Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Traditions with Christy McKee

Christmas is absolutely my favorite holiday. Yes,  Thanksgiving is special because it represents a prominent  historical event in  our  country’s past, not to mention the perfect roast turkey, pumpkin pie and going —over the river and through the woods--to grandmother’s  house or maybe to Aunt Lucy’s condo at the beach. Christmas is not just a holiday. It’s an entire season packed with Christmas carols, tree trimming, parties, visits from far away family members and friends, seeing Santa, nativity scenes, church events, decorating our houses and enjoying our long cherished traditions.

At our house Christmas officially begins when we carry  in a freshly cut Fraser fir and put on our decorations with Christmas music playing softly in the background. Opening our giant ornament box is like welcoming back old friends. Many of the ornaments were lovingly made by our daughter and family members who are no longer with us. My most treasured decoration is a tooth pick nativity scene my daughter made in kindergarten. When she arrives for Christmas she always inspects the tree to be sure all of her handmade ornaments are on display.  

My favorite Christmas tradition is placing an old Santa doll on the fireplace hearth. He was purchased by my parents for my older brother’s first Christmas almost sixty years ago.  After I came along, Santa watched over us every Christmas Eve when we hung our stockings. His face was hand painted with rosy cheeks, merry blue eyes and he had real white hair and beard, topped off with a velvet hat.  A black patent belt surrounded his uncommonly trim middle. In the back of Santa’s suit was a gold key that, when turned, it played “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” 

Our Santa was with us every Christmas. Even when tragedy almost stopped us from celebrating, he was there. His presence is documented in over a hundred Christmas photos. My mother saw to it that Santa was carted along to the cousins when it was our turn to go to their house for Christmas. Even when my brother and I out grew stockings, Santa still proudly took his usual spot on the hearth.

When my daughter, the first grandchild, was born, my mother thought it was time to pass Santa on to the next generation. Naturally, after thirty some years of Christmas wear and tear, he badly needed a new suit. My mother didn’t really know how to sew. Buttons, slight tears or hems were the extent of her seamstress abilities but that didn’t daunt her enthusiasm to refurbish Santa for her long awaited grandchild. 

Conferring with several of her friends who did sew, she carefully took Santa’s suit apart and traced a pattern of each piece. The entire process took a few months but by our daughter’s first Christmas Eve, Santa was decked out in an immaculate new red velvet suit. Yes, the seams might have been  a bit irregular and one pants leg was almost an inch  shorter than the other, but Santa was  back and good to go for another thirty years. And those tiny little rust colored spots on the faux fur are a testament to my mother’s dogged devotion, and numerous finger pricks, that add to the jolly old elf’s Christmas history.
We have taken very good care of our old Santa for over thirty years. Each December he’s the first one out of the box and the last to be bubble-wrapped and tucked away for next year.  We did have a close call a few years ago. Our Lab puppy carted Santa off  and dragged him under the bed.  Thankfully, we discovered Santa was missing and found him before any damage was done.

 Even though there are no bright eyed little ones at our house to be awed on Christmas morning, Santa is still a quiet presence watching over all of us.  Our daughter is getting married this spring. Perhaps by Christmas 2015 we might have a grandchild of our own. Then, it will be time for Santa to move on to the next generation.  Lucky for him he is so well preserved, because like my mother, I do not know how to sew either.

Enjoy your own holiday traditions.
Christy McKee 

A modern day fairy godmother makes an astounding offer to practically penniless Gabrielle March. As compensation for fraud against her late father, she is given a boat load of  stock and a seat on the board of a Fortune 500 company. The only “string”
attached is spending time at corporate headquarters in New York City under the watchful eye of her fairy godmother’s son, corporate tycoon, Pierce Hastings.

Pierce grudgingly agrees to take Gabrielle under his wing. Spending long days with her at the office and cozy nights together in the penthouse, soon Pierce can’t imagine life without her. Unfortunately, the same is not true for Gabrielle, who can’t imagine life with him. She’s always known her place in the world and it is definitely not beside a wealthy, powerful man like Pierce— regardless of what her stubborn heart has to say.

Connect with Christy


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas Traditions with J.Q.Rose

Hi Roseanne and Readers. What a great topic for this time of year. I’m always interested in learning how folks celebrate Christmas and their Christmas traditions.

When our kids were tween-agers, we began attending the Christmas Eve church service. (Yes, they could finally stay up that late.) Our daughters are now moms with families of their own, so my husband and I continue this tradition together wherever we are on Christmas Eve.

At our home church, the service usually starts at 11 p.m. But even before we begin a special hum pervades the sanctuary at that time of night, and I don’t mean the hum of Christmas carols. The excitement and electricity in the air are contagious. The soft lights change the usual Sunday morning setting as the shadows and twinkling lights play off the poinsettia plants and golden handbells.

The organ, the choir, and the handbell choir sound rich and round with the Christmas selections. The congregation lends their voices to familiar Christmas carols singing their praise and thanksgiving to God for sending his son, Jesus Christ.

Gwen, an outstanding soprano in our choir, always sang “O Holy Night” every year. No one can ever match the sound and beauty of her voice as she sang from her heart. Whenever we sing that hymn, I always recall her lovely voice. She moved to Alabama, and I imagine she is sharing her talent with her new friends on Christmas Eve.

The last hymn on Christmas Eve is “Silent Night.” During the singing of this hymn, the minister and ushers light the small handheld candles each adult is given. The candlelight starts out with just a few candles up in front of the church. By the time the ushers pass the light to everyone sitting in the pews, the sanctuary is filled with warm glowing light just as our hearts are filled with the hope, joy, peace, and love that came to us at Christmas.

Wishing you all the hope, joy, peace, and love at Christmas this year.

* * * *

Back of the book for Coda to Murder:

Pastor Christine Hobbs has been in the pulpit business for over five years. She never imagined herself caring
for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer. 

Detective Cole Stephens doesn't want the pretty pastor to get away with murdering the church music director. His investigative methods infuriate Christine as much as his deep brown eyes attract her.

Can they find the real killer and build a loving relationship based on trust?

Buy Links:
MuseItUp Publishing- and major online booksellers.

BIO- After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction writing with her first published novella, Sunshine Boulevard, released by MuseItUp Publishing in 2011. Her latest mystery, Coda to Murder, was released in February. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at
J.Q. Rose blog
Author website
J. Q.  Rose Amazon Author Page

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Traditions by Addison James

Christmas Traditions by Addison James
I grew up the youngest of five children, so Christmas was a very exciting holiday not only because of the presents, but because it was one of the few times of the year that all of us children would be together. My two oldest brothers were in college when I was a toddler and my older sister was in high school when I was starting school, so we five really did not grow up together.
Our Christmas morning tradition involved the Christmas bell. It was a silver bell ornament that was hung on the tree (my older brothers would try to hide it, or put it up high so I could not reach it). The first person to wake on Christmas morning would ring the bell. That was it, but it was a huge competition in our household among us five kids, sixteen years from youngest to eldest, to race down the stairs in the morning and ring the bell.
Now that I’m grown up with my own kids and living thousands of miles away, the tradition is to take the kids and fly back east every other year to reconnect with east coast family. And it’s a time for the kids to experience snow, which is wonderful not only watching kids enjoying and playing in the snow, but also because snow is such a novel concept for them, they enjoy everything about it from making snowmen to scraping the ice off the car and shoveling snow!

Available from: MuseItUp Publishing

The Best Bad Christmas Gift

Last year Susan won a date with the hottest bachelor in town; this year, handcuffs?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Traditions from Diane Bator

The Pajama Box
Ever since my oldest son was born, my mother-in-law (aka Grandma) has sewn pajamas for Christmas that arrived in a big cardboard box. As sons two and three arrived, the pajamas multiplied. The styles remained similar over the past eighteen years, baseball tops and long pants the favorite, but the patterns evolved from bunnies and monkeys to plaids and video game prints. Every Christmas, The Box arrived covered in layers of packaging tape and stamps. Each child had their own shopping bag full of pajamas along with a chocolate bar and a hand-written note from Grandma.

            This year there won't be a box.

            Sadly, Grandma passed away of cancer in October.

            How much my two younger kids would miss The Box didn't even occur to me until I commented to my twelve year old that we would have to toss out what is left of the monkey pajamas he loves. The tears that followed would make Niagara Falls envious and triggered sympathy from my fifteen year old while his eyes welled up as well.

            My heart broken, I sat on my youngest son's bed and asked what would help to make things easier this year. We decided since they can't have Grandma's pajamas, maybe we could start our own tradition. With everyone's help, we could make a Christmas Eve box with pajamas, a movie, and snacks to celebrate the memories of The Box.  

            At first, my plan was to wrap everything in bright paper and put it in a cheery bag beneath the tree. While writing this, I've reconsidered. Maybe what I need to do is place each item in a plastic shopping bag labeled with each person's name, then put it all in a cardboard box covered in half a roll of packing tape.

Diane has been a writer since she was able to hold a pencil and tell a story. An avid hiker, Reiki Master and martial artist, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen and putters in the garden at will. Joining the Headwaters Writers' Group in 2007 was the catalyst for unearthing several old writing projects. Her first murder mystery, Murder on Manitou, was published after winning a writing contest in 2010. She lives in Southern Ontario with her husband, three kids and a cat who thinks he's a dog. To learn more about Diane, visit her sites.

My website:

                                                                                         The Bookstore Lady
                                                                                        Wild Blue Mysteries

 Danny Walker is tracking Paulina Chourney who fell deep into the dark side of life and is lucky to get out before her boyfriend Maddox kills her. She escapes Maddox and arrives in a small town, which she sees as a blessing in disguise since the men she worked for would never think to look for her in a lazy, backwater place like Packham. She changes her name to Katie Mullins, makes a deal on a little bookstore and joins a local writing group then successfully fades into anonymity. Until Danny Walker shows up to visit family and figures out who she is. 

 When Paulina catches her 80-year-old landlady Hilda Clayton sneaking out in the middle of the night, the bad guys catch up to her and Danny disappears. Katie has to choose between spending her life on the run or standing up to face her past. Hopefully before the quirky townsfolk turn her death into a spectacle.

The Bookstore Lady Available at:  Amazon:   

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Our Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas. Always have. I'm sure it comes from being raised in a family of Christmas lovers. My mother started the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving by baking. I
swear she made every type of Christmas cookie available. 
Back then, during the holidays friends and relatives visited often and she always served a dish of cookies. 
I remember several big 3# potato chip cans full of cookies. When she went out for the evening, she called to see if we were behaving. Our reward - three cookies. Of course, we took three from each can. Even with six of us (I had three brothers and two sisters) we didn't make a dent. 
Our Christmas tree went up December 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas. We put our stockings up the night before and in the morning we received oranges, apples, and nuts. Sometimes a harmonica or other small toy. 
My mother went all out for Christmas with an elaborate village set up under our tree, complete with hills, caves, and houses - all lit and surrounding the nativity set. It took a whole day for my mom to set it up. I'll never forget her crawling on the floor under the tree. After laying a bed of cotton, she carefully arranged the caves in the back corner, built hills and valleys and placed the houses. She even created streams and ponds with tinfoil and mirrors. Everything led to the nativity set. A cardboard stable held animals along with Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Every year one of us got the privilege of placing baby Jesus in the manger. Once they were in place, she set up the shepherds, wise men, and angels. 
For many years, she place a wooden fence around the whole scene. For some reason, she quit setting that up. I wish I had that fence.
I'll never forget how the neighbors complained that she put the tree up so early because, of course, their kids wanted their tree up also.
On Christmas Eve, we had a traditional supper. My aunt, uncle, and four cousins joined us and after dinner, we went to visit my grandmother.
Our dinner consisted of Oplatky (holy bread wafers like you receive at communion) mushroom soup, balbaki - little bread balls covered in either poppy seed and honey or sauerkraut. At some point, we added periogis to the menu. 
One of my favorite memeroies is the year my uncle decided to dress as Santa Claus. He decided to wear the suit to my grandmother's. My sister and I often rode with him, while some of my cousin rode with my parents.  On this particular year, we stopped at a traffic light. A man came out of the bar on the corner. My uncle waved and yelled Merry Christmas. The man stopped, looked in the car, scratched his head, turned and went back into the bar. Guess he thought he was seeing things. 
I have many great memories of Christmas, and I still carry on the Christmas Eve dinner tradition. 

Wishing everyone a blessed and Merry Christmas.                                                                                                                                                               Check out my post On Ginger's blog, Dishin it Out.