Merry Christmas from Here, There, and Everywhere.

Merry Christmas from here, there, and everywhere, my friends.

Hubby and I played a fantasy Christmas destination game this morning. I asked him where out of all the places we’ve visited over the years would he like to spend Christmas. The places he chose had to be somewhere we’ve already been… just not at Christmas. He didn’t necessarily have to choose his most favourite place in the world. If that were the case we’d be hanging some Christmas lights on the canoe and pushing off for the interior of Algonquin Park. It didn’t have to be a place with snow. And we didn’t have to worry about booking accommodation or flights. This would be pure fantasy. So while he’s thinking about his answers, I’ll go first.

Meet Lenora.

Merry Christmas from Yorkshire, folks.

I loved Yorkshire when we were there in 2005. The small villages, the towns, the stone walls, stone buildings, stone everything it seemed to us. Coming from a country of wood, wood, and more wood… all the stone seemed charming. I’d want to spend Christmas in a stone cottage on the edge of a village. Maybe this one, below, near Rievaulx Abbey.

Maybe our cottage will be high on the North Yorkshire moors where the wind will whip the snow that I know we’ll have against the windows and down the chimney making the flames of our open fire flicker. When we return from our Christmas morning walk, windblown and rosy cheeked, we will smell the turkey roasting in our Aga which somehow we have learned to operate, and Hubby will open the wine while I start the potatoes for Christmas lunch. Maybe we’ll have guests later for tea. We’ll have strong tea, or coffee for non-tea-drinkers, tea cakes toasted on the fire, tiny mince pies (my personal favourite), scones, and Victoria sponge. Perhaps a few friends, who read this blog and live nearby, will drop in. And we’ll loll in front of the fire and chat and laugh until the evening when we decide to open some more wine and eat leftovers for supper.

Or perhaps we can’t make it to Yorkshire. Perhaps the imaginary snow I dreamed up has closed the airports. So instead we rent a car and drive into the Appenines in Italy. We’ll fetch up at the small B&B near Urbino where we stayed in 2018. We’ll eat a beautiful traditional Christmas Eve dinner in the tiny restaurant next door. Fish, stuffed pasta, and lots of amazing goodies. And we’ll even attend Midnight Mass with the owner’s family. I haven’t been to Midnight Mass since I was a child, and I will be charmed. Hubby is, I think, currying favour in hopes of being invited to hunt for truffles on St. Stephens Day, or the day after. He was so disappointed that he didn’t ask about this when we visited here before. On our last morning back in 2018, as we finished up our breakfast and were paying our bill, the owner’s daughter said it was too bad we were leaving because Hubby could have gone truffle hunting with her father that morning. He is determined to NOT miss an opportunity again. Ha.

The restaurant at Country House Ca’ Vernaccia, Urbino, Italy

On Christmas Day we’ll bundle up against the cold, go for a walk in the hills, and then eat a hearty picnic lunch provided by the chef. We don’t want to intrude too much on the family’s celebrations. And we awaken early on St. Stephens Day as the sun is rising. Of course it won’t look quite like this October sunrise. Hubby will haul on all his warmest layers for his adventure. And after he leaves, I will enjoy my second cup of coffee in front of the fire with my book. The more we travel, the more things stay the same. Ha.

Sunrise near Urbino, Italy.

One of Hubby’s choices for where he’d like to spend Christmas is in Italy as well. But further south, near Naples. In the tiny village of San Lazzaro, in Agerola. Agerola sits on the plain high above the towns of the Amalfi Coast and, as such, has all the beauty of the Amalfi Coast and none of the crowds. We loved it there.

Hubby thought it might be kind of amazing to attend Christmas services in the beautiful Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata, below. In 2018, as we strolled across the village square after dinner one evening, we heard music coming from the church and so we stood in the doorway listening to an orchestra give a free concert inside the church. It was one of those beautiful serendipitous moments that can happen when one travels. Of course when we’re there for Christmas, we’ll eat every night that we’re able in Ristorante Pizzeria Da Gigino. Gigino makes the very best pizza. But because it’s Christmas and so many restaurants will be closed, we thought we’d stay in self-catered accommodation. We will stock up on goodies, especially the sweet ones from Pasticceria Avitable Mauro across from the church, and fend for ourselves on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Just to be able to wander, see the traditional decorations, and listen to the music will be amazing.

Hubby’s second choice, or maybe it’s his first, is El Chaltén in southern Patagonia in Argentina.

The drive into El Chaltén.

El Chaltén is like a little frontier town. We loved it there on our first visit. This time we will push out the boat as far as accommodation goes. We will book into a luxury boutique hotel for this visit. Our room with have a spectacular view of the mountains. And we will eat all our meals in the onsite restaurant or in one of the local rustic places we so loved the first time we visited. We don’t want to worry, like last time, if the grocery store shelves are stocked. All we want to do is hike and eat and read and hike and eat and read. We’re looking forward to a traditional parilla on Christmas Day. And lots of Malbec. Ha.

So that’s our fantasy Christmas destination list, my friends. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from here, there, and everywhere: from Yorkshire and Urbino and San Lazzaro and El Chaltén. It’s a good list. We had to make some tough choices. I’d still like to add spending Christmas in Dawson City in the Yukon to my list. Imagine, how cosy life must be in a log cabin with only four hours of daylight. Well, for a few days anyway. And Hubby would still like to try Christmas in Australia. But he wasn’t too sure about spending Christmas Day at the beach. That just seems wrong to those of us who are used to having snow this time of year. Well, most years, anyway. We both thought we might like to go back to Mostar, in Bosnia-Herzegovina for the holidays. That would be amazing too, we think.

But, you know, we’re happy to be right here too. Just Hubby and me and Lenora. Our green, needle-y Christmas guest. That’s Lenora below. In her natural habitat at Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm… before we brought her home.

Lenora in her natural habitat.

Lenora is one in a long line of Christmas trees with names. The original was Arthur, our tree back home on the farm one year in the seventies. There’s a bit of a story behind Arthur’s name. If you don’t know it you can read it here.

Hubby and I have carried on the Arthurian tradition. One year there was Boris the chubby, heavy-drinker. And then fiesty Gladys. Another year I named the tree Beulah. Beulah was soft and small and kind of round. Just like my very straight-laced grandmother Burpee. Who would NOT be amused to have a Christmas tree named after her, I fear.

This year our tree is a bit taller than usual. And a bit more slender. And kind of elegant. “Like my great-aunt Lenora,” I said to Hubby. I never met my great-aunt Lenora as far as I can recall. She was my grandfather Sullivan’s sister. She and her husband lived in the States, as did a lot of my Sullivan relatives. But Mum always said she was tall and slender, like Grampy only without the belly. And elegant. And Lenora is such an elegant name, don’t you think? And unlike my grandmother Burpee, I’m sure Aunt Lenora would think having a tree named after her was a hoot. I mean she was my grandfather’s sister. Surely she had his wry sense of humour, and my mum’s sense of fun.

Our 2023 Christmas tree decorated with view of river in background.
Lenora in her Christmas outfit.

This is Hubby and me last night. We were all ready to head out for an evening with old friends when we decided, since we were dressed up a bit, to take a selfie with Lenora. Bit of a scary photo what with Hubby’s face so very close to the camera lens. Ha.

Merry Christmas from here. Woman, man, Christmas tree in background.
Scary Merry Christmas.

But scary Merry Christmas photos aside, Hubby and I hope you have a very un-scary holiday season, whatever holiday you do or do not celebrate. May you be warm… but not too warm. May you have all good things to eat and drink. And may you find joy in the company of whomever brings you joy. Family or otherwise.

I’ll be taking a brief blogging break over the holidays. I plan to read by the fire, see friends, start a new knitting project, and snow-willing even get some skiing in… maybe… fingers crossed.

I’ll see you in the 2024, my friends, with my yearly slow fashion review.

Now, it’s your turn to play the game.

Do you have a fantasy Christmas destination list? Are there any places you’ve visited where you think it would be interesting to spend Christmas? The rules are you must have been there already. And it must be a real place. No Christmases at Longbourn. More’s the pity. Maybe that will be next year’s list.

P.S. Please excuse any errors I may have made about how Italians, or Argentinians, or Yorkshire folk spend Christmas. I tried my best. And I don’t want to step on any cultural sensitivities. 🙂

Vintage Ranch Wagon all ready for Christmas
at Cedar Hill Farm.

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48 thoughts on “Merry Christmas from Here, There, and Everywhere.”

  1. Merry Christmas to you and Stu! Lovely post that I will come back to read and savour again later. For now, we’re already launched on busy Christmas goings-on with family right here at home. But when I have a moment, I’ll happily dream of other Christmases, other places. . .

  2. Merry Christmas Sue and Stu … have fun! relax … and hopefully ski! Like Frances I hope to pop back later with my fantasy destination. Although a cosy cottage on the Yorkshire moors seems tempting and certainly somewhere my Mum always loved to be. My place would definitely need to be snowy, with mountains and a cosy fire!
    Sending love and festive wishes across the miles!
    Rosie x

    1. We just spent a lovely few days in the Texas Hill Country. We headquartered in Boerne and drove to Comfort for antiques and a delicious lunch at High’s, shopped and ate in San Antonio, visited the Museum of the War in the Pacific in Fredericksburg, and enjoyed walking and looking at the festive sites in Boerne. Very enjoyable.

  3. Merry Christmas! Enjoy the holidays!
    Love Lenora!
    What a wonderful idea!
    I would like to spend Christmas in Italy of Austria,doesn’t matter where, as long as it’s cozy,quiet place,warm enough,where I could only walk,read a book,drink a coffee or a tea,doing apsolutely nothing else,which means that food is included
    Dottoressa

  4. Merry Christmas. Being Yorkshire born and bred I’d have to add a couple of ingredients to your tea. Christmas Cake
    (fruitcake) and cheese (Wenslydayle or Cheshire)

  5. This is a good game & it’s got us both day dreaming . I love that you are coming here to North Yorkshire & I’ll definitely be next to you by that fire but don’t expect any snow this year . They are forecasting 15 degrees for us tomorrow , which will be breaking records . It’s tempting to go for somewhere sunny & colourful as we have had a gloomy , stormy winter so far but that wouldn’t feel like Christmas to me . Iceland would certainly have snow . I visited with a good friend who sadly didn’t live to old age so it would be very poignant to visit again . Or maybe Nepal , with the energy of my younger self to walk the village paths in the foothills of the mountains once more ( not too much snow please ) . Max chose Colorado & the Tetons of the US with a hop up to your Waterton National Park to row up & down the lake again . Our only foray into Canada . I pointed out he’d need an ice breaker . Nearer to home , some friends were in Barcelona for the first serious snow in many years & they said it was spectacular to see the Gaudi architecture decorated with snow . But we shall be in my home town of Knaresborough at my sister’s house by the river , which is a pretty little spot . I hope you & all of us gathered here have a great Christmas with lots of peace & goodwill . I’m not so bothered about excitement now .
    Lenora is very elegant & has a perfect backdrop .
    PS Yes Karen , always cheese with christmas cake

  6. Merry Christmas from Yorkshire, where the wind is blowing madly but the temperatures are mild. We once actually had your dream Christmas: a friend let us borrow his cottage deep in a hidden dale near Pickering, North Yorkshire. It had no electricity but did have gas and open fireplaces. We went with friends and so there were eight of us, four adults, four kids. We crammed in, wrapped up and had the best of times. Perfect Christmas tree, bought last minute for £3.50, a wonderful Christmas dinner cooked by candlelight, games, drinks and perfect peace. Even if the house ran with condensation inside and a trip to the loo had to be taken swiftly and with a candle stuck in a wine bottle to light the way. We talk of it often as one of the best we ever spent. May yours be merry and bright.

  7. A very Merry Christmas to you and Stu from New Zealand where it is supposed to be sunny and warm. At the moment it is warm but misty and horribly humid with rain forecast for the big day. Even although I have been here for many years I still find Christmas in summer strange. Along with all the prep for Christmas you are also trying to get everything ready and packed to go camping for your summer holidays.
    A very special Christmas was when we took our three children back to UK to celebrate Christmas and New Year with my family in Scotland before they all left home. They had never had Christmas in winter so were entranced. We had Christmas with one of my cousins and his family and when he came into the dining room carrying a 28lb turkey they were stunned. The room was beautifully decorated and cosy and the table groaned with food. As we ate dessert it started snowing so all the younger members raced out to make snow Angels and have snowball fights. My son, 18 at the time, declared this is what Christmas should be.
    On the same trip we drove from London to Cardiff to visit and aunt and uncle I hadn’t seen in about 20 years. Unfortunately the bridge over the Severn was closed due to ice so we had go right up through the Cotswolds finally arriving after midnight.
    That valley is where I’d love to spend Christmas. Beautiful little villages with cute stone cottages and everywhere covered in snow and lots of twinkling lights . The people in the cottages had left their curtains open so we could see their trees and lights. It looked like something from a postcard. Perhaps one day…

  8. Oh this is a great post. I also have your fantasy of a stone cottage Christmas. And lots of knitting if in Yorkshire (although I never end up knitting at Christmas as I’m too busy lolling and conversing). I do love spending Christmas in Italy, but of course that’s as much about being with loved ones as the traditions (and not the mountains of panettone!), although I make a point of ducking into Midnight Mass.

    I chuckled in recognition at the Urbino choice, as I like that region a great deal. My partner studied at the uni in Urbino many years ago, renting a cottage on a farm where the owner had a truffle hunting dog or two…I have heard many a story. My personal favourite in Italy around Christmas (more after) is Venice, as my partner loves Venice as a result of childhood holidays there. He and I had, before the pandemic, a tradition of going there for a few days after New Year’s and before Carnival. It’s beautiful at that time of year and the tourists used to mostly clear out. Unfortunately it’s not what it once was, mostly ruined by mass tourism. Still gloriously beautiful and artistically inspiring though.

    Enjoy your peaceful holiday!

  9. Good morning and Merry Christmas Sue and Stu! Oh what a fun topic you have given us. I would love to have Christmas at Whistler, skiing in BC and staying in a nice little condo where you can walk to the ski lifts. I’d spend a few days skiing and cooking up a turkey for all of us. (The kids would have to come of course.) My other choice would be Kruger park in South Africa. Waking up early for game drives and having siestas and swimming in the afternoons. Don’t think we could have a turkey there. It would have to be local fare – bobotie and braii. Thank you for this blog. And happy New Year to you both!

  10. I’m living my Christmas fantasy. We’re back in Chicago after 20 years, close to kids and grandkids. Making cookies , decorating the tree. (No name. Never thought of naming a tree). Christmas Eve tonight at our daughter’s home in the city. Stockings! . Tomorrow opening presents at our son’s home in the suburbs. I am so blessed!

  11. Merry Christmas!
    Lots of lovely travel memories to expand on here and imagine Christmas in another location. Cozying up by the fire, books and knitting with a hot beverage sounds just perfect.
    Enjoy your break!

    Leslie
    Hostess of the Humble Bungalow

  12. Merry Christmas! I am not very well traveled, so my choices are limited. I would like to go to the Christmas market in Zagreb and travel the hour or so and go to Christmas mass in my ancestor’s church.

  13. Good morning and Feliz Navidad! I like this game. I would spend Christmas in Mexico City. During my childhood there, I couldn’t wait for the marketplaces to be flush with Christmas candies and handmade decorations. I’d take a stroll through Chapultepec Park, where, during the holiday season, balloon vendors sell giant painted animals made with balloons so big they seem to take up the whole sky. I’d take a drive down the main Avenue, Reforma, modeled after the Champs Elysee, where every building is decorated with lights, and stop into the opulent main cathedral to see the giant nativity scene. I’d end up on Christmas Eve with good friends, making tamales, eating pozole, and drinking good Margaritas. Tomorrow the city will be quiet as everyone gathers with family, the perfect day for a long walk and a good book.

  14. Merry Christmas! Thank you for the journey through fantasy Christmases. I appreciate the reminder to pause, and take the time to let my creative brain wander.

    All the Christmases sound delightful! Such a conundrum to pick one. Last Christmas, we were in Sydney Australia last year visiting family. Yes, bizarre for us. Sun and beaches! Being from Seattle area, I chose to wear all black, as one mostly does here. It was so bloody hot! What I was wearing clung to me so uncomfortably. After the Christmas lunch, we decided to take an Uber to grab a drink at Manly Beach. Accidentally left my black purse in the Uber, but blessedly it was recovered. A Christmas miracle and a story for another time. Peaceful Tidings!

  15. Wow, you guys have been so many amazing places, Sue! It would be just impossible to choose. I have to say, when I see anything about Italy, I have a little pang to visit. It is a place I have wanted to go since I was in my 20s – about two decades ago (cough, cough) – and I’ve never been even though I have gotten so close when in the south of France! Then again, when you talk about and show images of the UK, I also have a yen to visit there, a place I have only been on business long long ago and never been able to explore, especially since my first born Moved over there five years ago and has settled there. Then again, Lenora looks quite lovely – and there is no place like home sometimes! (I love that you have named your trees.)

    Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons, and a wonderful 2024. Cheers, Debra (D.A.)

  16. A very Merry Christmas to you and your Hubby. If I could go anywhere for Christmas I would go back to a little village called Kingsteignton in Devon, England, where I grew up. Christmas was always cold and damp (no snow) but most of the family, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc went for a walk down into the village and along the little road to the copse (a small wood or group of trees for those who don’t speak Brit-talk)😁. On arriving back at our “cottage” the aromas coming from the kitchen and the Christmas carols on the radio made it a very magical time for all, both children and adults. Of course there was always a fire going because we only had fireplaces, no central heat. A very special time.

  17. How fun to dream of spending Christmas in other locales! I watched The Holiday (again) last night. Who doesn’t want to stay in a charming English cottage? Loved Hubbys ideas too- in a valley surrounded by magnificent mountains! The holidays for me are in the Pacific Northwest (USA) which rarely gets snow. Maybe we’ll have some this year? You never know.
    Loved this post.
    Merry Christmas!
    🎄🕊️🙏🏻

  18. Our fantasy Christmas destination would be Vienna. We would listen to an Advent Concert, visit a Christmas market and enjoy a mug of warming punch and a sausage at one of their many stands.

    I’m looking forward to your 2024 slow fashion review Sue.

    Wishing you and Stu a wonderful holiday season.

  19. Merry Christmas Sue, and all the very best in 2024. Been so busy for so long…not a bad thing, but. Wish my hubby could go to the U.K. Would love to do Agatha Christie tours and Jane Austen tours, and walking tours in Scotland and most of all see where my Grandparents were from. But in the meantime home and family for the holidays is a blessing.

  20. We need to go back in time to when my parents and sister in-law were still alive to visit Malta at Christmas. Christmas Eve is the important meal, my sister in-law in Sliema is hosting this year. We begin with drinks on the roof. The five storey monstrosity opposite hasn’t yet been built and we look over the bay, the lights on the fishing boats twinkling as they bob up and down and the beautiful Valletta skyline in the distance. Then downstairs for the feast. Timpana, without it no Maltese feast is complete, Majjal (roast stuffed pork) with roast potatoes, a casserole of vegetables, then pudina, a sort of chocolate bread trifle studded with dried fruit. To finish coffee with almond biscuits and treacle ring. Sister in-law is the best cook. Thus fortified against the cold we all head down the hill to catch the ferry to Valletta, a twenty minute journey. Republic St is busy and looks very festive, arrayed with a tapestry of lights strung overhead between the medieval buildings. We are going to midnight mass at St Johns Co Cathedral. The church is packed but some one in the family knows some one and a couple of rows of seats are reserved for us. We greet aunts and uncles, cousins and more cousins who arrive to join us. Whether or not you are a believer, there is something very moving and satisfying about taking part in a ritual that has been performed in this building for hundreds of years. On Christmas morning we go for a stroll in the bracing wind along The Strand, a promenade that skirts the bay, dodging excited children on brand new bikes, trikes and scooters and the occasional jogger. After a light lunch (by Maltese standards) there are family visits to make and of course church visits to admire presepe, but name your favourite at your peril, it’s seriously competitive.
    Incidentally for anyone wanting to experience a Summer Christmas day in Australia, this was not the year. It was chilly and poured rain all day all down the east coast.

  21. Hi Sue, I really enjoyed reading this post and imagining all the lovely places you mentioned. We had our power restored finally on Christmas Eve after a 7 day power outage, I felt it was a Christmas miracle😊.

    My fantasy Christmas would be enjoyed in the car-free town of Murren, Switzerland in the Berner Oberland. We visited there in Sept 2018 and hiked the North Face Trail which was absolutely beautiful. It was too early (thankfully) for snow on the trail but the mountain peaks were white with snow and as we walked we encountered friendly dairy cows (with bells around their necks )as the trail passed through their pasture. There was a small hut on the trail with outdoor seating and a little icebox with fresh milk, cheese and drinks that operated on the honesty system with a money box and guest book. I imagined how beautiful it would be to visit the area in the winter, especially at Christmas time.

    We would arrive by cable-car and check in to the quaint Eiger Guesthouse. After stowing our bags upstairs in our third floor room with beautiful views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau peaks we would wander down the creaky stairs to the cosy bar/restaurant located on the first floor. The bartender/host Emma would entertain us with stories of the antics of ski teams who stayed at the inn over the years as well as showing us pictures of her native Nazare, Portugal and encouraging us to plan a trip there in the future. We would enjoy a lovely dinner of cheese fondue and rosti. After dinner we would walk to the neighbouring town of Gimmelwald for a drink in the sweet little pub, Pension Gimmelwald with red and white checked curtains and cosy wood fire. After dinner we would take the cable car back to Eiger Guesthouse for a peaceful sleep high in the mountains❤️

    1. Hi Denise … it is so beautiful at this time of year. This area, in the mountains is definitely my happy place and you’ve described it all so perfectly!
      I haven’t stayed at the Eiger Guesthouse but I’ve enjoyed a delicious fondue there, sitting outside in the Winter and Summer sunshine on a few occasions!
      I’ve visited Pension Gimmelwald too! So picturesque.
      Thanks so much for sharing this and I’m so glad that you received your Christmas Miracle!
      Rosie

  22. Hi Sue, I really enjoyed reading all the comments from your blog. It got me feeling quite nostalgic about past Christmas in Ireland. We have spent the last 8 years in Spain celebrating Christmas. This year we spent Christmas in a small hamlet in the mountains of ALMERIA. While I thoroughly enjoyed the 5 days we spent in La Mela, I really missed listening to the Carols from Kings College Cambridge and straight after that Service, listening to Carols from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. As there was no tv or radio I had to contend myself with listening to Christmas jingles on my iPad! So, for me I hasten to add, Christmas is all about the glorious music from these wonderful Cathedrals at this time. To bring me back to your original question….where would we like to spend Christmas….my answer is my native land, Ireland, but just for for the festive few days, then hop on the airplane back to sunny Spain!

  23. Sue,
    I think you follow Susan, who has the blog Une femme d’un a certain age” (or something like that.) I have not seen a blog from her in ages and I can’t open a few past ones I never read. The message is cannot download from the server. Do you know if she stopped posting? Or perhaps is my computer acting up? And on the same subject, the last blog from you is this Christmas one. Am I missing others? Thank you for a response. I hate to think I am missing out on you two! I hope you are both in good health! Happy new year! Jeanne

    1. Hi Jeanne, I think something must be wrong at your end. Sue/Une Femme has had quite recent posts. I think I read one on Wednesday. And I took a hiatus over Christmas but published three posts since the new year. Not being a tech person, I can only recommend doing all the usual things like clearing your browser cache/history etc etc. Better to ask someone to help. Especially if your computer is old. The older ones don’t have the capacity to run some of the new image-heavy posts. Good luck.
      Sue
      P.S. Thanks for reaching out to ask. 🙂

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