Christmas for me officially begins on Thanksgiving the second the turkey (or whatever I'm cooking) is put in the oven. The boxes come out of the closet and I dive in, almost like opening presents as I tend to forget what I've packed where. The containers come down from the shelf in the garage, the fake tree (hey, I'm a California girl) gets hauled out of it's cabinet (at least this year it didn't look like I was hauling a plastic encased body through the house). The lights get tested...oh, yes, the lights. I think a minor miracle descended this year as it was the first time in memory ALL of my lights from last year worked. Whew! Because as you can see...I use a lot of lights.
The tree used to be my nemesis. While I loved it once it was up, I hated the process. Until I worked out a system and now, while it takes me about 2 hours to get each layer open, separated, and strung with lights, I don't have a swearing fit as I untangle cords and trip over electrical strands. My biggest concern is always whether the topper is straight. Hooray! This year it is (for now <G>). I'm also super fortunate to have one of those cats who really doesn't have any interest in climbing the tree. Thank goodness!! I feel bad for people who have explorer cats. This is a rough time of year for them.
Once the tree and lights are done, it's time to start bringing out the ornaments. Now I will fully admit to being an ornament junkie as in I should join a support group. I actually have to put myself on a Hallmark budget every year. About four years ago, however, after going through four boxes of ornaments that came from my grandmother, my mother, and myself, I culled the collection down, putting a lot away for good. Now I display ones that have a special memory or connection. I bet you do the same thing, too, especially those of you with children. Here are a few of my favorites:
I'm a long-time Barbie collector and while I have a TON of Barbie ornaments, there are only 3 or 4 which make the tree these days. The Nutcracker ballerina is still my favorite. She's just so pretty and reminds me of all the Xmas Eves we spent watching the Baryshnikov production of the ballet. To this day it's my favorite thing to watch during the holidays (except maybe the Harry Potter movies).
Yes, that's a scuba diving bumble bee. I have a few bees, because once upon a time my critique group was called the TKBees (Tiny Killer Bees. The name is a blog worthy story so...maybe soon <G>). The bees just make me smile. This one in particular. Come on! A scuba bee?! Isn't that the most ridiculous think you've ever heard of...or seen? He makes me laugh every year.
So this little crocheted baby ornament is from way back from when I was around five years old. It was given to my mom by a waitress who worked at the coffee shop my mom and grandmother used to take me to quite often. By now this little baby is about forty years old, but every year I unwrap her is like the first time I'm seeing her. She reminds me of what a wonderful childhood I had growing up in San Francisco in the Sunset District, walking down Irving street to the doughnut store or the used bookstore (which incidentally fed my romance novel addiction for yeeeaaaars!).
If there was one cluster that represents our household the best, it would probably be this trio of ornaments which, every year, goes near the top. The STAR TREK ornament is self-explanatory (LIVE LONG AND PROSPER TO ALL). The butterfly? Well, Heartwarming readers (and authors) know about my Butterfly Harbor series. But that little blue and white angel sitting on a shooting star? That was my grandfather's and by now must be nearly sixty years old. I've written about him on this blog before. He died when I was 6 months old so I have no memory of him, but between my tree topper angel (which stands tall on my miniature Harry Potter tree), the jingle Santa hugging his knees, and this tiny plastic ornament, he's with us every year. Merry Christmas, Grandpa (and Grandma! I miss you!)
You guys all know me well enough by now to know none of my decorating would be complete without SOME representation of my favorite superhero! That's right, Wonder Woman is in the house er, on the tree. I actually have a couple of this same ornament I've received some as gifts (see? People do know me, LOL). I keep one at my writing desk, but this one stands guard over my tree every day it's up.
Christmas does not stop at any door in my house. In the kitchen, aka my writing office, you'll find the little 3 foot tree that at one time used to go up in my Grandmother's room every year. She made all the needlepoint ornaments displayed and that topper? My grandfather bought that for her for 10cents back in the day (I still have the box with the price tag on it!). Now it's my tree...my writing tree. Or at least one of them.
As you can see, everywhere I look these days, I'm reminded of the joy and cheer this time of year brings. It's been a rough year for a lot of people in many ways, but when I take a few minutes, and sit in the quiet, surrounded by quiet lights and memories of family and friends...I am reminded of how truly blessed I am to be living this life.
So to all my Heartwarming sisters and brothers, authors, readers, and editors alike, I wish you all the blessings of the holiday season and may 2017 bring you everything you heart desires. As for the next Butterfly Harbor story? I can officially announce book three will be released in August and will feature Deputy Fletcher Bradley, Paige Cooper, and Paige's daughter Charlie, who may have seen The Parent Trap once too often. And you thought Simon Campbell was a handful? You haven't seen anything yet!
In the meantime, I'd love to hear what your favorite holiday decoration is and if it has any special connections for you. Please, share in the comments!!
Happy and Merry!
A self-admitted TV and movie addict, USA TODAY bestselling author Anna J Stewart writes sweet to spicy romances across the genres including the Butterfly Harbor series for Harlequin Heartwarming. Visit her online at www.authorannastewart for more information on her workshops, editing services, and to join her mailing list.