If you know me, and read my last post, you probably know about my love affair for Christmas. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, because it sets the tone for a cheer-filled holiday season, and grounds me in gratefulness for the blessings in my life. Christmas has that same feeling, and how lucky we are that the time for merriness lasts a whole month! I love the traditions that surround the day, and the joy of being with loved ones and watching everyone light up as they open presents. With two cousins ages 6 and 3, Christmas still retains its youthful magic for me, and I get the best of both worlds: watching Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, holiday mimosa in hand.

I adapted my own Christmas tag, travel style, here, so you could learn a bit more about me, Christmas style.

1. What is your dream destination for celebrating Christmas?

The White Mountains in New Hampshire. I spent lots of summers there growing up, and I always envisioned my face against the cottage windows as snowflakes fluttered down. It would be a fairy tale escape with my family.

2. If you could host any three people in the world, alive or dead, at a holiday dinner, who would they be?

Barack Obama, because I would want him to lead us in an after-dinner singalong; Saoirse Ronan, because she would be such fun company with her jovial nature; and my papa, because I miss seeing him at the table.

3. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

I have been privileged in my life to receive so many wonderful gifts. There has never been a present I’ve received that I didn’t love. As a little girl, it was my Easy Bake Oven, because who didn’t want to be the master of their own dessert fate? Recently, it was second-row orchestra seats to see Les Miserables on Broadway with my family.

4. Favorite Christmas movie?

Elf! I vaguely remember seeing it in theatres, and as my dad will tell you, it was the first time my mom joined the four of us at the movies. We watch it every year, even when it’s on TV in June! We also always watch The Polar Express, which I think comes in a close second for me.

5. Do you have a favorite ornament?

Our tree is a collection of our lives, and decorating it is a favorite tradition of mine, because we listen to Christmas music and reminisce about everything. My parents buy an ornament from everywhere they or we go, so it’s strung with memories of those trips as well as random little trinkets with our names on them, a cast of animal and Santa characters, and ornaments we’ve all made, one of the oldest being a crocheted Lifesavers man my dad made in school. SO after that long-winded story, my favorite ornament changes constantly, but my love for them all never sways. This year, it was a red Georgian door from Dublin. I have an ornament given to me by my grandparents for my first Christmas that is shaped like a tree and adorned with an angel baby and an amethyst star, my birth stone, that is always a favorite to put on.

6. What is your all-time favorite holiday treat?

My dad’s chocolate chip cookies. He makes enough so that we can indulge in them while he’s baking them, on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and for a few days after that. Usually, I don’t eat them on Christmas day until later that night as my version of supper – I know I’m going to be eating a ton of them anyways, so I skip out in favor of the table of desserts we lay out after dinner.

7. Most memorable holiday moment?

I don’t have just one, so I’m going to give you three. One: sometime just before Christmas, when I was maybe 10 or 11, my family and I were watching Scrooge, when our neighbors upstairs began a usual ruckus. They were a steadily rowdy family, throwing your typical Wednesday night rager and hosting late-night wrestling viewing parties, and this night was reaching impossible (not for them) volumes, so my dad called the police. I believe we had to pause the movie so that my parents could knock futilely on their door before dialing. Two: When I was in Dublin, I took a music class that required us to sing carols at a Sing for Simon outdoor evening fundraiser in December. A lot of students outside of the class joined in, and we all rehearsed a couple of times before the day. It was so much fun, and we raised around 525 Euros — as far as I know, still the most a Champlain group has raised! Three: Two years ago, Brady, Kaylee and I pulled off surprising our parents (mostly my mom, because we needed our dad’s help with dates) with tickets to see Hamilton on Broadway! The look on my mom’s face is something that genuinely brightens my day when I remember it.

8. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

When I was younger, we opened presents from one of our aunts on Christmas Eve at our grandparents’ house. Our nana and papa usually gave us a stocking to open that was filled with things like crayons, coloring books, tissues, and socks. For a few years, my parents gave Brady, Kaylee, and I one small present to open which, for Kaylee and I, was always a new wooden Nutcracker soldier that our parents bought while we were performing in a ballet production of The Nutcracker.

9. Where do you usually spend your holiday?

It’s changed slightly over the years. We used to celebrate Christmas Eve at my grandparents’, hosted Christmas day post-dinner festivities at our house, and the next day visiting my nana on the South Shore of Massachusetts. As my grandparents got older, we still visited them on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas day had dinner at home before going back to their house. I believe one year we all had Christmas dinner at their house. Last year (which will be the same this year), we went to my aunt and uncle’s for Christmas Eve, and we hosted Christmas dinner for everyone at our house.

10. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

Yes! Last year we were lucky to have a white Christmas. It was freezing out, and driving was stress-inducing, but we all got dressed in our new pajamas and excitedly watched snow drift onto the ground. Two years ago it was cold, and for a few years before that it was always in the fifties or sixties. Because I’m from Massachusetts, I’m spoiled into believing every Christmas needs to be colder than 40 degrees to be legitimate, but it didn’t feel very ’tis the season-y.

11. What makes the holiday season so special to you?

The cliche lives on: Christmas is magical. My current favorite Christmas song (since you asked) is “The Christmas Waltz,” sung by Frank Sinatra, because it sums up how enchanting everything feels, right down to the frosted windowpanes. At the top of two verses, he sings, “It’s that time of year/ When the world falls in love,” and once I heard that, I knew it was exactly the way my soul romanticizes the holidays. Maybe it’s because people generally seem in more chipper spirits. Or, that for a month, we celebrate the coming season with trees and menorahs and oh so many lights. Or, even, that we have expectations that the end of the year is going to give us some clarity, some sort of excitement to look forward to, something we can pass onto others. We’ve created entire cultures around the holidays, including where we spend them and who we spend them with, and those traditions and familiarity are a constant source of those expectations. It reminds me that good prevails, and that I am leaving the year having spent the last of it in my favorite company, doing my favorite things, and knowing that snow is always possible.

*This feels very much like the scene in Elf where Buddy and Jovie out-tree each other. I still love our home Christmas trees the most, but LOOK AT THIS FELLA.*

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