The holidays are fast approaching, and it seems like I hear somebody complaining about it every time I turn around: students bemoaning their upcoming final exams, customers wailing that they haven’t even begun to do any of their baking yet, and family members who glare at me when I tell them that, yes, I finished my Christmas shopping early this year. It’s just never been a stressful time for me. My parents always made sure that the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s was memorable for me and my sister, and that attitude has stuck with me my whole life (though my unflinching optimism probably doesn’t hurt). I try my hardest to make this my personal “most wonderful time of the year.”
To all of the holiday naysayers out there, I offer up this advice: Instead of viewing the holidays as a big ball of corporation- and baking-induced stressors, try looking at all of the wonderful little pieces.
Advent calendars. In my parents’ house, these were the first sure sign that the holiday countdown had begun. My sister and I were always partial to the kind that contain a piece of chocolate each day. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have candy with breakfast, but it’s perfectly acceptable behavior in December.
Christmas lights. Oh my, the Christmas lights. I love them all, regardless of their gaudiness or poor color schemes, and will drive slower than necessary to ogle them (but only if there are no cars behind me, of course, because I’m not a jerk). As a youngster, my little nose was always squished up against the window on our car trips as little sister Amanda and I greedily tried to see who could count the most lights. I would look at the right side of the road, she would take the left, and we would undoubtedly drive our parents bonkers by chanting “Christmas-lights-Christmas-lights” like a shrill broken record.
Finding the perfect gift for somebody.
Cookies and baked goods of every shape and size. I’ve stopped feeling guilty about my holiday treat consumption a long time ago, and I’m much the better for it, especially since my house is currently packed full of homemade treats like the gingerbread people, snowmen, and trees that are currently waiting to be frosted and adorned with gumdrops and sprinkles.
The plethora of marvelous holiday TV specials, especially those involving the Muppets, Charlie Brown, or reindeer in stop-motion animation. During December, I plot out a schedule of TV showings and try to cram as many into my life as possible. One of my last years at college, some friends and I figured out that we had watched more than 20, and I’m not sure whether to feel proud or pathetic about that. Now that I’ve grown up to become a sentimental sap, my challenge is to watch as many as possible without crying like a little girl. Something about the Muppets just really gets me going. I can’t even begin to explain it.
Finding the perfect gift for five or six somebodies.
The anticipation of snow. Even though this is the first year in recent memory that my southern Maryland town has been blessed with snow before January, I fervently hope for a real White Christmas.
Christmas trees. I think the one at my parents’ house has gotten bigger every year (one year we had to lash it to the banister with a rope to keep it from toppling), but we just love it. My sister and I each have a box full of beautiful keepsake ornaments, collected since before I was born. Mine consist mainly of Charlie Brown characters and woodland creatures reading books, and they suit me perfectly.
Finding the perfect gift for five or six somebodies on sale.
Music. I’m very partial to Christmas songs, and now I have an excuse to listen to Judy Garland as she warbles out “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Of course, not all holiday music is good (I’m looking at you, “Dominick the Donkey“), but there are a lot of classics to make up for it.
The perfect opportunity to be with the people I love and share all of these things with them.