Celebrate with the community. Katie M. attends an annual tree lighting ceremony on Black Friday. "It's so fun for the kids and has a sense of history to it," says Katie. "They have Christmas carolers, free goodies like hot chocolate, Santa and even snow!"
Celebrate outdoors. "It would not be Christmas without the smell of fresh-cut evergreens," says Pam L., whose family ventures out every year to cut down their own Christmas tree and garlands. "I have never owned an artificial tree — and never will!"
Tracey F. and her husband join fellow teachers to decorate. "Putting lights and decorations outside is no fun when it's freezing," says Tracey. "We take turns at each others' houses on weekends in November. The kids love getting together with their friends, and the work gets done much faster."
Celebrate with stories. "On Christmas Eve, we read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas," says Jeannette. "Our kids had the poem memorized at very young ages... their teachers were impressed!"
David N. loves to read If He Had Not Come by Nan Weeks. The "nightmare-before-Christmas" tells the story of a young boy who enters a world where Jesus had never existed. David, who has been reading the story for about 30 years, loves it so much that he paid to have it republished and is donating the profits to charity.
Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. One of the first things we put out for Christmas is our nativity set. We set out the stable and all of the pieces except baby Jesus. On Christmas morning, we place the babe in the manger before digging into the presents.
Other families have their own traditions for putting "Christ" back into Christmas. Toys in the Dryer blogger Jamie H. and her family always read the Christmas story from the Bible before opening their gifts, and Kathryn R. and her kids sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Genevieve's family makes a Christmas-tree-shaped birthday cake for the newborn king.
Celebrate with food. Our family enjoys an old-time Polish Christmas Eve dinner — the pierogies and fish taste better on this night than at any other time of the year. Jamie's family has its own traditions: ice box pudding on Christmas Eve and sticky buns on Christmas morning.
Kathy P. of Dot Girl Products looks forward to homemade cheese raviolis for Christmas dinner. The tradition began with Kathy's father's grandparents, Italian immigrants, and continues today with her own children. "None of us can imagine Christmas dinner without those cheese raviolis and the memories they bring," says Kathy.
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