Every year I have a reoccurring nightmare. It starts early on in January and flares up every couple of months. In the dream, it’s Christmas morning, and I wake to discover I’ve somehow missed every seasonal festivity one might enjoy during the holidays. No music, no movies, no parties or traditions or hot cocoa by the fire. Naturally, I’m devastated. Folks around me try, halfheartedly, to lift me from my horrible pit of despair, but to no avail.
I wake in, sometimes thrashing, in a cold sweat, suddenly washed in a warm wave of relief that it was only a horrible, horrible dream. This is not a joke. This actually happens to me.
You see, I love Christmas. I love it.
Right now, some of you are reading this and thinking to yourselves, “I love Christmas more.” Well you don’t. Objectively, you do not.
And that’s why I’m here. To help you. What follows is my objectively correct list of ways to properly celebrate the Christmas season. Get to work.
1. Do not start the season the day after Thanksgiving.
Our Christmas celebration begins on November 21st every year.
Often, people who love Christmas much less than I do recoil at the notion of beginning the festivities before Thanksgiving. But I refuse to allow the duration of my celebration to be dictated by a holiday that frustratingly jumps around the November calendar every year. For these poor souls that do, the holidays are often less than a month long.
My holiday season is the same length every year. The same robust, fulfilling length.
Besides, Thanksgiving is essentially a Christmas holiday. Most folks I know do vaguely or overtly Christmas-like things on Thanksgiving. It’s, in many ways, the advent of the season, or rather, encompassed in the advent of the season.
Why not start even earlier? Well that brings me to my second point:
2. Remember the season, to keep it holy.
The Christmas season is dependent on immersion. You can’t be enveloped in the beauty and glory of all that is Christmas if it’s just something you notice in passing or that the rest of the world seems to be enjoying.
This means several things, not least among which is total immersion. On the morning of November 21st, we wake up, decorate our home, begin listening to Christmas music, begin watching Christmas movies, eating Christmas treats, planning Christmas activities, etc. We do not let up until December 26th. No other music. No other movies. No other ambience.
No Christmas before, and no Christmas after. Because the sweetness of the season is also contingent on its brevity. You get to indulge for a little over a month, but then you have to wait another year. If you start too early, it takes too long for the rest of the world to catch up. You’re alone on Christmas island, with no hope at getting a real sense of immersion going.
If you keep trucking after the ultimate culmination of the season (Christmas day) you wring out a dry rag, and desensitize yourself to the magic.
3. Do Christmas. Only Christmas.
From November 21st to December 25th, I listen to nothing but Christmas music. Almost non-stop. I even have it playing in my pocket as I walk around town like it’s my personal soundtrack. I watch a Christmas movie every night. More than 33 total in the season. Abi and I fill an advent calendar with several events a week (seeing light displays, going to The Nutcracker, Christmas parties, tree lightings, and so forth).
Don’t waste your precious gift of Christmas on stuff you can do any time of year. Music you can listen to later. Movies you can watch in January. What kind of moron would watch Home Alone in the Spring? Only someone who hates Christmas. This means the Christmas season is your only chance. Would you rather miss your only chance to watch Home Alone this year?
Google Christmas activities in your city and check them out. Often things that aren’t even all that impressive become pretty wonderful with the right people.
Feel free to use my playlist if you like. It’s 17 hours long.
Later this week, You Hate Movies will have a podcast up about Christmas movies, which might help you curate your own movie schedule.
4. traditions thrive on familiarity and nostalgia, but it’s not too late to start new ones.
Something might not feel all that wonderfully Christmasy the first year you induct it into your world of Christmas traditions, but it will the next year. Even more the year after that. Anything from a traditional tree lighting or screening of Gremlins, to something strangely personal, like pizza and grape juice on Christmas Eve.
A good way to have no traditions at all is to never start anything. And that’s for people who hate Christmas.