Ho, ho, ho, y'all. Break out the fruitcake.

By Valerie Fraser Luesse

Southerners go just the teensiest bit jeepers over Christmas. We love everything about it because it brings out our spirituality, our hospitality, and Mama's competitive streak. (When she decks her halls, she's determined to make a memorable showing at the neighborhood open house.)

Are Southern Christmas traditions really that different from those in, say, Idaho? We polled our Southern Facebook Brain Trust to find out what they consider the hallmarks (no pun intended) of Christmas in the South.

You know you're celebrating Christmas in the South when . . .

"You put away the Halloween decorations and break out the red bows at midnight on October 31."

"The family Christmas card was made during spring break on Orange/Destin/Myrtle/South Padre/New Smyrna Beach, with everyone wearing khaki shorts and white shirts."

"The local radio stations' hit parade includes ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer' and ‘Leroy the Redneck Reindeer.'

"You were wearing shorts and flip-flops when you bought your Mayberry-themed Christmas village."

"You go sledding—on pine straw."

"My favorite Southern Christmas tradition? The family pet has a Christmas sweater."

"Mama has 20 Christmas sweaters. And at least 3 Christmas trees."

"Your house is filled with Southern Christmas decorations: pine cones and branches, Florida citrus to anchor your centerpiece, wreaths made of fluffy cotton still in the open bolls . . ."

"You pull out your recipes for fruitcake cookies and ambrosia."

"Publix, The Pig, and Winn Dixie all have fresh cranberries in abundance."

"Your Christmas cookies sport team logos . . . because we can't help ourselves."

"On Christmas Day, you get to try your new street skates outside because the thermometer hit 80 after lunch."

"Mama's trying to figure out how to turn pasteboard and tinsel garland into angel wings in time for the Christmas program."

"You think the kids are excited about Santa, but they're actually on a sugar high because they just ate all of Mama's Fantasy Fudge (the key ingredient of which is Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Crème)."

"Everybody's stockpiling chicken broth and cream-of-everything soup."

"The men in the family announce that they had enough turkey and dressing over the Thanksgiving holiday and request Mexican food, barbecue, or breakfast-for-dinner on Christmas Day."

"Women know they can buy any man in the family a present bearing a college football logo and he'll be perfectly happy with it."

"You've heard so many Salvation Army bells at the mall that they're still ringing in your ears when you load up your packages and head on to Krispy Kreme to pick up 10 dozen for the doughut tree you plan to make for the Sunday School party."

"You attend your hometown's annual Christmas parade, where you'll likely see Santa waving from a fire truck, right behind the homemade float ferrying Miss Merry Christmas and her court."

"You're praying for just a few snowflakes."

"You have a Ziploc full of pinecones (sometimes scented) to throw into a bowl for a last-minute holiday party spruce-up."

"Every member of your family has a personal Nativity scene that he or she is responsible for unwrapping and displaying. (Name of owner and date received are likely written on the bottom of the Baby Jesus/manger.)"

"Daddy actually thinks he picked out the presents that Mama's Belk network selected on her behalf. Bless his heart."

Don't you just love a feel-good story around the holidays? This little coffee shop has a great big heart. And we have no doubt the owners are on Santa's "nice" list.