EXCLUSIVE: Things We Love About Christmas

Note: Publishing assistant Catherine Stroh (you know her from Cooking With Cat) fills in for Joe Korba in this special Christmas edition of Thursday Top Ten

WRAPPING PAPER

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Not wrapping, just the paper. It’s a tragic flaw that I’m so inept at creating pretty packages. I just don’t have the patience for it. No matter how hard I try to get that paper super tight, as soon as I try to scotch tape it, it becomes loose and sloppy. I’ve learned to just accept it. That doesn’t stop me from delighting in the fun patterns and colors that pop up during the holiday season. And I’ve learned to get crafty in other ways—last year, I bought adorable baskets at Michael’s and filled them with Christmas grass and knick-knacks (and shoddily wrapped gifts) and presented them to my parents and sister instead of a stack of boxes. They were a hit.—DT

THE NUTCRACKER

imgresI’ve seen the ballet a few times, and while I am not necessarily into ballets, I loved it. The story itself is so magical and what I love even more about it is the music. The soundtrack has become a staple in my household for the holidays. We try to listen to our Nutcracker CD as much as possible and immediately become giddy upon hearing it. My absolute favorite songs from Tchaikovsky's soundtrack are Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Dance of the Reed Flutes. In my opinion, it is the best Christmas music out there.—CS

EGGNOG

2I forget when I finally first tried eggnog, but I remember always wanting to because it was such a quintessential Christmas drink. It’s become somewhat of a thing now where, even though I don’t love it, I have to have at least one glass per season.

It just tastes like Christmas. You know how things sometimes just taste like Christmas?

...no? ...just me?—DT

KRISTMAS KRINKLES

imgres-1Kristmas Krinkles by Patience Brewster are another Christmas staple in my household. What are Kristmas Krinkles, you may ask? They are absolutely silly, adorable, dainty, and whimsical Christmas ornaments. From people dressed as produce to animals wearing high heels and fuzzy hats, every ornament is extremely unique and they are perfect for every die-hard ornament collector. Every year, it has been a tradition for my sister and I to get my mother one of these ornaments for Christmas. They are becoming harder to find, but I plan to continue collecting them and expand my collection.—CS

BAKING

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I’m not much of a baker and my family pretty much never lets me in the kitchen because of ONE isolated incident where I destroyed a batch of my favorite cookies (peanut butter blossoms) in 2006. Eight years later, you’d think they’d get over it ... anyway, even though I don’t have the whole domestic thing down yet, I still love how the smell of Christmas cookies or my mom’s signature chocolate chip pumpkin breads permeates the entire house and makes it super cozy.—DT

A CHRISTMAS STORY

imagesI believe I was in sixth grade when I first saw “A Christmas Story.” Ever since that fateful day, my life would never be the same. This movie is ridiculous, but I love every minute of it, whether it’s the tongue-pole incident, the bunny suit, Randy in his snowsuit, or the leg lamp (I have a leg lamp nightlight and lamp). You better believe I have TBS’s 24 hours of “A Christmas Story” on an endless loop and watch it completely through at least three times. This movie has to be on while we open presents on Christmas morning, much to my mother’s dismay. I hold off watching this movie all year long so that each Christmas it is a special treat.—CS

SNOW

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I was obsessed with snow as a kid. When the blizzard of ’96 hit my hometown of Middletown, NJ, it was arguably the most fun I’ve ever had playing in my own backyard (above). When we first moved to PA, I was thrilled when snowflakes started to fall as early as October. I was slightly less than thrilled when they were still falling in April. Snow and I have a less-than-Lorelai-Gilmore kind of love affair now that I’m no longer a kid dressed like Randy Parker flying down a dad-made mountain. While I don’t mind driving in it, my car sure does, and it tends to cause more than a few headaches when it decides to come down relentlessly during the workweek. Still, the first snow of the season is rather beautiful and I love a white Christmas more than most things in life.—DT

CORNFLAKE WREATHS

imgres-2Although a more recent tradition, one of the things I look forward to during the holiday season is cornflake wreaths. They are pretty simple and self-explanatory; they’re basically Rice Krispies treats, but with cornflakes, dyed green, and shaped into circles. They are extremely buttery and a huge pain to get shaped like a circle, but the end result is always worth it. We like to buy the string licorice and tie it in a little bow onto the wreath.—CS

LIGHTS

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There is nothing that can’t be made more festive with twinkle lights in December (or any time of year really). My all-time favorite thing about the holiday season may very well be all the lights. Combined with freshly fallen snow, everything sparkles. It’s magical.—DT

THE SNOWMAN

imgres-3I am absolutely in love with children’s books and get extremely nostalgic when thinking about books I grew up with. One of my favorite children’s books is The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. Although the book does not have any words, it is a beautiful story told entirely through illustration. I would study these illustrations as a child and admire every detail. The Snowman has been made into animated films and there is also a stage version. The picture book is not necessarily Christmas-related, I still associate this book with winter and Christmas. It will forever be one of my favorites.—CS

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