Tue, 20 December 2022
The holiday of Christmas is a festive time that arrives a mere one week before the new year begins.
The arrival of Christmas stirs up nostalgia for some, angst for others, seasonal stress for most of us and a stream of quiet hope for perhaps nearly all of us that a Christmas miracle will occur. And regardless of what we imagine it to be as November arrives and we look ahead to the final two months of the year, it is a holiday capable of being exactly as we most wish it to be when we approach it with a conscious and loving heart and mind.
Discovering and then honoring what brings us joy is a step in the direction for a most enjoyable holiday.
Nigel Slater reminds in his The Christmas Chronicles that "many of the festival's observances date from pre-Christian times, and those who celebrate it as a purely religious event might be surprised to find out how much of the festivities hails from pagan times." The celebration of the winter solstice just days before the 25th, the beginning of more light to our days was, again as Slater shares, celebrated long before Christmas was celebrated "Saturnalia was the Roman festival of honor of the God Saturn, with feasting lasting from December 17th to the 23rd". And so in many ways, while religious or not, spiritual or atheist as Slater shares he is happily, we all borrow from each of the reasons to celebrate during this Christmas time of year, and that too is something to celebrate.
I had planned on posting on an entirely different topic for today's episode/post, but in the days and weeks leading up to curating this episode, I found myself becoming increasingly excited about my own plans for Christmas. Knowing that how I am choosing to celebrate is a less celebrated approach by the culture, I wanted to share because as I wrote in the December chapter of my book The Road to Le Papillon, it is imperative that we celebrate all holidays that come with traditions in such a way that brings us true joy. I acknowledge that not everyone lives alone by choice as I do, but even in a household of a couple or a family, knowing and voicing and observing what brings true joy to those we love and then honoring this need in some way as you design your day of celebration is a priceless gift to give.
So day, as the final episode of 2022, the holiday episode it will be, and along with the ideas for savoring Christmas home alone simply luxuriously, today's Petit Plaisir will be holiday inspired as well and ties in quite nicely with the theme of our conversation. While alone typically signifies one person, it can also include you and your significant other/partner/spouse or you and your household - family. Let's take a look of how to savor Christmas by focusing on quality rather than quantity thereby elevating the entire experience.
~Note to readers: More is discussed in detail in the audio version, so do be sure to tune in. ?
1.Choose to celebrate alone
During the past three years, more than most of us had no choice but to celebrate Christmas alone, so understandably, doing so yet again, may not be enticing or desired. However, I was one of those people during the pandemic who enjoyed spending some of the holidays in my own company, but this is also coming from someone who prior to 2020 chose to spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas in my own company more than a couple of times and had, hands down, some of the best holidays in my adult years I have ever had.
Knowing you have chosen to spend Christmas Day in your own company gives you time to plan, to anticipate, to prepare and thus to then savor the day when it arrives.
Especially if we are changing our plans from previous years of spending this day with family, knowing we have communicated and perhaps shared some holiday time together earlier in December, will make the change into a holiday tradition you desire more enjoyable knowing you have prepared well, so that your conscience can be at peace.
2. Savor other holiday social outings/gatherings/volunteer activities leading up to Christmas
Christmas Day has always been a day I don't want a grand dinner, nor do I want to dress up and throw a dinner party; however, as many of you know, I love hosting a dinner party, so it is rather how I view what Christmas Day is - cozying-in, getting snuggly and just having a wide-open day to savor the joy that has culminated over the past month or so. With all of that said, we need not wait for the actual date of the 25th to arrive to celebrate Christmas. No, no, no, no!
As I know many TSLL readers do, plan a special lunch or dinner date with your dear friend or friends to exchange gifts. During the past couple of years, my dear friend Veronique and I have done this, and dined at a favorite European-cuisine restaurant here in Bend, enjoying sparkling wine and oodles of conversation as the hours pass by, only remembering at the end to exchange our gifts because we've been talking so much! :)
3. Do something special on either the 23rd or the 24th
Every year I have done something slightly or significantly different, but these two dates are the special ones for me when it comes to soirées, hosting a dinner, going out to dinner and splurging, seeing something special with family or dear friends.
Every year as a child, Christmas Eve was the BIG dinner at my parents' house in which we and our guests would dress up for and we kids would do so obediently because we knew soon we would be in bed awaiting Santa's arrival. Now as an adult, the energy of the season is palpable and spending time with others, more than a handful is something even this introvert enjoys because it only happens once a year.
One year, in fact the last Christmas season I was in my house in eastern Oregon (Pendleton), I threw a soirée and more people came than I imagined, and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful memories of my time living in this home with the people attending from my neighborhood, my colleagues at school and my brother and his wife. It was held on Christmas Eve Eve (the 23rd), and it was perfect timing as then I had time to decompress on the 24th and look forward to a quiet Christmas Day.
This year, I am excited to be able to enjoy a full five course meal and share the meal at my neighbors', along with my own, respective houses as we will be enjoying a progressive dinner, and since we all live either next to each other or on the same street, we need only walk a couple house-lengths to enjoy the next course. The clean-up is less, the cost for each of us is more affordable, and as the weather looks to be snowy, it will be safer to imbibe and thoroughly just enjoy the evening. I cannot wait!
4. Plan your Christmas meal - brunch, dinner, dessert, etc.
As you will be in your own company and can dine whenever you prefer, decide what meal you want to enjoy and then do so at your leisure. Brunch is always a must-have on Christmas with pastries, eggs, a meat of choice - sausage or bacon, perhaps a Bellini and paired with The New York Times annual Puzzle section, I will be enjoying a good long meal in my pajamas, of which doesn't take that long to cook. Speaking of pajamas . . .
5. Select your favorite pajamas and have them ready to be worn
As it is quite cold in Bend, I enjoy wearing linen pajamas, and make sure they are freshly laundered and pressed. Just knowing you are wearing something comfortable and warm that you will likely be wearing part, if not all of the day, eliminates the guilt of doing something that is quite foreign to most of us, but something to savor on this special day.
6. Stuff the stockings for your four-legged companions
My pups each have their own stocking, and while Nelle doesn't know the fun that is in store for her just yet, both Norman and Oscar loves/d their stockings, and as you can see below, waited patiently to explore the contents each year.
7. Don't forget to give yourself a gift
While no doubt you have already shopped and wrapped and delivered your gifts for loved ones, even filling out holiday cards to send to personal and professional contacts and acquaintances you are grateful to have in your life, be sure to remember to include yourself on Santa's list to shop for.
Whether the gift to yourself is tangible (a nice Trudon candle) or not (purchase those tickets for your trip next year, or put the deposit on the vacation rental), give yourself something you've been dreaming about and maybe wouldn't purchase freely any other time of the year.
8. Make plans to do something unique/special on Christmas Day
Whether you stay home and take part, attend an event locally or pop up to the mountain to go skiing if snow is in your backyard as it is mine, have a plan to do something special on this day. This will get you up and give you an opportunity to move and perhaps exercise and just looking forward to enjoying this special something is a joy in and of itself.
9. Plan a special evening ritual to savor
As shared above in #4 if you have already planned on either a brunch, a lunch or a dinner, I would encourage to also include a delicious evening-into-the-night treat. What I will be up to after having a good brunch, then a jaunt to the mountain or a long walk in the snow somewhere nearby, is enjoying a slice of homemade Bu1che de Noël that I will be making a few days earlier, paired with hot cuppa or maybe a sip or two of cognac and enjoying whilst sitting by the fire, reading a bit from a book that is calling my name to suit whatever mood I am in, and then watching a bit of the new series that is this week's Petit Plaisir (see below).
A preview of what I hope I can recreate in my own kitchen. This was my mother's Bûche de Noël made, and we all enjoyed, last Christmas Eve.
Wishing you a wonderful, happy and merry Christmas this coming Sunday (and a Happy Hanukkah as well). Thank you for stopping by and look for a new episode on Wednesday January 4th, 2023.
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
~A Storm for Christmas, Netflix limited series
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #347