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.

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Christmas Interview – Melanie

We’re off to Ontario today to interview Melanie Robertson – King. She is the author of a novel and an anthology. Melanie has been to Scotland, enjoyed it, and talked about it so much I thought she was Scottish. Maybe she has some Scottish relatives?

Here is one of the many nutcrackers in Melanie’s collection.

scottish nutcracker

Christmas Interview

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes.

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No.

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

I’ve always done things traditionally since I started cooking Christmas dinners. When I was young, we always went to my grandmother’s and after that my mother’s or husband’s family’s so I never had to cook. But I do turkey (usually just a breast), mashed potatoes, gravy, turnips and stay traditional right down to the plum pudding for dessert.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving? 

I don’t mind the gift giving, but don’t like the shopping so much. Lately, there haven’t been as many places to shop locally (I refuse to shop at Walmart) so it means having to shop elsewhere, although the choices are getting better here at home.

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

I’m not sure I would describe it as fun, but I loved going to church Christmas Eve for the 11:00 p.m. service.

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

Yes. We always hang our stockings on Christmas Eve on the banister of the stairs leading to the upper level of our house. Usually, there is garland and white mini LED lights on it, too. It looks really festive.

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

Books. When I’m not writing, I’m reading so a book is the best gift ever – any time of year.

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

It was a knit pants/top outfit that I got when I was at teenager. Bleurgh… hated it. Wore it once then stashed it at the back of my closet.

9. What do you do with gifts you hate?

I think the outfit mentioned above went to a church rummage sale. I don’t think I’ve re-gifted anything but I have sold things in garage sales.

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

Probably one of the sweaters my sister-in-law knit.

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

I used to sew and make a lot of our clothes. One year, I made dresses with pinafores for my daughter and all the nieces and trousers and vests for my son and the nephews. I’ve also made pies to give as gifts.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Slow down on the time the decorations come out in the stores. I’ve seen Christmas stuff out on the shelves cheek by jowl with the Halloween merchandise. That’s way too early.

back yard dec 27 2012

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Even though I’m not a huge fan of Christmas Carols, I love Carol of the Bells.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Where do I start? The movies. I have a huge assortment on DVDs. Christmas Eve is always A Christmas Carol (B&W Alastair Sim version), then Christmas morning after we’ve had our big fry-up with mimosas, Holiday Affair first followed by Christmas in Connecticut (Barbara Stanwyck version). In the lead up to the big day(s), I watch The Bishop’s Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn, White Christmas. And since my husband  doesn’t like the movie Christmas Story, I watch it when I’m decorating the tree.

The food. So many good things that are only available that time of year (or we only ever ate it at that time of year) – plum pudding, mincemeat tarts, cranberry tarts, fruitcake, shortbread.

 Melanie’s Books:

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About Melanie:

Melanie author photo 500x590

Always a fan of the written word, Brockville born and raised, Melanie spent many of her formative years reading.

The writing bug first bit when she was about thirteen, but the itch subsided and it wasn’t until a number of years later that she put “pen to paper” and began writing again.

Prior to returning to fiction, Melanie wrote articles for various publications for a number of years and has been published in Canada, the US and the UK.

In addition to writing, her interests include genealogy, photography and travel – especially to Scotland, although Paris rates high on her “must return to” bucket list as well. On one of her trips to Scotland, she had the honor of meeting The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

Melanie’s links:

Website:  www.melanierobertson-king.com

Blog:  Celtic Connexions

Facebook Author Page

Goodreads author page

Amazon author page

Loveahappyending Lifestyle magazine author page

Twitter:  @RobertsoKing

Christmas Interview – Carmen

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My friend Carmen is my guest today. She lives in Germany and will give us a different perspective of how she celebrates the holidays.

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1. Do you celebrate Christmas? 

Yes, it’s the greatest family meeting ever – the whole family comes together at this time – more than at other feasts.

(We even remember family  members who are no longer with us: the cemetery is adorned with candlelight everywhere at that time.)

 2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

 No – I always met with my best friends or family at least.

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

Yes I have every year ! Because the traditional Christmas dinners are not good  for the figure.

My favourite non–traditional Christmas dinner is: Mixed Grill (Beef goulash – pieces; onion slices; colourful sweet pepper; and strips of bacon alternatively put on skewers) heated in the oven under the grill served together with an american barbecue sauce or tomato paste on top of it and french fries.

Or otherwise a Hungarian goulash with “Spätzle,” or a very good piece of beef with herb butter on it together with french fries or baked potato.

Before this there will be a healthy salad.

And we must not forget a sweet dessert after that. Maybe a kind of  cinnamon vanilla ice cream, or an iced coffee together with this, or cinnamon stars.

Everything served on bone china and a festive decorated tablecloth with candlelight.

cinnamon stars

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We like to pick nuts and make a liqueur from the biggest ones.

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving? 

I wonder if the gifted person  really likes this? It is never easy to make a gift to persons who need only money, but you want to give a personal gift at that time. Something that enchants even older persons. And I often noticed later, that especially these gifts are the ones where I was the most wrong.

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

Sleigh riding through the snowy forest on a horse-drawn sleigh with a lantern on the carriage near the Tegernsee and a torch-lit walk through the snowy mountain, followed by Bavarian shaking music and Christmas poems in a wood-heated festively decorated cabin.

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

I  only use  stockings at Christmas or St. Nicholas Day when the heating doesn’t work, or when I have a cold  ha ha….

I have only an Advent decoration in the form of embroidered socks made in Russia.

For St. Nicholas Day,  on the evening before the 6th of December, children place boots in front of their door. The next morning they will be filled up with sweet treats or if the children have not been good perhaps it could be a rod  in it, too. You can buy everywhere little red plastic boots (like the boots of Santa Claus) filled with sweet treats.

Not to forget, before Christmas we have a Christmas wreath with four candles – we light one after the other every Sunday in December before Christmas.

And we have a calendar with 24 little doors to open from the first of December with little chocolate goodies in it for children, the housewife (for her nerves ha ha…) or the pet, or very modern: filled with beer bottles for men.

I noticed these days. I have a re-fillable calendar for our pet –  every day he gets a Frolics (treat) and on the 24th some more, and he demands that with shiny eyes every morning.

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

A brunch for two in a Noble Hotel; or an evening in a dialectical or folk-theatre, a short trip together with our dog.

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

An egg cup, deodorant, and a electric garage door opener.

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

I put it into an invisible corner and later on I throw it away. Or if it was very expensive – I try to change it or to get the money from it to buy something more useful.

10. What would you change about Christmas?

It becomes too commercial from year to year. Already in August the competition  begins at the supermarkets to sell their goods for it. The contemplation is too short in my opinion – it’s now only the pre-Christmas stress.

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

The time before Christmas is the best time with all the electric or candle lights – this has something mystical, like in fairy tales. The people are altogether more friendly and helpful; the preparations before the great feast, the anticipation, the sweet pastries everywhere and anywhere slightly different.

To see all the packages under the Christmas  tree before they are opened – I like this.

The tradition to go very well dressed to church and celebrate there with other people before the Christmas meal, and distribution of the Christmas presents.

12. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Silent Night, or O Christmas Tree, Daughter of Zion – we always sing that in the church at Christmas.

Or Pop Music of Bryan Adams, Simon and Garfunkel, or modern Christmas singers of England and America – I like to put on the radio at this time.

13. What do you like best about Christmas?

Especially it is a feast for little children – we all like their bright eyes when they see their gifts for the first time. And the candlelight and festive mood together with darkness and all the pretty light-decorated trees and houses and not to forget the Xmas markets in the cities with their special smell of mulled-wine and their sweet treats.

14. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

At Christmas every year you notice that the years pass by quicker when you get older and you always think then, “Another year gone already.”

A Christmas without snow is not as beautiful as a Christmas with snow.

And after Christmas everybody waits already for New Year’s Eve to have a party and after that the new year begins again.

At New Year’s we always have a traditional fondue feast together with good friends.

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Christmas Interview – Nicky Wells

As we get closer to the big day, my guest for the Christmas interview is the rock chick author, Nicky Wells.

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Nicky has a very Christmas oriented novella just out on the shelves for this Christmas, entitled Spirits of Christmas.

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Amazon.co.uk Kindle | Amazon.co.uk Paperback

Amazon.com Kindle | Amazon.com Paperback

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I asked Nicky to share her thoughts about Christmas with us:

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Absolutely. I adore Christmas, it’s my favourite festival of the year. The lights, the coziness, the singing, the being together… love it. Oh and, did I mention chocolate? LOL!

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I have, as a matter of fact. I was in my late twenties, single, free and unattached in London, and for reasons too complicated to explain here, I didn’t make it home that year. So I bought a bumper CD of rock Christmas tunes, decorated my flat with pine twigs and fairy lights galore, splashed out on fancy food, and hunkered down for a few days with good books and romantic movies. It was very cold, too, so I got to go out and have lovely walks across a frosty park. I was alone, but I didn’t feel lonely. It was different, but it was a good experience.

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

*whispers* I hate turkey! *speaks in a normal voice* Well, normally, I have a Christmas dinner of roast chicken or roast beef. But one time, I simply couldn’t be bothered with all of that. The kids were too little to appreciate the effort and I was too tired to make it, so we had a pizza feast instead. (Me and my husband. The kids weren’t eating that kind of ‘junk’ food then).

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

Giving is better than receiving, for sure. I get really flustered and embarrassed when I get given gifts, but I love watching others open my presents. On the whole, I think that Christmas risks being one massive merry-go-round of exchanging presents, and I worry that the true spirit of the festival is being overlooked. But yes, I love presents.

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

Singing carols under the Christmas tree. That probably doesn’t sound rock’n’roll but I’m a traditionalist, LOL.

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

BOTH! Although that’s a new way of doing things. Traditionally, I’d have had a stocking (well, a filled wellie-boot) on St Nicholas Day, and I’ve introduced that tradition for my children. However, to honour the British way of doing things, they also have stockings at Christmas. Best of both worlds, right?

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

I feel guilty for even thinking that I don’t like them, then I put on my best smile, thank the giver and put the present to the best use possible. That may include passing it on, eventually, to somebody who appreciates it more than me.

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

Christmas tree ornaments from the boys! I’d include a photo but the decorations are still firmly stacked in the loft and won’t be coming out until after my birthday. Sorry!

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

Ooh all the time. I used to make figurines and ornaments out of salt dough, paint them and varnish them and wrap them as best I could. My Mum still has all of those! I also did a fine line in candle-holders and coasters, although I fear those have bitten the dust by now.

It is also a Wells family tradition to give home-made chocolates and fudge, so every year, my OH and the kids get making sweet treats for the whole family.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

I would quite possibly cut through all that commercialism. Oh, now you got me thinking. Much as I LOVE Christmas, I’d pass a law that says no Christmas goodies, tunes or advertising in the shops before mid-November. And certainly not in July!!!

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I’ve got five. Of course! Here goes:

1. I Believe in Father Christmas ~ Greg Lake

Love the guitar and the jingles and the lyrics of this one!

http://youtu.be/RMK6eOueKNk

2. Merry Christmas Everybody ~ Slade

Well. Try and stop me from shouting ‘It’s Chrisssssstmaaaaas’ at the opportune moment!

http://youtu.be/6OAUs0rcsA4

 

3. Wish It Could be Christmas Every day ~ Wizzard

Enough said. Although, as my six-year-old pointed out, if it were Christmas every day, it would get a bit boring. Bless!

http://youtu.be/ZoxQ4Ul_DME

 

4. Gaudete ~ Steeleye Span

Love me some acapella. I sing along and pretend ‘I can.’ LOL!

http://youtu.be/EDc2FD-vy8M

 

5. Do They Know It’s Christmas ~ Band Aid

Because I love that all those stars came together to make a charity song, and that it still gets air play after all these years. Plus watching the video is like entering a time-warp, in a good way.

http://youtu.be/bmj7KlIut1w

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