I wish Christmas came every day. The end of the year holidays are absolutely, without a doubt, all the way round my favorite time of year. Starting with Thanksgiving and through the New Year, there is static in the year – static that draws us together, sticks us to each other with an electric joy that is brighter than the strings of lights we drape around the tree.
My Christmas memories are rich and plenty. The year my sister finally sat on Santa’s lap was a good one. Little Debbie was always too shy and would never follow big sister Brenda on the path to the jolly old elf. Grown up Debra finally got the nerve to slide onto the fat man’s lap – she was forty years old.
I’ve lived in many places from California to Germany. How Christmas is celebrated, how it looks in different parts of the world makes for good memories.
I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. December is a great time of year in Phoenix – the sweltering heat replaced by mild temps and sunny skies. Tossing the football around, playing baseball or riding the new bike on Christmas Day seemed perfectly natural to us desert rats. How totally incongruous it was for us to sing songs about dreaming of a white Christmas, but we did.
After I was married, we spent three Christmas holidays in Germany. Those have to be some of my fondest memories. The Germans have some marvelous traditions. The Christmas tree has its origins there. We would stroll along the streets of Nuremburg with lights and decorations galore. And on every other corner would be bratwurst stands selling not only the juicy brats in buns but also hot, spiced red wine. The traditions vary a bit in different parts of Germany. Christkindl brings gifts to children, but there is also a St. Nicholas Eve on December 6th. An old tradition, still practiced in the Nuremburg area was for children to leave their shoes outside and St. Nicholas would fill them with fruit, nuts and candy if they had been good. I can still smell and taste Christmas in Germany.
Christmas on the beaches of California was about as different from Germany as you could get. Red Hawaiian shirts, glitzy decorations and the warm Santa Ana winds lent a wholly different kind of season in Santa Barbara. That year, my husband was a student, my son was not quite two and we were as poor as the Cratchits. But we were also rich with love. My son was just as happy with a new coloring book and a package of plastic army men as he would have been with a new electronic toy.
And talk about glitzy – how about Christmas in Las Vegas? Glitzy and the desert, yes, but add to that snow. We actually had a white Christmas that year!
The last couple of decades have been spent in Minnesota. After the white Christmases of Germany, I was ecstatic to be back to a winter wonderland. Minnesotans know a thing or two about the season. Minneapolis has a holiday parade in the evenings on Nicolett Mall. The Mall by itself is glittery for the season and the parade makes it magical. St. Paul’s Winter Carnival doesn’t start until after the New Year but helps drag out the holidays that much longer. There is an ice carving competition worth braving the cold to see. My husband and I belong to a club that has a holiday party that takes over a hotel, everyone dresses in island garb and we forget for one night about the subzero temps outside. The highlight is Santa Mon’s visit.
We’re one of those crazy couples who give their dog a couple of presents. Rusty loves Christmas as much as I do, but he’s more into getting than giving. He sniffs out his new stuffed toys and opens the packages. He smiles. Really!
We’ve also spent Christmas in a hotel room in San Francisco with a two-foot high plastic tree and on the road between Miami and Phoenix, but wherever we’ve been one thing is the same – that magical feeling the season brings. And that’s all I need under my Christmas tree.
I have another reason to feel this season is particularly magical. I have three releases this month! One is a short ebook or long estory – however you want to categorize it, called Tattoos, Leather and Studs. If you’ve ever been on a blind date, you’ll enjoy Rachael’s experience. I have two stories in the Christmas Anthology called Warm Christmas Wishes. My stories are "An Elfin Secret" about a little girl who discovers her real daddy is Santa Clause (hmmmm…Mommy did more than kiss Santa under the mistletoe) and "On the Way to the Snow Ball" which tells the story of a surprise encounter in an elevator. And last, but not least, is my full-length novel, Honey On White Bread, a coming of age story set in 1945. I consider this to be one rich Christmas season for me!
However you celebrate this time of year, I hope you get a little something special under your Christmas tree.
About the Author: Convinced she was born to be an artist, Brenda never took her love of writing seriously. And then one day, sometime after college, marriage to a man doing a stint in the army and the birth of her son, she found more satisfaction filling a blank page with words than an empty canvas with color. She left her paints behind. After publishing several short stories, she turned to writing novels. Regardless of the length of her story, the characters drive her forward, taking her on their journey of discovery and love.
Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart currently making Minnesota their home and sharing it with their dog, Rusty. When she’s not at her laptop writing, she enjoys hiking, motorcycle riding and the company of good friends.
She loves to hear from readers. Find her at www.brendawhiteside.com or “like” her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor.