Christmas traditions can be found in every family.

I've lost some of the traditions of my parents after I had a family of my own and we began making our own.

Like the Christmas tree. As a kid I never saw our Christmas tree until Christmas morning. I was told Santa Claus decorated the tree. I'd wake up and there it would be, in all its tinsel and multi-colored-lights glory! Oh, what a thrill it was to see it with presents underneath waiting for me to open.

Our first Christmas as a married couple, I couldn't wait to decorate my very own tree and so we put one up at least a week before Christmas. That became our tradition. I don't know why I didn't preserve my childhood Christmas morning tradition for Becky. I guess I hated the idea of losing all that sleep. I don't know how my mom and dad did it. Putting a tree up takes hours! No wonder they never wanted to get up early!

I came across some fun traditions shared by others on the Internet.

*In one family the kids used to put their shoes out for the elves to leave a small gift.

We always did that for the Easter Bunny to put eggs in our shoes but I never heard of elves doing it. If it means an extra gift for me, I'm putting my size nines out this year, just in case.

*Another family said each member picks out a new ornament for the tree every year.

That's a good one. My sister Diane has bought each of her three children a new ornament every year since they were born. Someday when they have homes of their own, their first Christmas trees will be filled with memories. Me? I'm cheap. Ever since I began painting, I paint a new ornament every year. Some are cute. Some are so bad I bury them deep in the branches. Eeesch.

*One gal said that every Christmas they crack a peppermint pig after dinner and watch the movie "Die Hard."

Well there you go. That blood-and-guts film will always leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. I think I like my tradition better of cracking open the cookie jar and watching "Christmas Vacation." Come to think of it, Christmas with the Griswolds has it's share of blood and guts, too.

*One family tries to wrap things so that they're impossible to guess. For example, one year the mom bought new pillows and they wrapped them up so tight and flat they fit into a shirt box. "Trust me, it looked like there was no way a pillow was in there. We also don't write who the present is really from. It's from superheroes or other characters like Batman, the Boogie Man, etc."

The Boogie Man leaves gifts?

*Two sisters try to do something unique for the kids every Christmas Eve. One year it was a taste testing party. Another year they went around to neighbors and handed out fudge. Once they went and all sat on Santa's lap (the two sisters and their four daughters) for a picture. Ouch. Each year they try to do something fun and silly.

Last year for fun and silly, we bought Becky one of those remote control flying sharks. Becky has always been fascinated by sharks and even studied marine biology saying someday she wanted to work with sharks. Well, she's not working with sharks, (Thank Goodness but don't tell her I said that!) but when I saw this in a catalog, I just had to get it for her. Christmas Day when we were all finished opening our presents at Mom's, Harry went in the back bedroom and while we're all sitting there admiring our presents, out came this four-foot long flying shark. Everyone was amazed and laughed. Becky got the biggest kick out of it. She took it to another Christmas party later on and they all had a good time with it. I'm sure it's crumpled up in the back of her closet somewhere, but we had a lot of Christmas chuckles with it.

*A mother always made the family's Christmas stockings out of pantyhose.

"She wears size Queen Tall. They are super stretchy. Do you know how much stuff fits into a leg of size Queen Tall pantyhose? I do. A lot. Sounds freaky, but it's awesome. Every year we have pictures of my three sisters and I with pantyhose stockings draped around our necks."

Wouldn't you love to see their Christmas photo album?

*One family makes "reindeer food" (dry oatmeal and glitter) and throws it out in the yard right before bedtime. "Reindeer like oatmeal and the glitter is so they can see it when Rudolph's nose shines on it!"

Oh the imagination!

*Years ago, one youngster had a little pink plastic flamingo and was playing with it and added it to the nativity scene. It became a permanent fixture.

Don't you just love the innocence of children? If sheep, cattle and donkeys could worship the Baby Jesus in a stable, why not a flamingo? Or an elephant? Or me?

The best Christmas tradition of all ... standing in my church on Christmas Eve singing "Silent Night" by candlelight thanking God for sending His precious son as the Light of the World.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?