The Return of Tiny Secret Festive Season; Thirty-Four Weeks In

Last Thursday, in a single adrenaline-fuelled afternoon, I finished my Christmas shopping. I do most of my shopping online, but there are always a few things that I want to physically look at, hence last Thursday’s trip to the mall.

The mall, you guys. The mall. One thing I will say about the mall is that Covid safety precautions are being followed to a tee, from social distancing to mask-wearing to extra cleaning to hand sanitizing stations everywhere. I had to sanitize my hands each time I entered a store, RIP my skin. So, I congratulate the mall and all my fellow Thursday afternoon mall-goers for following the rules and embracing the new protocols. I only saw ONE elderly woman with a mask under her nose, which is a big improvement over any other time I have been out in public.

However, it’s still the mall. I started off in a Let’s Fucking Go kind of mood, all energized and excited because, in the very first store I found the exact perfect gift for my husband’s sister. I am not a person for whom Gift-Giving is my Love Language, but I swear I got a little burst of serotonin when I obtained the item.

I was energetic, happy, and chatty for the first hour, but by the time I got to my last stop, The Bay – what IS IT with The Bay, you guys, why is it always so dreadful and why do I continue to shop there – I was definitely flagging. I was sweltering in my mask, winter coat, and boots, loaded down with bags, and dying for a drink of water when I got to the checkout and the person in front of me was having a very long discussion with the cashier about a coupon, and why couldn’t it be used in this situation, and okay, let’s put everything on separate bills so it could, and I GET IT, WE ALL WANT TO SAVE MONEY BUT WHY ARE THERE ONLY THREE TILLS OPEN FOR THIS ENTIRE GIANT DEPARTMENT STORE.

Anyway. Eventually I was back in the parking lot, sitting in my car just staring out the window for a good five minutes before I put on my seat belt and drove home.

Once I got home, with all my shopping in the rearview mirror, I immediately became festive-feeling and swapped out all my hand soaps for ones that are named Winter Candy Apple and Frosted Coconut Snowball, so the Tiny Secret Festive Season has begun! My grocery notepad has been exchanged for a festive-themed one, on November 1 I put on my Christmas bracelet and brought out my red-plaid pajamas, and I’ve been using Vanilla Candy Cane body butter on my feet at night. Sugar cookie and gingerbread dough have been made and are in the freezer, and on Thursday I will swap out my poppy and apple-themed tea towels for Christmas ones. My Buddy the Elf mugs will make their appearance this week for morning coffee, mark my words.

We had a short streak of extremely mild weather, and so my husband and I took advantage of it to hang the Christmas ornaments in our Mayday tree. Every November there is someone who, if a person expresses even mild joy about the festive season, will sternly and austerely remind that person that no one should ever express such feelings prior to Remembrance Day, that it is disrespectful and wrong. Let me tell you: I do not agree with this character assessment. If a person wants to go full-on Clark Griswold the second the Halloween decorations come down, let your sparkly, Santa-themed flag fly. Let’s take joy where we can and if that means watching the Hallmark channel, putting up a tree, or just eating peppermint-flavoured goodies in November, DO IT.

If you think for even one moment that we are, in the Boyhouse, not going to embrace a 18 degree day IN NOVEMBER and use it to glovelessly tie ornaments onto a tree with tiny little strings, then you have another think coming. Unfortunately, this weekend was snowy with wind warnings, and subsequently we had to send the boys out looking on the street to find a couple of balls that had broken off in the wind, but that’s tradition. Calgary tradition.

Pandemic Reading

This was really fun to read, about working in the bond markets – specifically Salomon Brothers – in the 1980s. Woo! What a ride. Some of you may know that I worked on the structured products desk on a natural gas trading floor, and did this take me back. I worked during the California Crisis, when natural gas and electricity prices skyrocketed, and I remember the market volatility and all that ensued. Also, let’s just say that bond traders in the 1980s were not dissimilar to natgas traders in the 2000s. I remember one guy – Tom – who became so infuriated that he repeatedly smashed his phone on his desk until it broke. He had to go to an anger management course, but I don’t think that was as effective as the reaction of the rest of the floor. Any time Tom would walk by, everyone would exaggeratedly cover their phones. If he came to discuss a deal, someone would say Don’t fucking touch my phone, man, I need it. This went on…well, it’s probably still going on. The pranks and dares, too. I remember one guy was paid $10 to EAT a piece of styrofoam. He did it and was quite unwell for the rest of the day. There was also a bet to see who could drink more water in the span of 30 minutes and then not use the bathroom for two hours. The winner, I recall, was not feeling well after over-hydrating. Ah, good times. Anyway, this book was a lot of fun if you’re into that sort of thing, but note that it was written in 1989 and the extremely insensitive language reflects that.

This was just LOVELY and a perfect read for the festive season. So Christmas-spirit-ish. The author was born and raised in Calgary, too, so yay!

I will leave you with my newest Tiny Secret Festive items – a series of handmade bookmarks by a VERY talented, young local artist. Aren’t they adorable? I have a number of her bookmarks but I really wanted some festive ones, and now the problem is choosing which to use!

Have a beautiful week, my friends. If you’re also a Tiny Secret Festive person, how are you celebrating this week? xo


  1. I missed the tiny secret festive season post last year, and I love this idea! I have been using Winter Collection NutPods creamers in my morning tea, but I will have to add some other festive items to my day.

  2. Christmas in early November isn’t my thing, but you do you, Nicole.

  3. I have been desperately trying to think of necessary type gifts for Christmas. I have been gradually cleaning closets and big spaces like the basement during this pandemic. The thought of adding stuff makes me cringe. I’m leaning towards new bath towels and awesome reusable water bottles and new bed pillows. Exciting stuff.

    Am I the only one curious about the gift you found for your sis in law?

    It has been crazy warm weather here: 70’s for a week now. We are NOT typically on the ball when it comes to decorating, but Coach hung our lights yesterday.

    I reread your tiny secret festive post. You have inspired me to make and freeze cookie dough soon. I also will order some lovely scented hand soap – assuming I can find some. Your ornaments look beautiful. Coach usually throws our lights up quickly and the kids always shudder at the results. Hoping the warm weather allowed him more time to make the lights look well planned.

  4. This is so fun! I am NOT a Tiny Secret Festive Person (even though I LOVE it, the Christmas decor in my own house feels oppressive after a few weeks, so I hold out until I can bear it no longer and then decorate) but I adore people who are and I am so excited you are already into the swing of the holiday season! Woo!

  5. We usually wait until after (American) Thanksgiving to start decorating, etc. Although, I keep hearing that people are decorating earlier this year because of the pandemic. And The Husband informed me that the radio station that usually plays Christmas music from Thanksgiving till the day after Christmas has already started playing it 24/7. I may just have to pull out my Christmas coffee cups now though.

  6. Can you post your cookie dough recipes again for us or the link? I have an eager 13 year old baker here that will want to try them. Also, to Gigi Rambles, a local radio station in YYC is ALREADY playing non stop Christmas music. For your listening pleasure. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. You have INSPIRED me, Nicole. Last night my husband and I (together, which is possibly the craziest part of this story, because my husband would be just as fine not decorating for holidays EVER) ordered FAMILY HOLIDAY JAMMIES. I mean. This is Highly Unusual. But I am SO PUMPED.

  8. I adore your secret little festive season, I’m all about small doses of joy! Generally, I love decorating for Christmas, but I’m not quite feeling it this year, hopefully it will pass.
    Your PJ’s are so stinking cute, as are you.
    I love that you hang the big balls in your tree and make the boys fetch them when they fly away; lovely traditions!

  9. I’m not quite ready to leap into Christmas – I still have a few horror movies I didn’t get to in Spooky Season (of course I did once wrap presents while marathoning Hannibal, so I guess I can do both). I think if there was snow I would feel more into it, although I don’t want it to snow. I have done over half of my Christmas shopping and might actually head to the mall this week. I am one hundred percent people starting Christmas whenever the hell they feel like it, especially this year. And I LOVE your outdoor tree ornaments – I almost ran to do the same thing immediately, before I remember that our tree had to be cut down a few years ago because of the Emerald Ash Borer.

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