For at least one, it became a star-studded lifestyle, replete with million-dollar jewels, agents and a beard insured for six figures. For some it was a calling, heard as early as age 4 or inherited from elders. For others it began for kicks, a one-time silly gig they got roped into and then loved.
Amazon.com, the world's largest online retailer, said its series of Kindle e-readers and tablets were the top three most-popular purchases in December.
It may not be over yet, but retailers are breathing a sigh of relief and celebrating a successful holiday season, thanks to a last-minute surge in sales.
Pope Benedict XVI prayed for peace in Syria, reconciliation in Myanmar, and comfort in flood-stricken Thailand and the Philippines in his annual Christmas message "To the City and the World" on Sunday.
Every Christmas for the past 60 years, Nativity scenes have dominated two blocks of a park on bluffs overlooking the ocean in Santa Monica, California.
The tree is twinkling, carolers are singing, eggnog is flowing and your spouse is ... hunkered down in the other room, counting the seconds until the season is over. Can't he or she just suck it up and make with the merry? After all, who doesn't love the holidays?
The day after Thanksgiving, our bellies full of all the turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce two slices of toasted bread can hold, I turn to my husband, Dan, lying in bed, the newspaper halfheartedly dangling from his hands. "What are we going to do about those %$#*&-ing Christmas cookies?" I ask. Dan groans. If I had any mercy for my husband, I wouldn't let this question linger in the air. But I let it hang there because, as crazy-making as they are to bake, these cookies remind me of six crucial things about the holidays:
Sixty-two percent of U.S. households have pets, according to a 2011 survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). For many of those furry friends, life is good. As the "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan likes to say, pets in the United States get to see Santa -- along with dermatologists, physical therapists and even pet sitters.
David Murphy hasn't started shopping for his two boys yet, and he knows he had better get started. The divorced father of two boys, ages 11 and 14, has custody for a full week around Christmas Day this year and needs to get a tree and start buying presents.
Dave Haywood wrapped up his Christmas shopping early -- and even got a jump on Santa Claus -- surprising girlfriend Kelli Cashiola with a marriage proposal on Monday evening, a rep for the Lady Antebellum musician confirms to PEOPLE.
If you're dreaming of a white Christmas -- much like the one Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen used to know at the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont -- the humbug of the matter is: Neither the inn nor the town exist.
Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland gets his croon on for his first-ever Christmas album, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year."
Rock and roll bad boy Scott Weiland has a soft spot for Christmas, channeling Bing Crosby on his holiday CD.
Toys R Us is giving last minute holiday shoppers a break this year, thanks to round-the-clock shopping right up until Christmas.
Five hundred kids screamed when singer Ne-Yo walked in on their holiday party on a recent Saturday bearing gifts and a message of hope.
Colleen Pigott and Dennis Bliss spend almost every day of their lives adorned with glitter. While it's easy to explain away during the holidays, it can look a bit odd to friends when Pigott is brushing red and green specks off of her clothes in July.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission demonstrates how quickly a Christmas tree can burn out of control.
Michele McGraw used to give holiday gifts to nearly everyone who played a supporting role in her family's life: teachers, bus drivers, the mailman, the paperboy.
I hate the holidays. Professionally speaking that is. This is the dangerous season when more family finances go off the rails than at any time of the year. From the opening gun on Black Friday through the last-minute grabs on Christmas Eve there seems to be a national moratorium on sound spending practices.
Consumers slowed the pace of their shopping in November, but that might not bode ill for the entire holiday season.
This holiday season, hope for the job market comes from an unlikely place: More companies are giving employees seasonal perks this year, a new CareerBuilder survey reports.
When out on the playground, there arose such a clatter -- because little Tommy told all his classmates there was no such thing as Santa Claus.
PayPal has backed off an online spat with humor blog Regretsy after getting withering Web feedback for shutting down a drive to buy holiday gifts for children in need.
Picture the glow of medieval squares illuminated by thousands of sparkling lights. Imagine gingerbread-style stalls where artisans offer traditional crafts that threaten to banish gifts of boring neckties and fruitcakes for eternity. Marvel at iPod-toting children falling under the spell of low-tech charms like wooden toys, ice rinks and vintage merry-go-rounds.
Kathryn's story: "Hey!" My 11-year-old daughter bounded out of the kitchen, swinging a miniature pocket watch from a chain. "What's this? Whose is it?" It was hers, and I told her so, but not that it was intended for her Christmas stocking. I had bought it between errands, then dropped it into the groceries, which I had asked her to unload and put away, having forgotten the tiny purchase that had settled to the bottom of the bag. One hundred and three days remained until December 25.
What would Christmas be without Zuzu's petals?
The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was lit by NYC Mayor Bloomberg and Tishman Speyer CEOs Jerry and Rob Speyer.
The holiday shopping season reportedly got off to a strong start this past weekend. But don't expect to find a thriving U.S. economy under the Christmas tree this year.
If your post-Thanksgiving shopping plans don't involve leaving the house, you're in increasingly good company. And Web sellers are saying, "Step right in."
Marshall Cohen, chief industry analyst of the NPD Group, on whether Black Friday sales are best for holiday bargains.
Terrorists could decide to launch attacks during the holiday season but the United States has no evidence any plots are being planned, according to a federal law enforcement intelligence bulletin issued Wednesday.
Consult this handy calendar of what gifts to purchase, when -- courtesy of consumer-retail experts.
Yes, Virginia, there was supposed to be a Christmas tree "tax" -- and it's just what the people who will pay the tax wanted. But its fate is as up in the air as Santa's sleigh at midnight.
Every year Debra Keller would take her granddaughters to New York City to take in the holiday traditions -- going to a show, having lunch at their favorite restaurants, shopping and a visit to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Then you're in for a rude awakening.
For shoppers eager to get a head start on their holiday shopping, Target is opening its doors nationwide at midnight on Black Friday.
It may not be in line with the spirit of Christmas, but consumers say they plan to spend less on gifts for others and more on themselves while doing their holiday shopping this year.
Even the wealthiest Americans plan on putting fewer gifts under the tree this holiday season but it's not because they can't afford it.
To help families who are struggling to buy gifts this upcoming holiday season, Toys "R" Us announced Tuesday it is extending its layaway program beyond big-ticket items to include most toys in its stores.
"Father Christmas, give us some money!"
Christmas may be in December, but January is when retailers purchase Christmas decorations for the upcoming season.
By now, Christmas merrymakers have packed away the decorations and may even have paid off their holiday shopping sprees. But while the rest of us have moved on to Valentine's Day, Cin Davidsen is still surrounded by glittery Christmas ornaments.
Holiday shopping online was strong right through Christmas, with consumers spending a record $30.8 billion for the season, according to a research firm report issued Wednesday.
The two pals "focused on making things special" for Cox's daughter, Coco, says a source
Boxes of toys, chocolate and clothes were shipped to special parties in Africa
Some churches in Iraq plan to tone down holiday celebrations following violence targeting Christians in recent weeks.
Readers share the uncustomary customs they celebrate year after year.
President Barack Obama shook hands with Marines, took pictures, and heard Christmas tales from eager children during a visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
The Vatican celebrates Christmas with a traditional midnight mass.
Five blasts went off in the Nigerian city of Jos Friday night as residents were celebrating Christmas Eve, leaving 31 dead, a regional government official said.
Think half-eaten cookies and carrots are the only way to prove it was actually Santa who put that reindeer sweater under your Christmas tree? Think again.
My husband, children and I stopped by an Amish friend's house on our way to visit some relatives in Michigan recently. Since December is so busy for everyone, I was thankful that my friend had time to see us.
This holiday season, the Colombian military is trying a unique angle to get guerrillas to lay down their arms: It is creating Christmas trees deep in the jungle in hopes the holiday spirit will tug the rebels back home.
Colombia tries a new strategy to demobilize FARC rebels. CNN's Rafael Romo reports.
If Christmas shopping has left you wearied and holiday jingles are jangling your very last nerves, there's one sure way to restore your Christmas spirit: Put down those shopping bags, warm up some cocoa and settle in with a Christmas movie.
CNN's Ivan Watson explores the hometown of the man who inspired the legend of Santa Claus.
The hometown of the man who inspired the legend of Santa Claus is a long way from the snow and arctic lights of the North Pole.
When I was a little girl, my parents would take me every year to see "The Nutcracker." I remember practically drooling in awe as the massive Christmas tree grew out of the stage until it towered over the audience, and hiding under my seat whenever that hideous, sword-wielding, gazillion-headed rat wobbled out onto the stage.
The Badger family holidays are filled with medical catastrophes.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about getting your flu shot.
A popular online video tells the story of the birth of Jesus through Google searches, tweets and Facebook updates.
From elementary-school plays to plastic Joseph and Mary figures on lawns, the holiday season brings all kinds of re-enactments of the birth of Jesus.
'Tis the season to be jolly, and unfortunately, to toss also out a lot of trash.
See the reality TV family capture the season with Ninja Turtle Santa, Ryan Seacrest...and a Harley!
According to U.S. officials, al Qaeda may be planning to attack the United States and Europe during the holiday season.
Julia Payne has two pet peeves: birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper and birthday cakes decorated with Christmas trees.
Retail sales were solidly higher in November, the government reported Tuesday, fueled in part by deep discounting on holiday merchandise.
The government's air defense system tracks Santa's progress on Christmas Eve. The United States Postal Service even accepts letters to the North Pole.
There's Rudolph and Frosty, the Grinch and Charlie... Ralphie, George Bailey, Clark Griswold and Buddy. But do you recall the geekiest holiday specials and movies of all?
The big banks are logging record profits and doling out sky-high bonuses. But celebration doesn't come free this holiday season: Some Wall Streeters must pay to attend their own holiday parties.
Glee got into the holiday spirit with Tuesday's episode, "A Very Glee Christmas," as Coach Sue Sylvester played the part of the Grinch - of course!
Sam and Lola just want American Girl stuff - so Mom can focus on not starting a fire with the tree
It's the season for giving, but most kids can't stop thinking about what kinds of gifts they will be getting.
The Mad Men star reveals her healthy holiday tradition and what she plans to gift friends this year
It's the most wonderful time of the year, and for many of us that means showing the neighbors just how much holiday spirit we have.
A giant menorah will light the sky above New York on Wednesday to mark the start of Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights.
The stars join more of country music's biggest names to share holiday tunes and traditions
Some Americans are giving homegrown food and specialty items as presents this holiday season and spending a fraction of what they'd pay in a store.
Main street business owners didn't expect a stampede of bargain hunters on Black Friday, and they didn't get it. But some shopkeepers in Red Bank, N.J. are hoping this holiday shopping season will be better than last year's.
Online sellers kick off the coming week with one of their biggest sales days of the year - Cyber Monday.
Today is Black Friday -- the longstanding cornerstone of the holiday season -- and many retailers are seeing the need to unveil even more incredible offers than ever to battle the growing suggestion of Black Friday fatigue.
Toys R Us CEO Gerald Storch describes the crowds and hot items at the toys-only retailer that opened Thanksgiving night.
International visitors to New York took advantage of both an American phenomenon and the weaker U.S. dollar to bag some holiday season bargains.
Retailers are expecting a somewhat cheerful holiday season this year. While consumer demand continues to be relatively weak, retailers -- for the most part -- have learned to work around that hurdle keep and profits growing. The National Retail Federation predicts that sales this holiday season will rise moderately by 2.3% to $447.1 billion -- higher than last year's 0.4% increase and a big improvement from the 3.9% decline in winter 2008.
The singer hugs her mom and belts out Christmas songs for Dec. 13 show
Readers offer small-budget holiday-gift ideas and other insights on cheap holidays.
Is it Christmas season already? This year's most iconic Christmas tree arrived on a flatbed truck Friday morning and will grace Rockefeller Center in Manhattan when it's officially erected at the end of November.
'Twas three months before Christmas and Becky Gaar was on the hunt for a Disney Princess Magic Rise Oven for her 6-year-old granddaughter.
Don't be one of the millions still paying for Christmas next year. Christine Romans on how you should pay this holiday.
Meredith Barnhill says her favorite part of the holiday season is giving gifts.
The mom-to-be will star on ABC's Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to You
The holiday purse strings are starting to loosen after being held tight for the past two years, according to a new poll from Consumer Reports.
As the nation's retailers prepare for the all-important holiday shopping season, Toys 'R' Us and Best Buy announced plans Tuesday to hire a small army of temporary workers.
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