An enchanting piece about long ago from Cooks Illustrated. Here is an excerpt:
Then December came, and it was a season of woolly mittens and Bean boots, of gut-strung snowshoes, of Flexible Flyers and Flying Saucers, of green-checked wool pants bedecked with baubles of ice that were plucked off like burrs in fall, hitching a ride as we strode past unawares. Out the back door, our father would place a jug of hard cider, the water freezing beneath a skim of high alcohol, just the thing before dinner, feet stretched toward the reddening black stove, his cheeks and spirits aglow.Share
And then Christmas descended, the giant tree dragged stump first through the porch door on Christmas Eve. The lights were untangled in quiet succession and tested, ornaments checked and rewired with new hangers, and then the last touch, the draping of icicles, at which point my sister and I broke free, turning Christmas Eve into a chaos of slapdash silvery confetti, the tree appearing to have caught a frontal wind of flotsam and jetsam, all sense of Christian order abandoned to pagan enthusiasms. And then day arrived, and the stockings were opened before breakfast: a bazaar of tiny balsa planes, red plastic ball-in-a-cup magic tricks, hand buzzers, red hots, finger puppets, tiny picture books, metal puzzle rings, flowers that blossomed in water and then, digging deeply into the heel and toe, a plastic compass, a small Davy Crockett pocketknife, and a black tin police car with a red rooftop light.