Tag Archives: christmas

a quiet season


|  Photo by Joseph O. Holmes, c/o 20×200  |

“It came without ribbons.
It came without tags.
It came without packages, boxes or bags.”

Moving into a new house two weeks before Christmas…hoo boy, what was I thinking?

I haven’t baked a single cookie, haven’t mailed a holiday card. My Christmas tree is safely ensconced in the mountain of boxes in my garage, where I suspect it will remain until next December.

By now, my kitchen should be bustling, filled with homemade caramels and kitschy tins of Chex Mix. Instead, the fact that I can see my countertops feels like the greatest Christmas miracle of all.

The Hubs and I decided to skip gifts this year. The two of us are spent, in every possible sense of the word. I can’t even find the energy to choose towel bars, let alone pick out a gift that shows him how much I appreciate the unfathomable amounts of time, energy and patience he’s put into making this house perfect. (Lesson One: no house is perfect, not ever.)

In fact, come to think of it, I haven’t bought a gift. Period. Not for anyone. It’s almost unthinkable.

And yet… Somehow, even without ribbons and tags, Christmas creeps in. In between the mountains of stresses and boxes and drama, it shows up in the most surprising ways.

It’s different without presents, without a tree, without my grandmother’s Nutcracker on the mantle. It’s quieter. More subtle and soft – peripheral, almost. But it’s there. And every so often, I catch a glimpse.

A dear friend drove an hour out of her way to bring me a miniature tree her adorable daughters helped her decorate for me. And as the Hubs and I wandered Union Square one evening last weekend, I watched a half dozen strangers drop their shopping bags on the sidewalk to rush to the rescue of a car that broke down in the middle of the busiest street in downtown San Francisco. For anyone who’s ever lived in a big city, if that isn’t a Christmas miracle, I don’t know what is.

And speaking of Christmas miracles… Slowly but surely, just as all of you promised me it would, this house is becoming home. The pile of boxes is shrinking, and the pile of checkmarks on my to-do list is growing. Last night, I finally cooked dinner in our new kitchen (oh, do I love it!), and when I was done, I realized the smell of fresh paint had given way to the smell of fresh-baked cornbread.

I miss the usual holiday fanfare, I can’t deny it. But this quieter Christmas has its charms. Curling up on the sofa to watch a movie in between loads of laundry. Getting a quick fix of carols on the car radio between errands. Anxiously awaiting the fireplace installation, in the hopes that St. Nick will see a gas log flickering in our hearth.

However your holiday comes to you this year, my friends – whether it’s filled with sugarplum fairies and tinsel or whether Christmas morning brings nothing more than a quiet cup of tea with someone you love – I wish you joy. So very, very much joy, and a new year filled with possibility. Over these last ten years, you all have brought me more joy and more possibility than you’ll ever know, just by being your amazing selves. I’m profoundly grateful, today and every day, for the love and support you’re never shy about sharing with me.

Happy holidays, my friends – whatever you celebrate. May they be merry and bright, and filled with love.


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and so it begins: the neiman marcus christmas book

i know, i know, i’m contributing to the problem in which thanksgiving is completely passed over in favor of getting a jump on the christmas cheer.  but now that we’re officially past halloween, i couldn’t resist sharing these goodies for one more moment.

every year, it’s not the appearance of twinkle lights, or tree lots, or drugstores decked out in cheap christmas candy that gets my engines revved for the holiday season.  no – it’s the arrival of the neiman marcus christmas book in my mailbox.  sure, i love all of the usual goodies neiman’s has to offer.  but really, it’s the over-the-top, if-i-were-a-gazillionaire gifts that i utterly adore.  like nothing else you’ll ever see, the neiman marcus christmas book is pure genius when it comes to fantasy-grade decadence.  and believe me, i can spin quite a fantasy life from some of these gifts.

for example.  if you’re ever wondering what melinda buys for bill gates – i mean, talk about the man who has everything – how about a custom pool art installation by legendary glass artist dale chihuly?  assuming he doesn’t already have one.


or how about a life-sized gingerbread house designed by dylan lauren (of dylan’s candy bar fame).  it stands more than 6 feet tall and is made of 381 lbs of gingerbread and 517 lbs of royal icing, not to mention the thousands of lollipops, gumdrops and other goodies.  isn’t this exactly the gift you imagine little veruca salt would have demanded from her parents for christmas, after that whole willy wonka thing fell through?


if you’ve gone on one too many chartered around-the-world tours, and just can’t imagine spending one more minute in that state-of-the-art private jet, can you think of anything more relaxing than an occasional jaunt across the hudson on your very own houseboat?  especially one custom designed with viking kitchen appliances, bang & olufsen sound system, hi-def movie projector, remote-control air conditioning, and waterproof hardwood floors.  i hear stay-cations are all the rage this year.


or maybe the thing you’re really after is showing your friends just how well you did this year.  i have the perfect solution: an intimate tequila tasting party for 75 of your nearest and dearest.  naturally, you’d want only the best – perhaps a celeb event planner like, say, colin cowie, to arrange the whole thing.  and the best food you could possibly serve…maybe you could get that amazing chef todd english to do the catering.  is it weird that i think this one is actually sort of a bargain at $125,000?


personally, i’d settle for just attending that fabulous party…in what might be the most beautiful cocktail dress i’ve ever seen.  leave it to alexander mcqueen to make me swoon for lace and swarovski crystals.

Picture 1

alas, i’m almost certain none of these fantasies are coming true this holiday season.  but a girl can dream!  in the meantime, i have managed to pick out one thing that’s actually within the realm of reality.  like, say, a burberry check faux-shearling jacket…a bargain, after all this decadence, at $795.

Picture 2

if the christmas book hasn’t hit your mailbox yet this year, don’t despair.  while they’re a bit picky about who actually receives the print catalog, you can peruse the whole thing online right here.  but prepare to be carried away to a world where even santa can’t begin to compete.

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