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.
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??
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.