The First Gift of Christmas

A one-time kindness turned into an annual holiday event

Christmas in the Sky
7-year-old Charli received the First Gift of Christmas on Nov. 24, 2021. (Photo by Jenny Fisher)

Anyone who is a fan of the Polar Express movie knows that the First Gift of Christmas is a bell from Santa's sleigh. It is a simple gift but one that carries meaning and importance for so many people all over the world.

In 2008, at Jackson County's annual Christmas in the Sky event at Longview Lake, Santa Claus made an appearance and presented the First Gift of Christmas -- a bell from Santa's sleigh to Payton, a young boy who had a particularly difficult year, losing his father and coming to live with his grandparents.

Presenting the First Gift of Christmas to Payton started a popular, new tradition. Now, the night before Thanksgiving each year at Christmas in the Sky, a very deserving person receives the First Gift of Christmas from Santa Claus. We extend special thanks to Magical Bells, Jackson County Parks + Rec and 99.7 the Point radio station for their help and contributions to our ongoing effort to spread Christmas joy each year.

The very first gift

Payton received the first silver bell from Santa's sleigh on Thanksgiving Eve, 2008, at Christmas in the Sky.

The First Gift 2009

Brooklynn, who was battling a serious brain disease, received a silver sleigh bell on Thanksgiving Eve 2009.

First Gift 2017

Brielle, who battles Perthes disease, was at Christmas in the Sky 2017 to receive a silver sleigh bell from Santa.

First Gift of Christmas recipients

Hudson & Addie
2017 Brielle 2010 Aaron
2016 Tony 2009 Brooklynn
2015Hannah 2008 Payton

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