Christmas is only 16 days away!!!! Did you get snow this weekend? We were supposed to but we got nuthin. I’m so annoyed. haha!
As you know by now… ‘Tis the season when I start craving cozy Christmas reads. (Okay – I crave them all year round but now’s when I can get away with talking about them LOL) I had so much fun with this series last year, so I decided to make it an annual thing 🙂 Continuing through the end of the year, I’m going to spotlight several new/recent Christmasy releases. So… snuggle in, grab your fave hot beverage and comfiest blanket, turn on some Christmas tunes and start your bookish Christmas list! Oh… and did I mention there are GIVEAWAYS with EACH POST in this series??!! (Because authors are awesome!)
Today’s book is a collection of romances set around a Victorian Christmas, including ‘The Perfect Christmas’ by Erica Vetsch – and a bonus guest post from Erica on de-stressing Christmas!
Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love?
The Perfect Christmas by Erica Vetsch
Melisande Verity might be in over her head trying to create the perfect Christmas window display, but if she succeeds, will she finally attract the attention of her boss, Gray Garamond?
Other stories include:
Paper Snowflake Christmas by Vanessa Riley, One Golden Ring by C.J. Chase, Love Brick by Brick by Kathleen L. Maher, The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels, Star of Wonder by Susanne Dietze, Father Christmas by Lorna Seilstad, A Christmas Vow by Gabrielle Meyer, and The Holly and the Ivy by Rita Gerlach
Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!
De-Stressing Your Christmas
Christmas – It’s the most wonderful time of the year…and yet…It’s a push-pull, isn’t it? I love the decorations, the music, the goodies, and the sense of anticipation. But I don’t like the commercialism, the ‘me-first’ grabbiness of the shoppers, and the frenzy of activities and obligations. I love the lights and the little girls in flouncy, sparkly dresses at church, but I don’t like the pre-occupation with the holiday to-do list and having to remind myself constantly amid the distractions to remember the Reason for the Season.
Can we have one without the other? Can we have the things we love at Christmas without the things we don’t?
I think so, but it’s work. It takes some planning.
Here are a few of the things that I’ve learned along the way that make my Christmases merry and bright.
1. List the things that make the run-up to Christmas special for you. The things that fill your Christmas cup of cheer from Thanksgiving to The Day. For me it would be:
- Christmas music, both on the radio and sung at church.
- Family ornaments, the ones we’ve had for years, that bring back great memories, like our first Christmas together as a couple, the ones our kids made when they were little, the ones we inherited from our parents.
- Nativity sets. I collect nativity sets, and I try to get a new one each year. I love the whimsy and fun and variety.
- The Christmas Eve service at church. This is my favorite service of the year. Everyone is so happy, and the lights are beautiful, the music sublime, and the subject matter so joyful.
- Baking with my girl. Peanut brittle, cookies, butterscotch drops. We love baking special things at this time of year.
- Classic Christmas movies. I can’t have the Christmas season without the 1951 Alastair Sim version of Scrooge.
2. What makes Christmas Day special for you? Here are mine:
- Reading the Christmas story aloud together. A Vetsch family tradition. We take it in turns each year, and I think this year might be My Turn! Yay!
- Christmas waffles. It might be a silly thing, but it’s become a tradition in our house to have Christmas waffles before we do any gift opening.
- Mid-afternoon Christmas meal together. Sometimes it’s turkey and the fixin’s, sometimes it’s a new recipe I want to try. Whatever it is, we all gather around the table and share a meal and Christmas memories.
- Giving just the right gift to my loved ones.
3. What stresses you out during the holidays or takes away from your joy? Mine are:
- Black Friday shopping.
- Over-committing to parties and programs and gift exchanges and cookie exchanges and concerts and all that stuff. Being on the run and never having any breathing room during the holidays makes me nuts.
Using these lists, I can ‘design’ a holiday season that keeps things on a ‘busyness’ level that I can deal with.
To make the things I love happen, I plan ahead. You can tailor your plans to fit what you filled in for the points above. Remember, these are my go-tos, and yours will be different.
- Make decorating the house an event. My daughter and I both love the decorating, so we choose a time when we can both be present and take our time. This usually happens the weekend after Thanksgiving, and because we plan ahead, we’re not trying to cram it in between other commitments. When we decorate, we take the time to reminisce about the ornaments and the nativity sets. This fills both of our holiday hearts right up and gets the season off to a great start.
- Break out the Christmas CDs, download some Christmas music to your phone, and when you’re at church singing those Christmas carols, close your eyes, embrace the worship, and really be present during the song.
- Streamline and simplify the Christmas baking. You don’t have to make it all. Choose your favorite two or three things and make those. Baking is no fun if you’re doing too much—biting off more than you can chew—say. Make a thorough shopping list and only make one trip to the store. While you’re there, get the supplies for the Christmas waffles and the Christmas dinner.
- Stay home on Black Friday. And Small Business Saturday. I can shop at local businesses the following week or two and not face the same crowds and acquisitiveness that occur the weekend after Thanksgiving. I also do some point-and-click shopping. I also streamline the gift list. Buying for everyone and his neighbor’s dog is exhausting and expensive. Where I can, I give a family gift or make a donation in the name of a family in order to accomplish my gift-giving in one swell-foop. 🙂
- Probably the biggest thing I do to make my Christmas season a time of joy and not drudgery is to limit the number of commitments I have. It’s okay to say no to some things. You don’t have to attend every party and program. Assess what your holiday stress levels are, and only commit to those things that make sense. Possibly you’re a go-getter extrovert and can’t get enough of the going and the seeing and the doing. If so, rock on! But if you’re finding yourself being swallowed by the busyness of the season to the point that you forget what it’s about, dial it back and stay home some.
In addition to these tips, I also make time in the schedule for at least one December evening where my husband and I turn off all the lights and sit near the Christmas tree and talk. Really talk. We reminisce about our lives together—we were married in December almost 29 years ago now!—about our favorite Christmas memories, about the past year. It’s a time to decompress and remember and enjoy.
So, tell me a few of the things that fill your Christmas Cup of Cheer! I’d love to hear about your traditions and memories!
Erica Vetsch is giving away an ebook of The Victorian Christmas Brides to one of my readers! Open internationally. Void where prohibited by law. This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What fills your Christmas cup of cheer?