It's not just because of the delicious recipes!
rachael ray portrait
Photography by Simon Emmett
| Credit: Photography by Simon Emmett

I love the holidays! For me, the season starts on Thanksgiving weekend, when I put up nine—count 'em, nine!—Christmas trees. Our house then becomes a Hanukkah and Christmas inn for as many of our friends and families as we can possibly fit from Thanksgiving to a few days after New Year's. Up where I live, it's cold and often snowing, and all the trees are bare. There's a promise, a sense that anything's possible. I cue up the Christmas-music mixes my husband, John, has made for me: 13 three-hour playlists, one from each year he and I've been married. They have every type of music, from rap to opera. By the time February comes, I'm so ready for my Valentine's Day playlist! 

snow globe and nutcracker
Credit: Illustration by Joel Holland; Photography by Peter Ardito

When I was growing up, we weren't hand to mouth, but we were check to check. Each Christmas, Mom saved all year to take us to see The Nutcracker or a Broadway show, then to FAO Schwarz to pick one toy. I didn't care about the toy. We got to go to the theater and see the lights of the city, which looked like the inside of a snow globe. I remember vividly what it felt like to be so struck with happiness and beauty. It took my breath away, and I'd think about it all year long. I want to make a snow globe like that for others. 

holiday ornament with ribbon
Credit: Photography by Peter Ardito

I have a 30-page list of gifts to buy—not all of them are expensive, but all of them are personal. I'm a brown-paper-wrapper type of person for the most part, but I do go kooky with the ribbons. My cellar normally has table tennis, a pool table, and a couple of treadmills. In winter it becomes Santa's workshop. I love the holidays for the same reason that I love cooking—because I love to give someone what they want but surprise them when doing it and see the joy in their eyes. I hope you enjoy this issue, filled with some of my favorite people and things and foods. And I hope you have a holiday season filled with a joy that takes your breath away.


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