By Mary Kavanagh of Hagerstown
Christmas starts early at my home. My extended family has always been large, so there have always been plenty of gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve, even before Santa comes. So my mother's family created the rule that every child is allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve.
It's funny how things have changed, I remember years ago, diving after the biggest box, hoping and praying that I would discover Big Thing, a giant pink-and-yellow elephant. Last year, I looked for the smallest box, hoping for an iPod.
By Sara Martens of Smithsburg
Every year on Christmas morning, my parents and I gather around the tree to open presents. My dad hands out the gifts, as my mother documents each moment with her camera. After all of the presents have been opened, we go to my grandmother's place for the family Christmas meal.
We always arrive early to help with the cooking. After everyone arrives, we sit down to dinner, which is followed by the opening of presents from Granny and our secret Santas. Then we kids watch a holiday movie and eat cookies. The adults eat Granny's famous no-bake cookies while catching up with each other. Then we go our separate ways back home.
By Laura Bell of Hagerstown
Live Christmas trees are green, bushy and messy. Every year, I go with my family to pick out a Christmas tree. It's fun, but no one agrees on one tree. After we spend three hours picking one out, we have to cut it down. Amid shouts to hold up the tree and to not let it fall, there is a family of four ready to die of laughter.
By Elizabeth Kramer of Hagerstown
Eight days of presents - that's Hanukkah. My family's Hanukkah is more like two or three days of presents, fried food, candle lighting and good cheer followed by about five days of eating whatever you can find in the refrigerator. After all, you can't be expected to have presents for everyone and dinner all eight days.
By Al Wunderlich of Hagerstown
One of my favorite traditions is having a huge Christmas Eve dinner with my family. We have ham, Yorkshire pudding (popovers), mashed potatoes and a bunch more stuff that fills the table.
By Tessa Walls of Hancock
I don't like Christmas. I guess you could call me Scrooge. I don't like the idea that everyone in the family is told to meet somewhere to exchange presents every single year. Maybe I feel this way because, as children become teenagers, we want to spend less time with family. But I think the concept of getting together for one annual cause is corny.
By Fedora Copley of Hagerstown
Christmas is universally a time of loving and giving. But for my family, it's also a time of creativity. My dad and I make and sell cut-paper Christmas cards at the farmer's market in downtown Hagerstown. For me, it's a time of bonding with Dad, experiencing some old-fashioned, local culture and making engaging pieces of art.
Besides cards, the fam always has fun expanding the boundaries of the idea of presents. I like giving personal, original presents, like a poem or a painting of our life. My mantra: Anyone can give a DVD or book. Only I can give an original piece of art I made.
By Erica Colliflower of Falling Waters, W.Va.
Every year, our family goes to a Christmas tree farm to pick out the perfect Christmas tree. You would think that it would be easy to pick one out, but it never is. This year, we found about five perfect trees. Each one was carefully scrutinized by each family member before we finally agreed on one. I'm not really sure if the one we picked was perfect or if we were tired of looking around. Anyway, we brought the tree home. It turned out to be perfect or us, once it was decorated and positioned.
By Sally Newlin of Hagerstown
First, my sister and I get up at 6 a.m. and open stockings. At 7 a.m., we go to my grandma's house for breakfast and presents. Then we go home, open more presents and lie around the rest of the day.
By Darcy Shull of Hagerstown
For Christmas, my family draws names from a hat. The family members buy a present for the person whose name they draw. Since I am the youngest in my family (besides my brother), I am excluded from this. I receive presents from everyone - definitely my favorite tradition.