Elvis and Christmas

Elvis' favorite time of the year was Christmas. Not surprising since he was religious and knew God. The joy of giving was his gift year-round, however, at Christmas Elvis Presley became "Santa Claus" to those who knew him, strangers, and even for the children in hospitals. Graceland was a beautiful home and it was perfect for Elvis; he didn't need to have a ten-million dollar mansion with twenty rooms and ten bathrooms. Even the pool was modest! He would rather spend money practically and to help those less fortunate. Elvis truly understood the meaning of the word "humble." He was that and so much more.

After the death of Gladys, Christmas was never the same for Elvis and that Christmas was spent with his father and grandmother in Bad Neuheim, Germany, during his service. He celebrated not to receive gifts, though he was like a child when he received them, but to give them. He celebrated not for the commercialism that Christmas had become but for the reason why it came. Sure, Christmas was a sad time for Elvis and those close to him knew only too well that Graceland was his kingdom and the place far from which he often had no desire to stray. Yet his career called for him to be away alot at Christmas. To him the memories of his Momma kept the tradition alive for him and he never wanted to let it go. He loved the season all the way through and the time spent with family and friends. When the magic was there, he helped to create it. What is important to remember is that it was Elvis' utmost desire to make others happy.

It all started on one Christmas, back in Tupelo, Mississippi, when Elvis' Momma and Daddy had scrimped and saved for a new bicycle for their boy. It was a beauty and young Elvis was the talk of the neighborhood. He was so proud of the bicycle; he rode up and down Saltillo Road, the envy of his friends. But for some reason, whatever was in his heart at that time, Elvis shared his ride with his friends who were equally as poor and then, finally, he gave the bike away...to another boy he thought might enjoy it more. When Elvis' parents asked him about the bike, where it was, Elvis told them he gave it to a friend. Vernon politely retrieved the bicycle back from the boy's family because money was hard to come by for the Presleys and they were not certain there would be many Christmases ahead where they could afford such a gift for their son. No, Elvis no longer wanted that bike. He felt someone else deserved it more than he did, someone who had less than he did. He gave it away again and this time, Vernon and Gladys knew their boy's heart was in the right place.

As 1960 approached, Christmas for Elvis became more a time of distance from family and friends as his career called for his presence elsewhere though while he was at home, he made the best of the traditions he remembered growing up. Christmas brought out the little boy in him. One memorable gift Elvis did receive from the "Memphis Mafia" was a $500. statue of Jesus Christ which Elvis kept in his bedroom, on a small altar he had made. This could not even compare to the gifts Elvis gave to them and their wives over the years including cash bonuses, cars, jewelry, and fur coats. For Elvis, though, as he began to feel ill and depressed, there seemed to be no "home" Christmas as he fondly remembered then and found renewed joy in the new memories he would create of time spent with Lisa Marie at Christmas.

Gladys tried to make things festive in her own way each and every holiday and Elvis took some of that festiveness with him for the remainder of his days. He just loved to decorate for Christmas! Graceland was no exception. For family and for the fans, Elvis went all out decking the halls to bring everyone good Christmas cheer. It is not surprising that his birthday immediately followed up the season.

Elvis and Christmas Video

video by The Kin of Rock and Roll - 2015

The Most Unforgettable Christmas Present...

Perhaps the most memorable of all his Christmas presents throughout his lifetime was Christmas in 1957. Elvis star was on the rise and he had just settled into Graceland. Christmas of that year, the first at Graceland, he planned to do it up nice for his Momma and Daddy. However, five days earlier the postman delivered a "greeting" that was unofficially for Christmas. That greeting came from Uncle Sam and that Christmas day Elvis read, and re-read the notice that he had been drafted into the United States Army. (I believe Elvis is holding onto "sweet pea" as he reads.) Fortunately, he was able to ask for a Christmas Eve deferrment which then set his induction back until March 20th.

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