Another Not Surprising Update from Research Leave: The holiday spirit is much more accessible when you're on leave, rather than immersed in grading. I spent the afternoon actually baking today, which then gives me simple holiday gifts for the few outer-circle people I usually give presents to.
Recognizing and renouncing my perfectionism, which has prevented me from sending out the cute photo-card of my dreams for the past several years, so that then I don't wind up sending any cards until January, I actually purchased some cards already and should be able to finish writing them well before mailing deadline.
I don't feel a lot of external pressure around the holidays, compared to most people I know. GF and I have only minimal family obligations for Christmas, and no kids, so things are pretty simple. But this year is shaping up to be even more relaxed and enjoyable. And it's been nice to take time out for decorating or baking whenever I feel like it. (Of course, if I were a "real" academic I wouldn't admit these things, even on a pseudonymous blog. But I'm just not that serious I guess. "Leave" means permission as well as absence, and I've been enjoying that flexibility.)