Thursday, September 5, 2019

Excerpt & Giveaway - - Christmas from the Heart


I love holiday romances and Sheila Roberts can always be counted on to bring me one that makes me laugh, engages my baking urges, and fills my heart with joy. I'm looking forward to another heartwarming journey in Christmas from the Heart

Christmas from the Heart
By Sheila Roberts
Publisher: MIRA Books
Release Date: September 24, 2019


Sometimes you need to look beyond the big picture to see what really matters

Olivia Berg’s charity, Christmas from the Heart, has helped generations of families in need in Pine River, Washington, but this year might be the end of the road. Hightower Enterprises, one of their biggest donors since way back when Olivia’s grandmother ran the charity, has been taken over by Ebenezer Scrooge the Second, aka CFO Guy Hightower, and he’s declared there will be no more money coming to Christmas from the Heart.

Guy is simply being practical. Hightower Enterprises needs to tighten its belt, and when you don’t have money to spare, you don’t have money to share. You’d think even the pushy Olivia Berg could understand that.

With charitable donations dwindling, Olivia’s Christmas budget depends on Hightower’s contribution. She’s focused her whole life on helping this small town, even putting her love life on hold to support her mission.

When Guy’s Maserati breaks down at the edge of the Cascade foothills, he’s relieved to be rescued by a pretty young woman who drives him to the nearby town of Pine River. Until he realizes his rescuer is none other than Olivia Berg. What’s a Scrooge to do? Plug his nose and eat fruitcake and hope sh
e doesn’t learn his true identity before he can get out of town. What could go wrong?

Excerpt

Livi poured the last of Joe Ford’s coffee down the drain and stuck the mug in the dishwasher, all the while kicking herself for getting up on her high horse. Way to alienate a possible donor. More than just a donor, she had to admit. She liked Joe Ford, liked talking to him.

Rather, she had liked talking to him until she blew it. What had she been thinking, anyway?

She hadn’t. His comment had hit a nerve and she’d simply reacted. And now he’d bolted. They’d been making such progress, too, sharing life experiences. Obviously, they had things in common. Well, not the skiing. Her brother had skied but she’d always been a little afraid of going fast downhill. Still, she liked to cross country ski—something that was much more affordable. Maybe Joe liked to cross country as well. He obviously enjoyed the outdoors. So did she. He’d lost a parent, so had she. He liked cookies.  She did, too.


She leaned against the counter and chewed on her lower lip. He especially liked sugar cookies. She hadn’t baked those since Mom died. Everything else she’d managed—the pies at Thanksgiving, the Christmas decorations, every other cookie. But the frosted sugar cookies, that was a different story.

She could still see herself as a little girl, perched at the edge of the kitchen table, helping her mother frost and decorate those cookies. The stars got yellow sprinkles, the Santas were trimmed with pink frosting, and the trees, the best of them all, those got a light green frosting and a gentle shake of multi-colored sprinkles—“Not too much dear, just enough to look pretty”—and a silver dragΓ©e at the top to stand in for a star. Livi always concentrated so hard to make sure that tiny silver ball was placed exactly. “Oh, that’s perfect,” Mom would say, and it described both the cookie and their time together.

“I don’t think I can do it, Mom,” Livi said.

Not even for Christmas from the Heart? a voice seemed to whisper.

Livi took in a deep breath.

And to bring back a happy memory? To honor those special times and the life we enjoyed together? And to pass on a little of that happiness?

Passing on happiness, keeping her mother’s memory alive—yes, she should make those sugar cookies. Livi took out the old, blue mixing bowl that had been her grandmother’s and then her mother’s. She got out the eggs and butter and flour and sugar and got to work. Half an hour later the kitchen smelled just the way she remembered.

“I wish you were here in person,” she said as she rolled out another batch of cookies. “But I’ll settle for having you here in spirit.”

And wouldn’t it be fun if, someday, she had a little girl of her own to bake sugar cookies with?

Ding, ding, ding, said her biological clock. I’m winding down so you’d better find a sperm donor soon.

“Yeah, good luck with that,” she muttered.

Did Joe Ford have a girlfriend?

And why was she even bothering to speculate about him? She’d be lucky if she even got so much as a dollar from Joe after chewing him out.


Don’t think like that, she told herself. You’re making him sugar cookies. Sugar cookies make great olive branches. So maybe she’d get a donation for Christmas from the Heart after all.

Of money. She’d probably have to settle for just money.

She finished with her baking and got the cookies frosted. And only shed a few tears in the process. She decided to take a few in to her father, who was hiding out in the den with a book.

“I thought I smelled something good,” he said as she came in. “What have we here?” Then he caught sight of what was on the plate, and his smile faltered.

“I think Mom would want us to keep enjoying them,” she said, although looking at his expression she doubted he’d find any enjoyment in her offering.

He nodded and took the plate. “Thank you, Snowflake.”

She twisted her fingers together. “Maybe I shouldn’t have.”

“Yes, you should have. It would have made your mother happy to see you making them.”

“It would have made her happy to see you eating them,” she said softly.

He nodded, but made no move to take one.

He looked like a man anxious for a solitary moment so she kissed his cheek and left him, shutting the pocket door behind her. It was barely closed when she heard a sob. This had not been one of her better ideas.

With a sigh, she returned to the kitchen. Oh, well. They were done now. May as well take some up to Joe. She put some on another plate and went upstairs to deliver the cookies to her impromptu houseguest and maybe a little speech about how she really was a nice person and never got snappy, then knocked on the door.

It felt like the little drummer boy was banging around in her chest. This was going to go over about as well as the delivery to her father. She’d already given Joe cookies at dinner. This would come across as a desperate ploy for attention. But it was too late to slink away now that she’d knocked.

Joe opened the door looking wary. Until he saw the cookies. “Oh, wow.”

Success. She smiled. “Peace offering,” she said as she handed over the plate.

“There’s no need for that.”

“I thought there was. I got a little snappy.”

He shrugged. “We all do when we’re stressed and overworked.”

“Which is why I guess I should be saving up for a vacation.”

“All work and no play, they say.”

“Oh, I fit in some play.”

He leaned against the door jamb and helped himself to a cookie. “Yeah?” He took a bite. “Oh, man, that’s good.”

“Just like you remember?”

“Better. Only don’t tell my mom.” He took another bite. Chewed, swallowed.

And she stood there, not wanting to leave.

He didn’t seem to want her to. “So, what do you do for fun around here?”

“I ski.”

“Yeah?”

Okay, tell the whole truth. “Cross country,” she said.

He nodded, half approving. “Pretty country for that.”

“I was never brave enough to try downhill,” she confessed.

“You should try it. It gives you a real rush.”

A real rush. When it came down to it she didn’t do much of anything that gave her a real rush.

“What else?”

What else? “There’s a restaurant here in town that has a little dance floor. Morris and I go dancing sometimes.” Oh, no, that had been a misstep. “Not that there’s anything between us,” she hurried on. “We’re just friends.”

“One of you is just friends,” Joe said.

Joe had good powers of observation. “We’ve known each other for years.”

“But he’s not cutting it.”

“Morris is a nice man and a good friend.”

“Like I said, he’s not cutting it.”

“He doesn’t care if he ever sees the Eiffel Tower.” Good grief. What was she saying? “Okay, how shallow does that make me sound?”

“It doesn’t. You’re obviously two different people who want different things out of life. No point being with somebody when it’s not going to work.”

Well, she and Morris did want the same basic things—a home and family. Did Joe Ford want a home and family?

“What else do you do for fun?” he prompted.

“Not much,” she admitted. “My family used to play cards, but Dad and I haven’t done anything like that since we lost Mom.”

“Cards, huh?”

Now he was looking at her speculatively.

Cookies and cards. Joe Ford could be lured back out of the guest room. She cast out a lure she was sure would work. “I’m unbeatable at progressive gin rummy.”

A corner of his mouth quirked up, and the little drummer boy woke up and started on his drum again. That smile. Oh, that smile. It lit up his eyes. Lit her up pretty good, too.

“Yeah?” he said.

She raised her chin in challenge. “Yeah.”

“Got some cards?”

“Of course.”

“I’ll be down in a few,” he said.

“I don’t believe in stroking egos,” she warned.

“And I don’t believe in chivalry,” he shot back. “There are no friends in cards.”

“Okay. But don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she said and sashayed off down the hall. Oh, yes, she and Joe Ford were now well on their way to becoming friends. Could they possibly become more?


By the time he came down, his hostess had the cards out and hot chocolate poured into mugs. More cookies sat on the plate on the kitchen table. Greeting card perfect.

She smiled up at him as she shuffled the deck and taunted, “Prepare to lose.”

“I don’t lose at cards. He and his brothers used to play a lot of poker on those ski trips to Vail. He always came away with the pot.

She cocked an eyebrow. “Oh? Ever hear the expression pride goes before a fall?”

“Yeah, and I’m afraid you’re gonna fall big time,” he said as he sat down. All those shiny curls, those pretty, green eyes—someone else at this table was in danger of falling. Big time.

She dealt three cards for the first round. “I almost feel sorry for you.”

“You that confident, huh?” he teased. Her perfume reached out with invisible fingers and tickled his nose. He wanted to play with a lock of her hair.

She looked at her hand and smiled. “I am.”

She must have gotten a wild card. “Want to bet on it?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

“Ah, not so confident after all. I don’t want that card, by the way,” he said, passing on the four of diamonds on the discard pile.

“Oh, I am. But, on the off chance that you got lucky I wouldn’t have anything to pay you with. I’ve only got a couple of dollars in my purse. I don’t want that either,” she said.

 He drew and got a wild card, which gave him three of a kind. “So, wager something else.”

“More cookies?”

“You already gave me cookies.”

“Fudge?”

“Not that into fudge.” Looking at Livi, he had something much better in mind.

“Okay, then what?”

              “How about a kiss?”

Her eyes opened wide and her face flushed. “A kiss?” she repeated as if he’d just proposed she sleep with him.

Okay, that had been stupid. What could he say? He’d been under the influence of perfume.

He bluffed it out. “Hey, I like to gamble big.”

“We hardly know each other,” she protested.

Wasn’t that the truth? If she knew he was Guy Hightower, the one and only corporate executive who’d scrubbed his company’s donation to Christmas Expressions for the first time in decades, she’d spit in his face. But right now he was plain old Joe Ford, enjoying an evening with a pretty woman.

“We’re getting to know each other,” he pointed out. And he realized he wanted her to get to know him, to see that he was more than the stingy guardian of a company’s treasure chest. “One kiss won’t hurt. Unless there’s someone else?”

“No, no.” The words came out half assurance and half regret.

“Well, then?”

“What will you give me if I win?” she asked, her cheeks still flushed.

If I lose I’ll make breakfast tomorrow. How’s that?”

That was acceptable. Her smile returned. “Okay. We just happen to have plenty of eggs.”

“Good,” he said, then discarded and laid down his cards, face up.

“You had a wild card,” she accused.

“But not up my sleeve.”

She frowned and drew. Then laid down. She’d had a wild card, too, but nothing else matched. Even when she played it on what he’d laid down, he still caught her with ten points.

“I’m looking forward to that kiss,” he teased, bringing back her blush.

“It’s only the first hand,” she said. “You got lucky.”

He’d like to get lucky with Little Miss Helpful. But that really wasn’t in the cards. He’d have to settle for a kiss.

She won the next hand, going out with a run of four, but only caught him with a couple of points, and the third hand went to him. “I hope you’re a good kisser,” he teased as he dealt the cards.

“I hope you’re a good cook,” she retorted.

“Not really, but I can handle eggs.”

“You don’t cook much?”

“No time, really,” he said. “I put in pretty long hours.”

She examined her cards. “No one in your life to cook for you?”

She was fishing. He hid a smile. “Nope. Back to that time thing.”

“You have to make time for people somewhere in your life.”

“I have people in my life. I’ve got my mom and two brothers, a couple of nephews and a niece, a stepdad and stepsisters, people I work with.” His family was too busy to hang out outside of work. He rarely had time for his old college buddies. Most of his social life revolved around business.

It counted. “But really, when you’re working sixty and seventy hours a week, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for much of anything else.”

“That’s kind of sad,” she said, and drew a card.

“Sad?”

“Well, it’s good to have a job, but I’d think you’d want a little more balance in your life.”
This from the woman who couldn’t afford to take a vacation. “I don’t just have a job. I have a company. I’m responsible for a lot of jobs.”

“Of course,” she murmured.

“You make it sound like it’s a bad thing to be in business.”

“Oh, it’s not,” she said quickly. “Without business people there’d be no one to help organizations like mine,” she said.

Damn straight.

“I guess I was just thinking that maybe there’s a difference between you being in business and business being in you so much that the rest of your life gets shoved off into a corner.”

She discarded, and he picked it up. “It all goes together, Livi. I care about what I do as much as you do, and for good reason. Businesses give people jobs. Jobs equal security and happiness. Corporations get a bad rap, but when it comes right down to it, those corporations that give people a paycheck help them have a life.” So much for not getting into a philosophical debate.

“It looks like you’ve got a pretty good life,” she observed.

That hit a nerve. Yeah, he did. He had his condo and the family place in Vail. He had stocks and mutual funds and a nice 401K. But so what? His dad had worked hard and his father before him. Guy’s brothers worked hard and so did he.

“Should I feel guilty because I’m doing well?”

“No, not at all. I don’t begrudge anyone his success,” she said, keeping her gaze on the card she’d just drawn.

“Are you sure?”

“Really,” she insisted, sorting through the cards in her hand. “But isn’t it wonderful when you’re doing well to be able to help others do well, too?”

“I do that,” he insisted. It was his turn. He drew and discarded. Well, rats. There went a wild card.

She beamed at him. “I’m glad to hear that. I think generosity is the best quality a person can have. And speaking of, thanks,” she said, and scooped up his discard. And went down, leaving him stuck with twenty-five points. “I like my eggs over easy.”

“Don’t put your order in yet. The game’s not over.” And neither was this conversation.

“You know,” he said casually, as they organized their hands, “it’s easy for people to judge how other people manage their money but sometimes they don’t have all the facts.”

She frowned.

“You don’t agree with that?” he prompted.

“I do in most cases. But some businesses …” She pressed her lips tightly together and picked up a card.

“The major donor you lost?”

“It was wrong.  The company’s founder was my great-grandmother’s first donor. He supported Christmas from the Heart wholeheartedly.”

Old Elias Hightower again. Guy frowned.

To hear Livi speak you’d have thought his great granddad was a saint. He may have looked like a saint to a lot of people, but the ones he’d cheated early in his life with shady business deals probably hadn’t thought so.

By the time Livi’s great-grandma had come along, Elias had managed to pass himself off as a solid family man and pillar of the community, all the while keeping his mistress hidden from the public eye. Family legend had it that Elias had tried to seduce Adelaide Brimwell, hoping to make her his new mistress. Adelaide had threatened to tell her husband, and the only way to shut her up was to make a hefty contribution to her charity. Elias forked over a sizeable chunk and got to keep his false but good reputation, and Adelaide found a champion for her cause. Thus began the relationship between the Hightowers and Christmas from the Heart.

“I’d say she pretty much blackmailed him,” Guy’s dad had once said when the subject of corporate responsibility came up. “But in her case the ends justified the means, and old Elias needed to pay for his sins anyway.”

This was one bedtime story Olivia Berg had probably never heard.

“His company has been there for us ever since,” Livi continued, warming to her subject.

Paying for great-granddad’s sins.

“He’s probably turning in his grave at the way they’ve abandoned us.”

More likely he was turning in his grave over how his great-grandkids had managed to screw up managing the company since taking over. “The company could be having problems you don’t know about.”

She sighed. “I suppose. It was just the way the whole thing was handled. It was so … heartless. And I bet if their CFO had looked hard enough he could have found some money.

He probably could have. But instead he’d given their money to higher profile non-profits. Guy felt slightly ill. Cookies, hot chocolate and guilt didn’t mix well together.

“I guess I’m sounding ...” She stopped and gnawed that kissable lower lip.

“What?” Guy prompted.

“Entitled. And I shouldn’t feel entitled to something that’s given and not owed.”

She had that right.

“But I am hugely disappointed. After so many years, being cut off, losing that fundingwe were orphaned. And insulted, to boot. We’re not leeches,” she said with a scowl. “That was what the CFO called me. Picture that.”

He was, and it made him wince. “Maybe he was having a bad day.” Or maybe he was being a jerk. “They’ll probably make up for it next year,” he said and vowed to do exactly that.

“That sure doesn’t help us this year. Honestly, if I had that man here right now I’d …” She sputtered to a stop. “I’m sorry. I’m being completely unprofessional.”

“It’s okay,” he assured her. “This isn’t a business meeting.”

“Still, you’re right. I don’t know what’s going on at the company. For all I know the man’s had to take a pay cut.”

Not yet.

“He’s probably got a family to feed.”

Not even a cat.

“You never really know about people.”

Thank God she didn’t know about him. Guy was so rattled he missed picking up a card he needed.

On her turn, she drew and went down. “Ha! Gotcha,” she crowed.

Yes, she did. She had him, hook, line and sinker, and he was flopping at her feet.

“So, let’s quit talking about all those evil businessmen,” he said as they started their next hand. “Tell me what you do for the holidays.”

That put her in a happy mood again. “Well, on Christmas Eve day we’ll be delivering Christmas stockings and turkeys to homes here in town and in Gold Bar and Skykomish.”

Back to Christmas from the Heart again. The woman lived, ate and breathed it. Guy found himself envying her passion. In spite of the long hours he worked he didn’t feel that kind of passion for his company.

“Then my brother and his wife will come up to spend the night,” she continued, “which means as soon as those deliveries are made I’ll be busy baking red velvet cake and heating ham for Christmas Eve dinner. We always play a couple of games after dinner and then stay up late watching Christmas movies. Of course, my brother will still wake us up early to open presents.”

“Yeah, I was always the one who did that.”

“You’re welcome to join us for dinner if you’re still stranded here,” she offered.

“Thanks.”

If he hadn’t promised his mom he’d be with her he’d have loved to. He could easily envision Christmas in the Berg householdeggnog, presents, lit candles, smiling, happy family. It was the kind of holiday his mom had created for them growing up, only with more expensive presents. The kind of holiday he’d loved before his dad died and it all fell apart.

“You probably have your own Christmas traditions, too,” she said.

“We did. When my dad was alive. Things changed after he died.” And not for the better.

Guy had just gotten his MBA when his father had his heart attack, forcing his sons to shoulder burdens they weren’t yet ready for. Mike had already been working at Hightower for four years, learning the business, and wife number one was spending his money as fast as he could make it. Their dad had been grooming him to take over the company, but that was supposed to have been much further down the road. Bryan had gone to the Hightower salt mine right after college, and he’d been there for two years and was still pretty much clueless and only mildly invested in his job. Then there’d been Guy, the boy genius, the third member of the young Hightower triumvirate that would someday control the family empire. He’d been in no hurry to come on board. He’d worked hard in school and wanted time off to play. There was time. The old man would be around forever.

Except it didn’t turn out that way. Their father was an old man, seventeen years older than his wife and worn-out. He’d thrown a clot when he had the heart attack, and that had left him paralyzed on one side and in rehab.

“We spent our last Christmas as a family at the rehab center.” Guy remembered how the place had smelledpine scented cleaner trying to overpower the scent of urine. A little old lady had hobbled past him, leaning on a walker and grimacing. She wore a Santa hat on her head, probably stuck there by the woman who was with her and talking about the wonderful turkey dinner that would be served later.

Neither Bryan nor Guy had stuck around for turkey dinner. Bryan had stood around helplessly for twenty minutes while Dad sat in his wheelchair, unable to talk, and Mom tried to smile through the tears washing away her make-up, then he’d bolted. Guy hadn’t lasted much longer. After some inane comment on how Dad would be out of that thing and back on top soon, he’d kissed Mom on the cheek, promised to take her out to eat the next day and then beat it, leaving Mike to eat turkey dinner with the aged and infirm. It went with being the oldest. Guy had gone back home and found Bryan there, making serious inroads into a bottle of Scotch. He’d joined his brother and they’d drunk their way through Christmas. His dad died two days later, and they’d drunk their way through New Year’s, too.

After that Mom dived into mourning, Mike stepped into shoes still too big for him and got his first divorce. Bryan got serious about work and tried to keep up. Guy joined the Hightower Empire, put his shoulder to the wheel, and went to work.

As for Christmas? At first they tried to re-create what they’d had as a family, everyone gathering at Mom’s, but sadness tarnished it. After the first Christmas without their dad, Bryan’s wife had stepped into the role of holiday hostess, insisting everyone come to their house. That had really felt wrong. The Hightower version of the holiday eventually turned into skiing with the brothers when they were in between women or taking Mom out for dinner.

Guy doubted he’d find that greeting-card-perfect Christmas with his mom’s new family. She was determined to try, but really, it was like trying to patch up something broken. You always knew it was cracked. You were always aware of the patch.

He hadn’t realized he was frowning until Livi laid a hand on his and murmured, “I’m sorry, Joe.”

He shrugged. “Stuff like that happens in every family.” Then he remembered her mom. “I guess you already know that.”

Her hand slid away and she looked at her cards, blinking back tears. “It’s hard to lose people you care about. But it sure makes you appreciate the ones who are left all the more. And it’s important to honor their memories and keep those special traditions alive.”

Or maybe make new ones. Hard to make new traditions when you didn’t have anyone special to make them with.

He got his head back in the card game. Christmases past were gone and out of reach. Better to stay here in the present, playing cards with a little cutie who, so far, thought he was a good man.

He didn’t want to go too far into the future, either. Except maybe he could change it. Maybe he could change her opinion of him. His was changing toward her. Olivia Berg, he was coming to realize, was something special.

They played out a few hands, the score remaining close. Until the last hand. Oh yeah, luck was being a lady tonight. He stuck Livi with thirty points, and that won the game for him.

She looked stunned. “I can’t believe you beat me.”

“Well, you know what they say. Pride goes before a fall,” he teased.

She stuck out her lower lip. Oh yeah, he was ready for that kiss. “Hey now, no pouting just because I’m not making breakfast.”

“You got lucky.”

Oh, how he’d like to get lucky. “Okay, time to pay up.”

Her cheeks turned pink again.

“I promise I’ll make it painless,” he murmured with a smile.

He leaned across the table, and she did the same. Then he slipped a hand behind her neck and drew her to him. He could smell that peppermint perfume. Her hair was so soft. So were her lips and they tasted like hot chocolate. She sighed into the kiss, and he let the moment stretch out, threading his fingers through her hair. Her hands slipped up to the nape of his neck, her fingers soft and warm against his skin.

He could have gone on like that all night, moving them away from the table and out onto that living room couch, deepening their kiss, pulling her close, enjoying the feel of her curves, inhaling her scent. But that wouldn’t have been right. Even what he was doing was sure to put him on Santa’s naughty list for life.

It had been worth it though. He pulled back. “You’re a good loser. And a good kisser,” he added, making her cheeks turn pink. “Now, you have to have had other men tell you that,” he said.

She shrugged.

“There’s been no one special?”

“In college. And Morris and I once, when we were younger. But …” She sighed. “I don’t know what I’m waiting for.”

“The right one?” Someone who deserved her. Which instantly disqualified him.

“I guess. How about you?”

“I thought I was in love once. Turned out I was wrong.”

Okay, they were wandering into chick territory. Next they’d be sharing their every heartbreak. He stood. “I’ve had enough sitting. How about a walk?”

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tell me about your Christmas traditions.

Fruitcake: yes or no?

Two people who comment before 11:00 PM, September 6 will each receive a copy of Christmas from the Heart
(U.S. addresses only)


104 comments:

  1. I have been waiting for this book to come out and am excited to see a chance to win a copy.
    Since most of our family has passed on or moved away we have had to make new traditions. WE get together with my daughter's in laws for the traditional Italian Christmas Eve feast and then on Christmas Day we either come to our house or my daughter's for dinner.

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  2. How could I forget, I make Christmas cookies and decorate our tree with our granddaughter who is now in middle school. She likes to put on her fav ornaments and I have a special cooky sheet with all kinds of shapes to mold the dough, wreath, gingerbread man and lady, Christmas tree, etc. And no to fruitcake. Years ago I made a different fruitcake, a chocolate one from one of Deb Macomber's novels which was to die for. I used to give loaves to friends and co-workers. I should really start making them again during the holiday.

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    1. Yes, to chocolate fruitcake, the only way to go. I have a recipe in my book that my good friend Jan contributed. It is yummy!

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  3. As I get older, our traditions are changing a bit. My daughter is picking up the slack of the things I can no longer do. She does most of the cookie baking and we have agreed we don't need mass quantities of cookies so only half batches and far fewer varieties! We still do a big Christmas dinner of Roasted Prime Rib at my house, but again...my daughter, the gourmet cook, takes care of the cooking of the roast and sides. Does an excellent job of it too. And NO fruitcake to be found! None of us like it.

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    1. That's the best of all worlds - still doing the celebration but toning it down a little and letting the next generation take over. A great idea doing the half batch of the cookies!

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  4. No one cares for fruitcake. We have many wonderful traditions which the family continues to enjoy every year. We gather around after a lovely feast which I make and then starts the stories from years gone by.

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  5. Oh yes to fruitcake, My sister makes us one every year for Christmas we all love it. Great review thank you, This sounds very good
    Penney

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  6. No to fruitcake.

    I make Christmas cookies with my daughters, granddaughters and son in laws. Fun Time.

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    1. Great fun! My daughter and I used to make chocolate bon bons together. Now we've switched to Andes Mint cookies. :)

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  7. I create a dinner for the entire family. They just relax and enjoy. As long as i can I will since it is important to me. We replace fruitcake with shortbread and apple cake.

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  8. That's a big NO to fruitcake!

    We have a family Christmas Cookie baking weekend every year which is so much fun! I look forward to it each year!

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  9. Definitely no fruitcake. Every year I make all the traditional Italian cookies with my niece. Then we make trays for family and friends. I love our baking days. This book sounds wonderful! Thank you!

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  10. I enjoy a little fruitcake, especially if there's a bit of hardsauce, but no one in my family ever made any. My Mom always made a large variety of Christmas cookies - I need to dig out all her recipe cards and make some this year.

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  11. Can't wait to read this book !!
    NO to the fruit cake..lol
    And we still like to drive around and look at the Christmas lights :)

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    1. Oh, yes! We did that when our kids were little. It would be fun to do again.

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  12. First of all, that is one beautiful cover! I am a cover girl. no to fruit cake. ugh. we have too many traditions to count. my favorite however is the Advent calendar. i love decorating the tree with an ornament for each day of December. Each kid took a turn and eventually everyone got to put up the star on Christmas Eve. We'd go to midnight mass and then open presents when we got back. made for a very lazy, relaxed Christmas Day.

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    1. That all sounds lovely. Love the idea of putting up an ornament for each day of the month.

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  13. WE go to my mother's in law's on Christmas Eve and then to my Mom and Dad's for Christmas Day. I take my daughter to buy gifts from her and make cookies.
    Karen T. (Natty's Mama)

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  14. My immediate family comes over to mine and my husband's house and we watch my son and my three nieces open presents early Christmas morning. Then we have different sets of grandparents houses to go to. It's a busy day for us

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  15. No to fruitcake but we do love Christmas Crackers (the British Christmas poppers that you pull and get a toy, a paper crown, and usually a riddle, joke, etc.). The whole family participates after the holiday meal. Great fun! :)

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  16. Fruitcake NO...my Christmas tradition is having my twin brothers over and their families along with my parents the day after Christmas for a luncheon...been doing that for years....family first....

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  17. If it works with everyones Christmas schedule we all get together on Christmas day for a yummy turkey dinner and open gifts.Then just sit around talking and laughing.

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  18. Happy Thursday! Another exciting book! No fruitcake. We always watch A Christmas Carol as a family and give thanks for our blesdings. Have a blessed day! ❤️πŸ“š❤️🍫❤️✉️πŸŒˆπŸŒΈπŸ§πŸŒΊπŸ“πŸ’πŸ±πŸ’ŒπŸœπŸŽŠπŸ—

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    1. A Christmas Carol - in my opinion one of the most amazing stories ever written. :)

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  19. i am the only one in my family that loves fruitcake so i eat it myself. our traditions are watching the peanuts christmas movie, polar express and making cutout cookies

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    1. Fun! I loved Polar Express. Took my granddaughter to it when she was little.

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  20. Yes to Claxton fruitcake. My mom was from the South and we always had it! Slice thinly and it's yummy!

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    1. Hmm. Never heard of Claxton fruitcake. Will have to check it out.

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  21. I'd love to read this! No fruitcake for me. Every year I make a "Christmas" coffee cake, made with coffee even. The family always has a piece with breakfast.

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    1. Ooh, that sounds yummy. Is that a top secret family recipe Margie? If you're up to sharing I'd love to see it. (Email me at sheilaroberts@sheilasplace.com)

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  22. This book looks to be as amazing as the others. I love fruit cake

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  23. In the early evening as the sun is setting, you start making 5:00 bread, all can take turns kneading the bread. At 5:00 put the dough in a huge bowl and let rise 3 times before 10:00. At 10:00, take the dough and make cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls and lovely loafs of bread. Let rise till you wake up in the morning and start baking, and all can have fresh cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven, yum

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  24. Yes, we love fruitcake in our family!

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    1. You will so love the recipes in this book then. :)

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  25. I'm not a fruit cake fan. One xmas tradition is to go see the tree at Rockefeller center

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  26. Absolutely no to fruitcake even though my mom makes it!

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  27. Longtime Sheila Roberts fan--her holiday books are extra-special!!! Fruitcake--yes, indeed. I always state with pride that I come from a "fruitcake family". It has to be the dark mysterious, fragrant fruitcake like my Gran made (hers has never been equaled). My favorite holiday treat is a slice of dark fruitcake accompanied by a cup of rich eggnog--a match made in Holiday Heaven!!!

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  28. Not much of a fan of fruitcake. All my Christmas traditions are no more. My children are all grown and live elsewhere. So, since I am an admitted book junkie, I read tons of Christmas books during the season and all during the year actually. I have some of the old Signet holiday anthologies. I have gathered Christmas books which make me smile and feel the season.

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    1. What a great idea! And wow, Signet, that is old.

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  29. No to fruitcake. One of our traditions is to go out to eat Chinese food on Christmas Day. We have been doing it for a few years and we all love it and have a good time.

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    1. Reminds me of the movie A Christmas Story. :) I'm up for Chinese food any time!

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  30. I'll read anything with Sheila Roberts name on it! She's an auto buy for me! I can't wait for this one!

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  31. I like fruitcake cookies but not regular fruitcake. We have several traditions, always drive around the weekend before Christmas looking at Christmas lights and drinking hot coffee or cocoa. We bake all day and deliver tins of Christmas cookies at our neighbors and friends while taking in the lights.

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  32. I love fruitcake cookies but not regular fruitcake. My favorite tradition is the weekend before Christmas my mom and I go to my brothers home and we bake all day with his family. While we are baking, we listen to Christmas music and eat snacks. When it starts to get dark, we box up the goodies make cups of coffee and hot cocoa and head out to see Christmas lights. Along the way we deliver goodies to neighbors and friends.

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  33. No fruitcake. We do bake lots of cookies, fudge, and bars. I love baking with my daughters and sharing our baked goods with friends, neighbors, and the local fire station.

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    1. So fun! And so cool that you take goodies to your local fire station.

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  34. No fruitcakes here.. I love getting all five of my grandchildren together and we bake cookies. Tina

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  35. No fruitcake .Pecan pies and chocolate cake

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    1. Pecan pie! Yum! We do red velvet cake every Christmas Day.

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  36. We celebrate Christmas on the 24th and have live candles on the tree. It is Danish tradition and there are special candle holders specifically for the purpose. There needs to be lots of room between the different levels of branches. Yes to fruitcake but prefer it to have a larger proportion of dried fruit to the candied.

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  37. No to fruit cake
    Yes to decorated sugar cookies

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  38. My mom who is 89 loves fruit cake! Baking cookies and decorating the tree with grand kids is what I do. Thank you for the chance

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  39. slice of fruitcake is enough.

    we read A Visit from St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve.

    denise

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  40. Fruitcake - yes, but it has to be a good one.
    When I was home and in school, Christmas traditions dominated the holiday. My mom was one of 9 children and all the siblings had large families. I have lost count, but I believe there are over 65 grandchildren on that side of the family. Back then people didn't move around so much and everyone lived in the area. We would go to midnight mass together then go to my grandparents for brunch afterwards. I have no idea how we all fit in their house. We usually got home between 2 and 3 in the morning and miraculously Santa had come while we were gone. We would open our presents and then go to bed. Smart on my parents' part because then we would all sleep in the next morning. On Christmas Day, we would go to my dad's parents for dinner. He was one of 7, but they were not as prolific. There were only 10 grandchildren on that side of the family, 6 of them in my family. The day was always full, enjoyable, and unrushed, very much the classic 1950's/1960's image.
    Today, the family is scattered. We no longer live close enough to either of our families to spend the holidays with them. We have our own family and grandchildren. My husband is retired now, but he was a career Air Force officer. We learned to celebrate holidays and special events when we could. We share our children with their in-laws and have our holiday get togethers when we can schedule it. It isn't like my warm memories of Christmases past, but it is our way to celebrate and it works quite well.

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    1. As long as you get a chance to get together, that's what counts. We do Christmas with our daughter and family in Washington then head for sunny CA and do New Year's with our son and his family. I love reading about your celebrations growing up. Wish people didn't move around so much. Let's start a stay in town movement. :)

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  41. No to fruitcake. As for tradition. We make lasagna. I make the sauce, the kids grate the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Then we make the ricotta filling with eggs, parsley, garlic powder, pepper and parmesan cheese. As for baking we make crescent cookies, chocolate chip with red and green M&M's, chocolate pudding pie and white chocolate covered pretzels with red and green piping.

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  42. I love Christmas reads and this sounds like a great one. Yes, I like Fruitcake but can't eat a lot of it. All my traditions have been taken and added on my children's since they now have families. I used to cook with my 5 daughters and bake Italian cookies but I have happily stepped aside and we all participate now. The one tradition I still indulge in is decorating like it's the North Pole for the grandkids & me 😊
    Carol Luciano

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  43. In our family we enjoy Stollen which is a German fruitcake. It’s lighter, covered in powdered sugar and available in many different flavors with different kinds of fillings. My favorite is Rum Stollen! I look forward to it every year! Enjoy. πŸ˜‰

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  44. I love Christmas books. This sounds like a great book. I read all your books and enjoy everyone of them. Can't wait for this Christmas one. I do not like fruit cake. We have Red Velvet cake at Christmas. But when my mama was living she made fruit cake every Christmas and loved it. A lady that made wine always brought her some to put in her fruit cake.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. We do Red Velvet cake also, but not with the cream cheese frosting - with the original with a ton of butter. Almost like whipped cream. :)

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  45. I love fruitcake. I have a recipe for a fruitcake like cookie I'm going to try this year.

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  46. Only certain fruitcake. Sadly, my grandmother took her specific recipe with her. She claimed it was one from a cooking book, but she put a special twist on hers.... Just like her sugar cookies. None of the family has been able to recreate either recipe.

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  47. If it was homemade, I'd try it - but I'm not into the commercial stuff....
    Kate Sparks
    girlygirlhoosier52@yahoo.com

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    1. No comparison to homemade. I had an apricot one once that made my mouth water.

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  48. I'm English so it goes without saying that I love fruitcake. In fact, I will start making my Christmas cake next month, and feed it every week with either brandy or rum. The week before Christmas, I will give it one last feeding then put the marzipan and soft Royal icing on to top it off. I will also put my little miniature sleds, Father Christmas, snowman and trees on to finish it off. BTW, I'm the only one in the family who eats the cake, so I get to have it all to myself, along with the Christmas Pudding and Brandy sauce, too. This books sounds great.

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  49. My mother made the world's best fruitcake. It was on the top of my Christmas days list. Miss her every day! ��

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  50. I do love a good fruit cake! Every Christmas Eve we take turns reading The Night Before Christmas while sitting around the tree eating cookies and drinking hot cocoa. Thank you

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  51. Fruitcake .... no, gingerbread bars.... yes! My family loves all the baking I do the entire month of December. Another one of our traditions is having hors d'oeuvres on Christmas Eve and a formal meal of ham, party potatoes, green bean and broccoli cheese casseroles on Christmas Day. Favorite holiday of the year!!!

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  52. No fruit cake, but homemade ravioli...

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  53. Christmas from the Heart sounds wonderful. drive around and look at the Christmas lights. time with family and friends. I like Fruitcake.

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