Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I will be taking the next couple of weeks off from blogging to celebrate the holidays with my family, as I'm sure many of you will be doing. I'll start up in the new year, and look forward to hearing from readers, new and old. In the meantime, have a great holiday season!
While this is a topic that could be covered throughout the year, I’m going to tackle it for the holidays. First off, I loved my mom. As we both got older, we became friends beyond the mother/daughter relationship, all the way to her death in 2008. So, this title is not a bad statement. It’s just a surprise, especially this time of year.
Christmas when I was growing up was all about the family. Once December hit, my mom would nag my dad to put up the house lights. My sister and I would hang around him, probably hindering more than helping, waiting to see our house turn into a fairy castle. We’d watch as he tested the lights on the garage floor first, not understanding why he had to waste time doing that. Hurry up, we’d chant, though he’d explain patiently, year after year, why he checked them.
Now that my own sons are grown, I still bug my husband after Thanksgiving to put up the house lights, reminiscent of my mom. The strands are lower now, not following the roofline like when we were young and foolish enough to climb to the highest rung of the ladder, but we continue to put up house lights, just as our parents did, and my married son does the same, now that he has a house.
Besides nagging my dad, my mom had her own Christmas chores to do. For one, she decorated the inside of the house. Every year, we’d help drag in the boxes marked “Christmas Decorations” in faded black ink, and begin to unfurl the tissue paper that surrounded each of the beloved pieces we’d said good bye to the past year.
There was the wind-up angel that sat on the black-and-white TV, her wings a little curled, yet the song “Silent Night” still chimed clearly when her base was twisted as tight as it could go. And, here is the strand of plastic holly with shiny apples to hang on the wall down the hallway, and the matching candle wreath for the kitchen table.
I still have the wreath and wall hanging. They occupy the same places in my house as they did in my childhood home. The angel has long since been discarded. She no longer played her hymn, probably because I overwound her, and her wings and skirt became casualties of moths over the years.
I decorate as my mom did, hanging the red-and-white stockings, and putting treasured pieces my sons made when they were little all around the house. I’ve added to the festive arrangements, like my collection of nutcrackers on the hearth, and I can thank my mom for instilling in me the importance of transforming my home into a winter wonderland for all to enjoy.
Right around the fifteenth of the month, my parents would bundle us into the family station wagon and head to the downtown tree lot. My sister and I would run through the “forest,” while Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” belted out from the overhead speakers hastily attached to wooden poles. We would search for the perfect tree and, when we found it, would shout for our parents to come see. Then we would jump up and down until they gave their approval, or sent us searching for another.
Once we all agreed on the tree, the lot attendants would use the twine my dad brought, and tie it to the roof of our car. The twine would go through the front windows, anchoring our treasure. Then we would drive home s-l-o-w-l-y, so afraid the tree would slide to one side or the other, and break branches. Though it often slid, no branches ever came off.
My dad would always hose off the dead needles, so we had to wait until the next evening before he brought it in. And then the decorating began, with silver garland, and strand after strand of colored, glass bulbs that could render a whole section of the tree dark if one light went out. I can still remember my mom’s strident “Roy!” when my dad hung the lights haphazardly, or got too many of the same color bulbs together. I think my sister and I might have learned some of the most common swear words during tree decorating.
Not too much has changed in my own family. I play Christmas music and make hot chocolate while we decorate our tree, which can be green or flocked, depending on my mood. My husband is more of a perfectionist than my dad, so the lights don’t elicit much argument, except when he wants to put them on the branch tips, instead of zig-zagging them throughout the tree. My younger son, the one in the Army and married, is the best tree-light installer. He does a beautiful job, and I’m jealous that his new wife gets to enjoy his endeavors now.
Lastly, the icicles. Do you put them on your trees? It’s a hot debate in our family, with me being in the minority of wanting them on the tree. My husband’s family threw them on, until the green of the tree was masked by the foil glow of clumps of icicles. My mom and sister put them on our tree, strand after strand, painstakingly applied until just the right amount was used. I do it now, usually after everyone has departed. I put on some Christmas music and gently dress the tree with icicles, my childhood memories keeping me company.
Christmas reminds us of our childhood, and we can’t help but relate to our parents when we celebrate with our own families. It’s not bad to see our parent looking back at us in the mirror. It’s the connection to our past, and the bridge to our future. Perhaps Charles Dickens was on to something when he created the ghosts of the past, present, and future.
Do you see your parents in the way you celebrate Christmas? I’d love to hear.
Book Review of Deadly Chemistry
I love reading about couples where one is a "Geek," maybe because I was a bit of one in high school. Lauren was the perfect geek. I loved how she thought in terms of science, and cells and whatnot. I liked how, even though she was a geek, she had a sexual past. And lastly, I liked how Mike saw the non-geekiness in her. True love, ha ha!
Mike was a great hero. Sexy, smart, and flawed. His desire to keep his family together was well-written; I could feel his angst, and empathized with him. I enjoyed the differences between the brothers, similar to real-life families. I liked the way the author threw in bits of his past, so that I wasn't bombarded with an info-dump.
The mystery was good; it kept me guessing, which is always a plus. The ending played out well, though it was just a tad farfetched on that person's abilities of subterfuge. I may be splitting hairs; I read a lot of mysteries. I also found there was a lot of internal dialogue. I prefer dialogue between characters. I get bogged down in a lot of narrative, and tend to skim. Hence, the four star rating.
All in all, I enjoyed Deadly Chemistry, and will read the next one in this series. With two brothers, I can only imagine their stories will make great sequels. Hot guys, smart women? Heck, yeah! (Click on the cover image to get your Amazon copy)
Author, Teri Anne Stanley
Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she could hold a crayon--though learning to read was a huge turning point in her growth as a writer. Teri's first stories involved her favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters, followed by her favorite teen idols. She has also authored a recipe column (The Three Ingredient Gourmet), and scientific articles (Guess which was more interesting!). Now she writes fun, sexy romance filled love, angst and nekkid parts.
Teri's career has included sex therapy for rats, making posing suits for female body builders, and helping amputee amphibians recover to their full potential. She currently supplements her writing income as a neuroscience research assistant. Along with a variety of teenagers and dogs, she and Mr. Stanley live just outside of Sugartit, which is—honest to God—between Beaverlick, and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.
Just starting out in this writing process. It takes over a person's life. After all, there are no set hours, no specific place to go, no definitive wardrobe. But the worlds you can visit? They make up for everything!