Lifestyle

Marianne Helou

Tell us about Christmas time at your home.
Christmas is one of our favorite family holidays, one that has a lot of sentimental value. We spend Christmas Eve and also celebrate Christmas day together. I am in charge of decorations, and I absolutely love putting up a big Christmas tree; my kids do lend a helping hand, but I do most of the work – it takes me about a whole day to decorate the tree. I give it plenty of time and attention because my children love it, and it really is the source of holiday spirit in my home; it’s the only Christmas decoration I put up, along with the nativity scene of course. Christmas decorations go up early in our home, the beginning of December, because the fun and the excitement of the Christmas holiday is in the weeks of preparation before the day itself. I have three kids Laura (20), Alexandra (17), and Pierre (14), they love Christmas and it is such a pleasure to make it all the more fun and meaningful for them. They may be growing up, but they will always remain children in my eyes. 
 
How do you select themes and ornaments? 
Every year before the holiday, I fly to Paris and of course, during my trip, I shop around and get ideas on how to decorate the house; I keep an eye on what is new and trendy, and the colors that are in fashion for the season. I also love shopping for decorations and ornaments in Beirut because there are so many beautiful and tasteful options and varieties available every year.  I change colors without hesitation, for instance a couple of years ago, I changed all my decorations to blue and gold and I loved it! I think it’s more original than the traditional red and green that you find everywhere. To keep things exciting, I try to change something every year; I move or add items to my existing decorations. At the moment I am focusing on crystal decorations and hand-made glass, which I find very attractive. The color for this year is gold, which perfectly matches my home. I love the way it sparkles at night when the chimney is on, and the Christmas tree is lit, it just creates a beautiful and warm atmosphere. 
 
Do you prefer natural or artificial trees?
I use an artificial green tree. I don’t like the idea of cutting and sacrificing a natural tree just to satisfy my own pleasure. It’s against my beliefs and my love for nature. 
 
Do you have any particular family traditions?
We spend the holidays with my husband’s family, specially his cousins, who are very close to us. Every year, we meet up, the extended family, about 40 to 50 of us, depending on who’s in town, and dine together on Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, the family along with very close friends gets together for lunch. 
 
What does Christmas lunch traditionally consist of?
Turkey is our traditional dish. We also savor the traditional Choucroute, Foie Gras, and for dessert it’s always the Mont Blanc cake. Some of our friends go overboard and bring the traditional pudding dessert with them from London.  
 
What does the spirit of the Christmas holiday mean to you?
For me, this holiday is not to be missed. It’s the holiday that you need to live for the kids and with the kids first. It’s the time of joy and happiness, the time to forget your worries and troubles and enjoy the moments with your family and close friends. It is about getting together over lunch or dinner, exchanging gifts…it’s just the best holiday. 
 
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