The Holly and the Ivy

By March

This post is, eventually, about perfume.  Also it’s the usual March meander.  Consider yourselves warned.

When you’re a kid, whatever your parents do probably seems normal.  I was raised in the Lutheran church, mostly because my mother didn’t drive and that was the closest church to our house, within walking distance.  Somewhere in my early childhood, my mother decided that the Christmas Eve church services needed some fellowship.  So for days and weeks prior to that night, she planned and bought the necessary supplies, with her own money.  My sister and my dad and mom and I all headed over there at around 4 pm to set the food tables and everything else up.  We stayed the entire evening, refreshing the cookie and sandwich trays and refilling the punch bowls with ginger ale and frozen fruit-punch rings (remember those?)  The good Lutherans of that church got into the spirit quickly and brought all sorts of goodies for the table – bread and cheese and dips and crackers and cookies.  My favorite cookies were the dyed-green, hand-shaped Christmas wreaths made with melted marshmallows and corn flakes, decorated with red-hots representing the holly berries.

Every year my mother wore the same outfit – her one pair of nice gold earrings and a dashiki she’d bought in Senegal – and a modest spritz of My Sin, the only fragrance she owned.  I’d go to the midnight service, which was candle-lit and always seemed magical to me.  Then we’d all stay and clean up and go home in the bitter cold at, oh, 3 am or thereabouts.  My parents had to get up on Christmas day and put up with our present-opening, as much as I’m sure they’d have liked to sleep in.

I look back on this as an adult and realize what an incredible gift it was – to the church, to all of us, and by my father.  Because my dad’s a devout atheist who thinks the whole Christian tradition is a bunch of hooey.  But he loved my mother so much that he spent all that time helping her, because it was important to her, no matter how stupid or loathsome he found it.

I don’t know how I feel about God right now, particularly after this year.  But I know that if there’s a heaven, my mom and dad and every dog I’ve loved will be there.

If I were doing the Lutheran Christmas shindig this year, I’d wear Guerlain Jicky.  Jicky was one of my gateway drugs to perfumery.  Jicky is angular and strange, even more so than Mitsouko; it would fit easily into the lineup at Comme des Garcons. My old-ish bottle of the parfum is lavender and pure, animalic skank.  The EDT is lemon and lavender and a generous dollop of WTF.  Luca Turin suggests that the PDT is the closest to the original.  Earlier this year one of you (Musette?) sent me a small bottle of the PDT, which I wanted desperately, with a note that said, paraphrasing, I hear you like this evil thing, so, mazeltov! The PDT is hot candle wax and frigid winter, lemony furniture polish in the sanctuary, damp wool, and icicles glowing in the light.

For any of you who’ve read this far: here’s March’s Christmas Giveaway.  To one commenter I will send three (bootlegged!) CDs of our family’s favorite Christmas music from years past, including a 1940s Christmas, traditional Christmas, and the groovy guitar and singing of the Monks of Weston Priory, a seasonal LP which my mother and I loved and which has garnered more than one raised eyebrow from friends (no accounting for taste, right?)  Also included will be a small decant of Jicky PDT and two bricks of my favorite Santa Fe piñon incense.  If Christmas isn’t your tradition, you can always give those CDs away.  And feel free to name your traditions/favorite music in comments!

Finally, here’s a YouTube link to one of my favorite traditional Christmas carols, The Holly and the Ivy, adapted slightly and sung, in haunting and melodic fashion, by an obscure pop band (Los Campesinos) which Diva played for me this weekend in the car on her iPod. The visuals are boring but I got all verklempt listening to it.

Grace and peace to all of you, and blessings for the new year.


Image: Holly and ivy in Wales, Eric Jones, wikimedia commons.



  • Holly F. says:

    I’m just now getting around to some blog-reading, as the holiday this year was not filled with baking and visits to Santa and quiet time reading Christmas classics to my little one, but work, work, some dissent at home, and more work. Though I’m a bit bah-humbug this year, I feel truly blessed to have my daughter and my job. Thanks March, for sharing such a special memory. I can understand why it is so precious to you. I don’t know if the draw is still open, but thanks also for your generosity. Wishing you the best of the best in 2012!

  • minette says:

    after a rough trip to see my folks (and look at retirement communities they are long overdue on looking into and moving into), it’s so lovely to read your post. but what’s new. always love your trips down memory lane. and i totally share your love of jicky – the first time i smelled it i felt as though he’d figured out who i was, turned me inside out, distilled me, and put me in a bottle – it was the most eerily personal-smelling perfume i’d ever encountered (still is). if you can’t find those pinon bricks in your hood, let me know – whole foods still carries them here, i believe. i love them! enjoy the blessings you have – and you have many.

  • Sarah says:

    Being reared Lutheran it was Messiah-Messiah and more Messiah. My sister and I even played flutes for a service rendition of the Pastoral Symphony.
    My favorite memories include burning the congregations collective Christmas trees in the church parking lot on Epiphany complete with hot chocolate. Mercy, the cold was fierce.
    Not having anything but an advent wreath until after the 1st Christmas Eve service. ADVENT was for WAITING. But whoo-hoo Christmas marched into the house before the midnight service unforgettably etched with pine……tree,wreaths,rope. Sappy,sticky pine. Still an important note in fragrance for me.
    Mom’s butter cookies decorated by her tow headed tribe.
    She died in June just shy of 92.
    A hard Christmas indeed. May your’s be blessed with comfort and joy March, for you give us just that with your posts.

  • Kathleen says:

    AWESOME giveaway!!!
    SIGN ME UP! :o)

    My favorite Christmas memory from childhood was from after decorating the tree and before playing any gifts under it, I would spend the first night it was there sleeping under the tree with my head looking up at the mix of greenery, lightly and brigtly colored ornaments…..and have fond memories of the scent of evergreen, sap, the warm glow of electic lights and plastic.

    Fav Christmas songs…. Have Yourself a Merry Christmas & God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

    – Kathleen

  • Sue says:

    My favorite Christmas music is the Nutcracker Suite. Growing up I always had friends who were mice, soldiers, or snow fairies, so every year my family and I would attend and watch the magical ballet. To this day, I still watch the Nutcracker every Christmas, either live or on video.

    Thank you for the lovely giveaway. I too adore Jicky and would live to try your favorite incense. I hope the coming year is much brighter and happier for you and yours. Fragrant hugs!

  • Austenfan says:

    No need to include me in the draw should it still be open.

    One of my favourite short films and an ode to love:

    I hope the link works.
    Have a good Christmas!

  • rosiegreen says:

    Favorite Christmas music – All but especially traditional carols.
    Food – Prime Rib and pumpkin pie
    Christmas Eve Midnight mass with candles and music.
    The highlight of the season – Open house at my sisters on Christmas eve. All the family getting together to celebrate.
    March, Thanks for sharing your christmas memories. I love true life stories. Merry Christmas to everyone.

  • maggiecat says:

    What a lovely post – worth logging on while I’m on vacation! I’m a Jicky edt girl myself (maybe I just scare easily?). We’re coming home to Dallas for Christmas after a delightful vacatio0n in New Orleans – my patient husband, who dislikes perfume and city traffic, patiently chauferred me to both Hove’ and Bourbon French and let me shop – pure bliss (and true love). We will listen to Handel’s Messiah on the way home. Merry Christmas to all!

  • nozknoz says:

    March, thank you for this wonderful Christmas post and all the warm conversations it generated.

    I lived overseas for many years and experienced a wide range of Christmases, from fancy to basic, often with palm trees. More recently, my pursuit of vintage perfume led me to haunt ebay, where I realized I could also find vintage bubble lights exactly like my grandmother’s – so that’s a beloved new old tradition. For music, I especially love jazz Christmas albums.

    Merry Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa / Solstice and best wishes for New Year 2012 to all!

  • sweetlife says:

    Very late to reading this, but what a treat to find it here–such wonderful comments, too. I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past few years about the value of parties and extras and those “acts of fellowship” of the kind your mom decided was needed. It seems to me that you carry out something like that right here on the blog, M.

    We have, and have always had, a Jewish Christmas, so our food traditions include bagels and lox on Christmas morning. (Music is always all those Christmas songs written by Jews, the rocking, swinging type. But I always longed to sing the solo for O Holy Night in choir. I felt a little bad about it, but if they’d ever offered it to me I would have gone for it in a hot second.)

    A very Merry Christmas to you, and my best wishes for renewal in the New Year.

  • Nancy says:

    Candle light service and the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth — that is what is up for us in our house. Lovely.

    One year though there was a Christmas pageant with the little ones acting out as the small animals in the manger during the Chirstmas story. Unfortunately there were not enough sheep to go ’round and one of the children was dressed as a pig….Now that is a Jewish dilemma of sorts…

    Please enter me in the draw. Thank you.

  • tammy says:

    I am another one who could go on about Christmas music forever; my favorites range from sacred ( Cambridge Singers, O Holy Night) to the profane (Christmas Time, Li’L Ed & the Blues Imperials…not really profane, just a little naughty!) to hauntingly beautiful (Patti Smith, We Three Kings….goosebumps Every Single Time I hear it.)

    Always on the playlist are George Winston’s December, Bryan Setzer Orchestra Boogie Woogie Christmas, Ottmar Liebert’s Poets & Angels, Over-the-Rhine’s Snow Angel, David Nevue’s O Come Emmanuel and Vince Guiraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas.

    This year we are heavy on the bluesy/Southern rock sound for some reason.

    We have hundreds of Christmas CDs and albums in our home, but not one drop of Jicky. Thanks for a chance to try some!

    And a very happy, joyous Everything to Everyone!

  • Kathryn says:

    Among my favorite memories are the candlelight Christmas Eve services years ago at our Unitarian church in Boston. The children’s pageant expanded the concept of ecumenical to the point of explosion: Saint Lucia candle wreaths, a menorah, a living creche complete with animals, wise women, and a little munchkin twirling around as the Christmas star, drums for Kwanza. Total chaos, but there wasn’t anyone who didn’t feel embraced and welcome.

    Happy holidays, everyone, whatever yours might be.

    • jen says:

      Ours had the minister reading the Christmas story from the bible, singing carols, a pageant with little kids, delivering white-wrapped cans of food for the poor and Santa coming in the back of the church at the end. It covered all the bases in one hour long service.

    • March says:

      That sounds like a service well worth going to!

  • mother courreges says:

    Oh, I forgot:


    Phil Spector’s “A Christmas Gift for You”
    Dean Martin
    Nat King Cole
    Squirrel Nut Zippers
    I love Bing Crosby’s version of Holly & the Ivy

    My personal favorite carol is the now seldom heard We Three Kings

    • Musette says:

      I like the second verse of that one a lot!

      My never-heard fave is one I heard, only once, in high school (and looked hard for many years but it was pre-Internet so no joy, alas)…Sleep Holy Child. So lovely. I love the last line:

      Matchless is Thy Worth, for in Thy Birth the world is blessed.

      just lovely.

      xo >-)

      • tammy says:

        Musette, I think I have this on an album; I’d be delighted to check and burn it to CD for you if you’d like.

        • Musette says:

          You do? 😮

          Ho, yus!

          Wow! thank you!

          I heard this as a sophomore in highschool – I was in the choir and there was this freshman…she had a voice like a cross between Maria Callas and Sarah Vaughn. She sang that, sort of casually leaning against the piano. I was transfixed. My mother never even noticed the song or her voice, she was too busy complaining that she was ‘lounging’…:-w – she felt it was disrespectful. Perhaps she should’ve been [-o< like at a kindergarten Nativity. Not one word about that transfixing voice. :-< xo >-)

          • tammy says:

            Give me time to dig it out; it’s possible that it’s in Arkansas, in which case I won’t be able to get to it til April…you can email me your mailing addie at tlschuster AT msn DOT com if you’re still interested in still getting it that late!

  • mother courreges says:

    Very lovely post, March!

    Mandatory sweet is marzipan cake; using the 1234 butter cake recipe iced with buttercream. Always from scratch of course! The marzipan is dyed green with food coloring (I have grinch hands for hours after kneading the color into the confection) then rolled out and draped over the 2 or 3 layer cake. Sometimes decorated with little marizipan fruits, sometimes just as is. Always a place of honor on the smogasbord.

    Every single Christmas Eve, without fail or any irony whatsoever we watch:

    Hardrock, Cocoa and Joe
    Suzy Snowflake
    Frosty the Snowman

    And, the main event, wait for it…..

    Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (c.1962)

    The world would end without these traditions!

  • Claudia says:

    My favorite carol is What Child is This and my favorite non-religious song is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, although I cry all the way thru it. No favorite food, but chocolate MUST be involved. One year my Dad and I went to a new church to hear my brother play in a string quartet in the Midnight service. We knelt in silent prayer until they rang the bells to signify the end of the service, but someone’s watch was off, and we knelt there for a very very long time. My Dad said “First I prayed for my family. Then I prayed for everyone I knew. Then I prayed that they would realize that the bell ringer had died.” I laughed out loud in church on Christmas Eve. Thank God my mother wasn’t there.
    Merry Christmas and please enter me in the draw!

  • LindaB says:

    What a lovely post and I admire your reflections on the past. I remember falling asleep in the pew during Christmas Eve midnight service. My mom and dad made sure we always went throughout my childhood. It was magical to me as well. I stopped going in my 20’s and I find that I really do miss it. Maybe this year….

    Thank you for such a fun and generous giveaway!! Please enter me in the draw…and Merry Christmas!

  • Julie says:

    I had forgotten about those wreath cookies until you mentioned the red hots! Those were great.

    Christmas traditions growing up – the homemade advent calendar from my Grandmother. It’s a felt Christmas tree and you put up an ornament every day and then the star on Christmas. My brother and I would alternate days and then fight over who got to put the star on. And I took it when I moved out and still do it.

    Food – I always make pumpkin bread for gifting to family and friends. Will do that tonight! Growing up, my mom would make pecan tassies for my Dad’s work Christmas party. It was the only time she would make them and I would help press out the dough.

    Music – Soul Christmas! Buy it now – it’s worth it for the Otis Redding songs alone. There’s a good mix of traditional and not so traditional songs. Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole are other favorites for Christmas music.

    Movie – White Christmas. Watched it for the first time last Christmas, which was my first married to my husband, and we managed to catch it again last week, so I think that will be our new tradition.

    • Julie says:

      and no need to enter me in the draw – I just got some Jicky in a swap and not sure how I feel about it yet, and no incense in our house since it gives both me and my hubby headaches.

  • Maureen says:

    Diana Krall Christmas CD. Tony Bennett & Duke Ellington Orchaestra, and of course, Sinatra.

    Catholic Midnight Mass since my kids were 12 (they are in their 30’s now).

    Please enter me in draw & Happy Holidays!

  • Claudia says:

    Great post! Merry Christmas, and thanks for the draw! :)

  • Sybil says:

    I am hoping 2012 brings you better days than 2011. And it was a lovely post. I read your posts because of your meandering!

    Christmas music is very controversial around here. For a long time, the only music my kids could agree on was a CD played by a band called Watkins and the Rapiers, called “It’s Christmas, Baby.” Oh well.

  • Amy K says:

    I don’t follow organized religion anymore, but the one thing I miss about church is the Episcopal Christmas Eve service. The music, the candles, the dressy clothing…all magical. Sometimes I feel bad that my daughter won’t get to experience Christmas quite like I did. I have quite the Christmas playlist on my iPod, though. My favorite song is probably A’Soalin by Peter, Paul & Mary. I’m also crazy about some of those lesser-known songs like Fum Fum Fum, Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, Riu Riu Chiu, Coventry Carol (Loreena McKennitt sings it best), etc. Don’t get me started on Christmas music because I could go on all day.

    Happy holidays, March! I hope 2012 is a much better year.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    Lovely post, March!

    I totally agree that incorporating and creating traditions is one of the best parts of the the holidays. I moved to England from the US in my mid- twenties and my daughters were both born here so I try to include traditions that I fondly remember from my childhood and early adult life in NH. We make Peanut Butter Balls and Rum Balls, Peanut Butter Blossoms, loads of decorated sugar cookies, pomanders, maple syrup candy when there has been snow in winter ( the last 2 but not this year! :-(…..), Bing Crosby crooning in the background or Manheim Steamroller, though I am now adding in Nox Arcana’s winter album or Tori Amos’ Yule album. Also, reading (and watching) ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ and now the great ‘Stick Man’ by ‘Gruffalo’ author Julia Donaldson. Warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks and orange spice muffins on Christmas morning. Good stuff!

    Merry Christmas, Happy ‘Festivus for the rest’ve us’ and a wonderful Solstice to all of the truly amazing and greatly cherished Posse!!

  • Janet says:

    what a great bunch of Christmas memories you have :-)

    My parents were also very active in a church just up the street from home, and my Mom didn’t drive either. They both sang in the choir for over 40 years. I gave it a try, but I’m no singer and not a church goer, either, altho I do love the midnight service!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours :-)

  • Joanna says:

    The Christmas wreaths are one of my favorite Christmas goodies too, we make them with Special K cereal. I have been busy with settling into the new house and haven’t done any baking yet. My kids asked me yesterday if I could please make the wreaths and Krumkake, the other family favorite. It made me realize that sometimes it’s the little things that make the holiday. So today that’s what I’m doing, making the wreaths and the Krumkake, the Kringla and the Rosette cookies. I don’t have enough time or hands to make homemade lefse this year but luckily one of the Lutheran churches is still selling batches of it. We will be skipping the lutefisk as usual but there will be pickled herring on Christmas Eve just like there is every year.
    When I was a kid we had this 8 Track of Snoopy’s Christmas/Snoopy vrs The Red Barron with music by the Royal Guardsmen. We played it all the time and it was my family’s favorite. Now when I hear it, it makes me feel meloncholy and teary eyed. It must be somewhat obscure since people have had no idea what I’m talking about when I’ve tried to explain or look for that album. I did finally find it online last year and ordered copies for my mom and my siblings too.
    Christmas is midnight mass. I’ve always loved that service. As a kid it was the one time a year I didn’t complain about going to church and didn’t care if the service ran long. My favorite carol has always been Night of Silence sung along with Silent Night. When I was in jr.high I went to midnight service with my best friend who was Lutheran. She didn’t warn me ahead of time that it was tradition to sing the hymns in Norwegian. I began belting out Silent night in English while all the good Luterans quietly sang in Norwegian. Then they had this big disco ball thing that was supposed to be the Christmas star come down from the ceiling as they dimmed the lights, (I was amazed! The Lutherans were so high tech!) We had both gotten new watches with prism faces which we used to reflect the light off of and into people’s eyes. We got kicked out of church and grounded for the rest of Christmas break. Our families still laugh at and remind us both of that Christmas and old ladies still stop us in town and ask if we aren’t those girls who got kicked out of Christmas service? A mom now, I’m unusually patient with my children when they act up in church.
    Happy Holidays everyone! Hope you all enjoy all the little things that make it special for you.

  • marko says:

    March – I always love these posts from you the most – you bring a “human-ness” to the world of perfume…and a reminder that fragrance is first and foremost a “gateway to memory”.

    My family celebrated Christmas last weekend – there is a new baby in the family and the “in-laws” get her THIS year – so now I’m enjoying watching the rest of the world around me scutter about in anticipation of the the upcoming weekend.

    Thanks for the post – and here’s wishing you and your family the very best this season.

  • jirish says:

    What a lovely post! We have a newish Christmas tradition, dating back to when my sisters and I all became married adults with multiple families to see at Christmas. Now my family gets together on Christmas Eve, we order Chinese food (so no one has to cook), and share presents and company. Christmas Day is spent with our in-law families. It’s untraditional but it makes life easier for us and everyone is grateful. Christmas movie for us is White Christmas, with sing-alongs.

    • March says:

      Yep, Chinese food. Way to go. We did Thanksgiving pizza this year, which worked out well. It sounds like you all have rolled with the changes!

  • Patty says:

    Holiday music: The Nutcracker, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Holly & the Ivy, Once in Royal David’s City, In the Deep Midwinter, Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming
    Holiday movie: A Christmas Carol (starring Alastair Sim – Best.Scrooge.Ever.)
    Holiday drink: coquito
    Holiday dessert: my husband’s mince tarts

    Thank you for the drawing! Happy holidays!

  • Teri says:

    Our family church always held a traditional high mass at midnight on Christmas. The entire service was in Latin, the only lighting was hundreds of candles and a choir of seminarians provided the pre-mass music. The seminary choir specialized in antique church music, so the music was often obscure and even exotic to our midwestern ears. The air was filled with incense and the priests (there were always several for a high mass) and altar boys were dressed in their finest robes – gold and white and red and glimmering in the candlelight.

    I wouldn’t describe myself as a spiritual person, but celebrating these masses in the traditional style made me feel a deep connection to the 2,000 years and many many generations of Catholic worshipers who had preceeded me.

    Favorite Christmas music: The GRP Christmas Collection (jazz)
    Favorite Holiday sweet: Christmas Stollen
    Favorite Holiday movie: White Christmas/Holiday Inn (tie)

    Favorite holiday memory…..the sight of my 85-year old grandmother crawling out from under the dinner table! After numerous ‘excuse me’s’ had gone unheard, her need to use the restroom had become desperate, so she did what had to be done. lol

  • Lemon says:

    OK, now I’m crying along with your Christmas memories. I would love to have copies of your Christmas music. At my house we’re heavy on the Steve Schuch, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennet, and Arthur’s Christmas CDs.

  • Kate S. says:

    I too love The Holly and the Ivy, it is one of my favorites. A new holiday favorite is by the Flaming Lips, A Change at Christmas.

    Lovely and bittersweet image of your childhood Christmases. Merry Christmas to you and your weens.

  • Style Spy says:

    I’ll take my Heaven right here, scented with all my favorite perfumes and surrounded by people like you, dear March. I am a non-believer but I love Christmas, because it reminds me of how much love there still is in the world, despite our best efforts to eradicate it, and how much of it I am lucky enough to carry in my own pockets.

    And my Christmas soundtrack this year has been Maceo Parker’s live album “Roots & Grooves.” Not Christmas music. But damned festive.

  • Ann says:

    Hi, sweetie! Thank you so much for a beautiful post. Glad you’ve got those nice holiday memories. And thanks, too, for the link to the song. Got to run to work now but will listen later. That’s one of my favorite songs (I’ve only heard it done by Jon Anderson of Yes fame, but I love it dearly). It’s a little obscure so I’m lucky if I get to hear it more than once during the holidays. Love and hugs to you and all the kids. (No draw for me, but thanks!)

    • March says:

      Jon Anderson! Wow, there’s a name I haven’t heard in, what, 20 years? I love his voice. I hope you like the linked version. I think it’s very pretty.

      And love and hugs to you and yours.

  • DinaC says:

    Dear March,

    Thanks for the wonderful descriptions of your Lutheran church Christmases past and all the fabulous details that you recounted. They paint a beautiful picture of a loving family.

    Since I’m a Christian, and a musician, I adore Christmas music. I start practicing our annual choir Christmas cantata by late September, so all fall I’m getting in the spirit. My favorite sacred Christmas songs are: The First Noel, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Holy Night, Gesu Bambino, and many others. I also like old, English and European carols — the kind that I used to sing in Madrigals. The CDs that I listen to a lot here at home include Charlie Brown — the Vince Guaraldi Trio, George Winston’s December, lots of Celtic Christmas, James Taylor and Amy Grant.

    For Christmas food and drink, I’m not really set in any deep traditions. We switch things up every year. This year my son wants me to make lamb, so I’ll probably do that plus some rice and veggies. My mom and stepdad specifically requested lemon meringue pie for dessert (not very Christmassy!), so I’ll make that, too.

    As for Christmas movies, I enjoy all the old classics like “White Christmas,” “Holiday Inn,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “A Christmas Story,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but my favorites will always be the animated “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “Charlie Brown Christmas.”

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to all the lovely Posse-ites out there! May you all have well-scented holidays.

  • bookhouseshell says:

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story. Your description of Jicky PdT has me drooling. Please enter me in the draw.

    My brother, his wife and their 2 children come over on Xmas eve to eat, hang out and play board games with me & my 2 kids. The soundtrack to the evening is a mix of top 20 pop the 2 tweens tend to like, the Rolling Stones & the Who that my 16yo son is fond of, and whatever my artistic and wonderful 16yo niece is listening to currently. Wishing joy & good cheer to all!

    • March says:

      A night of board games sounds like just the ticket, that’s what we did for Thanksgiving. 🙂 And you and everyone else are in the draw!

  • dremybluz says:

    Such a wonderful Xmas post. Midnight mass has always been a tear jerker for me remembering all the loved ones that have passed through those pearly gates. Xmas will be even harder this year, being that this will be the first Xmas without my Dad. May you have a glorious and safe holiday and never forget how special you are to all of us here at the Posse.

    • March says:

      Oh, so sorry about your dad. @};- I hope you can find a way to feel that connection, even though he isn’t here with you physically. And thanks for the kind words. You all are obviously pretty special to me, too.

    • Francesca says:

      I’m sorry. The first Christmas, birthday, or other important occasion missing a beloved one is always so poignant.

  • Francesca says:

    I loved the story of your childhood Christmas tradition. God bless your mother and God (or whoever) bless your dad.

    Irwin and I really like just to relax on Christmas, because he worked retail for so many years and the holiday time was always insane for him. I think I’ll make a nice duck breast. We will listen to the usual Christmas albums: Elisabeth Schwartzkopf, Bruce Cockburn, and a newish fave, Bob Dylan. (Who’s got a big red shiny nose? Santa’s got a big red shiny nose!) We’ll probably watch a Christmas Tale and shriek at Darren McGavin as we do every time we see it.

    A propos of Dinazad’s Christmas Candles, my father, who was Austrian, said every year they lit candles on their Christmas tree for only 15 minutes while his mother stood vigilantly by with a huge bucket of water, just in case.

    Merry, merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and a Blessed Solstice to all my lovely friends here on the Posse.

  • pam says:

    Dear March, Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories. And for reminding me that I have a good husband who drives me to Midnight Mass even though he never goes to church the rest of the time.

  • dinazad says:

    Beautiful Christmas memories! Thank you for sharing!
    We celebrate on Christmas Eve: lots of food, presents, good cheer, etc. etc. But the best, even when I was a small child, was putting out the lights, lighting the candles on the tree (real ones) and singing carols. Cookie baking and the special food was second-best, dressing up came third (to this day the only time I wear high heels is on Christmas Eve) and presents followed far behind. This hasen’t changed, although I do enjoy giving presents a lot (even better than getting them)! And our singing is deteriorating from year to year, unfortunately….

    • March says:

      I have never seen actual candles on a tree (the thought terrifies me) but they must look amazing. Thanks for all the goodies, by the way, I’m still savoring them. ^:)^

  • Catherine says:

    Merry Christmas, March! Whenever I think of Jicky anymore, I will think of you and these memories.

    I know Christmas means more to me than to my partner, but he’s been so in the spirit this year–getting a tiny tree for the apartment, decorating it, putting gifts under it. Figuring out all we’ll be eating! And it’s so amazingly kind and wonderful. The gift of making someone else happy–that’s an amazing ability, anytime of year.

    I hope all is beautiful for your Christmas.

  • Marte says:

    Jicky is amazing! I would love a chance to try the PDT.

    My Christmas soundtrack this year has been the Norwegian artist Jarle Bernhoft. His album Walk with me (live with string orchestra) is so beautiful.

  • Zazie says:

    What a moving post!
    And I love Jicky and Christmas carols.
    My favorite is “Deck the halls”.
    As I child, I went wild with happiness at all those Fa-la-las!

    • March says:

      That’s a really fun song to sing! When I’ve heard it at church services, everyone is practically laughing at the end because they do the same thing, belting out the fa-la-la’s!

  • annie says:

    Oh,March,this was such a beautiful post(dabbing at tears,with hanky…truely)…I love your earthiness,and,love of simple things,with wonderful lil’ smells attatched to them…When I think of My Sin,and I Do,often,as it was one of the first great perfumes,I will remember this wonderful ritual between your mother & father…Have a wonderful Christmas…hugs….

    • March says:

      My Sin is so, so lovely. And it has never smelled as good on me as it did on my mother. It’s very powdery on me; it was spicier on her. And hugs to you.

  • Killer rabbit says:

    I will always love silver bells ( the bing version), the smell of sunscreen (my formative christmas’s were at my grandma’s house at the beach) and seafood as that is all you can eat when its as hot as all get out. No church based traditions as my family were not interested and one side is Jehovah’s witness but lots of fun family traditions. I am loving having a young family and making new traditions with them.

    • March says:

      Somehow Silver Bells and sunscreen seem like a match made in heaven. And for several years we spent Christmas break with the kids at their grandparents’ in Vero Beach, so I know the feeling.

    • March says:

      Oh — and yeah, one of the really fun bits of having kiddos is incorporating your old traditions if you have them with new traditions! We bake a ton of cookies, decorate the tree together, make toffee, and go see the cheesy Holiday of Lights display at a local park.

      • killerrabbit says:

        Oh how I love the Christmas lights. The house opposite ours is covered in icicles, santas and fairy lights. I don’t even have to leave the house!

  • Cheryl says:

    Thanks for doing this giveaway! My favourite Christmas song has always been (and remains) What Child Is This.

    • March says:

      Oh, that’s one of my favorites too! I always get weepy, I think many Christmas carols are so beautiful. I also love In the Bleak Midwinter, even though I sob all the way through it, which makes it hard to sing along. :”>

  • jen says:

    Wow, you are so jolly! We just went to the Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden (Phx); lots of Christmas music, hot cocoa and cacti in lights–we go there instead of church, but I have similar memories of candlelight service way back.

  • Lavanya says:

    Lovely post, March! Thanks for the link to the song- I’ve never heard this song before but I’m liking it and the band too..

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  • Musette says:

    No draw (but I wouldn’t mind a scrab of that incense) 😡

    I sent you a bottle of the PdT, because you are crazy and you love it. It scared the toenail polish off mah feets, it is so….8-x

    My hollerday music is all over the place. Lots of Bach, Handel’s Messiah – but I alternate between Handel and Quincy Jones’s version – running them back to back can make your eyeballs fall out.

    Holiday Movie Bette Davis’s Pocketful of Miracles & Terminator
    Holiday Dessert: Miette double chocolate cake with ganache
    Holiday Booze: Billecart Salmon rose

    wait. that sounds like every evening I can make that happen! 😉

    xo >-)

    • March says:

      Hahahaha, it WAS you! Weirdly enough, I actually DON’T particularly like lavender in fragrance as a dominant note. But Jicky’s the exception to every rule.

      I’ll be by for champers and dessert and a kiss from the dogs, thanks. <:-p

  • cheesegan says:

    What lovely Christmas memories you have. Your father was a good man to support his wife even though he didn’t share her faith, and good on your mom for accepting your father’s atheism. We should all be so accepting of others.
    Merry Christmas to you.

  • AnnieA says:

    Holiday soundtracks: Charlie Brown Christmas, Messiah
    Holiday movie: Metropolitan
    Holiday drink: whiskey sour
    Holiday dessert: panettone

    • March says:

      I just got on here, I love these lists and comments! And watching Metropolitan while drinking a whiskey sour and eating panettone sounds like the perfect evening. 🙂