Elvis spared no expense at any time of the year, but he did his best at parties. Priscilla revealed his extraordinary generosity to everyone around him, as well as his love of pranks. She said, “What do you buy the guy who has everything? Christmas for Elvis wasn’t about receiving, it was always about giving. It was about seeing the reaction on people’s faces when he gave them things.” On his first Christmas in his new home in 1957, the star gave everyone in his entourage a thousand-dollar bill. And that was just the beginning, although one year he also pulled a hilarious ‘Memphis Mafia’ prank on him.
Priscilla added: “She overheard some of the guys in the entourage talking about their Christmas bonuses and she actually went to McDonald’s down the street and got them all the gift certificates.”
The punch line was that each gift certificate was only fifty cents. Of course, later on, everyone also received their usual extraordinary gifts, ranging from cars to jewelry, plus big cash bonuses for their entourage.
Elvis spoke of his mother, whom he never ceased to miss and never forgot his humble roots, saying, “I wonder what all the poor children are doing tonight. I wish I could feed all the poor children and give them presents.”
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She said: ‘It was really beautiful…it was already joyful, such a happy time. He had all of her friends there… He was so loyal to all of her friends and they were always included in everything we did. That seemed very special to me.
“It was his favorite time of the year. He was like a child. He loved picking out gifts. He would tell the jeweler to bring pieces. He loved to give…”
That year, Elvis gave her a large diamond ring, but not a formal engagement ring. That would have to wait another four years until he proposed just before Christmas 1966.
One of Elvis’s favorite Christmas gifts was the model car race track that Priscilla gave him in 1965. He loved it so much that he kept adding to it until he finally needed his own room. He built himself a new addition that became the Trophy Room and also stored all of his gold and platinum records.
Of course, once Lisa Marie was born in 1968, Elvis turned all his attention to making Christmas magical for her. He would stay up until everyone had gone to bed to put her daughter’s gifts under the tree and then wait excitedly “like a child” for her to wake up and discover all that he had in store for her.
As Lisa Marie grew up, her gifts included a little fur coat, diamonds, and even her very own golf cart so she could join her father in running around the gardens.
Graceland would be filled throughout Christmas with family and friends, and Priscilla described a home overflowing with good food and music, but no particular artist…
Priscilla said: “We had a cook who worked full time for us. She served ham and turkey with all the trimmings. It was very fancy and grand, that’s for sure. There were about 12 people at the table and a few more in the kitchen.
“We didn’t play Elvis records, he was quite shy and almost a little embarrassed to play his own records. I
“If I had to play any records, it would be by other artists. I loved Roy Orbison, he played Brenda Lee, I loved Glen Campbell. We had the radio on a lot.”
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