Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Perfect Christmas

My shopping is almost complete and guess what, I haven't bought a single Lexus to put under the tree.  Actually if my family had their way, it would only require a very small tree because so many people want gift cards to their favorite stores. How Christmassy is that? We might as well not exchange gifts at all but set up a clearing house with a debit and credit system. you would have spent fifty dollars on me so that's a fifty dollar credit in my column, but I would have shelved out one hundred on the kids, so I'm minus fifty.

Call me old fashioned, but I am still looking for the perfect Christmas, one with simple home made gifts and lots of laughter around the fire. I got a sample of it a few years ago when I took a Christmas markets cruise up the Danube and we stopped off in small towns along the way. They were selling hand made wooden toys and carved ornaments and the scent of mulled wine and sausages and spices hung in the cold air. Children, bundled up against the cold, looked in wonder at the twinkling lights and the magical toys. And I thought--that's the feeling I want at Christmas!

I understand it's not realistic. How many of us have the time to carve a few toys in the evenings? I'm even thinking of serving store bought cookies this year. The problem is that we have so much, year round that people think we have to raise the hype to make Christmas special. Hence all those commercials about a Lexus with a bow on it. But actually we want to go in the other direction--to retreat from the commerical side of life and make Christmas magical and simple and other-worldly.

When I was growing up in the dark ages Christmas was the only time we had turkey. So it was special. It was the only time in the year that nuts and tangerines and dates appeared in stores so they were special too. And Christmas plum pudding and mince pies were treats. Now we can buy any food we want, any day of the year. So nothing really to look forward to.

This year I plan to try hard to recreate my ideal Christmas. We'll have the whole extended family and I'm hoping it will be cold enough for a fire in the hearth and mulled wine and singing Christmas carols and silly family games that have us all laughing. Any tips on how you conjure up the Christmas spirit?


  1. I love your ideal Christmas, Rhys. And, especially the Christmas Markets cruise. I, along with a couple of girlfriends, are thinking of doing one next year. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

  2. I am finding the Lexus commercials especially irritating this year! I agree that gift cards can feel like a bank transaction, though they are a good last-resort for the impossible people.

  3. For me getting into "Christmas-mode" is all about scents: bee wax candles and spices, pine and dried orange or lime slices, cookies and - don't laugh - the smell of the furniture polish my grandmother used to polish her dining table when I was a little kid. So, this year I'll ask everybody - we're are the hosts of the family meeting - to bring something that represents the "scent of christmas" for him or her. And I'm very curios what will turn up :)

  4. Oh yes, I have felt nostalgic for a few years, wishing we could go back to simpler ways at Christmas.

  5. I know the exact feeling you are describing; it is the feeling I used to feel as a young girl! Now that I am older with a family, I rekindle that cozy Christmas spirit by having a good old family game night (extended family and all, it's a great ice breaker) on Christmas Eve. We have a different theme each year and this year my husband and I purchased 2 Spinning Wheels for a change. We figured we could call it 'Christmas Wheel' like a spin-off of Wheel of Fortune, only it will be a trivia game. Complete with small trinkets and holiday candies to get everyone in the spirit! Happy Holidays!

  6. I love all the things you have shared. Scents--yes, they are so evocative for me too. And family games is what we love!
    Have a wonderful Christmas!