as he’d say conspiratorially, “I know some secrets.” It would make us wild with anticipation. One year when we begged him for a clue as to the gift. He said, “You will wish you are older.” We couldn’t figure that out but made wild guesses. He so enjoyed teasing us with a grin on his face. On Christmas morning we opened his gift to find a silver dollar according to our age. I think I was 11 at the time so I got eleven silver dollars. Some of which I still have! My father made Christmas a delight.”

Terry Saban, Wife of Coach Nick Saban 

Terry and Nick Saban“Our family understands that when we are home for Christmas, we might be in big trouble with the football season! So, we most often spend Christmas and the week leading up to a bowl game in the host city of the bowl. Whether it’s New Orleans or Pasadena, Atlanta, Miami, or Phoenix, the whole family packs up our goodies and we spend it with our football family in a hotel while Nick and the team prepares for game day! Actually, we have Thanksgiving dinner with football players at our house two days before the annual Iron Bowl. And our children and granddaughter’s birthdays, as well as my birthday and our anniversary are all in December, so it’s a very special month that requires a lot of planning if Nick is participating in any of the festivities. Football is truly a way of life and we embrace it and appreciate it so much! The families of the coaches collect baskets of food and gifts to give to needy families and our Nick’s Kids Foundation honors 50 local teachers with a luncheon and $500 in gift cards to each recipient. Christmas is a time of giving and appreciating our many blessings! Roll tide and Glad tidings… from wherever we may be!”

 James Spann, Chief Meteorologist ABC 33/40

James Spann“A good Christmas memory was Christmas Day 2010. It snowed! It was the first “White Christmas” in my life. We had a chance to play in the snow before we left to drive to my wife’s parents place in Tuscaloosa for lunch. There was just rain there. All my life I was dreaming of a White Christmas, and it finally happened! Statistical odds of snow on Christmas Day in Alabama are generally under one percent.”


Martina Sykes, Broadway’s The Lion King

The Lion King “My favorite Christmas memory on tour was last year. Most holidays we don’t get to spend time with our families, but you create a family within the cast. One of the blessings of The Lion King, you get to work with people from different cultural backgrounds. Gerald Ramsey, who plays Mufasa, is from American Samoa and his family lives in Seattle. He invited me to his family’s house for Christmas dinner and to take part in their traditions. I had a blast listening and learning their carols, prayers, games and eating their delicious food.” 

Laura Story, GRAMMY Award Winning Artist 

Laura Story “I’ve had the honor of spending Christmas Eve with my church family at Perimeter’s Christmas Eve Service (Atlanta, Ga.). Every year, we close the service by singing “Silent Night,” each holding candles that are lit row by row as we sing. There’s a feeling that comes over us that truly can’t be put into words as we see the light start at that initial Christ candle and spread throughout the room. It’s a simple reminder that’s why Jesus came.”


Tony Cooper, Executive Director Emeritus The Jimmie Hale Mission 

Tony Cooper“Shortly after we moved to Birmingham to come to the Jimmie Hale Mission, we began having lasagna for our Christmas dinner.  By the time Christmas arrived, we had already had plenty of turkey, ham and dressing, so we wanted something different. Since my wife, Dale, could put together an awesome lasagna, that became our “Christmas dinner.”  I can’t wait for Christmas to get here! A Christmas tradition we have is to participate in the delivery of meals to some of our senior citizens and shut-ins on Christmas Day. The Mission has been doing this for around 15 years and it is something we look forward to. You can enjoy Christmas more when you are giving and sharing with others. Isn’t that what Christmas is supposed to be about?”

Lauren Sisler, ESPN/SEC Nation

Lauren Sisler “Growing up, I shared some fond memories with my family during the Christmas season. I remember listening to the Christmas classics on the record player while my dad and brother Allen strung lights on the tree that we just picked out down at the local market. The rest of the decorating was left to my mom and me. Now, more than two decades later, I still have all the ornaments that we would put on the tree, many of them hold a special meaning or ignite a memory of my parents that I will cherish forever.”

Tiara Pennington, Miss Alabama 2019 

Miss Alabama Tiara Pennington“My favorite Christmas memory is when I was visiting my grandparents’ house as a little girl. I had baked cookies and left milk for Santa Claus before I went to bed that night. When I awoke in the morning, the cookies and milk glass had been emptied along with a note left from Santa on the fireplace. I was beaming from ear to ear because Santa Claus knew my name and had enjoyed the snack I prepared! That was one of the best Christmases I ever had with my family. Later, I found out Santa Claus was my grandfather which made this memory even more special.”

Sarah Snyder White, Volunteer Shelby Baptist Association Christmas Gift Shop

Christmas Shop

“Christmas 1993, I spent my holiday as I did many growing up – at my mom’s side at Shelby Baptist Association. I certainly didn’t mind… I was in a room full of toys! The gifts were chosen by volunteers, loaded into large yard bags, and sent out the door. It was a big undertaking, but that Christmas, Debbie Snyder and Jo Bailey decided it wasn’t quite good enough. The following year, the first official “Christmas Gift Shop,” I remember walking into the gym of First Baptist Church Columbiana. I was struck by how special the ministry was that year. Tables for each age group were arranged in aisles- easy for parents to browse.”

Wes Hampton, Gaither Vocal Band

Wes Hampton“My family and I have a tradition each year of decorating our Christmas tree, usually in mid-November. If I’m going to go through the trouble of setting up that massive tree, I’m going to get the most out of it! Our four boys take turns getting up high on the ladder to reach the top of the 12-foot tree to hang ornaments. Of course, we have Christmas music blasting through the house as we do this!” Wes will be performing as a part of the Gather Vocal Band in Birmingham on March 14, 2020,


What is one of your most cherished Christmas memories or traditions? Spread some Christmas cheer by sharing a favorite memory or tradition with us on Facebook this month- include a picture if you can! We will choose one of your “shares” to receive a special gift from us!

-Melissa Armstrong 

Editorial Manager, Birmingham Christian Family

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