A Final Word Before Christmas


One or two more sleeps? Well that depends, if you are French, then it is one as the festivities commence the evening of the 24th when the big meal with family is traditionally enjoyed and gifts are shared and opened into the early hours of the morning. However, we still follow our British tradition of celebrating on the 25th and  with much mounting excitement our children are counting down the hours.

Christmas can be a difficult time of year, what should be a wonderful holiday for family and friends can often turn into anything but. There are gifts to be purchased, houses to decorate, dishes to prepare, the list is endless and even for the most organised person it can suddenly become incredible stressful. An overload of just too many things going on all at once. Plus there seems to be a need to have the best dressed tree, the coolest presents and the chicest wrapping paper.

Luckily I am not into any of that. For me, it’s simply a time for family, a time to cherish those around us and a time to be extremely grateful for what we have. Christmas for me brings back the most fabulous childhood memories and I try to recreate these for my own children, I want them to look back in future decades and also have delightful stories to tell their own children.

Luckily I am not a stressful person, but organising ‘the big day’ for a family of 7 can take some preparation and when it comes down the to the Santa Claus part, trust me it takes almost military like organisational skills. There is nothing simple about Santa getting it right for all five children all in secret!

I am not one to tell you or anyone else what to do or how to spend your days, but I do have one small message, just relax and enjoy yourselves. What isn’t done, won’t be missed, and honestly a tree decorated with memories and presents purchased with love are by far the best.

Now the holidays have begun, all five children are here under the same roof, it’s a time for hearty warm family meals.


There’s still plenty of baking to be done and even more mouths to feed but with some festive music playing and plenty of hands to help it’s actually more like fun than work.


I am still adding last minute decorations, I suddenly get an idea; the kitchen window needs an evergreen garland, and out I go to the garden, trug in hand once more, to get cutting!


I am a great one for lists, occasionally on my phone but also the old fashioned way, with pen and paper, slowly things are getting crossed off and there isn’t much left to do.


Perhaps it is time to take advantage of some decent weather at last and unseasonably warm days and get out walking with the dogs


and as evening turns to night and darkness falls, a glass of wine shared around a roaring fire. This to me is what makes for a wonderful Christmas.


Just sit back, relax and have a very Happy Holidays. xxx

66 thoughts on “A Final Word Before Christmas

  1. Merry CHRISTMAS to all of you…for the first time in 40 years we are not doing Christmas..we are going to our daughter’s…

  2. What a lovely post! And a great reminder to all of your readers (and ALL of the other bloggers out there), that Christmas is not a competition. Merry Christmas!!!!

  3. Your home looks so lovely, I do think we put ourselves under such pressure at Christmas time, feeling that everything should be perfect. I have friends who don’t actually enjoy Xmas because they are so exhausted and stressed. It’s a time for family to spend time with each other, and it doesn’t matter if you have forgotten the mince pies or sprouts, it’s being together that matters.
    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas Susan.

    1. We had such a fabulous relaxing Christmas, there was plenty that wasn’t perfect, but who cares, the laughter was more than perfect. wishing you a very happy and healthy New Year xx

  4. Our family Christmas was yesterday, bolognese sauce and pasta and salad and home made bread. Our 12 year old grandson made pumpkin pies with the help of his mom. Dinner was potluck with everyone contributing. Afterwards we opened gifts, clothes for the pre teen and clothes and crafts for the artsy 6 year old granddaughter. Baskets filled with pumpkin bread and jams and nuts and chocolates for the three families. And our favorite gifts, donations to charity in our names. The best gifts we get all year. Today, a festive waffle breakfast (I know in Europe, waffles are an afternoon snack) and after the Sunday paper, off to see Mary Poppins. Christmas Eve, we’ll host friends for wine in front of the fireplace and then off to a festive dinner. Christmas Day is quieter with a few more gifts to open in front of the fire and a mid afternoon final feast. The next day, back to the gym.

    1. Patricia; this, to me, is a 5* comment! It has I want to see…. and the last sentence just killed me!!! I have to confess I’m a tad jealous for you having seen Mary Poppins (well you only might go to see it but you know what I mean…)! This and Bohemian Rhapsody are firmly on the top of my wishlist to watch….
      Merry, cheery, festive days to you and yours!

      1. I concur with Kiki’s comment. Lovely, Patricia! The description of the lovely country French Christmas is cozy and peaceful. Thank you for sharing your family holiday.
        (An aside: love the Robin mug!)

  5. Merry Christmas! I hope you enjoy every single minute! Here at FrenchGardenHouse, I’m ready. Gifts under the tree, the house almost ready with a few simple white flowers here and there to come, bowls of fruit as an extra festive decoration. I tend to keep decorating to a minimum with fresh greens, flowers and fruit playing the starring role.

    Wishing you and your precious family beautiful days together around the table and the fire, laughing, playing games, and enjoying each other’s company. Xoxo Lidy

  6. Your blog makes so much sense- thank you again for reminding me what Christmas is all about. A time of sharing and giving with family and friends, and of gratitude for what we already have, and not for what we may receive. I also remember those who may be spending this time alone, and am thankful that I am not.
    Christmas greetings and blessings to you and your family from a hot and sunny South Africa!

  7. Thank you for this lovely post and all your previous ones! Yours is such a beautiful blog. By the way, where did you get that gorgeous soup plate? It’s fantastic!

  8. I’m the same as you Susan; decorations up to the very last minute and beyond….. This lunch hour I bought two ‘bouquets’ of red-berried holly and fir branches, just to lay them on the parquet…. because it smells so lovely and the berries are so cheerful (already stood on them, falling off the branches, too!!!! – less cheerful)
    Christmas used to be stressful for me – but no longer, for more than 20 years now – I am so blessed!!! Now, as I am writing to you instead of doing my next lot of cards, I confess openly that all my friends know that the greetings may arrive at ANY time before EASTER – it takes off a lot of stress of this writer! 😉
    We’re studying the possibilities of going away for a few days again sometime in the nearer future (any time from Feb onwards really)…. that calms me down quite a bit! But before it’s much miles to see families, eat too much, drink more than usual, coming back, doing things here (and there)…. but we both have a full week just to ourselves – early January! We will be LAZY and have breakfast whenever we’re ready for it, eat in the middle of the afternoon or night, we may read, phone, take walks or not…. it’s all ours – except a few invitations of neighbours and ‘petits cafés et thés’ with friends. There is enough cake, chocs & stuff to go round and I’m nearly owning my own tea shop too….
    Have all of you seven, plus the ménagerie, plus all your readers – a wonderful, stress-free (ha ha), cool or hot CHRISTMAS with plenty of music and songs, good books/films/whatever pleases you, and go with confidence into the brand new and fresh from the oven NEW YEAR. Sending love, kisses and mulled wine – Kiki 🙂

      1. Please do; I have my own visitors to manage and I can’t do that before I haven’t got your confirmation. The whole of UK wants to come again before we leave….. (no buyer at the horizon mind you but they’ll all don’t want to miss their last chance!!!) 😉

  9. Susan, it all looks absolutely beautiful and very peaceful. Our family will all be gathering at our house and we open presents on Christmas Eve. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas from here in sunny Florida.

  10. Merriest of Christmases from New Jersey, where we are visiting our son, daughter-in-law, and grand-dog. Just now a fire truck went down their street, siren blaring, stopping now and then so the Santa on the trailer being pulled by the fire truck could hand out candy to the children on the street.
    The gifts are wrapped, but we still have to decorate the tree! No one seems to be worrying about anything. We’ll have gift-opening tomorrow, family for dinner Christmas night. And time to watch lots of fun stuff on TV and to play “Christmas Trivia.” What’s your favorite Christmas movie? Cheers to all of your family, Susan, and your readers!

  11. Whichever way you look it is a lot of work for one day. This year we’re just the two of us on the day and I am so looking forward to it after years and years of organisiing Xmas .We have celebrated earlier in the month with family and friends so I am quite relaxed. Happy Xmas to you and yours😍🌲

    1. You are right, but I tend to think of it as more than just one day, we use the whole time that the children are at home all together as a time of celebration. We have to work as well obviously but in the evenings it still feels festive right up until tomorrow evening! xx

  12. We are bound to have a hot Christmas Day in South Africa and may spend part of the day half submerged in the swimming pool. Food is adapted for the climate and the day starts early while it is cool. May all who read this have an enjoyable day.

    1. I have had plenty of hot Christmas’s too in both Florida and New Zealand, it takes some adjusting to, but is just as enjoyable, wishing you a very happy and healthy New Year xx

  13. Thank you for sharing your beautiful Christmastime with us. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all seven of you and your pets, Leslie in Oregon and family

  14. Joyeux Noël Susan et Roddy ! C’ est toujours un plaisir de lire votre blog qui donne un peu de bonheur à tous vos lecteurs dans ce monde troublé.// Merry Christmas Susan and Roddy! It is Always a great pleasure to read you over your blog that give a little piece of happiness for all your followers in this world so distrurbing.A special word to Gigi to say how I am amaze at this technical and physical progress at Tennis.Surely a future great force in the Tennis world. Merry Christmas to all your family.

    1. Merci beaucoup, it is always such a pleasure to share posts on the blog. Gigi’s tennis is going from strength to strength, she has just had a fabulous few weeks, and then broke her wrist ice skating on the 30th! But she is already back at fitness training and should start playing again on Monday, it was her left wrist fortunately! Hope you had a lovely Christmas and wishing you a very Happy and Healthy 2019 xx

      1. What a pity! I wish a good recovery to Gigi and a quick return to the Tennis courts. Come on Gigi and as you often say : never give up !

  15. Merry Christmas to you!! And Happy New Year!!
    At Thanksgiving I gave myself the gift of time, and so doing, gave a calm and less harried Mom…everyone enjoyed themselves more. I have carried that into Christmas, because family and friends are what it is all about anyway! I haven’t stressed about a thing…wrapped as gifts came in and took time to be available and have spent many moments just being cozy with family. That in itself has been a gift! You are right…stressing about everything isn’t what it is about….
    As it is now Christmas Eve…we will get together and share a meal and then wait for tomorrow for gifts and our big feast.
    I pray everyone has a chance to see what peace it is to just enjoy the moment and not stress…that is what the season is all about.
    Thank you for you post….

    1. Very very wise words Nancy, I hope a few more people did realise it is not a competition and it is about family, friendship, love and peace, not how perfect everything is. wishing you a very happy and healthy New Year xx

  16. Susan, we have not be around for much of the last part of this year, and we never made it to France at all for various reasons, but all is now good and we wish you and your wonderful family, and your wonderful blog, a very happy and prosperous New Year! And to be frank, London is so commercialised at Christmas we wonder if we could come and stay with you next year 🙂 (just kidding, but the sentiment is true – your house is simply stunning)

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