If you ask me, winter's saving grace is the holiday season. Were it not for Christmakwanzukkah and New Year's, December would be rough. It's cold, it's dark, your skin is dry. You're probably frantically browsing the internet right now looking for a "happy light" to put in every room in hopes of combatting your impending seasonal depression. The holidays are our society's way of easing us into the most miserable season of the year. At least, for a few weeks, you can distract yourself with good food, sweet, boozy cocktails, and cheery-cheesy holiday specials.
But with COVID-19 surging at even higher rates in the United States, this holiday season is going to look very different. Sure, there are still folks who think a deadly pathogen that has killed over 250,000 Americans in less than a year is NBD, but most of us will be opting out of the in-person office parties, elaborate Christmas dinners, and New Year's toasts. Many of us will happily take our Zoom calls and mind our respective businesses at home, maybe with a select few people in our quarantine circles.
As we average citizens try our best to make this holiday season as normal as possible, retailers and the rich and famous are also joining forces to help make adapting a little bit easier. TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, and Marshall's are three such brands who are busy in this pursuit, tapping a smattering of celebrities for its #CarolforACause initiative to benefit Feeding America. Each week, starting November 17, the brand has asked different famous singers to create an Instagram Reel of them singing their favorite Christmas Carols. Each artist will post their carols to their Instagram feeds. Megan Trainor, Ally Brooke, Brett Eldredge, Sofia Reyes, Pentatonix, Andy Grammar, and legendary R&B icon Brandy have all offered up their voices to serenade us.
Brandy spoke to Allure via email about why she chose to sign on with the campaign. "I'm looking forward to keeping the magic of the holidays alive through music," she shares. "You can't go door-to-door caroling this year, so this is a positive way to be able to give back to those in need and spread some holiday cheer." And boy, could we all use some of that in these times. Brandy, who says she's spending the holidays safely with her family, is committing herself to remaining thankful for the things she does have, even in these tough times.
But before she makes her signature stuffing and sweet potato pie for Christmas dinner, the singer will be meticulously decorating her home. "I go all out for my family in terms of the decorations," she says. "We try to create as many memories as possible." Songs from artists like Ray Charles, The Temptations, and the queen of Christmas herself, Mariah Carey will help set the mood in her home. When she's not playing classics from those legends, she'll have the soundtrack to The Preacher's Wife on repeat.
Though we're often focused on our loved ones during this season, it's also super important to take care of yourself — especially with all that's going on. As this chaotic year has dragged on, our personal beauty rituals have anchored us, giving us those brief, fleeting feelings of normalcy. Brandy herself has clung to many of the beauty tips and tricks she learned when she was growing up. She still takes care of her signature braids, which were a definitive part of her look in the '90s, mostly in the same way today. "Not much has changed over the years in caring for my natural hair," she says. "I still wash, condition, and do daily maintenance." Brandy says she also likes to stay faithful to her stylists. "Having the same braider is very important — she knows my hair, my scalp, and my style."
Her skin-care routine is similarly long-established and well-preserved. It's also quite minimal on product. "I wash my face with a mild soap in slow motion in cool water, using round, circular movements upward — I've been doing this since I was a child." Another thing that has remained consistent in her routine? Cocoa butter. Brandy admits that it's the product that she's used the most over the years — she even uses it on her face when she's doing a quick, low-maintenance makeup look. "I do a good application of cocoa butter for moisture, a little foundation, concealer, and lip gloss for a non-work day," she says. Which, I have to admit, is far more than I've been doing even on days when I dare to venture too far from my house.
Check Brandy's Instagram page on December 7 to hear her rendition of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," and while you're at it, hop on over to the IG grids of Megan Trainor, Ally Brooke, and Pentatonix, who have already posted their carols. Stay tuned to hear from Andy Grammer on December 9, Sofia Reyes on December 14, and Brett Eldredge on December 15.
Check out these holiday stories:
21 Gift Ideas for Teenage Girls
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