Gathering together and decking the halls – it’s the jolliest part of the holiday season, right? And boy, did we do that with gusto here at Weatherstone and in New York City! I’d host everything from elaborate seated dinners with a choir or a talented musician performing to cocktail parties for hundreds of guests adorned with an army of Christmas trees. The reason why? Well, I grew up with a feverish love of the Christmas (which I inherited from my beloved mom and grandmother), so no idea was too outlandish, no task too daunting – we truly did it ALL in the name of yuletide joy. The weeks leading up to those events would be an absolute frenzy of shopping, planning, decorating, wrapping, baking and making every inch of the house festive in EVERY way imaginable. How I will miss doing that with my mom this year. The memories of those extravagant, enthusiastic celebrations of my younger years are ones I still cherish to this day. Those holidays were truly a moment in time – ones for the books, as they say.
I adored those years and yet, if I am honest, I will admit, some were exhausting and I left the holidays depleted, run-down and in need of a rest (I often wondered what a quieter holiday would look like and was quite sure I’d never find out – little did I know).
Aside from the parties, the decorations were always lavish and plentiful! I’d use all my best china and flatware and incorporate an abundance of rich, vibrant, festive-colored flowers on my table in oversized gold antique urns. And boy, did we have sparkle to spare! I’d cover trees in the old-fashioned tinsel until branches were barely detectable, baby’s breath was sprayed en masse with glitter and lights twinkled all over the house. We’d have multiple trees with multiple themes, with no detail spared. I’d wake up during those years with glitter on my face and in my hair, ready to tackle another holiday endeavor! It was truly a wonderland.
Now we have arrived at Christmas 2020. With the pandemic surging around the world and people suffering and struggling to stay safe and care for their loved ones, we are left with a very different version of the holidays this year. This year, I am planning my Christmas rather tranquilly, from solitude, with deep gratitude in my heart. I have remained healthy and am so appreciative for the love and support I have experienced, especially in recent months. I want to celebrate this Christmas in a way that acknowledges all that is going on around the world as well as where I am at personally. And truthfully, as I get older, I admit that those Christmases of the past were likely going to evolve into something simpler regardless! So, I’m trying to find my way to a new sort of Christmas.
This year, I’ve decided to shift most of my decorating endeavors to the outside and go with a much simpler approach. Since we do not have children or grandchildren and we will not be entertaining indoors at all, we have decided to spread our holiday cheer outdoors and share our creative efforts with our neighbors and friends! In an effort to keep things uncomplicated and a bit more pared down, we decided to do only wreaths this year (now, I won’t tell you how many, or I may not seem as pared down as I claim to be!). We are hanging wreaths in every location we can find in an effort to bring the usual festive indoor décor to the outdoors (and the abundance of wreaths were a great way for me to support my local nursery). The property looks holiday-ready and sharing that joy with the outside world reminds me of a community that is still very much together, despite our sheltering in place.
Indoors, I am opting for a very simple and natural look. I am again using only wreaths, even on my tabletops, adorned with natural elements like apples, nuts and oranges, which are then decorated with candles. The simplicity of this look and the glow of the candles is just the right amount of festive for this Christmas, as well as a nod to traditions of the past. We may not have trees this year, but the wreaths still fill the room with that heavenly evergreen aroma!
This holiday season, I think the most important thing we may do is show kindness to ourselves and others. Do not feel the need to overcompensate in an effort to make this look like all the other holidays from your past because it simply will not and that’s more than OK. Be realistic. And give yourself a pass on anything that begins to feel like a stretch, emotionally and physically. Honor some traditions, but also consider what you have to offer others (and yourself) if you are not racing around, exhausting yourself and spending on all the extras. Take advantage of those quiet moments to reach out to loved ones. Or rest with a book and a cup of tea. Support your community. There are so many ways we can offer love and assistance to those in need right from our own homes without ever stepping foot outside the door. It’s the best way to remind others (and yourself) that we are not alone and that we are still capable of caring very deeply for each other, even from isolation. Rest, reflect and enjoy the very rare lack of physical movement at this time of year. It’s OK to just “be”, even if it’s Christmas. But most of all, remember, embrace the “different” of this holiday season and seek out moments of joy. There is always the potential to create our most memorable holiday moments, even now.
And lastly, find joy in the small moments. It was W.B. Yeats who said, “The world is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper”. Don’t let that magic of the holiday season pass you by!
Wishing you all peace, love and above all else, good health this holiday season!