Christmas Cheer ~ it’s spreadable

Xmas Angel

 

Christmas cheer means different things to different people, but usually has a “spreading it” connotation. Wanting to spread happiness and joy, for so many, goes hand in hand with the Christmas season. It’s about making family, friends, associates, and even those we don’t know happy, doing nice things for others, having an overall joyous attitude and demeanor during this season.

Jesus exhorts His disciples to “be of good cheer” several times in the Bible. Using modern vernacular, we could say Jesus was spreading the message about the spiritual power that’s in being of good cheer.

I think all Christians have felt at one time or another they were sinking, that they could not rise above the waves or get through the storms of life. The Bible tells us Jesus walked on the water, which basically freaked the disciples out. Their imaginations ran wild thinking a ghost was about to set upon them in the midst of the storm. Matthew 14:26-27 [KJV] ~ 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. How on earth could they be of good cheer? They’re boat was about sink in the storm? Yet, Jesus didn’t say to them, “Row harder,” or “Turn the boat eastward.” He said “be of good cheer” and “be not afraid.” Deciding to be of good cheer no matter what the circumstances is the spiritual act of making a firm internal commitment to God and to ourselves. I suspect that once we get into the good cheer mode, it’s a lot easier to ‘be not afraid’. It’s fear that often paralyzes us.

Have you noticed how angry people are today? I sometimes wonder why so many people have anger as their default. Don’t they want to be happy? Why wouldn’t they want to be happy? It’s a mystery to me, but I suspect they have a wrong assumption about life. We’re all going to have troubles in life and some people feel they’re so special that they shouldn’t have those troubles. It’s kind an overall, pervasive societal notion that things should be made easier, noncompetitive, less harsh. The reality is life is tough and harsh many times. They can protest and erect a physical a safe zone on campus, but they can’t create a safe zone in life. Ain’t gonna happen.

For Christians there is a safe zone. We are a peculiar people, set apart. We live in a kind of “Jesus bubble” and in that bubble (call it the Blessing, the favor of God, or the grace of God, if you will) we are sheltered from life’s storms. However, we do have spiritual guidelines so that we don’t walk out of this spiritual safe zone. We are called to love God, self, and others. We’re called to be of good cheer and to have joy, among other things. These are not mere emotions, they are dynamic spiritual forces that dispel fear.We’re called to spread this fear-breaking joy and cheer around…not to hide our light under a bushel. red bowSomething of historical interest from the American White House at Christmas, which traditionally has been used by First Families to spread cheer, joy, and even courage in the nation, especially in times of trouble.

White House Front Gate
White House Front Gate

In 1958 Mamie Eisenhower had 27 decorated Christmas trees in the White House. In 1961, First Lady Jackie Kennedy began the tradition of selecting a theme for the main White House Christmas Tree. Since the early 1970s the White House has included an enormous gingerbread house as part of it’s Christmas decor. In 1971, under Pat Nixon’s direction the confection was an A-Frame. Under Betty Ford’s direction in 1975, to honor America’s upcoming bicentennial celebration, the National Christmas Tree was decorated with 4,600 red, white, and blue ornaments. On the top of the 45-foot blue spruce sat a 4-foot gold and green replica of the Liberty Bell, donated by General Electric. The hostage crisis in Iran dominated the holiday celebrations of 1979 and 1980. In 1979 Rosalyn Carter’s National Christmas Tree and 50 surrounding trees each showed but a single light, one for each of the hostages. The other lights on the trees would be turned on when the hostages were released. But the following year the hostages were still in Iran. The Carters turned on the Christmas tree lights that year for 141 seconds. One second for each day the hostages had been held. For seven of the eight Christmases Nancy Reagan was in  the White House she arranged for residents of the drug treatment program in Virginian and Maryland Second Genesis to decorate the White House trees. In 1985, Second Gensis made 1,500 ornaments from holiday cards sent to President and Mrs. Reagan in 1984. In 1989, out of Barbara Bush’s concern for national literacy, the theme for Christmas presened a “Storybook Christmas”. The White House staff created figures of famous storybook characters such as Peter Pan, Curious George, and Alice in Wonderland, and underneath the trees were books tied up with red bows. In 1993 renown American quilting artisans contributed squares at Mrs. Clinton’s request to make a green velvet skirt for the White House tree.  In 2001, Laura Bush oversaw decorating the White House after the national tragedy of 9/11. The theme that year was ‘Home For The Holidays’. One highlight were scale models of all of the American presidents’ homes. The 18-foot White House Christmas Tree, which was grown in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania, was decorated with hundreds of original ornaments depicting historic homes and places of worship throughout the United States. Michelle Obama’s 2015 theme is ‘A Timeless Tradition’. The decorations throughout the White House inspire visitors to celebrate long-held traditions while also creating new memories.red bow

Wishing you a blessed and merry pre-Christmas holiday season filled with joy, from the Crime Fictionista, who is on the road to greater greater cheer, gladness, laughter, and who hopes to spread this good cheer all year long.

Joy To The World ~ The Lord Is Come!

gilr in light

Joy isn’t a mere feeling or a fleeting emotion. It’s a spiritual force. I didn’t always know that and that’s why my joy was constantly being robbed. Crabby, angry people robbed my joy. Difficult situations robbed it, hurtful or shameful memories from the past of failure and painful trials robbed it. I’ll be honest. these past 18 months have been some of the most difficult I’ve ever encountered. And at times I’ve been a whiney, blithering nincompoop. But, by clinging to the Lord moment-by-moment (quite literally) I have come through the worst of it, and I still have my joy.

Galatians 5:22 [King James Version] ~ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.The Living Bible translates it ~ But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.

While some of these might have an emotional component, they are so much more. Love is not an ooey-gooey romantic feeling. God is love. Faith can move mountains. Peace isn’t a slogan to be used in political protests. We have watered these words down over the years. Peace translates from the Hebrew as shalom and means “whole, nothing missing, nothing broken.” These are fruit of the Holy Spirit. I had always looked at these words as something I should strive for…and there’s nothing wrong with the desire to have these traits. Actually, in the fullness of their meaning they emanate from the most powerful Being operating in the earth, the Holy Spirit. I’m beginning to see them as spiritual gifts offered to me, but I have to receive them. I have to chose them.

Xmas horse in hatThe Amplified Bible, in Galatians 5:22, further defines joy as “gladness”. And Psalm 118:24 [KJV] ~ This is the day the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. It says “we will rejoice”. Not maybe, or if everything goes right. So, because it’s put that way, this is something believers can do. Something I can do. We can laugh more and cry less if we put our minds to it. The battlefield where we engage the enemy is between the ears. I’ve learned I should never let the enemy see me down in the tooth. I’m getting better at chosing to be in a state of joy. I’ve discovered the good feelings, the laughter comes after making the choice.red bowIt might interest you to know the lyrics to that favorite Christmas carol, “Joy To The World,” was written by Isaac Watts in 1719. The music was written by George Frederick Handel. Handel also wrote the “Messiah,” the marvelous English language oratorio.red bow

Wishing you a blessed and merry pre-Christmas holiday season filled with joy, from a recovering whiney, blithering nincompoop who is on the road to greater joy, gladness, laughter

Spending Christmas with Cranky Uncle Fred ~ a lesson in patience and poise

Horse Drawn Sleigh

 

You know how it goes in families at Christmas. Last year everyone came to your house….all the aunts and uncles with their kids, and someone brought grandma. Well, this year it’s going to be at Cranky Uncle Fred’s house.

You can just hear your kids singing in the back seat as you drive through poorly plowed snow covered streets and across ribbons of icy roads: “Over the river and through the woods to Cranky Uncle Fred’s house we go. The horse know the way…”

The thought of how it will go once you get there is driving  you nuts. Sending up a prayer helps, but then your mind runs right over a cliff again. It’s not only Cranky Uncle Frank who has you worried. He’s actually the least of it. Your sister’s new husband drinks too much and you really don’t want your kids to see him drunk on Jesus’ birthday. And cousin Marcy has a real bad habit of talking in detail about her love life, which as far as you can tell has very little to do with love. Another thing you’re not thrilled about exposing your kids to. This brigs your unbridled mind to another musical reference, almost against your will…the infamous country western Christmas song by Robert Earl Keene, “Merry Christmas from the Family.”

After giving yourself yet another good talking to, you admit the only one you should have high expectations of is yourself. And it goes without saying, you should be all prayed up. If your family isn’t a Norman Rockwell portrait, don’t have your Christmas happiness depend upon them acting as if they are. Accept them with all their faults, and some of your kin might have many.

Focus on the people there you love to be with, and don’t put yourself down if you don’t love to be with all of them. Make sure you get lots of time with the people there who thrill you. If you know Aunt Edna’s  social, political, and theological views are going to drive you insane, try to direct conversation to something neutral. Have a mental list of topics all prepared. Praising how good the food is will make everyone who prepared a dish feel all warm and fuzzy inside and good feelings often can spread to others. Above all, avoid strife. Pull out the old stand-by, “Let’s agree to disagree.”

If someone at the table is trying to stick to their diet, encourage them to do so and praise them for their effort. Don’t pass the coconut cake, followed by the pecan pie past Cousin Latrice, who is diabetic.

Okay, so let’s talk about alcohol. Someone who drinks too much can not only wreck the entire family Christmas celebration, but can kill themselves and others if they drive. It does absolutely no good too confront the individual, calling him/her an alcoholic. This is Christmas with the family, not a therapeutic intervention. Even if it seems impolite or not your place, it is perfectly acceptable to remove the alcohol, even pour it down the drain if necessary. Do it as inconspicuously as possible, but it’s far better to get rid of the booze than to face a tragedy later. If this is a serous recurring problem with one family member, the other members of the family might decide to have an alcohol-free Christmas. It might be the best Christmas you’ve had in years.

Try to do your part in the family celebration. If tradition is important in your family, go with the flow. Relax, then relax some more. Look for the joy in the celebration. Find something to smile about, laugh about. Delight in the Children. Christmas is magical to them. Catch the feeling from them. And above all, remember the reason for the season, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:9-11 King James Version (KJV)

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Nativity

SABOTAGED CHRISTMAS, Book 1 of The Appleton, WV Romantic Mysteries by Carole Brown ~ interview

Sabataged Christmas

 

I love holiday mysteries. And the cover of this one is intriguing. So, I can’t wait to get into the interview…

 
Nike: How do you know when you’re NOT a romance writer?

Carole:   When your critique partners laugh at your attempts. It actually began as my first–and only–attempt at writing romance. I wrote three “romance” books as one effort, but always knew they were not as they should be. Lol BUT when the opportunity opened up for me to begin another mystery series, I asked my editor what she thought about a “romantic mystery” series, she loved the idea. Edits and a lot of work went into getting this first one ready for publication, but I’m happy with the results. The timing was right for this to be a Christmasy timed book (and I’ve wanted to write a Christmas book!) and the cover leans that way nicely. It’s turned into a fun, lighthearted cozy mystery that will warm the readers’ hearts on a cold evening.red bowNike:   Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Carole:   As the co-protagonist wonders, “Who is this woman?” A classy woman, business owner, casual construction worker, simple homemaker or Italian princess? Toni inherited her father’s construction business and runs it with a loyal group of workers. She loves the country side but also loves to dress up and have a night out. She loves to cook and garden, but equally loves to drag race and restore antique cars. She’s a happy-go-lucky, friendly person with an Italian temper and a longing for the right person to fall in love with. And she has a strong faith.red bowNike:   If you were going to have a particular holiday song as the theme song for your novel when it’s made into a movie, what would that song be? Who would sing it? And why?

Carole:   Maybe–“Last Christmas”. It speaks a lot of Perrin’s heartache and bitterness over his wife’s betrayal and how hard it is to trust another person to treasure the gift of his heart and love. So important in relationships! The song would be a good fit, I think.red bowNike:   If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about the series?

Carole:   Next on the list (probably spring of 2016 is KNIGHT IN SHINING APRON. Starli Cameron, the widow of an abusive husband is caught in a cruel spider web of threats against her person. The threats seem to be coming from her brother-in-law (her husband’s brother), but are they? Could it be her hot headed assistant cook, and surely not the suave and attractive new chef straight from England with all his awards and his title . . . Could it?

Third book will be UNDESCOVERED TREASURES (tentative title) featuring the third friend from Appleton, West Virginia–Caroline Gibson–and the man she definitely does not admire or want in her life. But when his best and most prized art painting goes missing, her kind and loyal heart insists she jump into the action and help Andy find the thief.  After that, I’m planning on moving on to three handsome men who need their stories told. red bowA quick peek at SABOTAGED CHRISTMAS

Toni DeLuca, the Italian owner of DeLuca Construction, finds herself confronted with doubts about her father and his possible deceptions–all because of the mysterious pink notes she’s receiving.

Relations with Perrin Douglas who has a troubled history—but the first man in years who’s interested her–is building to a peak. Yet Perrin‘s own personal problems and his doubts about women and God, keep getting in the way.

Gossip, a Spanish proposal, an inheritance, and a sabotaged construction business all converge to play a part in ruining Christmas for Toni’s employees. Will the mysterious person behind it all succeed in pulling off the biggest scam Appleton, West Virginia has ever seen?

Will this culprit destroy Toni’s last chance at happiness with the man of her dreams?

Buy the book here:  Amazon red bow

Carole Brown
Carole Brown

Brown not only has her award winning (2015 Winner of the USA Best Books Award, 2015 Small Publishers Book Award, RWA International Digital Award finalist, Clash of the Titles Laurel Awards finalist, Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchas

A companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel is also available.

The first book in her Denton & Alex Davies mystery series, Hog Insane and Bat Crazy, the second book are fun, lighthearted novels that not only deal with the mysteries the Davies land in, but relationships too.

The first book in a new WWII Spies Romantic Suspense series, WITH MUSIC IN THEIR HEARTS are nostalgic, warm-hearted books that place readers firmly in that era. Three red-headed sisters. Three spies. Three stories.

This month, Brown is releasing the first book in a new series, The Appleton, WV Romantic Mysteries: SABOTAGED CHRISTMAS.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?
Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/browncarole212
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=67381031
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Stitches in Time: http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/
Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/

Goodbye Noel ~ if you’re into Christmas in July

Goodbye Noel

 

Many thrill to Christmas in July. If you’re one of those, my classic 1940s mystery novel GOODBYE NOEL would be the perfect read for you. Especially now that World War II and post WWII novels are the new Amish.

 

 

GA Winner 2011Historical Romantic Murder Mystery, set in the mid-1940s
—murder/mayhem/kidnap/romance
—Sweet romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully
—Won the 2011 Grace Awards Mystery/Thriller/Romantic Suspense/Historical Suspense category

 

The first body is found under a trimmed Christmas tree, the second as they ring in the New Year (1947), the third goes head long out a window. Will a young pediatric nurse determined to make it on her own be able to care for an infant whose mother was murdered and escape the killer who has struck again? Can she trust the stalwart village detective with her life and her heart as he works to catch this killer before somebody else dies?

Pediatric nurse, Katrina Lenart, grew up strong willed and independent minded, while sharing her mother’s flair for high fashion. When the police chief gives her an orphaned baby to care for, her maternal instincts take over and she’s willing to fight anyone who might not have the infant’s best interests at heart, even the man she’s growing to love. After an attempt is made to kidnap the baby, she and the resolute village detective team up and do some sleuthing, undercover at a cult as well as at a fancy ball.

Detective Ian Daltry is a widower with a child and is not interested in a new love. Hunting a killer who stops at nothing has placed him in the position where he must protect a beautiful young woman he’s drawn to. Is there’s something he’s overlooked in analyzing the case? Will he find out what that is before this ruthless murderer kills someone he loves?

GOODBYE NOEL on Amazon

 

Did Gotham Invent the Modern Celebration of Christmas? …Or Christmas New York Style

Xmas Sinterklaus

 

Well, when the Dutch settled in what is now the greater New York metropolitan area waaay back in the early 1600s and called the town New Amsterdam, they brought the idea of St. Nicholas with them. They called him Sinterklaus. He was a saintly old gent who left bits of candy and small toys in the children’s wooden shoes or stockings on November 6th, St. Nicholas Day. They also imported the notion that Christmas was to be a child centered holiday.

Many of the Hessian soldiers who were surprised when George Washington’s motley crew crossed the Delaware River in a dense fog on Christmas Eve  in 1777 decided to stay in America after the war. They brought the colonies the decorated Christmas tree. By the 1800s Christmas trees were growing in popularity in the Tri-State area and beyond. By the mid-1800s there are stories of Christmas trees in Massachusetts and Ohio. By 1855, the Times-Picayune in New Orleans reported a decorated tree in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and explained that it was a German custom that was catching on. But it all started in New York.

Alexander Turney. Stewart, a merchant who was about as New York as you can get and who had the largest dry goods store in the world on Broadway and Chambers street, began decorating his stores at Christmas and pushing the idea of giving gifts to the entire family. In the 1800s and early 1900s Christmas gift giving was a much simpler affair than it is today. Typical gifts for the ladies were: a dressy pair of gloves, a hair ribbon, a comb and/or brush, a length of fabric or lace. Men also received gloves, as well as scarves, perhaps a tool for his tool box. Children received small toys, bits of candy, gloves, scarves, hats, alphabet inscribed wooden blocks, and the like.

Xmas Outdoor Tree 2

 

 

1907 saw the first public Christmas tree celebration in Madison Square. It was a 7o foot high pine hauled in from the Adirondaks and lit up by the Edison Company. That New York tradition quickly caught on with villages and towns across America erecting a tree in their town square. Today New York lights a magnificent tree every year in Rockerfeller Center.

 

When the country was on the brink of the second world war, New Yorker Iving Berlin wrote what stands as the most popular Christmas tune of all time, “White Christmas. The second most popular song of all time was written in In 1949…you got it, one of the writers was from Gotham. Robert May and his brother-in-law, composer Johnny Marks, imortalied a red-nosed reindeer in their song rejected by his reindeer-friends, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

In 1947, Miracle on 34th Strreet starring Maureen O’Hara and John Payne was about a store Santa at Macy’s who might just be the real Santa. Elf, the movie was filmed largely in NYC in 2003. Home Alone II, staring the young Mcaulay Culkin was filmed in Gotham in 1992. These and many other Christmas movies with a New York theme have been enjoyed by folks across the country and the world.

I would never want to imply all across the fruited plain they’re stealing Christmas ideas and traditions from Gotham…no never! Just sayin…