It's a Christmas tradition in Midlothian just like gift-wrapped presents and a Christmas tree.

"Operation Christmas Card" celebrates more than four decades in this community this year, with area residents once again asked to donate to the Midlothian Cemetery Association to help finance upkeep and care of the city's cemetery.

"I really don't know how old Operation Christmas Card is," said Margie Vaughn, treasurer of the Midlothian Cemetery Association. "It was started long before I got involved with it and that was a long time ago."

Delving into the files of the Midlothian Mirror, an article dated Dec. 16, 1965 said the project was in its third year, putting Operation Christmas Card's inception at about 1962. If that date is correct, that would make this the 45th anniversary of the holiday fundraiser.

"I have family and friends in the Cemetery and it really is a nice place to visit and think about all those good memories and past holidays you spent with those people," said Vaughn. "We have families who have been giving for many years and we are asking them to support us once again."

Vaughn said a number of longtime residents have played a role in the fundraiser's success and she is urging new members of the community to also get involved.

The Midlothian Cemetery is a key landmark in the community and is located on FM 663 just south of the U.S. Highway 287 intersection. The cemetery received funds for a new iron fence from the Midlothian 4B Board several years ago. The Midlothian Cemetery fence is probably best known as the spot where American Flags are hung on federal and military holidays.

The Midlothian Cemetery is a designated Texas State Historical Cemetery.

"Every bit of the money is used to beautify and keep up the grounds," said Vaughn. "The idea initially was for people to take the money they would normally use on postage to send Christmas greetings to Midlothian friends and give it to the Cemetery Association."

A Christmas message, listing the names of each donor, is then printed in the holiday edition of the Midlothian Mirror.

"We encourage people to give from their heart," Vaughn said. "Some families have been giving for years and years and it's just one of those things that makes living in Midlothian special."

Anyone wishing to donate to Operation Christmas Card can call Vaughn at (972) 775-3080, or mail their donation directly to: Midlothian Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 1423, Midlothian TX, 76065.

Vaughn said they would like donation by Friday Dec. 21 so they can be posted in the Christmas Week edition of the Midlothian Mirror.