Ever since I was a child, my mother has observed the season of Christmas in the same way. Some time around Thanksgiving she begins shaking her head, looking disgusted and sighing, “Oh Lordy, Lordy; it’s almost Christmas and I haven’t done a thing!” Then come four intense weeks of shopping, baking and Christmas card writing. These activities are accompanied by a strange combination of anxiety (“Am I going to be ready this year?”) and cozy stories of happy Christmases in the past. Christmas Day itself is the biggest, most exhausting cooking and cleaning-up-afterwards day of the year. Then comes December 26, which my mother celebrates as the welcome end of the Christmas season.