Not that I’m into Christmas or anything. I mean, it’s all right or whatever.
Oh, who am I kidding, I love Christmastime. I can’t actually explain why I’m so into Christmas. It’s not like my family and I do anything especially fantastic- no ski trips or cruises to exotic locations or anything like that. It’s really simple, actually- Christmas Eve my sister and I celebrate with my dad and stepmom; Christmas Day we celebrate with my mom. I might like it because it’s so low key, in fact. It’s a couple days to spend with family, watching Christmas specials, sharing gifts and relaxing. (NOTE: It’s relaxing because it’s just immediate family. When I do Christmas celebrations with extended family, I am not so happy or relaxed! Too many people!)
There are five things Christmas is not complete without, though. I mean, without these things, I’d be as cranky as Ebeneezer Scrooge pre-ghostly visits. In order to make sure YOU have a complete Christmas experience, here are my 5 Christmas season must-haves (4 of which are actually in your control):
5) Treats! Be they Christmas sugar cookies, Christmas wreaths (the cornflakes version of Rice Krispy Treats), hot chocolate, pumpkin bread, pie, so on and so on, one of the best parts about Christmas is the grub. Technically it’s also the worst because everything is all calorie-laden and bad for you, but it’s Christmastime, so calories don’t count. Worry about that on January 1st.
4) PRESENTS! While the other day I heard that over half of Americans say they prefer giving presents over getting presents, I think most people secretly prefer getting presents; they just don’t want to admit it because it makes them seem greedy and shallow. Let me tell you, I LOVE getting presents. When I was a kid (as my family, especially my dad, would be all too willing to tell you), I was quite the spy. Every Christmastime, I’d find the gifts and attempt (usually successfully) to sneak a peek. I’d then spend the rest of the season teasing my sister that I knew what she was getting, while eagerly awaiting to play with my own toys. My parents always got mad at me, but it was one of the most fun parts of Christmas for me.
I think the best spoil was one that was completely accidental, though. I was pretty young still- maybe around 7. At the time, my family lived in an apartment, which was not terribly big, so it was pretty easy to overhear things, especially from certain rooms. While my dad and sister were out, I was sick and sleeping on the living room sofa. My mom, meanwhile, was cooking in the kitchen and talking on the phone to my aunt. I woke up from my nap, and what do I hear? That my parents were planning a family vacation to Disney World! Best accidental spoil ever.
I was able to start resisting the urge to snoop by the time I was in middle school (okay, maybe high school). Nowadays, I truly enjoy being surprised. I also like inspiring the buildup of anticipation in others. I will get my shopping done months ahead of time (been done since October, baby!) so that I can tease them with pictures of their wrapped presents!
3) Christmas music and specials! My collection of Christmas music is… well, ridiculous. It’s not quite as ridiculous as some people’s (*cough*my dad*cough*) because I don’t dig country music, and have heard some of the classics enough that if I hear them again, I’m pretty sure I’ll die, but anyway, it’s still a healthy collection. One of my favorite parts of Christmas is finding new Christmas music. I like unique takes on classic songs, for the most part. One of my favorite acquisitions last year or the year before was The Puppini Sisters’ Christmas album. They have a WWII USO performers style, which makes a good match with Christmas music.
My favorite Christmas album this year (so far) is Cee Lo’s Magic Moment. I really enjoy his versions of “River” and “You’re a Mean On, Mr. Grinch.” I also like the original, “All I Need Is Love” which features the Muppets (I’m a sucker for the Muppets!). I’ll admit, I originally downloaded that track thinking it was a cover of “All YOU Need Is Love”, which is one of my favorite songs, so at first I was all, “What the hey?” but ended the song thinking it was pretty awesome. I don’t watch The Voice, so I don’t know how he is as a judge, and I tend not to watch a lot of talk shows, so I don’t see him interviewed/performing often. He could be a ridiculous human being for all I know (judging by the clothes and cat), but he’s got an AMAZING voice. His cover of “No One’s Gonna Love You” (another of my favorite songs- original by Band of Horses, one of my favorite bands) is amazing. It truly rivals the original.
Even better than Christmas music: Christmas TV specials. Rudolph, Frosty, Charlie Brown, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, The Muppets’ Christmas Carol, plus the Christmas movies like Christmas Vacation, Elf, A Christmas Story, Love Actually, Home Alone, The Santa Claus, AND the Christmas-themed episodes of TV like The Office‘s “A Benihana Christmas,” Friends “TOW the Holiday Armadillo”, Community‘s “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” or last year’s “Regional Holiday Music” which was an awesome Glee-meets-Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s tale, Seinfeld’s “Festivus”, 30 Rock’s “Ludachristmas”, The Big Bang Theory’s “The Bath Gift Item Hypothesis”, The Simpsons’ “Roasting on an Open Fire”, plus every Doctor Who Christmas special pretty much ever- the list could go on and on and on! I dare you to spend an afternoon watching some of these shows/movies/episodes and not feel warm and bubbly on the inside!
2) Decorations! Who doesn’t love taking a nice tall cup of hot cocoa and driving around the neighborhood or to the fancy parts of the city to check out holiday decorations? The lights, the inflatables, the meticulously detailed lawns that have light shows complete with music- it’s all magical. (Not so magical to actually put up, of course- that part is WAY less fun!)
And what is Christmas just not complete without?
1) SNOW!!!!! Now, I realize this is not true everywhere. There are many places in the world- even in just the US- that don’t get snow for Christmas. But when you’re a Midwestern girl who loves the cold, one of the best parts of Christmas is snow. It adds to the magical wonder that is the season of Christmas. I’m not talking a blizzard, of course, but Christmas never really feels like Christmas to me unless those treetops are glistening and I’m able to listen for sleigh bells in the snow. Yes, I am in fact dreaming of a white Christmas, even if that makes me a walking, talking cliche. It’s early December and 61 degrees outside, so I’m getting less and less hopeful that there will in fact be snow in time for Christmas, but I’ll never lose the hope completely that I’ll wake up to that blanket of white Christmas morning!
I guess, reviewing my must-haves for a complete Christmas season, it really boils down to two things for me: magic and hope. Hope in itself is a magical feeling- anything can happen if you believe hard enough. 11 months out of the year, I’m a realist. (Kids, shield your eyes!) There’s no fat man who is going to give me everything I wish for; there are no flying reindeer. The printer at work is always going to give me issues; when the odds are 1 in 256 million (heck, when the odds are 1 in 20), I’m not going to win. But Christmastime is a time when the magical can happen- people are kind to each other; people want the best for each other. Your friends and family are going to help make your life a little better, and you are going to show them how much you love them and care for them. It’s a month you get to be a little sentimental, because that’s what Christmas is about. You get to dream in claymation and eat cookies and drink cocoa and feel like a kid for a little while. It’s the best.