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  • Writer's pictureTroy Riggs

The Christmas Sweater

Everyone has a good laugh when I wear my Christmas sweater. I laugh as well when I say it is my Christmas sweater that “brings joy to all.”


Well, I am guilty. I love Christmas. In Christmas, I find the best of humanity and a reason to remember that Jesus came to earth, born of a virgin, lived a life without sin, was murdered by those He came to save, resurrected, and now sits at the right hand of God! And for those who believe and confess these facts, eternal life awaits.


I also love Christmas because of all the memories I have—many of the memories given to me from those who have passed. My Grandmother Lockard would save a little money out of every paycheck to purchase the best, most carefully selected gifts and make all of us feel special each year during Christmas. More than the gifts, I remember her love and commitment to make Christmas a memorable experience for all of us. She taught me through her giving and watching her reaction to gifts being open that giving is certainly better and more important than receiving. I remember my Uncle Mike arriving each Christmas Eve with a Santa hat on and saying, “Merry Christmas, Nephew.” The excitement he brought to each Christmas resulted in tremendous joy and memories. We might have been in a small house, but the love my Grandfather, Grandmother, and Uncle (Lockard) showed me will always be remembered. I can remember my Grandpa and Grandma Riggs taking me to an annual Christmas show put on by a home for orphans. It gave me a chance to think about how blessed I was to have a mom and dad. Afterwards, they treated me to White Castle hamburgers!!! After meeting Kara, I can still see my father-in-law, Willie, walking through our door, rubbing his hands together and stopping to look at the candy Kara had made while proclaiming, “Fantastic!” I miss them all very much.


So, back to the Christmas Sweater: Why have I kept the Christmas sweater tradition going for almost 30 years? Let me begin with the purchase of the sweater. The sweater was purchased, not as a Christmas sweater, but because it is actually red, white, and blue. I simply wanted a sweater representing my love for our great country. However, as I decided to get dressed one year for our annual visit to Grandma Lockard’s home for Christmas Eve, I wanted to look nice because my fiancé (Kara) was going to attend and she was certain to be dressed in appropriate Christmas apparel. So, I saw the red sweater in my dresser and the tradition began!!!!


The sweater is more than just fun for me to wear every year. Yes, it began as a conversation point, but has become a sweater of memories. For when I wear it, I remember God’s blessings of the past and the hope for the future.


I believe it was my mom who hugged me first as I wore the sweater: then my dad as I went to pick up my fiancé to visit grandma. She hugged me, then my Grandmother Lockard, and my Uncle Mike and I have worn it ever since.


During those years, I have held my niece (Jessica) in my arms on Christmas, watched as she grew, was present when she married a good man (Casey), and had three precious children (Harper, Hadley, and Axel).


I held my cousin (John Michael) after his birth and I have celebrated every Christmas with him wearing my Christmas sweater. I watched him grow into a fine young man, shared incredible good times with him, and watched as he found the love of his life, who is now his wife (Madison.)


The sweater has been hugged by my mother-in-law (Betty) and all the sister-in-laws (Kim, Kristi, and Kelli) as I was welcomed into the Grau family. I have hugged my niece (Lauren) and nephew (Noah) and watched them grow into two amazing young people. I have sat and had incredible conversations with my bother-in-law, Tom, who is a fine example of a Christian man.


Kara and I were blessed with two boys after a few years of marriage. Yes, the sweater was on each Christmas Day and I have either held them or hugged them each year.


The Christmas Sweater has had a few issues as well. John Michael, David, and Caleb have hugged me, wrestled with me and as a result there are now a few holes in the sweater. I wore the sweater as we took pictures each year, lying on the ground—me first, John Michael, David, and eventually, Caleb would pile on. Grandma would stand next to the pile to ensure that no one fell off and guide her grandchildren to safety after the picture was taken!


So, as I wear the sweater again this year, I will take a moment and thank God for the life He has given me. How He has blessed me with memories, family, and riches beyond measure.


Yes, an inexpensive sweater means more to me than I can ever share on paper. For with it are memories for eternity and a reminder of how important those around us are. Without them, life would not be fulfilling and a sweater without hugs, love and memories is just a piece of clothing.


Thank you, Jesus, for the life and memories you have given me.


May you have a blessed Christmas and memories of your own as we remember and worship the Savior of the World.

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tim.keck
Dec 22, 2020

What a terrific story! It is a great reminder of how important this season is as we celebrate our Savior’s birth. It is also a stark reminder to cherish the gifts God gives us, especially the loved ones he blesses us with.

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minselberg
Dec 21, 2020

As always your words are so inspiring. Thank you!

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