Christmas is my jam and spending it anywhere but home is unconscionable… literally, I don’t want to be disinherited. My family is ripe with TRADITIOOON, TRADITION! (Yes, that is a Fiddler on the Roof reference; we’re a Broadway family, too… when we’re not yelling at sports on TV). We love tradition so much, my grandma gave me the same jewelry box two years in a row; I’m sure she was mocking the lack of an engagement ring I’d have to grace it with. Thanks a heap, G-baby.

When it comes to holiday décor, my mum and I have a habit of really making the Yuletide gay. Our home looks like Liberachi directed a Holidazzle episode of Toddlers & Tiaras: Sparkle, baby! Not surprisingly, this pageantry saturates her attitude around Christmas time. She preps for parties by unrolling her 1990’s curlers, giving her pageant hair a shake, a fresh shellacking of hairspray, and donning the sparkliest Christmas pin she can get her hands on. She acts like Legolas. Like, we get it: We know you’re pretty. That Christmas Diva has contagious holiday cheer. Thank God this woman raised us. Work it, Smoochie!

I was a faithful Santa-believer until the ripe old age of 4th grade, which I realize in this day and age of kindergarteners with more active Twitter and bank accounts than my own is biblically old in comparison. I uncovered the fallacy of St. Nick when I happened upon a doll I had been lusting after in my mum’s closet, buried beneath shoulder-padded turtlenecks, nestled among a bunch of ‘Biker Mice from Mars’ toys my brothers couldn’t shut up about. I was more shocked than I was heartbroken. I mean, I don’t think I was ever fully convinced that an aging Saint without a razor, who was convinced red was his color, could have instinctively known that an American Girl doll was my key to the popular crowd at school. I was even more shocked upon discovering it was ‘Molly’… arguably the nerdiest of the American Girl dolls. “Santa” was sabotaging my quest to be invited to Friday sleepovers.

Despite the Fat Man’s vendetta to foil my journey to the popular crowd, I did not immediately let my gaggle of little brothers in on my Santa-Gate discovery. I wanted to keep an educated upper hand on the general knowledge game, especially since they were quickly escalating in the height department. I needed something to hold over their curly heads. Letting them in on this secret would have been a bigger mistake than that time I wore jingle bell socks to play Heads Up 7UP at my 3rd grade holiday party. Here’s an insider tip: EVERYONE will know it was you who put their thumb down when your socks have bells on them. Thanks for dressing me like a sassy Laura Ingalls Wilder, mum.

No, telling my baby brothers of varying heights and educational pursuits that Santa Claus was faker than Kim Kardashian’s marriages would have been sinister. And, frankly, as a Catholic, I live in a perpetual fear of Purgatory. Surely, blowing the cover on their December Hero would have gotten me a first-class ticket to Purgatory: the New Jersey of Heaven.

That year, their Christmas carried on as a pageant of shiny toys delivered by their December Hero, and I successfully avoided a lump of coal and a trip to confession. In the future my American Girl doll would grant me VIP access to a Friday sleepover, but it wouldn’t be the power grip on popularity that cheerleading was. Eventually, my baby brothers of varying heights and educational pursuits discovered the fallacy of the Santa Claus. But that didn’t stop us from carrying on the tradition of waking up in the wee hours of the morning to peruse our presents.

We still hang onto tradition, even though we don’t get as cutthroat-competitive as we used to about finding where my dad hid his pickle on the Christmas tree… and now that I’m saying that out loud, it’s probably best we don’t fight about who finds his pickle. [His pickle is an ornament, people.]

Holidays at home are the very best. Missing Christmas with my family would be worse than that time Mandy Moore tried acting. This year is poised to bubble over with hilarity. After all, my mum refers to ‘head shots’ as ‘money shots’, so apologies in advance for our Christmas card photo.

Until next year,