15 December 2009

Focus on Christmas with Bonnie Leon

Welcome Bonnie Leon to focus on Christmas. I have also included her latest book which would be a great gift. Welcome Bonnie.

Bonnie Leon is the author of sixteen novels, including the popular Queensland Chronicles and the Sydney Cove series, plus the bestselling Journey of Eleven Moons. She’s presently in the midst of a new Alaskan series set during the 1930’s about a woman named Kate who loves to fly.
Bonnie stays busy speaking for women’s groups as well as teaching at writing seminars and conventions. She and her husband Greg live in the mountains of Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.

1. Firstly thanks for coming back to my blog this time we are focusing on Christmas.
What do you most associate with Christmas where you live?

Hi Jenny, thanks so much for inviting me back. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays so this is especially fun.

Here in Southern Oregon we make the most of the holidays. Roseburg is a growing community, but like many small towns we have our “older part” of town. Residents work hard to dress it up with decorations and lights. I always make sure to do some of my shopping downtown. It feels like I’ve stepped back into the 1940’s. I love it!

This time of year the mountains usually have had heavy snow falls so it’s great fun to trek up the highway and spend time enjoying the sounds and smells of the snow-covered forests. We love to pick out our own tree—there are lots of beautiful choices.

Children from local schools visit shopping malls, nursing homes and hospitals where they sing carols. A lot of churches take part in caroling as well. And we can usually count on a special performance at our local college.

Just outside of town at a local park we have an event called The Festival of Lights. People can visit all through the month of December. It’s really lovely.

2. Do you have any special family traditions you do at Christmas time?

We have a number of traditions. The season begins with a trip to the mountains or a tree farm to pick out and cut the “perfect” tree. If for some reason I have to go to a tree lot I’m truly disappointed.

My husband and I still go out a week or so before Christmas to admire the myriad Christmas displays put up by local residents. It’s extra fun when our grandchildren join us.

When my children were young I’d take each one shopping. We’d spend a day choosing gifts for other family members, share lunch together and enjoy just being the two of us for a day. These days, I do this with my grandchildren.

We’ve started a new tradition this year. We set out a large jar and throughout the year drop in left over coins and an occasional one, five, or ten dollar bill. Everyone in the family contributes. By Christmas there’s a goodly sum of money. A week before Christmas we tie a pretty bow around the jar and anonymously set the jar on the porch of a needy family. It feels good to help in a personal way.

For us church is a big part of Christmas. Our church has a special service on Christmas Eve that we take part in. Afterward the family gathers for a quiet Christmas Eve at home. We usually read a Christmas story and sometimes sing carols and watch a favorite movie.

I like to stay up late after everyone else has gone to bed. I turn out the lights, except for the Christmas lights and enjoy the quietness of the house. Sometimes I watch a Christian service on television. Other times I simply contemplate special memories and the meaning and love of the season.

3. Do you have a favourite christmas Carol and if so do you know why?

This is a tough question because I have lots of favorites. A few are O Holy Night, The Little Drummer Boy and Carol of the Bells. But my favorite is Mary Did You Know. Every time I listen to it it’s like the first time I heard it. I feel the wonder of the Christ child and think of his mother Mary and what she must have felt when she looked down at God’s Son in her arms.

4. If you could spend Christmas anyway you could how would you celebrate?

Now, this is fun!

I’d love to spend the day before Christmas with my husband, just the two of us warm and snug in a mountain cabin. Of course it would be snowing and there’d be a crackling fire in the hearth. While our favorite Christmas tunes played, we’d have a candle light dinner, then spend time reading about our Lord’s birth, share communion together, pray and then snuggle down for one of our favorite Christmas movies. In the morning we’d hear a knock at our cabin door and be surprised by all our children and grandchildren. We’d spend the day playing games, telling stories and eating lots of goodies.

5. Do you have any special memories of Christmas?

My goodness, there’s not enough room here to share them all. My life has been blessed with wonderful Christmas traditions and special moments. It’s difficult to choose. However, an especially poignant Christmas comes to mind.

It was many years ago and would be the last Christmas the family spent with my father. He was in the final stages of cancer. We knew it would be our last Christmas together (here on earth). Although weak and weary from the battle, he still wore his usual smile and he hadn’t lost the mischievous sparkle in his blue eyes. My father savored life, and loved Christmas.

As always he placed the star on the top of our tree and on Christmas morning he handed out gifts, taking joy in his family’s jubilance. There were no words of complaint, no self pity. He was a picture of courage and inspiration. My father believed in living every moment and he wasn’t going to waste any of them. A few months later, he passed away, but his spirit and his wonderful example of how to live while dying has remained with me.

6. What is a typical Christmas eve and or Christmas day for you.

Christmas morning is always fun. The children are allowed to get up early and dig into their stockings, but they are not permitted to even touch the gifts under the tree. The adults stumble out of bed, find a cup of coffee and have a bite to eat. We always eat chile rellenos and sweet rolls. Each stocking contains an orange so oranges are always part of our morning feast.

Coffee mugs in hand, the adults finally join the kids around the tree and the gift opening begins. One of the men hands out presents, one at a time. It is always our hope to keep things orderly but more often than not things get chaotic—wrapping paper flying, squeals of delight and children trying out new toys.

The rest of the day is spent leisurely—visiting, playing games and eating. We have a large meal late in the afternoon and traditionally the older kids (now adults) go to the theater to take in a movie while us older folks visit.

7. Do you have any Christmas movies or Christmas books you like to see or read each year?

I love all the classic movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Waltons—Homecoming, but I also enjoy some of the newer movies like Scrooged and The Santa Clause. They’re great fun.

Every year we find a new book to read, but we always read the Biblical account of Christ’s birth as well.

8. Do you have a Christmas message for my readers?

Don’t lose the wonder of Christmas. A miraculous event occurred 2,000 years ago and it changed the world forever. In the midst of the fun and celebrations remember Christ, the ultimate gift to the world.

Enduring Love
Just when things seem to be looking up for John and Hannah Bradshaw, their world is turned upside down.
Years ago, when John was in prison, he was told his first wife, Margaret, died. So how is it that she shows up in Sydney Town looking to pick up where they left off?
Hannah is distraught. Her marriage is now null and void, and she and John feel they must separate to allow John's first marriage to continue.
But is Margaret hiding something after all? And just what will she do to get what she wants?
The suspenseful, romantic conclusion to the Sydney Cove trilogy.


Michelle Sutton said...

You are so sweet, Bonnie. Love ya!

Ausjenny said...

Thanks for popping in Michelle. I love learning how people celebrate Christmas. Im in the city at present scorching yesterday pouring today!

Crystal Laine Miller said...

This was a fun interview--I think I want to be in Bonnie's family! :)

I LOVE the year-round jar and gifting idea. That is amazing.

Merry Christmas Bonnie and Jenny!

Jennifer said...

What a good idea! I love the jar of money idea. I'm so gonna have to start doing that myself. And I must say christmas in the mountains in a cabin would be fun. Just seeing snow on Christmas would be fun since we hardly ever get it here in Texas!

Christina Berry said...

Bonnie, I have to agree with Crystal! Being in your family sounds like a great thing. ;p

Thanks for sharing so many wonderful memories. :D

Bonnie Leon said...

Thanks, Michelle. How great to hear from you here at Jenny's site. :-)

Have a fabulous Christmas!


Bonnie Leon said...

Jenny, scorching sounds so unusual for Christmas. We're hoping for snow.

Thanks so much for including me on your blog. Such fun! It took me a while to stop in -- we've been moving. My new place is nearly put together. Yay! :-)

Blessings to you.


Bonnie Leon said...

Hi Crystal. I do have a wonderful family--we have our troubles but there's lots of love and we're bound to one another for all time. It's awesome to think about eternity--forever with the one's you love. :-)

I wish I could take credit for the jar idea, but I got the idea from a television program. We got a late start this year so we added a bunch of extra to make up the difference. But we're already filling a new jar for next year. It is great fun!

Have a very merry Christmas!


Bonnie Leon said...

I love snow, Jennifer, especially at Christmas. This year it looks like sunshine here, though.

Have a wonderful Christmas!


Bonnie Leon said...

Well, Christina, you know you're always welcome in my family. ;-)

Grace and peace to you,


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