The Perfect Christmas Gifts for 10 Types of Bookworms

It’s that time of year where you stand among towering bookshelves once again in an attempt to figure out what to buy your bookish friend or family member. Or maybe you’ve given them a Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift card for the past four years and decided that you need to change things up this time around.

This guide will give you gift ideas for ten different types of bookworms. Mix and match to fit their bookish type, or find them that one perfect gift that will have them curling up by the fireplace to enjoy with their Christmas read.

(Note: We are not affiliated with these links or being sponsored by any of these stores. We just like their stuff.)

For the Soon-to-Be Bookworm

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This cozy Storybook Baby Blanket from Storiarts is a wonderful Christmas gift that will please bookish parents or future bookworms. These soft screen-printed blankets feature text from children’s books such as: The Velveteen RabbitPeter PanThe Little Prince, and more!

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“Oh, please don’t go—we’ll eat you up—we love you so.”

Out of Print sells body suits, socks, tote bags, and books featuring children’s books that are affordable and adorable for your little one!

For the Young Adult Bookworm

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Don’t know what to buy the book-loving teen in your life? Sign them up for a book subscription box from OwlCrate! With this subscription service, you can purchase a monthly subscription box for anywhere between one to six months. Every box has a creative theme that will contain a brand new YA book, 3-5 bookish items (bookmarks, pins, prints, etc.), and exclusive goodies from the author.

For the Cozy Bookworm

SOCKS-1023_Book-Nerd-unisex-socks_03_1800x1800These fun socks will keep every “book nerd” happy when they cozy up with a book. You can find these at Out of Print along with multiple other bookish socks.

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What cozy bookworm wouldn’t want to keep their book feeling the same way? The Cozy Life Shop on Etsy makes fun book cozies that will fit any paperback book! Also, do any of you bookish Bethany House readers recognize that cover? I love that they featured Ronie Kendig‘s Crown of Souls in their shop photos!

For the Candle-Loving Bookworm

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Don’t these candles from the Paddywax Library Collection look amazing? I want all of them! Featuring famous classic writers such as Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, and more, these candles will make a fantastic gift for any bookworm who loves classic literature and magnificent fragrances! Also, each candle features a famous quote from the author’s writings.

For the Fashionable Bookworm

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The Storiarts scarves are a must-buy for anyone who likes to show off their love of literature. I own the Pride and Prejudice scarf and it’s my favorite article of clothing! Storiarts has a wide array of titles and designs that decorate their scarves, fingerless gloves, pillows, and more.

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Give him the option to add a little literary flair to his formal attire with these book cufflinks on Etsy! This specific shop has cufflinks from To Kill a MockingbirdThe Great Gatsby, Dracula, and James Bond.
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How stunning is this bookish packaging from Storybook Cosmetics? They sell brushes, lip sticks and glosses, eye shadow pallets, and more! You can buy their products on their website or at your nearest Ulta Beauty!

For the Bookworm Who Reads Everything

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You know that bookworm who reads every sugar packet, ketchup bottle, and menu item at the restaurant? These Litographs shirts will always keep them entertained. With shirts featuring artistic designs and text from over 200 titles, these will wow your bookworm.

For the Bookworm On the Go

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This is a quick and easy gift to give to the bookworm who doesn’t have much time to sit down and read. With thousands of books to choose from, Audible gives people the chance to listen to their TBR pile while they’re driving, flying, at the gym, or doing household chores.

For the Grammatically-Correct Bookworm

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These mugs will make your bookworm laugh out loud and nod in satisfaction! These Grammar Grumble Mugs can be bought as a collection or separately.

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Any member of the grammar police will be proud to wear this t-shirt for the greater good and education of the community.

For the Tea or Coffee-Drinking Bookworm

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First Edition Tea Co. on Etsy has black, green, herbal, and English breakfast literary tea that you can buy separately or as a collection. Their literary tea titles are: Alice & Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and Jane Eyre.

product_image.jpgFuel up your bookworm’s reading-filled weekends with this Readers Fuel from Book Lovers Coffee! They have both whole bean and ground coffee that is designed with a fun library slip and bookish quote.

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Whether your bookworm drinks coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, a book-themed mug is a gift that any reader would treasure.

For the Night Owl Bookworm

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“Just one more chapter” is a common phrase your late-night bookworm often whispers to themselves when they have picked up a new book. This folding book lamp is perfect for those reading through the night.

Bonus: For Every Bookworm

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If you need something last minute, or want to give your bookworm a fun stocking stuffer, every bookworm would be thrilled to receive a new book as a gift. Check out our monthly release announcements on our blog or the Baker Book House store for book ideas!

Bookworms: What bookish Christmas gifts do you suggest to your family members or friends?

These gift suggestions are brought to you by Rachael Wing, our Bethany House copywriter. (Notice the Pride and Prejudice scarf!)

 

Author Christmas Tree Snapshots

Most of us love re-living memories of special people and events through the decorations that we put up around the holidays, and our authors here at Bethany House are no exception. Here are some of their favorite ornaments…and the stories behind them. You can find more posted on the Bethany House Facebook page (and more will be added leading up to Christmas, so enjoy!).

“As a young mom I made the mistake of embroidering (actually it’s crewelwork) a Christmas stocking for my precious newborn daughter. Then I had another child, and another and another. It’s like I was TRAPPED in this cycle of CREWEL-WORK. Aptly named! But I used to work with my hands a lot on these things. Crochet, knitting, and such. Now I work with my hands on a typewriter. I wonder if that’s connected somehow. But these stockings, now many years old, remain. And I did my best to make them something beautiful, and now they’ve become a precious keepsake.”—Mary Connealy, author of Too Far Down

“The Lord Takes Broken Pieces and By His Love Makes Us Whole”

“On April 19, 1995, a bomb exploded outside of the Murrah Federal Building in OKC. Among the casualties were the historic stained glass windows of the First United Methodist Church of OKC which sets across the street. This angel is made of that glass. Less than a month after the bombing, our daughter was born and 18 years later her high school graduation was held in the restored church, which bears this motto.”—Regina Jennings, author of Holding the Fort

“I love placing this special ornament on the Christmas tree each year. It’s one my daughter Julie bought with her own money when she was a little girl…a sweet reminder that the best gift any adoptive mother will ever receive is the gift of her precious children. I will always be grateful to the bio moms who gave me these most priceless gifts—our “three J’s”: Julie, Janie and Jonathan.”—Beverly Lewis, author of The Proving

“This ornament looks pretty ordinary, but it’s one of my favorites solely because when my daughter was a toddler, she decided it looked like it was covered with special cupcake sprinkles and tried to take a bite of it (she was SO old enough to know better!). And then, because I laughed, she KEPT trying, until I finally moved it up so high she couldn’t possibly reach it. We laugh about that every year as we hang it (no longer above her head) .”—Roseanna White, author of A Name Unknown

For more glimpses into our authors’ holiday memories, check out the recent posts on our Facebook page. And Merry Christmas!

How about you, readers? Is there an ornament you love hanging on the tree because of the memories it contains? Tell us about it.

Seven Ways to Hint that You Want Books for Christmas

Christmas is coming up, and if you’re like me, you want to make sure as many smooth, rectangular packages are underneath the tree as possible. I’m referring to the best presents of all: books. (If you thought I meant gift cards, this probably isn’t the post for you.)

Here are some tips to make sure others get the hint that you’d rather have a new novel or biography than another vial of body wash or pair of socks.

Oh, sure, you could just add a book to your wish list or even outright ask for a particular title as a gift. But come on, readers. We can be more clever than that. Let’s help others in our life realize what we really want for Christmas.

One: Choose a Prominent Place: Tape a picture of a book to a milk carton with the caption: “Have You Seen This Book Under the Christmas Tree?” Add “please” if you’re feeling polite. Other options include: taping a note to a mirror, creating a computer screensaver or lockscreen with a particular book cover, or using up a whole pad of sticky notes with the title’s name and leaving them in frequently-used locations.

Two: Stage an Overheard Conversation. Have a fake phone chat with a friend (for the purposes of this example, we’ll call her Minerva, because why not?). After a bit of small talk with appropriate pauses, wait until you know a friend or family member is nearby, but don’t let that person know you’re aware of their presence. Then say something like, “Can you believe [author’s name] book is coming out just in time for Christmas? Oh, Minverva, I’d be delighted if someone was kind enough to buy me [title] this year!” This has the advantage of being so subtle that the gift-giver will think the present is a total surprise!

Three: Leave a Note for Santa Lying Around. I suggest something like this: “Dear Santa, Whether I’ve been good or not this year is totally irrelevant to the present I’m requesting. Surprised? Well, let me explain. Studies have shown that reading increases empathy and abstract reasoning skills. Also, buying books supports authors, and the following books are written by people who are on the “nice” list (I checked). [Insert title list here] In conclusion: send me books, Santa, not because I deserve it, but because you want to help me become a better person. Sincerely, [your name]” (This is guaranteed to get the attention of someone used to reading saccharine-sweet accounts of exaggerated good behavior.)

Four: Mark the Target Locations: If you’re shopping with a friend or driving through town with your spouse, be sure to sigh longingly whenever you pass a bookstore. Possibly add an indirect, helpful comment like, “If I had a million dollars, I would spend all of them there. On these specific titles. In time for Christmas so I have something to read this January. Hypothetically, of course.”

Five: The Accidental Text. Tell a friend or family member that you’re going to send them a picture of something cute—a puppy with a red sweater you saw on the way to work or your daughter in her angel costume. Instead, text the cover of the book you want. Then say, “Oops! My mistake. I must have that picture on here because I’m hoping someone will buy it for me for Christmas.” Then send the real picture so the person will be in a sentimental mood and buy you the book right away. This works particularly well to influence givers who aren’t in your immediate area.

Six: Enlist the Nativity. Copy some covers of favorite books from the Internet and print them out in miniature. Cut out and fold into a book shape, then insert into the arms of the wise men. (Gold, frankincense, and myrrh can be used to prop them up for the best effect.) Then, dangling from the stable roof, hang up a sign that says, “What Jesus wished the wise men would have brought.” Someone will get the hint.

Seven: Sing. Every time “All I Want for Christmas is You” comes on the radio, change “you” to “books.” If someone corrects you, deny that these are not the original and most logical lyrics. Because clearly this is a very deep and coherent song, so if it’s really “I just want you for my own,” referring to a person, instead of “I just want them for my own” referring to the latest paperbacks, isn’t that a little possessive and selfish? And why would Mariah not need to hang her stocking by the fireplace except because paper is flammable and her precious books could go up in flames? I have questions, my friends. Questions that can only be answered with literature.

Do you have any favorite techniques on this list, readers? Or any additional ideas?

Stranded in the Library: A Christmas Parody

If you haven’t ever wished to be snowed in at a library, you probably won’t relate to this carol parody. Then again, if you haven’t ever wished to be snowed in at a library, you probably aren’t reading a publisher’s blog.

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas from Bethany House!

Stranded in a Library
(Sing to the tune of “Let it Snow”)

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the library’s delightful,
By the light of my cell phone’s glow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

There are so many to get lost in,
Like the Brontës, Twain, and Austen,
Or Harriet Beecher Stowe,
Let it snow, let it snow, Edgar Poe!

When the plows come at last I’ll find,
That I’ll mourn for my reading cut short.
But just look what I’ll leave behind:
A classical tome blanket fort.

Maybe tragedy for a while,
‘Cause Euripides’s my style.
Or the long Russian tales of woe,
Let it snow, let it snow, Romeo!

As the storm goes on, I’ll get to it:
Harper Lee or C.S. Lewis,
Then Emerson and Thoreau,
Let it snow, let it snow, V. Hugo!

Oh, my TBR pile will grow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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And just a little teaser…next Thursday on the blog we’ll have our annual reading challenge! Stop by to see what categories are on our checklist this year.

Did I leave out any of your favorite classic authors? (Particularly if their names rhyme with “snow.”)

Christmas Book Title Fun

Every year at the Bethany House decorating party, I prank the nativity scene. This sounds significantly more sacrilegious than it actually is. When we set up the Holy Family surrounded by angels, I simply give the figures a miniature paper book I feel like they’d think was appropriate.

This year’s results are below.

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It got me thinking—what book titles would fit well for all the cast of the first Christmas story? Could I outfit everyone with a Bethany House novel for them?

You can decide for yourselves by the end of the post. (Bonus—titles are linked if you want to read the book’s actual plot, which has nothing to do with Christmas in most cases. But they do make great gifts!)

There was really nothing I could pick for the angel Gabriel but The Messenger (Siri Mitchell). Too perfect.

Besides the nonfiction title in the picture above, I’d give Mary A Lady Unrivaled (Roseanna M. White) or Where Courage Calls (Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan) because agreeing to give birth to the Son of God took some serious bravery.

At first, I thought of A Most Inconvenient Marriage (Regina Jennings) for Joseph, but that seemed a little harsh, so I settled on A Bride at Last (Melissa Jagears) or Beyond All Dreams (Elizabeth Camden) since he got all of the angelic visions.

We had no sheep-related titles (though there are some on covers), but I felt The Shattered Vigil (Patrick W. Carr) described the shepherds well that night in Bethlehem.

For the wise men, I couldn’t decide between Chasing Hope (Kathryn Cushman) or A Shining Light (Judith Miller).

And speaking of that part of the story, how about King’s Folly (Jill Williamson) for Herod? Or we could just be blunt and go with Rules of Murder (Julianna Deering).

How about the little drummer boy? A Noble Masquerade (Kristi Ann Hunter), for sure…because he wasn’t actually in the Bible. Just in some manger scenes and that ridiculous song. I wish I could make this one into a Conspiracy of Silence (Ronie Kendig). But I digress.

Speaking of characters not in the nativity, once I started looking at my bookshelf, I just couldn’t stop, so here are a few bonus rounds.

For Ebeneezer Scrooge, Sins of the Past (Henderson, Pettrey, Eason) seems appropriate, or if we want to focus more on the happy ending, how about A Love Transformed (Tracie Peterson)?

Several came to mind for Santa Claus himself, but our icon has certainly made A Lasting Impression (Tamera Alexander). Runners-up were Undetected (Dee Henderson) for his stealthy present-distribution and Stranded (Dani Pettrey) for that most famous foggy Christmas Eve.

Which leads me to the inspiration for Rudolph’s titles: Shadow of the Storm (Connilyn Cossette) and No Other Will Do (Karen Witemeyer) basically sum up the story in two titles.

Finally, I’d give the Grinch Meant to be Mine (Becky Wade) for his thieving tendencies, and of course, A Talent for Trouble (Jen Turano).

Now, at first, I thought I had the perfect ones for Frosty the Snowman: Fatal Frost (Nancy Mehl) or Refining Fire (Tracie Peterson). Then I realized neither would do, since frost is decidedly not fatal to a snowman and fire is not particularly refining, either. The solution? Fire and Ice (Mary Connealy) captures the plot of his story well.

Your turn! I’m sure I missed some great opportunities here. Feel free to submit any additional titles you can think of for the characters above (or pick a Christmas character I didn’t mention).

God With Us

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It’s Christmas Eve.

Maybe you’re a bundle of anticipation, borrowing child-like excitement from your younger family members, and everything is holiday cheer and peppermint lattes as you wait for tomorrow to arrive.

Maybe you’re a bit frazzled, making a mental list of off-limits topics for your family dinner, rushing to get the last details just right, and hoping the dog won’t knock over a candle and burn down your Christmas tree.

Maybe you’re just tired—tired of the hype and the hubbub that fails to drown out the ache you feel for someone you love who won’t be here to celebrate this year, wanting to believe the words of the carols about peace on earth but not quite there right now.

Wherever you find yourself on this day before Christmas, I hope you can take a moment to slow down and remember why we celebrate: not just that Jesus came, but that Jesus is present right now, in all the chaos of the holiday season, with the imperfect, stressed-out people who he loves.

Sometimes I think we lose the present-tense of Christmas. We translate it, if not in words, in our attitudes, to something that happened once upon a time, long ago. “Hark the herald angels sang.” “Unto us a child was born.” “All was calm, all was bright.” And Christmas becomes a day to celebrate a one-time event back in Bethlehem.

It is that, of course. That’s why we read the story.

But the story isn’t over.

The beautiful thing about Jesus’ name—Immanuel—is that it means “God With Us.” Jesus came in the past and will come in the future, but he’s also here now, for those of us living in the in-between.

For the ones whose To-Do lists have taken over, the ones who will scream if one more kid sings PA-RUM-PA-PUM-PUM while banging on the nearest available “drum,” the ones who aren’t going to a church service because so-called Christians have misrepresented their Lord, the ones who are filled with gratitude or struggling with doubt—the young, the old, the joyful, the just plain worn out. He came for all of us.

It’s Christmas Eve. Jesus came, and he’s still here, even when the world seems very, very dark. God has not left us without hope. His promises—all of them—are still true.

It’s Christmas Eve, and God is with us.

Celebrating the Season with Christmas Fiction!

There are very few things I enjoy more than a good Christmas story, and this year, I’m so excited to tell you about two Christmas tales by Bethany House authors! Becky Wade concluded the love story of two of her secondary characters in her short story, “The Proposal,” and Melissa Tagg used her semi-autobiographical crush on a cover model to inspire the plot of her novella, One Enchanted Christmas.

These are both available in ebook form (click on the titles above or the covers at the end of the post) for less than the cost of a fancy peppermint-mocha-latte. (And side-note: I loved both of them!) Read them, send them to a friend as an early “stocking stuffer” gift (all you need is your friend’s email address, the click “Buy as Gift” on your favorite e-retailer), and enjoy a sneak peek inside both stories in my chat with the authors.

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Amy: Give me a “teaser” for the plot of your Christmas story that’s the length of a tweet.

Becky: “The Proposal” just might include singing firefighters (why yes…you read that right), a cookie party, romance, and lots of Christmas cheer.

Melissa: 1 mystery author with a crazy crush + 1 guy who will do anything to save his family + 1 charming small town = One Enchanted Christmas.

Amy: Perfect. If I weren’t already intrigued, those teasers would do it! Now, if you were buying a Christmas present for the couple in your story, what would it be and why? (You can get them each an individual present if you want.)

Becky: I’d buy them a night of babysitting! Why? Because Amber’s son Jayden is a handful! I’m guessing that Amber and Will would love a romantic evening out together.

Melissa: Oh, this is so fun! My main characters are a mystery writer named Maren and a small-town Iowa guy named Drew.

I would give Maren piano lessons. There’s a scene in the story when she’s checking out this antique piano in Drew’s house and mentions that she barely plays—never really had a chance to learn. And frankly, the girl needs a hobby besides teaching and writing. LOL!

Drew, no question…I’d give him a coat. Because the guy never wears a coat! And he lives in Iowa! You just don’t walk around without a coat in the dead of winter in Iowa. Except, he’s kinda stubborn so the chances of him actually wearing it may be slim to none. But still. Continue reading

A Christmas Gift Guide for Readers

If you have relatives and friends who might need to know what to get you for Christmas, I made this for you! (Tell me there are other people who think like this. I can’t be the only one, can I?) Share it on social media or print and post it on the fridge to give loved ones a subtle hint at what you’d like to see under the tree this year.

Christmas Book Gift Flow Chart

Of course, if you’re looking for book recommendations, of course I’d recommend any of December books. Or any of our newly released fiction titles. But I’m a little biased. (Click on the covers below to learn more.)

At Love's BiddingWhen Miranda rashly buys an auction house—then learns it deals in cattle, not antiques—she is at a loss for what to do…and so is the handsome manager.

Midwife's ChoiceAs Martha Cade struggles with the challenges of being a mother, a midwife, and a woman, she discovers the power of hope and the meaning of faith.

PaintersDaughter_mck.inddAfter the man she loves abruptly sails for Italy, Sophie Dupont’s future is in jeopardy. Wesley left her in dire straits, and she has nowhere to turn—until Captain Stephen Overtree comes looking for his wayward brother. He offers a solution to her dilemma, but matters of the heart are not so simply solved.

UntiltheDawn_mck.inddWhen Sophie van Riijn is caught exploring an abandoned mansion, she quarrels with the long-absent, brooding owner—and old secrets come to light.

What book is on your wish list this year, readers?

Christmas Snapshots, Part Two

Christmas is almost here! Enjoy a quick break from your many activities (including last-minute shopping, anyone?) and read about some of our authors’ favorite Christmas memories and traditions.

“To help focus my children on the real meaning of Christmas, I put a slip of paper that lists an activity in each pocket of the advent calendar. The activities are things like Red and Green Day, Luke 2 day, Candy Cane Day, Wise Man Day, etc. We do fun activities that center around the theme of the day and focus on the meanings behind the traditions.

The Hedlund family on Wise Man Day.

The Hedlund family on Wise Man Day.

“For example, on Red and Green Day we eat red and green foods and wear red and green clothes, but we also talk about what red stands for (the blood of Jesus shed for our sins) and green (the new life he gives us). For Luke 2 day, we get out our nativity set along with reading Luke 2 (the birth of Jesus). The entire month of advent activities is something my kids look forward to every year and makes the Christmas season more about Jesus and less about us.”

Jody Hedlund, author of Love Unexpected

MateerCookies“One of our most treasured traditions is making Christmas cookies with all the cousins. My mother still hosts this event at her house, with the 10 grandchildren that live in the US all in attendance, even though four of them are now in their 20s! After rolling the dough, cutting out the shapes and baking the cookies, every kid decorates as many or few as they want. Nana and Papa get to keep one from each grandchild, but the rest are taken to their homes to enjoy. Such a fun time to gather with family in the midst of our busy lives!”

Anne Mateer, author of Playing by Heart

“When I was a child, my family always spent Christmas at my grandparents’ house. All the kids would wake up early and rush to the living room to see what was under the tree. However, we were never allowed to unwrap anything until the adults were up and breakfast was eaten. The one thing we were allowed to dig into was our stockings, where we discovered fun new toys and candy and activity books to keep us entertained. When my husband and I discussed which Christmas traditions to hand down to our own kids, stockings were at the top of my list. I love to cross-stitch, so I cross-stitched stockings for Wes and I and for each of our children before their first Christmas, making the tradition even more meaningful. I still get a thrill when I rush out to the living room and see what “Santa” put in my stocking. It’s my favorite part of Christmas morning.”

Karen Witemeyer, author of Full Steam Ahead

The Witemeyer mantle.

The Witemeyer mantle.

“Christmas of 1994 loomed as possibly my saddest holiday ever. Since my husband and I were expecting our first child in early January, we couldn’t travel home to see my family, and they had decided to wait and visit once the baby was born. Then on December 18th, when I saw a beautiful new baby girl at our church Christmas party, I declared, ‘I want my baby in time for Christmas.’

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“My wonderful daughter, Christiana Rose, complied immediately, and I went into labor late that night. She was born three weeks early, perfect, and she made it home in plenty of time for Christmas.”

Dina Sleiman, author of Dauntless

Your turn: what is a Christmas that stands out in your mind because of something special that happened?

Christmas Snapshots, Part One

What says, “Christmas” to you? Is it the sound of the Salvation Army bell-ringers outside the grocery store? Maybe the smell of pine or a ham baking in the oven. Or maybe it’s the glow of candlelight inside the church for the Christmas Eve service. We all have certain memories associated with this time of year, and I asked our authors to share some of theirs, either an annual tradition that they look forward to every year or a particular Christmas that stood out to them. I hope you enjoy their stories!

Wade_Becky“My kids and I make Christmas cookies together every year. I typically let each of them pick a recipe that they’d like to make with me individually. Then we have a few (like gingerbread) that we either a) make together or b) I make alone if the kids have lost interest and wandered off. Once all the cookie baking is done, we divide the cookies up, attach a ‘Merry Christmas from the Wades’ note, and deliver the packages to our neighbors and friends.”
Becky Wade, author of Meant to Be Mine

The Wade family with cookies!

The Wade family with cookies!

Turano_Jen1“Before my parents passed away, it was my tradition, no matter where I lived, to travel back to my hometown of St. Clairsville, OH. Even after my son, Dominic, was born, we would fight the crowds at the airport and fly from Denver to Ohio, braving the weather and delayed flights, and even having the supreme enjoyment of flying out on Christmas Eve one year–something I would not recommend doing with a three-year-old. But, once arriving at my mom’s house, a sense of peace would wrap itself around me, and there was always a great sense of being home as I gathered with my brothers and sisters in the living room, a room that certainly seemed to shrink as all of us married and had children.

TurnaoChristmas2“Those children allowed us to share the traditions of our youth—ice-skating on the little pond, sledding down the hill behind my parents’ house on an aluminum toboggan (which was never very comfortable but always had to be done), or setting up the trains my mother loved as a child, and watching the awe on the children’s faces as the train smoked and chugged its way around the track.

My son Dom as a little guy--yes, I did have him wear this outfit on the plane to Ohio.

My son Dom as a little guy–yes, I did have him wear this outfit on the plane to Ohio.

My siblings, Dad, and I at my grandparents' house.

My siblings, Dad, and I at my grandparents’ house.

“After my parents died, I found it next to impossible to dwell on those memories, and Christmas changed for me, not for the worse, mind you, but it was just different as I started new traditions in Denver, having no reason to travel back to Ohio. I had not been able to pull out those memories, nor pull out the boxes and boxes of pictures until just this year. To my surprise, (and I must admit, relief), I was not sad in the least over what each box revealed, but thankful to have tangible proof of some of the fabulous Christmas memories that I’ll always have to cherish, even if my parents are no longer here on this earth to cherish them with me.”

Jen Turano, author of A Match of Wits

GOULD_Leslie1crop“The real meaning of Christmas comes in unexpected moments for me, no matter how hard I try to focus on it. Last year it came in a century-old, candlelit church I visited with my oldest daughter. After a sermon about Immanuel—’God with us’—it was time for communion. As I drank the symbolic wine, the image of Christ’s blood mixing with my own overwhelmed me, followed by the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. I’d never felt the story of God—born as a babe, sacrificed as a man, risen as a savior, and always with me in spirit—so acutely. It was God’s best gift to me last Christmas and one I’ll always treasure.”

Leslie Gould, author of Becoming Bea

Bylin_Victoria1“It wouldn’t be Christmas without my grandmother’s almond crescents. Each year she made hundreds of them and gave them as gifts in special foil boxes. I remember being five years old and helping her. They’re delicious, but the best thing about these cookies is the fun of making them with people you love.”

Nana Bylin’s Almond Crescents

1 lb. butter or margarine
1 c. sugar
4 c. flour
2 tsp. vanilla
½ lb. whole raw almonds
Powdered sugar

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Use a food processor or blender to grind the almonds into a coarse powder. Add ground almonds and vanilla to the bowl with the butter and sugar. Mix well. Add flour. I usually start mixing with a spoon and end up mixing with my hands. Shape into small crescents.  Bake 25-30 minutes.

Bottoms are usually light brown. I let them cool on the cookie sheets, and the bottoms brown up a little bit more.  Let cool, then roll in powdered sugar.  This makes about 10 dozen, but it varies tremendously with “crescent” style.

Victoria Bylin, author of Until I Found You

And, if you’re looking for more Christmas recipes, Anne Mateer is sharing some quick-and-easy holiday bars on her website, and Dani Pettrey has some delicious-looking coffee drinks based on some of her characters’ favorites. Check them out!

Your turn: what first jumps to mind for you when someone asks for a holiday memory?