Hough, Underwood, McGraw + More Share Christmas Traditions
Christmas is the one time of year that most country music artists find their way home to be with family. There they do everything from baking their favorite cookies or pies to doing that little bit of last-minute shopping for their loved ones.
"I am terrible ... I shop on Christmas Eve," says Julianne Hough. The 'Dancing with the Stars' favorite says she loves shopping for her family and finding that perfect gift for each of them. "I think that's the most fun thing about Christmas -- to give your family what they've asked for."
True to her last-minute shopping tradition, Hough is also a fan of fake trees. "I think it's nice that you can just pull it out of a box, whip it on there pre-lit, and then you can just put the decorations on and you're done in an hour."
John Michael Montgomery celebrates Christmas with five trees, all set up on November 1 so the family can share the holiday spirit just a little longer. His family spreads the holiday cheer, as well. "The kids take the lead on helping families in need by participating in the Angel Tree program each year," Montgomery explains. Their special Christmas Eve tradition includes attending church, then scattering reindeer food on the front lawn before settling down in front of the TV to watch 'The Bishop's Wife' with Cary Grant. "We eat a Yule Log (cake) and (daughter) Madison entertains the family by playing piano. Walker (son) will join her this year on the trumpet."
It seems that Montgomery's music tradition goes back to his childhood. His brother, Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry, recalls Christmases filed with music. "Back when I was a kid growing up, we didn't have a whole lot. Course Mom and Dad played music. Our Christmas basically ended up with all a bunch of musicians in our house and having people come over and just playing music, and there was some real funny-tasting eggnog!"
Eddie has his own traditions with his family, one of them being finding creative ways to hide presents from everyone until time to open them. "As the kids get older, it gets a little harder to hide stuff because they're looking everywhere. And if they find them, then they're gonna try to figure out a way to get into it and get a peak. So you want to tape it up good, so it will be harder for them to get into if they do find it."
Singing partner Troy Gentry feels pretty confident that he has a secret niche that the rest of his family hasn't found yet. "I've got a little space underneath my stairs in the garage where I'll hide the Christmas toys that I haven't wrapped for the kids or for the wife. That's where my little secret stash is for them."
Carrie Underwood also had music as part of her Christmas tradition. "We would all go to my grandmother's house on Christmas Eve, and we would go to the local nursing home and sing Christmas carols up and down the halls and pass out little bags with goodies in them ... It's really easy to forget about people during that time of year, because there's so much going on, and it was a really cool thing that we did. We'd go to the nursing home and bring a little Christmas cheer with us."
Priscilla Presley remembers what Christmas mornings were like with Elvis and their daughter, Lisa Marie. "I think that's when you really saw Elvis as a little kid. You'd see him glowing, and I remember him giving her a gift, and she'd open it, and before she could even say, 'Oh, I love it' or 'This is great,' he'd give her another one and watch her open up that gift. He'd be all smiles and give her another one, so you'd think that he was getting the gifts, but he was enjoying the pleasure of her receiving them and being all excited."
Josh Turner understands the fun Elvis got out of watching Lisa open presents. "Prior to Hampton being born, Christmas seemed like it was all about us, and since he's come along, we could care less what we get or what we need for Christmas. It's all about what he needs or what he wants or what brings him the most satisfaction as a two year old. We get much more satisfaction out of watching him open presents Christmas morning than we get out of opening our own. It's definitely a change of perspective and a good positive life change."
Tim McGraw says his Italian heritage shows up on Christmas Eve, also in the form of food. "One of our traditions is that we always made homemade pasta and sauce every Christmas Eve when I was growing up, and we continue to do that in our family. We have pasta night when we have friends and family over." McGraw adds, "I think this is a good year to take stock of where you are and be thankful because it's been a hard year for a lot of people this year."
For Reba McEntire, the holiday is also all about family and friends. "Christmas is always about celebrating Jesus' birthday and spending quality time with my family and friends. I guess the only tradition we kept throughout the years is eating a whole lot!"
Trisha Yearwood tells the Tulsa World newspaper that her family has never been into fancy parties. "My mom and dad never entertained. It was just friends and family dropping by." She and hubby Garth Brooks share a few new traditions with their daughters, among them the joy of holiday food. On the menu this year is ham, potato salad, green beans, ambrosia, divinity and fudge.
James House is especially thankful this Christmas. His mother was diagnosed with Stage-four lung cancer in April but is now in full remission. Instead of flying to Oregon, as they usually do, the House family will celebrate a southern-style holiday. "This year we will be spending Christmas in Tennessee at our home with our children, immediate family and friends. We decided this year that it was going to be less about material things and more about homemade gifts and family time. Creating our own special holiday memories, right here, right now means everything to me and to my family. I cannot say enough about how important is every single day to let those that you love know how much they mean to you."
Christmas is also special to Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn because his daughter, Molly, was born on Christmas Eve. He was out of town but when his wife called to say she was having contractions, so he immediately flew home. "The one thing I cared most about the pregnancy was driving to the hospital. I mean, I'd waited my whole life to go as fast as I wanted ... and if the cop pulls me over, I can go, 'We're having a baby!' So I did not want to miss that. I drove 130 the whole way -- just flying through traffic and running people off the road."
Lee Ann Womack loves the traditions her family shares. They get together to put up the Christmas tree and decorate the house. They also find time to watch their favorite Christmas movie, 'A Christmas Story.' She admits the movie even contributes to the holiday decorations. "Last year I got a package in the mail and Frank (husband) kept calling home all day saying, 'Has the award gotten there? Has the award gotten there?' I could not figure out what he was talking about until I opened the package and it was one of those leg lamps. And we put it in the window like the rednecks that we are every Christmas. The neighbors get the biggest kick out of it."
Crystal Shawanda says Christmas is her all-time favorite holiday. "I grew up in a house where my Mom always went way overboard, because she grew up in a home where they couldn't always afford to celebrate Christmas. So for her, the little kid comes out of her at Christmastime. Ever since I can remember, she's always wanted to make it special and the whole house ends up looking like Santa's workshop."
Sara Evans remembers her family having a huge Christmas celebration. "My family's huge, and we would spend Christmas Eve at my Granny and Paw-Paw's house, and then we would go home, and it was the only night out of the whole year that we were actually OK with leaving and going home because we knew that Santa was coming. And then we'd have a huge Christmas breakfast at my mom's."
Chuck Wicks says he remembers old Christmas traditions, but he's also starting to make a few of his own. "My new holiday tradition is sleeping in. As a kid, I was the first one to wake up and then go wake my mom and dad up. Now I know why my mom and dad always slept in, because they were getting ready for Santa. And you know, I'm gonna play Santa this year. I'm sure Santa will come and visit me, but I'm definitely gonna play Santa, and then I'm gonna sleep in."