As we learn from watching Miracle on 34th Street, Santa knows everything. Credit: AP Photo/Fox Home Entertainment

Sometimes I think Christmas is wasted on the wrong people. On account of being Jewish, I have never gotten to celebrate a whole Christmas from start to finish—though I’ve gotten bits and pieces, thanks to friends and roommates and my boyfriend’s mother who one year gave me my very own stocking—but because of years of exposure to movies and popular songs I know all about it. And if you do it wrong, I will judge you. I do this out of love. If Christmas is the best thing that has ever happened to humanity (and, having never celebrated it myself, I have no reason to doubt this is true), it should be done right! Here is a definitive list of how you should celebrate Christmas, with sources.

• There should be absolutely no appearances by Santa until after his official arrival at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. No lights should be hung until Santa has arrived. (Source: Miracle on 34th Street, the 1947 version; the remake is a sham)

• Christmas trees must be real pine, not plastic. (A Charlie Brown Christmas)

• There should be a star at the top. (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane)

• You should cover your house with lights and decorations, both inside and out. (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)

• There should be snow on Christmas Day. In a cold climate, a snowless Christmas is depressing. In a warm one, it is unnatural. (“White Christmas” by Irving Berlin, also the movie of the same name)

• Christmas dinner should include a large bird of some kind, preferably a goose, or else a ham. For dessert, there should be a variety of pies and cakes. (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

• If you have a fireplace, you should hang the stockings from the mantel. (“A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore)

• You should also use your fireplace to roast chestnuts. (“The Christmas Song” by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells)

• Christmas is a time for family gatherings, and everyone who can’t make it home should be very sad. (Every Christmas movie ever made or Christmas song ever written, but particularly “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” by Buck Ram and Walter Kent)

• The sound of bells jingling incessantly is a happy one and not annoying at all. (“Jingle Bells” by James Lord Pierpont; “Sleigh Ride” by Mitchell Parish; “Silver Bells” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans)

• If you’re looking for romance, you should always stand under the mistletoe. (“A Holly Jolly Christmas” by Johnny Marks, also original movies on Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel)

• You should always feel happy and charitable on Christmas, even if you don’t get presents. (How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss)

• Santa is real and he is always watching you. Santa wears red. Santa has a mustache. Santa has a superior intelligence network. Obviously Santa is the leader of a totalitarian regime. You should believe in Santa . . . or else. (Miracle on 34th Street; “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by John Frederick Coots and Harry Gillespie)