Early to rise … and then what?

The bells went off at 5:30 a.m.

No, I don’t live next to a very active church, and I don’t live in a neighborhood with a strolling handbell choir.

It was the alarm Suzi chose on her phone over various annoying sounds, both of our ringtones and the opening bars of George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.”

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Christmas Eve at church

“Knees on kneeler, butt on seat.”

This was a vital lesson Suzi taught me the first time I went to Christmas Eve services with her parents, since I’m not Catholic and rarely went to church.

My knees continue to thank her to this day.

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Writing around the world

One of the great things about being online is that you can connect with people you wouldn’t have met otherwise, wherever they’re from.

For example, someone from Malta, of all places, found my blog in the past year. I’ve never been there, and don’t think I’ve ever written anything about it, but this person found my blog, clicked on a link …

… and never came back.

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The week gone by — Dec. 22

You can get all your shopping done in record time, have all your decorations on point and made the greatest Christmas cookies in the world, but there’s one thing you can’t control.

The weather. If you’re traveling, and it sucks, you’re screwed.

It almost bit us a couple years ago, when it snowed overnight Christmas Eve and was snowing in the morning when Suzi and I were going to go from Williamstown to my parents’ house in New York.

And there are just a few winding mountain roads along the way.

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Not my problem anymore

Heading into town, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” on the radio, the sun shining outside the car while I’m warm inside it.

A house on my left has inflatables, including a dragon holding a Christmas gift, on the front lawn. The impatient driver in front of me passes illegally over a double yellow line.

It’s a common route, even now, but I used to take it every day, and about four hours sooner, because it’s the way I used to go to work.

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The only Christmas music guide you’ll need

Sure, there are about a million Christmas songs, but what are the ones you should go out of your way to listen to?

My blog buddy Renata of Buffalo Sauce Everywhere and the Overrated/Underrated podcast have you covered.

We had been kicking around the idea of doing a joint blog entry for a while, and since it’s the Christmas season, we decided to join forces to share with you, our readers, the very best Christmas music.

The 10 songs below, five from her and five from me, are ones you should rejoice in when you hear them between now and Dec. 25.

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