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On Point Wants Your Christmas Stories!

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On Christmas Eve we’re airing an hour of Christmas stories – and we’d love to hear yours. Your story of that Christmas episode, or drama, or joy, or interaction that you’ll never forget. We’ll share a bunch on air, and online, and work through them all with Kevin Allison of the podcast, Risk!

Call us at (617-353-0683) by December 20th  with your Christmas story for On Point. We can’t wait to hear them. And Happy Holidays!

On Point associate producer Stefano Kotsonis – a Christmas baby himself — shared our first story.

The first thing to be said about my first Christmas story, just so you, dear reader, can judge the accuracy of my reporting, is that I was there, but didn’t know it.

It was Christmas 1956 in New York City.  My father was a skinny young doctoral student in his early 20s with a cigarette always in his mouth, his mouth still full of the heavy consonants of his mother tongue Greek.  My mother was living La Vida Bohemia with him, excited by New York and life, while her stern Greek father and Scottish mother were up in Montreal, completely unaware she was living with a Greek boy not commensurate, they believed with the with the well-placed marriage befitting her looks and brains.  (Only a young ship-owner would do.)  And they were still weeks away from learning that their daughter was about to give birth to a child.

From their telling, it sounded like a fun, but also burdened, poor Christmas.  My father’s younger brother had just arrived from Greece and was staying with them.  A good thing, but also tense.  My mother and he didn’t share much in the way of English or Greek.  The apartment was cramped.

Still, they got a small turkey and planned a stuffing.  They bought a pint-sized can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce.

They never got to sit down to that Christmas feast, though, because my mother went into labor.

Those three kids, my mother, father and uncle, so much younger than I am, raced to a midtown hospital. And after some hours and a lot of discomfort and, knowing the times, probably too much medication, my mother bore me.

My parents kept the can of cranberry sauce to remember the Christmas day their family began.  And raised me with all the stories you’d expect of being their little Christmas present, and the forgotten Christmas dinner.

In the years that followed, my family moved a lot –to Upstate New York, New Jersey and then Athens, Greece.  And the can of cranberry sauce came with us, unmarked but for the old, yellowing ‘50s-era Ocean Spray label among the other cans and bottles on our cupboard or pantry.

Many years later, it is summertime, a hot late afternoon in Athens.  Late 1970s –I am post high school and pre-college.  We are sitting around the dinette table chatting when suddenly we hear a boom or a loud pop, or something in that range.  “What the–?” I got up and strode to the pantry.  The walls, the ceiling  and shelves were covered in a red goo.  We stood there perplexed –till I spotted the old can of cranberry sauce, torn open by that cranberry sauce gone bad.”

We’ll collect all your stories and share them, on our site and on air on Christmas Eve. Share soon, and thanks!

On Point host Tom Ashbrook decorates the On Point Christmas Tree. It needs one more thing -- your best Christmas Story! (Karen Shiffman / WBUR)

On Point host Tom Ashbrook decorates the On Point Christmas Tree. It needs one more thing — your best Christmas Story! (Karen Shiffman / WBUR)

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • nkandersen

    Not really the kind of Christmas story we’re looking for, William, but thanks for your thoughts.

  • Jasoturner

    I used to spend Christmas eve at my girlfriend’s house in Connecticut. Early Christmas morning, I would get up and drive to Boston to visit my family, including my parents who visited from out of state.

    For me, that couple of hours on the road – alone with my thoughts, and with few other cars around me – was one of the highlights of the day. It was the absolute absence of participating in a “holiday” for a few hours that was so peaceful and pleasant. I enjoyed thinking about all the people in the houses I passed and the kinds of surprises the day might bring them.

    Maybe I’m just a loner, but I really loved that ride, the early morning, the quiet, the cold.

  • Diane Miller

    I was the new Assistant Minister in a beautiful, historic (pre-earthquake) church in San Francisco in 1976, and I was doing the Midnight Service on Christmas Eve, the one that let out at midnight. The beautiful redwood ceiling of the church was high above in darkness, while sanctuary was lit by hundreds of candles attached to the ends of each pew. As the service began there was a rustling and a tinkling and a howling sound as a robed man swept down the aisle and then up onto the chancel. He called himself Jesus Christ Satan, and had recently been in the news for attacking the head of the Prostitutes Union. So now he came to church. From his robes he pulled a dog, yelping because it was next to a jangling tambourine. He set down a container. And he pulled out a bull whip and dramatically cracked it. As he did that, I tried to edge my way toward the container, which appeared to be a gasoline can, the kind you would use to put in the tank of a stranded car. I picked it up, and was horrified to realize it was heavy with gasoline. “I’ll take this and hold it for you,” I said, and saw the sexton running up the aisle toward me. He reached for it and disappeared out a side door. The rest of the service was a balancing act, trying to placate and to prevent “Jesus Christ Satan” from disrupting it further until help would arrive. He was insisting on speaking from the pulpit, being that it was “his birthday.” I told him he could speak after the procession of giving, as people brought gifts for the homeless to place under a tree. That of course was the end of the service. But he caught on and went into the pulpit and started haranguing nonsense, which we tried to cover up with music. I turned off the microphone. He turned it back on. I dropped to my knees and ripped the wiring out. “No free speech in my pulpit” I thought to myself. Finally it was over, a Christmas Eve I will never forget.

  • Marijane Thompson

    In the early 1970s I attended a local state university – on scholarship – since my parents had no money to pay for my education. I commuted every day and also got a work-study job on campus. Having also worked each summer since I was 16 so I could save for books and supplies, I had put aside enough by sophomore year to board in one of the dorms for 10 weeks. My roommate was an exchange student from California and at the end of the semester, decided she would not return the following year.

    Gerry invited me to fly to California with her for the Christmas holidays, and my parents hesitated to let their 19 year old naive daughter cross the country. Having met Gerry and knowing I would be staying with her family, after some heartfelt discussion, they agreed, and a few days before Christmas I was on my first plane flight.

    Gerry had four sisters and her parents were schoolteachers. They lived in Redwood City, about 20 miles south of San Francisco, and welcomed me to the family. On Christmas Day, there were a few presents for me under the tree, and then we drove up to San Francisco to visit her aunt – who lived in one of those amazing homes you see on the hilly streets in movies. There again, i was welcomed as part of the family and reveled in the adventure of a fascinating place far beyond my little New Jersey hometown.

    Although I spent a Christmas in England after I was married, and enjoyed many family Christmases while my daughters were growing up, that first Christmas away from home and in the warmth of a large loving family will always remain a special memory.

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