Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What A Lady TRULY Needs for Christmas by Grace Burrowes

Christmas has so many facets--the fantastic food, joyous music, long traditions, and big shopping adventures, to name a few. For many of us, the holiday remains firmly rooted in a faith tradition, for others, it's a nice long break from school or a chance to enjoy the winter weather.

Growing up, Christmas for me was about seeing the siblings who'd left the nest. I am the sixth out of seven, and thus have siblings six, ten and thirteen years older than I am. Even after my older siblings married, for a few years, there was a chance I'd get to see those loved ones at the holidays.

For my fourth Christmas story, What A Lady Needs for Christmas, I focused on another aspect of the holidays we don't like to talk about as much: The holidays can be stressful. Cold weather means we're crowded together indoors more. Wassail freely consumed can result in things we wish we hadn't said (or heard), and that shopping... Finding the right present, staying in budget, braving the crowds, finding a parking spot that's not within mushing distance of the North Pole... All very challenging!

My hero, Dante Hartwell, and heroine, Lady Joan Flynn, have added to their holiday burdens by becoming engaged. Joan needs a husband, preferably one without a title. Dante wants a wife with aristocratic connections... it seems like a good idea at time.

Then family starts getting nosy, the mistletoe seems to hang from every rafter, and the nasty elf from Joan's past lurks behind the Christmas tree.
What's a newly married,  stressed out, couple to do?

The same thing we're all supposed to do at Christmas: Turn toward the love, and the light, toward the laughter and hope.

Dante and Joan start off with a solid foundation of liking and honesty. They add to that goodwill, some humor, some patience with each other. More than a dash of attraction takes roots, and when family becomes too bothersome, Dante and Joan close ranks, and protect their marriage--and each other--from the worst of the holiday storms.

Throw in some children, some good food and drink, a few loose rabbits, and holidays that loomed as an ordeal turn into the beginnings of excellent memories and a happily ever after.

To two commenters, I'll send a signed three pack of Christmas titles: Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish, Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight, and Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait. I'll sign them to YOU, or to anybody on your Christmas list!
What's your favorite part of the holidays? What's the hardest part?

46 comments:

  1. So many favorite parts!! Eggnog, putting puzzles together with family, listening to Christmas music, going to see the Nutcracker
    Least fav part: traveling.

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    1. I like the second half of the Nutcracker--all the variations--but I also like to see all the kids involved in a dance production. Eggnog... a little bit goes a long way (but right to the hips, too)!

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  2. My favorite part is the family gatherings, but the hardest part (besides the shopping - I hate shopping!) is having to travel to get together, which means the time together is too short!

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    1. I find it particularly hard to say good-bye to people when I know they face winter travel too. Much easier to end a beach gathering, at least for me. Then there's the challenge of packing the presents that you didn't have on the inbound journey.

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  3. My favoite part is the Christmas programs at school and at church! Least favorite is shopping.

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    1. My 90-year-old Mom has become champeen catalog shopper, and thank goodness we can do a lot of that online any more. I don't get the whole Black Friday deal... a day to hibernate if you ask me.

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  4. My favorite part was the family gatherings, all the young children, so excited and everyone going to Grandma's, big family meals on Christmas day.... my least favorite now is that we no longer do this, as we are all much older, "Grandma" and "Granddad" have passed, and we can never seem to all get together on the same day. Everyone used to make sure to be at Grandmas' house, but now they don't have time... Just not the same,

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    1. There's one brother in my family who makes the effort to plan a reunion for us every few years. If he ever abdicates that job, I'm not sure how we'll cope. He's good at it, and knows the ropes, and each year, there are more of us... Maybe time for somebody to step into grandma's shoes and at least post an open house everybody else can plan around?

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  5. I love spending time with family and playing in the snow, it is a lot more work now that I am a mom.

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    1. I know my Mom loved the snowy days because the kids could get OUTSIDE for part of it. We lived on an excellent sled riding hill too, which meant we'd come inside tired and happy without having gone far from home.

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  6. Favorite part is having family around. Most stressful part getting everything out and then everything out away afterward, especially all the new toys.

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    1. For Christmas, I'd like somebody to clean my house before and after the holidays. Would put a very different spin on the time spent in company, at least for me.

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  7. My most favorite part is the food. Holiday food is the best. The hard part is trying to leave all family disputes at the door but we try.

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    1. I was dismayed to learn that Christmas Eve is the second most violent night of the year for American families. The first is SuperBowl Sunday in the city that wins (think more booze). I can recall some horrendous arguments between my elders around the holidays, and to a kid, that's very bewildering. Hope your holidays are free of strife and full of magic this year and every year.

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  8. My favorite part of the holiday is helping my kids pick out their ornament from the tree. They have gotten one every year since birth, and after the first five they have got to pick out the one they want. The hardest part is knowing my babies are growing up. My daughter is 17 and a senior, my son will turn 14 in December. My son having a birthday 6 days before Christmas is also hard because people are always busy and money is tight.

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    1. Ann,my mom's birthday is December 30, and she recalls years when her birthday was forgotten, or when she got half a pile of presents at Christmas (compared to her four sibs) and the other half on her birthday. Maybe because of this, the sister with a birthday on December 11 always got the "kick off to the holidays" fanfare with her birthday. The first big meal, no decorating until after that birthday, and the first big winter fun was her birthday. I liked that just fine!

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  9. Family togetherness first...and then BAKING!!! Lots and lots of baking!!! Lemon squares, chocolate roll-up, molasses cookies, buttermilk custard pie...and the list goes on! Would LOVE to have your books in hand. Merry Early Christmas!!!

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    1. We might have to work a deal, Kathie. I'll you a WHOLE BUNCHA BOOKS if you'll do a little baking for me... Though I found when I was in my big baking years that after having had my hands in cookie dough for weeks straight, the finished product could (temporarily!) lose a little of its appeal.

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  10. My favorite part is being with family. The hardest part is missing the family members who are no longer with us.

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    1. Christmas Past has more than one kind of ghost, doesn't it, Betty? I've added bunnies to this year's holiday stories because I remember well the year I and a friend won a rabbit in a raffle at the holiday bazaar. I miss that bunny, miss the fun of having him hopping around the house, miss how he looked underneath the tree... And heaven knows I miss having a child underfoot at the holidays. Odd, the things we think we'll be happy to be free of, and then miss like crazy...

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  11. The best part of the holidays is being with family. Conversely, the hardest part is being without those we love.

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    1. My mom used to solve this problem by going into her Christmas At Large mode. My dad often had graduate students from overseas who couldn't afford to get home for Christmas. They were always welcome at our table, and we had a gang to start with. I loved that, loved the spirit behind my mom's generosity, because heaven knows, she had plenty to do. Maybe this year, somebody who's far from home will find their way to your table and brighten your holidays too.

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  12. like the decorations

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

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    1. What I liked about the decorations growing up was that EVERYBODY got into the act. Dad was in charge of the Christmas Tree expedition, my brother Tom strung lights on the pine trees outside the house. The younger kids did the inside decorations, my sister Gail was a mad keen baker.... the entire family could participate, and that doesn't happen very often any more.

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  13. Cindy von HentschelOctober 1, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    My favorite part is seeing how excited my kids get, even though they're 10 & 14, it still melts my heart. It's so magical. My least favorite part, trying to stretch out bills, to provide Christmas.

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    1. Cindy (and everybody), I've started my seasonal gift card giveaways on my website blog. Come ye over, leave a comment, and we'll see what we can do to add some cheer to the end of the year. I generally put up the news posts on Sundays: http://graceburrowes.com/blog/2014/09/the-opposing-argument/
      Readers have bought a whoopee-ton of my books, and gift cards are one way I can give back.

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  14. I always put a lot of pressure on myself with trying to find those perfect gift and within budget (which I never manage lol). Then there are the parties - I enjoy them once I have everything ready. I wish I had more room. But from Christmas day on it's really enjoyable. Getting together with family is my first wish but that no longer seems to happen since some families have grown so.

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    1. My family keeps growing too, so we get together as we can. For my parents, ages 90 and 93, it seems like one at a time visits with lots of phone calls are better. They like their peace and quiet, and liked to have visits to look forward to. I'm thinking I might surprise my daughter for Christmas, though. I'm STILL they mom, you know?

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  15. Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish was the first Grace Burrowe's book I read. Can't wait to read What a Lady Wants for Christmas. Also planning to re-read Sophie, Louisa and Jenny Windham's stories because there can never be too much love at Christmas! XO

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  16. My favorite part of the holidays is the festive decorations and awesome food, including my favorite pumpkin pie. The hardest part is getting in the spirit when all my family and friends are on the opposite side of the country from me. I miss them all so much during the holidays.

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  17. I love spending time with family and friends in my home state. In a way it's also my least favorite part because when I visit I have to say "I'm only visiting person A and B." if I don't want to end up spending half my visit traveling to see everyone. I have to chose quality over quantity and I always feel guilty about who I don't see.

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  18. I love decorating the tree with my son and seeing him get so excited about the holiday. It's fun to watch the Christmas cartoons with him that I watched as a child growing up. We have mad our own traditions as a family and I love that. The sad part is being reminded of the family members that we have lost over the years, seems like you miss them more during the holiday season.

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  19. I love decorating! My husband and I put up the outside lights. I put out the lighted houses and wreaths. We wait to decorate the tree until the Saturday after Thanksgiving with my daughter.
    I stress at dinner time...is the turkey overlooked?'are the potatoes hot enough? And I dread the cleanup....so much work!

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  20. I love getting together with friends and family. This year will be extra special because both kids will be home for the holidays since it is the first year they are both in college. I love decorating and all the festivities - especially the food. :-)

    The worst part is trying to find time to do everything and the stress of trying to make sure all the gifts and food are perfect. :-)

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  21. My favorite part of Christmas is the warm feeling generated between friends and family. the hardest part is being away from my kids and grandkids.

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  22. The best part is everyone having time off & getting together for a big family dinner. The hard part is the hit to the finances!

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  23. The best part is the food, drink and sharing it with friends and family. The hardest part is gift shopping.

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  24. My favorite thing about the holiday is lots of quality time with the family. The hardest part is just finding the time and energy to get everything done, especially the shopping.
    jmcgaugh (at) semo (dot) edu

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  25. I love all the decorating, shopping for presents, and baking. Oh the baking! That's the most time we spend together as a family all year. I'd say the hardest part is trying to time dinner so everything is done at the same time with all of the aunts/cousins/etc all in one kitchen!

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  26. This year will be a great time for my family. My daughter will have her first child which will be a fantastic present. Wow, me being called Grandma. Couldn't be a better season with joy and love.

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  27. I love watching holiday movies on Christmas Eve with my parents while we munch on appetizers all night. Miracle on 34th Street is my dad's favorite while my mom and I love White Christmas.

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  28. My favorite part is being with all the family and seeing the kid's excitement. The movies are also awesome at Christmas time - it gets you in the spirit!

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  29. I love all the decorations and all the holiday romance to read and giving gifts. The hardest part is putting it all away.

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  30. I just love being with the family, eating yummy food, singing Christmas songs and watching Christmas movies together. Hardest part is remembering those who are no longer with us.

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  31. gathering with family but the hardest part now, no mom anymore :(

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  32. My favorite part of the holidays is the intentional time spent with family and friends, and the joyful celebrating of love and giving. The hardest is sometimes setting aside expectations, whether ones others place on you or ones you place on yourself. And cleaning the house up isn't all that much fun either ;) Thanks for sharing, Grace!

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