tio de nadalSorry, friends, but now that the last plate of leftovers has been eaten, it’s time to emerge from our turkey comas and face the holidays — and all the frenzied shopping, social obligation, and family time that comes with them.

Personally, I actually do enjoy all the Christmas rituals (if not for religious reasons). I put up a tree each year, send out cards, and bake more cookies than we could possibly eat. There are holiday movies to watch, spiked cider to drink, and sequined sweaters to flaunt. All grand traditions!

This year, though, I’m also introducing a couple of new ideas. I declared a gift truce with many of my friends that I’d normally buy presents for; now, if I find something that I think they’ll like, I give it to them as a just-because gift. Isn’t it more special to receive a present as an everyday surprise, rather than getting lost in the overwhelming chaos of the holidays? (My tree is a little sad not to have as many packages to preside over, but it will get over it.)

My other exciting new tradition is the Tio de Nadal, aka the “shitting log.” It’s a cat-sized log with stick feet and a jolly painted face, jaunty hat, and red blanket. On Christmas, you sing a song and beat the log with a stick until it “poops” candies and toys from under the blanket. Those Catalans really know how to party! I really can’t overemphasize how excited I am about this new family member.

So how will you be managing holiday stress this year? Do you find comfort and familiarity in cherished tradition, or would you rather throw off the shackles of holiday obligation and guzzle egg nog straight from the carton in your underwear? Tell us your favorite tips for surviving the holidays — and, of course, your favorite holiday reads!

— Stephanie P.

Stephanie Perry
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