1. My first Christmas card, every year, is something tastelessly provocative from John Waters. Postmark: Baltimore, Maryland.
2. The second is a donation-in-your name card from Jerry Bruckheimer. Will his annual classic Christmas wreath follow? Suspenseful.
3. Christmas music. Diana Krall, Mel Torme and Louis Armstrong’s Christmas jazz. Handel’s The Messiah (see video on jump). Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Johnny Cash. And Sean, a fellow-DJ from WHCL-FM, the Hamilton College radio station, always sends a Christmas CD. They started out as audiotapes. After 30 years, they’re really arcane.
4. Jim sends a Mrs. Grace’s Lemon Cake. Yummyboo.
5. Tangerines in the toes of Christmas stockings. A family tradition, along with trimming the tree on Christmas Eve under the influence of hot buttered rum. We’ve moved it up to December 23.
6. A Christmas Story. We also watch, on occasion, It’s a Wonderful Life, Meet Me in St. Louis, Holiday Inn (where White Christmas comes from) or Love Actually. But A Christmas Story we ALWAYS watch. Sadly, I can’t get anyone to watch the Alistair Sim A Christmas Carol anymore, which my brother and I grew up on.
7. Aljean’s Christmas brunch. She actually serves eggs bacon orange juice bagels lox cream cheese and coffee to three rooms of people sitting and talking on Christmas morning. But you better be on time.
8. Christmas movie. It’s what we can all agree on. Maybe The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The last two years we couldn’t get into the movie we wanted at the AMC and happily watched DVDs on Joan’s giant flat screen instead–which tells you something.
9. Alessandra’s Italian celebration, with home-baked pies and cakes. Italian Bingo. Wine. Tombola!
10. New Year’s: Eve is chez Jane, who cooks a girls-only sumptuous dinner accompanied by plenty of high-end champagne; Day is at Julia’s, who supplies a pianist, sheet music and lyrics so we can all sing, whether or not we know the tune.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]