It’s been unseasonably warm here the last two days – I was sweating during the Mayor’s Christmas Parade yesterday, and today the high is 72! For December! I can’t even.

Usually, I would say one of the highlights of my holiday season, and one of the reasons I love winter in general, is the excuse it provides to stay indoors. A good book or movie, baking, knitting, or other lazy Sunday type activities are all perfectly acceptable pastimes in the winter, and especially cozy around the holidays. Yesterday I cranked out some great cornbread and chicken chili for dinner and really delicious brownies (thanks, Mark Bittman). The heat from the stove and oven all afternoon made the apartment seem homey rather than sweltering, even if chopping onions made my eyes sting for most of the evening. And then spending the evening curled up with a good book or two? Perfection!

Soon it will be time to bust out the holiday movies, and I cannot wait! Some of my favorites movies (and books) this time of year aren’t really specifically about Christmas, but remind me of Christmas in one way or another. I have some childhood favorites that I’ll probably wait to watch until I’m home with my family, but right now, the two I want to watch are Elf and Love Actually.

The first time I saw Love Actually, which isn’t about the holidays so much as occurs during the holidays, was in the theater with my friend Erica, when we were at her parents for Thanksgiving. We were juniors in college and got carded! I know some people don’t really enjoy this movie, but as somebody who tends to dislike romantic films because of their predictability, I appreciate that not all the stories or endings in Love Actually are happy or straightforward, that it’s not just about romantic love, and it’s not just about attractive young women who are klutzy to seem relatable. And of course – Emma Thompson. I love this scene in particular:

Elf is another kind of Christmas movie – sweet but funny, and surprisingly heart-felt for a Will Ferrel movie. I didn’t try this one out until recently, and I can’t believe I waited so long! I don’t own this one yet, so I’ll have to find some way to squeeze it in before Christmas …