“It’s always hard to isolate just one Christmastime memory from a life of them, but I think I remember Christmas Eve mostly. Back when I was growing up, in a small Midwestern town, people didn’t start to celebrate the season as early as they do now; we didn’t get our tree (lugged back not from a tree lot but fresh from the woods) until shortly before Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, as the winter afternoon turned gray, I was always waiting for my dad to get home from work to the evening could begin. He worked retail, and there always seemed to be last-minute holiday shoppers making him late to arrive home. Once he did, though, we could head to his mother’s house up the street, unwrap a few gifts before Santa’s came the next morning, and, of course, munch on my mom’s homemade Christmas cookies. Sometimes we attended Midnight Mass; otherwise, I was curled up in my bed by 10 p.m. or so to make sure being my awake didn’t prevent Santa from coming down the chimney. Compared to holiday extravaganzas of today, it was a simple time, but a sweet one.” —Kay Kipling, executive editor

"One year, a long time ago, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I went to her employer's annual holiday party, where we won a prize: a table centerpiece full of Christmas tree ornaments. At the time, we were young and broke, and we had never purchased a Christmas tree and didn't have room for one in our tiny apartment anyway. But we had these new, shiny ornaments, and we decided they needed a tree. So we went to Prager Trees, which used to set up near Robarts Arena, and bought the cheapest tree we could find—a small tabletop shrub that resembled Charlie Brown's tree, except even more bare. That tiny tree accommodated exactly one strand of colorful lights, but in my memory it glows brightly. Every year since, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we've gone to purchase a tree, and we still hang the ornaments we won all those years ago." —Cooper Levey-Baker, senior editor/food editor

"My aunt is a former ballerina and now owns a dance studio in Pennsylvania, which at this time of year means one thing: the annual production of The Nutcracker. Still, despite years and years of watching 'The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,' the show—and particularly, Tchaikovsky's beautiful score—never gets old to me. In fact, every holiday season, without fail, the first time I hear 'The Waltz of the Flowers,' I get goosebumps." —Megan McDonald, digital editor

"You don’t need a toboggan to go tobogganing was the way the poor kids in the neighborhood, including me, thought about holiday activities. It was winter in Ottawa, Canada, and it was cold—picture white-tipped eyelashes and spacesuit-looking outfits to keep warm. But it didn’t stop us from gathering at the park, at the top of the steep hills that were packed with layers of snow pressed into hard, slippery ice by all the sleds. My best friend and I would step into a couple of garbage bags, which came up to our chests, and shoot down the hill, often beating out the kids with the fancy toboggans. There were always some snide comments and sideways looks for our cheap innovation, but they only made it more fun." —Kim Doleatto, associate editor

"I have two favorite holiday memories. The first one is that every year, my mom would host cookie-decorating parties for my friends and me in elementary school. She would make tons of sugar cookies in all different shapes and buy icing, sprinkles and all sorts of decorations for us to gather together and get creative. I was always so excited for it. The second is the first Christmas with our family dog, Brody. He's a seven-year-old golden retriever, but he was only four months during his first Christmas with us. We dressed him up in a Santa outfit and he was so scared of the tree. But we bought him stocking stuffers like bones and treats, and he was happy. It made the holidays feel all the more special with our first, super sweet, dog." —Allison Forsyth, associate editor

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