They love their families, they love college football, and they love Christmas. About whom are we speaking? Some of our nation’s most loved and respected ladies: Meet Terry Saban, Kristi Malzhan, Jill Freeze, Kathleen Swinney, Rebecca Hall, Kate Dykes, and Maria Norvell.

Today we will learn from each lady some of her most enjoyable periods as relates to Christmas and family. You do not want to miss it, but first, join me in reading the greatest story ever told!

The Greatest Story Ever Told

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:7-14).

Meet Kristi Malzahan (Wife of Coach Gus Malzahan—Head football coach for UCF) 

Q&A with Kristi Malzahn:

What is your favorite Christmas memory as a child? Traveling to Houston, where most of our family lived. My paternal grandmother was riding with us and a noise occurred in the car, and I kept saying, “that sounds like a houla hoop.” My mom, knowing this was a gift that was supposed to be from “you know who,” began to change the direction of convo. . . . However, Grandmother (yes, she was the full name) kept arguing with mom. . . . “Kathy it really does sound like a houla hoop.” When I saw that houla hoop on Christmas morning . . . I began to put several pieces together. Ha 

What is your favorite Christmas carol? I love the Amy Grant Tennessee Christmas album, but I do not really have a “favorite” carol.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? My favorite thing about this time of year is the fun and craziness of my family. It is growing and I am thankful for the gift of grands!

What is your favorite Christmas dish? My favorite dish is the cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie . . . OR both!

What is your Christmas wish for others? My wish for all is that they TRULY KNOW my precious gift I call Savior, Truth, Friend, Rescuer, Redeemer, Healer and a thousand other names. 

Meet Mrs. Rebecca Hall

(Wife of Coach Will hall—Head football coach for Southern Mississippi) 

Q&A with Rebecca Hall: 

What is your favorite Christmas memory as a child? Our church had an angel tree where you could pick a child off the tree for whom to buy a present. My brothers and I all participated in the Angel tree. We learned the importance of helping others. Great memory. It impacted me greatly in regards to helping others. 

What is your favorite Christmas carol? “Oh Holy Night” and “Away in a Manager” 

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Growing up, my family always attended a candlelight service at my home church on Christmas Eve, followed by some wonderful ham and grits at the home of one of my grandmothers. On Christmas morning, we would all go to my other grandmother’s home and have a big breakfast all together, it was great. 

What is your favorite Christmas dish? Homemade Gingerbread Man Cookies (made by Rebecca’s grandmother, Momma Nell), Grandmother Julie’s homemade fudge, and the McKay family makes wonderful casseroles. What is your Christmas wish for others? I wish that everyone could just stop and think about the love of Jesus and His peace and to experience it.

Meet Kathleen Swinney

(Wife of Coach Dabo Swinney—Head football coach for Clemson University)

Q&A with Kathleen Swinney: 

What is your favorite Christmas memory as a child? Waking up on Christmas morning and being with my family and then celebrating my dad’s Christmas birthday that night! 

What is your favorite Christmas carol? “Oh Holy Night”

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? It has always been going to pick out our Christmas tree. Since being married, Dabo and I still go out to find the tallest tree our ceiling will allow! 

We have also been hosting a “Santa on the Roof” event for children in our community for over twenty-three years now!

What is your favorite Christmas dish? My favorite Christmas dish would actually be Christmas cookies!! My family loves cookies—all types, but especially homemade chocolate chip!!

What is your Christmas wish for others? My Christmas wish for others would be to know the real reason for Christmas and that’s Jesus!!! Jesus brings true joy and peace, and I pray that others will know Him this Christmas and always. 

Meet Terry Saban

(Wife of Coach Nick Saban—Head football coach for the University of Alabama)

Q&A with Terry Saban:

What is your favorite Christmas memory as a child? My favorite Christmas childhood memory is spending Christmas holidays at my “mama’s” house in Rivesville, West Virginia. It was a small house right next to the railroad tracks, but it was always full of warmth and joy. I can recall the adults putting all of the children to bed early because Santa might show up anytime and he would only stop at the house if the children were sleeping! I’ll never forget hearing all of the hushes, the soft giggles, and noise in the next room as they readied the gifts under the tree for the next morning and my sisters and I snuggled three to a bed in our footed pajamas. That memory still makes me smile.

What is your favorite Christmas carol? My favorite Christmas Carol is “Jingle Bells.” Everyone knows it and I love how it begins, “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.” . . . I find myself humming it all day long!

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? My favorite Christmas tradition is family and friends stopping by to bring happy Christmas greetings and always a little “sumpin.” Our doorbell rings often over the holidays and we all enjoy seeing who comes to visit!

What is your favorite Christmas dish? My favorite Christmas dish is my mother’s pasta with her homemade sauce, and I cannot duplicate it quite right! She used pork neck bones in it and my father would always go to the butcher shop to get the neck bones, and Mom would say, “Where is he? He’s probably flirting with those girls at the meat counter!” Dad was a handsome man even in his elderly years. I’ll keep trying to make, but it will never taste the same!

What is your Christmas wish for others? “My wish is that each and every person have warm and safe shelter and a full belly all year long!” 

Meet Mrs. Maria Norvell

(Wife of Coach Mike Norvell—Head football coach for Florida State) 

Q&A with Maria Norvell: 

What is your favorite Christmas memory as a child? Going to look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve, going to Midnight Mass, and then to IHOP.

What is your favorite Christmas carol? “O Holy Night”

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Making Spritz cookies and Fudge to give to others.

What is your favorite Christmas dish? Spiral Ham

What is your Christmas wish for others? For them to know and experience the peace that only Jesus can bring.

Meet Mrs. Kate Dykes

(Wife of Coach Sonny Dykes—Head football coach for SMU) 

Q&A with Kate Dykes: 

What is your favorite Christmas memory as a child?

Kate and her family spent every Christmas Eve at her grandmother’s house. Kate’s family lived in the same town with the grandmother, and every year they would gather together for a sleepover. All the siblings would sleep on the grandmother’s pull-out sofa. “It was so special,” stated Kate. Kate’s Grandmother was German and made the best Egg Casserole every Christmas morning. We would have Santa, then have breakfast and open presents. We did midnight mass. We would have hot chocolate that night as we returned home. “It was a home filled with the hope of Christ.”—quote from the wife. 

What is your favorite Christmas carol? “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? We read a particular book each year, every morning for the entire Advent. It encourages our family and gives us opportunities to help others. It is a time for which we most looked forward. “Unwrapping the Greatest Gift,” by Ann Voskamp. 

What is your favorite Christmas dish? “Dressing”—Grandma Sha’s dressing (she now makes it, passed down by Sonny’s Mom). 

What is your Christmas wish for others? “To know the love of Christ.” 

Meet Mrs. Jill Freeze

(Wife of Coach Hugh Freeze—Head football coach for Liberty University) 

Q&A with Jill Freeze: 

What is your favorite Christmas memory as a child?

When I was about nine and my sister was about six, we were at an old five-and-dime store with my mom and grandmother. My sister and I had crawled under a table and found this dusty box with these weird boots in it—like nothing we had ever seen before. They were a white plastic you could see through a little. We asked my grandmother what they were, and she said they were “drizzle boots” and that women used to put them on over their shoes when it rained to keep them from getting wet and ruined. We laughed about those boots, and then every Christmas after that after we opened our presents, my sister and I would both jokingly say, “I got everything I wanted except my drizzle boots.” We did this for over ten years. One Christmas, I was home from college, we opened all our presents, and as always I said, “I got everything I wanted except my drizzle boots.” My sister had this mischievous look on her face and said, “Wait, you have one more present.” . . . I opened the gift and there was a pair of drizzle boots. I have no idea where or how she had found them, but I screamed, “MY DRIZZLE BOOTS!!!” I hugged them to my chest. My sister was so proud of herself for surprising me and then she jokingly dropped her head and sadly said, “but I didn’t get mine.” At that point, my dad who loves a good joke, had that same mischievous look, said, “Wait, Joy, you have another present too,” and handed her the gift. She opened it, and there was a pair of drizzle boots for her! He had found out where she found mine and had secretly gone and gotten a pair for her as a surprise. It was so funny to us, and we still talk about that Christmas and our drizzle boots. I actually wore mine at college when it rained—not over my shoes, but with colorful socks you could see through and students would say how much they loved my shoes. I would just proudly say, “These are my drizzle boots, I got them for Christmas!” 

What is your favorite Christmas carol? My favorite Christmas carol: “O Holy Night.” I am not talented enough to sing it, but when I hear it, I truly can picture the sky full of angels singing that song and telling the world the great news and longing for everyone to accept Him as Savior. “A thrill of Hope, the weary world rejoices!” I’m praying for each person reading this to experience a Thrill of Hope this Christmas season. 

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? My family has always read the Christmas story in Luke 2, even more special is when Hugh’s entire extended family reads it and then all sing “Silent Night together.” There is rarely a dry eye afterwards because we miss Nannie and Papaw so much, and we know how important this tradition was to them. We have continued that tradition with our daughters as well. 

What is your favorite Christmas dish? My dad’s smoked turkey with my Mom’s cornbread dressing because she does not use sage; instead, she uses lemon pepper and cayenne pepper. His turkey and her dressing are the perfect Christmas dish combination.

What is your Christmas wish for others? I wish absolutely everyone would have a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ so that all may have eternal life in Heaven. 

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