Submitted by Doug O’Brien Parksville councillor Doug O’Brien said his favourite Christmas present ever was a four-prop motorized airplane he got from Santa in 1960.

The best-ever Christmas present

Parksville Qualicum Beach personalities share their stories of their favourite gifts

The NEWS asked some local personalities to share their stories of the best Christmas present they ever received. What was yours?

The year was 1960, I was seven years old and too excited to get to sleep that Christmas Eve in anticipation of the visit by Santa that night.

Our family tradition included celebration of the season by our adult relatives and friends at our home on Christmas Eve which usually carried on into the wee hours. As I attempted to fall asleep during the party going on in close proximity, I was sure I heard the rumbling of motors revving up among the laughter of my parent’s guests, however sleep took over and I was out for the night.

Christmas morning, I, along with my siblings were out of bed at the crack of dawn, rushed to the Christmas tree to see what Santa had left for me. Under the tree with a tag bearing my name was a four-prop motorized airplane that when switched on would start each engine, roll at great speed around the kitchen floor, taxi in place to the terminal, open the doors for the passengers to disembark, reload and take off again with lights blinking for destinations unknown.

Fifty-eight years later, I still have that airplane. My own children enjoyed playing with it as well as my Grandchildren. And it still works to this day.

They don’t build them like that anymore!

Merry Christmas to all!

— Submitted by Doug O’Brien

City of Parksville councillor

How can I possibly choose just one best present?

Would it be my shiny new record player when I was 10? Would it be learning right before Christmas in 2014, that I didn’t have to have chemotherapy for my breast cancer? Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am methodical about any decision I make (or is that indecisive?) and that I find happiness in almost everything, but this was an easy decision for me.

My story dates back to 1976, as a first-year teacher; in an inner-city school in Winnipeg. Norquay Elementary School was a school where we fed children breakfast and lunch and children would come to school in -3 C weather wearing canvas running shoes and no socks.

It was a time when students gave teachers presents. I loved every single coffee mug and Christmas tree ornament, but one present makes me emotional to this day.

One precious boy presented me with a brown paper bag and a hug.

When I opened the bag I saw that Donny had wrapped his teddy bear in Kleenex, one ear missing and one eye hanging off. He told me he loved me and that he was ready to part with his teddy bear, Sam.

To this day that is the most heartfelt and best gift I have ever received.

Thank you Donny. xo

— Submitted by Kim Longmuir

Coach of Mid Island Distance Running Club

My best Christmas present was a few years ago, when we had only been on the Island a couple years. My husband had been in a car accident, and had been off work for a year, I had lost my job after 15 years, we were struggling to stay afloat financially and emotionally, and missed friends and family back home in Calgary.

I never dreamed that when I asked Beverly, my best friend of 25 years, and her husband Dave (also Godparents to my daughters) to spend Christmas with us, that they would say “yes.” Not only that, they agreed to make it a surprise for our girls. I know we exchanged some gifts that Christmas, but I couldn’t tell you what they were.

But I will never forget the time spent visiting, Dave singing with my daughter on her new karaoke machine, and singing carols together at the Christmas Eve service. I know we all felt there was some sort of magic in the air that Christmas. It is especially meaningful now, as two years ago, Beverly died of lung cancer. But I will have that Christmas in my heart forever.

— Submitted by Susan Pederson

Author/poet, Nanoose Bay

‘Twas Christmas of 1983 and kids everywhere were in a frenzy for Cabbage Patch Kids. I was no exception. I wanted one of those cherub-faced dolls more than anything and unbeknownst to me, my mom had made it her mission to make my holiday wish come true.

She spent hours driving from store to store, only to find they were all sold out. Weeks went by. Christmas got closer. Finally, she found one of the dolls. Just one. The last doll on the shelf! My mom later told me, one other parent had eyes on it and it was a race of mothers.

Thank goodness athleticism and determination runs in the family! She got to it first and headed to the cashier feeling like a champion.

When I tore open the wrapping on my gift Christmas morning to reveal a Cabbage Patch doll, I was absolutely thrilled.

My mom was my hero as she made my Christmas wish come true.

— Submitted by Michelle Stilwell

MLA, Parksville-Qualicum

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Susan Pederson, left, and her friend Beverly. - Submitted by Susan Pederson

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