From singing holiday tunes at the iconic Ryman Auditorium to cooking her legendary "killer chili" for her family, The Queen of Christmas shares her most beloved rituals that celebrate her Southern roots.

“When I look back over forty years of making music, I would have never guessed it was my Christmas music that would have the longest life.” Amy Grant, also known as the Queen of Christmas, shares this sentiment with us in her Tennessee home. Amy Grant’s music—in particular, her soulful Christmas music—has left a lasting impression on everyone that has listened. While she personally loves listening to holiday tunes from legendary singers like Nat King Cole and Barbra Streisand while decorating the Christmas tree, Grant fills up with joy knowing her music is an essential part of so many people's holidays.

Music has played a defining role in Grant’s life. “The sun rises and sets on a great song,” she says. Music, whether she’s listening to the classics or playing her merry tunes, is her longest-standing Christmas tradition; her season is jam-packed with holiday shows. After completing 7 road shows with symphonies, she comes back to the iconic Nashville theatre, Ryman Auditorium, and sings with country music legend, her husband Vince Gill. She loves the hustle and bustle of the season, but most of all, she enjoys being surrounded by great company, which is why she gifts her family tickets to her shows at the Ryman—it’s togetherness that matters most to her.

No matter how many shows she plays, the magic of the season never fades. Every Christmas for the past 15 years, Grant provides a free outdoor show at Lipscomb University, called The Lighting of the Green. Grant exclaims, “This feels like Love Actually,” as she recalls many times when snow has fallen on the stage creating a breathtaking winter wonderland.

When the bustling season slows down, she retreats to her quiet Tennessee home and fulfills long-standing traditions that pay homage to her Southern roots. Her family is known for making a huge Christmas breakfast, complete with breakfast meats, a kringle pastry, and signature sausage and cheese pizzas. Her favorite dish around the holiday season is her “killer chili,” which takes a lengthy 20 hours to cook. Instead of pairing her chili with cornbread, she opts for cheese grits because “more fat and butter makes everything better.” As she cooks with her family, she loves turning on joyful Christmas movies like Elf, Love Actually, and The Holiday to play in the background.

“As a person of faith, it’s so natural to create Christmas music.” Faith weaves its way through every aspect of Grant’s life; she especially feels it during this joyful and giving season. While gifts readily mark the holidays, the best gift of all was never a present wrapped up in a pretty bow: It was the gift of time given to her by her husband, Vince Gill.

The Queen of Christmas leaves us with one parting word about the holiday season: “In the good times and the bad times, there’s joy to be found.”