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Keep in touch. Sign up for the Family Christmas Online<sup><small>TM</small></sup> NewsletterFamily Christmas OnlineTM was formed to help your family to have a joyful and meaningful Christmas, even if your life is going in thirty different directions.

Welcome to our growing library of stories, ideas, and songs to enrich (and in some cases simplify) your Christmas season. Each year we have added or improved resources, so keep checking back. This year we already have a number of upgrades in the works, but it's too early to make a formal announcement.

Also, please don't let the Victorian look fool you - we like old-fashioned Christmases, but we live and work in the twenty-first century. Most of the tips we pass on are things that we or our closest friends and family members have learned first-hand. If you have a tip you'd like to share with your fellow readers, please let us know.

Note: - This site has just been moved to a new server with slightly different software. We've tried to make certain that nothing important has been lost, but if you notice any broken links or other issues, please let us know as soon as possible by using the contact page.

Here are some areas we hope you find interesting, helpful, and encouraging, in or out of season.

  • The Bible Story of Christmas - The most important Bible passages about Christmas, with illustrations
  • Other Stories of Christmas - Christmas stories from diverse sources, including Charles Dickens and O. Henry, as well as original stories by our own editors and authors.
  • Christmas Poems - This page contains links to uplifting or humorous family-friendly Christmas poems. Many are classic poems by well-known authors.
  • Christmas Memories - This page represents the beginning of a new collection of special Christmas memories, from our family and from readers. Your special Christmas memories are welcome as well.
  • Christmas Musings - This department contains articles that answer common questions about Christmas and Christmas traditions, as well as articles about topics that don't fit anywhere else on the site. Here are a few examples:
    • Click to learn about our nativity Mary's unscheduled field trip to Dayton, Ohio, on the way to our home.Mary's Unexpected Journey - Our family's attempts to complete a specific nativity set before Christmas were almost tharted by the post office sending our Mary "by the scenic route." Plus a bit of research into nativities that represent kids dressed as nativity characters. New for 2015
    • The Line for the Family Stable Starts Here - A funny and touching look at the way children perceive Nativity sets in their homes.
    • A Brief History of Christmas - How did a midwinter feast become the most celebrated Christian holiday?
    • Why Do We Celebrate?/Why Celebrate Christmas - Early Christians didn't celebrate the birth of Jesus in any way. Have we taken a wrong turn, or is celebration a fundamental part of our human condition?
    • In Search of Baby Jesus - Author Paul Race's musings about the dime-store nativity figures he grew up with and why they represent his family's priorities as much as they represent Christmas. New for 2013!
    • Could Christmas Possibly Come at a Worse Time? - A different way of looking at holiday stresses Click to go to the Who Speaks for Christmas article.
    • Who Speaks for Christmas? - First published in 2011, we're republishing this early as a reminder that publicity-hungry broadcasters and politicians who use Christmas as an excuse to "beat other people over the heads" with their religion are hardly honoring Christ.
    • What do Trains Have to Do With Christmas? - We examine a century-old tradition that has made many family Christmas celebrations richer.
    • How Much is My Collectible Worth? - Are you hanging onto things you don't really want because you think they might be worth something? Or are you just curious about the cash value of some heirloom you wouldn't dream of selling anyway? Either way, this article gives you some things to think about.
    • Click to go to this article Why Our Culture Needs Santa Claus (and the Easter Bunny) - Santa gets blamed for a lot, including taking people's eyes off of "what's really important" about Christmas. But if we didn't have Santa, things could be a lot worse, even for those who claim to have a "corner" on the one, real, true "meaning of Christmas." New for 2013!
    • Santa's Helpers: Mobilizing the Elves for a Restoration Project - A reader challenges us with an impossible task - tracking down the original colors and graphics for a rare vintage Christmas display she wants to fix up. But we knew just who to call for help, and our "team effort" gave her the information and the inspiration she needed. New for 2014
  • Christmas Craft Resources - Original resources to help you plan and complete Christmas craft and gift ideas. Features include:
    • Craft Wrapping Paper - Free vintage-looking, color-coordinated printable wrapping paper patterns you can use for crafts (or even for wrapping small presents). Note: Many of these patterns can be used year-'round.
    • "Ready-to-Roast" Marshmallows - How to use a hunk of used styrofoam, a couple of sticks, and an old hole saw to add charm to a winter fireplace display. Admittedly, we've seen similar crafts elsewhere, but ours are the first round "marshmallows" we've seen.
  • About Christmas Decorations - A discussion of when, how, and why Christmas decorations have been used; including articles that should give you ideas for decorating your home. Features include:
  • About Christmas Trees - Describes the history and other aspects of Christmas trees
  • About Nativities - addresses the history and variety of nativity displays.
  • Family Christmas Music - A small but growing collection of traditional Christmas music from various countries, with descriptions of regional practices and of the songs' histories. Many of the songs include mp3 arrangements for listening to an instrumental verse and chorus.
  • Christmas Recipes - A resource for folks who need to prepare a holiday dish in a hurry, or for folks who want to make some item that Mom or Grandma used to make, but you don't remember how - mostly still in the planning stage. New for 2011, a great summertime combination:
  • Christmas Movies - This page is the beginning of a collection of Christmas movie reviews, focusing on movies worth watching with your family. Your suggestions are welcome as well.
  • Christmas Activity Ideas - Family-friendly activities you can do during the Christmas season, including day and overnight trips.
  • Click to jump to article.Thanksgiving Then, and Then, and Now - If you'd like to learn a few things about this national holiday that you don't know, and maybe unlearn some things that "everybody knows" that aren't actually true, you might enjoy reading the Thanksgiving-related articles on our site.
  • The Mather Sermon and Related Hoaxes - In case you've been exposed to the annual flood of Huffington Post articles calculated to convince you not to celebrate Thanksgiving, remember two things: the Huffington Post never fact-checks its contributors, and sometimes people with their own agendas tell outrageous lies to accomplish what they perceive as "the greater good."
  • Click to go to the article. Ben Jonson's Masque of Christmas - Back in 1616, a predominantly Puritan parliament was threatening to make Christmas an endangered species in England. But King James I asked one of his favorite playwrites, Ben Jonson, to write a Christmas play to entertain the court. Jonson makes fun - not only of Puritan opposition to Christmas, but also of the Elizabethan excesses that got the Puritans riled up in the first place. We chose to publish this largely because some of our later writers refer to it, and it is one of the earliest Christmas plays for which we still have the script. Lots of explanation, in case the King James English "throws you." (Yes it's that King James) New for 2014!
  • Click to go to the article. Mummers - A medieval holiday folk tradition outlawed in 1649, revived in the early 1800s, now being reenacted by troupes throughout the English-speaking world. We try to separate the legend from the history and point you to the most useful web resources. New for 2014!

Also be sure to visit:

  • CardboardChristmas.comTM, a careful cross-reference of the most useful and reliable web resources about cardboard Christmas "putz" houses. Go to the Cardboard Christmas web page. We have also added a discussion forum for asking and answering questions, and collecting information about these houses. Several of the country's most respected collectors, restorers, and putz house builders participate, and the tone is always encouraging.

  • OldChristmasTreeLights.comTM, the Internet's largest guide to collecting Christmas tree lighting. Additional features include:Click to go to site
    • Everything you ever wanted to know about bubble lights,
    • Free MP3s of century-old wax cylinder Christmas song recordings - For some truly vintage Christmas cheer. It's amazing how well most of these recordings hold up to the test of time.
    • A discussion forum where members can ask questions, upload photos, and othewise share information. New for 2014

Best Wishes!

As always, our hope is that the resources we have so far can continue helping you and your family (as Dickens said of Scrooge):

    Honor Christmas in your heart, and
    "try to keep it all the year."

In the meantime, please keep in touch, and let us know what you'd like to see added or changed.

May God grant you joy and wonder every season of this year,

Paul and Shelia Race

To return to the Family Christmas OnlineTM Home Page, click here.

All material, illustrations, and content of this web site is copyrighted © 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 by Paul D. Race. All rights reserved.
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For questions, comments, suggestions, trouble reports, etc. about this page or this site, please contact us.

Visit related pages and affiliated sites:
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site.
Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions.
Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page
Click to sign up for Maria Cudequest's craft and collectibles blog.
Click to visit Fred's Noel-Kat store.
Visit the largest and most complete cardboard Christmas 'Putz' house resource on the Internet.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies.
Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories
Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects.
Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses.
Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories.
Traditional Home-Made Ornaments
- Trains and Hobbies -
Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village.
Visit Lionel Trains.
Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages.
Big Christmas Train Primer: Choosing and using model trains with holiday themes
Building temporary and permanent railroads with big model trains
Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
- Music Articles and Resources -
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Visit musings about music on our sister site, School of the Rock
With a few tools and an hour or two of work, you can make your guitar, banjo, or mandolin much more responsive.  Instruments with movable bridges can have better-than-new intonation as well.
Acoustic-based, traditional, singer-songwriter, and folk music with a Western focus.
Check out our article on finding good used guitars.
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs.
X and Y-generation Christians take Contemporary Christian music, including worship, for granted, but the first generation of Contemporary Christian musicians faced strong, and often bitter resistance.
Different kinds of music call for different kinds of banjos.  Just trying to steer you in the right direction.
New, used, or vintage - tips for whatever your needs and preferences.
Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album.
Explains the various kinds of acoustic guitar and what to look for in each.
Look to Riverboat Music buyers' guide for descriptions of musical instruments by people who play musical instruments.
Learn 5-string banjo at your own speed, with many examples and user-friendly explanations.
Explains the various kinds of banjos and what each is good for.
Learn more about our newsletter for roots-based and acoustic music.
Folks with Bb or Eb instruments can contribute to worship services, but the WAY they do depends on the way the worship leader approaches the music.
A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.