Trace Adkins loves this time of year. The rich history of the American Christmas celebration combined with national and personal traditions -- and a fair amount of nostalgia -- brings the country veteran to the Christmas tree as hurriedly as a young boy who has just learned what it's all about.

Still, as the years pass, the holiday tastes bittersweet.

“Yeah, once the kids get too old and don’t believe in Santa anymore, it loses a little bit of the innocence," Adkins tells Taste of Country. "But I’ve got grandkids that keep coming along that keep it going.”

Adkins has three grandchildren and plans to spend the holidays with them, his children and his mother. This will be the first he's celebrated since his father died.

"I know it's gonna be tough," he says, "so we'll do the best we can."

The 52-year-old was battling a nasty cold on the day he spoke with ToC, but just minutes earlier he showed no signs of sickness singing for guests at the Country Inns and Suites by Carlson in Nashville. His surprise appearance (which included a few minutes greeting guests behind the front desk) set the stage for a $50,000 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project's Economic Empowerment pillar, from the Carlson Family Foundation. Adkins sang three songs for about 50 guests, staff and media members. All three will be part of his remaining the Christmas Show tour dates.

The country star recalls going to church, spending time with family and Christmas caroling during his formative years.

“Actually going out and caroling, I remember when we used to do that,” he says with some regret mixed in with the memory. “We’d go from the church and walk and just go stand in front of somebody’s house and bellow. I don’t even know if people do that anymore.”

During the Christmas tour, Adkins mixes traditional Christmas songs and versions he cut on his 'The King's Gift' album with stories and history lessons about the American Christmas celebration. Don't expect another holiday album anytime soon. The singer says he'd love to do a crooners record first, but plans on finishing his mainstream country album before any of that.

Fans eager for new music shouldn't have to wait too long. He'll be finished in February, and once he puts ink to a new recording contract (no details were revealed), they'll start thinking about distribution.

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