10. Tree! Lights! When my brother Jackson was younger, he said things in an adorable childlike way without “r”s and always had his thumb in his mouth, so everything came out warbled. I’ll never forget a Christmas with him smooshed into a car seat, thumb in mouth, legs kicking the back of the driver’s seat, shouting “YUK! SISTAHS! CWISTMAS YIIIIGHTS!!!” at every decorated house we passed. There is something magical about a beautiful (or awkward Charlie) Christmas tree, decorated with lights and memories.

9. Getting cozy in the cold. We don’t really get snow in the Bay Area, but it did happen two years ago! Dreams of a white Christmas aside, I love the weather and the season. It’s always a crisp, clear, cold day conducive to the scarves we white people love to wear, pea coats, mittens, and snuggling on the couch with spiked cider. 

8. TOYS. When my sisters and I were young, the sight of so many presents wrapped and piled high at my grandma’s would literally take your breath away. What was under all the shiny paper?! My sized Barbies, new bikes, rollerblades, a trampoline, puppies one year! Now as “adults” (I use the term loosely) we have graduated that stage, and its more fun to watch the little boys open up their gifts. (Although the year I got a laptop was AWESOME!)

7. Unwrapping stuff.Lets be honest…it almost doesn’t matter what you get under the shiny paper, as long as you got to rip something open. I love a good White Elephant to demonstrate this scientific fact. People don’t even care that they now have to find a place and use for a Bart Simpson chia pet or used breast pump machine (these get re-gifted every year in my family’s exchange) as long as they got to destroy some ribbon and tape job.

“youuuu baaabaaaay!”

6. “All I want for Christmas is You.” “Chestnuts Roasting.” Sooooongs! As soon as I am on Thanksgiving break, I feel it is acceptable to throw some MC on my stereo and Nat King Cole and blast that ish. Christmas songs make you feel warm and fuzzy inside and there is no denying it. Even the cheesy ones. I even like the Chipmunk one. (“I still waaaant a huuuula hooooop!”)

5. Nom Nom. Delish foods. Much like it’s season cousin Thanksgiving, Christmas provides many opportunities for eating and drinking too much. But unlike Thanksgiving, Christmas has New Year’s Eve lurking around the corner, with its promises to start working out and eating healthy, so you don’t feel nearly as bad about indulging in your second (or seventh) Peppermint Martini and mini turkey gherkin combination of heart disease. 

4. Quoting “Love Actually” and “Elf.” Some movies are decidedly Christmas-y and good feeling. They should be watched at least once a week in preparation for the big day. My family does a lot of “just in cases” and “Santa? I KNOW him!” so if you want to keep up….know thy films. You should also try to have a convo with a narwhal and spend some time observing in an airport terminal, for good measure.

3. Matching jammies and mimosas. – Family traditions in general, really. Every Christmas Eve my sisters and I get matching jammies and must sleep in them and then take photos. We also have poppers at dinner, and do White Elephant, and eat Grands biscuits. We open presents one at a time, starting with the youngest. And we always start each present by saying “A box? Just what I always wanted!” Its a rule.

if someone could get me THIS for Xmas…that would be swell.

 2. Getting someone something perfect. Preferably something that makes them cry. I don’t get people presents much at Christmas. I go on a mission trip to Mexico right before Christmas, and if that doesn’t wipe out materialism for you, then I don’t know what. But occasionally, I manage to find something perfect for someone. I often can’t wait for Christmas if I find it too early. My mom and I are guilty of opening up all our presents for each other late Christmas eve night while everyone is asleep. I love when a present is personal, useful, and makes people cry a little. It truly is the thought that counts.

1. The Christmas Story. no, not the version with a lady leg lamp. But the part where Jesus comes to Earth and its so weird and mysterious, and a lot of people question it, mock it, and grinch their way around it. But we literally wouldn’t have this holiday without it. Really! I know holidays can be tough for people in general, but I could do without all the grump and skepticism about something that makes my life so happy. So at least please try to respect that I’m super excited to have not only a reason for the season, but a reason for everything I do that is good and worthy. He came to save us. Thanks, Jesus. I love you, buddy.

Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Happy Hannukah, Kwanzaa, whatever else you’re celebrating, just make it full of family, friends, and love!