Missy Tippens, here. I’m not one to celebrate Christmas early. I love Thanksgiving, and refuse to decorate or do major shopping until after the holiday. But this year, I have a Christmas book recently released! So I’m celebrating early. I’ll be giving away two copies of A Forever Christmas today to two commenters!
As I was thinking about this post, I was thinking of what it is that we love about a good Christmas story. I think one thing is that most of us have favorite Christmas memories. And reading about characters during a special holiday season elicits a lot of emotion.
I was thrilled to read something Mary Connealy said about my new book. And she can’t deny it. She posted it on a review on Amazon! :) Mary said: You KNOW a book is wonderful when you close that last page and realize you're just grinning like crazy with the happiest ending ever.
Terrific, perfect Christmas Romance.
Thank you, Mary, for noticing my ending! I saw that scene before I ever started writing the story. And I kept it the same in several different versions I went through while writing and editing. It jerked at my heartstrings in the imagining.
There’s just something about a family story with Christmas as the backdrop. And in honor of that, I thought I’d share holiday memories from a few of the Seekers who were generous enough to share.
First, I wanted to share about my favorite Christmas gift when I was young (I think elementary school). It was perfume my dad gave me. He picked it out himself. And it was my first ever perfume. Oh, how I loved that lemony fragrance. I felt so special, so grown up! And there was something affirming about it. It was like my dad was telling me I was a young lady now and that I was special. Still, to this day, I love the smell of lemons!
Myra Johnson actually shared a special Thanksgiving memory with me. She said: “One year when the kids were little, we desperately needed to get away from it all--including the big family gathering thing that was standard fare for the Johnson clan. We rented a motel room for a couple of nights on a South Texas beach and made sand castles and generally just kicked back and enjoyed being a family. Even took our dogs with us. Unfortunately, they came back covered with sand fleas!!! But it's a Thanksgiving that will always have a special place in my heart because of the memories we made with our girls.”
Missy again. Isn’t it cool how even the simple things become extraordinary when it’s time spent with those we love most?
Mary sent me this wonderful story of her typical family Christmas. And of course it has a little romance in it!
“I’m from a family of eight. And we had NO MONEY.
My memories of Christmas are wonderful. Yes, with NO MONEY. I remember one year my mom saying, “Well, we try to spend $3 on each of you.”
Can you imagine that? $24 for Christmas for eight children. I just don’t remember being deprived. We had neighbors with more money and they did get better stuff. So I was a little bit aware we were poor. But honestly most people didn’t have much back then so it wasn’t a bit deal.
We always got up super early in the morning. I now wonder if we even ever went to sleep or did we all just lay there awake waiting for mom and dad to go to sleep, so we could get up. But we’d be up at like, 2 a.m. and just ATTACK the tree. The presents seemed to be plentiful, though modest. I remember one year we practiced tiptoeing so we wouldn’t wake up Mom and Dad. There was a bedroom on the far side of my parents room, so we had to walk right through their room to get to the tree. So two of us pretended to be asleep and we’d take turns tiptoeing, while the ‘sleeping parents’ lay there, eyes closed, listening for creaking floor boards. We tested each step so we could dodge the creaky steps. We did it over and over and over trying to get it right.
I suspect my parents weren’t fooled for a second.
They were really great about it though, they never snarled at us to get back to bed. They just let the chaos reign, this wild rumpus in the middle of the night. Then we’d creep off back to bed and I suppose my poor dad had to go out and milk cows, and never did get any sleep.
My parents were wonderful Christian people who always seemed to really genuinely adore each other and us. It’s almost weird how much they were in harmony considering all the non-harmonious facts of their life. . .like eight kids in a three bedroom house, cows to milk before sunrise and no money. But I have this memory of kneeling over some brand new toy. Funny how I don’t remember the toy isn’t it? And I looked up from the midst of the Christmas morning madness and saw them standing side by side in the doorway of the living room. Dad had his arm around my mom’s shoulders and they were just watching and smiling. That’s it, the two of them enjoying our happiness, all the excitement, that they’d given us a good Christmas morning.
It’s such a sweet strong memory and very precious to me, more precious than all those presents I got, over all those years, combined.”
Missy here again (sniff, sniff). Sorry, should have given a Kleenex alert.
And Ruthy Logan Herne shared a poignant story with me. Kleenex alert this time…
“For years we'd have a Christmas party for the Herne side of the family. Originally slated for Christmas Eve, we moved it to a weekend when the family grew too large to gather easily with little ones on Christmas Eve.
For the longest time, that was the one day I knew Mom would be sober. Dave and I hosted the party for over twenty years, and didn't have alcohol available, but more than that, she chose to be sober that day, at least until she went back home where whiskey tempted oblivion.
Because every year, on that day, Mom would open the Bible and read St. Luke's version of the Christmas story. A born writer and actress, she did the story perfect justice, her voice tingeing sadness at the thought of Jesus' birth in a manger, a child of the poor. But when she got to the part of heralding angels, a shining star, gathering shepherds exclaiming the wonders of the night, her tone peaked joy and light, happiness and honor, a riot of cherubim and seraphim celebrating the newborn king.
For that twelve hours, every year, I had a mother I'll never forget.
We still read that blessed Bible passage every year. And I can't say I do it justice the way Mom did, but I do my best. Or if I can't quite pull it off, I hand the Bible to my brother Terry and he takes over.
Because it's a tradition that can't be allowed to die, a memory that shouldn't ever be allowed to fade.
Twelve hours only, but every minute a blessing.”
Missy again. (Wiping my eyes.) Thanks, ladies, for sharing.
Holidays can be fun, lonely, loving, painful, poignant. And what a great emotion-filled backdrop for a story. Think about the emotions these stories elicited, and go put some of that emotion in your work-in-progress. Yank those reader heartstrings!
Also, share a holiday memory with us today. Or leave any comment (along with your contact email addy) to be entered in the drawing for a copy of A Forever Christmas. I’ll draw around midnight Eastern time.
Photo of Missy at about age 3 or 4.
Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com