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Recharging the Old Batteries

Believe it or not, I’m not going to write about the upcoming Christmas holiday! I just returned from a writer’s retreat with three fabulous women. We ate (thanks, Susan), we drank (thanks, Laura B.), and we laughed (thanks, Laura A.). And we got some writing done.lake

I have to admit, I’m in a bit of a slump. Coming off my year-and-a-half break from fiction, I can’t seem to find my stride. But…I did get some words written, and more importantly, I had a great time with friends I hadn’t seen in way too long. Life’s about relationships, and I’m glad we took the time to spend together.

So here’s to making time with friends and catching your breath before the holiday madness. And to seventy degrees in December!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

 

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Spirit of the Season

Like Kimberly, I’m looking at Christmas in a new light this year. My kids are teenagers now, and while they haven’t lost all of their magical appreciation for the season, they do have a very frank understanding of Santa which significantly alters the gift-giving angle. After all, the reason for the season isn’t gifts, its God. Jesus.

Kids are great

Makes a gal feel kind of superficial and materialistic focusing on the shopping business. So I won’t. This year isn’t going to be about finding the perfect gift, the one that lights up their faces on Christmas morning. Nope. There will be gifts Christmas morning, but greatly reduced. I’ll carry the sentiment through Christmas dinner. As hostess for the family gathering, I’ve asked the relatives to dispense with our customary gift exchange. It only adds chaos to the evening, anyway. I mean, we’re talking 25 people for dinner and my house is far from a mansion. Trust me when I tell you it gets a little crazy. And to exchange gifts right before we’re serving a home-cooked meal? Double the chaos. We need all hands on deck to carve the turkey, make the gravy, toast the marshmallows atop the sweet potatoes, warm the veggies… The list goes on.

gingerbread house

Recently, I discovered that one family in our community celebrates the season without gifts. For themselves, that is, including their kids. Instead, they wrap a gift box, cut a slit in the top, then deposit money into it throughout the month. A week before Christmas, they take the money and buy food for the hungry, clothes for the homeless; wherever they see a need, they fill it.

I like it. It embraces the charitable spirit of the season and reminds me it’s time to focus on the basics. Family, friends, charity, hospitality, song and prayer. How about you? Any changes this season to your celebration?

Happy Holidays!

From all of the Women Unplugged, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season. And may 2015 bring you much happiness and good health!

Santa

Oh, The Irony…

I love irony. The best thing about an ironic situation is the way it sneaks up on you. This Holiday season, for example, I thought it would be a good time of year to have elective surgery. That sounds like plastic surgery, but no. That’s a slippery slope I’m too chicken to attempt. I had foot surgery to repair the torn ligament in my right foot. I’d spent eight weeks earlier in the year wearing a boot to try and get the darn thing to heal on its own, but it never did. So…

We’d met our deductible, the kids were almost out of school (which meant another driver was available), and my husband would be around considering he hadn’t scheduled any travel due to his recent knee surgery. And really, there would never be a good time to be unable to drive for two weeks.

The surgery went well, I was numb for two days so I thought I’d have an easy recovery, and then WHAM! Suddenly my foot had a pulse of its own and I was in pain. My husband’s supposedly light work schedule had him running from one meeting to another, and as soon as finals were over, my son came down with some feverish virus. In a nutshell, we were a hot mess.

As I sat on the couch, working on the book about Chris Norton who lives his life in a wheelchair, the irony of the situation smacked me in the face. I’m totally blessed because my situation is temporary. I’m going to fine soon, my son will get better, and my husband won’t leave me because I’m a little bossy, impatient, and needy for a few days (right, honey?)

So I’m done whining. And if I’m a little bored sitting on the couch watching mindless TV (or endless episodes of yet another Alaska show on the Discovery channel thanks to the hubs who leaves the remote suspiciously out of reach), I’m going to suck it up and remember the reason for the season and how truly blessed I am. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all from the very blessed (if not a little irritable) Hayes Family! May your season be merry and bright 😉

Christmas Reads

Merry Christmas! I hope you’re spending this joyous day with family and friends, participating in the traditions you love most. But in case you’ve got some down time after the gifts are opened and the dinner dishes have been cleared away, I thought I’d recommend some holiday books I’ve enjoyed reading this year.

The Trouble with Cowboys, a novel by Melissa Cutler

Amy Sorentino’s number one rule? Stay away from cowboys. She’s got a long history of getting burned when reality doesn’t live up to her fantasies. But when she moves back home to help her sisters save her family’s ranch, it’s not long before she comes toe to leather boot with Kellan Reed. Kellan isn’t looking for a relationship, and he certainly doesn’t need Amy’s drama in his life. But when a lawsuit draws them together, their hormones override their heads in this hot contemporary romance. 5 stars.

Snow Kissed, a novella by Laura Florand

Broken by grief, Kai Winters fled her marriage to hibernate in her mother-in-law’s woodland cabin. When her not-yet-ex-husband Kurt shows up on a business errand for his mother, he gets snowed in, and the two are forced to confront their wounds. Delicate as mouth-blown glass, this story will weave inside you and capture your heart. Poignant and ultimately uplifting, this contemporary romance will also appeal to women’s fiction readers. 5 stars.

Christmas at Copper Mountain, a novella by Jane Porter

Harley Diekerhoff can’t bear the thought of being surrounded by children at Christmas, not after everything she lost in a horrific plane crash three years earlier. So she takes a temp job as a housekeeper at a Montana ranch, where she doesn’t have to think or talk, but can just work with her hands all day. She’s content there until her boss’s eleven-year-old twins run away from boarding school and show up unexpectedly on their father’s doorstep. Brock Sheenan doesn’t appreciate his pretty housekeeper’s advice about raising his kids, but when they blossom under her care, he begins to wonder whether he’s been a grieving widower too long. Contemporary romance. 4 stars.

Christmas at Crescent Cove, a novella by Shelley Noble

A follow-up to Beach Colors, this story is part of the Holidays at Crescent Cove collection. Model-turned-farmer Brianna Boyce is happy with her role as single mom to two Chinese girls she’s recently adopted. When David Henderson shows up on her property, she’s not exactly welcoming. In her experience, men bring nothing but trouble. David is just passing through, planning to leave town as soon as he delivers a letter from a friend who died in Afghanistan. But Bri and her two little girls warm a heart chilled by the atrocities he’s seen in his ten years as an aid worker. He wonders whether it’s time to put down the roots he’s never had. Women’s fiction, it will also appeal to romance readers. 4 stars.

When Sparks Fly, a novella by Sabrina Jeffries

In this story from the Snowy Night with a Stranger anthology of regency romances, Elinor Bancroft has determined never to marry. She’d rather spend life as a spinster than settle for one of the fortune hunters who court her. When a carriage accident leaves her stranded, along with her young cousins and injured aunt, the party is forced to accept the hospitality of Martin Thorncliff, nicknamed the Black Baron, a self-exiled social pariah. Unintimidated by his prickly manner, she soon sees how grief and guilt have wrecked him. Her kindness wakens a deep longing in him, and he discovers that having a houseful of noisy children at Christmas brings at least as much joy as inconvenience. 4 stars. (This anthology is a free read on xoxoafterdark.com until January 20, 2014.)

I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did. Have a safe, happy, and healthy new year!

 

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