Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Christmas and New Years...

When I was 3 years old I lived in West Virginia, a warm sunny state back in the day, not known for an abundance of white fluffy flakes, but moreso steamy nights spent kicking the covers off the bed. December 24th arrived with a heat wave so in my mind Santa had a dilema... how to get his reindeer and sled to my house with my presents. I mean after all I was a good girl all year. I was on his A list for Pete's sake, I deserved all those gifts. Needed them. Seriously, how much trouble can one little girl get into :) My motto, don't ask and I won't lie to you .... Well, my dad~ who I miss more than words can ever descibe, told me Santa always had a back up plan. At 3, you believe everything your parents tell you. 13 is a hole new can of worms but for today, we'll stick with my exiting toddlerism.

Christmas Eve we sat around listening to melodies ripped out by Bing and Frank and people singing back up to them that had no business singing, (specially after partying all night~yeah, my mom and dad were a part of this~instigated it actually). We lived kinda sorta close to the airport, Dulles to be precise since my daddy was a ATC and worked there.
He told me the lights I saw illuminating the sky from the airport were actually Santa getting closer. Well, when the helicopter landed in our front yard and Santa hopped out with his giant red sack filled with presents galore for all the kids in our hood, it was in the words of a little kids, "WOW!" Santa hugged me, told me I was special and then he hopped back in his chopper and headed out to the rest of the kids in the world.

It wasn't until I was old enough not to believe in Santa, that my dad told me about the pilot that was one of his bf's and played dress up for us. That was just 1 xmas I'll never forget. Each got better as the years passed until my parents passed on. Now its my turn to pass on my memories to my kids, who by their own rights are young adults. My baby girl will be married in 11 months and my son graduating from Plattsburgh with his bachelors in Criminal Justice and Sociology. No matter how old we all are we still hope to spend the day laughing and in the arms of loved ones. The gifts are our family and friends. The presents~ the icing on the cake, or more apropos, the little things we do to tell people we love them.

Happy Christmas to all of you and Happy New Year as well.

To my niece, Jennine and her fiance, Joe who will wed tonight, New Years Eve, I wish you a life time of good health, laughter until your cheeks hurt, prospertiy and love.

Dream big~ then pursue them with vengeance.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Memories

Over the years, I've accumulated a ton of Christmas memories, but while reading another blog post about Christmas, I remembered how my brother and I used to sneak downstairs very early on Christmas morning to take a peek at the presents Santa brouht us, only to be twarted by the sight of our dad asleep on the couch. We'd have to sneak back to bed and wait until he woke to summon us downstairs. It always seemed like an eternity.

Now my own children are young adults. The main symbols of Christmas to me are a decorated Christmas tree, lights in the window, family dinners, cookies and homemade fudge and of course, Christmas Carols.

I'll leave you with an excerpt from my Civil War Christmas novella, The Christmas Ball, from the TWRP historical Christmas anthology, An American Rose Christmas.

Excerpt:

Sara closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Doc Ellison's kiss had scattered her senses. For months she'd dreamed of being in his arms. As he reached for the buttons on her shirt, her breath caught. His hands on her body thrilled her. She'd never felt like this before.


After loosening the buttons, he opened the shirt and gazed at her bosom.

She studied him, wondering what he was thinking. Did he like what he saw?

He dropped his hands and half-turned away.

"Please," she gasped. "Don't stop."

Turning back, his gaze roved over her. She tried to read his expression. Was that desire she saw, or disgust?

"We should be going now," he said. His gaze dropped to the hay strewn ground.

"No!" Boldly she reached out and fingered the buttons of his coat. He didn't move as she slowly undid them and parted the material. Her fingers tingled as they brushed over his shirt, feeling hardened muscle beneath.

His breath hitched, but he gently pushed her away. "Miss Brewster, we mustn't..."

"Doc!" A shout from outside, startled her. She jerked away from the doctor and scanned the barn opening.

"Yes," Ellison called. He eyed her. "You'd best go."

She nodded, hurriedly fastening her buttons. One of the other stewards approached. His dark eyes slid from her to the doctor. "They don't need me in the hospital tent, and told me to come on over and give you a hand."

Ellison glanced at Sara. "We're about finished here. I was on my way back."

"All right, Doc," the soldier said. "I'll head back with you."

She swallowed, not sure she could find her voice. "Ah... I'm off duty, so I reckon I'll head back to my tent."

Ellison reached up and gave her shoulder a squeeze. "I'll see you tomorrow."

She caught his gaze, trying to gauge his thoughts. Would he have allowed her to undress him if they hadn't been interrupted?

From An American Rose Christmas, available at The Wild Rose Press and discounted for the holidays http://www.thewildrosepress.com/an-american-rose-christmas-p-3807.html?zenid=fbfeb2eb47f18b45e780e54c46f21563

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Gift Ideas for Under $5

Every year, it seems as if the Christmas gift list gets longer and longer, but the Christmas budget doesn't grow to match. So each year, we try to come up with a creative way to give everyone on our list gifts without breaking the bank. Last year, the year our son was born, I found $1 Christmas journals, bought 5 rolls of double-sided tape and ordered multiple copies of all of his cutest photos from birth. A few hours of taping and voila personalized photo albums for the entire family. 

But, we didn't want to repeat ourselves this year so we had to find another option. We came up with three.
1) Personalized short stories. (Courtesy of my mother-in-law who provided a list of elements she wanted included in the story.)
2) Personalized poems. (I expanded on idea #1 since my step-father-in-law loves poems. Hope he's not reading this since it will ruin the surprise. But, even if he is, he has no idea what the poem is about.)
3) Bargain books. Hubby and I love to dig through the clearance bins at our local bookstores to see what treasures we can find for under $5. I also search online and have received half of my orders already. Christmas shopping 50% done!

E-books are a great gift as well. Below are the blurbs for my two short stories available through The Wild Rose Press for $2.

His Ship, Her Fantasy:

Ellie Woods is in love…with a ship. When an argument with the ship results in a bump on the head, she finds herself in the strong arms of Alastair. But, who is he, and where did he come from?

Alastair has loved Ellie from afar for years, but duty has kept him from revealing himself to her. When a grave threat reveals his true identity, he hopes that Ellie will choose reality over fantasy.   

His Hope, Her Salvation

Promised in marriage to an abusive oaf, Judith resolves to find out if there can be passion without love. Snatches of conversation overheard at the local inn lead her to a mysterious American merchant who might be able to satisfy her carnal curiosity and capture her heart.

Donovan, a Guardian Hunter, is on the trail of a rogue Elysian in Georgian England. As the son of the First Hunter, he long ago gave up hope of finding his heart's mate. When Judith appears in his study, his inner beast and his heart demand he answer her plea for help.

Will their passion answer their hearts' pleas, or will it wither under the threat of reality?


Friday, December 10, 2010

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

I hope each of you has a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice/Holiday! I love this time of the year. There is something about all the lights on the houses in the neighborhood and the music and being with family that is just magical. True, it's gotten rather commercialized, but I really love the lights. And being with family. It's the only time of the year that we get to see all our nieces and nephews and I love it. Can you tell??  :)

My favorite memories are when I was a kid. We didn't have a lot of money, so instead of a lot of gifts, we got creative. Some years one of us would get a 14 carrot necklace (get it? make a necklace out of carrots). My dad liked to hide the gifts around the house and write little poems as clues. Then we'd run around to find the next clue, which would lead to another clue, until we finally found our gift. Or we woke to a living room full of strands of yarn. We were given a ball and had to wind it around until we found our gift, while running into other people winding their own balls.Now days we just open presents. Not as much fun. :)

That's my Christmas memory (ies). What are some of yours?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a short hello

Greetings, everyone. I hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying the season. Things have been quiet for me. I have the tree up, and my cats love sitting under it.

Well, I just wanted to drop by and give my best wishes to you for a lovely Christmas. Take care, be safe, and many blessings to you and your family.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bah Humbug... or maybe not

I decided not to celebrate Christmas this year. Not because I'm going on a cruise, and not even because I'm pagan and it feels a little hypocritical (which I am, but it's not). No, it was just because I decided to feel sorry for myself this year. My kids are so spread out around the country, and this year I'll only be seeing the one who lives closest. So I decided, bah humbug! No tree, no lights. Leave the boxes in the attic. Besides, I'm sick of the commercialism. I saw a money giving card at the store. It had a picture of a dollar on the front, with Santa's picture where the president should go, and I thought that card really said it all.

But then my daughter and grandaughter came over today and we baked cookies and pecan tassies and all of our traditional Christmas goodies. We watched Home Alone together, ate turkey (belated Thanksgiving - that's a story for another day) and my Grandaughter said "I love watching Christmas movies at our house. We have the tree up and it's so cozy." Just those words reminded me of the real reason I drag out the tree every year and all the trappings. Christmas is a feeling of comfort and happiness, not a card at the store. This is a time to think of all those we love, whether they live across the world or across town. And Christmas is a state of mind - a generous, loving heart that we are free to show in so many ways, especially this time of year.

So while you will never see me playing tug -of- war over the latest "must have" toy of the minute, we will set up our tree, hang our lights, and invite those we love to join us in celebrating humanity. And at a time when so many people are struggling, we will count our many blessings and remember all the things that are right in the world.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Merry Yule!

May you all have a blessed holiday season!

Sharron - AKA Julianna Sage
http://sharronriddle.com/
RiddleMeAStory on Twitter

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Family and Fish


What on earth does Family and Fish have to do with Christmas you ask? Well, let me tell you!


This is the time of year for family, right? It doesn't matter if you're a Christian or if you're Jewish or if you're Hindu or Agnostic. Bottom line, this world has days off celebrating the Christian holiday of Christmas, and chances are you'll be seeing your family at some point over the next month.


In America we celebrate the holidays from Thanksgiving through the first of the New Year. Some of us reach further into Halloween and make the holiday a three month affair. Again, bottom line is that you'll see family you may not see at any other time in the year.


Back to Family and Fish... *disclaimer* I love my family! Love 'em. But --


Three days! Please dear stars in the heavens... three days is about the blowing point for nearly all families.


The first day is all smiles and catching up.


"It's so good to see you! You look wonderful." (not really but how do you tell anyone that they've gained weight or really need to get in touch with a discount botox dealer) - But hey, it's only for a few days and you can put on a smile and say little. It's the polite thing to do.


Day Two -


"My home is your home!" But can you not put your feet on my sofa with your shoes on? Or, how about not leaving candy wrappers everywhere like you're Hansel and Gretel leaving a trail through the woods?


Day Three -


"I think I'll lay down for a little while." Sure why not - You're on vacation and I'm hosting! So by all means let me do ALL the work. Sit, relax... I'll do ALL the dishes! No need for you to help stuff the turkey. While you're napping I'll go around and clean the spot on my sofa and spray the trail of ants that attacked the candy wrappers that I didn't find under the Christmas tree.


Day Four -


Headache pounding because of the amount of wine needed the night before... you sleep in only to wake to the sound of heavy footsteps and hands fumbling around in your clean kitchen. "I don't know where she keeps the coffee!" You hear from the next room. You would know that if you'd bothered to make even one pot of the stuff over the last three days... but NO! That would be waaay too much work!


After working your way into the kitchen with a bottle of Excedrin - or the Hair of the Dog - whatever was in arms reach... you make the coffee, place a box of cold cereal on the counter, pull bowls from the cupboard and stumble back into your bedroom without a word - Cuz let's face it, at this point whatever you say isn't going to be nice so you'd best not say a thing!


And as you ease the door closed you hear in a gruff whisper... "She was never a morning person!"


Family and Fish - After three days they all start to stink. There is a reason they don't live with you so keep it to a few days and you'll all still be talking by the time they hit the road.


*this post of course has absolutely nothing to do with my family who are all perfect and lovely and never fall into the category of fish. But I've HEARD about families like the ones I speak of and thought I'd share this with all of you*


PS... How do you spell sarcasm?




Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas and the Paranormal

Every Christian—even a few agnostics I know—understand the real meaning of Christmas. It’s written in John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

But according to most biblical scholars, Christ wasn't born in December. He was most likely born in September, about six months after Passover. But early Christians wanted to convert the Pagans and they were already celebrating in December.


The ancient Babylonians were partying it up in celebration of the feast of the Son of Isis. And way back in 46 BC, Julius Caesar marked his Julian calendar on December 25 as the date of the winter solstice. On that day, Romans celebrated rebirth, gathering and feasting in celebration of the shortest day of the year.

In other parts of  Europe, the pagans celebrated the birth of the Sun God, Mithras on the shortest day of the year and called it Yule. They’d toss a (Yule) log onto the fire and bring live evergreens into the house, decorating them as a reminder of the coming spring. 

The Druids also used evergreens as a religious symbol. They gathered around ceremonial trees and celebrated. There might even have been a sacrifice or two. 

But after Christ was born, the pagans didn’t want to give up their parties. So, Christmas became an annual celebration on December 25th with trees and Yule logs and that jolly fellow known as Santa Claus.

Santa, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, and Kris Kringle originated in Holland. He’s a mythical character who delivers gifts to good children on December 24 or on his Feast Day, also known as Saint Nicholas Day on December 6.

Santa’s original wardrobe was a bishop's robes, but he somehow morphed into a jolly fat man wearing a red suite.

In America, Santa Claus lives in the North Pole, has eight tiny reindeer who can fly and a shiny nosed leader of the pack known as Rudolf.  He also has a crew of elves making toys and spying on children to make sure they make his “good” list. But what happens to the children who wind up on the Naughty list?

In Austria and Bavaria, Santa has a helper, an evil counterpart who switches naughty children. Krampus is also a prominent Christmas figure in Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia and northern Italy.
Good little children get presents from Santa. Naughty children get a switching from his demon-like helper, Krampus. The American tradition of leaving naughty children switches and ashes comes from Krampus. But in America, no demon like figure follows Santa Claus around to dole out the punishment.



Krampus festivals are traditionally held during the first two weeks of December. Young men dress up in goat furs, horns and masks and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells.  They also use a birch branch to switch young girls. 



 Krampus sometimes carries a basket on his back to carry away bad children. Quite the contrast to Santa and his sack of toys!

In Austria, there’s a Krampus festival and it usually starts with a parade. Young men dress up as Krampus and race through town waving torches, rattling chains, ringing cow bells, and swatting young women and children with birch branches.

The Krampuses arrive in the center of town—usually pretty intoxicated—and gather around a roaring bonfire. Afterward, there’s more drinking and plenty of revelry. I’ve never witnessed one of these festivals myself, but my daughter has and it was definitely an experience she’ll never forget.

So, this year when you’re celebrating Christmas with something more traditional like attending Church or Mass or awaiting Santa’s arrival, remember that even holidays have a paranormal side.






Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Memories

Over the years I've accumulated a lot of Christmas memories, but a blog post I recently read reminded me of how my brother and I used to sneak downstairs very early on Christmas morning to sneak a peek at what Santa had brought, only to be twarted by our dad asleep on the couch. We had to sneak back upstairs and get into bed until he woke to summon us downstairs.

And now my own children are young adults. What brings to mind Christmas the most is a decorated Christmas tree, family dinners, cookies and homemade fudge and of course, Christmas Carols.

I'll leave you with an excerpt from my Civil War Christmas story, The Christmas Ball, part of TWRP's historical Christmas anthology, An American Rose Christmas.

Excerpt: 

Sara closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Doc Ellison's kiss had scattered her senses. For months she'd dreamed of being in his arms. As he reached for the buttons on her shirt, her breath caught. His hands on her body thrilled her. She'd never felt like this before.


After loosening the buttons, he opened the shirt and gazed at her bosom.

She studied him, wondering what he was thinking. Did he like what he saw?

He dropped his hands and half-turned away.

"Please," she gasped. "Don't stop."

Turning back, his gaze roved over her. She tried to read his expression. Was that desire she saw, or disgust?

"We should be going now," he said. His gaze dropped to the hay strewn ground.

"No!" Boldly she reached out and fingered the buttons of his coat. He didn't move as she slowly undid them and parted the material. Her fingers tingled as they brushed over his shirt, feeling hardened muscle beneath.

His breath hitched, but he gently pushed her away. "Miss Brewster, we mustn't..."

"Doc!" A shout from outside, startled her. She jerked away from the doctor and scanned the barn opening.

"Yes," Ellison called. He eyed her. "You'd best go."

She nodded, hurriedly fastening her buttons. One of the other stewards approached. His dark eyes slid from her to the doctor. "They don't need me in the hospital tent, and told me to come on over and give you a hand."

Ellison glanced at Sara. "We're about finished here. I was on my way back."

"All right, Doc," the soldier said. "I'll head back with you."

She swallowed, not sure she could find her voice. "Ah... I'm off duty, so I reckon I'll head back to my tent."

Ellison reached up and gave her shoulder a squeeze. "I'll see you tomorrow."

She caught his gaze, trying to gauge his thoughts. Would he have allowed her to undress him if they hadn't been interrupted?

From An American Rose Christmas, available at The Wild Rose Press and discounted for the holidays http://www.thewildrosepress.com/an-american-rose-christmas-p-3807.html?zenid=fbfeb2eb47f18b45e780e54c46f21563