Here on Berryridge Farm, we keep our holidays simple by stretching out our celebrations.
In early October, when the weather turns crisp, I know the holidays are just around the corner—John starts whistling “Good King Wenceslas” as he builds a fire in the woodstove. Back in the day, when my two daughters lived at home, I spent the weeks preceding Christmas in a flurry of mall-visits and schlepping around overflowing bags from Toys-R-Us, then when they got older, the Bon Marche. These shopping trips would culminate in a post-midnight wrap-a-thon on Christmas Eve night, and I’d be so wiped out, I could hardly enjoy the opening presents ritual—much less Christmas dinner! But now that my girls have homes and kids of their own, John and I have created traditions where gifts are an afterthought, not the main event: holiday food and music rules!
When it comes to music, take “Jingle Bell Rock” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”—please. Our favorites are soft, old-Englishy choral music like “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” or “Wexford Carol,” performed by St. Martins-in-the-Fields or the Clare College choir. Early in our marriage, I discovered John was listening to Christmas CDs on the sly before Halloween. For a person who was big on deferred gratification, I just didn’t get it. But now, I embrace getting into the holiday spirit early.
The first two weeks of November, I like to prepare for Thanksgiving by baking lots pumpkin pies “for practice”—which we eat topped with plenty of locally-produced whipped cream—so John and I can also “practice” eating the TG feast. We’ll spend Thanksgiving Day with our parents, siblings, and if the timing is right and the weather gods are kind, our kids and grandkids. Then, we’ve no sooner recovered from too much turkey and pie, and it’s the first Sunday in Advent…
Coming up: Downsize your holidays and upsize your joy!