So this is one of Those Posts. You know, the March Is Oversharing ones. But not too much, I hope.
As many of you know, because I’ve blogged about it before, I had kind of a mixed-bag relationship with my mom, who died a long time ago. When I was a kid, though – one great time of year was Christmas. My mom poured her heart and soul into it. She loved Christmas, and Christmas loved her right back. For years, I shopped for a special ornament for her to hang on our tree. After she was gone, this time of year often made me sad.
But the great thing about time is it gives you perspective. Once I was able to consider my mother from the point of view of adulthood in my 30s and 40s, rather than the anxious-to-please 10-year-old that I’d once been, I could see that my mother did the best she knew how, gave the very best she had to offer, for us at all times. I could appreciate her frustrations with her adult life, in which she was unhappy in large part because she’d found her own options so limited. I understood how she must have felt, and how her anger and sadness were really directed at herself, and her life, rather than at us.
This holiday season has a lot of ups and downs for everyone. But as we decorate the tree and listen to Christmas music and bake cookies and cope with the snow and make (and unmake) various plans for the holidays, I find myself blessed with a great deal of happiness and peace, as much as I’m likely to find in this world, anyway.
The perfumes of this season are for me the most festive ones, that go with the smells of the holiday. It’s not quite time yet for the massive comfort fixes – the vanillas and soft musks of January and February, like a downy pillow. Instead this is the time to bust out the new Annick Goutal Noel roomspray, with its smell of a holiday florist shop – camphor, greenery, and chilled florals (I somehow missed Kevin’s great review on NST, here’s a link.) It’s the time for that wee bottle of the wonderful, discontinued Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Winter Delice (notes: Ginger, Norway Pine, labdanum Rock Rose, Vanilla, Gingerbread, Incense), and its tupenic cousin Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles. Yves Saint Laurent Nu, which I mentioned in comments recently, seems like the perfect holiday incense, not too churchy and with a faint hint of sweetness.
For parties and cocktails — and, what the hey, sledding and trips to the grocery store in the snow – there’s the big guns: Mitsouko, vintage Femme, Cinnabar parfum, and a teeny, thumbnail sized bottle of vintage Youth Dew Bath Oil that has lasted me forever because you only need a toothpick-sized drop. The Youth Dew was not love at first sniff – if I recall correctly, I went something like, ew, what the hell is that? But that funny oil has emerged as a holiday front runner. It speaks in a deep voice and it says EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE JUST FINE, and it says it like that, in all caps, because there’s nothing shy or indecisive about Youth Dew Bath Oil. And finally, there’s the rich, honeyed embrace of Teo Cabanel Alahine, and Serge Lutens (no-cedar) Cedre. All of these with a touch of red lipstick, of course, even if it’s only for a trip to the mailbox. At night, wearing Barbara Bui to bed is always a good choice (like putting on a pair of flannel pajamas), and then there are the last bits of my sample of CB I Hate Perfumes’ Winter 1972, with its magical touch of metallic coldness, and the damp of wet mittens, and frozen earth.
What are your scents of the season? Are you getting any special perfume gifts? I know I’ve got Lancome’s La Collection under the tree… what do I wish Santa would bring me? A bottle of Ormonde Jayne Champaca, or a bottle of Serge Lutens Miel de Bois.