It can be hard (that’s what she said) to remember that Christmas is a good thing.

Christmas is an easy target, for good reason. There’s the stress of traditions and family gatherings (depending on your situation). The pressure to find just the “right” gifts and finding the money to spend on them. Reminders of fractured relationships and people who are gone. The scurrying around, shopping and planning and cooking and baking and wrapping. Plus, it’s cold and dark all the time.

On what I imagined was my “last” trip to the store for Christmas stuff, I couldn’t find one specific stocking stuffer: a package of snack size Almond Joy candy bars. I placed my hands on the shelf on either side of the giant hole where bags of Almond Joy used to be, my forehead resting on the shelf above.

“This is it,” I announced. “This is where I snap. This is where I lose my Christmas shit. Because I am never going to be effing done with this.”

Fortunately, I was not shopping alone, and the person I was with miraculously pulled a bag of snack size Almond Joy out of I-don’t-know-where. And the annual losing-of-the-Christmas-shit was temporarily avoided.

See what I mean? As the days are short and the anticipation for Christmas celebrations builds, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s beautiful about this time of year, and there are many, many things that are great. Here are my nine best things about the Christmas holiday.

1. COOKIES – According to my Facebook memories, I have a theme in the two or three weeks before Christmas. This involves me asking for cookies to be delivered to me; more specifically, sugar cookies. Fortunately for me, I know a lot of people who like to bake and give their cookies away, so score one for me!

2. Christmas Movies – I have many friends who are hardcore into Hallmark movies. Great! I don’t judge. This year, Talladega Nights has been on non-stop on a random cable channel. I watched it while we decorated the Christmas tree. When it ended and then started again, I left it on. Not a Christmas movie per se, but whatever works, like Die Hard, which is so obviously a Christmas movie.

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3. Christmas TV episodes – I play The Office Christmas episodes every year, along with Frasier. Only the Christmas episodes. When they end, I start back at the beginning. It’s like visiting good friends that you haven’t seen in awhile. How fun!

4. Shopping Small – I love finding quirky gifts, especially from thrift stores that benefit local charities, Christmas markets, and the shops down the street. Instead of gift cards from chain stores, try a couple of local places. Find the perfect gift and support your local economy. Win-win!

5. Shopping…From Home – Don’t want to leave your house to shop? Awesome, because the interwebs was made for shoppers like us! Fortunately, we can still shop small without leaving home. Find local places that will take your money online and even mail gifts to you, or bribe a loved one to go out and get your purchases.

6. Pajama Pants – If you have to wear pants – which I am fundamentally against for tight waistband reasons during this time of year – soft, cozy pajamas are the pants to wear. Flannel or fleece, doesn’t matter, as long as they’re soft to the touch and make me feel warm.

7. Blankets! – I feel like I don’t need to explain how important blankets are, but here’s a recent conversation in my home.

My significant other said, “If we didn’t already have too many blankets…”

“Whoa there, tiger,” I said, “how do you mean, ‘too many blankets’? That’s not a thing.”

I mean, how did he think he was going to make a decent blanket fort without a ton of blankets? Oh, sweet baby.

He laughed. Can you believe that? But he also agreed, so I was alright with the gentle mocking, as long as I can have all of the thick, thin, soft, light, weighted, fleece, and quilted blankets my house will hold.

8. Of course, coffee. Or tea. Or cocoa. Or hot toddies. In front of a fire or the brightly lit tree with all of the other lights turned off, snuggled under a blanket. Just all of the warm beverages you can handle.

9. Tacos! – Tacos are Christmasy. I will fight people on this. Tacos just make everything better. They can be customized every single time for each person’s unique needs. They are like a delicious envelope of personalized Christmas cheer. Eat them while watching Christmas movies or episodes of your favorite TV series in your pajama pants under blankets while sipping a warm beverage and eating cookies that have been delivered to you.

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