Ramsey Christmas is legendary… especially the gifts.
I remember, before I worked here, watching Dave on twitter a few years standing at the front of Costco or Target (or whatever store it was that year), welcoming hundreds of excited team members with a $1000 shopping spree. Then some lucky soul would also win a car as well. So when I first started the job in 2018, one of the first questions my wife asked was, “Any news about Ramsey Christmas?!”
Last year they surprised us with giving out the gift a week before instead of at the party. We each got $1000 CASH shopping spree (so on brand of us) and we piled into buses to go to the mall for most of the day. It was unbelievable. Extraordinary. Amazing. The whole experience. PLUS an insane Christmas party that weekend. We felt overwhelmed by it all.
This year, they somehow topped it.
THE 2019 GIFT
On Monday, I thought they were going to do the same reveal. They even teased us in staff meeting, but no. We’d have to wait a little bit longer.
I had a special video to work on anyways. As a company, we set a goal to serve 3 Million Lives in 2019. This meant people we had an interaction with, like event attendees, books sold, people who took Financial Peace University, etc, all added up to that number. We hit that goal in November, and they asked me to make a countdown video to celebrate in devo. That kept me busy all day Monday and Tuesday and distracted me from wondering about the gift too much.
Wednesday morning, I showed up for devo a little early to see if everything was good to go for the video to play for the team, as well as get a good seat. I noticed there were several rows with “Reserved” plaques, which usually means special guests are joining us. Then people start filing in, and I notice two of our personalities were back off maternity leave early, the Ramsey family is all on the front row, and other slightly odd occurrences. People are buzzing as they come in, and we can tell something is gonna happen. The video plays, and it goes really really well.
Then the guests start to appear.
A young couple walks on stage and tells their story. These 29 year-olds just paid off $235,000 in student loans in 25 months, including 7 jobs between them with no weekends off and no lives to speak of. For their incredible efforts, we brought them all the way from Kentucky that morning to applaud them and give them our first ever “Gazelle Intense” award. I love recognizing our incredible fans who change their lives by something we make or teach.
But instead of exiting stage, Dave asked them to stay up there. Then the next guests came up.
Pastor Darren Whitehead approached the stage with his wife. He is pastor of Church of the City and a regular speaker at devo, as well as ribbon-cuttings and launches we’ve had recently. I expected him to maybe say a word of blessing to us like he’s done before, but not today.
They stay on stage too.
Then the director of the Ramsey Foundation, Dave’s daughter Denise Whittemore, introduces the entire staff of the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home. Most of them are house parents that help keep families together, get kids off the street, and foster 8-10 kids a home, and also three social workers that work with the court system to advocate for kids. It’s incredible stuff they are doing for those who are most vulnerable.
They are asked to stay on stage as well.
Then the final guests… our cafeteria staff. We contract with an outside catering company to cook and serve hot meals in the Ramsey café for lunches, breakfast, coffee, snacks etc. So they aren’t team members and don’t get some of the benefits we do. They all leave the row in front of me and come to stand next to the other guests.
Then it happens.
Down the large staircase comes Santa (and no, it wasn’t Dave). He saunters on stage with his giant red bag and pulls out an envelope. I can see what’s coming, preparing myself not to cry.
“I have a gift here for you,” Santa says, pointing to the award winning couple. They sheepishly move their way to the front of the stage, no idea what’s about to happen. He opens the card and reads aloud. “Each of you get a $1,000 shopping spree!” Exploding applause! They are blown away, but Santa’s not just here for them.
For Pastor Whitehead and his wife… $1,000!
For all the café staff… $1,000!
For every children’s home parent and social worker… $1,000! PLUS $2,000 to buy presents for all the kids!
Then Dave points outside, and we can see buses pulling past the glass window. There’s one more group…
For each team member… $1,000 and 17 buses to take us all right now to the mall for shopping, goodies, and giveaways.
In the end we not only received another $1000 shopping spree, but also got to experience the joy of other people getting in on this moment as well. Fans, families, pastors, baristas, and chefs. Later on, one of my video team members became this years lucky soul by winning a car! And little did they know when they drew her name that she just happened to be dealing with car problems and desperately needed it. Almost like it was meant to be.
But before we headed to the mall, Dave had one final word. People had already started gathering there things and moving chairs when he stopped us to tell us a story. When he was a kid, he watched his family go through bankruptcy. He remembered being so scared, wondering how they would survive. He vowed to himself to make $1 million dollars one day so he wouldn’t have to experience that for himself.
If you know Dave’s story, you know did make a lot of money in real estate in his twenties, leveraged out of his eyeballs, then went bankrupt. The very thing he was afraid of. This moment would be a catalyst for him to start learning how to handle money “God and grandma’s way,” and build a company that would go on to help millions of people. 3 million this year.
With tears welling up in his eyes, he said, “After I made the first million, that got boring. So I told God, if he’d let me… I’d like to GIVE away $1 million in ONE DAY…. And we just did.”
What Colbeigh and I haven’t mentioned to anyone is that we made a goal for ourselves to do that very thing… give away $1 million. Not all at once, but over time. That’s the kind of extravagant generosity we want to do for other people. And to hear my leader talk with deep emotion about such an amazing gift he was able to give to us, it re-energizes me to keep going towards the goal too.
What a Ramsey Christmas… and the party isn’t ’till Saturday.