A breakdown of the coziest time of the year


Hailey Stessman

Lights in front of a house
The season of holiday lights is upon us. Photo by Hailey Stessman/the Gateway

Here we are again, another round of holidays. We flew through Halloween, we survived Thanksgiving and now we meet face-to-face with the almighty, all-powerful season of hot chocolate, scarily realistic Santa Claus animatronics in windows and colorful lights upon rooftops. The whole month of December is full of holidays including Hanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. Although these holidays occur at different points throughout the month, the second the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone, there’s no denying that the atmosphere shifts. The radio begins to play familiar tunes about a reindeer with a glowing red nose. Stores transform overnight into winter wonderlands as if by magic. A mountain of blankets appear on beds as the temperature drops at night. There’s an enchanting allure to the wintry season. Although Halloween has captured my heart, there’s a special place reserved for the holiday season.

If there’s one tradition I know I will never break, it’s baking Christmas cookies. Whether it be with family members, your friends or even by yourself, nothing is better than filling your kitchen with the sweet aroma of sugar and vanilla baking in the oven. With cookies the opportunities are endless. You have your classic chocolate chip, the comforting chocolate and peanut butter, the sugary snickerdoodle and who could forget the reliable gingerbread. While I do have to give an honorable mention to other holiday desserts and drinks such as hot chocolate and the wide array of fudge-filled treats, there’s something heartwarming about rushing to handcraft each individual cookie on the tray while the other batches bake. It’s an organized chaos that is more than worth it in the end. Yes, you are able to enjoy these cookies at any point in the year. But nothing can compare to waking up in the cold morning and having yourself a nutritious breakfast solely of Christmas cookies.

While stores may be a bit too eager in setting out holiday decorations early, the act of putting up decorations around the house is both aesthetically fulfilling and can be a chance to bond with friends or family. Not to mention, it truly adds a festive flair to your daily life. Why go about your day around the house normally when you could do the same thing surrounded by trees adorned with colorful ornaments and garlands strung about on the walls? Tuck tiny snowmen in every corner! Hang wreaths on all the doors! Cover every inch of your home in fake snow! (Okay, maybe don’t do that.) But immersing yourself in a winter wonderland truly sets the tone for celebrating the holiday season. If you’re not one for purchasing premade decorations, you can make your own. Or, even better, go to your local thrift store to give those strange, yet charming, holiday knickknacks a home. Don’t be afraid to go all out—no one’s stopping you.

The holiday activities to participate in are really what makes the holiday season worthwhile. There’s a heightened excitement for putting aside time to plan holiday gatherings like driving around to look at lights, going ice skating (which I am horrible at) and even sledding if you’re brave enough to endure the cold. Even if the snow piles up and driving is too dangerous, you can still enjoy the joy of the holidays from the comfort of your home. Have a Christmas movie marathon! Indulge in eating the cookies that you made! Make homemade gifts and cards to give to your friends! This is your chance to finally wrap yourself in blankets and sip on peppermint hot chocolate for hours on end. While the daylight may be disappearing earlier and the temperatures have plummeted, the spirit of the holidays never fails to warm your heart.