I’m a big fan of the holiday season, not so much for the traditions of any particular idealogy, but because I really like cookies and colored lights. I usually listen to music when I write, and throughout December I have a couple of favorite holiday albums that I mix into the rotation. Annie Lennox’s A Christmas Cornucopia is a decent mix of tunes (and the video for God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is a real hoot). My other favorite to have in the background while I write is a collection of holiday music from the Middle Ages: A Feast of Songs, by Beth and Barry Hall. I can write to either of these albums throughout the entire month. When it comes to hosting holiday parties (hey, writers do social things like that!), my favorite is James Taylor’s Christmas Album.
In between baking cookies, and because I have an artificial tree and miss the smell of pine, I’ve found that the Balsam Candle from Bath & Body Works is a pretty nice addition to the holiday atmosphere.
This is ever-so-slightly connected to writing only in that, this time of year, it makes me realize that when I’m making up cultures for sci-fi or fantasy settings, I tend to neglect holidays. The characters exist to suffer through the plot, their societies exist to give them a realistic backstory, but once I’ve established the framework for government and religion, I stop. Only for a few weeks in December do I realize how I’ve short-changed my own world building, because other than throwing in the occassional festival name, my characters never have any traditional reason to celebrate anything. (I’ll work on that, my New Year’s resolution will be to write, next December, about at least one thought-out holiday that I put into a story.)