Helen's and my post is up a little late today, and we do apologize. Because Helen remembered it the night before it was due and I didn't remember it at all. Nevertheless, we wish you all a beautiful holiday season, full of peace, hope, and joy. We hope readers continue enjoying Harlequin Heartwarmings in 2017 as much as we enjoy writing them.
by Helen DePrima
Through the years, the Christmas tree has been our family’s most enduring tradition. I can’t recall a single time we’ve bought one already cut. In the first few years of our marriage, my husband and I would pay a small fee to cut a tree from one of the National Forests along Colorado’s Front Range. We lived in a hundred-year-old cottage in Fort Collins near the CSU campus; its 10-foot ceilings lured us to cut a tree to match its dimension. The challenge was getting a tree that large home from the mountains strapped to a VW Beetle. Because of the car’s egg-like shape, keeping the tree on top proved impossible; first it slipped backwards to drag behind and then forward to obscure the windshield. We finally compromised by mounting it upright on the rear bumper and drove home at 15 mph, accompanied by cheers and jeers of the motorists who had to pass us.
Since moving to New Hampshire, we’ve cut trees in shirtsleeve weather and leaning against arctic winds so strong we could scarcely stand upright; sometimes my husband has needed to scoop out a trough in the snow to reach the tree trunk with his saw. The transport problem has been solved by my succession of Ford trucks although there have been years when we’ve slithered down icy mountain roads leaving a wake of graceful S-curves as pick-ups tend to do.
For the last fifteen years, we’ve driven far north to a Christmas tree farm north of Franconia Notch, stopping first for lunch at the Littleton Diner which serves the best clam chowder in the state. Then on to Mountain Star Christmas Tree Farm to cut our tree, followed by a stop at the Brick Store in Bath, NH, which claims to be the oldest continuously operated general store in the US. The covered bridge close by is still in operation although snow is no longer shoveled inside to accommodate sleigh runners.
Gotta run now – time to put up the tree.
by Liz Flaherty
I love Christmas. It is my favorite holiday for reasons both spiritual and because it is a cherished memory bank of my life. Actually, I love the whole time from Thanksgiving through Christmas. However, that five-or-six week period goes by in the blink of a geriatric eye, so I like to plan ahead.
What I Plan
· Start Christmas shopping immediately following 4th of July fireworks.
· Begin sewing Christmas gifts. Make out schedule for the holidays since I am on deadline. Write from 6:00 AM till noon, sew from 4:00 PM till 6:00 PM. Use other waking hours productively.
· Buy baking necessities in September so that I will have plenty of time to make cookies. Remember parchment paper.
· Early in November. Finish Christmas shopping to avoid Black Friday. Buy turkey and other Thanksgiving needs.
· Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Go to store to buy a turkey bag because even in the best-laid plans, I forget something. Red and green M & Ms are on display. Buy some.
· Each day until Christmas, do things like wrap gifts or complete a handmade gift.
· By the Sunday night after Thanksgiving, have the tree and all decorations up, half the gifts wrapped, a few batches of cookies in the freezer.
· Enjoy the holidays! God bless us, every one!
|My girls on Black Friday|
What Actually Happens
· Buy wrapping paper, labels, bows, Christmas cards, seasonal paper products, Christmas fabric, and 22 pounds of candy at after-Christmas sales for something like 90% off. Eat the candy. Lose the rest of it.
· When my sister-in-law calls in August and asks if I have my Christmas shopping done, I call her names, hang up, and eat the M & Ms I’ve been stockpiling to make Christmas cookies.
· Buy more M & Ms.
· Lose them.
· Oh, fine, I ate them.
· Decide I will sew aprons for everyone for Christmas. Lay the fabric out neatly on the cutting table. It will remain there until dust gathers on it and I forget what I was going to do with it.
· First baking day in October. Buy more M & Ms. Replace the parchment paper I’ve lost.
· Find the parchment paper from last year and the year before. Put it somewhere that I will remember.
· Thanksgiving Thursday, the day the holiday season begins for me. Remember the meaning of a full heart because all our kids and grands are wherever we’ve chosen to gather. I am never a perfectionist, but this day is truly perfect. It goes by in minutes.
· Black Friday. Go shopping because it’s so much fun. Buy things no one needs but are on sale. Go home smelling like every single tester in Bath and Body Works. Show my husband the purse he just bought me for Christmas.
· Saturday after Thanksgiving. Husband can’t help get tree and decorations out of the attic because of rotator cuff surgery—what an excuse!—so I do the sensible thing and buy a new tree. And some ornaments. Put tree up and discover flocked trees shed white stuff indiscriminately. Run vacuum. Run it again. Husband keeps sling on for no better reason than they told him to. Run the vacuum again.
· All of December. Try to catch up with myself.
· December 24. Finish Christmas shopping. Say “Where did the time go?” 37 times. Search frantically for the cellophane tape I know I bought. Use Band-aids to secure packages.
· December 25. Everything is perfect. I've enjoyed the holidays! God bless us, every one!