(OPRAH.com) -- Every family has its own set of holiday traditions. Some spend the day opening gifts and stuffing themselves with turkey, while others volunteer at soups kitchens, sing in the church choir or take in a movie.
The families of America's biggest music stars are no different. At country music star Tim McGraw's house, the holidays are a time to celebrate his mother's Italian heritage.
"I grew up with pasta on Christmas Eve," he says. "So it's passed on to me now. I make the pasta every Christmas Eve. We have spaghetti and meatballs."
Tim says he doesn't mind doing the cooking...but don't ask him to pick up anything at the mall. "I like giving money so I don't have to shop," he says.
While Tim's favorite gift to give is one-size-fits-all, the best gift he ever received was a one-of-a-kind. "Our youngest daughter was born under 4 pounds, and she was seven or eight weeks early," he says. "[That year], we got to bring her home right before Christmas."
For musicians who tour for months at a time, the holidays are the perfect time of year to reconnect with loved ones. Singer Alicia Keys says this is the one time of the year she and her family gather to enjoy each other's company.
"We cook, and we play cards. We all sit around, and we catch up," she says. "You have hot apple cider, and you have the eggnog and all of the food."
Some years, Alicia's mom hosts the holiday gatherings, and other years, Alicia says she invites everyone to her house. "This year, I think it will be at my house," she says.
When it comes time to give gifts, Alicia says it's only fun if it feels authentic. "Otherwise, it's about being together," she says.
Alicia says love is the best gift she's ever received...but her cute bolero jacket ranks high on the list!
Christmas means different foods, carols and customs around the world, but the spirit of the season stays the same.
In Italy, Grammy-winning singer Andrea Bocelli's birthplace, many people spend the day at church. "We sit with the children," he says. "The children wait for Santa Claus, and for me, it's the most beautiful holiday of the year."
Many of Andrea's soul-stirring songs are popular at the holidays, but when he wants to get into the holiday spirit, he says he listens to "Adeste Fideles," also known as "O Come All Ye Faithful."
"It's very religious," he says. "A very simple and sweet song."
For R&B music star Mary J. Blige, the holidays are about cooking, gifts, eating and, of course, family.
But Mary says she tries to keep the true meaning of the holiday in mind, and her favorite holiday song, "O, Holy Night," helps remind her.
"It just says everything that Christmas is about: the birth of Christ and what we all do in church and out of church," she says. "We fall on our knees. That's what the song is saying."
This holiday season is a special time for R&B star Jennifer Hudson and her husband, David Otunga. In August 2009, Jennifer gave birth to their first child, a son named David.
Jennifer says she's going all out for her son's first Christmas. "I kind of want to bring him his own Santa Claus and just have like a toy store in the house," she says. "It's my warm-up, Oprah, for the years to come when he gets older and he can enjoy it."
This Chicago girl says she loves how cold winter weather brings people inside during this time of year. "You get to spend more time at home, and you get to be with your family and cuddle," she says.
For years, Kristian Bush, half of country music group Sugarland, has been giving the same gift to his mother -- the gift of song.
"When I was right out of college, we were totally broke. You have to figure out something to give your friends and family, and my brother and I are both musicians, so we would record Christmas songs for my mom," he says. "That's all she would ask for. [She said], 'Just send me Christmas songs.' So I've been doing that as many years as I can."
It also just so happens that Kristian's favorite thing about the holiday season is the music. "It's one time a year where, on the radio, everyone's sentimental," he says.
Sugarland's lead singer, Jennifer Nettles, says she recently started a new holiday tradition in her home. While some people host cookie swaps, Jennifer prefers a soup party!
"Ladies of America, I urge you to do this," she says. "Everybody brings your favorite soup, and then one person doesn't have to do it all. The leftovers are great because you can take it home and freeze it. It lasts forever."
Think beyond tomato and chicken noodle. "All kinds of soup -- not just regular," she says. "We're talking like potato soup and vegetarian chili."
From The Oprah Winfrey Show © 2009
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