Scented Advent, December 20

Scented Advent, December 20

Okay, I didn’t choose an unknown scent today for Advent. I confess. I knew I was going to have a tough day at work (I’ve been back for less than a week) and some difficult conversations, so I pulled out my fragrance armor: Chanel No. 19, the green witch herself. If you want to read my thoughts on it, please click on the link and it will take you to a “Scent Semantics” post from September, when I wrote about No. 19 at some length.

Elphaba and Glinda from "Wicked"
Stars of “Wicked” production in Boston; image from the Lowell Sun

I’m something of a “goody two-shoes” so one might think I would identify more with the character on the left. But as we learn from “Wicked”, Glinda the Good isn’t as good as she appeared; and Elphaba isn’t as bad as she appeared. But Elphaba puts up a formidable facade, and that’s what I needed today. I think I emerged unscathed.

And you know, I always remember what a long-ago boss told me (TBH, I didn’t like him much, but he did occasionally have some good insights). He had been an airline executive in his earlier career, and he said more than once, “It’s been a good day at the office when no plane has crashed.” He’s right. No planes crashed, or were at risk, in my job today. Onward to the holidays!

Two of my three kids are home for the holidays, yay! One is still in college, so he’ll be with us well into January. The other is fully independent, but arrived today and will stay at least through Boxing Day. The third, another fully independent young adult, will arrive on Thursday. It’s really great to have them home, even just for a short while; they make us laugh. We will go to a friend and neighbor’s house on Thursday evening for an informal holiday party in their backyard, which will really put me in the holiday spirit. I’ll get back on track with the Guerlain samples tomorrow!

Meanwhile, I am mulling over what scent(s) I want to wear on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. I do have Caron’s Nuit de Noel, always a good option. I really like the gingerbread accord and spices in ELDO’s Like This. I also have a set of small sizes of Jo Malone’s special Christmas scents, like Orange Bitters and White Moss & Snowdrop. Fille en Aiguilles would be suitable, as well as Nuit Étoilèes, if I want evergreen vibes. Any suggestions for those three occasions? What will you wear?

A Fragrant Christmas Eve

A Fragrant Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate! That includes this household, and the air is full of festive fragrances, starting with the fresh balsam Christmas tree and wreaths on the front of the house. My oldest daughter baked a model of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in gingerbread (!!) for a local Shakespeare theater, using Mary Berry’s recipe from the Great British Baking Show, with extra ginger for her ginger-loving mother (me); its scent is still wafting through the house from its place of honor in our dining room.

Gingerbread model of Shakespeare's Globe Theater

Shakespeare’s Globe in gingerbread, on display in theater lobby

Soon, I will set up the slow cooker with our annual Christmas Eve dinner: a Greek stew called “stifado”, which combines lamb or beef with red wine, spices like cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, onions, tomatoes, and currants. We began using this recipe in the days when we went to two consecutive afternoon services on Christmas Eve because our three children were in two different choirs at church, singing in different services. We could leave the slow cooker to do its work, and when we came home, dinner was ready for hungry kids and the whole house smelled like red wine, fruit, and spices. Then there’s the scent of mulled cider (real cider, thank you, not the clear apple juice that gets labelled as cider during the holidays; the non-alcoholic kind we used to buy from a local orchard when I was a child).

Hot mulled cider, Food Network recipe by Ina Garten

Ina Garten’s Hot Mulled Cider

Add to those the fragrance of scented candles and wax melts, according to our mood, and the paperwhite narcissi in a pot, given to us every year by a gardening friend, and each room of the house has its own perfume. Somehow, they don’t clash. I haven’t yet tried the candle labeled “White Balsam”, but it sounds delectable: vanilla and mint combined with balsam fir. And of course, I still haven’t decided which of my many personal fragrances to wear today and tonight! I plan to make the most out of the day, fragrance-wise; I’ll choose one to wear until we get dressed for afternoon church (thankfully, we now attend only one service, although I actually didn’t mind unplugging from the world and attending two in a row); one for church; and one for when we sit down to a festive family dinner and the rest of the evening.

Dinner place setting of Spode Christmas Rose china

Spode’s Christmas Rose

Decisions, decisions! I now own a bottle of Caron’s Nuit de Noel, so I think that will have to be one of my choices, probably for this evening. Thinking of Goutal’s Nuit Etoilee for church, as it will be dark out when we emerge, but I could go with something based on incense instead, like Tauerville’s Incense Flash. A warm or spicy rose is always a good option, especially as our church is often filled with dark red roses and evergreens at Christmastime and my festive china has Christmas roses (hellebores) on it, so perhaps Aramis’ Calligraphy Rose or David Yurman Limited Edition, which beautifully combines roses with suede, oud, saffron, sandalwood, and a touch of raspberry. I often amp up the roses in my rose-centered fragrances with a dab of Abdul Samad al Qurashi’s Taif Roses, which my husband brought me back from a business trip to Dubai some years ago. Montale’s Intense Cafe is a strong contender for the fragrance I will wear before; it has a beautiful rosy heart, and it is one of the few fragrances I own that has prompted a complete stranger to approach me to ask what it was. On the other hand, I’ve been wearing Jo Malone’s Tudor Rose & Amber a lot lately; it is a beautiful, warm rose, and it lasts much longer than many Jo Malone scents without being intrusive or overwhelming. And then there’s Christmas Day to consider!

What fragrances mean Christmas or other winter festivities to you? Will you wear something special for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Are you hoping for any special fragrance gifts this Christmas?

Christmas perfume gifts