Friday, November 30, 2012

New Traditions--and a Giveaway!

By Cheryl Brooks
Here we are in that transition period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, wondering whether to go shopping, continue giving thanks, or start working on Christmas cards. Funny, even though I'm now essentially writing full time and not working as a nurse anymore, I can't get over viewing the holiday season with some trepidation. I still have to do all of the same tasks, and theoretically have more time in which to accomplish them, but the same vague sense of panic remains. The first Christmas card I receive always cranks the tension up a notch. Is it time to send mine out, or is it still too early? Should I spend a day updating my list to include all of the people I no longer work with? Trust me, there are a lot of them and the postage alone will probably mean less candy in the stockings of my two sons. Not that any of us really need candy, but that candy is part of our tradition.

When counting my blessings this Thanksgiving, first and foremost was the added time I have to spend with my family. The strange thing is, I'm still not sure what to do with it. After years of baking pies on the morning of Thanksgiving Eve, taking a nap that afternoon, going to work that night, then coming home in the morning and putting the turkey in the oven before I went to bed, I was at something of a loss. I did all the same things--except for the napping and the working--and after the turkey was properly stuffed and in the oven, I had no idea what to do. I have no traditions for how to spend that period of time other than setting my alarm to get up when the turkey is done. My youngest son was playing video games. My oldest son was still asleep. My husband also slept in, both of them having stayed up until some ungodly hour watching something or other on TV. It still astonishes me that anyone would voluntarily stay up so late. I mean, they used to have to pay me to do it.

To while away the hours and not prolong the baking time by continuously checking on the bird’s progress, I went out to gather chestnuts. Unfortunately, the drought we endured this summer had apparently been the ruin of the chestnut crop. I wound up gathering a few hickory nuts instead, and was astonished to find they weren’t black and shriveled or riddled with the same little worms that normally attack the chestnuts. Apparently the drought also had a deleterious effect on the worms. For the first time in many a year, I actually had something to crack with that highly effective nutcracker I inherited from my father. Pa was a black walnut fan, and it takes a heavy-duty apparatus to crack them.

















Please forgive the odd camera angle, and yes, that is my Christmas tree that I had to hold out of the way. Yet another of my traditions is to go with my eldest son Mike to buy a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, which is the only Black Friday shopping I ever do. We bring it home, trim a bit off the bottom of the trunk, and put it in water in the garage until I'm ready to bring it in to decorate, usually somewhere around the 10th of December.

This year, I had something different scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend--as opposed to working so that the avid shoppers in the ICU could have the time off. My critique partner and fellow Indiana RWA chapter member Sandy James and I were asked to do a Q&A session on writing paranormal romance at the Starbase Indy Star Trek convention. This was the first writer-related event I'd ever been able to drag my husband and son to, and I must say it was nice having an entourage to carry my books for a change.

Sandy and I did our best to blend in with the Klingons and Vulcans and assorted Starfleet personnel, and we rated our presentation as a success, considering that it was well-attended, despite going up against an astronaut who was scheduled to speak at the same time.

















I'm not sure we'd have had anyone in our audience at all if we'd gone up against Martok and Gowron, however. They were a hoot! Never thought I'd see the day when two Klingon warriors would be standing up singing songs and telling jokes.

















Something else to be thankful for, I suppose. :D big grin

Are you doing anything differently this holiday season? Starting a new tradition or revising an old one? 

Post a comment for your chance to win an ARC of Wildcat

Be sure to include your email address in your comment so that I can contact the winner! Contest closes at 6PM on December 2nd!

32 comments:

  1. I haven't really started any new traditions or revised any old traditions this year for the holiday's. I guess we will just do the same old stuff again this year! Happy Holidays!
    luv2scrap22 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  2. This year christmas will be very different from every other christmas of my life. For 35 years my parent have been hosting christmas, but this year we are celebrating at my sisters. She became a houseowner earlier this year, and decided that our parents have reached an age, where preparing the traditional danish christmas meal is more than they should handle. So we are starting a new tradition this year :-)

    dyrlae@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. My sister started organizing a "Christmas Dinner" night out for her office friends about 10 years ago when the company (a large multinational that she and I both worked for) geared up their "buy out plan" which were so popular back then. They had all worked together in the accounting department for years and this was their way to get together at least once a year to renew their ties. Little by little she enlarged the group to enclude others from different departments in the company and I climbed on board. This will be my 6th year attendingan I am very much looking forward to seeing old friends. Merry Christmas!!
    bettysunflower@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Husband and I are looking forward to getting back to our own tradition of going to the Florida beaches for Christmas. We missed it two years ago because he had colon cancer; then last year because he had another health issue but this year it's full steam ahead. I've already got my beach bag out and I'm putting books in it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Cheryl. This is the first time my family and extended family are bypassing the traditions and heading to the Caribbean for the holiday. I'll have to let you know whether we prefer the white snow or white sand between our toes. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nothing wrong with that, Christine! Happy Holidays!

    You intrigue me, Dyrlae! I must do some research on what constitutes a traditional Danish Christmas dinner!

    Hi Betty! I've been getting together with friends from work about once a month since I quit my job in August. So many of us have left, I'm not the only one itching for a reunion!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Aha! We have two here who wish for sun rather than snow. I dunno whether I'd like that or not. I was kinda ticked that it was 60 degrees here on Thanksgiving. That's no kind of weather to be baking a turkey!

    Glad your hubby is well enough to make the trip this year, Carolyn! Have fun!

    Sounds great, Victoria! Not sure I could even get my immediate family together for that kind of trip. It's tough enough to get them together for one evening! With my work schedule at the hospital, I've never even considered the possibility. Maybe someday...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi, Cheryl. Well I will sort of be reviving an old tradition. My son has been in the Army for the last four years and he was on two tours in Afghanistan. He is finally home for Christmas. I will be cooking all of his favorite foods and deserts. We have a lot to be thankful for this year to have our son home safe and sound.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Last year I had both kids and their spouses home for Christmas, which will probably be the only time ever. I'm looking forward to my daughter and her husband being home for Christmas. My son will be Overseas, first time he'll have missed a Christmas with his wife and the rest of his family. So that meant Christmas shopping for him really early!

    ReplyDelete
  10. We are trying to be frugal this year and have our kids focus on quality vs. quantity. More focus on family, friends and creative adventures than shopping for want goes under the tree. I think it will be a good holiday. And happy holidays to some of my favorite authors. I am hoping for all books under the tree. :D
    Risurocket @ yahoo dot com...

    ReplyDelete
  11. No kidding, Tanya! Sounds like you've got a truly memorable holiday in store.

    Maybe next year, Terry! It's very comforting to have everyone home safe and sound. I feel that way whenever Mike comes home from college. I can't imagine what it's like to have a son or daughter overseas.

    @Risurocket. LOL! Once nice thing about books, they're easy to wrap. ;) Hope you get your wish!

    ReplyDelete
  12. We started a new tradition a few years ago of having pizza & chicken wings at my brothers house on Christmas Eve.. I like it that way. No fuss no muss..

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love to read so my tradition is to hunker down, buy TONS of books, and spend all day reading! :) So much more fun than running around outside freezing my heiny off shopping! bams1980@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think the hardest thing is when changes are made during the holidays. My Thanksgiving has changed because I no longer get together with some of my family because my sister's family has grown so much that they think it's too much - the same happened to Christmas years ago. The one thing I have kept up is my tree trimming party every year and now my oldest daughter has one too. Scheduling is hard though and I'm left to have it on the 23rd this year which is later than I like but I just have to go with the flow lol.

    ReplyDelete
  15. That does sound easy, Kathleen--and it's more about the getting together than anything.

    LOL! Tons of books? I'm thinking someone needs to give you an e-reader for Christmas, Bams!

    I hear you, Catslady. We do things much differently now than we did even five years ago. Scheduling is tough, especially if your family is scattered all over the country. My sisters and I get together in the spring and fall now, instead of Christmas because late December is such a tough time for traveling. We still have fun together and don't worry about buying gifts.:)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Not making any changes to Christmas traditions.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  17. LOL! That's what makes them traditions!

    ReplyDelete
  18. My hubby's enlisted in the Navy so there really aren't any 'traditions', 2 years ago we went to my parents house for Christmas, last year my hubby was on a ship, this Christmas my family will be coming to visit me!

    tinky_30 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  19. My new tradition that I started this year was to start a Christmas club at the bank. We started about halfway through the year and had enough money by Nov 1st to buy all our Christmas presents for our family and friends. The only thing that we did not get is my husband and I present to each other. I am getting a kindle or kindle fire depending on which is cheaper or gone down in price. I am hoping for the kindle fire. Wish me luck. Thanks for the great giveaway, this is a new author for me.
    christinebails at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  20. Sounds like you've got it covered, Cushie!

    Good luck on the Kindle fire, Christina!

    ReplyDelete
  21. This year we will have all 3 "kids" with us- last year our daughter was with her boyfriends family. And with only on of the three footloose romantically, I will cherish any times we can all be together. Food and celebration wise it will be the same, altho my daughter has gone vegan on me, so I make duplicate dishes (vegan dressing and regular sausage stuffing) and veganized versions of old favorites.

    Can't wait for Wildcat!!!!!!! Hope I win, great giveaway, Thanks!

    maryjooller at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  22. This year's Christmas will be a continuation of old traditions and new ones. This is our second Christmas without my father, who died in 2011 from Liver Cancer, and my family has moved into my childhood home to help my mother, who is not doing as well as I would like. We will continue our family tradition of going to church Christmas Eve and listening to the bells concert they have, then we will come home and open 1 present, and then go to bed. However, a new tradition I will start is to go to my father's grave on Christmas day and leave something from each of us individually. For example my brother may leave a beer, my mom a new duck decoy, (my dad was a big hunter), and I think I will leave a poinsettia. This will help remind us all that even though he is not here, we can still go to him, and remember.
    Happy Holidays everyone!
    nimhdata@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. Cheryl,
    We really haven't changed our traditions between Thanksgiving and Christmas even though my sister and I no longer live at home. Even with the addition of our own families, we still get together those days with our parents. Each of us will now take on different roles within the traditions but we try to keep the same spirit of the responsibility. Of course, updating or revising the traditions is a good thing!
    freakgrly@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi Mary Jo! So far, neither of my sons has found a significant other, so our get togethers at Thanksgiving have stayed the same. My husband's family, however, has grown by leaps and bounds. The Christmas gathering is turning into a really big bash!

    I know what you mean, Lady Amalthia. A lot changed when my father died and his house was sold. Not only did we miss him, we no longer had a central location for my sisters and I to meet for the holidays.

    Yeah, Megan. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. My husband's family used to have their celebration on Christmas Eve. Now it's usually the Saturday before Christmas because so many of the nieces and nephews live out of state.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Very few novels will trigger music for me but this series did. I can't wait for my next installment of cat men.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I love Cheryl Brooks's books and can't wait for Wildcat. It is hard to get into the Christmas mood up here in South Dakota. It usually is cold with snow on the ground, but today, Dec. 1, it is 66 degrees out and no snow.???? Ma nature is really screwed up. Everyone is running around in shirt sleves and some in shorts. This ain't the South Dakota I grew up in. Oh well, I'll get in the mood eventually, esp. with the grandkiddies coming around. Have a great Holiday and Merry Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am not sure about new traditions...unless it includes actually mailing out my Christmas cards before the actual holilday! I may not actually make it but a person can hope, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Our weather isn't what it used to be, either, Kandis. We had some cold weather the past several days, now it's back in the sixties. Weird, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  29. oops...
    e-mail is elewkf1 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hey, Elf! I'm working on my Christmas card list today, and I actually bought stamps. Like I said, the postage may break me!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Something's come up and I need to close the contest early. CushieDiva! You're the winner! I'll be sending you an email shortly to get your mailing address. Congrats!

    ReplyDelete