Do you love Christmas more than Cherie?

By Francesca Emms
Photography by Monica Winder

Featured in Capital #80
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What’s the opposite of a Grinch? Meet Cherie.

Cherie Jacobson has a very strict rule. No Christmas music or decorations until the first of December. “I think it makes the Christmas season more special if you only get to enjoy it for 25 days of the year. On the morning of the first I immediately get up and put my Christmas playlist on. It’s moved from a homemade CD to a playlist over the years but it’s still called ‘A Very Cherry Christmas’ and the first song is Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt. When those first bars start playing, I know Christmas has started!” Cherie always gets a real tree – “I’m very fussy about the size and shape.” On a weekend in December she hosts “Cheristmas”, which is an early Christmas dinner for friends. Everyone brings a plate. “I’m lucky to have friends who are good cooks so it’s always a delicious spread. We start with a glass of bubbles and end with a photo in front of the fireplace.”

An annual Christmas carolling evening with a friend’s family is another highlight. “One of the reasons I love Christmas is because it’s a time of year that I really associate with music,” says Cherie, who sings all year round in a women’s choir called Voix de Femmes. “No one in my family plays an instrument, so to go to someone’s house and have a singalong around the piano, no-one singing to impress, just enjoying singing songs everyone knows together, makes me so happy.” And her favourite carol? “That is an almost impossible question! Ding Dong Merrily On High is fun to sing, O Holy Night captures that twinkly, nighttime Christmas feeling, and a few years ago I discovered Gaudete, a 16th-century carol in Latin. The version on my playlist has this amazing medieval-sounding drum beat.”

The best gift Cherie’s ever given was a gift to herself. She saved up and headed away to experience a Northern Hemisphere Christmas. “It all makes so much more sense – it gets dark early so having Christmas lights everywhere is both practical and beautiful. Wandering around a German Christmas market drinking gluehwein (mulled wine) to keep warm was the best.” And the worst gift? “I gave the parents of my boyfriend at the time a goat. It was the first year of those Oxfam Christmas initiatives. I didn’t know his parents very well, but I figured they’d appreciate the sentiment of giving something to someone in need. They clearly would have preferred a bottle of wine.”

Cherie’s aware that Christmas isn’t for everyone, and not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy it the way she does. “Christmas can be a really stressful or sad time for many people. When money is tight, when you don’t get along with your family, or you’re alone, Christmas isn’t a very joyful time at all. I know I’m privileged to enjoy Christmas.” Cherie donates to the Wellington City Mission and encourages people to check out what they do and support them if they can.


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