The Halloween treats are long gone, the pumpkins have rotten (even the squirrels refuse to eat them at this point) and we have seen this year's first frost. Which means of course that the malls have their holiday decors in full force, the Christmas songs are blasting everywhere and all the coffee shops are currently selling gingerbread and candy cane flavoured beverages. Most individuals, if not everyone, hate this and can't wait to curse about the overly early holiday spirit. Everyone...but ME! I think I may just be the only Montrealer to welcome this ridiculous tradition of sparking the Christmas spirit in November.
Why would anyone turn down cheery flavoured hot beverages? Or the excuse to sit around a crackling fire (even if it's playing on your TV)? Or the smell of a fresh Christmas tree (even if it comes from a candle)? While I do admit that I'm not quite ready to watch Christmas movies (and I DO of course have some 1980s favorites which I will post at the bottom), I love this time of year and already have my tiny Christmas tree up (a small fake one of course) and light it up every night. Even my text alerts sound like Santa's doorbell. Pure madness you say? Probably! But there's plenty more where that came from!
Step 1. What do YOU want?
True. Sometimes the holidays can bring on old family drama, over-the-top expenses, chaos and even weight gain. Yet, in good doses these shouldn't be problematic. Just like we do with work objectives, one needs to prioritize according to their budget, gifts and time limits. Another important aspect that we need to realize is the art of letting go. Once we let go of our worries and what others think, a great feeling of freedom will take over and no decision will need to be justified (working really hard on this one myself). You want to stay home by the fire and relax instead of going to that huge New Year's eve glam party? Do it. You want to do a gifts exchanges instead of getting everyone a gift to respect your limits? No problem. You want to go see your aunt even though she isn't in speaking terms with the rest of the family for who knows what reason anymore? Awesome - But tell your family about this one. In the end, it's whatever makes you happiest, genuinely, that matters.
Step 2. Take care of yourself and the rest will follow
If you can't make the most important person in your life (AKA you) happy, the rest will not come from within or to the very least, will be harder to achieve. Think about it: you're tired and in dire need of getting your hair done or getting into that new gym routine and meanwhile you're supposed to host guests, buy gifts and look good doing it? Not gonna happen. Once you take care of your own needs, be them psychological or physical, not only will you actually WANT to butter up your friends and family with treats and good times, you'll also have all the energy required to do it! So go on then, call that hairdresser, go to the gym and go to bed early tonight, with one of those cucumber masks on why not?
Step 3. Bring out your inner child
Still not in the Christmas spirit and want to tame your rage against the holiday craze? Try to remember what was good about Christmas and go find it…or recreate it in your own way! One thing I love to do around this time of year is visit calm places that remain unchanged in this ever changing world that instantly recharge my batteries. There must have been a time when Christmas made you smile or get excited. Here are a few spots that are sure to get you back in touch with the child in you, spark your creative juices and generate great gift ideas!
LE PANIER (Pointe-Claire Village/West Island)
In the heart of the Pointe-Claire village this vintage and cosy little shop will definitely warm your heart and kick the humbug out of you. Every year, I traditionally make a stop in this cute corner of the village to soothe and calm my hyper urban soul. Each time I go, I love the feel I get as I walk in to what seems like a 1960's boutique, chockfull of goodies and Christmas decorations. The different and usually decadent smells that surround me, the cracking old wooden floors and the cheery yet not overly loud Christmas music can't help but remind you of your childhood somehow. They have so many different products ranging from funny gift ideas and accessories to clothing, delicious chocolates and the spiciest hot sauce you've ever purchased (you actually have to sign a waver for it). The items are indeed a little pricey sometimes. However, if you're looking for that quirky gift, a funky tree ornament or just want to feel the old school magic of Christmas, head over to Le Panier!
NOËL ÉTERNEL (Old Montréal next to Notre-Dame Church)
This Christmas obsessed store is sitting on St-Sulpice street in beautiful Old Montreal. Right in front of it, we can see the grandiose Basilica of Notre-Dame. I had always wondered about this place as I have often seen it closed during the summer as I walk passed it. But now? it is up and rolling full force! It was impossible to get a clear shot as children and even adults couldn't help but stop and admire all the glistening ornaments and festive atmosphere that literally make the windows glow. The store offers a huge variety of ornaments and delicate decorations as well as little mechanical villages that come to life. I went around the store quite a few times as I needed to take it all in and I was impressed at how detailed their products were. I actually found and purchased a snare drum ornament and an Italian snowman that are now proudly hanging in my Christmas tree. The patience and kindness of the staff is also quite refreshing…serving everyone with a smile and even allowing me to take their picture ;). Thanks guys and keep the awesome spirit going in the old Montreal. When you are done shopping, you can head over next door at Les Glaceurs for fresh a cupcake! Mmm!
The Christmas Brunch Bunch!
What are your Christmas traditions? Do you always make your famous lemon-turkey recipe? Have a sleep-over at your best friend's cottage with the boys? Eat only fish on the 24th of December? Or perhaps you don't have such a tradition. Whatever the case, The holidays are often full of traditions which can be fun and comforting. Meanwhile, I find it a blast to come up with a new traditional activity that I can enjoy with some friends and family. One of my favourites is our Christmas Brunch with friends and neighbours. Here's how it goes: everyone arrives around 10:30AM. Attendees must be wearing their pyjamas and slippers, if not, they will be called "the grinch" the entire duration of the brunch and while Phil and I take care of providing egg dishes, mimosas, coffee and other little treats, the guests can bring other dishes like pancakes, fruit salad, bagels and cream cheese, bacon, cookies, etc. In essence, the table is FULL of comfort breakfast foods to please even the pickiest of eaters! Meanwhile, I light a balsam scented candle which, I kid you not, smells exactly like a Christmas tree (want one? Bath & Body Works), I play only the best of Christmas songs; my own compilation of course (called the gingerbread house mix) and this year, I am adding a crackling fire that will play on my TV screen - kinda cheesy but what can I say? I can't help myself. The atmosphere is cozy, everyone is in a good mood, even the cranky morning people, and we always have such a good time! The fact that we are all in our PJs adds a family feel to the brunch bunch and some also show up with quite the creative PJs. In the end, obviously, I always coerce everyone into a group picture. Let's see what this year's brunch bunch will be like ;)
I wish you all happy holidays prepping, inner peace and lots of crazy belly-aching laughter.
P.S. I am secretly wishing for snow, don't you love the silence it comes with?
My favorite holiday movies
My name is Ivana. I love photography and meeting people. I hold a Master's in counselling psychology and work as a career consultant. Music is my fuel and an important source of energy in my life. I drive my vespa around the city and I love what I do! :) About this blog: me on my artistic soap box!
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