Category Archives: Christmas

Christmastime Joys

Lots to note this morning, from a new baby to a new quilt, lol!  How about the quilt first, then grandmotherly holiday musings from a most blessed heart.

This quilt is for a young woman who is like another daughter to me; who knew I’d end up with so many kids, ha ha!  I machine sewed this blanket on an early Christmas present, hee hee, which I’ll expound upon in the coming year once I truly have a feel for it.  Suffice to say it’s a wonder of a gift as well as perfect for a project that needed to come together quickly, and I’ll be giving it to that lovely lady sometime today.

It’s backed with a large piece I bought last year, as well as holiday fabrics I’ve had on hand; that’s another entry for future days, in that I’m pondering quite a resolution when it comes to purchasing fabric.  Again, I’ll get to that later.

I bound it in some Kona cotton, the exact names of which are long gone from my brain.  This past month has whizzed by, and I’m so grateful to have managed to complete this present.  With leftover squares, I sneaked in some Christmas placemats and coasters for my hubby and I to use, and I wonder if when I bring them out next year will I be reminded of how extraordinary was this month, waiting on Miss Em’s arrival.  This December has felt like something out a dream at times, what with balmy temps for much of it, and the incredible longing for a precious newcomer to join our family.  In a way this quilt is part of that process, binding another within our clan, in which there is always room for more.

Yours truly and Miss Em, two days old in this shot.

Now, let me just wax lyrically for a bit about Miss Em, Little Miss, and my time spent with them yesterday; my eldest wanted to do her holiday baking, and I was happy to offer assistance, which mostly meant running errands with Little Miss in the morning, then cuddling my newest granddaughter for much of the rest of the day.  She’s rather fantastic, if I do say so myself, and hardly fusses.  As my daughter and son-in-law began the baking process, I sat in the nearby dining room, admiring and giving tremendous thanks for their great joy, a healthy and snoozing baby, as well as a sleeping toddler who seems to have aged significantly in the past week.  Little Miss’ vocabulary has exploded, or is it merely in contrasting a tiny infant with a two and a half year old?

Regardless, many changes, all of them awesome, have provided me much food for thought, and as it’s nearly Christmas, the meanings are even sweeter, also quite profound.  Holiday tunes wafted from a chocolate-scented kitchen as well-loved treats were again recreated, newer recipes emerging too.  I reveled in being part of a new generation’s memories, even if right now those recollections are mostly mine.  Yet my eldest and her hubby own these thoughts too, and Little Miss and Miss Em will possess them vicariously through photos and our recounting this particular Christmas when a baby joined our family.

Miss Em and her besotted grandpa….

I mentioned to both my daughter and husband how a newborn does seem to alter Christmas a little, bringing home the event which sparks this celebration.  While newborns require lots of snuggles, those of us older need to give those cuddles not merely for an infant, but to share the purpose of Christ’s arrival; wrapping our arms around all we encounter, offering the physical manifestation of God’s love.  As babies grow, the embraces take different forms, as Little Miss helped with holiday baking.  While she constantly said ‘Me do it’, she was happy to allow some assistance, needing to be a part of her parents’ festive routine.  Some cookies were partaken of last night, but the bulk will be gifted to friends and neighbors, and I look forward to tales of Little Miss handing over goodie plates, wondering if she’ll mention her efforts.

Little Miss helps her daddy with the shortbread.

Christmas traditions vary widely, and soon enough celebrating Miss Em’s birthday will become part of our family’s staple.  I hope that over the years I am cognizant of some scrap from yesterday, but more I want to recall the immense joy of being near my beloveds at a most memorable time of year, which can be as simple as permitting the greatest love into our hearts, soft and vulnerable, and so needy.  God emerged into our world as a most helpless creature, aching for our assistance.  We love him in words of praise and prayers of thankfulness, but more in how we reach out to our brothers and sisters.  Sometimes it’s beyond easy, like snuggling a granddaughter.  Other times it’s in forgiving great wrongs, which might seem impossible.  Yet a baby was born to die to erase the sins of all the world; how massive was that cost to the heart of our Father in heaven?

Captured last night by her grandpa, Miss Em examines her world.

Amid the glow of a new baby is the realization of weightier considerations, stitched together by steadfast cords of unfathomable love.  Quilts and cookie plates are ways in which to show affection, cuddles are good too.  But best of all is allowing healing love into our hearts, followed by boundless mercy and infinite compassion.  These are the gifts our Saviour brings to us this Advent season, culminated in perfect peace on Christmas Day.  Our family might know some fussing, but ultimately Miss Em’s brief outbursts are merely to remind that she needs care, as do we all.  We are here to care and love one another; may your Christmas be full of joy, calm, and copious moments of TLC.

Christmas carols and finished novels

Ages ago I used to listen to all sorts of Christmas music; now I stick to instrumentals, specifically Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas and John Fahey’s The New Possibility.  This afternoon, after much running around town, I’ve read through the last chapter of The Timeless Nature of Patience.  The last novel of the Alvin’s Farm series is done.  As in put a fork in it DONE.  Other things are finished too, like Christmas shopping (whew!), getting my car’s oil changed (been stewing about that for weeks), my husband with work, but not me, not quite.  I wanted to publish Timeless Nature before the end of the month, so that meant a bit of poking at it, but after that lovely comment from Shelia, I decided not to wait until after Christmas.  Eschewing writing on the WIP, and in between Christmas errands, I’ve been reading the final installment of a six-novel series, and just moments ago, I read the last sentence, saved the document, then smiled.

Alvin’s Farm is finally ready to be put out to pasture, ha ha.

But it’s more than that; I started publishing that series this time last year, the first of December 2011 to be precise.  All of 2012 has been touched by that collection of novels, thirteen months of concentrated effort on a large cast, but really it’s three families.  For many months, the Cassels, Smiths, and Harrises have been on my mind, sandwiched between my daughter’s wedding, and two other novels published this year.  But to be honest, it’s Alvin, Jenny, Tommie, and Sam.  And today, well, it’s sort of like Christmas; lots of prep work for one day.

Many words written, plenty of tales told.  Now one last novel wraps it all up; I’ll tie a bow and say Happy Christmas to all who have read those books.  Bless your hearts from the bottom of mine!

Usually I don’t note this stage, the I’m done with revisions but there’s still the formatting to do and synopsis to write and dedication and Liner Notes and…  It sort of goes on forever, kind of like Christmas; I still have presents to wrap, stockings to fill, garlic potatoes to assemble.  I have made the candy cane ice cream (crush a dozen candy canes and add to your favourite softened vanilla ice cream), and when my daughter, son-in-law, and Buttercup arrive tomorrow, we’ll plot out Sunday’s holiday baking (more butter, chocolate, and nuts than you can shake a stick at).  Christmas Eve is pretty quiet, usually.  We hang out at home, the have dinner at whichever good Thai restaurant is open.  I’ll either be on a high from my 49ers beating Seattle on Sunday night, or be slightly fuming that San Francisco got their butts kicked.  Meanwhile I’ll ponder the joy of all of my kids here for the holiday while speculating what might be waiting under the tree.  Oh yeah, I’ll be publishing a novel on Monday.  That might seem a little odd, but the reasons are threefold; 1) It will be nice to have it out of my hands for Christmas proper and the subsequent days afterwards.  2) It’s a Christmas gift to all who are waiting for it.  3) The Timeless Nature of Patience is sort of what those who long for Christmas are feeling, whether it’s small children or forty-something authors, and any in between.  My three-year-old nephew is dying to open presents, but my brother tells him he has to wait for Christmas Day.  Right now it’s Christmastime, and that nephew has figured out the difference.  Patience is a hard virtue to learn, sort of what I’ve been feeling for the last year, in releasing this series.  Good things do come to those who wait, and on the shortest day of the year, I’ve reached the end to all that Jenny, Alvin, Sam, and Tommie and their loved ones have been seeking.

It’s a lovely feeling, amid John Fahey’s gentle guitar.  It’s the end of the year, end of the Alvin’s Farm series.  Also a wonderful way to close the book (heh heh) on my indie publishing adventures for 2012.  More to come on that subject, and on Timeless Nature.  Look for it sometime on Christmas Eve…

A Buttercup Christmas

So it’s starting to feel like Christmas; my husband is done with work, and while I’m not (writing and editing never really end), we did get the tree up over the weekend, decorations scattered about.  Not as many as in years past; this house is small, and I gave to my daughters the bulk of what had spruced our homes over the ages.  Time for them to start new traditions.

But a few pieces are precious; nativities (creches in the UK) and some ceramic geese from the first Christmas I was with my husband.  My brother Joe’s Christmas stocking from when he and my other brother Patrick visited our first year in Britain.  Candles from Marks & Spencer and some from Morrison’s, many pieces of Yorkshire following us all the way to California.  The M&S candles are frankincense and smell so wonderful.  I keep them in the kitchen, reminding me of mince pies, Radio 4, cold weather, and Boxing Day.

But as my girls are starting their own paths, we’ll have one here this year; Buttercup.  My eldest tried to get a shot of BC wearing a Santa hat.  This was the best she could manage.

Happy Christmas from Buttercup

Happy Christmas from Buttercup!

I suppose I can’t blame Buttercup; it is a wee bit embarrassing, or maybe she just doesn’t like hats.  Right now two small creches sit low, and my daughter has informed me they will need to be moved.  Buttercup might take a hankering for them when they arrive this weekend.

I received an early present, a lovely comment from Shelia, who has read all the Alvin’s Farm novels, and eagerly awaits the last book.  As I wrote recently, I have been getting my I am really tired of reading this manuscript feeling when picking up The Timeless Nature of Patience; not that it’s a bad book, in fact, it’s my very favourite novel write by, ahem, me.  But I’ve been so consumed by the WIP, Timeless Nature has been getting the short shrift.  But let me tell you, there is nothing like hearing how much a reader has enjoyed a book to get this writer back on the revision horse.  Over the next few days, I might not do any writing.  But the last read-through of Timeless Nature will be high on the at-home agenda, like getting the creches out of Buttercup’s reach.

She might look very cute in that hat, but I don’t trust her as far as I could throw her with ceramic sheep, cattle, angels, Mary, and Joseph.