Courtesy of David Guillen

David Guillen remembers when he learned about Santa. It started with the kids at school.

“It was kind of catastrophic for me,” said Guillen, who was born in Columbia but now lives in Castle Rock. “I remember denying it because I knew that by admitting that there’s no Santa, that I was somehow going to be penalized by not receiving gifts from Santa.”

Eventually though, he said he couldn’t avoid the truth.

“You just kind of hang on as long as you can,” Guillen said. “Until (one day) your parents say, ‘Nope. You know what, you no longer qualify for this colossal lie that you’ve been living your entire life.’”

Homemade Holiday Pie Or Not, You Can't Escape The Energy Costs Of Modern Food

Dec 22, 2015
Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Buy your holiday pie or bake your own? While there is something special about homemade, every cook knows it takes a lot of your own time and energy. On the other hand, you can let Sara Lee, Marie Callender or Pillsbury do it for you.

The modern food system gobbles up around 10-15 percent of the country's total energy pie. Much of it goes to the approximately 30,000 food processing plants in the U.S., which are bringing more and more pre-made pie dough, chopped garlic, shredded cheese, and bagged kale right to your table.

Courtesy National Christmas Tree Association

It's the time of the year when Katie Abrams sees her Fort Collins neighbors pulling up with real trees tied to car roofs. She feels small pangs of jealousy when friends post woodsy pictures in flannel shirts, cutting down the perfect spruce.

“It all sounds really nice,” Abrams says. “And then once you go out and do it I can just imagine all the steps involved.”

So instead she pulls out the fake tree from the garage. A mentality that terrifies American Christmas tree growers.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

The Christmas Nativity is pretty standard. You've got Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in a manger. The animals watching over them, three wise men arriving in canoes…

Wait… What?

"Because of course they could not come by camel," said Bonnie Titley, curator of the Nativities Around the World exhibit for the Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures.

Of course, because the nativity set she's talking about is from the Solomon Islands, which Titley points out, doesn't have a lot of camels.

You could never fully steal the show when you're followed by the blown-out spectacle of Sun Ra Arkestra's Tiny Desk Concert. But the opening act kept jumping on the piano and nibbling on the set, literally pulling up the carpet and leaving "presents" on the floor. How could we not have them back? Did I mention they're hamsters?

Jim Hill / KUNC

Do you remember Sharktooth Ski Area? It's a defunct small ski hill located on the Colorado plains between Greeley and Windsor. Turns out a lot of people have fond memories – learning to ski, tubing down the hill and drinking hot Dr. Pepper after a run.

Wait, hot Dr. Pepper?

For most of us, hot chocolate is the go-to beverage for winter activities. But warmed-up soda? It got us wondering, was it something unique to Sharktooth, or was it something more widespread?

Chris Butler founded The Waitresses, a smart-aleck New Wave band, in late-'70s Akron, Ohio. He recalls a long-ago summer when the owner of ZE Records asked him and his collaborators to come up with a Christmas song.

You might not expect "Santa's Helper" to be a career-altering gig, but for David Sedaris, it changed everything. The writer and humorist spent a season working at Macy's as a department store elf. He described his short tenure as Crumpet the Elf in "The Santaland Diaries," an essay that he read on Morning Edition in 1992.

Instantly, a classic was born. Sedaris' reading has become an NPR holiday tradition. Click the "Listen" link above to hear Sedaris read his story.

Piano Piano / Flickr - Creative Commons

Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas?" Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song?" How about Bing Crosby's "White Christmas?"

Yawn. If you needs something fresh, try these Christmas (soon-to-be) classics on for size.