It’s a week before Christmas, it’s 80 degrees outside, and I’m enjoying a nice cup of spiked hot cider with a real cinnamon stick. It doesn’t sound like that reflective of a moment, but it is for me. When I was a kid, I thought both liquor and real cinnamon sticks were something only rich people buy. My fiance picked up a couple baggies of cinnamon sticks last night for a hot buttered rum recipe we decided to try. I have never bought cinnamon sticks before because I always assumed they were a luxury item for fancy people. Turns out, they are less than 99 cents.

It’s odd to think of something that costs 99 cents as a luxury item, but Crayolas are only a couple bucks more expensive than less-than-crayola crayons, and I never go to have those as a kid, either. Christmas time was always a very tense occasion in my family. They usually involved my parents getting payday loans and putting things on layaway, things that because I went to college and worked hard to get a good writing job I could stroll into the store and buy even on the last day before payday. There was always more fighting around Christmas as money got tighter, and I got more and more complacent about the holidays as the years went on.

But that’s Christmas past, not Christmas future. I don’t buy Christmas presents with payday loans or nearly-maxed out credit cards. My fiance has revived the Christmas spirit that I thought died in me a long time ago. We make Christmas our own – with liquor and Nutella-stuffed cookies and our wall of Christmas lights, Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, and silly Texas Christmas cards.

And this might just be the best Christmas ever.