Christmas Interview – Anneli Purchase

Can a person interview him/herself? I’m going to try.

I’m Anneli Purchase and this is my blog. Just in time for Christmas, I’d like to share my thoughts with you, and wish you all a wonderful Christmas.

Anneli Purchase

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes, of course. Even if I were someplace far away from home, I’d be celebrating Christmas.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

Not completely alone, but one year my husband and I were without our extended family near. It was a relief not to have the pressure of the usual gift buying and entertaining commitments, but we couldn’t quite push away a feeling of loneliness that day. 

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

 As a child, “traditional” meant a goose dinner, and as an adult it was always turkey. We may have had a pheasant one year. I don’t remember for sure.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I don’t like feeling pressured to give a gift just because it’s Christmas. I want to give a gift because I feel like giving it. At home we’ve done away with the big gift giving for the last five years and have done only the stocking gifts instead. It’s a lot of fun and a lot less pressure.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

We went skiing on a sunny Christmas Day and it was wonderful. We had Christmas dinner with our parents that night so everyone was happy. 

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

As a child, we had stockings on Dec. 6, St Nicholas Day, which (one year) was the day our budgie flew out into a blizzard of snow because I opened the window to look for St. Nick. Now that we don’t do the big gifts anymore we do the stockings on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Some of the best gifts were board games when my brother and sisters and I could stay up late on Christmas Eve to play the games in the kitchen. Christmas music was playing and our parents and their friends visited in the living room, having a bit of Advocaat egg brandy. 

8. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

 My mother sewed cushions one year and each of the grownup children got a cushion. Although I’ve recovered my cushion I still have it even after what must be at least 40 years now.

9. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I often made things for people for Christmas. It might have been jam or pickles, or a crocheted afghan, or a sweater I knitted, or a shirt I sewed. Sometimes it was just cookies I baked. I used to take newsprint and paint designs on it to make my own Christmas wrapping paper but it was too painful watching the recipient of the gift trying not to tear the paper, so I didn’t do that again.

 10. What would you change about Christmas?

I would not allow Christmas advertising to start before Halloween.

11. What would you keep the same if you could?

I would always want to be allowed to wish someone Merry Christmas without worrying whether it was politically correct. “Happy Holidays” just isn’t the same. I don’t think people of other religious beliefs are offended by the words Merry Christmas any more than I’m offended by them wishing each other whatever their holiday is.

12. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I Believe in Father Christmas (Greg Lake)

War is Over (John Lennon)

Walking in the Air (from the video The Snowman)

 13. What do you like best about Christmas?

The music, the fireplace, being together with good friends and family.

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Of course I would love it if everyone would buy my books and this is the time I would normally want to tell you about them, but I’ll spare you this time and ask only that sometime you might visit my webpage and see for yourself what’s available there. You’ll see the book covers, reviews, a photo gallery, and a page about copy-editing which is my other job that I like to do besides writing.

Please visit www.anneli-purchase.com

I wish you all a healthy and happy 2014.

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Christmas Interview – Elisabeth Bertha

We’re off to Austria for this interview. Bundle up. Wrap that scarf around your neck. The snow is everywhere!

Austria

My friend Elisabeth lives in Austria. She is a woman of extraordinary talents. I can’t even explain all she does at her amazing job. She is a geologist who does consultant work, assessing environmental impact of construction on building sites, and helping advise construction companies how to deal with groundwater levels. She also helps protect the environment from the impact of industry. It’s a fine line to tread and she often finds herself in a dilemma as she is bound to protect nature without stifling business and the economy.

Here is Elisabeth in her portfolio photo from work.

Elisabeth Bertha

Elisabeth lives in Linz, between Salzburg and Vienna. She loves to hike, ski, and travel. She likes to swim in refreshingly cool water (not the tropical waters for our brave Elisabeth).

Being a pianist, she loves classical music, theater, and movies. In her free time, she likes to travel, and for this, it is very helpful that she has learned to speak several languages. She can hold conversations in English, German, French, Italian, and Hungarian.

One more thing I really admire Elisabeth for is that in every spare moment, she has a book in her hand. This is something that makes every author happy.

And she loves animals, as you can tell from the cat among the presents.

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Christmas in Austria is bound to be a white one. The family takes advantage of the many ski and snowboarding opportunities in this lovely country.

Ski Austria

How deep is that snow!?

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Christmas in Austria is loaded in tradition. Here is Elisabeth to tell us about it.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Of course, the same procedure as every year.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No, never, my family has always been too big.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

No, my children are very traditional thinking- there is always a Hungarian fish soup for lunch (with lots of elderly friends/my generation and older-grown-up-children) and at Christmas Eve,  Bratwürstel (calf) and sauerkraut at grandmother´s place, most of all kids and kiddies and partners and dogs together, everybody talking and laughing loudly…

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I love trying to find special presents for everybody, to fulfill bigger wishes for my children and nice small gifts for all the others, friends and family.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

After midnight mass we put sexy nipple-toys on a renaissance figure next to the church (oh my god!)

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

There are stockings on St Nicholas`Day, filled with sweets and nuts. When the children still were small, somebody (most time someone from the parish) dressed up as St. Nicholas  (invited by the parents) went from house to house, bringing  a bag  full of chocolates and so on (prepared for the children by the parents) to each of them, telling the legends of St Nicholas, bishop of Myra/Turkey. We celebrate Christmas Eve with the ringing of an old brass horse-sleigh-bell, then we all may enter the living room with  the wax-candle-lit  tree and all the presents under it. Then everyone must sing  Silent Night together, even if I play the piano much too high!!

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

I don’t remember. The best gift for me is always to see that my presents please and bring joy to everybody.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

A voucher for dishwasher cleaning up/10 times from one of my clever daughters- I never got it done without argument…

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

I collect them in a secret place and sometimes I may find a new owner or someone who likes it much better…(chacun a son gout!)

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

I love homemade Christmas cookies!!!

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Filled gingerbread (sugared orange and lemon peels, cranberry jam, nuts), game pastry.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Nothing, never.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

The silence and nervous whispering of my grown-up daughters, sitting on the stairs and waiting for the ringing bell in the living room (and  silent humming of Gregorian Christmas carols from  the disc).

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

As I mentioned: Gregorian Carols, then Austria`s most famous Christmas song composition : Silent Night  and  during the opening of the parcels Hungarian Christmas songs as Pasztorok, Mennyböl az angyal (even if the children are not able to sing the text, for them these Carols belong inseparably to Christmas Eve). Another absolutely essential music piece is Petersburger Schlittenfahrt for 4 hands, played by my sister and my 85-year-old mother in memory of our grandmother (1896-1994), who especially loved this piano music at Christmas!

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

I love decorating and  at least the building up of our  more than 140-year-old Bethlehem Cradle; tiny wooden figures made by some ancestors, some of them quite primitively cut (it might have been a child trying to carve figures like sheep or a fox his first time) or  much better cut Holy Mary and shepherds. I love creating the green environment around the cradle with dry wood, moss and other plants…. It is quite contemplative!

And I love meeting my brothers and my sister and their children. We really always try to behave quite well and peaceful, and I must say, it is funny, nice and peaceful. But I have to admit, that our Christmas meeting does not last the whole evening, after 3 happy hours we all drive/go home to our own places to celebrate Christmas/singing Carols/opening presents in “lower” society…

 16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

  •  I do not understand people who hate Christmas or who try to escape (into holidays somewhere else, like warm southern islands!) I really love the darkness of these days, also the bad weather and first snow!
  • The only bad thing about this time is, that at the end of the year the stress at work grows immensely. Each project has to be finished before Christmas. It is never a calm time! If I could, this would be the thing I `d like to change around Christmas (but someday I will be retired…. Then let´s talk about again!)
  •  Christmas at home
  • Bethlehem Cradle, figures built between 1860 and 1880; some of them with very special local meaning like the brown monk. He is called Katzenwoferl, (Wolfgang), a  hermit who lived here in Ebensee  250 years ago in a hut in the wood, caring for many cats …
  • Or figure “Vater-lass-mich-aa-mitgehn”, a boy following his father, or “Miazl (Maria, Mizzi)- mit-den- Eiern”  (she carries a bowl of eggs an her  head), “Nazl (Ignaz)- mit der Leinwand” (carries linen for the child)…
  • our (un- complete ) (un-)holy family….

Here is Elisabeth with her husband, Sandor, in Vienna.

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Merry Christmas, Elisabeth!

Christmas Interview – Mary Newcombe

My guest today is Mary Newcombe, a lady of many talents. One of Mary’s skills is being able to walk into an empty room and visualize it fully decorated; something I don’t have a hope of ever managing.

But besides being a skillful home decorator, it will surprise you to know that she’s an expert with a fire hose. This picture is from her days as a volunteer firefighter in Port Clements on the Queen Charlotte Islands, where she has been known to drive the fire truck to a fire.

She was on the cutting edge of the age of feminism, defending herself against comments from burly, old handloggers who shouted, “What the hell is a woman doing with that hose?”

Later, when she was told about it, she responded, “If I’d heard him say that, I would have turned the hose on him.” And she would have!!

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Welcome, Mary.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes, love to have the break from the dark drab days of winter.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?  

We were in San Diego for the holidays.  We discovered that all restaurants were booked and full when it came to Christmas dinner.  We had take-away-tacos.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving? 

Love it.  I generally purchase items that I like at craft venues through out the valley and local stores.  No chain stores on my list.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Having a cold white Christmas at Tlell, in the Queen Charlotte Islands.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?  Christmas day.  Lorne and I enjoy sharing our stockings together.  Rule #1:  only items that will fit in a stocking.  Which is an interesting feat.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas? 

Coming home from the hospital with my new born daughter.

8. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

I have a pair of perfect quilted hot pads that my sister Shirley made many years ago.

9. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

Last year I made a calendar for my granddaughter. I loved putting the pictures and mementos together while remembering the great times we had.  It had family events and national/world celebrations marked on the appropriate days.  Did you know there was a ‘penguin’ day in the spring?

10. What would you change about Christmas? 

No Christmas decorating or merchandise in stores until Dec. 1st,  then bring it on.  Less advertising, how many chocolate and perfume ads do we need to be harassed with?

11. What would you keep the same if you could? 

To pass on to my family the simple joys I was taught as a child.

12. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

‘Oh Holy Night’

13. What do you like best about Christmas?

The bright lights and colours in the dark winter.  The feasting.

14. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

I think it’s a great winter celebration that breaks up the mundane winter.

 

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Would you like to share your thoughts about women firefighters  or homemade gifts? Do you have a job that is “different”?

Christmas Interview – Barb Harris

My friend Barb Harris tells  about her Christmases in Washington and Montana. Welcome, Barb!

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If you’re ever in Wolf Point, Montana, and need a place to park your rig at, come to R & B RV Park and you’ll be well taken care of. Safe, secure, and very tidy.

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1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes. Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No. I have always spent Christmas with my immediate family and either my family or my husband’s family.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

No. We always have ham and sometimes turkey too and of course mashed potatoes and gravy.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving? 

I usually love to give gifts but as I get older I’m finding that I am becoming somewhat of a scrooge. Lately all I’ve been doing is getting a list from family members of what they want and try to get those gifts.  I haven’t been very creative in the gift giving department.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

When we lived in Washington, as a family we had the tradition of going to the mountains and picking and cutting down our Christmas tree. We would make a whole day of it. We started out just us and another family and by the time we left Washington, we had about 4-6 families that had joined us. We would sled, bbq lunch, and drink hot chocolate. It was a blast and a great tradition!

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Yes, we even have stockings for the dogs.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Probably the best gift has been a pair of hair clips that my Dad gave me when I was 17 or 18. They were for a much younger little girl but I know my Dad picked them out by himself.  I think that has been the only gift he ever bought without the help from my Mom.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

I got this really ugly brown vest from my grandmother when I was about 8 years old. The only saving grace about it was that we also had this puppy at that time and he got a hold of that present and chewed a hole in the vest.

9. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

I will re-gift them if they aren’t that bad. If they aren’t something I can give away, then I will sell them in a garage sale.

10. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

My son made me a candle holder in school and gifts like that mean more to me than any store bought gift.

11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I made jelly candles one year and gave those as gifts. It was fun creating different candles.  I put them in wine glasses and they were a big hit.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

I would like it not to be so commercial. I would love to just be with family and spend time together without worrying about how much money I spent.

13. What would you keep the same if you could?

I wish I could always be able to spend the time with our son at Christmas but I know times are changing and with him graduating college and starting his own life, we won’t always be together.

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley!!!

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Spending time with family. You can’t beat that.

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

As I get older, it’s definitely more about being together with family than any gift I could receive. I’m not a very religious person but family means a lot to me.

New Picture (1)Have a look at this gorgeous sunset Barb ordered in for us while we stayed there.

006And to entice those who love nostalgia and history, here’s photo that could inspire a writer. What a story starter this could be:

She stepped off the train and was immediately disappointed to see that the only vehicle waiting for passengers was a dilapidated farm truck. A shiver of foreboding rippled over her. She could just imagine what her new house must look like.

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Montana is full of stories. Come out and have look sometime.

Thank you, Barb, for sharing your Christmas and a peek into Montana with us.

Christmas Interview – Janice Horton

I’d like to introduce Janice Horton, a writer who lives in Scotland. Janice writes contemporary fiction with humour and heart. Please have a look at her book cover images and links at the bottom of the page.

Welcome, Janice!

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1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

We always celebrate at home in Scotland. This year will be special as our three sons will be home. Now they are grown men and two of them plan to work abroad next year, it’s possible we may not be together for future Christmases, and so I plan to make the most of this one!

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I’m lucky to come from a large family. I’m the eldest of five children, so being alone at Christmas has never been an option. But I’m sure if I had to be on my own I’d make the most of it by watching my favourite movies and enjoying a few festive treats.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

Nope, it’s tradition all the way in our house. My boys would riot if we deviated even slightly from the way it’s always been done!

Janice xmas dinner

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I love to give gifts but I’m not lavish about it. I like to give well thought out personal presents.

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Sledging on the snowy hill at the back of the cottage.

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Absolutely. Everyone gets a stocking with fruit, nuts and Christmas themed chocolate treats in it.

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

Our three boys being home for Christmas is the best gift ever.

8. What was the worst gift you ever received at Christmas?

I once received aftershave. To say I was surprised was an understatement. All came clear later however when my dear husband unwrapped perfume!

9. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

A handmade pottery dish from my aunt and uncle in Canada.

10. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I’ve given Christmas cakes. My mum says they are the best she has ever tasted.

11. What would you change about Christmas?

I think if there was ever a year that none of our boys could come home for Christmas, I might suggest to my husband that we go and spend Christmas somewhere tropical!

12. What would you keep the same if you could?

Listening to the old Christmas classics on Christmas Eve.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I particularly love ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Family first. Everything else is a bonus.

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

When I was younger, Christmas was really all about the gifts – what I was getting and what I was giving. Now I really wouldn’t mind if everyone stopped the present giving ritual and concentrated on the day itself – sharing a meal and celebrating.

My Author Blog

Follow me on Twitter: @JaniceHorton

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Associate Editor at: Loveahappyending Lifestyle Mag

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Christmas Interview – Pooben Narayanen

Today, my guest is Pooben Narayanen. He has some very exciting news. His first book is published on amazon outlets. Since Pooben lives on Mauritius, he knows a lot about the island and has been able to use this exotic place for the setting of his book. You’ll soon be hearing more about Pooben and his first published book. 

Welcome, Pooben.

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Christmas Interview

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

We celebrate the festive side of Christmas, especially for the kids, with the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and gifts.

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I spent Christmas Eve alone once. It wasn’t so bad. I was in bed early because I had to work the next day. After work I got to hang out with my friends which was nice.

 3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

I suppose it depends on where I am. In Mauritius, we might have a BBQ. Lamb, shrimp, chicken and fish, with salad and baguettes. Back in Canada it would be a roast.

 4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I think it’s okay for children. But for adults? The whole thing has become so commercial now that it feels as if it’s only about money. 

5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Going to the beach. 

6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

No. 

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

I would have to say my first bicycle! 

8. What is a gift you’d rather not receive? 

Ties.

9. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Never received one. 

10. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

No. 

11. What would you change about Christmas?

Maybe make it less commercial. Is that even possible? 

12. What would you keep the same if you could?

If I could enjoy it like when I was a kid, I wouldn’t change a thing.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

The Nutcracker.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

It’s another excuse to eat! 

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Merry Christmas to all!

 

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Christmas Interview – Sonja Forrester

My guest today is Sonja Forrester.

Some of you may remember Sonja from days gone by, but one thing hasn’t changed.Just as always, she can usually be seen with a cat around her feet.

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Sonja will share her thoughts about Christmas and let us peek into her home as it was decorated for Christmas last year.

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Welcome, Sonja.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes. Generally, on Dec 24th, Christmas Eve, but also occasionally Dec 25th.

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No, I have not. I am fortunate that I have never experienced being completely alone.

3. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have?

Yes, we had steak and prawns.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I can take it or leave it. I admit it is fun to open a little surprise of some kind, but more fun to watch the people you are with open their gifts/stockings.

 5. What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Watching the cat react to her new toys. Oh wait…that would be the most fun activity the cat had.  Mine would have been when I was a young child and my parents left little clues around the house until I found my parcel.

 6. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

Yes, we generally only have stockings. Not too often do we buy “gifts.”

7. What was the best gift you ever received at Christmas?

When I was about 4 or 5, I received an “ANNIE OAKLEY” doll. She was my idol in those days.

8. What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Handmade tablecloth, napkins and placemats. Homemade candles, bath bombs, baked goods. These things mean more to me than any purchased gift.

 11. Have you ever given a homemade gift? Tell about it.

I used to spend hours making gifts for giving at Christmas. There were many lavender sachets for closets and drawers, beeswax candles, bath bombs, clothing that I had made, picture frames that were made from fabric, doll clothes. I once made my niece an entire wedding party’s ensemble for all her Cabbage Patch dolls. Also made her a dress, with another matching one for her Cabbage Patch doll.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Less commercialism, perhaps more homemade or handmade gifts, more music, family and being thankful for what we have.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Leise Rieselt der Schnee.

 14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Music and choirs singing.

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

It seems to me that there are so many people out there that get themselves very stressed out trying to find “the perfect gift” for someone. Everyone should be happy just to have their loved ones near, food on the table, and a warm bed to crawl into.

Favourite Christmas album

My Favourite Christmas Album

Do you have pets that make your Christmas special? Leave a comment and tell us about it.