- Chocolate Advent calendars. You know, the cardboard kind with cheap, plastic-looking chocolate inside. This year I found out that Gertrude Hawk and Cadbury make advent calendars... for $12 a pop. What?! No thanks, I'll continue to spend a dollar or two and enjoy the taste of some no-name brand chocolate. I grew up with them and not-so-fondly remember several years where I was taking them as a follow-up to gross, liquid, non-penicillin antibiotics because I got strep every damn year. That memory aside, there was something really exciting about opening each little "door" every day and getting a piece of chocolate.
- Light displays on houses. I love the crazy, set-to-music light displays as much as the next person, but I'm talking old school here. Whether it's a house that has every. single. square. inch. of their property covered in lights or one that did a really good job using moderation, it brings me so much happiness. When I was little, my mom would drive my brother around at night (in our PJs) and we'd "judge" the houses, pick a favorite, and drop off a pre-written letter.
- Giving gifts. Listen. I'm going to say that thing that everyone says, but nobody believes anyone actually means it: I adore giving gifts. Do I love getting gifts? Yes, yes I do. But there is something so thrilling about finding the perfect gift and watching with anticipation as someone opens it. That being said, I think I beat Erik this year in our secret battle to buy awesome gifts for each other. I'll be sure to share once we exchange on Christmas Eve.
- The original, animated Grinch movie. Jim Carey is the man, but the cartoon Grinch movie is the best Grinch movie there ever was, forever and ever, amen.
- Going to the mall. This may be a side effect of growing up in New Jersey, but going to the mall at Christmastime is An Experience, and I'm not talking about the negative kind where shoppers are aggressive and angry and it makes you hate humanity. (Probably because I go during off-peak hours.) There's something I can't exactly pinpoint that makes a mall trip an integral part of my celebration of Christmas. Maybe it's the decorations, maybe it's the fact that Santa's there, maybe it's all the stores hawking gifts... maybe it's that I've been trained, through movies and TV, to connect walking through a mall with arms full of bags to be a very Christmas-y thing to do. Whatever it is, it gives me all the happy feelings when I'm strolling through the mall.
What's your favorite part about Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate? Or do you hate this time of year?