The early dawn hours held little more than grey clouds and a lone hawk flying far above the field as I peered out the rear window. The air was decidedly cool for January, and the day would promise little more than a rise of five degrees in temperature by midday. The 2022 holiday season is winding down – for us here at The Oasis of Four Queen Palms, it ends on January 6 – and this season proved to be festive for Best Friend and me. For us, the holidays are an eventful time of year, yet busy in its own way than the rest of the year.
As we decorated The Oasis of Four Queen Palms this season, I couldn’t help but remember the one year we went all out with the decorations. That year, we meticulously wrapped the staircase banister with pine garland and added gold velvet bows to each point where we fastened the garland to the railing – up the staircase and around the loft’s railing. We attached many variously sized ornaments on the garland – globes, teardrops, sparkling snowflakes, starbursts, and candy canes. And nestled within the green pine needles were those tiny twinkling clear lights of which we are fond. We decorated the tree with our souvenir ornaments we collect from our travels, sentimental ornaments from my family, and a few new ones I created. Heirloom tchotchke glittered and sparkled as they sat peppered around the house – those miniature sleighs, reindeer, and fireplace stockings. The house was a holiday wonderland.
Yet, this year we toned it down a bit and decorated only the main house for a change of pace. Instead of our usual three trees, we chose just one. I immersed myself in more baking than ever, and that included those special cookies from my family’s recipes, the fresh homemade fruitcake, and a loaf of traditional date nut bread. I worked on the dinner menus, mostly to ensure I had all the ingredients for something special. Best Friend and I decided upon which restaurants to visit, and I prepared all those appetizing homemade hors d’oeurves that I enjoy creating during this season.
We celebrated Chanukah, particularly as an homage to our ancestors and to augment our spiritual lives. Christmas Eve dinner was simple – a glass of Mogen David wine and a simple fare of Shrimp Scampi on vermicelli with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots. Our special dessert was sliced homemade fruitcake. On Christmas Day, we enjoyed cocktails and presented our fresh homemade hors d’oeurves.
Part of our festivities this year included writing out our Christmas cards and including short notes with them, as appropriate. This year was a little bit daunting, only in that we decided to send cards and notes to just about everyone we know. Therefore, instead of working only one evening on them near the warm and crackling fireplace and a glass of bourbon eggnog sprinkled with nutmeg on the table, we instead spread out the writing project over several evenings.
Festivities don’t always need to be something spectacular at the coliseum that costs an arm and a leg, so to speak. Best Friend and I attended the tree lighting in our town. We went to the boat parade where we saw a lone boat where Santa rang his bell. We attended a music concert in a nearby town. On the Homefront at The Oasis, we are watching those extraordinary (and some corny) old Christmas movies and listen to great old Christmas carols. During this season, I also focused my reading to include old holiday-themed stories and poems. We didn’t do as much as we normally do this season, since I was under the weather for several days.
It might seem like a lot of activity, nonetheless, but for us, it is a welcomed fact of our life, and we adjust everything accordingly, if needed. Every day during the Christmas-Chanukah-New Year’s season can be – and should be – festive, fun, and peaceful.
Now that the religious holidays of the season are past, we are now focusing on celebrating the incoming new year. We both have traditions we follow from our younger years, and in my next essay on our festivities, I will outline them for your reading enjoyment.
For New Year’s Eve, we opted out of celebrating at our neighborhood diner. At a cost of $65 per person, and their menu quality greatly lacking (we discovered none is freshly made but rather, processed frozen ready-made meals from a large food production corporation) and last year’s fiasco, we are turned off forever from their faux five-star greasy spoon approach.
For our New Year’s Eve cocktail party, we prepared an assortment of hors d’oeurves, canapés, spreads, dips, and desserts. Some of our creations included recreating my sister’s hot artichoke dip, simple cream cheese and pickle pinwheels, my spicy frijoles con jalapeño dip with corn tortilla chips, celery and cream cheese sprinkled with paprika, olives, cherry tomatoes, deviled eggs, and homemade cookies. We enjoyed wine from our local winery that has become a favorite of ours. We played classic and calming music in the background as we enjoyed the evening’s festivities.
At midnight, we greeted the new year with all the hope and positivity that we all deserve.
The next day, we partook in our yearly traditions of welcoming the new year by setting the stages for good prosperity and luck. Best Friend enjoyed a hot bowl of fresh black-eyed peas with bacon and onion pieces. I savored a few pieces of cold pickled śledź – that’s herring!
Insofar as resolutions for the new year go, yes, I made a few, and they are ones that I can reach. I believe that if one is inclined towards making resolutions, they should be realistic, with just the right amount of struggle to make the goals worthwhile when they’re reached.
This new year holds many promises for Best Friend and me. We have many activities already planned, and I will be sharing them periodically as essays here on this site.
Make your holiday season, your life, and the new year festive, with consideration and respect towards others, for that all helps for a better world.
Wishing you prosperity, good health, and true peace within.
Make your holiday season and new year festive.
Lady Susan Marie Molloy
©2022 The Oasis at Four Queen Palms