With parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting, and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago, there is no denying the sparkle of electricity that pervades the air in December. This tingle of anticipation has been baked in from childhood, and even as adults juggling holiday joy with the hustle and bustle of holiday stress, that glimmering sense of excitement can’t be truly extinguished. In the Christian calendar, it is the season of Advent, the Latin root of which means “coming,” where we wait with childlike eagerness to celebrate the birth of Christ, “come to make us whole.”
In this issue, we are not short on topics to help you celebrate the holidays in whatever manner and tradition your family holds dear. One of my favorite elements of the season is decorating, especially with greenery. An Old World elegance and simplicity comes with bringing evergreen leaves inside during the bleak midwinter. It is thus no surprise that one of my favorite pieces in this issue is Melanie Crawford’s comprehensive treatment of the subject on page 94, full of inspiration to spruce up every corner of your home with a wide variety of holiday boughs. Warren Hughes offers a more lasting variation with her story on the latest trends in houseplants and savvy ideas to use them in festooning the home on page 60.
We are very excited to feature Elyse and Drew Theodore’s stunning remodel for our Christmas home showcase this year, so also be sure to peruse that spread starting on page 84 for ideas in your own home … and if it is with a touch of envy, know that is only to be expected! Springdale Hall in Camden has a long tradition of decking the halls to the fullest, and we have this feast for the eyes covered on page 66.
The point of all that decorating is certainly not to just sit at home and admire it, so whip out the calendar and plan a party! Elizabeth and Adam Sheehan ring in the season with a casual chili party every year, so glean some entertaining tips as well as tasty chili recipes from them on page 78. If you are an especially extroverted host who doesn’t want your guests to leave, you may want to experiment with the Candy Cane Vodka infusion recipes on page 24 for the best way to spread Christmas cheer (hint: no one wants you to sing loud for all to hear). The first time I ever saw chestnuts roasting on an open fire was when I studied abroad, so to bring that old winter tradition back home, turn to page 22. And on page 28, learn more about the quintessential holiday herb, sage, with its warm, earthy aroma and bold taste with notes of pine, eucalyptus, camphor, mild citrus, and rosemary.
Ultimately, the decorating, cooking, and entertaining all come together to form the traditions that make the holidays so special year after year. The old traditions of Christmas past, upon which Jim Casada nostalgically reflects on page 54, have largely given way to newer ones, like the Elf on the Shelf craze (see page 72), but that is one of the many things that makes the season so special — it is a time to celebrate the old and the new, with the young and the old joining together to form shared, treasured memories.