The Christmas River ✨

It was almost seven years ago when we moved onto our new farm, five days before Christmas in the middle of what felt like a freezing winter for my South African bones. We had no furniture as we waited for our container of goods to arrive – we knew it was in port in Lisbon but with the holiday season no one was working, and so we waited. Besides not having any furniture, we also had no Christmas decorations – no Christmas tree, no tinsel, no home-baked Christmas cake.

It was fantastic!
There was no pressure to do anything according to tradition since we had nothing other than an empty house. We discovered Ikea, a revelation for us, who delivered beds in the nick of time. We dragged some forgotten old chairs out of barns and used a pallet as a table. Our Christmas tree was a big branch we rescued from a ditch and propped up against a pillar, decorated with leaves and pinecones. We even had three friends staying with us in the house with no furniture. Nothing was as it ‘should’ be, and everything was perfect. We laughed a lot.

That was the year the Christmas River flowed through the farm for the first time: no forcing, no pressure, no expectations – just flow with what was happening in the moment. I had no idea I had been feeling pressured at Christmas time until that year when we floated along in the moment. The need to buy presents wasn’t there: although we had a few it was low key and no problem.

Now this seems like a good time in this story to bring out the lesson about feminine energy and flow, allowing circumstances to unfold and not forcing things. You know the one where life is like a flowing river – yes, that one.

I didn’t get it.

Well, NO, this is not that time in the story because I didn’t get it! The next Christmas I took my family back into the traditional ‘efforting’ and pressure of the big lunch and Significant Presents and The Tree and all that stuff.
(Side note: I love the lights and decorated trees, when they are in public spaces like the guest lounges on the farm, Strasbourg and Carnaby Street, but in my family home, not so much. I guess because I need to put it up and take it down 😀)

That year the four of us sat down together for Christmas lunch and it felt – not special. We had no other friends of family with us, and it felt like the same old kind of lunch gathering we have on any Tuesday of the year. Something had to change. I wanted the Christmas River back!

The next year we invited friends and it felt better. The following year I added snow globes as decorations, and then decreed that we give only books as gifts (and chocolates). This year I am adding a classic movie night in the garden with a projector, blankets and chocolates.
“If you are not having fun, do something different.”
– Larry James
Gradually we have fine-tuned this holiday to be perfect for us: it has become more of a Family Day, a special time to play games, build puzzles, laugh and read together. And eat chocolates. The Christmas River is back!

This year, bring your own Christmas River home, whatever kind of holiday you celebrate.

✨Let it be easy.✨

✨ Let go of things that no longer work for you.✨

✨ Let it all go if it doesn’t work for you.✨

And keep all the things that make you smile inside.😁

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
—Mark Twain

Quinta Carvalhas Library

Our library is gradually growing, and we welcome donations of used books! The books our guests devour are typically personal development and inspirational, but we welcome all kinds. Any children’s books received will be taken to an orphanage near us, and the adult books we can’t add to our shelves will be taken to a care home or retirement home.

Winter is the season of reading for hours while loafing on one of our couches next to the fire.

Send us your pics of where you do your winter reading. 📸


Quinta Carvalhas - The Green Farm, is a Luxury Farm Stay & Retreat Venue in Portugal. A holistic well-being haven that offers unique experiences for Body, Mind and Soul. Yoga, Reiki, Horse Therapy, Massage, Vegetarian Food.

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