Put Away Your Grinch Face – It’s Christmas

I love everything about Christmas, especially the festivities leading up to the big event. December is universally the most joyful month of the year and it inspires me to try a little harder, dig a little deeper and embrace every moment with hope and faith and the promise of good things to come. I used to think that anything short of a “Hallmark moment” was unsatisfying, but these days we spend less time stressing about perfection and more time having fun experiences. Maybe it happened with age, or the freedom of retirement, or just maybe I grew up a bit and learned to relax my expectations.

The busyness of Christmas; sending cards, baking cookies, decorating Christmas trees, and hosting friends and family feels less like doing chores and more like joy when you pace yourself and put the holiday into perspective for what it is – a time to celebrate love.

It All Begins Here

We send Christmas cards, mostly to out of town friends and family and we love receiving them. I especially like cards that include lots of photographs or letters that recap the family’s year and that is what I try to accomplish with our card. Shutterfly makes it easy to design the perfect card and I love the “keepsake” quality of their products. It is a very inexpensive way to share a snip-it of the past year with those we love but don’t often see, and it sure beats a FB post or useless gift.

Deck the Halls

I like a themed tree and I love the tradition and history of a family tree, so we decorate one of each. My collection of gold ornaments adorns a tall, skinny table top tree in the dining room and our family tree, which is real, is the centerpiece of the living room. The “PeaceLoveJoy” gold tree holds ornaments that I have specifically collected, and many that were gifted to me over the past thirty years. The family tree displays ornaments that are meaningful to each of us. Some represent our hobbies and interests and others mark passages of time and significant events. Each one makes me smile.

Our daughter has a rather large collection of Christmas cuddlies and TY Beanie Babies. You might remember them from the 90’s?? I set up a small tree in the loft near her bedroom to display those. Yes, that’s tree number three! The old fashioned multi-colored lights were a gift from Malcolm’s mother and are more than fifty years old. What could be more special than spending a few moments reminiscing about beautiful memories of days gone by? Ahhh, the stories they could tell.

About Town

Scouting around town for the most festive display of Christmas lights becomes an event unto itself. There is no limit to creativity, even in sunny South Florida.

If the calendar isn’t full this time of year, we go out of our way to fill it up. Even a trip to the mall is festive when you are not faced with the pressure to spend, spend, spend; Santa greeting a long line of eager children, beautifully decorated trees and lush garland everywhere, Christmas music filling the air. Only a Grinch could suppress a smile.

On the Home Front

We have always been a family who celebrates with food, and Christmas is the ultimate food extravaganza. Baking cookies is a must and my favorite is Snicker Doodles. Unfortunately, the first batch does not survive long enough to share with the family 😉

Sipping cocktails by the warm glow of a Christmas tree – yes please!

House parties, impromptu meetups and planned gatherings are all opportunities to share the joy of the season, and more food! The Mahjongg gals came for a game and super last week and Malcolm ‘catered’ the event with Eggplant Parmesan, a side of sausage and peppers and a Ricotta Cheese Cheesecake for dessert. Insert smiley face here!

Nothing makes entertaining easier than a husband who cooks. He even left instructions for baking the eggplant (not that I really needed them, wink) before he took off for a night out with the boys.

I attended a ‘just us gals’ pot luck party and my contribution was this beautiful Flan, it’s a dense custard that is just yummy. Yep, he made that too.

The two most important meals we will make this holiday are both on Christmas day – breakfast and dinner. After breakfast we will hang out in our PJ’s until late afternoon when it’s time to make merry once more. The tables will sparkle (my job) and the plates will look much the same as in years past (him with a little help) as we raise a toast with grateful hearts.

Small Things, Big Smiles

My only request, (I swear) at Christmas is that everyone dress for dinner and smile for the annual family photo. It is a small request that prompts big groans, but it is my favorite Christmas present, so they begrudgingly oblige.

Another little Christmas treat is the unveiling of the new ornaments. I’ll bet you can guess who gets this one. I wonder what mine will be??

And Finally….

With less than one week left until Christmas, we still have fun stuff on the calendar and lots of smiles to come. Our wish for you is a joy filled, stress free holiday, tailor-made just for you. May your hearts and your homes be filled with love.

37 Comments on “Put Away Your Grinch Face – It’s Christmas

    • Thanks Beth, it has been a fun month. Malcolm and I are sitting here making a grocery shopping list and contemplating when to make one last trip to the market to avoid the crowds. Merry Christmas to you and yours and best wishes for 2020!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Suzanne! Your holiday festivities sound wonderful. And even the way you explained them didn’t make them seem to be a rush or an obligation (except maybe the dressing up for Xmas dinner!) and isn’t that just the best way to go? I also love the holiday and when I give myself permission to do it “my way” I enjoy it immensely! Have a wonderful next couple of weeks and may 2020 be as lovely for us all! ~Kathy


  2. Suzanne – I love how you celebrate the holiday season in style. Everything looks fabulous. You’ve got to share with us what your new ornament is after you receive it. Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2020!


  3. You’ve inspired me by your enthusiasm and warm-heartedness! I’ve put away my grinch face and so, mission accomplished!

    I think my favorite part of the season has always been Christmas morning in pjs, with a fire in the fireplace, steaming coffee, mimosas and a lavish brunch featuring an egg dish, cinnamon buns, and plenty of fruit. Nowadays it’s all about the grandchildren and so our Christmas mornings consist now of stopping by our grown children’s homes. A mug of coffee or a mimosa are always waiting and the kids are so excited! There’s a mess and boxes and wrapping strewn everywhere that one barely has room to walk.

    Lovely photos and traditions that you’ve shared!

    Susan Grace

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susan, grand children and mimosa’s sound like the perfect combination to me. I’ve never had Christmas by a fireplace. We keep the air cranked down low just to pretend it’s below 80 degrees outside! Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Gilda, I took some of them with my phone. I’m learning that not EVERY situation requires the big girl camera. Progress?? Merry Christmas and get back on the road soon. I want to read about your fabulous travels.


  4. What a beautiful post in word and in picture. Your love of this holiday and your family and friends shines through. I can’t imagine having more than one tree because my hubs (PC) can be quite the Grinch at Christmas. I have to beg to get one tree!! How fortunate that your husband cooks. I am blessed that my husband is always very sweet about going out to eat when I don’t want to cook. Hope you and your family have the very best holiday yet.


  5. Like you, I have stopped obsessing about making every moment a “Hallmark” moment during the holidays. We are much more relaxed about the festivities than we used to be. I enjoyed seeing the photos of your Christmas cookies. I used to bake 8 or 9 batches of cookies to share with family and friends, but since I cut way back on my sugar intake this year, I limited myself to 2 batches. My sons were disappointed, but I told them they would just have to begin this tradition themselves!


    • Laurie, my MIL bakes way too many cookies and shares with us, so I have cut back also. Besides, there will be cheesecake and pumpkin pie, and chocolate souffles, and, and, and. Sounds like I need to cut back on my sugar intake too! Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It sounds heavenly, Suzanne. I was so glad to read your words of wisdom that everything does not have to be Hallmark perfect to be joyful. My favorite parts of the Christmas season are visiting with family and friends, the music, the special foods, and the holiday lights. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


    • Thank you Christie. It has been an enjoyable, evenly paced and stress free December. Today my daughter and I will go for mani/pedis and hopefully a drive around town to see Christmas lights this evening. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a happy and productive 2020. Take care of yourself Christie!


  7. Hello, Suzanne,
    Just wanted to send you note on Christmas to wish you and yours the Merriest Christmas ever. Looking forward to seeing another year of Picture Retirement and the fun you are having in 2020. Retirement is a pretty good gig. All the best from Helen and me in Tennessee. Joe


    • Joe, retirement is the BEST gig ever! If you and Helen make it down this way, please contact me. Nancy from Defining Third Age is over on the West coast. Maybe we could all plan a little get together. Looking forward to reading more about your travels in 2020. Take care.


  8. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you guys! We’rehacing a quiet one here in Valencia. Movies and lots of food :-).


    • Hi Kem, Merry Christmas to you guys also. I am looking forward to a post about Christmas traditions in Valencia. Quiet sounds good about now. I just finished getting the kitchen back in order and putting away all the dishes from yesterday. Whew….time to plop!


  9. Hi Suzanne,
    Just getting around to reading this…you really “do up” the holidays in great style. I, too, like the reduced stress at this time of year now that I have more “me” time to prepare. It also helps the we have taken the pressure out of gift-giving by donating to charities in our loved-ones’ names instead. This year it was the Florida Guardian Ad Litem program for neglected/abused children.
    When we downsized I gave away all of my Christmas decorations, ornaments, dishes, etc. to our kids. Now we have a small aqua & silver themed tabletop tree and a mermaid stocking for me and a shark’s tail one for Dan which we had fun filling for each other.
    I can do without the hustle/bustle but miss my kids this time of year as they are all up north. Still, we have Dan’s aunts to celebrate with and go to church…and wonderful neighbors to share a special Christmas dinner.


    • Hi Nancy, I see you have thoroughly embraced Christmas in Florida with your Mermaid stocking! I’m sorry you are missing your children but it sounds like you had a very good plan in place to stave away the Christmas blues. Thanks for stopping by and sharing. All the best for 2020!


  10. I love your Christmas post. Even though I am Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, I loved reading about yours and about the ornaments that have so much meaning and symbolism. I especially like the new one of your favorite chef. This post is so heartwarming and just made me smile from ear to ear. Great photos of all the cookies and foods and accompanying text. Men that cook are a special brand of wonderful. Yum, caramel flan and ricotta cheesecake. Wow.



    • Peta, I’m glad my holiday recap made you smile. We finally got everything put away today. I love all the celebrations, but I am also glad when it’s over. Now it’s time to shed those holiday pounds…


  11. Suzanne, Christmas certainly seems to be a very special time for your family. Three trees! I admit to some ambivalence about Christmas. I love the coloured lights, traditional dinner, and family coming together, but am also frustrated by the excesses of the season. I’m glad yours was a happy one!



  12. I love how you wrote “less time stressing about perfection” in December. I have pared down a great deal over the last decade and it also feels more like “joy.” Exceptionally beautiful family photo Christmas cards, Suzanne! I have not worked with Shutterfly. Great results.

    I love everything about your post! You captured the joy of family, food, nostalgia and making new memories. I look forward to seeing the new family photo. I am sure everyone will have a smile on their face.🙂

    Happy New Year! I know you will make it a good one.💕


    • Thank you Erica, I am glad the post reflects our holiday joy. The ornament exchange, movie outing (we saw Little Women), family photo and dinner went well on Christmas day and none of us missed exchanging packages. It’s nice to have you back. I have missed your company!!

      Liked by 1 person

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