Christmas was always a big holiday in our family. Every Christmas Eve before we'd go to bed, my mom and dad would read to us two or three stories and they would always be 'The Happy Prince,' 'The Gift of the Magi' and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas,' and I would like to keep that alive.
I put the copy of 'A Christmas Carol' that my grandfather had first read to me 60 years ago on my desk, and I began to write. The result, for better or for worse, is the 'Christmas Spirits.' I plan to read it to my grandson.
I had heard some Elvis songs on the radio. During Christmastime, they'd play 'Blue Christmas,' and I knew I liked his songs, but I didn't know who it was singing them. I just knew I liked them... I started reading, watching, and just picking up everything I could about him.
We have 40 people over for Thanksgiving, 30 people for Easter lunch, 35 people on Christmas Eve. People tend to expect to spend their holidays with us, which is lovely and an expectation I carry with pride.
Now that I'm an adult and have a big say in what we eat on Christmas Day, turkey doesn't even make it on to the starting grid for consideration. It isn't just my least favourite meat; it's my least favourite protein.
Our many different cultures notwithstanding, there's something about the holidays that makes the planet communal. Even nations that do not celebrate Christmas can't help but be caught up in the collective spirit of their neighbors, as twinkling lights dot the landscape and carols fill the air. It's an inspiring time of the year.
God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of God's work to save the world.
For Christmas 1999, my husband surprised me with a trip to Disney World. Along with our boys, we were standing on the roof of the Contemporary Hotel at midnight on New Year's Eve 2000 watching fireworks explode over every amusement park in Orlando. It was a magical way to celebrate the millennial, and a never-to-be-forgotten Christmas present.
I like indoor Christmas trees. And I like people who decorate their homes with lights and all that crap. I think it's a healthy outlet for them. If they weren't covering their lawns with twinkling lights, they'd be doing something that was really, really creepy.
One of my favorite traditions is that my sisters and I, we all wear the same pajamas. I've even still got some from when I was 6. Also, I'll always remember cooking together in the kitchen and that no matter how busy our schedules are, we are all together for Christmas.
Accounts of eating Christmas sweet potatoes baked in ashes and jackrabbit stewed with white flour dumplings are testaments to pioneer resilience and pleasure - and they help inspire my own best scratch cooking.