Number One: sacrifice a pure-white goat on a mahogany altar to the Dark Lord. Just kidding! But, I have to say, what an introduction!
1). Obviously I made my Christmas playlist, but I’ve whored that thing out so much that I’m not even going to link it anymore. We all know I have one—let’s move on. But Sebastien told me about the “Merry Christmas: Jazz” Spotify playlist. I don’t know why I never really considered a jazz Christmas, but it’s really good and feels very Frank Sinatra-y and pulls to mind images of crackling fires and smooth eggnog. Even though eggnog is kind of gnarly; and not in the good, Californian way.
2). Watching Home Alone really sealed the deal for me, Christmas-movie-wise. I think it’s because I’ve never actually sat down and watched the full thing all the way through. Probably like most people, I’ve caught glimpses and bits from the ABC Family “25 Days of Christmas.” But actually sitting down, watching Home Alone and drinking hot cocoa made me A) feel sad that Macauley Culkin is kinda cracked out now, B) wonder what he and Mila Kunis used to talk about, and C) get that cozy, “It’s Christmas” feeling. I love ABC Family’s Christmas traditions, and since I’m not currently in America at the moment, I’ve missed out a little on the Norman Rockwell holiday overload. So yeah, watch Home Alone. Also wonder why Catherine O’Hara didn’t just sock that kid in the face. Set him straight.
3). On Friday—yesterday, I suppose—I went with Jenna to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We wandered amongst the sepulchral beauty—and it really is beautiful. I think Westminster Abbey is stunning, but St. Paul’s has this amazing grandeur that I think I prefer. Anyway, after climbing to the top of the dome, taking a few selfies, and wheezing our way down the stairs, we got back to the main floor and stumbled onto a Christmas choir. They were amazing, and their voices melded together and echoed against the dome. It was just a practice, so they were kind of #donewithit but I wish I was a good singer, so I find actual good singers fascinating. Plus, the Christmas trees on either side of the altar were decked out in fairy lights, and the glowiness of the whole moment made me feel warm and toasty and Norman Rockwell-y.
4). Watch holiday episodes of TV shows. Okay, so I’ll be honest—I overloaded myself on the Christmas movies. Also, I generally don’t watch movies. I know that every cinema nerd is gasping right now, but I don’t have the attention span. I don’t like sitting down and being expected to sit down for longer than an hour. However, I will be watching Mockingjay Part 2 when I get back. So to avoid the Christmas marathons, I decided to watch holiday episodes of my favorite TV shows. My current pleasures are 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation. I’m convinced that 30 Rock is the only show—ever—to incorporate blackface into a holiday episode and have it not be really weird. And I wish I could get Leslie Knope as a Christmas present because she’s amazing, and those holiday episodes are killer.
5). Sweaters. Ironically—or not, ironically?—I sweat a lot, so I don’t generally just wear sweaters. I put a button-down underneath, to create some sort of levy against the hurricanic body moisture. But the other day, I wore this really cute camel sweater, and earlier in the week, I finally wore the chunky, off-white sweater I bought in the Aran Islands. And wearing sweaters and being all snuggly makes you feel like a glamorous ski-bunny.
6). So I fucking detest nutmeg. I’m generally not a huge spice person, so Marco Polo would have totally hated me. So I don’t often indulge in holiday drinks at Starbucks. I’ll get a Pumpkin Spice Latte because—hello—white, and I like Peppermint Mochas, but—and I’m not trying to start drama—England doesn’t really do Peppermint Mochas. They do, like, “toffee” and other freaky flavors. But I’m literally not trying to start any fights. I just find it a little aggressive. So when I go to Starbucks to get a coffee—a venti caffe latte, aka hot milk—I put a little blend of chocolate-cinnamon powder. I know that cinnamon isn’t a super Christmas-y spice—is it more for Thanksgiving?—but it makes me feel nice.
7). I swear, I was in a street market a week ago, and they were selling Christmas trees, and I lowkey might have sniffed the branches like a cocaine addict snorts a line of that sweet white gold—I don’t know drug references. I was discussing this with a friend—the real versus fake debate—and one of the reasons I love real Christmas trees is the smell. I hate the pine needles detritus, and I think fake Christmas trees in unrealistic shades of gold, pink, and blue are chic in a “Beverly Hills plastic surgery” kind of way. But you can’t replace that authentic pine tree smell, the one that fills the entire house.
8). Looked at cards of pugs in Christmas hats. Why isn’t this a thing year-round? Is it because I can’t be trusted to be productive if I know that, at any given moment during the entire year, that a pug might be wearing a little elf hat? Because I get that. But I love when animals get dressed up for the holidays. It brings me such joy.
9). Change all of my social media accounts to holiday-themed goodness. This is so “millennial” of me, but I secretly love it and it’s actually kind of the most fun thing ever. Scrolling through Tumblr looking for that perfect, hilarious Christmas photo to put as the header of your Facebook. Thinking of ways to incorporate “Santa Claus” or the names of his reindeer into your Twitter handle. It takes a little bit of effort, which I’m sure my parents would say could be going towards “working on my resume” or “finding an internship” so I don’t “die on the streets,” but I want to go into pop culture and social media, so this is basically me beefing up my credentials. That’s what I’ll tell myself when I’m homeless. I did a really good job about changing my accounts for the various changes in the seasons, and I’ll be frank, I’m worried for January. Once Christmas is over, there aren’t really a lot of good, juicy holidays to sink into. Valentine’s Day is depressing, St. Patrick’s Day makes me want to punch non-Irish people, and no one takes Arbor Day seriously anymore. So I’ll enjoy the good seasonal social media while it lasts.
10). This last one is weird-ish (?) and I’m not doing that thing where I say that I’m so quirky and you can’t possibly relate. I really love keeping the window open when it’s chilly. In England—I live in England; it’s, like, whatever. I mean, I’m leaving in four days, so I’m milking it while I can—it’s chilly but not frigid, so keeping the window open gives the room that fresh, crisp wintry air. Nothing makes me feel more Christmasy than snuggling up with fuzzy socks and a sweatshirt and watching a movie while a little frosty breeze gives my cheeks some nips. This is something that can’t really be done for that long, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts, because A) I think my roommate is about to kill me for it, and B) eventually it stops being “snuggly” cold and start being “Cut open the tauntaun” cold.
What are your favorite ways to get into the spirit? Don’t comment or anything. Just say it aloud to yourself. I’ll know if you don’t, so you better do it. Is there a particular Christmas movie you always watch? I find that you can tell a lot about people from the Christmas movies they watch. There are some people who are serial monogamists and only watch certain ones, and there are others who settle down in front of the TV and marathon whatever’s on. I’m not sure which category I fall into. But that’s so binary of me.
May your cheeks be rosy, your hearts full of joy, your hands full of candy, and your mouth full of liquor!