1. It’s not a major holiday until the smoke detector goes off.
2. My favorite holidays feel like hibernating. But with better food. And sometimes, presents.
3. The proper attire for Christmas dinner is jammies.
4. Under Armor is the greatest invention ever for the perpetually cold. And by “perpetually cold” I mean “me.”
5. Who isn’t at the celebration is as important as who is. Loss may be part of life, but most of the year we carry any absence deeper within us – many of us carry it well enough that it’s barely discernible to the naked eye. (Otherwise, each day would be excrutiating, wouldn’t it?) But holidays bring loss into relief, with gifts unbought, empty stockings, empty arms, and holes that peek into a parallel place.
6. There is nothing more wonderful than children when they are young. Except those same children, growing up.
7. Habits emerge because our brains are constantly looking for ways to conserve effort, scientists say. Without efficient habit loops, “our brains would shut down, overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily life,” writes Charles Duhigg. I suppose that’s why, when adult children return home or extended family reunites, established patterns re-emerge. Which is comforting and (at the same time) often maddening.
8. Handley Humor is a rare and precious thing. It’s goofy and ridiculous and often annoying, and it’s impossible to explain. But we recognize it when we see it. My siblings and I lead different lives in different cities. We sometimes don’t agree.
But families often connect in small but strongly critical ways, like the way a railway coupling links two train cars: We might not connect on a lot, but we connect there.