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!

christmas-post-2

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.

nativity

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

Christmas

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.

BeckyMelissa

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.’

Christmasbaby

 

“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?

Advice for a Simpler Christmas, Part Two

Ever have the feeling that Christmas has gotten just a bit out of hand? If you’re like me, you have the best of intentions: this year, I will slow down and focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Sometimes, though, life just gets in the way.

To help you (and me!) out, some of our authors sent in practical tips for simplifying your Christmas. (Check out last week’s post on the same topic!)

Bunn_Davis“For the first several years of our marriage, my wife and I were ‘required’ to spend our Christmases with family members who did not believe in God.  For them, the entire process revolved around a cultural event, and the holiday’s commercial side.  As a result of this, our desire to focus on something else has remained a core ingredient of the season.  And this ‘something else’ is the key.  What we have found is that to simply say, ‘no’ to commercialism isn’t enough.  There needs to be an alternative, some great and interesting project or date or event that is big enough, and fun enough, to make the absence of commercialism really not matter so much.  Each year now we plan on some big event that we can see as our Christmas.  This year, for the first time in twelve years, my mother has felt well enough to join us.  We are arranging for her and my sister and her husband and their two daughters to all come down and have a Christmas eve dinner in the Polish tradition.  My wife is first generation American, both her parents were Polish.  The Polish celebration is focused upon Wigilia, a twelve-course meal without meat.  It will take us two days, possibly three, to prepare.  And it is this preparation, as much as the event itself, that forms for us the Christmas season.”

Davis Bunn, author of The Patmos Deception

Nancy with little Aidan.

Nancy with little Aidan.

“On Christmas Day two years ago, our lives changed forever. God gave us the most wonderful Christmas gift, our first grandchild, Aidan Jackson Mehl. Almost a year later, my husband, Norman, and I sold our home in Wichita, Kansas and moved to Missouri so we could be near our son and daughter-in-law and be involved in Aidan’s life. Blending families has meant that many of our long-held Christmas traditions had to change. But we’ve discovered that traditions are all about family, so adjusting them so we can watch this wonderful little boy grow up isn’t painful at all. It’s a joy”

Nancy Mehl, author of Gathering Shadows

Austin_Lynn1“One holiday season when my children were young, I grew stressed as I saw Christmas and my book deadline rapidly approaching. I longed to create a perfect Hallmark Christmas with homemade cookies and gingerbread houses but I could see that I was going to have to simplify. I asked each family member to choose one holiday tradition that was special to them, and we would do it. Surprisingly, they chose simple, uncomplicated things like watching a favorite Christmas movie together or driving around to look at the neighbors’ lights. No one asked for cookies and gingerbread houses. It became our tradition to each choose one special activity to do—and they could choose a different one each year. In the end, keeping only a few special traditions made each one seem even more fun.”

Lynn Austin, author of Keepers of the Covenant

These blog posts are your official permission to stop. Slow down. Take a few moments to pray. Breathe a little. Cross a few things off your to-do list, not because you’ve completed them but because you don’t have to do everything.

I promise: Jesus will still feel sufficiently celebrated even if you don’t make all possible types of baked goods, attend every holiday party, or imitate each Advent tradition you’ve ever heard or read about.

At the end of the day, rehearsals and presents and decorations aside, the baby is still in the manger. And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Emmanuel. God with us. Let’s keep it simple, because there is a beauty in that simplicity, and it has the power to change the world.

What is one thing that helps you focus on Jesus at Christmas time? (A song, a tradition, a verse?)

The Music of Christmas

If you listen closely around this time of year, you can almost always hear faint jingle bells or distant strains of Irving Berlin. There’s just something about music that creates atmosphere, stirs emotion, and teaches deep truths in a way that nothing else can. Some of our authors are on the blog today to share how these songs have been a part of their Christmases.

Also, we love this idea: take a clear glass ornament, remove the top, and fill with lines from your favorite carol (print from the Internet so you don't have to shred a hymnal!).

Also, we love this idea: take a clear glass ornament, remove the top, and fill with lines from your favorite carol (print from the Internet so you don’t have to shred a hymnal!).

Peterson, TracieHands down, Handel’s Messiah has always been an important part of my Christmas celebration and memories.  I was born into a musical family, so music was always important, but there was something about Handel’s music set to Scripture that touched me deep inside.  We had a local church that would have a community singalong of Handel’s Messiah each Christmas, and there were a couple of occasions that my mother and I attended.  It was an amazing time, and though most of us weren’t trained vocalists, it was some of the most beautiful music I’ve even known…and a wondrous time of worship.

Tracie Peterson, author of Steadfast Heart

ThomasChristmas

Sarah and her father.

I have a weakness for Christmas carols. I’ve been known to sing them at the top of my lungs while hiking (alone!) at just about any time of year. I have favorites—”The Cherry Tree Carol,” “I Wonder as I Wander,” “The Ballad of the Christmas Donkey”—but my VERY favorite is “Up on the Rooftop.” When we were kids, Dad would lead us in sing-alongs whenever we traveled around Christmas, and he’d make up verses for each of us. Something like: “Here comes the stocking of little Sally (his pet name for me), oh dear Santa what a tally, give her a dress that whirls and twirls, and then you can give her hair some curls.” We’d beg for verse after verse, throwing out the names of family, friends, and made-up acquaintances. And Dad always came through with a rhyme.

Sarah Thomas, author of Miracle in a Dry Season

Jagears_Melissa1My favorite Christmas song is Downhere’s “How Many Kings,” and if I’m playing a Christmas album it’s likely to be this one. I’ve always been fascinated by the Wise Men, which may be part of the reason why I wanted to start a new tradition with my family and start celebrating Epiphany since the Christmas season has morphed into nothing much more than a get-together with presents. I also think the reason why I love this song is that it goes beyond the wise men to sing of the ultimate romance—a divine King’s love for the undeserving.

Melissa Jagears, author of A Bride in Store

And, finally, a song recommended by one of our readers in last Thursday’s blog post, “Carol of the Bells.” (This is one of my favorite versions.)

Do you attend a special musical event around Christmas? If so, what is it?