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  • Writer's pictureMona Elyafi

How to Spend Christmas Alone … Go Big & Stay Home With a bottle of Dom Pérignon!

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year and my favorite holiday EVER.

Bright lights everywhere, decorated trees in homes, the smell of hot cocoa, marshmallow, sugar cookies and wood burning fireplace, Holiday gift shopping madness, binge-watching hallmark Christmas movies, the sound of traditional Christmas songs and carols playing on the radio. There are so many precious ingredients that make this festive season so unique and wonderful but the one thing that makes it truly special year after year is our mother.

Ever since I was a little girl my fondest memories take place on Christmas.

Our family would meet at my grandparents’ house and both my mom and grandmother would work in tandem to prepare the most decadent Christmas dinner ever.

Our Christmas celebration was always a two-day affair, starting on Christmas Eve with our traditional gourmet family dinner followed by the highly anticipated unwrapping of gifts at midnight, and ending on Christmas day with another lavish gastronomic Christmas feast consisting of a conventional homemade Lebanese lunch. There was laughter, dancing, singing, eating, smiling, pure happiness and love.

And beyond all the shenanigans my family would do to keep my older brother and I distracted so Santa (they) could drop all the gifts under the tree, what made it all magic was my mom and grandparents. My parents had some awesome tricks up their sleeves so much so that I believed in Santa until I was eleven years old. The effort they put in to make me feel special and make me BELIEVE has forever left an indelible impression in my heart. To this day my face lights up when I think about it.

One of my favorite quotes about Christmas is from Erma Bombeck who wrote:

“There's nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”

But as I am just now finding out, there’s another thing that is terribly sadder than not being a child on Christmas day and that is to be motherless. Mom was the one who not only made Christmas be the most wonderful time of the year, but she also made every day so extra special. She truly was the heart of the family and the heart of the Holiday Season.

Christmas forever has mom’s name written all over it.

But how can Christmas retain all its magic when the magician is gone?

How do you go home for the holidays when there’s no “home” to go to anymore?

2022 has been a very difficult year to say the least.

Nothing is more crushing than losing a mother. And as Christmas is nearing, I am left with mixed emotions and a whole lot of apprehension. But above it all, I am left with a heart utterly broken knowing that I will be spending this special time of the year without her in this world.

This is not only going to be my first Christmas since her passing but as well my first Christmas alone without my family. Not that I necessarily want to dwell and wallow in my own self-pity party, but It’s hard not to get depressed. Everywhere I look I am bombarded with images of happy families and/or sentimental Christmas commercials about coming home for the Holidays for some quality family time.

I don’t have the heart to celebrate but I feel I need to pay homage to my mom’s Christmas legacy. Culture and traditions are all too quickly forgotten nowadays.

Nobody gets dressed up on Christmas anymore just like no one sends handwritten Christmas cards as well. Yet, it’s important to hold on to what really matters.

My friend Suzy (who also lost her mom this year) recently reminded me that this season is all about love and most importantly about seeing the beauty in the little things.

My “little thing” is my 15+ year old rescued Westie, Georgie, and I am so grateful that this year I’ll get to spend Christmas alone with him. Since he came into my life in 2008, he has been providing me such immense joy and unconditional love, I can’t ever match it up. All I can do now that he is in his senior years is to be there for him and help him as he’s continuously been helping me.

It’s impossible for me to think about the holiday spirit and not see my mom’s love in it.

Maybe this year I can once again be transported back to Christmas as a child?

So, I’m spending Christmas solo but here’s what I’m going to do:

GO BIG AND STAY HOME, ALONE … with a bottle of the ultimate French elixir, CHAMPAGNE!

Champagne is of course key to celebrate Christmas in style!

After all, it is the most polarizing drink of the season.

But for me, more than that, it is a symbol of Christmas filled with fond memories of my childhood because Champagne was the one faithful and consistent guest present at every Christmas … so was food!

Each traditional Christmas menu in my family was a multi-course dinner affair French-Lebanese style! But for the sake of keeping it chic and simple (as in no stove-cooking involved), I plan on treating myself to a delectable mezze selections with inspiration from mom’s timeless culinary favorites - paired with the perfect bottle of champagne bien sûr!

Covering the savory side of Christmas dinner, it’s such a treat to indulge in little bites of delight with a classic Lebanese mezze (appetizers). A culinary experience of its own, a mezze dinner is a real winner when it comes to dining solo. A selection of small dishes that run the gamut of diet preferences offering a wide palette of plates that are healthy, tasty, rich in flavors and spices, and exquisitely delicious. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, you absolutely get the best of all tastes without being stuck with one piéce de resistance.

Some of my mom’s homemade signature plates which will be on my table include Hummus, Labneh, Baba Ganoush, Tabouleh, Soujok, Foul Moudamas, Kibbe Nayeh, Kibbeh Sanieh, Fattouch, and Manakish, among many others.

A perfect cuisine oozing that inimitable Lebanese warmth and charm my mom exemplified.

Spending the big day with me, myself and I is worth raising a glass for!

And nothing better compliments this Lebanese Mezzeh platter than a bottle of Dom Pérignon.

My choice here is all about the sentimental value attached to the bottle as Dom Pérignon was, for years, the unofficial (official) champagne sponsor of our family Christmas dinners.

But as cliché as it may seem, Moët et Chandon’s revered Tête de Cuvée is the perfect bottle to pop open on Christmas. The history behind the iconic bottle is legendary on many levels.

Dom Pérignon from the Grande Marque House Moët et Chandon was named after a 17th century Benedictine monk who became the cellar master of Hautvillers circa 1668.

While Dom Pérignon is not the father of Champagne as too often mistakenly accredited, his legacy to the champagne and wine world is far reaching. He pioneered the “Golden Rules of winemaking” and spearheaded many of the advancements in the champagne making process and in the art of bottling, which are still used today. Some of his notable contributions include forging away the technique used to make white wine from red grapes and developing the concept of blending grapes to make a superior quality wine.

The first vintage that was produced was 1921 and made available to buy in 1936.

While crafted under the Moët et Chandon marquee, the prestige cuvée owes its auspicious beginnings to Eugene Mercier, founder of Champagne Mercier. Up until 1927, the name Dom Pérignon was the registered trademark of Eugene Mercier. It was later gifted to Moët as a wedding present when Francine Durant-Mercier married Paul Chandon.

The man behind the luxury Dom Pérignon label is count and military officer, Robert Jean-de Vogué who founded the CIVC - the Champagne industry governing body - in 1941.

De Vogué took a gamble in 1936 when, on the heels of the Great Depression, he launched the first ever commercial release of a Tête de Cuvée. He defied the odds by creating a new champagne that would embody the very definition of prestige and luxury commanding a higher price. But his foresight paid off. Today, Dom Pérignon is undisputedly one of the most recognizable, sought-after, high-end, and historic Prestige Cuvée.

Just like my mom’s legacy, the history of Dom Pérignon is deeply rooted in tradition.

“Come quickly I am tasting the stars,” quipped Dom Pérignon.

Christmas was the manifestation of my one precious star - the reason was the season.

The magic of Christmas was ... mom!

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