We had a ceramic yule log that came out at Christmas as well. It had taper candles in it and was covered in wax drippings from years of use. It would usually be placed on our dining room table with the Christmas cookies in tins. Occasionally it would sit on the mantel above our fake fireplace or the flat-top of the dining room radiator. A few years back I found a replica of this yule log on eBay. It wasn't painted which was fine by me. That meant I got to do the colors I wanted. I ordered one and got to painting. I bring it out each year. I don't think it means much to my children, but every time I see it I smile. Good memories.
Even during the hardest times in my childhood Christmas was a time of happiness. The replica is a little smaller than the original (at least by my reckoning), but it was a piece of my childhood I never expected to be able to share.
One last tradition I'd like to share is one that my husband and I started a year or so after having our first child. After we put our stockings by the fireplace my husband would read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to our boys. They'd sit on his lap (next to him now that they're bigger) and listen to him read it. It was the last thing done before giving kisses and heading off to bed.