Today starts my Christmas Memories for December and today I have Melissa Jagears who sold her first book this year and its out the second part of 2013. I have gotten to know Melissa through Seekerville and facebook and am very excited for her. You can find out more about her at http://melissajagears.com/.
Firstly thanks for coming to my blog to focus on Christmas.
1. What do you most associate with Christmas where you live?
Unfortunately, commercialism. The moment Halloween is over, the shelves are stocked with Christmas junk, the radio starts throwing in Jingle Bells every now and then and if I had TV anymore, I'm sure I'd see commercials trying to convince children a certain toy is the best thing ever. People are worried about gifts--whether they'll get what they want or whether they'll buy something to make another happy. (Jenny here its like that here they start with items in Sept and the music mid Nov.)
2. Do you have any special family traditions you do at Christmas time?
I doubt you're going to get this answer from anybody else, if you do, it'd be cool, but my immediate family has decided not to do anything special for Christmas nor give each other presents. We're going over to the families that want us over, and do the dinner and gift exchanges with extended family, but none of our families do anything to commemorate the meaning behind Christmas, and I just don't have the energy to do two or more Christmas gatherings in another state and then come home and say, "Now let's do Christmas, right." Really, Christmas is just a day, and I'm rather proud my daughter doesn't know what role Santa Claus plays beyond being on Christmas cards. But I don't want to let the season pass without celebrating Christ, so we as a family have chosen to celebrate Epiphany which falls on January 6th which commemorates the wise men coming to see the Christ Child. I looked up some Catholic, Latin American, and European traditions which are groups that celebrate the Epiphany or King's Day and have chosen to do a few of those. We set out our shoes the night before Epiphany and decorate a star to hang outside our front door so that when the wise men pass by on their way to visit the Christ Child they fill the shoes with stocking stuffer type things and they leave three presents for each person. The first present is cash money according to our ages (so the two year old gets $2, I get $33) in representation of gold, the second present is wisdom (three books a piece), and the third is one single fun gift. With the cash money, we all decide whether we want to pool our money together, add money from our piggy banks or choose to buy something for Jesus separately with that money. We read the Christmas Story and Matthew 25, to explain how we give God a present, "doing unto the least of these," and decide what we're going to do with our money and time to give such a present. Last year, we pooled our wise men money and added some from our savings to buy a Llama through Heifer International. Then we bake a birthday cake for Jesus (A King's Cake), and then we invite a different family over every year because we buy a new board game to play as a family and so we don't have to eat that birthday cake all by ourselves! (I like this idea. Christmas day to me is also a day I go to church then am normally on my own and will have something special sometimes for lunch and celebrate alone and reflect on the reason for the season).
3. Do you have a favourite Christmas Carol and if so do you know why?
O Holy Night is my favorite classic carol, because the worship words of the song are the best, and my modern favorite is by Downhere "How many Kings" for the same reason--I care more about significant lyrics than melody, but it's always great when they both come together as they do in these two songs. And I find it fun that my two favorites talk significantly of the wise men. May we all realize that wisdom is found in no one else but the Christ. If you've never heard "How Many Kings" here's a youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/
4. If you could spend Christmas anyway you could how would you celebrate?
I'm rather partial to my Epiphany celebration. :)
5. Do you have any special memories of Christmas?
None of them are exactly heartrending besides holding my babies for their first Christmases, but I have lots of funny stories. When I was five, I really believed in Santa Claus and asked him for one thing. Then we had an extended family party with someone dressed as Santa, and he gave me this huge stuffed parrot. I cried buckets and was inconsolable. Santa either did not care enough to read my letter or chose not to give me what I wanted which was nothing extravagant. Hence, my disappointment with how the holiday is peddled to little children.
6. What is a typical Christmas eve and or Christmas day for you?
Christmas Eve is spent with my extended family, Christmas Day is usually with my husband's family. Simply food and presents and conversation.
7. Do you have any Christmas movies or Christmas books you like to see or read each year?
I love watching White Christmas and Holiday Inn -- I'm a huge 40s-50s movie fan. We also now read one Christmas book a day with our children from Christmas Day to the Epiphany (Which are the Twelve Days of Christmas) but only books that tell the Christmas Story or a Biblical Story in some way, no reindeer or Santa Claus stories. I like to sift through thrift store children's books to find new ones to add to the collection, the older out of print books are often better at getting across the real meaning of Christmas in a story--they didn't shy away from it. (I like those movies too.)
8. Do you have a Christmas message for my readers?
My message would be to examine what you are doing. Are you happy with how your family celebrates things or are you doing it because it's expected to be done that way? If you are unhappy or wish something could change, don't spend another year doing it the old way, decide what's important to you and do it regardless of familial and societal pressure.
My book, A Bride for Keeps, will be out sometime around Fall 2013. Here's the story:
1876 - A Kansas homesteader’s neighbor orders him another bride even though his last three mail-order brides didn't marry him. When the prettiest woman Everett's ever seen steps off the train and says she's there for him, he knows she's about to make him the laughingstock of the entire county for at least the next quarter century.
Julia's never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiancé. She isn't interested in becoming a true wife to anyone, but she's determined to prove she can do more than flash smiles and model the latest fashions.
Everett, desperate for help on his farm, agrees to marry Julia in name only, believing that two strangers living together will naturally grow in love. However, her panic at intimacy and his insecurities keep them at odds until a lecherous neighbor and a near-fatal wound push them closer to each other than either one can stand. Can Everett and Julia see past the superficial, or will they forever barricade their hearts from the one person they wish would cherish it?