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Christmas Memories from Graham Family Members

Billy Graham and Ruth Bell Graham’s children and grandchildren all have unique and special memories of Christmas, but when asked what stands out the most, they all agree that it’s the family tradition of reading the Christmas story.

Aside from sitting around the fireplace reading the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, here’s a look into what Christmas in the Graham home looked like.


Christmas Morning Oyster Stew

Every Christmas morning, Ruth Bell Graham would make oyster stew for breakfast.

Ruth Bell Graham: “Do you ever have oysters for breakfast? We do, once a year, on Christmas morning. Perhaps you wonder why we have them then. When I go to the grocery store the day before Christmas and ask for oysters, I like to tell the man when I’m going to serve them. ‘Oysters for breakfast!’ he says, and he is very puzzled. Then I explain that my mother always served oyster stew for Christmas breakfast when I was a girl in China. It was a family custom.”

Franklin Graham: “I don’t like oyster stew, period. Nobody ate it. My father ate it because he had to; we just rolled up our noses.”


Crazy Stocking Stuffers

The Graham kids and grandkids have fond memories of the strange gifts they would find in their stockings.

Franklin Graham: “My mother was such a jokester—and she loved Christmas. She enjoyed decorating the house from end to end. She also loved to play practical jokes… I remember one Christmas morning all of us kids ran downstairs as fast as we could to check our stockings first thing. I was so shocked at the ‘surprise’ I found in mine – lo and behold – ashes and switches in my stocking!

“She had all of my stocking stuffers hidden within reach, and she put her arms around me and told me how much she loved me. It is one of my favorite Christmas memories.”

Cissie Graham Lynch: “I’ll always remember my grandmother’s crazy stocking stuffers—a ball of rubber bands or a bunch of paper clips—nothing fancy from my grandmother. Just whatever she could find in her junk drawer.”


Sibling Pranks

Growing up with three older brothers, it wasn’t uncommon for Cissie Graham Lynch to hear what you might call “a clatter” on Christmas Eve.

Cissie Graham Lynch: “They would get on the roof and stomp like reindeer. They’d ring jingle bells, yell ‘ho, ho, ho’ outside my window.” When asked if she fell for it, she said, “Oh absolutely. Until I was way too old…”


Watch Ruth Bell Graham read the Christmas story during the 1953 Billy Graham TV special:

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  1. JoAnn larsen says:

    Thank you for sharing that!

  2. Dr. Chuck Miller says:

    Merry Christmas to Franklin and Jane Austen. Miss the time I spent in Alaska, but enjoy following your mission career.

  3. Eunice Collier says:

    You are like family to all my family, and it was though your daddy. My family found Jesus and did accepted Him. My husband did this 2 days before he passed away. As his dad and 4 brothers all died at the age of 59, so he knew his time was up. His birthday was June 30th, and on June 2nd he did watch Billy Graham on TV in 1994, 2 nights in a row, and for sure God showed me when I was praying for my husband Marvin the next morning. God showed me He made us both one in Him. I couldn’t help but laugh I was so happy. He is up with our Jesus now, waiting for me to go to him, he promised. Before he left to go home with Jesus, He was standing at his head waiting for him to leave his body so He could take him home with Him. Beautiful isn’t He.

  4. Pamela Mason says:

    I was blessed when I started to read about your family gatherings and traditions. Merry Christmas to you and yours and a faith and fun filled New Year making more memories. Evangelist Billy Graham & Family. Peace & Love 2017.

  5. Nina Robison says:

    Always have loved the Graham family. I excepted Jesus as my savior in March of 1975

  6. Jane Jahn says:

    I loved reading about the Graham Christmases. Reminds me to think of my own special memories, especially when my youngest son, who is now 41, would read the Christmas story
    Than you for sharing

  7. Lyn Wilson says:

    I grew up in a Christian home with my grandmother as our minister. then my mother than my brother. We listened to Billy Graham while growing up. At the end of last year, i was able to get Billy Graham on my car radio. It was wonderful. It only lasted for a few weeks before they took it off. Billy is 99 now and I know he knows how many lives he touched but wanted him to know he touched mine as well. It’s the message that the world needs to hear more and more as times passes on. Reading/watching his life on DVD is amazing. Love you all and God Bless you.

  8. […] 3. Christmas Memories from Graham Family Members […]

  9. Jonnie Salmi says:

    What a humbling experience to see Billy Graham honored in our Nations Capital. I thought about how he had carried the Gospel of our Lord around the world and here he lies in the Rotunda. Even in death he brought the Gospel to the highest place in America. It was a beautiful and respectful service.
    If some of the ones in attendance had never heard much about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they have now. My prayer is that their hearts were touched.

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