Here come the hols


Fresh, light, minimal. That’s what I’m thinking this year.


It’s official now.  “The hols are coming, the hols are coming.”

I need to do things differently this year. Have you ever felt this way?  For years, I rejoiced in all the traditions I created for my family that made our Christmas such a happy, cherished time.

But I don’t need to be the magic maker anymore; I’m not responsible for anyone’s happiness anymore.  I can change how I set the scene and observe the holidays, knowing that I create intimate, compelling magic whatever I decide to do.  Because that’s my style.

(This Thanksgiving I felt like cooking, but I didn’t feel like entertaining.  So I prepared all the familiar foods that I adore. I’m lucky to have my grown son and daughter in the same city as me this year, so it was just the three of us at my table. Perfect and perfectly intimate.)

Lately Christmas has become grating – its early arrival in the stores, the commercialism —  and as I’ve gotten older, the emotional punch that Christmas now delivers to me.  Memories of my childhood Christmases mingle with the memories of so many who have passed away.  When did I become the Christmas grouch? (And we all know how I feel about Tropical Christmas…)

But since I’ve decided to reinvent my celebration, I’m enjoying it with fresh eyes, feeling zestfully creative and playful.

This year my Christmas will be a celebration of light and the pagan solstice. Lots of flickering white candles and tasteful, happy sparkle. Minimalist sensuality if you will.  No gifts, rather experiences. Perhaps on Christmas eve a comforting (but always elegant!) casserole with a glass of really fine wine instead of the usual heavy feast featuring a roast.

Christmas morning…I’m thinking of rising early and whilst Tropica is sleeping off the festivities, I’ll drive to the winter beach for breakfast and a walk.  I’ll come home with the sun and wind in my hair and eyes, and cook something divine for supper. I’m so enjoying exploring all the recipes that come my way online.

Okay, I’m off to Pinterest and the shops to get design inspiration, for my new brand of magic.

Tell me, what are you feelings about the hols as you’ve grown older…?  And what are you doing about it?

xo Liza

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21 thoughts on “Here come the hols

  1. Love your idea of celebrating the solstice. I gave up Christmas many years ago for all the reasons you mentioned, and I also find myself thinking back to childhood memories of large family dinners with all the kids at their own table for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I miss that. I celebrate Christmas with a small gathering at a friend’s for dinner. The day after is my birthday, and my son and his family come and spend the day with me and take me out to lunch, this all suits me just fine. I am looking forward to your future posts on your design choices for your personal celebration, as I don’t really do any decorating, but a bit of sparkle and light might be nice..

    1. Hi Anna, thanks ever so much for sharing your thoughts. The idea of focusing on the solstice instead of Christmas came from my dear high school friend when I told her Christmas was becoming…”delicate.” It made great sense to me, and is comforting. As for decorations…This weekend I bought a variety of white candles in all different sizes which I will place throughout the living/dining/terrace. In Tropica, Christmas decorations are already on sale, 40-70% off, so I bought a few sparkly silver, gold and white ornaments — balls of varying size and shape, to glitter in the candlelight. Your celebration sounds lovely. Carry on!

  2. Lovely images of minimalism…white candles, walking on the beach! But when Christmas Day is very close, then I love to add the beautiful old carols – – maybe sung together by the congregation in a small church. These songs make Christmas for me. Oh Holy Night, A Little Town in Bethlehem, Silent Night, etc, etc.

  3. Hi Colleen! Oh I do love traditional Christmas music. Bach Oratorio. Handel’s Messiah. One of the joys of the season. Thanks for reminding me and…us.

  4. I think the crunch of the irony is that you are in the tropics discussing a northern winter solstice event. The lights and food are all about the cold and the dark. The need to cheer up and huddle together against the winter blast. Without that the point of the event has to be completely different. In Australia they now do Christmas In July parties where they can find snow etc. And on Bondi Beach they sit at Christmas baking in the sun and eating Christmas pudding. And send eachother robin and snow cards. It’s a strange one……

    1. Well, you are right…BUT, the Maya and the Aztecs et al celebrated the solstices — with the shadow of the snake slithering down the pyramid at Chichen Itza. I have to say that it gets dark here at 4 p.m. in winter, just as everywhere…and darkness weighs on the soul. Hence: light!

  5. I so look forward to your posts. Maybe because we seem so in sinc. I have had many lovely traditional Christmas celebrations. This year will be different as I have lost my husband and will be celebrating alone. I don’t seem to be able give up the tree but am decorating it with white lights,silver bows and strings of beads just brought home from a marvelous trip to Cuba. I have reduced my gift giving by half so no stress for me. My home is filled with white candles and lovely memories.

    1. Oh Karen, I am so sorry for your loss. You sound good…being oh so gentle with yourself and doing the things that bring you calm and pleasure. I wish you peace this Christmas season. xo

  6. Two favorite holiday music traditions – one a bit esoteric, one not so much:

    Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols (words in Old English. I performed this with my Catholic school choir over 50 years ago and I’ve never forgotten it.)

    Willie Nelson’s Pretty Paper album.

    1. Kathy! Thank you for the music suggestions. I have never heard either of them and will make a note to listen ASAP! Thank you! You made my day!

  7. Liza, it’s so funny that just this weekend I decided to do things differently this year and try minimizing guilt and maximizing enjoyment. This included lots of candles and lights and not having to pull everything out of storage,setting it up, and taking it back. And here was your post! Sounds like many os us are in sync with you this year. I have to remember that as I reflect on childhood memories, I am making those same memories for my granddaughter and also my own kids.
    Have a lovely month everyone!

  8. I too love the idea of celebrating the solstice! This is my first holiday season away from my family as I have just moved to Phoenix. While this is not my first Christmas in a warm climate; I lived in Corpus Christi for four years, it always struck me as odd to have Santa Claus out and about in 80 degree weather! I will most certainly be doing something different this year, probably dinner with a few friends and that suits me just fine! Though it is hard not to think about Christmas mornings with my boys…

    1. HI Annie…IM with you re Christmas in warm weather…a whole different experience. Hopefully you’ll be able to talk with your boys on Christmas Day…they’ll miss you so much! But it’s all good. Times change and our traditions change. Wishing you peace and happiness this Christmas.

  9. Liza,
    I love hearing from you! I try very hard to accept the changes of the seasons. I like when the season changes,
    but struggle with the dark one. Your column today was like a shining light. Thank you!
    I too am simplifying this year. I have five grandchildren and I am happy creating memories with them.
    I am focusing on experiences with them. Baking, talking about the past and future, going
    on long walks, looking for pinecones, watching the birds feed at the feeder in the tree. Staying away from
    the materialistic world. Simplify, simplify and simplify.
    What do you consider an elegant casserole?
    Enjoy the season!

  10. Hi Kathleen. Thank you ever so much for sharing your thoughts. I love the experiences you will have with your grands. They will cherish their time with you. An elegant casserole is anything you serve with style! I make an upscale Mac and cheese with slivers of my freshly baked ham and really good cheeses. I’m also thinking of a Swiss chard and sweet potato casserole from Smitten Kitchen. I think you can find really nice casseroles from Smitten Kitchen. I think a good casserole and a salad is a refreshing surprise for guests during the holidays. Comfort food at its best…when we most need comfort. Carry on!

  11. Hi Liza

    Jesus is the reason for the season!

    On December 25th, I am celebrating Jesus’ birth in my heart.

    Last Christmas I became a cancer surviver and my wish list became
    a reality. My family and I have been so blessed through out 2016!

    This year, I invite you to have Christmas in your heart.
    There is nothing brighter!!!

    Maria Elena
    Miami, Florida

  12. Liza,
    I have been waffling for about 2 weeks about whether to set up the tree this year. We will all be gone for Christmas but, on the other hand, my granddaughters (late teens and early 20s) love the tradition and the eclectic assortment of decorations, collected over 4 generations. Your “Camp”, however, seems to have made the decision for me. No guilt, no tree. We will all appreciate it even more next year, perhaps. Even family traditions can lose meaning if they become a burden.
    My own childhood Christmas tree memories are of going out on Christmas Eve morning and selecting and then cutting, dragging home and decorating the tree. We lived on a farm so the trees were our own. The chosen pine filled the house with an amazing scent for days. Very different from purchasing a Canadian pine that had been cut last September! Thanks so much for putting this all in perspective.

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