Monday, November 16, 2009

An Early Christmas Celebration!

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


  1. I remember waking up early after having little sleep the night before. My older sister was always up to. We couldn't go down until 7:00, so we played cards until then.

    My younger sister always slept in, however, so my parents added a new rule. We had to wait until my younger sister woke up and we weren't allowed to wake her. My older sister and I ended up tossing balled-up socks in her directions until she woke up.

    Please put me down for the contest at wmussell[at]hotmail[dot]com.

  2. Yes, I made coffee. My new coffee maker has settings for "regular" and "strong" and it's definitely set on strong.

    Headed to Einstein Bros. for bagels. Will bring back a bag. They have pumpkin poppers with a pumpkin glaze.

  3. Walt! You rock, Dude. Gimme on the coffee and I'm awaiting the pumpkin creations with baited breath. Yesterday there was NO BAKING in our house and I'm feeling seriously deprived. I need high gluten and I need it NOW!!!

    Hurry, Walt!!! :)

    Missy, lovely post. I feel funny saying that since I contributed, but I loved it. Loved the whole thing. Stellar job, woman, and the pic!!!!

    SO STINKIN' CUTE!!! Love it and you.

    Downing coffee right now with vigor!


  4. My favorite Christmas memory is a humble memory by today's gift giving standards. My family along with my uncle, aunt, and their children would always get together at my grandparents house. This year in particular there were 6 two liter drinks with bright red bows lined up around the tree. (This was when 2L were new.) After the gifts were opened, my grandmother told each of the grandkids to pick a drink. Wow, we loved it, esp. since soft drinks weren't as readily available as they are now.

    A second memory was the year we got our first family today's standards it was HUGE! But, that's a story for another day.

  5. I am with you. Thanksgiving is so lovely I refuse to rush through it. Some of my favorite memories are from huge Thanksgivings we had while living in Ohio in a massive 1813 Federal style farmhouse. By the end of November it was cold and the upstairs of that house was never warm. I would get up early to put the turkey in and then go back to bed. But I remember coming downstairs and the kitchen would be toasty and warm and the smell of the turkey cooking was amazing. Thanks for the stories and the chance.

  6. My sister and I received some kind of a doll every year from Santa. My Dad picked them out each year and always picked out blonds with blue eyes.

    I remember asking Santa one year for a "baby" that looked like me with dark hair and dark eyes. That year we both got babies with hair and eyes that matched ours. Brown hair, brown eyes for my sister and black hair brown eyes for me!

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

    PS My Dad may have been preparing me for my future. My son has blue eyes and his hair was blond until his teen years!

  7. Walt, you totally rock. I don't care what anyone else says about you (he he he) my book you are #1.

    Merry Christmas.

    Five inches of snow in Denver and it feels like Christmas here.

  8. Hi, Missy! You were so cute! I was very, very lucky to have wonderful holdiays with my family. My mother and I lived with her parents, and the four of us were a "family unit". Mama could sing and play piano. She said she "played by ear". I always teased her about adding extra notes to the music! My grandmother was the greatest cook ever, and we had so many good things to eat! My grandfather was a "Christmas Tree Specialist". He and I always picked out the tree, and he very precisely added the lights. Then we added the ornaments (and I mean all the ornaments). The silver icicles had to placed on the tree one by one. More than once, I got scolded for throwing little handfuls of icicles at random. Hey...I was a kid! I have to admit, they were beautiful trees. Paw Paw knew what he was doing! He also taught me that if you have more than you need, you have enough to share. He worked with a man who had a large family, so I passed some of my clothes and toys along to them each year. My Granny filled the house with edible delights. Fruitcake, fudge, cookies, country ham, homemade rolls, pies, turkey & dressing, mashed potatoes & gravy, veggies & could we even move! We also had a "gumdrop tree". Our stockings were filled with tangerines, peppermints, nuts and chocolates. The scent of Christmas is truly a magical fragrance! I love Christmas, and I carry the spirit of Christmas in my heart all year long. Remember the reason for the season.

    gcwhiskas at aol dot com

  9. You're so cute, Missy.

    It's too early in the morning to be crying! But those are very sweet stories.

    I have a story in mind that will pull some heartstrings. Looking forward to writing that one!

  10. Walt!! I didn't know about those pumpkin poppers. Oh my gosh! I'll have to go. But I'm afraid the closest Einstein Bagels is at the mall--30 minutes away. Hmmm.... how badly do I want them??

    I love your story! LOL I can just see you tossing those socks. :)

  11. Okay, Ruthy, was that gluten comment meant to be mean??? :) (Most of you probably don't know I was tested recently to see if I'm sensitive to gluten. Still waiting for results.) LOL

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful story, Ruthy. I've read over the post about 4 times to check for errors, and every time you just broke my heart for the little girl you. Yet I could feel your strong spirit--the spirit we all love now!

  12. When I was growing up, we alternated each year at my grandparents' houses. It was so much fun at either place and we always had all the family together and loved those times! Our family had a tradition of opening a package or two each on Christmas Eve, and then the rest on Christmas morning after Santa came.

    I would love to be entered for the book!


  13. How exciting, Dianna. I can remember being excited to go to my grandparents' house because they had glass bottles of Coke! :)

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  14. Jenny, that memory sounds wonderful! That warm, yummy smelling kitchen was your reward for getting up so early and suffering through getting that bird in the oven. :) (Seriously, for me, getting that thing in a roasting bag is like wrestling it to the ground!)

    I remember sleeping in on Thanksgiving day, then getting up to smell the turkey in the oven and the sound of the parades on TV blasting in the background. Ahhh....

  15. Rose, what a sweet story! There's just something special about having our dolls look like us. It makes us feel beautiful. I'm so glad you got one that year!

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. Tina! 5 inches of snow??! Wow. It's gorgeously sunny and warm here. I supposed to hit 76 degrees. Isn't our country amazing?

    Mary, I heard on the weather last night there's snow in Nebraska. Do you have any?

  17. One more Christmas memory, if people will indulge me. The family celebrated Thanksgiving at my house and Christmas at my cousin's house. This way my mother and my aunt split the cooking duties.

    My aunt is a wonderful cook, but that hasn't always been the case. Going there was always fun, except for the traditional fest. She once made deviled eggs and put them outside to chill as there was no room in fridge. She was surprised they froze so quickly.

    Again, she is a wonderful chef now, but she does occassionally laugh about a number of "mishaps" from those years long ago.

  18. Virginia, my mom was so particular about the tree, too! :) She always put the lights on because they had to go so close together and so perfectly--closer and more perfect than I had the patience for! LOL

    We were also supposed to separate out the icicles. I, like you, am a handful-tosser! It drove her crazy! She would go back and fix them. :)

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful Christmas memories. And for reminding us to remember the Reason for the season.

  19. Melanie, be sure to write the idea down!

    Thanks for stopping by this morning. :)

  20. Michelle, we did the same thing--opened one gift on Christmas Eve. But it drove me crazy, because my parents got to choose the one we would open. They NEVER chose the one I wanted to open!! They always chose a little one, not the big ones that had me so curious. :)

    Thanks for sharing.

  21. Yummy, Walt. There's just nothing like frozen deviled eggs! LOL

    The first time I did Thanksgiving totally on on my own at our house, about 2 years ago, I undercooked the turkey!! Oh, wretch! Since I'm a former microbiologist, you can imagine how upset I was thinking of Salmonella crawling all over the place. So I sliced it and finished it in the microwave.

    So embarrassing!!

  22. It's hard to select just one favorite Christmas memory - but this one ranks at the top: My mom would start buying really inexpensive items from Avon in September - bath powder, lip balm - things like that. We lived in a neighborhood where there were about 5 women who were widowed. On Christmas Eve, mom would make a Christmas "goody bag" with 1 of each Avon product, some fruit and some cookies she had baked and we would go to each widow's house and deliver them. Even after we moved to the other side of town, when I was 17, she would prepare the baskets, and I would drive over and deliver them. The joy they received is something I will never forget.

  23. Missy!!! Between you and Keith, I'll be in the mood for Christmas well before Thanksgiving. Keith has taken to listening to Christmas music, and between him, your book and this blog, the Scrooge in me is starting to mellow ...

    Great memories, Missy, Mary and Ruth, as well as all the other wonderful memories mentioned!

    My favorite memory growing up as one of a family of 13 was waking up Christmas morning and seeing only the top half of a 10-ft. tree due to a wall of presents around it that almost spilled out of the room. It was SHEER CHAOS with paper and bows flying everywhere since everybody opened their presents at once. It wasn't until I met my husband Keith and spent a Christmas with his family before I realized how special Christmas should really be -- they sat around in a big circle and opened presents one at at time while everybody looked on, oohing and ahhing.

    My favorite memory as an adult is opening up a present from Keith before we were married. It was the UGLIEST watch I ever saw, and I hated it. But I faked it and then wrote a prayer on a slip of paper asking God to help me to like the watch, then I put the slip in my Bible. Years later, after we were married, Keith used my Bible one day and found the slip. "You hated the watch I gave you??" he asked in shock. "Not anymore," I said with a smile, holding the watch up on my wrist. I'm happy to say that it ended up being the most favorite watch I ever had. :)


  24. I loved getting goodies in stockings! There was something about dumping it out on the ground to see what was hidden inside!

    Missy you have me in suspense about your ending now. I just love happy ever afters!


  25. Oh, Edwina, how sweet! You know, Christmas really is about giving, not receiving. (It's about celebrating God's gift to us!) Sometimes we get so caught up in worrying about shopping and making it a huge deal. But what a blessing you were to think of others!

  26. Julie, you made me CRY!!! That's such a sweet story! And I just knew you would end up loving that watch.

    I wish I'd had such a good attitude the year my hubby gave me an exercise mat and house slippers for our anniversary. Yes, anniversary. So romantic! LOL But I think that sad story should be for another post. [grin]

  27. My dad was not demonstrative in his affections, but one Christmas while we were at our Granny's, he took my sister and me to Midnight Mass all alone. I loved having Daddy's attention and loved staying up late for the Midnight Mass pagentry. He drove us all over town afterwards trying to find a place for a breakfast but no luck. It did not matter as the Christmas stars in the black sky twinkled on us. Now he is one of the stars in Heaven.

    I would love to win your book as each year I try to find a speical Chrsitmas book for my Christmas bookshelf.This sounds like the one!

  28. Kerri,

    Dumping the stockings is still my kids' favorite part! And they range in ages from 13-19. They still save the stockings for last. :) It's really a challenge when they get to that age. I can't do the little dollar store toys anymore. Now, it's more like candy and iTunes gift cards. :)

  29. Bookie, what a precious story! I know you'll always treasure that memory. Thanks so much for sharing. And I hope my book makes it to your shelf! :)

  30. I just read A Forever Christmas and it is great. I love Christmas and all that goes with it. I remember my sister and I always woke up early,what a delight to see under the tree. I enjoy the smells of CHristmas. My Mom cooked everything.

  31. April, I'm so glad you enjoyed the story.

    Yes, the smells of Christmas are wonderful. We always get a Fraser Fir and love that fresh cut smell. I also take any extra branches that have to be cut off the bottom of the tree and decorate the house with them. Smells so fresh, so good!

  32. Morning Missy, I can hardly wait to read your Christmas story. It is good to get in the mood. We finally dropped from our 90 degrees so now it feels more like the holidays.

    My mother instilled in me the love of story. Every Christmas when my brother and sister and I were kids, we'd write, produce and perform a special Christmas play. We'd spend all of December making costumes, sets and even programs to hand out to our family on Christmas eve. (who suffered through our productions with pizazz and enthusiasm-smile)

    The other tradition I love and we still practice is making homemade gifts.

    Thanks for triggering the memories Missy, Myra, Ruthy and Mary.

  33. Edwina, that scene should go in a book.

    Which means I'll probably steal it, but at least I'll make it a Mary Kay item in honor of Missy.


    And Missy, I live to make you cry, darling. :) Laughing here, because holidays SHOULD be a blend of laughter and tears.


    That's way more important than an undercooked turkey. That's why we invented microwaves, right? Because we've ALL under- or over-cooked turkeys.

    And are you guys like us, snacking so much on tidbits (and yes, pie should NEVER be just for dessert!!!) that dinner becomes a little anticlimatic?

    Missy, this is so much fun! Thank you for such a warm, evocative post.

    Oh wait.

    That was me.


    Sorry. Couldn't resist.

  34. What a lovely post! Thanks Missy--and Myra, Mary and Ruthy for sharing your precious memories.

    My mother loved Christmas, especially decorating the tree. She made oodles of ornaments using satin and velvet wrapped sterofoam balls, beads and ribbon. She's gone now, but everytime I hang my share of those ornaments on our tree I'm zipped back a decade and beyond, to all the happy Christmases we shared.

    In the box of ornaments is an old jar of Pacquin hand cream filled with ornament hangers. Opening the lid and releasing the scent of my mother brings tears to my eyes.

    Memories are wrapped in the senses, a gracious gift from God. As authors we'll bless our readers when we use those senses to enrich our stories.


  35. Oh, oh, oh, and had to add...


    I remember waiting, waiting, waiting until I was old enough to go to Midnight Mass...

    So beautiful. So poignant.

    And at Sacred Heart we could try out for the choir in seventh grade and sing at Midnight Mass. I lived to be twelve and it was a wonderful thing.

    My first Midnight Mass. Singing beautiful hymns. The people, the lights, the candles. Oh man, now you're getting me all ver klempt!!!

    No fair!

  36. Ruthy, yes, just two years ago! We've always done the holiday at one of our parents' houses. But that year, we had it here. And I insisted on doing everything myself.

    Wore me totally out!! I was almost too tired to eat. Especially after microwaving the turkey. :)

  37. Sandra, what fun to do those plays!! Your mom must have been a saint to do all that with you. :)

    Oh, Janet, what a special memory about opening that jar! The reason the sense of smell evokes such emotion is that the signal pretty much goes straight from our nose to the part of the brain that evokes emotion (it skips the normal pathways in the brain for sensory signals).

    I walked in an antique store one day that smelled just like my deceased grandmother's house and promptly broke into tears! It just hits so hard, so immediately, sometimes.

  38. My Dad took us to Midnight Mass once. When we got there, my Dad realized that our church was the only one in the Diocese (and likely the world) where Midnight Mass ended at midnight.

  39. Missy:

    I was the oldest of four kids in a very poor family. My mother worked in a factory, and each year she worked very hard to see that we each had something for Christmas. For me it was usually an item of clothing so I would have something new to wear to the Christmas programs at school and church---which meant that it usually got opened early, leaving only the stockings for Christmas morning. They usually had an orange and some peanuts and hard candy in them.

    This year my roomie and I will be having our Christmas with the kids early. Our daughter's doctors have told her she has a tumor, and she is having surgery the day after she finishes giving semester finals--ending any thread of hope of ever having a child. She wants us to come be with her, so of course we will be there.


  40. LOL, Walt! It's kind of like a Sunday when the time changes to daylight savings time, I guess. :)

  41. Helen, your mom sounds like an amazing woman.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter's upcoming surgery. I'm glad you can go be with her. I'll be praying for her.

  42. Congratulations on yet another release, Missy. I'm sure it's a wonderful story. I've added it to my TBR list.

    We didn't grow up with a lot of money either. Christmas was about a big dinner, and maybe one or two gifts selected from the thousands we circled and starred in the Alden's Christmas catalog each year. When I became a teen, I added a 6am Sunrise service to my traditions. And of course, every year I watched for Christmas Eve snow. (We had it for a stretch of four or five years between grade school and high school.)

    But I remember being thrilled to pick out two rolls of each member of my family's favorite flavor of Life Savers. I think they sold for a dime a piece. I wrapped each set and tied the package with a big roll, proud to give each person something I knew they would like from the few pennies I had.

  43. What a wonderful post today, and what wonderful memories from everyone!

    I have so many Christmas memories, both from growing up and watching my children grow up. When I was a child we always celebrated Christmas twice because my grandparents were Russian Orthodox, although the second time was mostly the special "Holy Supper" on their Christmas Eve and another church service. To this day I still keep our tree up until January 7 in memory of my beloved grandparents.

    My husband and I were married on Christmas Eve in a 300-year-old country inn in Connecticut. We spent our wedding night in the same inn, and our families stayed there too. In the morning we all opened Christmas and wedding presents together. In retrospect my DH felt the date was a bad idea -- made it hard to celebrate our anniversary after we had kids! But at the time it was magical.

    I have hot cinnamon-raisin rolls for everyone to get into the Holiday spirit!

  44. Patricia, what a sweet story about the Lifesavers. You were so generous.

    I usually take my kids shopping (one on one) to buy for each other and my husband. But one of the best gifts my children have given me has been when they've either made something for or have spent their own money on each other and on gifts for my husband and me. I know, then, that it's a true gift of the heart.

  45. Oh, wow, EC, what an amazing wedding! It does sound dreamy. Thanks for sharing.

  46. What a fun post! Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. One of my favorite memories is when I was little my mom would chose a present for each of us and have it be from our siblings. So she would have the child whose present it was leave the room and the rest would wrap it. Well the six of us weren't very good at secretkeeping, by the end of the day all of us would be walking around with a 'knowing' smile. My sister was by far the worst at this! I remember one year where after only an hour she came up to my mom and said "You know what I want this year a skipit." (If my mother had any doubt that we were telling each other our presents this completely cleared it up :))
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Put me down for the contest hchristineatyahoodotcom

  47. Christmas is my absolute favorite time of the year! And I adore a good Christmas book or movie!

    The book cover is very pretty :0)

  48. Great post, Missy! It's so hard to believe it's the holiday season again--seems like I just put away my Christmas decorations from last year! ~ When I was a little girl, we always left a snack out for Santa (cookies and milk) and sugar cubes for his reindeer. And sure enough, all the food (for Santa and deer) would be gone the next morning! On Christmas Eve Daddy would take me out in the front yard and point to the star that everyone had followed to find the Baby Jesus. Such precious, special memories! ~ Love your picture - - what a cutie you were!!(and still are, of course!). Hugs, Patti Jo

  49. I'm loving these memories!!! How wonderful!

    Walt, for a while there were lots of churches that did their Midnight Mass at 10:00 or 11:00...

    To get people home earlier, they said.


    Midnight is midnight.

    Now up here most Midnight Masses are back at midnight. Does that seem like a no-brainer to everyone else, too???


    Janet, I love the thought of you opening that jar. So sweet. So poignant.

    Ooops, must work.

  50. Helen, your daugher is on the prayer list. So sorry for the corners that leaves unturned.

    But I'll pray for a good recovery and a blessed future. The curves in the road so often mask the amazing future at hand.

    God bless you all.


  51. Heather, that's so cute! :)

    My daughter is the one around here who can't keep a secret. Well, she used to be that way. She's doing better now. :)

  52. Thanks, Courtney. I just love the cover they gave me!

  53. Patti Jo, what wonderful memories! Man, I wish I had thought to have my kids put out sugar cubes for the reindeer!! ;) Yum.

  54. Such a lovely post, Missy--and Mary, Myra, and Ruthy! I'm still wiping away tears.

    My mom came from a large family, so Christmases at my grandparents' house were noisy and joyful. Grandpa used to go behind the barn (they were dairy farmers) to cut down the tree. It was set in the same corner of the living room every year. I don't remember the ornaments, but I do remember the tinsel for some reason. Maybe because it was sparkly. Those gatherings represented security to me. The toughest Christmas was the year I was sixteen and Grandma had passed away from a heart attack that February. I remember Grandpa sitting there, surrounded by family, and looking so lost. Our family gatherings happened less and less after that. Grandma was the family glue that kept us all together.

    I have so many fond memories with my hubby and our two boys that it's tough to pick just one. We decorate the Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving with ornaments that represent something in our lives. I told the boys they can have their ornaments when they get married and start their own families. Our tree will look so bare, but that won't happen for several more years. :)

  55. Missy, I didn't know the medical reason scents evoke emotional memories. Thanks for the insight.

    You were a doll baby! Such a sweet picture, Missy.

    When our girls were small, each evening we'd light a star-shaped lumpy candle and sing Christmas carols. I'm looking for one exactly like it. These days all candles are so strongly scented, they bother my allergies. A less pleasant kind of emotional response. :-)

    Ruthy, if you saw me sniff that old jar, you'd think I'm a nut. Another scent that reminds me of my mother--Cody face powder.

    I've really enjoyed sharing in everyone's memories on this dreary rainy Monday. Thanks all!


  56. Oh, Lisa, I remember our first Thanksgiving without my grandfather. That was so tough.

    I love the idea of the ornaments! I'll have to remember that as my kids start leaving the nest.

    Janet, face powder also reminds me of my grandmother! That's why I inlcuded it in His Forever Love. :)

  57. Lisa, we share your tradition of buying our children ornaments every year. We gave our daughters their ornaments when they married.

    But we still have plenty to decorate two trees. We always buy ornament souvenirs when we travel. I have my mom's ornaments and the paper and tuna can decorations our girls made when they were small.

    I even decorate a tiny kitchen tree with my hand painted hard shell gourd ornaments made during my pre-pubbed days.

    At Thanksgiving, we take our grandchildren out to select their ornaments, a fun time had by all. :-)


  58. Needed that Kleenex to read this. What wonderful memories. And what a wonderful review Mary's given your book. Would love to read it.

    sdeeth at msn dot com

  59. When our grandkids were too small to shop, we took them to the dollar store to buy their parents' and sibling gifts. The things they bought were hilarious...sometimes things they wanted. But they wrapped them with only a little help from me. They were so proud of their purchases!


  60. Loved reading all the sweet holiday memories! :)

    I think one of my favorite Thanksgiving memories was during our first year as missionaries. We'd cooked the dinner in the cramped kitchen building with no heat or hot running water, and a stove that barely worked. We ate dinner on a plastic folding table, using chipped dishes. I guess some people would wonder why it's my favorite memory.

    But sitting there with my amazing family, knowing how blessed I truly was and how much I had, enjoying the laughter that surrounded me all day... there's just something so wonderful about feeling loved and safe, that I couldn't help but but feel content.

    I was 13 then, and when my friends talked to me the next week, happily rambling about the things they'd bought on Black Friday and how nice the decorations and food had been, I realized those things didn't matter to me. I had my family, and that was enough for me :)

  61. Well my mom stole my favorite Christmas Tradition story, so I guess I'll go with my second favorite tradition.

    I LOVE going to Midnight Mass with my family. It's such an amazing night and it truly captures the spirit of Christmas...the decorated church, the beautiful choir, and the amazing story of Christ's birth! It's a wonderful tradition and I look forward to it every year.

    Although, with Baby J being born in March 2010, we might have to forego this tradition for a while after this year. :)

    ~ Beth

  62. Missy, I stood up from finishing that book, mentally writing the review and realized I had a huge grin on my face I couldn't even think of wiping off and I thought, "That is the perfect review, right there."

    Wonderful, joyful, perfect Christmas love story.

  63. Sheila, I agree! I really did have to grab a Kleenex. :)

  64. Oh, Janet, our kids used to have a Santa shop at their elementary school where they could take a little bit of money and helpers would help them buy gifts for mom and dad. We got the cutest things!! I still have a little cat with what seems to be real fur on my china cabinet and a perfect "pearl" necklace (that's now turning green). :)

    So fun!

  65. Arianna, what an amazing story. It's true that sharing love and time together is most important. Like Myra said with her story.

  66. Beth, when you said Baby J, I thought you meant the Baby Jesus!! :)

    Yes, you won't see midnight for a while after that. Unless it's for a feeding and diaper change! :)

  67. what a beautiful post...

    karen k

  68. Thank you, Mary!

    BTW, the check's in the mail. ;)

  69. Karen K., thanks for stopping by and reading.

  70. Missy:
    Your post makes me thankful that I had parents who,back then, were trying to be good parents. Things changed when I got older but my childhood was better than I realized.

  71. Funny, when I think of favorite Christmas memories, none of the toys ever pop to mind.
    I loved listening to my grandfather read the Christmas story the night before Christmas, then waiting at the top of the stairs for 'santa' to come visit.

    My aunt would read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" while all of the kids sat at the top of the stairs, half listening to the story and half listening for the "ho, ho, ho" and the jingle of bells.

    once the magic sound drifted up the stairway, all of the grandkids would clamor over each other to get down the stairs. The Christmas tree, which didn't have any presents under it fifteen minutes before, was laden with packages.

    I can't tell you what any of the packages held, but the thought of listening for Santa and racing down those stairs with my laughing cousins and smiling parents will never cease to cause my heart to flutter.

    P.S. so, is this picture less vampiric? ;-)

  72. Missy, what a wonderful post to help slide us into the holiday season. You were such a cute little WERE always the favorite child : )

    Myra, I'm so with you on the getting away from the craziness stuff. I love my relatives, but sometimes Christmas just became a zoo.

    Mary, how I would have loved a Christmas like that! Being an only child, of course it was always about me--ha! What I would have given to have a litter of sibling so share the joy!

    Ruthy, doggoneit! My tearing up right along with Missy. Reading the Christmas story and sharing that precious window of time...lovely.

    Thanks for sharing, Missy. Glad I caught the post today!

  73. Quietspirit, I've found that sometimes we forget the good stuff. And holidays are good times to remember.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  74. Pepper, it sounds like you had great fun!

    And nice photo. I do believe you have a little more color. :)

  75. One of the last Christmas gatherings my Mom's Mom(my grandma)attended so called each of the grandchildren, one by one, to her side and gave a small gift. Mine was a small bottle of hand lotion and she apologized for not being able to shop much. I felt so bad for grandma as she had Rheumatoid Arthritis and was crippled. But somehow she managed to get these gifts or get grandpa or my uncle to get them. I totally understood and was thankful anyway.

  76. Oh, Audra, our parents loved you, too! :)

    (Years ago, even before the Seekers formed, Audra and I figured we had so much in common that we must be twins separated at birth.) :)

  77. Funny story:
    I have a grandma who doesn't attention when she buys Christmas gifts.

    For my firstborn child's first Christmas (my SON, btw), she bought him a pink riding toy.

    And me a moo moo dress in size 2X. Now, I had put on a little extra fluff from baby - but my grandma, me and the baby could have fit into this moo moo. Hilarious. She topped it off with a pair of plastic bobble earrings that hung to my shoulders.

    When I pulled the gift out of the box, trying to hold back my laugh, she looked up from her gifts adn said..."Goodness gracious, who got you that awful lookin' thang."
    I HAD to laugh then :-)

  78. I was struck by your question about how you know a book is a good me, it's when I think about the book after I've finished it...something about a character creeps into my consciousness--how she or he dealt with a particular situation or something that impresses me about his/her character....that's when I know I won't forget a character from the book who has become more than an acquaintance...

  79. Missy, I'm looking forward to reading your Christmas book (it's on my to-buy list). I love reading winter Christmas stories, whilst trying to forget I'm in the middle of a hot Aussie summer :-)

  80. Great post, Missy. We always read the Christmas story from Luke on Christmas Eve with my mother. Then on my dad's side we have pancakes and sausage whenever we get together to have our family Christmas. It's the only day of the year I eat pancakes.
    (There's a reason for that--not a big fan!)
    Thanks for sharing the stories. And the book is fabulous of course!!!

  81. Robyn, what a special gift. I bet you treasured that bottle of lotion.

  82. Oh, Pepper!! I'm laughing like crazy! How cute. :)

  83. Julie, that's what I think, too. I know it's a good book when I don't want it to end. When I don't want to leave the characters. And then they keep popping up in my mind.

    I can still hear Janet Dean's Adelaide (from Courting Miss Adelaide) in my head! :)

  84. Hi, Narelle! So glad you stopped by. Yes, I can't imagine it being summer right now. Of couse, when we were complaining about the heat, you were cold. :)

    Isn't the Internet amazing. Makes for a small world.

  85. Thanks, Lindi!! You had a lot to do with how the book turned out. :) (She's my critique partner!)

    Pancackes sound yummy! I can't believe you're not a fan. :) Mmm... now I'm craving them. Luckily, we have some frozen ones right now.

    We actually have sausage gravy and biscuits every Christmas morning. I love doing that! And it's easy. :)

  86. Hi Missy im here late today.
    I just love Christmas. We never had a lot of money but we never felt we did without. We beleived in Santa and that mum and dad paid half for the gifts. I didn't know it at the time but mum use to put away about half the gifts we got and bring them out later so the gifts lasted.
    Dad died when I was 11. I remember I think I was about 9 or 10. I had been to the swimming lake and got home would have been even just before dec ended or the beginning of Jan and there was a game It was from Santa (But I knew it was dad) I wanted the game Marble head and dad had gone and gotten it for me as it was sold out before christmas.
    Dad Had had a a stroke and had changed alot so this meant alot to me.

    We were not allowed up till after 6am on christmas morning. (I remember having a bath one year while I waited!)
    Please enter me.

  87. Oh, Jenny, how sweet about the game!

    My family used to let us get up at the crack of dawn. But my hubby and I are mean. We make the kids wait until at least 6 am! Some years even 7 am. LOL

  88. Hey, I should have mentioned this earlier, but Missy's beautiful book is SOLD OUT at our local Wal-Marts.

    I know.

    We check these things, LOL!!!

    And I'm not afraid to uncover books that maybe got slid right or left... :)

    But Missy's were GONE, GONE, GONE!!!!

    Sweet, kid.

  89. LOVED these Christmas stories...and your book, Missy.

    Wonderful cover too. I love Christmas stories.