The best Christmas gift ever

Justin Davison says his favorite Christmas gifts are ones like this made by his nieces and nephew, Lilly, Maddie, and Jason.

What is the best Christmas gift you have ever given or received? For Justin Davison, of the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce, “It is all about sentiment. Some of my favorite gifts have been ones my nieces made me.”


Councilwoman Sabrina McCarty says her best Christmas gift and favorite Christmas memory is “when my wonderful husband proposed to me on December 23, 2014.”

Denise Aspell, Director of Bands at William Byrd Middle School, said she received her best gift her freshman year in college when her parents bought her a professional level trumpet— “a great gift that helped me pursue my music career.”

Vinton’s School Board representative, Tim Greenway, says “The best gift I ever received for Christmas was our family gatherings at my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve each year. She probably never knew it, but the warmth and love on that particular evening, every year, showed me what family was all about. I have carried the message of Jesus’s birth and family gatherings with new meaning year-round because of my grandmother.

“The best gift I ever gave was about 20 years ago when we would have a distant family member come eat with us on Christmas Eve every year,” Greenway continued. “He lived on very limited funds and we all felt sorry for him and his situation.  He was a veteran and had no immediate family members living. I placed an envelope under the tree with a $200 cashier’s check, labeled from Santa Claus. When all the presents were distributed he received this envelope. The response was priceless! That memory will live in my mind the rest of my life. Till the day he passed, he never knew who played Santa Claus on this Christmas Eve.”

Detective Sgt. Valerie Cummings said, “My favorite Christmas gift that I received is a mother’s ring that my husband gave me several years ago. I don’t wear much jewelry, but I always wanted a mother’s ring.  My granny had one and I remember always looking at it and asking her who each birthstone represented. I always thought my granny’s ring was the prettiest and most special thing! Now I have my own to show my children and someday my grandchildren.”

Karla Turman in the Planning and Zoning Department said “The best Christmas present ever received is definitely my daughter, Grace. We prayed for her and thought she would never come. Her sister was almost 12 years old, and I was at the ‘I’m not having any more children’ stage in life. Then, surprise! Our beautiful gift was born on December 17 and has brought joy and happiness to our lives for 14 years.”

Sharon Menzies of the local Roanoke Valley DAR responded, “Forty-six years ago our families gathered for our December wedding. Gordon is my best present ever.”

Sharon Menzies says her best Christmas gift was her husband Gordon. They married in December 1971.

Julie Tucei from Planning and Zoning said, “Each year I dreamed of waking up on Christmas morning and finding a real, live horse tied to the tree in our front yard with a big red ribbon around his neck! We lived in a neighborhood, though, so that was not to be. Instead, each year I received a Breyer horse model from my folks, and my collection began. The first Breyer model I received from my folks for Christmas was the 1990 Limited Edition Dan Patch, Famous Standardbred Pacer horse model. I still have him.

“Another year I received a set called, ‘That Darn Mule,’ which was one of a special run of 700 model mules with pack saddles that were only available in our area at Southern States stores,” Tucei said. “My dad had to work extra hard to make sure I added that one to my collection since it was so limited! I still have my mule and pack saddle in the original box! Another Christmas, my then fiancé and now husband, Brian, gifted me the 2000 Limited Edition Breyer 50th Anniversary Mantelpiece Clock. Today, I still actively collect and cherish each of my beautiful Breyer models and still enjoy them just as much as I did back then. My collection of models is now more than 1,100 in number, and I have also added a real horse to the ‘herd,’ an Arabian, named RC Ramah!”

“One of the best Christmas gifts Jim and I have ever received is our first-born child— a son born at Christmas time,” said Judy Cunningham of the Vinton History Museum. “He was the first baby in our families in many years, so he was like a gift to all. He was only days/weeks old and we took him to church and Christmas parties, so our friends could see him. It made the Christmas story so real! He was a blessing to all, and still is.”

Doug Forbes of the Vinton Historical Society said he received his best gift in December 1955, when he married his wife Mattie. They have been married for 62 years.

Financial Analyst Lydia Verdillo says, “The best Christmas gift I ever received is a pair of yellow flip flop sandals (called beach sandals in the Philippines) with a yellow leaf thong which I received when I was in the third grade. My aunt gave it when I really wanted one because I was one of the very few wearing wooden shoes. I used the sandals for almost two years because I took them off when walking on muddy roads.

“To determine the best Christmas gift I have ever given, I did not base it on the cost of the gift but on how the recipient appreciated and valued it,” said Verdillo. “The hand towels with embroidered initials of names I gave in 1990 are my best Christmas gift. One of my aunts loved it so very much that she showed me the same towel after more than 15 years when I went home to the Philippines from the United States and told me how she treasured it. I could sense she barely used it to keep it longer.”

Cornerstone Antiques owner Janine Stone says her best Christmas gift was in 1964, when they had four preschoolers.

“A short while after Thanksgiving, our Dad was in the hospital and we were distressed to find he would be there through Christmas. Christmas without our Dad was not an option! When I learned he would be home New Year’s Eve, I informed the children that New Year’s Eve was really Christmas Eve. We had a marvelous Christmas Day and if the children ever discovered the true facts, they never let me know!”

Josh O’Dell, music minister at Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church, said he has “been the recipient of many wonderful Christmas presents in years past but honestly have always received more of a blessing from giving gifts than receiving them. Probably my most fond memory is giving a gift of a used car to a friend in need one Christmas during my sophomore year of college. My parents were able to bless me with the gift of a new car and I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to do the same in return.

“A friend of mine was without a means of transportation to and from work and had been desperately searching for a way to get a used car,” said O’Dell. “She did not have the means to make this happen on her own, but God had a plan in mind. He used my blessing of a new car to give me the ability to bless someone else with the one I no longer needed. We are blessed to be a blessing to others! Show a little love and compassion this Christmas– be a blessing to someone in need!”

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