We’ve watched it several times, and we know what’s going to happen.
Rick Steves is going to sample Christmas traditions all over Europe, culminating with his family visiting friends in the Swiss Alps and going with them to find a Christmas tree before a torch-lit sled ride home.
And it hits us … right … there … every time.
Which is why after along with listening to upbeat Christmas music and putting up the tree, it was the perfect way to launch the Christmas season.
We even got a touch of snow.
It started with Festivus.
Although Suzi was a big “Seinfeld” fan and I enjoyed the show perfectly fine, we didn’t start commemorating Dec. 23 as a tribute to the “Festivus for the rest of us.”
The actual reason was far more practical. We see her parents on Christmas Eve and my family Christmas Day, and both occasions have their own finely balanced protocols for opening presents, one we did not want to disrupt by adding our gifts to each other into the equation.
So we started doing our own. There was no pole, no feats of strength or airing of grievances (well, not any more grievances than normal), but it was a Festivus for the two of us, in which we’d go out to dinner and then trade gifts.
Now, we don’t even get gifts for each other for Christmas (or our anniversary). Instead, we pick out something we both want and buy that for ourselves as our present.
And coincidentally, since Dec. 23 is a Thursday this year, we’ll be able to put this year’s gift — the next batch of Michael Portillo railway adventure DVDs — to immediate good use.
We have always partaken in some holiday festivities.
When we on Cape Cod, and even after we moved because we were still fairly close, we went to the holiday lights in Falmouth every year.
Most years, the time we spent traveling was longer than the time we actually looked at the lights — downtown Falmouth is lovely when it’s lit up for the holidays, but the actual decorations are just a series of displays on the town green — but it was a thing we did.
Christmas is coming, go to Falmouth … at least until we moved too far away.
And there were always things we watched for Christmas — Steves, Lucy Worsley’s specials, “Love Actually,” the Christmas masterclasses on “The Great British Baking Show,” Mount Holyoke’s Christmas Vespers — but they were always sort of catch-as-catch-can, when they happened to appear on TV or there was nothing else on.
Until last year.
Last year … was miserable. (No doubt you read for me to display my acute grasp of the painfully obvious.)
So Suzi, being Suzi, decided to fight the misery the best way she knew how.
With a list.
Specifically a list of Christmas-themed activities, every day, between Thanksgiving and Christmas: TV specials, Christmas foods, visits to local light displays … which after all, were outside.
They made things a lot less miserable and a lot more enjoyable.
But why stop with last year?
And why stop with “less miserable”?
The lights, the music, the specials, the food … they aren’t going to be available all year — well, they are if you’re that type, but I’m not — so why not take full advantage of them now?
So that’s what we’re doing, with a new list, including both old favorites and new adventures.
Before Christmas with our families, we’re seeking, finding, creating Christmas joy for ourselves.
But why stop with Christmas? There’s joy to be found all year.