One thing we are grateful for this holiday season: the end to the months of campaigning, punditry, binders full of women, and horses and bayonets. After $5.8 billion spent on the presidential and congressional races, the country is thankfully moving forward with no dimpled chads or butterfly ballots to tie it down. But before everyone turns the page on 2012, here’s one last toast to the most expensive election in history. Here are the 12 TNR stories that helped shape the conversation in '12. 

The Square and the Flair:  Well, of course Mitt Romney’s top strategist is a steroid-dabbling, screenwriting bon vivant,” Noam Scheiber

Confessions of an Ex-Mormon:  A personal history of America’s most misunderstood religion,” Walter Kirn

Growing Up Romney:  Mitt, Tagg, and the Romney family’s myth of self-reliance,” Noam Scheiber

How Paul Ryan Convinced Washington of His Genius:  The rise of the philosopher prince,” Alec MacGillis

The Big Split:  Why the hedge fund world loved Obama in 2008—and viscerally despises him today,” Alec MacGillis

Dough-Faced:  Liberal fat cats wimp out,” Alec MacGillis

Joementum:  Biden prepares for 2016,” Noam Scheiber

Mad Murdoch Maligns Mousy Mitt:  Why Rupert hates Romney,” Michael Wolff

Blue States are from Scandinavia, Red States are from Guatemala:  A theory of a divided nation,” Jonathan Cohn

Coal Miner’s Donor:  A Mitt Romney benefactor and his surprisingly generous employees,” Alec MacGillis

Assume Joke Dead: Why is the political class so obsessed with being funny?” Alex Pareene

Putting the President on the Couch:  How has he changed?” Franklin Foer