Editor's Note: It is always interesting to find out what other families do at Christmas time to make the holiday more meaningful. For our family, we like to attend our church's Christmas Eve service (and I usually sing a solo or two) and then we come home and make old-fashioned hot cocoa from scratch.

Several years ago, my sister gave my daughter Janie a book called "Thunder Cake." Janie suggested we make Thunder Cake and call it a "birthday cake for Jesus." So we did. We even sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus!

Another tradition is to have lots of Christmas CDs playing while we decorate our tree. As my children get older, it becomes harder to schedule that time when they will help me decorate the tree and get out our Christmas village pieces. But the memories remain!

~Martha Hall Bowman, publisher

My favorite holiday tradition is one of gratitude.  It began at Thanksgiving time many years ago.  My children and I decorated a shoe box with both Thanksgiving and Christmas icons; we cut a hole in the top, glued a little notebook holder we fashioned of folded cardboard to one end, and attached a pen with a string so it would always be available.  Every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we each wrote down something we were grateful for, using the handy notebook (later on we used cut up scrap paper), folded it and put it into the box.  On Christmas, as part of our gift-opening festivities, we opened the box, and took turns drawing out a slip of paper and reading it aloud.  What a wonderful gift to ourselves it was, taking time to share our gratitudes over the past month.  It gave a sense of depth and sacredness to the sometimes mad rush of opening material gifts. 


Carol Johnson

Grand Rapids, Michigan

My favorite Christmas tradition was started by my children and nephew several years ago.  One Christmas Eve morning the children locked themselves away upstairs and told the adults they were working on something important.  Later that evening, just before we opened presents, the kids invited the grown-ups into the living room for a special performance, handing us printed programs as we entered the room.

My oldest son introduced songs and readings.  The other children accompanied on saxophone, violin, and flute.  We were treated to solos, duets, and sing-a-longs, as well poems and the Christmas story from the Bible.  Each year since, the children have offered us this gift of music and time for reflection before we open our presents.  Although some of the children are now adults, I look forward to the younger ones continuing this tradition which has made our family time together even more special.

Melissa Simmons

Covington, Georgia


As far as old traditions go, the few things I can remember about Christmas and my childhood was that we were still living in Morgantown, West Virginia, and we always put up a live tree on Christmas Eve and then took it down on New Year's Day. So I guess you could say we put it up one year and took it down the next.


Dad would bring home the ugliest cheapest tree he could buy and then proceed to cut away the bottom branches and then drill holes in the trunk where there were bare spots. He would then place the bottom branches he had cut off into the holes he had drilled. When he was done, he had a perfectly shaped tree that he had bought at a cheaper price. And nobody except us knew any different.


I also remember my aunt and uncle who lived close by always had the most beautiful tree ever. It was always a long needle pine that they had flocked with white artificial snow and they only used blue light bulbs and blue decorations. And they probably didn't have to drill holes in the trunk and transplant limbs, either.

And some traditions never change, because we are still singing the same Christmas carols today that I remember as a child.


John Tice

Pendleton, Indiana