Here’s an excerpt from my latest book, My Favorite Christmas, which features fond holiday memories of famous athletes, recording artists and authors.
Billy Ray Cyrus
Multi-platinum selling recording artist, Billy Ray Cyrus, is best known for his 1992 smash hit, “Achy Breaky Heart.” Also an actor, Cyrus played the lead role on PaxTV’s (now i Television) long-running hit series, “Doc”. He currently stars with his daughter Miley on Disney Channel’s hit series “Hannah Montana” (www.billyraycyrus.com).
My mom and dad got divorced when I was 5. Two years later my mom sold a lot of her belongings just so we’d be able to pay our bills, keep our house and have some food on the table. She also wanted me and my brother to have a couple of Christmas presents; not much, maybe just a pair of tennis shoes or some jeans. That was the best my mom could do at the time.
She sold some very personal items, including the piano she’d been given by her mother. My mom played music by ear, and really had a gift and a love for the piano. Selling that instrument was the greatest gift that she could give us; it was a huge sacrifice. I vowed that someday I would make it up to her.
When I was 17 years old and still in high school, my mom cleaned houses for a living. One of the homes she cleaned had a piano and that was the only place she had an opportunity to play. One day around Christmas, I came home from school and found my mom crying. The people who owned that piano had put it up for sale and she was devastated.
Without her knowing it, I contacted the owner of that piano and told her I wanted to buy it for my mom. I had very little in savings – what money I did have I’d made cutting grass, working in people’s yards, and doing little odd jobs. But that lady wanted my mom to have the piano and said she would take what I had in savings, even though it was much less than what she could have sold it to someone else for.
So I emptied out my savings and brought that piano home. My buddies and I snuck it into the house when my mom was gone and set it right next to the Christmas tree.
I can still see her face when she came through the door. Her eyes got great big and we all yelled “Surprise!” But she just stood there. I finally said, “Well, come on down and play us something.” I’ll never forget that moment as my mom sat down at her piano with tears in her eyes and played, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” by Willie Nelson. That was a perfect Christmas morning.
Billy Ray’s story is just one of many in the beautiful hardbound edition of My Favorite Christmas. Autographed copies can be purchased at www.amyhagberg.com.
For every book purchased through my website during the month of December, 10% of the retail price will be donated to Angel Tree ministries. Angel Tree is a ministry that reaches out to the children of inmates and their families during the holidays with the love of Christ.