If you are reading this right now, you are looking into the past. Not long past, but August past.

It’s a weird trick of the publishing world to live so far in the future. While most folks are still frolicking with beach balls, we’re digging through attics to find garland and tinsel for holiday photo staging. I now fully understand why craft stores start stocking Christmas decor in July … it’s for people like me who are living in a publishing induced time warp.

I’ll be honest with y’all — it is difficult to conjure holiday cheer in a sweltering 96 degree heat.

There’s always a little spark of magic when we start pulling it together.

When we start exploring holiday stories, you can’t help but be drawn back to the Thanksgivings and Christmases past. And, as Ebenezer Scrooge learned long ago, the season isn’t about snazzy soirees or exchanging fancy gifts. It’s about the memories you make and the people you make them with.

So many things can take you right back to happy times of Christmas past. It could be anything — a song, a smell, or a dish. My grandmother, like so many others I’m sure, always made those ever-popular white wedding cookies (in Alabama we called them Italian wedding cookies, though through a collective newsroom Google session we discovered they’re actually Arabic — who knew). But, those will always trigger Christmas vibes for me and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Food is a powerful source of memories. Taking a bite of a toasty piece of bread or a melt-in-your mouth dessert takes you right back to days gone by, helping us hold on to those special times. That’s why our holiday food issue is a favorite. This one won’t disappoint either. It’s rooted in festive, family fun.

For starters, I met up with Chef Haley Meredith (who I’ve lovingly dubbed the Cake Queen) to hear all about how she makes these incredible confections. I also pinned down the always-on-the-move Zack Gowen to hear about all of his food-centric ventures, including his latest, Three Little Birds, Fly In, Fly Out named for his three little girls. I also beeped by Two Friends Bubble Bar to talk shopping and sparkling wine (it’s a tough life but someone has to do it — hehehe). I also spoke with some Christmas-time brides who shared how they wove holiday merriment into their stunning weddings. And last but certainly not least, Taylor Cooper chatted with Ariel Lawless, owner of Seaboard Charcuterie, to share some season inspiration for feeding guests.

We hope you enjoy these stories. And please remember — it’s easy to get tangled in the hustle and drama of this busy time of year. It’s easy to get flustered and frustrated. But it’s so important not to let that get in the way of creating memories.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas —