I love this time of year for many reasons, but one of them is the fact that I love all things peppermint. I love candy canes. I love even LOOKING at candy canes, which is why I have a jar of mini ones. I like the ones they have in the drugstore that are just like big rods, but there really wouldn't be any way to cavort about with one of those in public and still maintain any dignity, being 28 and all. (I'm a purist, by the way; none of this multicolored, chocolate-flavored candy cane shit. It's straight up red-and-white or not at all.) I lovelovelove peppermint ice cream; it makes me giddy with excitement. Bubble Yum makes perfect peppermint sugarless gum that you can't always find but you know it's a good day if you do. William Sonoma has peppermint bark, which is why I can't go in the store this time of year because they'd find me two hours later hiding among the stainless steel tea kettle section with five open bark boxes. And anyone who knows me knows that I eat peppermints constantly, and because when I eat one I have to offer it to the person I'm with (because that's the law), most of my friends have instituted a no-more-offering rule. Mark always says, "I'll just TELL YOU when I want one, OK?" which probably makes him sound slightly abusive to any stranger standing near us who doesn't know that I've been offering him mints every three seconds. Anyway, this time of year is great because my love for peppermint seems more festive than obsessive. It's the only time that I could, in theory, hang pieces of it all over my house. Imagine if heroin addicts had a holiday like that! Actually, stop imagining a syringe tree. That's weird.