At Home with May Ogden-Smith on Christmas
December 15, 2010
How do you typically spend Christmas every year?
Christmas is spent with the family. Everybody gets together; my brothers, my children, my grandchildren (I have five granddaughters), and even cousins. Everyone comes over and it’s a big gathering of around 50 people. Sometimes I invite very close friends whose families are not in Lebanon on Christmas, and they join us to have dinner and celebrate. We open our gifts and we do try to make it to midnight mass, if not, we go to church on Christmas day instead.
Do you have any special Christmas traditions?
With the growing number of kids in the family, we work hard on entertaining them. I always bring Santa, who is usually a friend of the family, to give them gifts and take photos with them. I even bring people to play Christmas songs and sing Christmas carols. There is something really special that I like to do; every year, I compile Christmas songs and make a souvenir CD for the family. I change and vary the theme every year; it’s a little gift that everyone enjoys a great deal.
How do you decorate your home?
I decorate my tree very early, at least a month before Christmas. We have a lot of decorations, and it’s quite elaborate as every floor of my home is decorated in a different color, so it’s usually varied and not particularly traditional. For instance, one of the floors is decorated in red, another in pink, another in blue, and for the fourth floor, I use gold. One of my daughter’s rooms is decorated in purple with big elves. So, I try to incorporate all the colors in my home – it is very colorful! The main tree is in traditional green and red however, every year I buy something new to add to it, either from London or the US; I also buy a lot from the Chronic Care Center. I used to have only natural trees, but because I decorate early, I have to use artificial trees so that they can last. One of my favorite things is having my grandchildren participate in decorating the tree; of course, this is not always easy! My granddaughter Maya, in particular, loves to help me with the decorations.
What do you cook for Christmas?
It’s always turkey. I cook most of the Christmas feast at home, and for dessert we have the Mont Blanc cake. The turkey recipe is absolutely delicious and was passed down to me from my mother; it has an English stuffing with chestnuts and sausage meat. The family loves the Christmas dinner and is always looking forward to this particular holiday; they don’t ever want to spend Christmas away from home. Christmas, for us, is truly a time for family and friends, for the enjoyment of these special bonds, and the sharing of good times and good food!