1. Egg Nog. Oh my goodness so incredibly bad for you but so so yummy. I can't drink a lot of it at once, unlike my husband who can chug a huge glass, but even just a little bit is so decadent. I also adore Egg Nog Lattes, or just replacing the milk in my coffee with a little nog.
2. Okay, I guess I could go on and on about food. I am one of the weirdos that actually really likes cranberry sauce, roasted vegetables, stuffing (or do you call it dressing if it hasn't been stuffed into anything - whatever, it's still stuffing to me), mashed potatoes, and leftover turkey sandwiches. (The perfect turkey sandwich, by the way, is made with wheat bread, lots of mayo, salt/pepper, and cold turkey. Keep it simple.) Oh, and the appetizers/snackes/noshes/whatever you want to call them: olives, cheese, dips, figs wrapped in proscuitto, celery sticks with chive cream cheese, nuts, good mustards... Wow I'm hungry, and I didn't even mention dessert!
3. Christmas carols. I listen to Christmas music from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Pretty exclusively. I love it. It's all the same old songs, but I love it anyway. I'll have to remember to create a list of some of my favorites for you.
4. Fireplaces and candles. The holiday season is all about being cozy. Warming yourself in front of a fire after playing outside in the snow. We just got a fireplace this year, and I'm so excited to light her up!
5. Snowmen, sledding, and snow angels. This doesn't really have anything to do with the holidays, of course. Some of these are just reasons to love Winter, but these are especially fun things to do when you have groups of people together. We have the perfect sledding hill nearby, and my family went last year and had a blast. (Well, I think K broke his butt, but the rest of us had fun.)
6. Christmas movies. I'll write another post with a list of my favorites. I watch them all every year, and they never get old to me.
7. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I miss going in person. We had Thanksgiving in NYC for several years when my sister was living there, and I still believe it's the best place on earth to spend that holiday. We liked going to see the balloons the night before - they have them all blown up and tied down to the street. On the day, the parade is just background noise, but it's still fun to make fun of soap opera actors, bad lip-synching, and the new balloons.
8. Cutting down the tree. We've had a few mishaps over the years (we paid $70(!) for a tree a couple years ago, because we didn't ask how much they were before we went cutting; and we drove an hour away last year to get to a farm, not knowing about the one two miles away), but I still love cutting down the tree ourselves.
9. Decorating the tree. The lights are annoying, but once that's done, I love unwrapping each ornament and thinking about the story behind each one. The first gift I received from my husband, one from our trip to Peter Island, one from our first trip to Vermont, one that I made when I was 7 that still makes my sisters laugh (every. single. time.)...
10. The Holiday Pops. It's become an annual tradition for us to attend an evening with the Boston Pops. For now, it's still just me and K, although I'm looking forward to the boy becoming old enough to appreciate it, too.
11. Family. It's sad how often I hear people complaining about spending time with their family for the holidays. I am so incredibly lucky that I don't have any of the drama that some people seem to have. My family, including my in-laws, is low-maintenance. Nobody complains about sleeping on an aerobed in the office, everybody contributes something to the meals, people in general keep things picked up, and we all have fun together. We watch movies, play games, eat and drink a lot, and enjoy our time together. This is really what the holidays mean to me: quality time with people I love.
Did you notice that gifts didn't make the list? Well, I'll admit that I do enjoy the gift exchange. I like making my list, shopping for other people, and wrapping presents in pretty paper. I enjoy the surprise of Christmas morning. I've never let this aspect of the holidays stress me out, and we've always kept our lists relatively small and manageable.
That said, the gifts are never what I remember about the season. I remember the year my husband and sister accidentally cooked the turkey upside-down, the year of the soupy pumpkin pie, the time my sisters and I spent Thanksgiving together in NYC, my dad's Charlie Brown Christmas trees, four people sharing one blanket on the couch watching movies, the "relaxi-taxi", my sister-in-law's winning entry: chocolate-cranberry torte, visits with friends we don't see during the year. I remember the food, the lights, the music, and the food. (Wait - Did I already say food?)*This is what our coffee table looks like during the holidays.