Growing up in South Carolina, “Fox & Friends” cohost Ainsley Earhardt says that she “didn’t have a lot, but we had enough and our family was happy.”
Earhardt shares these and other warm memories of Christmas and the times she shared with her two siblings, her parents, her grandparents, and other close relatives in a narrative that’s included in the book All American Christmas by Rachel-Campos Duffy and Sean Duffy.
“You can’t put a price tag on most of my cherished holiday memories,” Earhardt also says.
“Thank you, Mimi, and thank you, Mom,” she adds. “You taught me well. I’m doing my best to live up to the example you set, and I hope I can pass your Christmas spirit on to your grandchildren and generations to come.”
Ainsley Earhardt on the joy of receiving, from ‘All American Christmas’
Ainsley Earhardt in All American Christmas: My maternal grandmother, Mimi, was a tiny bit of a woman who stood no more than five feet one inch or five feet two inches tall. She had a great, loving heart and a real way about her.
She reminded me of Nancy Reagan. She and my grandfather Pop were very social and gracious. I never heard them exchange a harsh word with each other or with anyone else for that matter.
At Christmastime, Mimi would make sure that she bought six presents for every grandchild. She also always wrapped them perfectly. She even taught all her grandchildren the ins and outs of wrapping a gift, to the point that we learned her secrets for folding the tissue paper just so and how to make the neatest, most precise bows.
“I’m doing my best to live up to the example you set.” — Ainsley Earhardt in ‘All American Christmas’
I couldn’t really master her tissue-paper folding back then, but I marveled at those perfect folds and creases whenever I opened one of her gifts.
Even as a child I appreciated the time she spent buying the gifts and also making sure each child received the same amount of presents. This way, we knew she loved us equally.
We spent Christmas Day with my extended family eating and enjoying one another’s company. I can still picture Mimi and Pop sitting in chairs on the edge of the room when we gathered at their house.
My grandparents always had a small faux tree. The grandchildren sat on the floor while our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents sat in chairs circling us to watch our excitement as we opened each gift.
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Along with the presents under the tree, envelopes hung from its branches. My grandparents would give each adult an envelope of cash. It couldn’t have been much, although I never asked the amount. I just remember the tradition and feeling happy for them as they opened their individual envelopes.
Mimi passed away when I was 21 years old. She was the first grandparent I lost, and her death hit me hard. I was a junior in college and my memories of her have really stayed with me.
Mimi would buy us all clothes. I know it sometimes doesn’t go over well for kids when their grandparents try to find things that are fashionable, let alone wearable. That wasn’t the case with Mimi. She bought me one outfit for Christmas when I was in middle school and I wore it the first day we returned to school after the holiday break.
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It included fuchsia-colored corduroy pants and a jewel-toned button-down flannel shirt.
I would pop the collar and wear it untucked.
Mimi bought me a necklace to go with it that featured the same colors. Little wooden pencils hung down from the chain. Each pencil was a different color to match the shirt perfectly.
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I thought the pairing was gorgeous and I was my proud of my grandmother’s cool taste in clothes. This was way back in the ’80s when we were wearing these crazy colors.
And I will never forget that outfit. I cherished it for years.
Excerpted from All American Christmas by Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy. To purchase a copy, click here.