For me, the holidays begin when Starbucks starts using their special festive cups, which come in both red and white this year.
Well, not really.
I mean, they do use festive cups, and they do come in two colors (I think the red ones are only for Venti though), but that's not truly the harbinger of the holidays.
Still, there are some holiday traditions that make it or break it for me, and they are far more crucial than not having turkey using my grandfather's recipe.
The first is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Because we've been at other people's houses for so many Thanksgivings recently, I've missed it, and stupid as it may be, the day just isn't right without those silly ballons, and canned singing. The San Jose Christmas Parade just isn't the same thing.
The second is the appearance of Pfefferneusse in the stores. They're not my favorite cookie, but those little half-spheres coated in powdered sugar bring back all my best childhood memories.
And then, there are craft shows. Every year, my mother and I would find a craft show to attend on the weekend of Thanksgiving. Here in SJ, that's easy, because Harvest Festival comes to the convention center. It's cheesy, but it's cozy at the same time. And there's always the hope that my favorite hatmaker will be there.