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Greeting the Season

| Dec 21, 2020
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Early Christmas greetings to TGForum readers! I do hope that everyone is looking forward to a peaceful holiday of good cheer. The nights may be cold, long and dark for now, but the dawn always returns!

While the festivities in 2020 will obviously be rather subdued, there will still be opportunities for socializing and Santa Claus. If anything, the current conditions may even allow for more cozy and intimate gatherings, where everyone knows everyone and groups won’t be so big as to be impersonal.

Recently, I have gravitated away from gift cards or expensive consumption items, many of which are sold by retailers and made in locations that make me uncomfortable from a Christmas perspective. This year was no different. My gift collections featured items I could prepare on my own, or ones made by home businesses, private local retailers, or even small religious communities.

This includes — but is by no means limited to — coffee & tea; deli items; Italian pastries; or spirited desserts and preserves. I have even located a baker who makes the traditional German springerle cookies featuring intricate, seasonal designs, and ships them across the country. Independent distributors always come through for wine, spirits and beer, as do the area grocers for nuts and salty snacks. (Roasted macadamias are my own weakness!)

Of course, no matter what level of preparations you have in mind for this year, your appearance matters. So whether you are shopping online or in person, comfortable and casual is the rule. When venturing out, be sure to account for the colder weather that is settling in over North America. Wintry days bring their own challenges; salt and melted snow will leave their mark. Wear water-tight shoes or boots, and casuals that will launder easily.

The holiday would not be complete without ornamentation. Dressing a tree, decorating your home, writing greeting cards, lighting candles, and wrapping gifts are all physically demanding activities. You’ll want to make sure that you don’t wear clothes that snag easily or are especially sensitive to sharp points (e.g. pine needles and metal hooks), tape, wax, dust and ink. So delicate fabrics, hosiery and tights should be set aside, in favor of more durable materials and options. But picking up a stray strand or two of tinsel is always a festive touch!

And what preparations would be complete without food? Some gatherings feature ham, turkey, or maybe even a traditional goose. Those of Italian heritage will have the chance to enjoy a Seven Fishes dinner, be it served entrée or cioppino style (e.g. fisherman’s stew). Perhaps you have Jewish friends and relatives who can introduce you to Hanukkah culinary delights. But no matter the fare, watch out for grease, gravy and sauce stains. Dry clean items should be avoided. Always wear washable items and keep stain removers handy, especially if you are preparing the food. And be sure to wear an apron! Be careful about wine spills, buttered popcorn and soft chocolate.

The same goes for baking. I enjoy preparing small cake loaves for neighbors and friends, which I present with a small bag of coffee grounds. All the same, I have to remind myself that dry mixes, oils, butter and eggs do not agree with nice threads! Then, once the handiwork is complete, you can get a fresh seasonal manicure.

Oh the possibilities!

Then there is the music. Two years ago, I attended a black tie performance of Handel’s “Messiah”, to which I wore a black chiffon dress with sheer long sleeves, with black hosiery, heels and understated (but sparkly) accessories. I have also attended concerts featuring Renaissance-era carols, where a white cotton sweater, red plaid skirt and black boots were perfectly appropriate. If partaking at home this year, you can choose casuals for contemporary music selections (such as the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” soundtrack) – or perhaps don the leather jacket for some heavy metal caroling with Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden or Motörhead!

For a holiday movie night, there are so many storylines and settings available – from Nativity stories to Hollywood classics to more modern titles. A few years ago, I discovered Silent Night, a 2002 movie starring Linda Hamilton that was based on a real-life incident during the Second World War when a German woman organized a Christmas Eve truce in her home between American and German soldiers in the midst of the Battle of the Bulge, long enough for everyone to celebrate a peaceful holiday dinner together. (This movie will seem especially relevant this year, given how easily we have all fallen into overheated and uncharitable rhetoric toward individuals and groups.)

A tree of Christmas past!

At long last, Christmas Eve arrives. Do you prefer midnight services, or worshipping after sunrise? Darker colors are better at night; brighter colors if in the morning. Nothing too low cut or with too high a hemline. Last Christmas I attended a midnight service at my church, to which I wore a pink sweater with a brooch pin, with a black skirt, hosiery and heels. If under present conditions you’re not comfortable attending public worship, you can find many joy-filled celebrations on television, internet or radio — everything from Midnight Mass at Saint Peter’s in Rome, to a neighborhood caroling webcast — presenting festive attire in the comfort of your home.

Finally, there’s visiting relatives throughout the proverbial Twelve Days of Christmas. You’ll want to be casual, but know you are looking appropriately festive. On Christmas Day, I expect to choose a midnight green tunic length cowl neck sweater with black leggings, brown ankle boots and seasonal accessories. If there will be snow or extreme cold this year, then tall, lined boots could be involved. (To think that I was once disappointed to receive clothing gifts! What a failure of imagination on my part.)

Despite present anxieties, remember that we should fear not, for there will be glad tidings of great joy. Don’t lose sight of the meaning of the holiday, which is to be truly giving and to love one another self-sacrificially. A blessed and peaceful Christmas to everyone!

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About the Author ()

I am a project management professional in the greater Philadelphia area. I enjoy travel, domestic arts, reading and gardening. I am an active member of several ladies groups. I am a fan of 1970s & 80s hard rock, do not own a cell phone, and still have my high school football varsity letterman's jacket in my closet.

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