Playing with tradition
Photo: Lori Nix
What do you love most about the holidays? All the wonderful traditions, right? The giving and the gathering in, the rituals that connect us to one another and the past… Of course, those same traditions can drive you absolutely crazy. This month, we're thinking about how holiday rituals might be refreshed, reinvented—or just ditched. First, Maile Meloy cuts through the tangle of family ties and find her way home for the holidays .
Gift tags With Love, from Oprah
Sometimes the gift tag is better than the gift.

The Law of Christmas Presence
Unless you're seeing him in person this December, the only thing John Hastings will be sending you is his goodwill.

A Gift-Free Christmas
You shouldn't! No, really, you shouldn't ! Cynthia Gorney cleans up her Christmas act.

Plan C for the Tree
Decorating made easy…

Christmas Spirits
How does Santa stay so jolly? Patricia Towers has the answer: eggnog .
Cassette tape
Tell Me a Story
The relatives are gathered. Reminiscences are flying. Push "record."

All Together Now
Rita Williams never really had a family, much less a family reunion. Then, a motley crew of long-lost relatives pulled together one Christmas to welcome her home at last.

Pass the Platter
Over the years, Mel Walsh had tried every variation on the annual holiday feast. But then it was her daughter's turn to carve out her own traditions.

Eat, Drink…and Remember
Conversation at the holiday table should be worthy of the meal!

The Year of Giving Brilliantly
Our roundup of eight great charities proves that even small donations can make a world of difference.

Holiday letter The Holiday Letter
How to survive other people's too-good-to-be-true news.

A Light in the Darkness
For the lonely, the grieving, a kinder way to mark the season

Plus: O columnist Lisa Kogan reinvents New Year's

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