For me, the holidays are a fairly arbitrary thing. They signify the end of the year is approaching, and there are the requisite get-togethers, parties, and feasts that tend to happen around them. Many of the other trappings–decorating the house, putting up a Christmas tree, wading into the
warzones shopping lines to get gifts for others–are catch as catch can: I’ll do them if time/energy/money/inclination allow, but I don’t really think to do them that often. The stress simply isn’t worth it most of the time.
There are, however, two conditions that have to be met before I personally get into “the Christmas spirit,” where I’ll allow myself to admit that it’s now the thick of the holiday season and maybe even start thinking yuletide thoughts. This very personal, and therefore likely rather eccentric short list is something that has simply become a necessity for me over the years, and hasn’t altered in as long as I can remember. If you want to get me to come out and go Christmas caroling with you–a doozy of a proposition in any case–then I’d suggest you make sure the following conditions already have been met.
First, bring me the Little Debbie’s Christmas Tree Cakes. And not just any kind, I want the GOOD ones, the chocolate ones. I’ve seen a lot more of the white cream chocolate cakes in recent years, as well as an emerging green frosted variety, and I’ve never cared for them. These confections are only made during the holiday months, and I start to see them between Halloween and Thanksgiving, when the year’s candy has gone on sale at the grocery stores. I require at least a couple packages of these to chomp on throughout the season, to remind me both how sweet life can be at this time of year and how much I like to gamble with my blood sugar levels.
Second, I must view at least one of the two most sacred of Christmas movies. There can be little argument that one of the best–if indeed not the best–Christmas films is Die Hard. Between the humor, action, and memorable lines and characters, it’s a standout in a veritable sea of movies competing for your attention during any given holiday season. If Bruce Willis isn’t lecturing loudly to an emergency call handler about how he’s not ordering a pizza, he’s scrawling messages about how he now has a gun (ho ho ho!) to the assailants of the office Christmas party he finds himself at. The other most sacred of Christmas films, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, is a shocking yet delightful documentary on just how stressful the holidays can be, as viewed through the eyes of Chevy Chase’s ever-suffering Clark Griswold. Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, and how he manages to make it through the holidays without losing his mind–or his family, for that matter–is nothing short of a miracle.
So, there you have it. Insofar as this aspiring writer is concerned, it’s not the Christmas season–and I’m not in the “Christmas spirit”–until I’m sugared up on the chocolate Christmas Tree Cakes, and I’ve either seen Hans Gruber fall from Nakatomi Plaza or Randy Quaid kidnap Brian Doyle Murray for Chevy Chase’s benefit. Those things, to me, signify the holidays.