...for strangers this holiday season. They may be closer and less unfamiliar than you think. These are hard times for many people. Our parish already maintains an only-too-busy women's shelter. We're looking around for premises to start a food bank, too. The BBC Christmas appeal is in its eighty-fifth year, and shows no sign of doing itself out of a job. One of the saddest things about modern life is the number of people who don't know their neighbours. Everyone is so preoccupied with keeping the devil off their own back, there's not much time left for others. This is such a shame, as there are already so many pressures on individuals and communities. Losing local shops and transport is a big problem here in the country, but there are similar mountains to climb in the cities.
This winter I'm going to make an effort to get out from behind this computer screen a bit more, and actually interact with people. It's not all work, though! There are lots of interesting stories to be found, and they could so easily be lost unless we all make an effort to record and use them. For instance, even after he became housebound, my father was a never ending supply of gardening wisdom. He adored children all his life, and we all went on to much greater things after learning the wonders of growing mustard and cress or beans from him. So much knowledge will be lost if we abandon our older generations, in particular. "Grow it your own" and 'Make it your own" are getting more and more popular, but learning life from a book is never easy. In 2012 I'm making it a resolution to find an experienced mentor to encourage me in my (so far doomed) attempts at DIY. A reciprocal agreement will trade skills for time and expertise. With luck, everyone will win. A similar system works in my local beekeeping group. An experienced person is treasured for building skills and confidence in newbies, and the benefits continue on both sides. This year I'm hoping to make some beeswax candles to give as presents over the festive season, which will be fragrant as well as useful. It's an attempt to make the best use of everything, help others, and give something back.
What gives you a warm glow during the holidays? A signed book from my backlist will be offered for a comment drawn at random.
I'm also running a competition over on my webpage, http://www.christinahollis.com ,with a chance to win a Christmas stocking filled with Weight of the Crown themed gifts. The winner of the prize draw will be announced at the wrap party for my Big Blog Tour at http://christinahollis.blogspot.com on 15th December, so drop by my website and answer the simple question you'll find there, for a chance to be in the draw!
Christina Hollis writes Modern Romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, which appear as Harlequin Presents/Extra in the US. She is just coming to the end of a very successful blog tour for her latest Mills and Boon title, Weight of the Crown.