Guest Starring Nan Reinhardt!

Today we have a guest post from Nan Reinhardt, author of Rule Number One, Once More From the Top, and Sex and the Widow Miles. All these books are good reads with good characters and I can recommend them with confidence to anyone who like to read romance!

 

Christmas... is not an external event at all, but a piece of one’s home that one carries in one’s heart.
Freya Stark

I’m having a tough time getting into the holiday spirit this year. I’m not sure why. Usually, once Thanksgiving is over, I’m gung ho into Christmas, anticipating baking and shopping and getting the house all sparkly and pretty. But this year, I’m emotionally exhausted from releasing books and promoting them, from adding extra editing gigs to make up for the time I took off to do that, and our kids are arriving later than usual, so Christmas won’t happen until after New Year’s Day for us.

I remember that my mom often had a hard time getting into the holiday spirit and who could blame her? She worked so hard and yet money was always tight. For her, Christmas meant figuring out to buy presents and a turkey dinner for four kids whose Dad had abandoned them. But somehow, she always managed. We didn’t get a lot of stuff, but there were stockings filled with fruit and candy, and we each received a book and a toy and new socks or a sweater.

Our Christmases were simple, but I remember the holidays as being filled with joy and music and delicious baked goods and fun. Our traditions are ones that my sisters and I still observe when we celebrate with our kids and grandkids. Christmas Eve is dinner and then church and home for dessert—always pie or cookies and ice cream. Then one of us reads the book that Mom read to us every Christmas. It’s a short storybook from her childhood called Manny and Company—a touching tale about a little boy at Christmas who finds a friend in a lonely old man who turns out to be his long-lost grandfather.

So often, I’ve thought of Mom and her love of books and reading as I’ve gone on this journey of writing and publishing my Women of Willow Bay series. In many ways, Mom is in those books, which take place in a little town on the shore of Lake Michigan. Like Mom, I’d rather be on Lake Michigan than almost anywhere else on the planet—that love of the lake is from her and I transferred it to Carrie in Once More From the Top and Julie in Sex and the Widow Miles, making them passionate about the cold, beautiful water of Lake Michigan.

So many of my own pleasure preferences were also hers. Reading, of course. I’m a huge fan of board game as was she. It was the main source of entertainment at our house when I was a kid. Also, she could sing all the lyrics to every musical ever produced on Broadway from 1949 to 1979. I’m embarrassed to confess, so can I. Camelot, My Fair Lady, West Side Story–name a musical and I’ll sing you a song from it. You’ll be sorry because I can’t sing worth a damn, but by God, I know all the lyrics. And so I gave that characteristic to Jack—the young musical prodigy in Once More From the Top.

This morning I decided I needed a little Christmas, so I channeled my Mom. I put on the old Christmas music that we used to listen to when we were kids, tied on an apron, and started baking. With Frank Sinatra singing “Carol of the Bells” and Bing’s “White Christmas” and Johnny Mathis crooning “The Christmas Song” in the background, I made yeast rolls and fudge and spritz cookies and a list of things I wanted to get out of the attic to decorate the house with this weekend.

My kitchen is warm and filled with familiar scents that are bringing comforting memories of cooking with mom at Christmas time and putting me in the holiday mood at last. Now if I can just find her coffeecake recipe, I’ll be all set! Merry Christmas, everyone, and very Happy and Peaceful New Year!

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