We've been asking you to submit your favorite Christmas memories and heartwarming James Avery Christmas stories to spread the warmth and joy of the holidays with James Avery Artisan Jewelry and KVKI and you've delivered!

Each weekday through Friday, December 21, 2018, during the 12pm hour with Bristol, we'll read one of your stories and the person who submitted it will receive a $50 gift card to James Avery Artisan Jewelry. At the end of each week, we'll put all five stories to a vote and the winner will receive an additional $250 James Avery Artisan Jewelry gift card! James Avery Artisan Jewelry can be found locally in the Shoppes at Bellemeade on Youree Drive in Shreveport and the Dillard’s at Pierre Bossier Mall and Mall St. Vincent and online at JamesAvery.com.

Today's winner is Jill Broadwater. Congrats Jill! We hope you love your new treasured piece of jewelry from James Avery Artisan Jewelry! Here's what Jill had to say:

The year was 1979.

 

I was 8-years old and I lived in a small town in deep East Texas with my family. I remember this season of my life well because times were hard and there weren’t very many things going “right.” My parents didn’t openly discuss our financial situation, but I didn’t have to be a mind reader to know that we didn’t have any money. The evidence was all around me from the few clothes we owned, meager groceries we purchased, and especially the run-down home we lived in.

 

When we relocated to the area the year before, we moved into a dilapidated cabin built in the 1940's owned by my great-uncle. As I grew older, I would affectionately describe this decaying mass of filth as the “Shack.” Let me explain...

 

In the Shack, there was no air conditioner to cool you from the stifling summer heat and humidity. In the Shack, there was no heat to warm you during the cold winter months except for a fireplace and the kitchen stove (my brother and I used to get dressed in front of it on school days). In the Shack, you could see outside through the slits of the decaying boards that barely made up the walls of our living room. In the Shack, we would sometimes find field rats (courtesy of the pasture behind our home) in our walk-in pantry. Big ones that scare little kids and give them nightmares. So, it was obvious to me that money was tight and being the sensitive little girl that I was, I don’t remember asking for anything in particular for Christmas as I didn't want to put any extra burden on them to come up with money for something we couldn't afford.

 

But my mom knew her children. And her children were into Star Wars! Like every other kid I knew, my brother and I became obsessed with anything and everything having to do with Luke, Leia, Han, Chewy, and Darth Vadar. Two years after its release, Star Wars was still our favorite movie and we could hardly wait for The Empire Strikes Back to be released the following year.

 

Fast forward to December 24th. It was a tradition in my family to open one gift on Christmas Eve, and my brother and I could hardly wait for my mom to choose the gifts. We slowly started unwrapping the large packages at the same time and to our surprise, it was …. wait for it… the coolest Star Wars sleeping bag we had ever seen! It was blue with pictures of the characters from the movie in various poses repeated throughout the fabric. We couldn’t believe it! My brother and I were so excited that we asked my parents if we could sleep in the living room next to the Christmas tree and were pleasantly surprised when they said yes!

 

After they went to bed and my brother was asleep, I remember vividly staring up at the lights of our beautiful tree and thinking that life could be good. Good things do happen to people like me. I don’t know how my parents came up with the money to buy those sleeping bags, but I knew they must have sacrificed to pay for them, and I was grateful. They had no idea that a gift as ordinary as a sleeping bag would fill my heart and mind with good memories of that night for years to come.

Thank you Jill for sharing your memory! If you'd like to share yours or to find out more, click here!

See complete KVKI contest rules here.