The hour three winner of
Season for Surrender
by Theresa Romain
Diane Patricia Diamond
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
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
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
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?