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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Traditions and routines

The holidays are a time of traditions both old and new. In our house we generally decorate the day after Thanksgiving. No, we don't get up at O Dark Thirty to go shopping on Black Friday (although I do keep a sharp eye on a particular online site for their lightning deals) and we definitely don't fight the crowds. We stay home, get the decorations out of the garage and start trimming the house.
It's the way my parents did it during my childhood and it's the way my husband's family did it during his. So of course we're doing it that way as well. What differs is when we take them down. My family always had everything down and put away before New Year's – something about a superstition about not leaving your past year's decorations up for the New Year.
Not so with my husband's family. They are dyed-in-the-wool Catholics and leave their decorations up until the Epiphany – which is in early January. The first few years my husband and I had several discussions about when to take the decorations down. We ended up compromising. I finally let go of that superstition and allowed decorations to remain into the New Year and the husband relented and let the decorations come down before everyone went back to work and school.
We used to send out personalized Christmas cards and then life happened. School, work, and eventually a kid and at some point I succumbed and wrote one of THOSE letters. This year, for the first time, I'm not going to write a letter. Everyone is just going to get a photo card. Honestly, I just don't have the time.
My parents spent Thanksgiving with us and watching my stepmom labor over her Christmas cards ended up being what made me solidify my decision. The holidays are supposed to be fun and we're supposed to enjoy them. Laboring over hundreds of handwritten cards or stuffing over a hundred envelopes with letters? Not my idea of fun.
I would rather spend the time wrapping packages, driving around to see all the pretty outside lights, baking cookies with my kid, and frankly, just enjoying the time with my family.
Some people approach the holidays with a sense of dread because of all the work involved, the baking, the shopping, the wrapping, the Christmas cards…etc. There's no doubt that the holiday traditions, while fun and welcome, wreak havoc on everyone's day-to-day routine. That's actually one of the things that makes me welcome that day in January when the decorations come down and life gets back to normal.
Right now the decorations are gorgeous and exciting and the season is full of hope. By January though, as a creature of habit, I'm anxious to get back to my routine and 'have my house back to normal'. But in the end, every last bit of time and effort is MORE than worth it, especially seeing the happy smiles on peoples' faces while they enjoy their gifts!
So – tell me your holiday traditions – do you decorate right after Thanksgiving or wait until Christmas Eve? Or do you celebrate a different holiday? Kwanzaa? Chanukah? I would LOVE to hear all about each and every one! Especially food – are there special holiday-themed foods that you only make during the holiday? If so, what and why? (And whatever you do – ENJOY IT!)
Leave a comment below answering any one of those questions and you'll get a special treat! (*hint* a copy of my novella Fixing the Hole) And then check out the promo material below and find out what happens when a tree wreaks havoc on Steve's normal routine in my novella, Fixing The Hole.
Thanks for chatting with me today!
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Heavy rains and strong winds slammed an uprooted tree through Steve Crowell’s roof, leaving a gaping hole to match the one in his heart. After his ex left him for a younger man, Steve’s not sure he’s ready to handle another disaster. His best friend highly recommended the contractor, but the man’s already late, and when he shows up with his music thumping, Steve isn’t impressed—until Riley steps out of his pickup truck. Personable, gorgeous Riley talks a mile a minute, which Steve finds both ridiculously endearing and terrifying. Piecing together a heart isn’t as easy as fixing a roof, but Riley might just be the right man for the job.

I was just about to look at my watch again when I heard a pickup truck come rattling up the driveway, loud pop music blaring from the open window.
Silence reigned when the engine cut off. I watched as a wiry young man opened the door and stepped out. I looked him over and took in the muscular legs shaped by a tight pair of jeans. My gaze roved over muscles barely contained by a fitted, army green Henley, finally landing on bright green eyes set in a young face under a military-style buzz cut of brown hair.
"Hi." The young man strode forward, his hand outstretched. "I'm Riley Jones and you must be Steven Crowell. Sorry for being late. My dad tried to convince me to make him eggs and bacon instead of the oatmeal he should be eating for his heart, and he wouldn't let up until I promised to make him a big breakfast this weekend."
Confused by this outpouring of information, I found myself stupidly saying, "Breakfast?"
"Yeah, my mom died when I was in junior high, so it's been the two of us for so long that I just never moved out. I mean, I was gone during college, but then I came back, started my contracting business and it was just cheaper to live with him than get my own place. Then he had some heart trouble and if I don't make him eat right, he'll just eat burgers and fries or those god-awful frozen dinners all the time. And wow, sorry, I just keep talking, don't I? Why don't you show me what you need done, Mr. Crowell?"
Leave your comments below with your email address to win your own copy of Fixing the Hole
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Bio: Katherine Halle is known as the “Queen of Happy Endings.” She firmly believes that no matter what the obstacles, what the struggles, or how much angst is involved in the journey, that the ending should always be a happy one.
Katherine’s love of the written word started at a very early age with repeated demands of “read to me” to any who would listen. It was only natural that writing would follow. As a child, she could often be found daydreaming, thinking up fanciful stories and writing them down. Now she does it on a laptop. Much faster.
Katherine’s favorite animal is her dog. She likes books, movies, and quirky television shows, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Hart of Dixie. She loves cooking and watching cooking shows. She has lived in both Europe and the United States and loved both. When she’s not writing or plotting, Katherine enjoys spending her time listening to music, reading books written by other people, and being with her family.
You can find Katherine here:


  1. This looks good! Happy Holidays!

  2. We never had a hard and fast day to put up or take down the tree. Growing up, we always had real trees which sort of determined the "take down" day by how fast they started to become a fire hazard LOL. Now that we have a fake tree (too many apartment rules over the years) there's no danger so we're more flexible. Since I've lived in Denver, we tend to follow the city schedule and leave all the decorations up until after the Stockshow. :)

    As for food traditions, Christmas Eve is a salmon quiche followed by watching the Nutcracker. Christmas dinner is almost always ham (occasionally a roast - leading to lots of Grinch jokes *grin*)

    Happy Hols!

    1. That makes sense. We did too until the allergist told my parents I was allergic and to buy a fake tree :(

      Oh yes, you've told me that! That's cool that you have that tradition.

      Oooh salmon quiche? YUM. And ham...that's usually an Easter thing for us. BWWAHHHAAAA *Grinchy laugh*


  3. I start craving the tamales friends bring on Christmas Eve right around Thanksgiving (have to resist the urge to order them in Mexican restaurants, because they just aren't the same). Can't wait to read this!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(dot)com

    1. OOOh that's interesting! And not the first person I know that has Tamales. Hope you enjoy the novella!

  4. Santa gave us the tree when I was growing up. We'd wake up Christmas with a decorated tree and presents. The tree would and still does stay up until after January 6. Now our tree goes up the weekend after Thanksgiving

    1. That is so interesting! If you don't mind my asking, why the shift? I'm just curious.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  5. we always decorate after thanksgiving and on xmas eve we take the kids driving around to look at all the lights.they love it

    1. sorrt forgot email

    2. Oh that sounds like lots of fun! The local botanical garden here has lights up and we did that the day after Thanksgiving.

  6. Hey hon! :)
    To be honest, I don't really have any Christmas traditions. It feels like I haven't had a Christmas-y Christmas in years.
    BUT I decided, next year I will. I'll have decoration, lights, cookies and yummy food. And maybe do a cookie run to the homeless shelter if I can borrow the car, so they can have a nice Christmas, too.
    I really want this for next year. I can make my own merry Christmas :)

    We used to have my favorite food for Christmas dinner (and/or birthdays) which is smoked pork loin with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.
    And don't go telling my that's typically German, the actual Christmas dinner of the region is potatoe salad with sausages, but that's not for me :D

    (why does this say I'm annonymous?! it's burned-phoenix from LJ, it does know that! I can see it knows it!) *weird*

    1. Oh hi you!!!

      Oh that sounds like a GREAT idea for next year!!! Especially the cookie run to the homeless shelter. We always do a Toys for Tots run and let the kid pick out the toys to buy.

      Ooh that sounds like what we have on New Years... it sounds YUMMY :D Are you in Germany?

      And I see you, it showed up just fine for me :D

  7. I know what you mean about the cards. I've just written mine tonight, it's the one part of the holiday I really don't look forward to.

    And guess what, I love a mince pie ;)

    1. HA HA you'll see I didn't write cards this year /o\ You know, when you get yours ;p

      I figured as much, I really probably should try it now that I know it doesn't have actual meat in it ;p