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11-03-2014 03:56 PM - edited 11-06-2014 01:45 PM
AAA Holiday Memories Contest
Do you have a great holiday memory or photo? Share them, this season, for your chance to win tickets to a regional attraction. You may enter online or by mail. Entries must be received no later 12/3/14 to be eligible.
Win Tickets To One Of These Exciting Attractions!
Busch Gardens® Tampa – Christmas TownTM
Lowry Park Zoo
SeaWorld® Orlando Christmas Celebration®
Stone Mountain ParkTM
Walt Disney World®
Simply click "reply" to this thread and in the space that appears either write your holiday story or
click the icon in the space and follow the dialog to add an image.
Limit 1 entry per user.
Entries must be sumitted by 12/3/14.
Official rules are attached.
11-07-2014 09:10 AM
my favorite holiday memory is having christmas with all of my family at our home in st. petersburg, fl when santa came to call!!!!! The little ones were so thrilled, they talk about it 20 years later!
11-07-2014 10:18 AM
Since moving to Florida, EVERY day is a holiday! There is no more fascinating a winter holiday experience for a transplanted "Yankee" than enjoying these precious celebrations of life in shorts and a t-shirt. Family will just have to travel to Florida for our reunions.
11-08-2014 10:59 AM
The root of the story starts in the summer of 92', after Hurricane Andrew destroyed most of Miami and Homestead, FL. My brothers and I were still young (10, 6, 2) and my parents wanted a fresh start after the area crime started to escalate. They chose to move the family 4 hours north to a little town called New Smyrna Beach, Fl. In hindsight now, I see what a difficult transition our family had both financially and emotionally.
We didn't have much growing up, but that didn't matter. My brothers and I thrived in 'Small Town USA'. We made the most of what society (these days) would consider poverty. My parents worked tirelessly for the next 4 years and saved up enough money for a down payment on our very 1st home. Needless to say the winter of 96' was scarce. My parents did their best to remind us that Santa Claus had given us an "early gift" ...our new home.
At 6 years old, my youngest brother was having a hard time processing that Santa knew where we lived. We had just moved and we had zero decorations, no tree, no stockings, no nothing. We spent our nights playing charades as a family in an empty living room. As the nights crept closer to Christmas, my brother started to fear the inevitable. Every night it was the same plea, "If we don't have a tree, then Santa won't know where we are. He will think we don’t like Christmas. Mom please, we have to get a tree!" Every night, I walked my brother to bed and reassured him that Santa wouldn't forget us. Every night he cried.
On Christmas morning I woke up first. There were no real expectations. I was older and had a better grasp on the reality that Santa wasn't real and my parents couldn't afford much that year. Regardless, I snuck out to the living room to peek. There was something special about seeing the living room before everyone woke up. To my surprise, there it was...a tree!
It couldn't have been more than 18" high. You know, one of those tabletop trees with built in lights. Nothing special to most people, just typical in-home decoration lost in the background. But there it was gloriously sitting on top of the coffee table with a small tag attached at the top: "Dear Joey, I didn't forget you. Love Santa.” I freaked out. How did my parent's pull this off?
I raced back to my room and woke both my brothers up. Little Joe raced out to the living room and stood in awe. Small tears started trickling down everyone's eyes. "Guess he remembered after all," my dad chuckled.
That was all we had that Christmas. An 18" tabletop, plastic tree with built in lights. No presents. No stockings. No cookies and milk. It wasn't about all of that. At 10 years old I finally knew. It's about family. It's about being with people you love. It's about memories like those. To this day...it's the best one I have.
11-08-2014 12:15 PM
The first holiday season after we moved to Florida, we were expecting the birth of our son and had a great time with visiting family going to the beach and celebrating Christmas and the New Year.
11-09-2014 07:00 PM
IT WAS FATHERS DAY AND I INVITED MY MY FATHER AND MOTHER TO MY HOME IN SQUAW VALLEY, CA 93675 AS I DID EVERY HOLIDAY. MY FATHER HAD BEEN IN VERY POOR HEALTH FOR A VERY LONG TIME SO I DIDN'T KNOW HOW MANY MORE HOLIDAYS WE HAD LEFT TOGETHER SO I WANTED EVERYONE TO COUNT. I COOKED A SPECIAL DINNER AND DESERT, DECORATED THE HOUSE , AND BOUGHT PRESENTS, HIS FAVORITE EXPENSIVE COLOGNE , A BRAND KNEW LEATHER WALLET EQUIPED WITH A CRISP ONE DOLLAR BILL ( INSIDE FAMILY JOKE ) A NICE SHIRT . A CARD WITH A LETTER INSIDE LETTING HIM KNOW THE KIND OF HUSBAND AND FATHER HE HAD BEEN DURING HIS LIFE AND ON THIS EARTH NO OTHER MAN COULD HOLD A CANDLE TO HIM IN MY HEART IN THIS LIFE , OR THE NEXT. WHILE HE WAS READING THE WORDS I HAD WRITTEN TEARS OF JOY STREAKED HIS FACE AND WHEN HE COULD SPEAK AGAIN THIS IS WHAT HE SAID " ALL THE PRESENTS WERE NICE AND APPRECIATED , HE GREATLY ENJOYED THE DINNER AND SPECIAL DESERT.... BUT ALL HE REALLY WANTED WAS THE TIME WE SPENT TOGETHER ". SO TAKE SOME ADVICE FROM A VERY WISE MAN AND A WONDER FATHER WHO WAS AND IS LOVED GREATLY AND A DAUGHTER THAT HAS NO REGRETS . SPEND EVERY MINUTE WITH YOUR LOVED ONES AND MAKE EVERYONE COUNT BECAUSE YOU CAN LOOSE THEM IN THE SINGLE BEAT OF THE HEART AS I DID ON FEB. 1ST 2010. HE IS GREATLY MISSED EVERY SECOND OF EVERYDAY , BUT I KNOW IN MY HEART THAT HE SITS ON THAT BENCH INSIDE THE GATES OF HEAVEN WAITING ON WOMAN JUST AS HE DID SO PATIENTLY FROM THE DAY HE MARRIED MY MOTHER AND THEN ON THE TWO DAUGHTERS THAT FOLLOWED. I LOVE YOU DAD!
11-10-2014 08:21 AM - edited 11-10-2014 08:25 AM
My husband and I traveled over a year when he retired. Sold everything and had a trailer which we filled with small reminders of our lives and hit the road. We missed our family and decided to put down roots again. Had a big surprise when everyone showed up to help us move into our new house.
We have lost family through the years and as we enter our golden years, we are blessed with those who are still here to embrace.
Going to Disney at Christmas with our loved ones to see the brilliant lights and decorations is a wonderous feeling of bringing in a New Year and hoping for many more to come.
11-11-2014 09:20 AM
Every year since 2007 i take my son to Seaworld's Christmas Celebration b/c he loves the movie The Polar Express. My father had bought him The Polar Express train set one year for Christmas. 2009 was the last Christmas we got to celebrate with my father as he passed away a few months later when my son was just 7. That Christmas and the happiness on their faces in this photo is my most favorite memory of my son with his Pop Pop. Christmas is the time to make the best memories afterall!
11-11-2014 03:14 PM - edited 11-11-2014 03:16 PM
What better way to spend the Holiday's then with friends. This is a picture of my annual Holiday Party- A time to get together for laughs, memories, and great friendship while supporting a charity!
11-12-2014 05:01 AM
I still remember everything about our last Christmas. It was 1986 and my son and I had just moved in to our own home next to my parents. Christmas morning mama and daddy came over to spend it with me, my son and my fiance. I made a special brunch in my brand new house. I remember thinking this is what I've been waiting for, my life seems so perfect right now. Mom and dad were as happy as I can ever remember. It was the most wonderful Christmas I can remember, and I even knew it right then at that very moment. I'm still so grateful for that Christmas because in less than two months my mother passed away unexpectedly of an berry aneurysm. At 26 years old I spent my the very last Christmas with both my mom & dad. Fourteen months after mama died, my father died of a heart attack. So the Christmas of 1986 will forever be my favorite Christmas, the Christmas that I had both my son and my parents with me. I'm wishing a Very Merry 2014 Christmas to everyone.
11-13-2014 08:22 AM
My favorite Holiday memory is the first Christmas my beautiful daughter was with us! She was 7 months old and the greatest gift we could have received that year! That memory I will never forget, her crawling, gazing up at the tree and so incredibly happy - the best Christmas ever!!
11-13-2014 01:14 PM
When I was growing up our immediate family spent time together & opened gifts on Christmas morning. Of course, the 4 children were always up & at 'em before dawn! Then we'd load up & go to our grandparents, where our extended family would meet, have the most wonderful Southern style Christmas dinner, & share gifts. We were quite a large family, so it was always a big deal, with lots of love to go around!
11-13-2014 01:18 PM
Our family loves the animals God created and we all have a heart for providing a home to strays, injured, dumped and inner-city homeless cats and dogs! In October of 2006, we rescued "Bessie," a very pregnant orange kitty who took up residence on the doorstep of our medical practice! She let my sweet daughter rescue her and bring her home, where she gave birth to eight very healthy babies in one afternoon-in the linen closet! Well, when Christmas approached, several folks asked about taking a kitty home with them to help Santa with gift-giving!...But, we had named the 6 boys and 2 girls and Bessie was SUCH a great mama kitty, my children shouted, "MOM! You aren't going to give away our kitties, are you??" So, those EIGHT just turned EIGHT this year! We love families! The best Lynch family Christmas is represented by the attached photo of each of us holding 2 of Bessie's kitties - the best Christmas presents ever!
11-13-2014 02:38 PM
I remember when we went to a Christmas celebration that included a random drawing of all the children's entries to win a chance to turn on the Christmas tree lights with Santa Claus. At the time, Santa was meandering thru the crowd and took hold of both my daughter's hands as he was strolling. Then he says "Will Audrey please come forward to help me turn on the Christmas tree lights?" She tugs on his hand, looks up at him and smiles, and says "here I am". She got to turn on the lights with Santa Claus!....and I didn't have my camera
11-15-2014 03:09 PM
Years ago chaperoning my son's high school chorus group to sing at Disney. Last year having the whole family together going to Seaworld and enjoying the Christmas decorations then facetime with my son to ring in the new year as the grandkids woke up just to ring in the new year. Holiday Memories are being with family both near and far.
11-16-2014 04:15 PM
Every year when I was growing up my father on Christmas eve would say he was going to go out and look for Santa. An hour later the doorbell would ring and Santa appeared in his red suit all dressed up with a large sack of toys in his hands. He would come into the living room and ask me and my two sisters if we had been good all year and sit each one of us on his lap. Then he would proceed to pull all the wrapped gifts out of his sack and let us open up one or two and tell us that he had to leave and visit other children's homes too.
We put out cookies and milk for him that night because he said he would return when we were sleeping and bring us more gifts. Later on when I was older I found out it was my dad who visited the other kids in the neighborhood.
11-21-2014 12:41 AM
Each year as our kids have grown up we have had a birthday cake for the baby Jesus. The kids were allowed to put something meaningful to them on the cake. Over the years, we have had army men, race cars, pieces of jewelry, dolls, etc... It is a very special memory for our family.
11-21-2014 10:29 AM
When my sisters and I were young, we were not the most well-to-do family. My Dad only had a 6th grade education and worked at hard jobs for long hours. One thing he always made sure of was to make Christmas unforgettable. He would give us the "Wish Book" and we were allowed $50 each to order from Santa. We might do without all year, but not at Christmas. In the decade of the 50s, that amount of money was a lot to us! Only after he passed away and I finally met his younger sister did I realize why.
She told us their Mom died when my Dad was only 15, and their father had to leave 5 children with the oldest 17 and the youngest 3 to try to find work (this was 1921). There was no such thing as assistance in those days. On Christmas Eve, there were only the children in the house. My aunt and her baby sister asked my Dad if Santa was coming. He said, of course, hang your stocking at the end of the bed. She said on Christmas morning, they woke up so excited, grabbed their stockings and to their surprise, Santa had indeed been to visit. Inside their stockings they found a nickel and a piece of peppermint candy. Only until she was much older did she understand who really placed their treasures in their stocking.
Now I can understand why Christmas was so important to him. This Christmas memory is one the entire family never forgets.
11-22-2014 06:57 PM
I have lived away from home since 2007, so when I am able to get time off from work and go home, it is really special. This is me with my parents at a December 27th Patriots game a few years ago. Great memories.
11-25-2014 01:03 PM
After the busy holidays, we took a couple of days between Christmas and News Years and traveled from Tampa to Savannah. We arrived and it was soooo cold! But we loved going in to the restaurants and pubs because there was always a fire going in the fireplace!
11-26-2014 07:19 AM
11-26-2014 10:15 AM
Being a couple of kids at heart, I took my now- wife on a surprise trip to Disney World, and spent the 8 months leading up to the trip planning every little detail meticulously to ensure that it would be the most perfect and magical week of her life.
I started by spending a month looking at engagements rings. So many that they all started to look the same, before finally finding the perfect ring. Since we got engaged, every person who sees it says they cannot believe that I, a guy, picked out such a perfect ring without any input from her.
Next, I stuck to tradition, bought a bottle of 22 year old Scotch and a bouquet of flowers, and asked her parents for their blessing. Terrifying, but a very good decision.
In the months leading up to the big trip I took her on several romantic weekend trips, to throw out some red-herrings and keep her on her toes so that I could truly surprise her.
Then I set out planning the trip. Because I wanted everything to be a surprise to her, I kept her entirely in the dark and led her to believe we were simply driving to Chicago to spend a few days.
The first day we really did drive to Chicago, and stayed the night. That, however, is when the surprise began. The next morning I told her to grab her bags, as we had somewhere else we needed to be. A quick taxi ride later, and we were at the airport. While waiting at the gate, an airline rep came up to us and asked us for our tickets. Not knowing what was going on, and this honestly not being part of my plan, we were both confused. A few minutes later the rep came back and handed us new tickets – “you’ve been upgraded to first class – drink and eat lots!”. I was stunned, and my fiancé thought for sure I had planned this.
Upon landing in Orlando, we made our way to where she thought we would catch a taxi. Instead, there was a limo driver standing with a sign with our names on it, who took our luggage and showed us to our limo, which delivered us to our hotel. Once checked in, we made our way to our room, which had been upgraded to a “Disney-View Suite,” which looked out over Epcot for a view of the fireworks from our balcony.
After all of this, I figured she would be expecting me to propose. So I waited until the next day.
Our first full day there, we had breakfast in bed, followed by a day at Animal Kingdom, because of her love of animals. I told her this day was all about her – all plans were out the window and she could ride whatever rides she wanted, as many times as she wanted.
Once she had her fill, we went back to the hotel to get cleaned up, and on to the Polynesian Resort for surprise dinner reservations at ‘Ohana. With her preferring fun over stuffy, I decided against the over-used Narcoossee’s or California Grill. When we arrived, we were seated at one of the few tables with a perfect view of the Magic Kingdom, so she was able to catch her first-ever glimpse of Cinderella Castle – all lit up for the evening. We enjoyed our dinner and soaked in the view before heading down to the beach. We grabbed more beach-y drinks and sunk our toes into the sand, taking walks up and down the beach, and playing in the sand. While she thought we were just hanging out, we were really waiting for the Electric Water Pageant to begin in the lagoon in front of us. Once it started she was amazed, but thought the show was over when it ended. I told her we needed to hang out a bit longer, and after a while of laying in the hammock, the “Wishes” fireworks began overhead. As the fireworks exploded and the voice of Jiminy Cricket narrated a story of how all wishes can come true, I wrapped my arms around her and asked if she would make my wish come true. Not having any clue what was going on, and being absorbed in the fireworks, she asked what my wish was. Then I got out of the hammock, onto one knee, and asked her to marry me. I hadn't planned my timing, and I was unfamiliar with the "Wishes" format, but coincidentally two red fireworks in the shape of hearts exploded overhead immediately after she said “YES!!”
Her, thinking that the surprises were done for the night, spent the ride home bouncing-off-the-walls happy, and completely mesmerized by her ring. When we got back to the room, however, there were a few more surprises waiting for her – with a bunch of rose petals covering the room, leading to a gift basket which contained bridge and groom Mickey and Minnie ears, chocolates with the words “Wishes” and “Believe”, champagne flutes with Mickey heads engraved, and a bottle of “Wishes” champagne, which we then enjoyed while watching the other park’s fireworks from the balcony.
Fast forward a year, and we are doing last-minute preparations for our wedding. While we had hoped to have our wedding at Disney World, our budget simply did not allow it; and flying our families to Orlando would be very pricey. So I did the next best thing. Since we were doing a unity-sand ceremony in place of the traditional unity candles, I sent Disney World an email, told them our engagement story, and asked if they could send us some sand from the Polynesian Resort, where I proposed, to use for our unity sand.
A few weeks later a large package arrived, and I opened it to find a gallon bag of sand from the Polynesian Resort, a wedding photo of Minnie and Mickey, and two large figurines of Mickie and Minnie dressed for their wedding. Disney really does make dreams come true.
If I win this contest, I would be overjoyed and would use the park tickets to take my wife back to Disney World for our honeymoon. To retrace our steps and celebrate our story.
11-26-2014 11:13 AM
The tradition in Scotland was to put up the Christmas Tree on Christmas Eve but our family were emigrating to America and leaving before the Christmas Holiday so in order to celebrate we put up the tree for Nana at her house and decorated. We did not know at that time it would be our last Christmas together! Very special Christmas Memory!
11-26-2014 07:01 PM
My Wife and I are involved with Foster Children. We took 3 boys to the Majic Kingdom in June. They have so much turmoil in their lives and they had a blast. Thanks AAA for discounts and savings all along the way.
11-29-2014 03:37 PM
I am a recently divorced female and would like to show my daughter a bit of fun through this holiday season which is so sad for us. We have no family and are lonely this another year alone. Thank you.