The Year we went with Wacky

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So we’re planning to get a Christmas tree this weekend. We always get a live tree, and almost always end up going on one of the coldest nights of the year. That’s not the plan, as I am a winter weather wimp, but as fate would have it . . . that’s the way it goes. I’m watching the forecast, but whatever, the schedule says it’s this weekend. Because we don’t want to wait too late.

One year, a few years ago, we decided to wait until both kids were home from college before getting the tree. You know, make it a fun family outing.

Well, we did have that, but when we pulled up to our longtime Christmas tree lot, the place was packed up and put away. Gone. Except for . . . this.

One lone deformed tree had been left behind. I mean, this tree made Charlie Brown’s tree look like perfection. At least his was shaped like a tree! This thing looked more like a shrub in need of a serious trimming — something fitting for a Dr. Seuss scene. Sitting in the car in the cold, we considered our options. Go drive around and try to find another lot that was open? I have no idea whether there were any others that still had trees. It didn’t matter, though,  because a kind of poor-baby sympathy began to well up for this pathetic little tree-thing that nobody wanted. Plus, it was free, right?

In the spirit of Christmas, we decided to give the thing a home. So, we loaded it up and took it with us. My husband had to hack and saw on it just to get it into the tree stand. Once inside the living room, there was a definite “now what?” moment. Laugh or cry?! Well, we dressed it up as best we could with our usual ornaments. Had we known this is what we’d end up with for the year, we might have come up with a clever “theme” more fitting of the situation. But time was running out, so we made do.

In the end, we kind of liked our wacky little Seuss bush-tree. It was worth some laughs. And made a fond family memory!

 

Do you have a favorite let’s-make-the-best-of-it holiday story? Do share!

Oh, the pressure of the purchase!

presentsMy Christmas list looks a little different this year. There are two new names on there – for the first time, I’m purchasing gifts for my kids’ significant others. Both kids have special people in their lives this year, and both are visiting/traveling with us for Christmas.
I’m looking forward to spending time with them and getting to know them better, but I have to say, there’s a little stress that comes with this. Will I be judged on the success of the gift? Will it be cool enough? Is it age-appropriate? The right color? The right style? Will I embarrass my child in some way? The pressure is on!
During this shopping quest I stopped a stranger in Macy’s to inquire about the person and age she’d picked up an item for. I whipped out my cell phone and took a photo of a potential gift for my daughter’s boyfriend and emailed it to her. Then called and debated the pros and cons of said item and got the thumbs up before finally purchasing the gift.
I’ve been waiting to wrap the other gift until I could get the other kid’s blessing. Strike one. Just found out this morning that it’s off the mark. Now, only a few days before the big day, I’m going to have to hit the shops again. Did I mention pressure? I think I’m armed with a better idea of her tastes, so hopefully one stop, and the mission will be accomplished. Then it’s on to the next step – spectacular wrapping! Wrap that shows good taste, and attention to detail and time invested in making it special. Whew!

The other gift-giving experience that caused some stress this year were the two group exchanges in which a participant gets to choose the gift (based on the wrapping) and then others can “steal” as the exchange goes on. Both my book club and a writers group I belong to did this. The object, of course, is to end up with an awesome gift. And, for me, to be one of the people who offers a good gift. I want the present I give to be desired! I want it to be stolen, perhaps repeatedly. And I want the person who receives it to be happy.
It’s terrible to watch the expressions of gift receivers and know that they don’t love what they got. To watch them eagerly display the gift in front of them for all to see, hoping that it will get stolen – and then to see the unwanted item sit there, overlooked for the rest of the festivities. A dud.
I’m happy to report that in both of these groups, my gift was stolen/traded at least once! Ahh, success!

Maybe I worry too much. But then again, who doesn’t like to receive the perfect gift?! If you’re still shopping, good luck! If you’re done, congrats! Hope all your gift giving and receiving is right on target! Enjoy the holidays!

Give them books

P1050936One of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts growing up was a complete boxed set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I still have them today, and they are a treasured possession. But over the years, I haven’t received many books as gifts. I suppose it’s hard for people to know exactly what I like or what I’ve read, but books are awesome gifts (hint, hint for friends and family who may be stopping by).

What could be easier to wrap than a book? And they stack nicely. Ooooh, a tower of books would look lovely under the tree! This year, I’ve discovered another fun way to give books. Fun, easy and inexpensive! By purchasing an ebook as a gift and printing out the coupon myself, I can easily tuck it into a stocking or add to a larger gift item. Know someone who enjoys curling up with a beverage and a good book? Tuck a tasty assortment of teas or coffee into a mug or cozy throw blanket along with a coupon for a digital book. Simple!

The other great thing, of course, is shopping from your computer. Especially if the weather happens to frightful where you are. And no shipping fees. This is a biggie for me. I hate to spend money on shipping!

So, while I’m writing, my gift book certificates are printing on my home printer. Easy, schmeasy.  Happy shopping and gifting . . . and reading! 🙂

 

p.s. A digital copy of my newest contemporary romance, Her Greatest Risk, is on sale Dec. 10, 11 and 12! That’s a great price for a delightful stocking stuffer!

buy on Amazon

 

 

Merry Christmas to all!

flower ornamentWishing you all a very merry Christmas and holiday season! Hope the next few days find you snuggled close with friends and family. As we close out 2104, I’m grateful for all the friends, fans and followers who’ve supported my work. It’s always so humbling to read the many four- and five-star reviews and know that I’ve touched a chord, made a connection, brought a smile or tear through my books and characters.

May you find many books under your tree, and have plenty of time to read them in the new year!

Peace and Joy to all!

Darlene

It’s Cookie Time!

cookie tipHere’s what I’ll be doing for the next three to five days. It’s one of my favorite things to do for the holidays — and honestly, my one culinary talent!

Making the cookies is a three-day process, and I like to give or serve them one day after being frosted, so this requires a cookie schedule – a chart of who gets cookies when, and the ideal time for frosting.

I’ve got one batch baked, and another mixed. Once those are cut and baked, the real fun begins! Decorating is a slow process. (Some would say tedious.) By the time I’m done, my fingers will cramp from wielding the pastry bag, but it’s worth it when friends and family enjoy the finished product! If I do say so myself, they taste as good as they look! Hope you get to enjoy all your favorite treats this season!