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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Pauline Baird Jones

I love Christmas, but that doesn’t mean I’m good at it. I am writing this blog on Dec 11 and my tree isn’t up (and by the time this posts, it still might not be up!). And when I do put it up—probably the day before the kids start arriving—I’ll probably only put half the ornaments on, because I’ll know I’m the one who has to take them off again and it will “only be up for about a week anyway.”

I wrap presents like a—was going to say a five year old, but I think they are actually better at it than I am. When I shop for gift-wrapping stuff, I usually I end up with package of bows that doesn’t match any of the paper I bought. It’s a gift. Even my gift bags look more like bags than gifts.

My grandmother was a pro gift wrapper. (And un-wrapper, actually, but that’s another blog.) Paper, gift tags and contents were chosen with personal quirks in mind. They were as fun to look at, as they were to open.

My mom was great at Christmas. She started the day after Thanksgiving (when we’d all pile in the pickup and go look for our perfect tree—you could do that back in the “olden days.”) and didn’t wrap up our Christmas magic until New Year’s Day when the tree came down again. We “helped” make fudge, Christmas cake (her special version of fruitcake that we actually wanted to eat), and divinity. Oh, the divinity. If you don’t know what it is, you have missed out. Another family favorite is carrot pudding, a recipe that’s been in our family for a while.

Now that I’m old as dirt, (hey, I remember what it was like to cut a Christmas tree in the wilds of Wyoming) I finally understand that being “good” at Christmas can mean different things at different times in your life.

And I can see that the real gift, the true thing that my mom and my grandma excelled at was showing us love. Everything they did told us they loved us. No matter what holiday you celebrate—or don’t celebrate—you can show love to those around you. And it doesn’t have to come packages as “perfect.”

I hope, when my kids are old as dirt that they’ll know they were loved, even if the gifts will always look a little odd and the Christmas tree looks better in the dark.

When I wrote Out of Time, my World War II/time travel/action adventure romance, it wasn’t just a story where my heroine ends up in WWII. It was a time that my mom and my grandma lived through; a war in which my grandma sent two sons to fight and only one came home. I wanted that book to honor two remarkable women and their legacy of love, and to pay homage the Greatest Generation who fought to preserve our freedom. My grateful thanks to all of you!

May your holidays be filled with love and may 2012 be a most happy new year for everyone!

Perilously yours,

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a $15 Amazon GC


Pauline B Jones said...

Just wanted to note that my Christmas tree IS up and decorated, thanks to a dear family friend who helped me. LOL!

Jean P said...

This year can't get into Christmas, maybe because there isn't snow, but have managed to get the tree up and the presents wrapped! Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year

skpetal at hotmail dot com

Frances Pauli said...

Happy Holidays, Pauline! Now I have to go make some Divinity....mmmm.


Pauline B Jones said...

@ Jean - I had that problem when we moved South 30+ years ago. It does take some adjusting! Watching White Christmas always seems to help me get in the mood. And yes, getting the tree up.

@ Frances - thank you so much! You will LOVE divinity, though humidity alert! has to be made when humidity is low for best result. (Makes it hard to make it down here! but i hear dry air is incoming!)

Sage Creek Woman said...

Our Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving and ends after New Year's, by which time I'm ready to burn everything down! LOL! I generally clear out of the way of my Christmas-loving husband and kids. It's either move out of their way or get mowed down with some serious celebrating!

Merry Christmas Pauline!

Anonymous said...

Out of Time sounds great. My mother's earliest memory is of being carried across the train tracks by POW German soldiers.

Happy Holidays, Pauline!

Pauline B Jones said...

@ Sage Creek Woman - I would be ready to burn it all, too! LOL!

@ Diane - Wow! That is quite the memory! There's at least a short story in there! Merry Christmas to you!!!

Cathy M said...

This is the first year my boy's weren't around to help decorate, but I did okay. Now just a bit more wrapping, and then I get to spoil my boy's when they arrive on Saturday. I can't wait.

happy holidays

caity_mack at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Living in a hot climate, Christmas is quite different. Some people still try to do the English huge hot lunches but who feels like food when it's 100F outside?

Do enjoy your holiday.

Pauline B Jones said...

@ Cathy - that first year with no helping hands is a tough one! But so great when they come home! :-)

@ Greta - yeah, eating a big meal in the heat? No and no! I try to have at least one traditional thing (from my days of white Christmases) and then adapt to my environment for the rest. And of course, now we also have to adapt to our older digestions. LOL!

Anna said...

I think I have the same wrapping talents. LOL.

And fruitcake you can eat? Sounds like we need that recipe, hmm?

Merry Christmas!


doxisrcool (at) aol dot com

Melisse Aires said...

I'm way behind on Christmas this year(knee surgery). Kids will be out of classes soon, so we'll hit it hard!

My father was a fabulous gift wrapper--once worked for a florist making bows. I used to talk him into wrapping for me. I didn't inherit that talent!

Your WWII setting sounds wonderful. And I did not know you once lived in Wyoming!I live in Casper.

Pauline B Jones said...

@ Anna -- LOL! yeah, my wrapping skills are seriously impaired. LOL! The fruitcake isn't that hard. my mom just put gumdrops in instead of candied fruit. You cut the gumdrops into a little flour, so they won't stick together too bad. Yum! She also adds dates and maraschino cherries.

@ Melissa! I grew up in Northern Wyoming, in a little town called Lovell. It's not far from the Montana border. Used to go to Casper for school things. Windy!!! Miss Wyoming! How cool about your dad!

Kaye Manro said...

What a sweet post, Pauline! (I would have been here earlier but got called out to work) I loved what you said on my blog too.

I love that Out of Time honors your mother and grandmother. How nice that is. Great book too.

Have a wonderful happy and Merry Christmas!

Pauline B Jones said...

@ Kaye - aaah, thanks! When I was writing Out of Time, I felt my grandmother close. She would have liked it, I think. She loved a romance! Thanks so much for stopping by! :-)

Melisse Aires said...

Small world. My uncle was the Methodist minister in Lovell 40 yrs ago. We visited from our home in Billings, MT.

My dad and all my uncles were in WWII and each one was great guy.

Pauline B Jones said...

I tell you what, you've seen how small Lovell is, but I run into people from there or who have been there in the most unexpected places! We used to go shop in Billings! My family still does! Wow. We're almost related. LOLOL!

Let's see, I would have been 15. What was the family name? I probably went to school with your cousins or something!

MomJane said...

We had a short wave radio and I remember my father crying while he listened to Pearl harbor being bombed. I would love to read your book Out of Time.

Debby said...

My kids are older now and when we get together, we remember all our past Christmases. I love reminiscing.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

My sister and i have a thing where we try to remember something about the holidays from our childhood. the one what we talk about often is the time we were in Junior high and we got so many gifts that year that we both thought that Santa really did bring presents!!

Pauline B Jones said...

@ MomJane - My mom tells a similar story! They were in shock. She said it gave her nightmares, because everyone feared an invasion.

@ Unknown -LOL! Great story! Christmas always has a special magic, I think. I look at my tree and my breathing slows and I just stop and sigh with delight.

@ Debby - I love remembering, too! My sibs and I used to have such fun at Christmas. :-)

Na said...

Christmas is such a magical time and a great time to make memories. I know some people get all decked out and in my family we keep things simple. Good food and greater company. I don't mind the important thing is being with my family. Happy Holidays!


Barbara E. said...

I'm not so good at Christmas either, but I try. I don't always put up a tree, but I did this year. I put up lights outside, just the places I can reach with a stepladder and on the bushes, but it looks so much more Christmasy to me. Gift bags are my friends, I can wrap a decent present, but just don't like to. I have very few presents to buy, so that part's pretty easy.
Happy Holidays,
Barbed1951 at aol dot com

GladysMP said...

My grandmother had a huge white platter in which she put her divinity. It was heavenly.

But I am a procrastinator when it comes to shopping for Christmas presents. I always fear that the persons I am shopping for might have purchased the items for themselves before Christmas. I just can't get in the Christmas shopping spirit until after Thanksgiving. I envy folks who get that job done months earlier.

Pippa Jay said...

This year we just let our three kids loose on the tree with the decorations - they loved it, and they've done a good job. And the 3 year old has actually left it alone this year, so even two weeks down the line we've only lost a couple of decorations. :)

Pauline B Jones said...

@ Na - Your family sounds lovely!

@ Barbara E - Gift bags do help a lot. We didn't put up a tree last year (my son got married right after the first of the year). I think if the love is there, that's what matters the most. :-)

@ Pippa Jay - kids bring a whole different magic to Christmas. I have four brothers and one sister. We used to take turns trying to talk the parents into letting us get up. We'd start about one in the morning and keep at it. Usually got them to crack around four! Then we'd all fall asleep about six.

Dawn said...

Wonderful post...and to honor your mother and grandmother with your book is really special...Happy Holidays!!

Marilyn said...

I love this! We have several inches of fresh snow this morning and I think I'll go have some fruit cake! Wish my best friend and dear sister was here with me! Love you!

Pauline B Jones said...

@ Dawn - thank you so much! Out of Time is definitely a book of my heart. :-)

@ Marilyn - Wish I was there, too! Hugs to a GREAT sister!

Judith said...

Your post made me smile, Pauline.
Who wants a perfect Christmas any way? It's all about making people happy, including yourself.
So Happy Holidays.

Pauline B Jones said...

@ Judith -- thank you so much! Glad I made you smile. So true, perfection isn't possible, but love always is. :-)

shadow_kohler said...

What a great post! I have some family that gift wrap like that. They are fun. Thanks for sharing with us. It made me smile and think back on some of our christmases. ;) happy holidays!

Pauline B Jones said...

So glad you enjoyed the post, Shadow! It is a great time of year!

Maureen said...

I am always slow to get the tree up now that my children are older but it is nice to look at once it's done. Merry Christmas!

Pauline B Jones said...

@ Maureen - I am the same way, so glad when I see the tree done and can sit and look at with Christmas carols playing softly in the background. Peace just steals into my heart like a hug. :-)

Frank said...

LOL, Pauline! It sounds like your celebrating is going just fine--the important thing is what's in your heart and the people you're with, not the gifts or the tree or the food (*gasp!* I know--food's important to our family, too!) Hope your Christmas was merry and memorable, no matter how the gifts were wrapped (or unwrapped ;))

Wishing you a blessed 2012!

--flchen1, using DH's account
f dot chen at comcast dot net

Anonymous said...

great post and happy holidays :)

Pauline B Jones said...

Many thanks to you both for the kind words! Happy, happy New Year!!!!! :-D (our Christmas was filled with love this year! Though my mom won the prize again. She sent me hers and my dad's personal histories with pictures!!! Amazing!)

VampedChik said...

My family didnt even get our tree up til the 22nd. But hey at least it was before Christmas right? lol Thanks so much for sharing! Happy new year!

Kathryn Merkel said...

I really identify with the reasons that you chose WWII for your story. My grandfather & 2 of his brothers all served in WWII, one of the brothers didn't make it back home. My great-grandmother was also a remarkable woman. I can't imagine what she went through when the word came that one of her sons was gone & not knowing if the other 2 would make it back home.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at

Pauline B Jones said...

@ VampedChick and Kathryn - thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your stories!

Happy New Year everyone!

And now, drum roll please! The winner of the GC is CathyM! Congrats, Cathy! (And thanks for leaving your email, so I can get in touch with you!)