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Thursday, December 16, 2010

There's No Place Like (My) Home for the Holidays!

  It occurred to me recently that I’ve never written a book, or even a scene, that’s set at Christmastime. That surprises me because I think Christmas really is the most wonderful time of year. I grew up in a place where Jack Frost nipped at your nose and everything else that wasn’t covered, and deep snow on the ground on Christmas morning was a given. Christmas Eve always meant early to bed and early to rise the next day, with all the gifts being opened by the time most of the rest of the neighborhood was just stumbling out of bed.

I started see-sawing my way from residing in the North then the South and back again nearly two decades ago and, as an adult, I’ve spent more time wearing tee shirts and shorts on Christmas Day than silly woolly sweaters. That has only meant that I start thinking about holiday lights and fir trees in July; the ornaments and lights and decorations come out the day after Thanksgiving at the very latest. Sometime around Halloween, I begin to play holiday music all day long. It’s a novelty for me. I usually prefer silence, given that I grew up in a large, noisy household. And in the autumn evenings….well, I finally have enough vintage holiday movies in my collection to watch one every night from Thanksgiving to Christmas without repeating them.

Of course, it’s not all fun and games. Once The Season starts in my home, I go through several changes of fresh mistletoe and gallons of my secret-recipe spiked water that keeps the tree fresh and soft and fragrant for the six weeks it’s up. The house is always tidy—unusually so—and I don’t even mind keeping it that way. I bake like a woman crazed, reveling in the scent of cloves and cinnamon, which always smell gorgeous, but never quite as good as they do at this time of year.

Every year, I try to add something new and, ideally, different to my holiday mash-up. This year, my addition to the fracas is some fabulous dishwashing soap (yes, I know, pathetic, right?) and spray cleaner that smell like …. Christmas. Like snow and fir trees and starlight. Like lovely ghosts of Christmases Past. Yes, they’re luxuries; they cost more than double than what I would ever normally spend on dish soap or spray cleaner (especially since I never use the latter, preferring plain old vinegar instead). But this is Christmas, so I splurged a few weeks ago and I don’t regret it. Washing dishes is not my favorite hobby, but this stuff makes it almost enjoyable. The scent lingers in the house longer and more subtly than potpourri. And when it’s topped off by my longtime favorite frankincense and myrrh incense…..mmmmmm. There really is no place like this comfy, holiday-y home of mine.

This brings me back to the question of why haven’t I—the holiday queen of my neighborhood—written a Christmas story, or book, or novella? Why haven’t I poured all this mushy, gushy, icy-slushy nostalgic good cheer onto the page? Well, it’s not as if I haven’t tried. A few years ago, I started writing an updated version of A Christmas in Connecticut because not only is the movie one of my favorite holiday movies, but I used to live in Connecticut. I figured I was a natural for the task. Then I found out that a new version of the movie is slated to hit the theaters for Christmas 2011. Starring Jennifer Garner, no less. I took it as a sign to move in a more original direction.

But that put me back at square one. I think I must still be waiting for the right story to hit me—to have a fully plotted story land in my stocking (that’s hung by the chimney with care), or to plop, a bit sooty and rough around the edges, down through the chimney and onto the cinders, and leave dainty cloven tracks across my imagination. But we all know that that stuff isn’t real…..

So I’ll have to take matters into my own hands. I’ll state it here and now: this upcoming year will be my year to write a pull-out-the-stops holiday scene. Maybe a whole book set during that magical, mysterious, most wonderful time of year. It will be next year’s present to myself. And to you.

Best wishes for a holiday season that’s merry and bright!

Photos: Flickr: batwrangler, Kevin H., mount, xcode, and Zellaby's photostreams


  1. I've never been great at decorating for Christmas. I love "redneck" lights - multi colored and a lot of them - and houses where you can drive by to find Santa passing out candy canes.

    Our tree is older than my youngest son - who's 13 - but it contains special macaroni ornaments made by my now 19 year old back when he was in the first grade. It has years of ornaments that contain Christmas photos with Santa.

    For us, the tree is a monument to family and everytime it goes up I remember how lucky we are.

    I really admire folks who can make walking in their house at Christmas feel like a winter wonderland. For a lot of reasons though, this year our house is less decorated than ever. However, this is the year that we've been finding more time for hugs and hanging out and just talking.

    I guess however you dress it up, Christmas means family as surely as romance novels mean a HEA.

    Great post!

    Quacking Alone

  2. Loved the peek into your home for Christmas. I, too, am in the south, well, actually Texas, and we often wear shorts on Christmas. I prefer the seasons from my childhood in MI where snow was usually on the ground Dec 25th. I really have a hard time getting in the spirit when it is so warm and doesn't look like Christmas. Maybe I should spray paint some of the pine trees on my property and pretend it's snow. LOL

  3. My hubby is a big stickler for a natural tree. No plastic allowed. He won't hear of it. So, needles to say it's July and I'm still vacuming the pineneedles embeded in the carpet. Not to mention those brought into the house on the shoes from the garage, since the tree stays in there for a week or two before it ends on the curve. We have a special day when we can put the trees out for garbage pickup and if you missed it, you're pretty much SOL!

  4. I wish my house could stay neater than ever with the decorations up! But with six kids, we're more apt to kick a path through the mess so we don't step on one of those dratted Hot Wheels cars. Or, not cars. Our kids have the trucks and the equipment - forget smooth tops. We're talking acupuncture when you step on one of those suckers!

    As for writing, I write "off season." Inspiration comes to me in the form of cold when it's hot and hot when it's cold, but it's hard to get in the Christmas spirit when it's 90+ in the shade. As such, I don't see a holiday story in my near future. =c/ LOL.

  5. I didn't get into the Christmas spirit until I put up my tree. I miss the smell of the real trees, but the fake ones are easier to deal with. I look forward to unpacking my ornaments--there are so many memories attached those ornaments.

    I'm sure you will come up with a Christmas story someday.

  6. How very fun, Marianne! That Christmas inspiration will strike when the time is right! In the meantime, thanks for sharing!!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

  7. Looking forward it it with relish! Sounds like you have some nice memories under your belt and many more to make!

    Merry Christmas!


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