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.

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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.

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Associate Editor at: Loveahappyending Lifestyle Mag

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Christmas Interview – Sheryl Browne

My guest today is the author of heart-warming love stories, written with humour. Sheryl Browne lives in the UK and likes to spend time on boats. She has a soft heart for her pets and in my book, that makes her a good person. Welcome, Sheryl.
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1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

I think if we didn’t we would never pause to draw breath. Christmas is the one time we cross everything off the agenda with a view to relaxing. It’s time for stopping and reflecting, I think. It can be a time of sadness, remembering those you’ve lost. That in itself, though, is a reason to celebrate, cherishing the memories, enjoying what you have; realising that many people the world over don’t have so many things we take for granted. It’s definitely a time for giving thanks, in my mind, and counting one’s blessings.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

Yes, once. My son was very young at that time and had gone to his dad’s that year. I lived a long way away from family, so spent the day on my own. I was fine with it, plenty of indulging and reading to do, but I did experience an overwhelming sense of sadness as the evening drew in. Some people are alone and lonely all the time, something else we should remember when we feel like garrotting the family, rather than stuffing the turkey on the big, frenetic day.

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

Does a sea-food raclette party count as non-traditional, followed by a chocolate fondue? I have no idea how the ceiling ended up covered in chocolate sauce, but I think we must have had fun!

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

Oh, dear…To be honest, I think Christmas should be a time of giving, but I would much rather people set a limit on the amount spent. It’s difficult when you have children not to want to provide them with the latest in gadgetry and cool footwear, especially when you think they’ll be under peer pressure at school, but so often people end up in serious debt. We tend to give fun but thoughtful gifts that don’t cost the earth.

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

Charades!! Boring?? Not a bit of it. My partner stuffed a pillow up the back of his jumper and walked around hunched swinging an arm in front of him until we were hysterical with laughter one year (cue frenzied barking from the dogs). ‘Elephant!’ we kept screaming. ‘Mammoth!’ Noooo, he was a … camel???

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

Christmas morning. It’s a tradition carried on from my mum. We weren’t a well-off family (six siblings in all meant there were a lot of mouths to feed and stockings to fill). She always filled our stockings, though, in the wee hours. The little surprise presents were always precious, but the orange, nuts, and chunky chocolate tucked in the toe were the best.

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

A bike! I was all grown up at the time, but I so wanted a traditional ladies’ bike. My partner bought one for me. It was the last Christmas I had with my dad (we knew he was poorly). My partner hid the bike at a neighbour’s and presented me with it after dinner, a proper bicycle with a bell and a basket and little roses on its frame. My dad’s face was one of pure joy. I think that was because he thought I was with someone who would look out for me.

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

A peg bag. Say no more.

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

I take them to the charity shop. There are so many now, it’s not really a chore to do.

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

A ceramic mouse made by my son. It’s so cute, I just adore it. Where I go, house-move wise, my mouse goes with me.

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

OK, this is quite sad. My father gave me a slip of paper before he died. On it was the quote, ’Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day’. He wasn’t particularly religious or generally demonstrative, so… You know. Anyway, I penned that up in italic script and framed it for my brothers and sisters. They did appreciate it.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Christmas is way too commercialised for my liking. I love to see the twinkly lights, particularly coming home on a dark night, but I do so wish people wouldn’t put them up in November. Seeing the shops full of Christmas stock as early as September and October… Well, it just pressurises people to spend more, I think. But then, I suppose that’s the idea.

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

I’d like to keep everything the same (except maybe the commercialisation).

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

A Winter’s Tale by David Essex. I think the fact that I drooled over him as a teen had something to do with it.

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Walking my dogs and watching animated films in front of the fire after dinner.

He's coming down the chimney. Quick, look obedient. (2)

He’s coming down the chimney. Quick! Look obedient!

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

I wish everyone could be as privileged as we sometimes forget we are.

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And here are some of Sheryl’s novels. You’ll enjoy them all.

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SHERYL’S LINKS: 

Sheryl’s Website 

Safkhet Publishing 

Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.com

Author Facebook     

Romantic Novelists’ Association

Sheryl is a Loveahappyending Lifestyle Author and Feature Editor.

Twitter: @sherylbrowne

Christmas Interview – Dawn Hill

My guest today is the lovely Dawn Hill of Bellingham, Washington.IMG_3037a
1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Have never missed a celebration of Christmas with friends and family

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

No..but this will be a totally different year as my sweet husband has gone to Heaven..family will be there for me.

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

Corned beef and cabbage..for fun, years ago.
4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I like to buy a special gift for each person I hold dear..I usually put much thought into this and also buy something I personally find attractive.

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

One year we really took a left turn. My husband and I booked a week at a Dude Ranch in Arizona. We rode on horseback, ate around a campfire out on the range and had a delightful Christmas feast in the lodge which was festive with 20-ft. trees.

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

But..of course!

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

Granddaughter ..Madeleine..was born on Christmas Day!

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

Never did get that “lump of coal”!

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

Goodwill is always happy with this sort of thing:)

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

I love to receive jams and breads..every year some friend does the honors!

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

Years ago, when I really did bake a lot, I would make about 10 English lemon breads..from scratch..for friends and family.
It would be an all day event but one I loved.

12. What would you change about Christmas?

Maybe a bit less commercial and also more beautiful Christmas programs on telly..remembering the Andy Williams show and that sort.

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

The magic of Christmas that a sweet child has.

14. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

Oh Holy Night

15. What do you like best about Christmas?

Family and gathering..great food and conversation..remembering what Christmas means to us..birthday of Baby Jesus

16. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Looking forward to spending this Christmas with my dear family and toasting the one I miss.

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Can you guess where corned beef and cabbage is a traditional dish (not necessarily for Christmas dinner, but regional cuisine)?

Have you ever been to a Dude Ranch? Would you like to share your thoughts about it? Please leave a comment.

Christmas Interview – Kit Domino

“Winter Wonderland” by Kit DominoWinter Wonderland

Besides being an author and editor, Kit Domino is a superb painter. I would love to have her painting, “Winter Wonderland,” hanging on my wall at home.

Kit lives in the UK and is visiting my blog today to tell us her thoughts about Christmas. Welcome, Kit.

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

We are not religious so Dave and I celebrate it in our own special way – not for us the stress and hassle a lot of people seem to create for themselves. No paper hats, no crackers, and we don’t send cards. For us, it’s a time for relaxation, a few treats that we wouldn’t indulge in during the rest of the year, and a time for spending with loved ones. Everything is very low key and laid back.

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

Never, and I’d hate it if I heard that any of my family were alone on Christmas Day.

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

We don’t do traditional. Normally we have roast beef but we have on occasion enjoyed sausage, egg and chips – not that we couldn’t afford anything else but because my husband doesn’t like turkey and all the trimmings, apart from the sausages!

4. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

Christmas is a magical time for children and every child should have something to unwrap from Father Christmas. In our family we only give gifts to the children; watching their faces as they rip off the paper is the best part of Christmas. We treat the adults on their birthdays instead.

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

Many years ago when our daughter was aged about nine years, it snowed. We spent Christmas morning building a snowman in the garden, having a snowball fight and making snow angels. It was wonderful, and then coming in from the cold to a glass of warm mulled wine made the day. Simple pleasures that cost nothing and a memory we will never forget. Why can’t all Christmas mornings be like that? More recently, I enjoy watching Dave decorate the tree – for years he wouldn’t get involved, now it’s “his job,” as he tells me. Hmmm… he’s definitely mellowing as he gets older.

Mr and Mrs Snowman

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

As children, we never had stockings but a Christmas Day tray each – a special fluted shallow dish made of paper maché that was filled with sweets, nuts, fruit and little toys and trinkets. As we grew older, the toys and trinkets turned into jewellery, perfumes, etc. I continue this tradition by doing the same for any guest who is with us over Christmas.

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

I have two older sisters who are twins, and most of my clothes as a child were hand-me-downs (two of everything!) which I hated, but I remember one particular Christmas I came down to find a brand new dress. It was brown and white with a pleated skirted and cap sleeves. I loved it – because it was new and bought especially for me.

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

Believe it or not, a giant roll of clingfilm – plastic food wrap – from a niece; my sister-in-law received the same. Neither of us could believe it. It was that which decided Dave and I to stop the gift giving. Decried at the time, but now all the family followed our lead and has stopped giving gifts except to the young ones. They all tell us how much more enjoyable Christmas is now without the worry of what to buy everyone.

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

A dear lady in Germany who purchased the very first bluebell painting I’d ever created for several years afterwards always sent me a home-made Stollen. Being of German stock myself and enjoying many of the German traditions, especially the food, this was wonderful. This year I decided I would go back to making my own as I used to do years ago, long before you could buy Stollen here in the UK.

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

I’m not very good at making craft things but I have given a few paintings as gifts – does that count?

11. What would you change about Christmas?

The length of time we are bombarded with TV adverts and stuff in the shops from the moment the kids go back to school after the summer holidays – especially mince pies! Christmas is one day (okay, two in the UK), not three months. Okay, that makes me sound a grouch, which I’m not. Can I have a magic cracker that turns my Dave into someone who loves all the traditional foods and carols and such?

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

Always having my mother here for the holiday. We lost my father fifteen years ago, since then Mum invariably comes to stay, always asking if she can come. She loves it with us because we don’t fuss and it’s so quiet and relaxed. It wouldn’t be the same without her.

13. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I have three: Silent Night, preferably sung in German and another German carol Suesser die Glocken nie klingen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sNICNl9Los#t=72) – sorry, that’s the German blood in me again), and White Christmas by Bing Crosby – all guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye. Actually, there’s more than three, now I think about it… I adore Fairytale in New York by the Pogues and Kirsty McColl, and Don’t Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie – two songs that always makes me feel that Christmas has arrived.

14. What do you like best about Christmas?

Being with my family.

15. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

Whilst many of the traditions and food are well rooted in the past and the true Christian meaning has been lost by many, I do think we should endeavour to keep it alive. We value it and it is something enjoyable to look forward to during the middle of winter.

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Kit Domino, artist and author of Every Step of the Way

9780957222106

Book link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Every-Step-Way-Kit-Domino-ebook/dp/B007ST58CG

Website: http://www.kit-domino.com/

Blog: http://kitdomino.wordpress.com/

Christmas Interview – Patricia Sands

I managed to find Patricia not traveling in France, long enough to answer a few questions about her Christmas traditions. Welcome, Patricia.

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1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Always and with great gusto!

2. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I love giving gifts more than receiving. The joy has always been watching our children and now grandchlldren revel in the excitement and wonder of this time of year.

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3What was the most fun activity you’ve done at Christmas?

Skiing at Whistler with our family.

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

Once children came along, the stockings were just for them.

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

Drawings from our grandchildren.

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

Every year I give all of our children tins of shortbread made from their great-grandmother’s recipe.

7. What would you change about Christmas?

I would want to make “peace on earth” a truism.

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

Have a white Christmas every year.

9. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

English cathedral choirs singing carols.

10.  What do you like best about Christmas?

Everything.

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 Patricia is the author of two novels:

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The Promise of Provence amazon link

TBC Kindle cover

Christmas Interview – Lorne Finlayson

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Are you wishing for the old days? Read Finn’s interview and see if you share some of his nostalgic longings for the Christmases of days gone by.Finn

Christmas Interview with Finn, of “Muck and Finn” Fame

1. Do you celebrate Christmas?

Yes

2. Have you ever spent Christmas alone?

I certainly have, more than once

3. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

People just overdo it. The last time we went to the gift opening someone’s place we sat for an hour or more as their child opened gift after gift. It was a gross display of overwhelming the kid with stuff.

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

Christmas. St. Nicholas Day?

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

A selection of really yummy goodies from my late sister.

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

A stuffed raccoon

7 What was the best homemade gift you ever received?

Perhaps a pair of mittens that my mom knit for me?

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

Back in the day, I made a tool tote for someone. I put a lot of time and effort to make it as good as I could but it just got chucked out. I don’t make things for anyone now.

9. What would you change about Christmas?

I would eliminate the need to give stuff and just enjoy the company of friends.

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

The songs and decorations that one encounters in stores in the lead up to Christmas.

11. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I love it all, the traditional carols and the schmaltyz made up songs.

12. Any additional thoughts about Christmas?

What may have been, or could have been is a time to get together and enjoy a feast and good cheer. Increasingly it is just another time of  year to buy junk . There are lessons to be learned by watching the “Returns” line ups at large stores the day after Christmas as folks deal with stuff they have been given.

snow on the woodpile