1. Old Family and Old Friends.
I’m hosting a bonfire this year post-holiday, so I’ll get a good chance to catch up with friends from previous parts of my life. I have so many stories to share and so many good people to catch up with. I rarely get to see most of these old friends and acquaintances, so this time of year is especially precious for that.
Let’s not play coy. We all enjoy receiving awesome gifts from people who care about us. The anticipation and surprise that comes along with Christmas will always be something I enjoy about this time of year.
I’m also something of a competitive gift-giver. So the challenge of shopping for others and finding the perfect gift(s) is exciting and (in the end) rewarding for me.
3. Christmas Rituals
I am no holy person, and I’m far from orthodox in my beliefs. But I find the narrative and symbolism of Christmas truly inspiring. This year I’m celebrating that narrative in a bunch of different Christian church contexts, from a Methodist gathering and an Anglican celebration to a Baptist Christmas eve service and Lutheran midnight liturgy.
This is the time of year that I give myself a pass to indulge in some of the richest, rarest, and most fattening foods, from venison to eggnog to bourbon pecan pie. I’m also likely going to have the chance to make food for people. French toast breakfast on Christmas morning was a lot of work, but it was something I was proud to do for my family last year.
I’m going to sing some great Christmas hymns. From “O Holy Night” to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, some of the most poetic and theologically rich Western music comes out to play this time of year.
Some popular Christmas music is also growing on me over the years, from Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (successful at getting me dancing) to interesting takes like Kacey Musgraves’ 2016 Western Swing/Country/R&B Christmas album.
6. Everything Stopping.
The parts of my job that touch on business in Europe and Latin America will grind to a full stop around Christmas. Those regions know how to take a good break. Even the busy United States takes a breather on Christmas. I won’t miss the constant influx of emails and phone calls and notifications, and I won’t mind stepping away from the battlefield of work.
7. Goodwill Toward Men.
One of my favorite Christmas phenomena? Everyone acts decent and friendly toward everyone else for one day. Police stop harassing innocent people (or at least I hope they do). Strangers grin and wave at each other. Neighbors exchange warm greetings. People take a break from their interpersonal conflicts.
It’s almost like with Christmas, we know we’re supposed to be better and happier versions of our ourselves. That mindset shift is a welcome gift of the Christmas season.