I was so fortunate to grow up in a family where the holidays have always been sweet. My favorite things are small details that paint a childhood Christmas full of whimsy and wonder. We always got to pick out a new Christmas dress from K-Mart and usually performed in the yearly church Christmas play, whether it was a traditional Christmas story or a modernized version entitled "Live! From Bethlehem!"

In my family, we always opened one present on Christmas Eve and the rest waited until morning. My two sisters and I always snuggled close together in one bed for the night, waking up frequently in anticipation of Santa Clause. I was known to get up in the middle of the night and spy to see if our stockings were full yet.

We were usually up by 5 or 6 am, rushing into the living room to dig into knitted stockings stuffed full of gadgets and candy and lip gloss and stickers and all the cheap trinkets that fill up a sock for $10 or less. After opening presents one by one, we headed to the kitchen as my Dad cooked his famous biscuits and gravy (he still does). Usually, I had received several new books and could be found relaxing on my bean bag chair or on a couch cushion devouring a title. Not much has changed there!

I will always cherish those Christmas mornings as a kid, especially before I learned the truth about Santa Clause. It all reminds me how lucky I am to have an intact family that gave me all the love and care I could ever dream of — on Christmas Day and 364 other days a year as well.