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I love Christmas. There is something about this season that fills my heart with warmth, love, and peace. Don't get me wrong–there is also a bit of my soul that often finds itself frantic, anxious, and overwhelmed, but I try as hard as I can to remember the true meaning of this wonderful season.

What do I love most about Christmas? The traditions. Some are silly; some are meaningful. But, I look forward to them each year.

Growing up, we played our first Christmas music on the way home from wherever we had spent Thanksgiving. And, it was almost always Alabama's Christmas cassette tape. (I'm guessing both of my sisters could still sing every song, including "Thistlehair, the Christmas Bear" and "Tender Tennessee Christmas.") Sugar cookies (my mom once gave herself tendonitis from making so many), buying gifts for the angel tree, looking at Christmas lights, my dad's yearly walk through the mall on Christmas Eve, and the list goes on. On Christmas morning, our stockings were filled with lots of fun things, but always an apple, an orange, and a book of Lifesavers. (The other day a woman told me the reason for the apple and orange is that they are stocking fillers so you don't have to buy more stuff. I'm 37 and just realized this. Genius.)

Now that I have my own family, traditions have become an important part of our Christmas season. One of my favorite things we do is open a Christmas book each night and read it as a family in the days leading up to Christmas. Twenty-four books, all wrapped and under the kid's tree, ready to be opened, one per night starting December 1. A few of the books change from year to year, as I find new ones I can't resist, but what fun we have each night. Anticipating which book it will be ... and then my daughter exclaiming, "Oh I remember this one from last year," in an excited voice!

There are other things we do throughout December, but this one is the most special to me. Partially because I love children's books. Partially because some of these books tell the wonderful story of our Savior's birth. Partially because some of them remind us of the magic of Christmas. Mostly, though, because it is something our family looks forward to each and every night. This year, as our kids have gotten a little older, we end our reading with a simple prayer, thanking God for something or someone. Each one takes a turn. They aren't always eloquent, and sometimes the things we (aka my kids) thank God for are a little out there, but they are learning to give glory to the One who is our ultimate Provider and the Giver of the greatest Gift.

Merry Christmas! Thank you to those who regularly read and respond to the posts I share. Many days I feel like I do this more for myself than for others, but I pray the posts I am impressed to write speak to you in various ways. I've got a few deadlines to meet, plus a few hundred sugar cookies to make, so I'll find you again after Christmas. Wishing you and your family a blessed Christmas! May your family rest in the realization that Jesus is Lord, He is still on His throne, and He has each of you in the palm of His hands.

What are some of your favorite traditions? I'd love to hear about them!