Welcome! Kick off your shoes, get comfy and join in as we chat about books, romance and the ups and downs of everyday life.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Romancing the Holidays - Grace Burrowes

GRACE BURROWES





The hour three winner of 
Season for Surrender 
by Theresa Romain
is:

Diane Patricia Diamond

Congratulations!  

  Hour Three—A Nod to the Grinch

The holidays are not always easy. For families with few resources, winter’s bite on the heating bills, the pediatrician’s bills, and a parent’s nerves can be mean and feel unrelenting. With this in mind, we’ve included libraries and shelters on our list of recipients for today’s giveaways, and we know many of you will find your own way to ease the strain of the holidays for other folks.

And I must confess, I am not always the cheeriest soul. I have about five writing deadlines in December, and while I love to write, my enthusiasm sometimes flags, my holiday spirit flickers, and I turn up… Grinchly. In these low, unfriendly, unholiday moments, without fail, I find myself assailed by the version of “Jingle Bells” that features barking dogs.

I like dogs. I love my dog, Sarge. I understand dogs bark for reasons that make sense to their canine brains and sometimes even to me. I do not comprehend why anybody would expend time, money, or even a dog’s time, to create that piece of… music. I consider it a “DJ’s revenge” tune, a penance to be endured each year along with certain fruit cakes and bright orange cheese flavored spreads of dubious and minimal dairy content. 

You, however, probably love bourbon balls or that miserable version of Jingle Bells… but some other pea under the holiday mattress plagues you. Maybe it’s the waste of wrapping paper, maybe it’s the holiday office party, or maybe it’s that plastic star your mother-in-law insists must go on the top of your otherwise period-decorated tree.

There’s a reason we’re gathering at the Romance Dish. You can tell us. You can share your grinchly moment, your least favorite holiday treat, the merry tune you never want to hear again.

And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll win some terrific holiday books, and those can reduce any grinchly moment to a rapidly fading holiday memory.



   The Hour Two winner of 
His Mistletoe Bride 
by Vanessa Kelly 
is:

yellowrose

Congratulations!




Hour Two
Loving Christmas


I’ve reached the point in life where I have no best holiday memory—there are too many good ones to choose from. My earliest Christmas memory goes back to when I shared a bedroom with three other siblings—I am one of seven, and our house was not large—two older, one younger.

As Christmas approached, I recall my older siblings lying awake after lights out, discussing things like, “What do you think Santa Claus will bring?” and “Do you think Mom will like what I made for her?” When it was time to decorate, we each had assignments.



The oldest boys (thirteen years my senior) got to climb up on the roof and string lights, my oldest sister (ten years my senior) was a phenomenal holiday baker. Dad always led the sortie out to the Christmas tree farm (which also raised registered basset hounds), and the younger cohort of siblings handled much of the inside decorating.

Mom had a huge list of jobs, the length of which, I can only appreciate in adulthood. Shopping and cooking for a horde like ours would have felled a lesser lady, but Mom claims she thrived on it. She was particularly skilled with the apricot brandy pound cakes, emphasis on the apricot brandy.

As a college professor, my dad offered his household as surrogate family to a number of international graduate students. I recall one particularly convivial holiday dinner attended by students from Finland, Libya, Japan and… Ohio. That gal from Ohio was the one we had to watch.

And it’s that aspect of Christmas that looms largest in my memory: My family made the holiday participatory and inclusive. Everybody had jobs, everybody had a way to contribute, and the emphasis on the season was one of gathering together.

In this regard, the winter holidays transcend any one faith or cultural tradition, and for that I’m grateful. When the light is waning, when the weather can turn bitter and threatening, when we’re “deep in December” and spring is not yet a tangible hope, what gets us through is a focus on loved ones, and on including and being included. Good food, song, stories and decorations help, but it’s the love that gets us through.

Do you recall holiday moments gilded by love? Some that surprised you and stand out in memory years later?






The winner of a signed copy of 
Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight 
is:

AuburnGirl

Congratulations!



GRACE BURROWES

Hour One—Welcome to Romancing the Holidays!!!

I’m experiencing that annual shock many of us go through, the one where I look at the calendar, and think, “WHERE did the year go?” quickly followed by, “EEP! Christmas is right around the corner and I’M NOT READY.”

Except I am. I’m ready to see the first snow flurries, ready to pick out the very best presents for the folks on my list (a socks and undies free zone), ready to scarf up some goodies, ready to hear Handel’s “Messiah” and maybe even find a sing-in where I can yodel along with the real musicians.




I’m also ready to give away a huge pile of books. Authors Victoria Alexander, Theresa Romain, and Vanessa Kelly are colluding with me here at Romancing the Holidays, and each hour until 9 p.m. we’ll pick a commenter to receive one of a staggering list of prizes. At the end of the day, Victoria Alexander will preside over the awarding of a NOOK or a Kindle.

And because the holidays should also turn our thoughts to our blessings, we’re giving away two sizeable baskets of books to shelters or libraries. If you’re in the mood to do some holiday cleaning, and you come across a stash of books not destined for your keeper shelf, now would be a terrific time to donate them. The landing page provides the registration form for you OR the library or shelter of your choice to have your name included in the giveaway sorting hat.





And for the rest of the folks on my gift list? I’ve gotten more adept at online shopping in recent years. Gift baskets figure prominently, the occasional bottle of cheer, or scarves featuring angora wool blends in gorgeous colors and weaves.











Do you have a go-to present for the person on your list who has everything or needs little? Is there a favorite present you’ve received that was spot on, for all you never would have thought of it yourself?

  

220 comments:

  1. Hi Grace! Thanks for kicking off the party this morning! The hardest person on my list to buy for is my husband. Fortunately, he loves to read and has pretty varied tastes, so he tends to get lots of books under the tree every year.

    PJ and Andrea, thank you so much for allowing us to take over your digs today - I think it's going to be great fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vanessa! We're pleased as punch to have you, Grace, Theresa and Victoria here for Romancing the Holidays!

      I'm with your hubby. I love to read (obviously). Books - or those wonderful B&N or Amazon gift cards - are presents I love to see under the tree!

      Delete
  2. Morning, Grace! I used to drive myself crazy trying to decide what to buy people for Christmas until I figured out that what they really wanted was a package of my homemade chocolates and cookies. So, except for the little ones (and I love shopping for them!) what I give out these days are homemade goodies. It's something I love to make, something they love to receive. Everybody is happy! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Vanessa, why is it we can often pick out a great present for somebody we don't know all that well, but the people we're closest to sometimes stump us? I'm embarrassed at how often scented soap has found its way into my daughter's stocking.

    And PJ, you can send cookies my direction any time! Please accept my thanks, too, for the use of the hall. Today will be my holiday kick-off, and I can't think of a more fun way to do that than spending the day here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grace, there is scented soap already lurking in my gift closest, ready to go into some stockings!

      Delete
  4. Hi Grace! Will be trying to catch the party in between real life. This is a fun day! My husband is my hard person to shop for on my list - he likes to research everything for about a year before he makes a purchase, whereas I am an impulse buyer. The best gift I think I give my family is planning trips for them and taking them to new adventures. This year's big family Christmas gift is a trip to NYC, which we will fly out for after opening presents on Christmas Day. Most of my shopping these days is online, and my girls are doubly excited because they know the UPS man is bringing presents, and they have to wait.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The UPS delivery men are very popular guys this time of year. ;-)

      Your NYC trip sounds like great fun!

      Delete
  5. Good morning! I'm going to pop in throughout the day while working. Shh, don't tell anyone. My husband and I already have our gifts this year but I will pick him up something else so he has something to open with the kids. The kids are another story. Since they are grown now I have no idea! My son is coming home from basic training and the Marine is now a man. I will have him for a week before Christmas so will have a short time to figure him out and my daughter told me she would send me links to what she would like online or gift cards this year. I do know the week before Christmas will be busy with baking for the family and friends so everyone has something special from my kitchen!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Pennie! Thanks for dropping in this morning! We'll be very quiet and not let anyone at work know you're partying with us. ;-)

      The grown "kids" on my list love gift cards so that's the route we've gone for the past few years...in addition to the home goodies.

      How wonderful that your son will be home for Christmas! Please give him my thanks for his service to our country. My niece is coming home (from Japan) for the first time in two years. We're all so excited about spending Christmas with her this year.

      Delete
  6. Good morning!
    I dread Christmas shopping. It's so difficult for me to pick something out for someone, especially if you know they have pretty much everything they need. So, I opt for gifts that are more functional. This year, I bought several sets of Pyrex containers while they were on sale & I plan to split them up, decorate & fill with holiday cookies, hot cocoa mixes, gourmet mints, etc. For a few of my relatives that enjoy wine, I will be giving them a bottle of wine & a set of homemade wine charms (I have discovered they are ridiculously easy to make!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michelle, I think those are wonderful gifts! Fun and functional!

      Delete
    2. Wow, Michelle, that is brilliant. I know I'm supposed to only use Pyrex in the microwave, but don't always have a piece handy. You is a genius.

      Delete
  7. It really depends on the gift recipient so much. Hubby is pretty easy to buy for, but giving him a truly special gift is challenging. One year, I gave him a weekend away for the two of us, to attend a museum show in another city. I got hotel reservations and arranged baby-sitting for the kids and we had a great time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love those "out of the box" gifts. I bet you both have very special memories of that time alone.

      Delete
  8. My Husband is also the hardest person to buy gifts for. He will never tell you what he wants and he buys herself everything that he wants or needs before anyone else can do it. Last year he bought his own gift and then asked me to wrap it and put it under the tree.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So hard to buy for someone like that!

      Delete
    2. Hard to know whether to be pleased to have such an easy guy to buy for, or frustrated. I think I would have been tempted to surprise him with something else ENTIRELY under that tree.

      Delete
    3. Yes it is frustrating he already did the same thing this year but I am going to surprise him with something else....but I have to figure out what that something else is!?!?!?!

      Delete
    4. My husband tends to be like that too. Over the years, I've gotten used to it. The kids laugh at him when Dad opens his gifts from me and tries to act surprised. You just cannot change some things so you go with it and enjoy the joke! :-)

      Delete
  9. Good Morning!
    I find that when in doubt always go for fuzzy blankets and pretty tote bags for women. Men can be more difficult. Even with a husband and two brothers I can never decide what to get them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love your "go to" presents, Erin! A friend gave me a soft, cozy throw for Christmas a few years ago. I love that blanket. Goes everywhere with me! :)

      Delete
  10. LSU, there are probably guys out there reading your post and thinking, "I'm married to the wrong gift-giver" as they stare at a package of Fruit of the Looms. Terrific idea.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well I'm at a loss on the 1st question. I never know what to get those who have everything - I'll take any and all suggestions though (lol). As for a gift I received that was spot on..... my Mom gave me a special collection of ornaments that represented a significant moment in my life or a favorite activity/pastime. It was the most amazing gift!!! She said it took her years to put it together and help from a lot of friends across the country to find the exact ornaments she wanted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a wonderful, thoughtful gift! Your mom sounds like a very special lady.

      Delete
    2. YEARS to put it together?! And here I thought I was making big Mom points because I gave my daughter a couples scrap books full of her horse and pet moments. Good on your Mom, and I bet that collection is passed down for generations in your family.

      Delete
  12. Each year I create something unique which suits that individual. It is not always easy coming up with a new idea but I find an appropriate gift and they are always more than surprised. It can be a food item, a special book, scarf or a meal even.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Traveler, you have the Christmas gene, then. Somewhere back in your geneology lurks an elf, and you're the kind of person I want to sit next to and chat up at a holiday party. "So what would you suggest for a 24-year-old college student who's studying..."

      Delete
  13. Replies
    1. Happy Holidays, Regencygirl! Thanks for joining us.

      Delete
  14. I really love when I get clothes I wouldn't usually buy, but end up wearing and loving them! Even if it's not my style, it's a great opportunity to diversify my wardrobe.

    Great to see you here, Grace =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Howdy, Nat! My mom is especially good at clothes shopping. She has an eye for both fashion and interior decoration that skipped me entirely. Even if she only picks out a scarf for me, it's the exact, perfect, I never would have thought of that scarf.

      Delete
    2. Some people just have a great eye for fashion! Unfortunately, I'm not one of them! lol!

      Delete
  15. When in doubt, I bake. There are very few people who will turn their noses up at homemade cookies, candies, hot chocolate mixes, and soup in a jar. I save those goodies for the people I work with. For my family, when I can't think of anything else, it's a gift card or certificate to a favorite restaurant. No one has complained yet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, the gift card! Is there anything in this whole wretched, wretched world that can compare with a gift card that can be spent on BOOKS?

      Delete
  16. My parents are the most challenging people for me. They have everything they want and don't need more "stuff" in their lives. So I try to listen and find things that I know make them happy but will not clutter up their home. Bottles of wine, special cheeses and crackers and candies are great because they are consumed and then gone. I have also given them a digital frame that displays hundreds of pictures. And sometimes I give them a certificate to be redeemed for a dinner out with me at their favorite restaurant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My parents want only one thing: Their family to visit them. Fortunately, they live in southern California, so long about January, the procession of relatives becomes a steady stream.

      Delete
  17. My two sons are grown but I still indulge them both with a particular gift that they would appreciate greatly. A practical gift which no one else would dream of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Being a parent has its privileges, doesn't it? And they will always be your boys.

      Delete
  18. I love scarves and wraps, but have no earthly idea how to wear them. I see these lovely women wearing them and looking so stylish, but when I put one on, I look like a mummy or a bag lady.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kima, I bought a bunch of angora wool scarves the last time I was in Scotland. Could not wait for cold weather to arrive. I don't care how they look, they FEEL wonderful.

      Delete
  19. Last year I got a gift card to Barnes & Noble, best yet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And it's such an easy gift to give, too. All you have to do it go to Barnes and Noble, not eliminate all your discretionary cash on books for yourself, not spend four hours browsing in the history section, not get snagged by the latte calling you name over in the cafe.... Though you can buy ten cards at once, if you're disciplined.

      Delete
    2. I was pleased to learn I could buy my latte with my gift card as well!

      Delete
    3. Although now that I think about it, when I was about 18 I got my first car for Christmas. The keys were buried in a LARGE box (about 3' high) amidst shredded newspaper!

      Delete
  20. One of my guy friends always gets me gifts that I like. One year he got me a sleeping bag I was interested in and another year he bought me a coat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of the best, best gifts I've ever been given is a high quality typing chair. As much time as I spend with my behonkis in a chair while I write, you'd think I would have tended to this myself, but nooooooo. Took a guy friend to see the need and get 'er done.

      Delete
  21. My son is probably the most difficult person in the family to buy for. He always returned gifts that I'd bought for him. Now, I play it safe and give him gift cards to Home Depot. My daughter-in-law is easy. She loves the Spode Christmas Tree China. Every year I get her something that is made in England. I managed to get her the coffee pot for this Christmas. My daughter likes anything, and everything. My husband is hard to buy for, plus it's also his birthday the week before Christmas. He get's a lot of aftershave!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel for your husband, my birthday is the day after Christmas..

      Delete
    2. We got a lot of mileage out of buying Christmas Hummels for my mother, but then they discontinued the line, and finding the camel has taken years of combing E-bay. Mom's birthday is the week after Christmas, and we make double certain sure not to wrap her gifts in Christmas paper.

      Delete
  22. Good morning all, it is starting off with a nice storm here.This month will go fast now and before we know it it will be the new year,wow feels like we all just blinked does it not, the months just slipped by way to fast.

    Only have my mother to buy for and that is so hard... finally settled on paying a bill every year for each other. We figured it is a gift you never need to return and is always the right size..
    Posted by Wishing at 8:38 AM

    ReplyDelete
  23. I like to give a gift card to Amazon.com for my friends with Kindles or to Barnes and Noble for those without or with a Nook. In addition, a little something yummy from Bath and Body Works is always a hit. Gift cards to a favorite restaurant are always nice to give and receive. Today, so many of us are lucky enough to have most of the things that we actually need, so it's nice to give or receive something that is a little special without spending too much.

    For me, BOOKS are always perfect. Yes, my name is Connie and I'm a Bookaholic!

    I've started on the Christmas cards and have bought some gifts so far. Where have I bought them you ask? Where else? Barnes and Noble! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You remind us, Connie, that supporting the brick and mortar book store is a fine tradition at the holidays, as is supporting the local library. An outing to the library with somebody else's kids followed up by a stop for hot chocolate and donuts would probably give somebody's mom a couple free hours to wrap gifts, too.

      Delete
    2. We have the most wonderful library system where we live. We visit it often not just for books but for DVDs and other wonderful things. I have some great friends that work there. I have shared lots "swag" I have received from authors with the library. Some of these things have been given to young children who complete a reading program. They then get to select a goodie that they like. I've also been known to write many letters to the editor of our newspaper promoting all of the wonderful programs that the library offers. I like to suggest to parents that they have a Saturday outing and go to the library where everyone can browse for books and DVD's to check out, take home and enjoy. When children see their parents reading, they usually do it too. We must teach our children by example.

      Delete
  24. Has anybody considered audio books? Richard Armitage, yes THAT Richard Armitage, has done reading of several Georgette Heyer Regencies, including "The Convenient Marriage." I sweat the guy needs to quit his day job and read romances novels full time. He's a trained, conservatory schooled instrumental musician, and I think it shows in his tremendous voice talent.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Connie. Thank you for joining us, My name is Holly and I am a bookaholic as well..next?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Gifting is getting harder each year. The adults tend to have everything, and the kids just want games. Who has xbox, who has ps3, who has nintendo, and what games do they have? What games do they want? Yikes! Sad as it is, gift cards come more into play, but everyone seems happy with them. As for me, I'm happy with dark chocolate, Bailey's Irish Creme, or Amazon gift cards (for books, of course.) Have a very Merry Christmas! bonnieblue at wowway dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bonnie, the young people are difficult, but they like a good story. Some movie classics might do for them, depending on age, or taking them out to a movie. The greatest gift we can give another is, after all, our time.

      Delete
  27. My go to gift is a Barnes and Noble GC for my daughter. She loves to read and it just lights her up every time she gets one. Now she uses it for the e-reader I got her for Christmas last year. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mention e-readers. I was very, very fortunate to be a debut author in December 2010, with a discounted novel hitting the shelves as an experiment. I will likely NEVER see sales like that again, in part because it was the first big e-reader Christmas, and then too, people tend to load up their e-readers when cold weather hits. I'm all for the e-reader under the tree, which is why we'll be giving away TWO of them on Victoria Alexander's shift tonight.

      Delete
    2. Ha! You mention Dec 2010 and your books, that was the Christmas I got my first e-reader (NOOK) and one of the first books I purchased for it was The Heir!
      So, thank you. It seems we both benefited from Dec 2010/Jan 2011. :)

      Delete
  28. If I'm not mistaken, we'll shortly be hearing from PJ about our first hour's winner. The prize is a signed copy of "Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight," a Library Journal Best Book of 2012, and I will sign it to the party of the winner's choice (including aunties, bosses, daughters in law, etc).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I am so excited that I won! Is it selfish to have the book made out to me (Amanda)? I can't wait to read it!

      Delete
  29. got a great gift a few months ago. A $50 gift card to amazon for a contest I forgot I entered

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, regencygirl! That's an awesome gift!

      Delete
  30. We have another great gift up for giveaway this next hour, Vanessa Kelly's, "His Mistletoe Bride," a fun Regency read involving twelve nights of holiday... mischief. I curled up with this one not long ago, and it made a long hard day at the office go happily bye-bye. Thanks, Vanessa, for a great read when I really needed it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Grace, thank you so much! I'm really happy you enjoyed the book. And I can't believe it's already Hour Two of the Gala!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Some of my favorite memories were from childhood like being so excited because we could open our presents at midnight instead of Christmas morning, but a few years ago my cousin got me a plane ticket to stay with her because she knew I was going to be alone for Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a lovely gift, Jane. You have a very thoughtful cousin!

      Delete
  33. The winners will be announced at the end of each hours' blog and will also be listed at the top of the sidebar on the right side of the page. Hour One's winner is AUBURN GIRL! Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Congrats, Auburngirl, and if you'd like me to sign the book to your hard to buy for hubby, we can do that. You can read it to him under the mistletoe, right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure his name is John. I'd love to see him read it!

      Delete
  35. The question for this hour is: Do you have a holiday memory you can recall that was gilded by love, however unexpected?

    ReplyDelete
  36. There are so many to choose from. One of the funniest was the amazing expanding Christmas tree. My dad always chose a cedar tree when he was out deer hunting. This particular tree was short and bushy, but perfectly symmetrical. It was below zero when he went and got it. We set it up in the living room, and as it got warm, the branches spread out. By the time it was completely warmed up, we'd had to move it into the middle of the living room! If you sat in the living room, you couldn't see each other the entire holiday season because of the tree!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet it smelled terrific though, and for as brief as its reign is, a Christmas tree ought to get some attention.

      Delete
    2. What a great story, Kima! I bet that's a memory that's brought lots of smiles over the years.

      Delete
  37. My favorite memory is the birth of my youngest brother. He wasn't due until mid-January but arrived - very unexpectedly - on Christmas morning. Best present ever!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dude probably wished he'd arrived in July, given the double up of celebrations on one day. But fun for his sibs, yes.

      Delete
    2. You're right, Grace. I started throwing him half-birthday parties in June around the time he turned twelve.

      Delete
  38. good morning all. favorite christmas memory for me was the year my hubby who was a truck driver and not suppose to come home made it anyway

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love those surprise holiday visitors. Might have to keep that theme in mind for a romance novel, huh?

      Delete
  39. My favorite Christmas memory is when my grandpa was still alive and we would reunite the family =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You bring up a difficult side to any holiday, but especially Christmas. We feel keenly the absences of those not with us, and many people haven't any family to gather with. I think especially of soldiers this time of year. What a hard, hard thing, to be so far from family, in danger, and trying to celebrate a holiday that's all about hope, love and peace on earth.

      Delete
  40. My Mom was a widow with three children all under three years of age. She did her very best to provide us with a good Christmas. We knew not to expect too many gifts, however, that did not stop me from spending hours going through the Sears & Roebuck catalog listing everything I wanted! (Yes, I've just dated myself there!) There was an older couple who owned the small grocery store where we shopped. They had no children of their own, but every Christmas Eve, they came over to our house and brought each of us a little gift. I'll never forget how excited we were waiting for their visit. We dressed up in our very best clothes and it was such a special occasion. God bless them. They were so good to us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! The Sears Roebuck Catalog, and then one of my older siblings got hold of a Last Whole Earth Catalog. What does it say about us, that we loved to spend time with even a catalog? I suppose browsing the internet is some parallel, but it doesn't feel the same to me.

      Delete
    2. We could hardly wait for the Sears Wish Book catalog to come out each winter. And yes, Connie, I'm dating myself right along with you! lol

      Delete
    3. Thanks, PJ! Now, I don't feel like The Lone Ranger. Uh-oh - another dating remark! ;-)

      Delete
  41. Do you recall holiday moments gilded by love? Some that surprised you and stand out in memory years later?

    My mother's maternal grandfather was a "Southern Baptist Minister" so she was raised fairly strictly and with a solid knowledge of the Bible. She, of course, passed this on to her children. One of her many quotes to me was...."It is more blessed to give than to recieve." I remember puzzeling over this and trying to understand the concept. It took a while, but I thought that I finally understood. Several years later, I landed my first job. I was all of 15 years old. I worked after school and on week-ends so there was little time to spend what I had earned. The Christmas season was approaching and I decided to buy everyone in the family a "gag" gift. I realized that I had enough money saved to buy everyone a real gift as well as the gag or fun gift. Christmas day I was so excited over what I had bought for my parents and each of my brothers and sisters that I had to be reminded to open my own gifts! All of my focus was on the individual that I had bought presents for and how much enjoyment they recieved from my gifts. A definate "Aha monent". I finally understood.... and understood more than the quote. My gift, painstakenly picked out for them was well recieved. Their gift to me was their pleasure in my gift. A definate win/win. It is definately more blessed to give than to recieve.... It is in giving we truely recieve! What a wonderful Christmas that was!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your mama raised you right, Betty. But you knew that.

      Delete
    2. My grandmother raised me the same way, Betty. Bless you for all you give.

      Delete
  42. Grandma made the holidays special. Baking with her, making ornaments from styrofoam-beads-sequins-ribbons, baking some more, then both of us taking a break to read our books - her's always a Harlequin Presents, mine usually a Nancy Drew or Black Stallion. When Christmas finally arrived under the tree there would be a sweater Grandma knit or an afghan to curl up under (with a book).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daughter is 24, and I am beginning to understand the allure of grandparenting. It can be truly, truly, all about the love, and not about getting to soccer practice on time, passing biology, paying for braces, etc. Then too, knitting and cookie baking are not exactly torment either.

      Delete
  43. I have many Christmas memories that it's hard to pick just one. I think my favorite are from when my grandfather was alive. He was always a big fan of the holiday and no matter what you got him for Christmas he was always able to guess it. He was always so much fun to be around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I recall a coworker, a tall, quiet, supremely rational engineering type, who none the less was Dad to two small children. I'd sat in a jillion meeting with this guy, heard him hold forth on environmental issues, scheduling, budget, and he was a nice guy but... an engineer, you know? Then one day he began to talk about dad's contribution to Christmas in his household, and how Dad had to "put his imprimatur" on the holidays, and pick out a gift for each kid, and deal with the tree, and the lights... That reticent, reserved fellow lit up, and his smile... Lord, his smile... God bless the dad who lets his love show at Christmas. It makes a terrific, positive impact.

      Delete
  44. My family is Jewish, so Christmas might not have been a big day for us - except that Christmas Day is also my grandmother's birthday. We live in Toronto, which used to have blue laws, so finding a nice place to take her out on her birthday was tricky. Inevitably, we'd end up at the nicest hotel in town...celebrating her birthday with Christmas turkey.

    Luckily, I still have my grandmother, who is now approaching 97, and while the blue laws have been relaxed, it's too tiring for her to go out for a multi-hours fancy dinner. So now we hold a family birthday open house on Christmas Day, which allows her to relax, and to actually spend more time with more members of the family - win for all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How fortunate you are to still have your grandmother. I can tell from what you've written that she holds a very special place in your family. I hope this year's birthday will be filled with joy!

      Delete
  45. My favorite Christmas memories are my childhood Christmas Eve gatherings at my grandmothers. Despite the fact that he had being divorced from my grandmother for a decade, my grandfather always came. My great grandmother lived with my grandmother. So it was a three generation celebration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lovely, when the elders can model peace on earth in such a practical way. Wish more families followed that example.

      Delete
  46. Approaching 97!!! Wow. I'll bet you celebrate that. I recall one Christmas when my sister and I were stranded in town, and we ended up at a hotel restaurant too. The only other patrons were a group of basketball players who were en route to some New Year's game, and the entertainer. Service was excellent, though.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I'm known for giving books or depending on the year, cooking/baking gifts. Crabapple brandy, chocolate balsamic salad dressing, homemade chocolates. Uncommon things that are simply to be enjoyed. Along with the promise of refilling the gift container on return.
    Parents were the biggest challenge, so I resorted to buying tickets to touring Broadway shows, museum exhibits, events for them to go & *do*.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tickets are another brilliant inspiration, though I'm often tempted to buy one for myself, too.

      Delete
  48. All my Christmases as a kid were wonderful, thanks to my super-mom. She liked waiting until Christmas Eve to buy and decorate our tree. Then she'd stay up 'til some ungodly hour baking, cooking, and arranging the presents she bought for us four kids, and making the living room look like a true Christmas dream. Of course, we'd be awake at 6:30, wanting to open presents, and she'd (bleary eyed) oblige us, and then start getting ready for the hordes of relatives that would descend to our tiny house. Lovely memories of a lovely woman. bonnieblue at wowway dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful memories, indeed. Sounds like she was a very special woman.

      Delete
    2. I recall my mom spending weeks baking those fruitcakes, and her delight when her sister passed along an apricot brandy cake recipe. I do believe those cakes were supposed to soak in the brandy, but something happened to the brandy before the cakes were done...

      Delete
    3. it evaporates, you know.

      Delete
  49. I, too, have many great Christmas memories. One special one was when I was a child...3rd of 6..and we didn't have much money for Christmas. Daddy would take each child, one at a time, to the basement to work on a special gift for another one. Don't remember what i made for whom but will never forget the fun time with Daddy making that special gift.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You gets lots of sibs in a big family (I'm one of seven), but you're right: The one on one time is precious. I recall when Mom would take my sister and me to the eye doctor a couple towns away. Oh, but a great adventure! We'd do a little shopping, maybe even stop for... fast food! What fun!

      Delete
    2. yup the one on one time is the best present around the holidays .

      Delete
  50. LOL - Yes, Grace, you DO need to keep an eye on those gals from Ohio!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Hi, Grace! I can get my husband anything to do with running and he'll be happy. :-)

    As for me, the best present I ever got (and wasn't exactly expecting) was my engagement ring 16 years ago! I wasn't expecting it because he gave me a bunch of other presents. But, he saved the best for last.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Everybody go tell your rowdy friends to drop in here, please, because we're already coming up on the second hour's give away, and then I only have one more hour before I have to turn over the mike to the next elf. Anybody who's registered through the landing page is eligible for every hour's giveaway, including the two e-readers Victoria Alexander will give away at the end of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Crabapple brandy sounds scrumptious. My grandmother when she was alive use to make fruitcakes for everyone. She would spend the whole year soaking them in brandy, wrapping them and freezing them, every month take them out and soak again and again till Christmas,needless to say how good they were.. We would all get together at her house, and share cooking detail,then just enjoy each other as we hardly saw any of the family throughout the year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never heard of a soaking for a whole year, but sounds scrumptious. I know plum pudding soaks for weeks and is then brought to the table flaming. Have to try that some time, though burning off the alcohol strikes me as a waste and a fire hazard.

      Delete
    2. oh those fruitcakes do sound good ... no one at my house eats fruitcake but me so i never get one :( but i think you just talked me into it this year lol

      Delete
    3. I AVOID fruitcake. I don't even really like it, but a little slice is followed by a little slice, and the calories in those suckers defy physics.

      Delete
    4. All the fruit was plump and juicy, So moist you needed a fork or spoon to eat it. She made the best fudge also.
      Forgot to say the best Christmas present I got was my mother paid for me to have the roof repaired. It had started leaking so bad water started to pour in in 1 spot, the ceiling had separated and hung down in that area. Shed managed to get a roofer here in short order,amazing in this town. Thank you mom!

      Delete
  54. One year my dad found this poem or writing of some kind about how parents love their children. He put one in each of our "Big" gifts and when we opened it up and read it, it was so lovely and sentimental, my four brothers and I cried. Dad was not one to always tell you he loved you. so to get this in our gift that Christmas meant the world to us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And whenever you hear something that recalls the poem, you get the moment back too. Well done, Dad!

      Delete
  55. One of my favorite childhood holiday memories are the lighting of Chanukah candles; it was always a special ritual for me and one of the few I still continue.

    In more recent memories: I shared Christmas day with my friend and his son for years, while his son was young. I'd show up mid-morning with Pillsbury orange rolls (not a baker, I); fresh coffee would be waiting and we'd enjoy all that while presents were opened. Later on was Christmas dinner followed usually by a walk, weather permitting, and a holiday movie or two.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love lighting the candles. Seems regardless of your tradition, this time of year, hope figures prominently.

      Delete
  56. All of the talk about alcohol-soaked fruitcakes reminds me of a wonderful man whom I used to work with years ago. His wife was this adorable little woman who was his World War II bride from Germany. Each Christmas she would make rum balls for us and put them in one of those old-fashioned Christmas tins. She used so much rum, we all had to be careful not to eat too many while at work for fear we would be drunk before noon! But they were absolutely delicious (and 100 proof!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. German ladies seem to know their way around a holiday kitchen. I had marzipan for brekkie to help me get in the mood today. So far, the day has been lovely!

      Delete
  57. oh boy, I can't stand listening to "we wish you a merry christmas" ever again!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. my son has been singing it non stop for the past 2 weeks . first few times through it was adorable now i want to send him outside everytime . and my littlest daughter has been singI want a hipputamus for christmas so they have to sing at the top of there lung to get over the other . ugh

      Delete
    2. My sense is somebody decided to come up with a Christmas song so simple it could be taught to five year old or inebriates of any age. "We Wish You" was the result.

      Delete
  58. I admit it i turn very grinchy over all the days the kids get out of school for the holidays. they had 2 weeks off in Nov and 2 weeks off coming up in Dec and Im trying to get things done . so it is common to see me walking around muttering about how we never got so much time off when i was a kid and we turned out just fine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AMEN SISTA. I realize year round school has a lot of benefits for those who otherwise lose ground over the big summer break (though for others, it does not), but I prefer a school year that has fewer, shorter breaks, and then lets the kids out for a big break in summer.

      Delete
    2. i wouldnt feel so bad if it was year round school but this is with the break in the summer

      Delete
  59. Grace, what really makes my blood pressure rise are all the TV commercials pimping holiday shopping that start right after Halloween. We saw our first one at 10:01 pm on Halloween night. I wanted to throw something at the TV screen! And then there are the endless loops of really bad Christmas songs piped into stores for weeks and weeks. Ugh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This drives me crazy, too. We have neighbors that were out putting up Christmas lights the week of Halloween! I wanted to tear a tape one of those 1 page calendars on their door, with a note that explained Christmas came in December, but my husband told me not to be a Scrooge.

      Delete
    2. Vanessa, the store where I work is using the same loop of Christmas songs that they've used for the past umpteen years. There are about twenty songs that play over and over and over...and over! I was sick of it after the first hour. And if I never hear Mele Kalikimaka (The Hawaiian Christmas Song) again it will be too soon. Three million times (that's how it feels) is enough for any lifetime! lol!

      Delete
    3. We seem to have touched on a nerve here. Where are those bourbon balls somebody mentioned? I don't have a TV, so I'm preserved from the shopping ads (and didn't suffer the campaign attack ads, either).

      Delete
    4. The bourbon ball ingredients are in my pantry, Grace, patiently waiting to be combined into a delicious treat. ;-)

      Delete
  60. Can't stand fruit cakes... Yet I get it all the time.... Argh!

    ReplyDelete
  61. My favorite memory about Christmas was that every year we would wake up and open presents at home then we would all grab a quick bite to eat and jump in the car to make the drive from Atlanta, GA to Gastonia, NC to spend the rest of the day with my grandparents and al my great aunts and uncles. It was always a huge gathering and they were a crazy bunch. I miss them all dearly and wish my kids could have experienced it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some of my best childhood memories are of Christmas with my mom's family. We would all (six kids, spouses and oodles of grandkids) gather at my grandparents' house the Saturday night before Christmas for fabulous food, lots of laughter and a (usually hysterically funny) gift exchange. My grandparents, parents and all of my aunts and uncles are gone now but the sweet memories are something I will cherish for a lifetime.

      Delete
    2. There's something to be said for those big get-togethers, but the older I am, the more I treasure smaller gatherings. Get a bunch of sugared up little kids together, and somebody always seems to end up hurt or crying.

      Delete
  62. My least favorite holiday treat is easy--and I apologize to all of you who love this--but I cannot abide eggnog. Too thick and too sweet for me. But a nice festive blend of pomegranate juice and prosecco is just perfect. ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually don't drink a lot of eggnog but the young bachelor down the street brought a huge bowl of his homemade nog to our neighborhood Christmas party a couple years ago and, honestly, it was one of the best things I've ever tasted. We drained that sucker! Good thing most of us were walking home. ;-)

      Delete
    2. I agree, and then somebody thinks to cut the thickness and sweetness by spiking it, and that just does not help. Will try your alternative--sounds quite healthy.

      Delete
  63. My least favorite treat is fruit cake. Does anyone actually ever eat it. YUCK!!
    And if I have to hear any more Bruce Springsteen Christmas songs I will lose it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh-oh, somebody just dissed the Boss. Anybody else that brave?

      Delete
  64. I cannot stand the hundreds of emails that show up in my inbox daily, proclaiming "best deal of the season" or whatever other holiday gimmick they decide to use. I'm actually considering unsubscribing from all of my favorite stores alerts. It's just too much this year.

    Oh...and in the spirit of being a Grinch, I loathe Black Friday. The whole concept is beyond ridiculous!

    End vent. lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As someone who had to work on their feet for 12.5 hours on Black Friday, I heartily agree!

      Delete
    2. Conspicuous consumption in general seems a little contradictory to the spirit of the season, but to some people Black Friday is a big, fun holiday tradition. To each his Dulcinea.

      Delete
  65. My least favorite part of my holidays now is lack of snow! I grew up in NY and moved to Florida a couple years ago and I am missing it! Although I don't miss being freezing!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Time to have friends who live near a ski resort, maybe? You can be the un-snowbird. My brothers work ski resorts and have many friends who follow winter. They winter in the US in December, then head down to New Zealand to winter there in July. Hmmm. These are mostly young people.

      Delete
    2. I lived in Florida for many years and loved the warm temps during the winter but, having grown up in Michigan, I always missed the snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

      Delete
    3. christmas is the only time i want to see snow and then it can melt the day after if it was up to me

      Delete
    4. I do miss snow! We just moved back to Texas after a few years on the East Coast & believing it's time for the holidays can be challenging without the cold & snow.

      Delete
  66. Some of the workers in our local mall have decided that the sound of the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle bell ringers annoys them, so the bell ringers don't have any clappers in their bells. They look completely ridiculous standing there shaking silent bells. I understand that the sound could get annoying, but your piped in Christmas music that started on November 1 should cover the sound quite nicely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh that terrible I hope they still do as well without the bell . Honestly I get to be one of those crazy busy have a plan run into the store and never notice whats around me type people and the sound of the bell is what makes me remember to grab out money to drop into the kettle . I hope theres not alot of people like me at your mall

      Delete
    2. Yes, the sound of incessant bell ringing would drive me to Grinch. Wonder how the Salvation Army workers feel about it, and if there are more or fewer donations when the bell is rung. Those barking dogs are still my all time least fave holiday touch, though. Cruelty to animals and humans in one fell, swoop.

      Delete
  67. I have to admit that my biggest Grinch moment comes when I have to literally beat myself to address and write something in each and every Christmas card. My hands tend to cramp up from arthritis a bit making this chore more difficult. However, I have really cut back on the number I am sending out this year and hopefully that will make me a more pleasant person. (Ha-Ha - yeah right!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i never know what to write on the christmas cards

      Delete
    2. Hence, the appeal of the Christmas letters. I like to read these even if I don't know the families about whom they're written. My brother Tom does a Christmas collage, too, a grouping of photos of the year past. Those goes on the fridge for months, and I'm sure he has a collection of them somewhere, too.

      Delete
    3. A collage? That is pure genius & I'm totally swiping the idea! Thanks :)

      Delete
  68. My dad gave me a book by Rush Limbaugh. I am a passionate liberal and the book was a slap in the face. I cried afterwards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, DAD!!! How could he? Though I have the same experience when talking politics with my dad. He's an intelligent man, a college professor with big degrees and tons of scientific publications, but it's as if he loses the ability to think rationally when it comes to politics... we change the subject a lot when it's election time.

      Delete
  69. Okay, I love fruitcake, good fruitcake. Not the dry, processed, cardboard stuff that you can pound nails with but the real cake with fruit, fruitcake. I also love Christmas music and look forward to it every year. I particularly enjoy hearing my daughter growl when she hears music because she thinks it should be played only on Christmas eve and Christmas day (insert picture of me with a twinkle in my eye while she is grimacing).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! My late husband and I had a deal. I wasn't allowed to play any Christmas music before Thanksgiving but starting the day after the big turkey I could play Christmas songs to my hearts content until New Year's Day. Then it would all go away until the next year. I do love Christmas music but only when I'm choosing the songs I want to hear. ;-)

      Delete
    2. We're all sending out fruitcakes to Penny!

      Delete
  70. Hi, Grace--My least favorite holiday treat was one my mom used to make. She tucked a pecan into a pitted date and rolled them in powdered sugar. She and my dad loved them, but I would've rather not seen them.

    My grinchly moments come if I have to walk through the mall, where people working the kiosks accosts passersby. If I'm interested in the product, I'll stop. But otherwise, no, you can't ask me a question designed solely to make me stop so you can deliver your pitch, and do NOT step into my path. *sigh* I avoid the mall as much as I can during this season.

    I didn't register for the prizes because I already have the books. Happy holidays!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I avoid malls on general principles. Didn't know the attack ads had become animated and holiday themed.

      Delete
  71. I can't stand the Christmas music that is on a loop where I work. I work in a retail store and I know the customers don't notice, but I work in an office in the back. I hear it over and over 40 hours a week. I am lucky I'm not bald from tearing my hair out, lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ear buds, maybe? You put me in mind of the scene from The Shawshank Redemption, where he steals into the guard tower, and instead of hearing the PA tripe, he blasts the prison with a gorgeous aria...

      Delete
  72. I LOVE Christmas, but I am getting a little "Grinchy" about shopping for presents. Over the last few years, shopping has evolved into me doing just about all the shopping. My dad and mother-in-law both give me money to buy gifts for the family. My husband is not a shopper, and he has no clue what to buy me unless I buy it for him! Yes, I buy my own gifts! At least, I get what I want. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hooboy, what a trade off. Aren't there ANY family members who can take a few names off your list? Shopping on line is easier than ever, and the selection is endless... just a suggestion. Don't throw a fruitcake at me. Penny likes them.

      Delete
  73. I'm not a fan of fruit cake and mince meat pie. Every year my grandmother waxes on about how they are so good and is constantly trying to make me eat it. Yuck.

    ReplyDelete
  74. The best thing I like to eat for Christmas is my mom's fudge. She puts lots of pecans. The smell of chocolate melting in the pan is overwhelming. Even my grown children can't wait to eat the fudge. I really don't get into fruitcake. I never really like it. So I stick to fudge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Madam, GET THAT RECIPE and post it here. The prizes get larger as the day goes on. Just sayin'.

      Delete
  75. My grinch moment: I do not like wrapping presents. I wish someone would help but somehow I always seem to find myself all alone working on an enormous pile of stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd volunteer to wrap your gifts for you! ;) I love wrapping presents! All of the shiny paper & pretty bows & tags. I'm sitting here with a dopey grin right now. lol

      Delete
    2. Sometimes I like it, but I don't have the knack of making the gifts just so. As a single mom, the present wrapping phase of the holidays always left me particularly lonely, though I know my own mom wrapped for seven kids without any help from Dad. I was curious to find that wrapping paper was pretty much a Regency invention, and popularized in the Victorian era. What did they do for 1800 years without wrapping paper at Christmas?

      Delete
    3. i suck at wrapping presents .*hint hint * cause i was so bad at wrapping hubby took the job away from me

      Delete
  76. I work at Wonderful Wally World (aka Walmart) so it isn't a question of IF I have Grinch moments, but which ones bear repeating! A couple of years ago management had the bright idea to perch one of those huge inflatable Christmas decorations on top of the produce coolers right across from the bakery (I manage the bakery department.) This inflatable band of a polar bear, a penguin and a reindeer played the same two Christmas carols over, and over, and over, and over. It started the day after Thanksgiving and by the 20th of December we were pooling our money to buy a BB gun from sporting goods in order to assassinate the band!

    This year the Grinches are out early. Yesterday I had to referee a fight between two customers who were fighting over the last Penguin cupcake critter in my cake case! (A cupcake critter, for the uninitiated is a cute little animal fashioned from two cupcakes and a copious amount of icing. My decorators do a darling little penguin complete with Santa hat and a candy can in its flipper.) Even when I explained we could whip up another penguin in fifteen minutes these two women insisted they must have THIS penguin immediately. Sigh. It's going to be a LONG December!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am a fellow associate from California, fortunately I don't work on the sales floor often. I do get the occasional customer and wow you aren't kidding this time of year can bring out the worst in people.

      Delete
  77. my grinch moment is the holiday being "started" as early as in September in some stores. I do miss being young during the holidays, when the month btwn Thanksgiving & Christmas/new year's week seemed so long and there was lots of time to enjoy it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I got my toe caught in that wringer. My editor invited me to write a holiday story--lovely! But I already had a book coming out in November. I did not realize the Christmas book would hit the shelves a month BEFORE the November release. HUH!? Readers were not happy at me when I messed up the sequencing of my family series over that one. How was I supposed to know Christmas hits the shelves before Halloween?

      Delete
  78. I must admit it takes me longetr each year to get into the Christmas spirit. But I pull out of my funk, have my annual Sparkle in the Park party for all my nieces and nephews and I get through the holidays.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a family law attorney, and I do not recommend that profession when the holidays approach. In terms of domestic violence, Christmas Eve is the WORST night of the year, except for Super Bowl Sunday in the city that wins (probably much alcohol consumed). This is part of the reason we wanted to send a big batch of books to a shelter or library. For some people, the holidays are one long, cold, lonely slog, and for some families too.

      Delete
    2. Grace, that is such a sad statistic. All the more reason why we need to remember those who are less fortunate over the holidays. Thank you for the reminder!

      Delete
  79. I pretty much loathe all the commercial aspects of the season, especially stuff that starts before Thanksgiving. Commercials, bad music mash-ups, lights up before Halloween. My food allergies have saved me from being subjected to most holiday foods - both the delicious and the shudder-worthy. Am determined to attempt recipes for a Stollen & David Lebovitz's fruit cake that I can eat. Then if I don't like them I'll be firmly on the no-fruit cake team. Gingerbread, pumpkin pie, shortbread, mace cookies, all sing of the holiday to me. Along with mulled wine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wassail was a popular libation in days of yore. I'm thinking that was mulled wine in most households?

      Delete