Ringing In the Season: Your Favorite Artists Reveal Their Christmas Traditions

Dec 31, 1969 07:00 PM EST

Awwwh, Christmas! While some traditions are the same, the interesting thing about the holiday is how people develop traditions a little out of the box. So as you crank up some great yuletide tunes and sip some hot chocolate, read about how some of your favorite artists celebrate the season.

"During the holidays, I love to listen to the Natalie Cole Christmas album while we decorate the tree. Ever since I can remember, our family has sat down and watched A Christmas Story on TV while eating the Christmas sugar cookies made from the same recipe my grandmother used. It only takes a few special things to make it feel like the holidays, and I don't think Christmas would be the same without these traditions that I've grown up with. —Sarah Sadler

"I usually spend my Christmas holiday skiing with the fam in Tahoe. We also have a tradition that they are only allowed to spend $20 per person. Christmas is a time to remember the incarnation in her family and not a time to dwell on what you've been or haven't been given." —Joy Williams

"We have a special little time where we read a Christmas narrative from one of the Gospels and have our meal, which is always tomato soup, breadsticks and steak. It has to be that or it’s not Christmas. And then we call our grandma, and that’s Christmas right there." —John Warne, Ace Troubleshooter

"For the last couple of years, I’ve gotten together with a couple of friends. We put on all our warmest waterproof gear, and we go kayaking on the Chattahoochee River. We basically just go out there and freeze ourselves and act like we’re really cool." —Bebo Norman

"When I think of Christmas, I think about being at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, watching football and eating the pretzels with the white frosting on them. I’m always the guy who eats all the olives on the table; they set the olives and all the food on the table, and I’d be the kid who would always eat all of the olives before anybody else could. It’s always my Grandma who says ‘Ben, stop eating all the olives.’ And I still do that every time I go home." —Ben Glover

"We have a tradition called ‘Soup and Carols’ at our house. Gloria makes three different kinds of soup, and I invite everybody I’ve known from the beginning of time. We must have over a 100 people who come, including some pretty good singers like Sandi Patty, Ray Boltz and a lot of good college-aged people. The sound is pretty fantastic, so maybe we really should tape it one of these days." —Bill Gaither

"I grew up in East Texas, and while everyone else is satisfied with turkey and dressing, the highlight of my Christmas meal is the fish fry we have with the fish my grandfather catches. We also carry on the tradition of leaving buttermilk and cookies out for Santa, because Santa once left a note that said he really likes buttermilk." —Chris Tomlin

"I think my favorite tradition is seeing my grandpa play Santa Claus, which is pretty interesting because he’s actually pretty infamous around here in New Orleans. He’s known as ‘The Dancing Santa Claus,’ and actually it’s a trip. I get to see him run around malls kind of freaking kids out as he takes their parents and shows them how to do a Christmas tango. So that’s holiday cheer for me." —Paul Meany, Earthsuit

"At Rocketown Records we started a tradition where every year, probably about 10 days before Christmas, we have a party at my house. I subject everyone to my cooking and everyone that can come, whether artist or staff, comes over. I give out presents, and I always make them play a cornball game. Last year, they had to decorate a tree blindfolded, and the year before they had to pin appropriate clothing on a poster of Michael W. Smith while blindfolded." —Ginny Owens

"We were brought up in a Scandinavian kind of background, and there’s one thing we do every year on Christmas Eve. My mom will make a rice pudding kind of a dessert and inside of it, she’ll put an almond or a candy, hidden. The goal of the whole process is for everybody to keep passing it around ’til it’s all gone. Whoever ends up getting whatever’s inside wins the opportunity to open a Christmas present early." —Andy Selness, Go Fish

"We have crazy traditions. We make tamales on Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve we all get together, and I always get to be Santa and hand out all the gifts. When we were younger, my brothers and I used to drive around with our parents and we’d sing Christmas carols in the car, but we’d always change the words. We used to live in Texas, and there was no ‘White Christmas’ or ‘Let It Snow,’ so we’d just change words to ‘Brown Christmas’ and ‘Let It Rain, Let It Rain.’" —Jaci Velasquez "We had one tradition in particular, the annual construction of the Christmas tree. We would sort out the limbs by size, and then we would put the tree together, which was always a bonding time. This, of course, was a plastic tree, but it’s something we passed down. Usually a real tree is a frustration for one person. You can identify one person as ‘He’s the one that’s always having to clean up the needles’ or ‘He’s the one who has to get the tree to stand on the stand.’ A plastic tree is something everybody can share. I think that’s why we love it." —Stephen Mason, Jars of Clay

"One of the coolest things I remember about Christmases growing up was that my grandmother was always into crafts, and every Christmas she would make each of us grandkids an ornament that was unique and handcrafted. She would paint the year and our names on the back of it, and that was part of my Christmas present." —Jennifer Knapp

"When my sister Jordan and I were little, my dad always enjoyed making us sit at the top of our stairs because the tree and the presents were all downstairs. We’d be up at the crack of dawn, and they’d have to go down and get everything ready. We have videotapes from every year, even as we got older, of us sitting at the top of the stairs saying ‘Dad! Please! Let us come down!’ And then finally we’d have the charge. He’d say ‘OK, go!’ So then we’d come barreling down the stairs, pushing each other over, and we’d just start screaming ‘Ahhhh!’ and then we’d go through our stockings. Last year, we said, ‘OK, we don’t have to do this again, do we?’ and they said, ‘Sit there, or you can’t come down.’" —Kendall Payne

"In Australia, Christmas is in the summertime, so we’d all go to the beach and go swimming after lying on the floor for a long time because we were so full from the Christmas dinner. After dinner, before heading back to the beach, my grandpa, who actually still does this, gives us a talk to reflect on the year to come and the year past. Rather than just silly Christmas stories, he shares stories from the Bible for how we can live a better life the next year." —Michelle Tumes

"The best Christmases have come since I’ve been married because we’ve been able to combine my traditions with my husband’s traditions. My husband is from Mexico, so it’s been interesting because one of the traditions for me was having a big turkey dinner for Christmas Day with mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie and all that kind of stuff. Well, in his family, they have tamales, empanadas, burritos and everything. That’s been really cool to me. I still cook stuffing and stuff like that, and then they cook what they cook. Then we come together and have a huge Christmas brunch." —Andrea Baca, Out of Eden

By Christa Farris