I Married Ebeneezer: R. J. Larson

One of my earliest memories is of sitting in my family’s darkened living room and gazing up at our glowing Christmas tree, perfectly happy—no gifts needed. However, colorful heaps of Christmas gifts always marked my childhood holidays. My parents believed in observing our Savior’s birth and in making Christmas as festive as possible. We listened to Bible stories, baked enough treats for the entire neighborhood, and watched A Charlie Brown Christmas as we decorated the house. We sang in programs at church, ate far too much at family dinners, and reveled in being together. I grew up with the notion that everyone, everyone, loved to celebrate the holidays.

Fast-forward twenty years.

My husband and I celebrated our first Christmas together two months after our wedding. Actually, I did the celebrating. My sweet, adoring husband studied my Christmas list and my newly purchased Christmas ornaments intended for our tree, then said, “I don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Was he serious? I argued, “But your father owns a Christmas tree farm! And everyone at church is celebrating…”

“Christmas trees are a pagan custom from Germany, and my father is German,” my husband countered quietly. “Besides, the Lord was most likely born in the autumn, and I think the whole holiday is too commercialized, so face it: You’ve married Scrooge.” Continue reading

Giving the Gifts that Really Matter: Jody Hedlund

“Please, Mommy, one more story?”

Bright brown eyes pleaded with me as my youngest son pushed another Christmas book into my hands. I bit back the automatic no that begged for release. After a typical day of teaching, mothering, and managing the activities of a noisy, busy household, I wanted to curl up on the couch with my newest biography. I hungered for silence and stillness, food for my creative mind.

“Just one more.” My six-year-old added her big blue eyes to the drama.

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My mind shouted that I’d given all day. I’d already sacrificed enough. From the piles of laundry I’d folded to the never-ending task of breaking up squabbles and training my children’s characters. For our Advent activity, Red & Green Day, I’d even cooked red and green food for every meal, including green scrambled eggs.

My body ached, and my eyes smarted from exhaustion. It would be so easy to say no, to tuck my littlest children into their beds and have an hour of quietness before the older kids arrived home from art class and basketball practice. Continue reading

Welcome!

Welcome to Bethany House’s fiction blog! We’re getting ready to launch our Christmas Countdown. Starting on Friday, November 29, the day after Thanksgiving, our authors will be posting on the blog to share their Christmas memories and traditions with you.

I’m Amy Green, fiction publicist here at Bethany House.

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Much easier to attach bows to garland when you don’t have to carry them around.

You can read more about me here, but the most important thing for you to know is that I’m a reader who loves the fact that, thanks to social media, readers can interact with writers.

Come back and visit—there will be a new post every day until Christmas. We’d love to hear from you, so comment often. Share a post on Facebook or send it to a friend who needs encouragement. Maybe even buy a few books as last-minute Christmas presents. (I’m not the only one who gets excited when I feel the distinct shape of a book under holiday wrapping paper, am I?)

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We decorated Bethany House for Christmas today.

Now, one more note: I am one of those strict, no-exception defenders of keeping Christmas things in the Christmas season.  (The suspicious question: “Is that…a Christmas carol you’re playing/singing/humming?” is pretty typical of me all throughout November.) So I was a little hesitant to announce this Christmas blog series today, as it might take some of the focus away from Thanksgiving.

And yet, this year, I’ve learned to see the connection between Christmas and Thanksgiving.

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The Bethany House tree-trimmers

This year, I’m thankful for stories, and the ability we have to share them with one another. I’m not ashamed to admit that reading a few of our authors’ Christmas posts had me crying in my office, while others put a smile on my face that just wouldn’t leave.

I’m thankful for the extra focus that the holiday season gives us on what really matters. It’s the only time of the year where everyone, Christian or not, will talk about gratitude, peace, and joy. (We need to work on slowing down to appreciate those things…but they’re still there!)

And, of course, I’m thankful for the birth of Jesus. Reading these posts—yes, even reading them earlier in the season than I might have wanted—has reminded me to be grateful for the simple, yet completely unexpected gift of Emmanuel, God with us. I hope and pray that it will do the same for you.

Thanks

What’s something you’re thankful for this year?