Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Over the course of all the Christmases I’ve celebrated as an adult, I’ve probably made hundreds of ornaments--out of clothespins, recycled paper, pipe cleaners, hand-painted ceramics, cross-stitched fabric, and (memorably) star-shaped baked cinnamon sludge that still carries a spicy fragrance years later. I’ve wrapped hundreds of gifts--sometimes using hand-stamped paper and handcrafted ribbons. I’ve made holiday mix tapes, CDs, and playlists. I’ve trimmed dozens of evergreen trees and hung miles of multicolored lights. I’ve probably baked (quite seriously) millions of sugar cookies, spritz cookies, and frosted gingerbread teddy bears (my family’s personal specialty--so cute!). I’ve even gone Christmas caroling. But only once. I don’t know why the other carolers didn’t ask me back.

Actually, I do. But that’s a story for another day.

So why am I telling you this? Because I do all these things for the same reasons that YOU probably do, when it comes to your personal holiday traditions. I love seeing the people around me smile. I love surprising children with gifts, friends with goodies, and family members with unexpected favors. When it comes to Christmastime, I’m easy. I can’t say no.

That gives me a lot in common with the hero of my current book, Home for the Holidays. Reno Wright is the “go-to” guy in his small Midwestern town. His friends and neighbors rely on him for expertise, advice, and hands-on know-how...and Reno never says no. Behind his tough-guy demeanor (he’s a former NFL kicker!) hides a big heart. Even though Reno is busy running his successful sporting goods store, dealing with his divorcing parents’ ongoing feud, appearing as Santa in his niece’s grade-school holiday play, and trying to win the town’s annual holiday lights contest, he agrees to play Christmas Cupid for his best friend...and that’s where all the trouble starts. Because pretty soon, all Reno wants for Christmas is his best friend’s dream girl...and he doesn’t know how much naughty or nice one man can withstand before he finally gives in.

Sound like fun? It is! I promise. I’m crazy about the holidays, and I hope my enthusiasm for all things red, green, shiny, or spangled shines through in Home for the Holidays. I did my best to pack the story chock-full of Christmas cheer. I truly hope you’ll check it out.

In the meantime, I’m dying to know... What are YOUR favorite holiday traditions? How did they begin? And are there any new traditions you’re thinking about starting? Let’s dish!

Lisa :)

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Lisa Plumley is the USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen contemporary and historical romances. Her book Let's Misbehave was named one of Booklist magazine's Top Ten Romances of 2007, earned a 4-1/2 star Top Pick! rating from Romantic Times, and was a finalist for the Booksellers Best Award in the mainstream/single title category. She's excited to have two new books on the shelves right now: Home for the Holidays (Zebra) and Hallowe'en Husbands (Harlequin Historicals). You can find her on MySpace or Facebook, drop by her blog or visit her Web site to read first-chapter excerpts from any of her books, sign up for new-book reminder e-mails, download her reader newsletter, and more!


Terrie said...

My favorite holiday tradition is Going to West Virigina every christmas year. We are going again next month. To spend time with my grandmother and relatives at grandma's house . we usually have christmas party there .Sometimes we have big christmas dinner. It fun to be around with my cousins and other relatives on Christmas Holidays.

Lisa Plumley said...

Hi Terrie! That sounds lovely! It's so nice to be with family during the holidays. I hope you have a great time!

Terry S said...

Each year in the after Christmas sales, I buy unique Christmas plates and candy dishes. Then for the next Christmas, I make fudge to put on the plates and give them to friends, neighbors and family. One of my very favorite memories is having a pan of fudge cooling in the kitchen. About an hour after finishing it, my daughter asked if it was cool enough for her to have a piece. I told her yes, but only one piece. Later I went to the kitchen and still laugh at the memory. She only took one piece....there was a big spoon hole right in the middle.

I think no matter what the tradition, it's the joy that they bring to your heart and the memories you make that truly are the spirit of the season.

Avi J said...

Every year the day after christmas, my family on my mother side, has a huge feast. It has been going on for the last 25 years, a few year before l was born.

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

My grandfather had 5 candles in their living room window and when his children returned for the holidays he would light each one. My father did the same and now in my home the tradition carries on.

Stockings are always a large part of our day, having family and friends surrounding us is what it's all about!

With Thanksgiving approaching next week I feel blessed and thankful and wish all of you the happiest of holidays!

Lisa Plumley said...

Hey Terry S! LOL. You're so right. I make fudge every year too -- my two sons really look forward to it. Your daughter's "bite" sounds like a "bite" they would take too. :)

Hi Avi J! Aw, that sounds like a very nice tradition! I'll bet it's an extra special event, especially now that it's been going on for so long. I hope you enjoy your holiday feast.

Marilyn, that is such a touching tradition. Wow! What a wonderful and personal idea. Thanks for sharing.

Helen said...

I love the sound of the book I will be adding it to my must get list.
I love Christmas traditions here in Australia it is very hot but I still have the traditional Christmas lunch with all of the family I cook for days but love every minuite of it. I also still make Christmas pudding in the cloth and I make around 8 Christmas fruit cakes for friends at Christmas time and this takes weeks to do but I always have Chrissy carols playing and it has become a real tradition, I love the sounds of all the crafty things you have done crafty I am not but my girlfriend does those things for me and I have a lovely collection of decorations from her.

Have Fun

Gina said...

About 10 years l accidently started my baking late on Christmas eve and it went into Christmas morning, and my sisters stayed up with me. We ended up exchanging gifts and just having fun talking. It was so much fun that since then we always continue to bake and stay up to bring in Christmas at 12am

Michele L. said...

Hi Lisa,

Love your books by the way! My family always gathers at my cousin's house. We all bring a dish, she does the turkey, and there always pies galore! A bunch of us bring wine and beer so there is plenty of cheer! Ha,ha! We used to have about 35 of us but as years have gone by, people moved far away and loved ones have passed on, we are down to about 22 who gather each Thanksgiving.

I send many lovely wishes for a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Michele L.

Liza said...

My dad makes home-made pizza every year for Christmas Eve dinner. We have been doing it for as long as I can remember. It's great, because you have something to snack on after the midnight Christmas church service.

Lisa Plumley said...

Hi Helen! Thanks! I hope you get a chance to try Rachel's & Reno's story. I'm really proud of Home for the Holidays. I think your Christmas in Australia must be similar to my Christmas here in Arizona -- we don't get any snow (or truly wintery weather), but we have holiday spirit, all the same! I love baking and cooking too. I'm impressed with your fruitcakes! Yum. :)

Hello Gina! Oh that sounds like so much fun! Isn't it neat when something serendipitous happens like that? What a cool tradition. Thanks for sharing.

Hi Michele L! Thanks so much! That's so nice of you. I really appreciate your reading my books. Your tradition sounds so sweet. I love the idea of a big group like yours getting together. I hope you have a very wonderful time this year!

Hi Liza! Lucky you! Your dad sounds like a winner. :) Pizza s good any time! When I was growing up, we used to attend midnight mass every Christmas Eve -- it was always neat for a wide-eyed kid to stay awake that late!

Pat Cochran said...

I'm in our choir at church and one
of my favorite traditions is singing
at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
I've participated in this special
Mass every year since the early '90s.

Pat Cochran

Lois said...

Well, our traditions is sis and me still even after all these years get an ornament for the tree, started when we were born. . . we tend to repeat the Thanksgiving menu (which I love, I actually am not so thrilled when we move away from that! LOL) And the one thing I can never get to change is our presents are opened on Christmas Eve. Every year I try to get it move to the usual normal Christmas Day, but it just never works. :)


Lisa Plumley said...

Hello Pat! That's so nice! You're lucky to have a gift for music. Thanks for sharing!

Aww, that's sweet, Lois! What a nice tradition. When I was a kid, we opened gifts on Christmas Eve. Now, my family exchanges gifts on Christmas morning -- but not *too* early! This has created a whole series of bleary-eyed, groggy-but-cheerful photos of everyone. Those are always fun to look at. :)

Lisa Plumley said...

Well, I guess that's it for me this time! It's been fun! Thanks to everyone for being so welcoming and for sharing your holiday traditions too. I really enjoyed it. I always love visiting Tote Bags 'N' Blogs.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Raike said...

That's lovely! I too have lot of plans for this Christmas.