2 December 2013

Christmas Memories with Ruth Logan Herne and Giveaway

Please welcome Ruth Logan Herne to my blog today to talk about Christmas Memories. 

1.    What do you most associate with Christmas where you live?
SNOW!!!! I live in the quintessential picture-postcard setting for most Christmas shots. We are in a snow belt off of Lake Ontario and we get plenty of snow usually... from December well into March. In December I love it. In January, it's peaceful. By February, I'm counting the days until the first tiny crocuses poke their heads up out of the ground with the higher arc of the sun! But yes, December here brings cold and snow and Christmas lights to break the long spell of 16 hours of darkness... Love it! And Jenny, it can be VERY ROMANTIC!!!!  :)
(Jenny here except its Cricket season I think you have me at Very Romantic can I come stay? Of course it’s just for the Christmas season.)

2.    Do you have any special family traditions you do at Christmas time?
We have a lot of them, but one of my favorites is "yarn for Jesus". Every time a little child does something kind or good, they get to lay a piece of colored yarn in the stable. The more good things we do, the more yarn there is to make Jesus's resting spot warm and cozy on Christmas Eve! It's a great visual for kids to see how they affect things around them... and a wonderful celebration when the baby is laid in the manger. All that yarn! All that kindness! Yay! (Jenny again love the “yarn for Jesus” how original and what a way to teach the children and adults)

3.    Do you have a favourite Christmas Carol and if so do you know why?
My favorite is the medley hymn "Child of the Poor/What Child is This?". It's a beautiful rendition of remembering the spirit of Christmas was truly a child, a child born to a poor family in the dark of a stable. It's heart-wrenching, soulful and beautiful.

4.    If you could spend Christmas anyway you could how would you celebrate?
With family. That's my biggest treat is to be with the people I love. I don't need fancy. I don't need vacations. I just like being with my family. Unless they're snots, and in that case, a vacation might tempt me!!!  :) (Jenny again if they are snots as you say come visit me to see what a warmer Christmas is like can’t promise you a lot but I do know how to roast lamb)

5.    Do you have any special memories of Christmas?
I was born into a family that had become desperately poor by the time I was old enough to remember anything. It was very sad in some ways. Alcoholism and depression had taken my mother down a dark and lonely road. My father's anger and drinking completed a circle of sadness. But in that sadness were kind people, people who welcomed me into their homes, who didn't cast stones, who made me feel normal. We had food baskets delivered to us on Thanksgiving and Christmas. My father would mock the things in the baskets, as if he was too good to be eating their food. And then he would go and buy a much bigger turkey to show he was in charge. My mother would hide when people would come to the door. She'd send me or my younger brother to answer it, too embarrassed to go herself. But that kindness of strangers is what moves me to go bell-ringing for the Salvation Army. It's what spurs me to write the books I do, that show the sweet natures of neighbors and how that can affect a child of the poor. Those little kindnesses and welcomes of childhood helped me to become the person I am today. (I am so glad you found the kindness of strangers to be strength and made you what you are today.)

6.    What is a typical Christmas eve and or Christmas day for you.
Christmas Eve is a lovely gathering with my husband's family. It's wonderful, good food, nice people and then it's culminated by MidnightMass at our church. When I was a kid I was so excited about getting old enough to sing in the Sacred Heart choir and sing for MidnightMass!!! Now I get to do the same thing and I love it!

7.    Do you have any Christmas movies or Christmas books you like to see or read each year?
Yes!!! I'm so predictable! I love "It's a Wonderful Life".... "Saint Maybe"... "Bells of St. Mary's".... "Charlie Brown Christmas"... "Miracle on 34th Street". And I listen to Christmas music ALL YEAR!!!! Sometimes because I'm writing a Christmas story and listening to "Breath of Heaven" or "Mary, Did You Know?" puts me in the mood for crafting Christmas, but usually it's just because I love Christmas music!!!  Trans-Siberian Orchestra is my favorite.

8.    Do you have a Christmas message for my readers?
We've been working harder to "keep Christmas simple" in honor of Christ's simple beginnings. We do family gift-giving projects with the Salvation Army Adopt-a-family and Heifer International. And we do local charity things to help ease that strain of expectation so many face at Christmas. It's a great way to celebrate how blessed we are to have education and jobs and health... and to help others find that same path to self-sufficiency. So my message would be "Keep Christmas Simple" with God's love and blessings!
Blurb for Love Finds You in the City at Christmas:
In 'Red Kettle Christmas,' (book one of Love Finds You in the City at Christmas) it's 1947, and police officer Mike Wolzak inherits the family home. . . and the custody of his troubled sister. While on patrol during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Mike meets a Salvation Army bell ringer struggling to support herself and her young child. Over the holiday season in Manhattan, she teaches the veteran how to support his family. In the process, he gains a new one.

Blurb for The Lawman's Holiday Wish:
Second-Chance Christmas
No one in Kirkwood Lake seems willing to forget, or forgive, Rainey McKinney's troubled past. But Rainey can't afford to let that bother her. Her top priority is rebuilding her life and being a good mom to her twin daughters. Even handsome deputy sheriff Luke Campbell can't distract her, tempting as he is. She's determined to keep her distance, but as his son and her girls form a special bond, Rainey and Luke can't help but do the same. Can Rainey put her past behind her once and for all and embrace a future full of hope—and love?
Kirkwood Lake: A town full of heart and hope.


Ruthy has gladly offered one reader an ecopy of one of these books. This is an international giveaway as both are available. For a chance to enter please tell me one of your Christmas traditions or if you do not have any comment on the interview. Entries open to Dec 8. Please leave a way to contact you if I don’t already have a contact. 


Beth said...

One of my favourite Christmas traditions is that each member of the family gets a new Christmas tree decoration each year. The best part is that they are generally hand made - each of us girls take a turn making them! This year they were 'family balls'! One of my sisters bought clear glass balls and put everyone's name in each one along with some colourful sequins.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Jenny, Great post and interview. I know how much Ruthy loves Christmas. Great to read more about it. No need to put me in for the gift as I already have all her books.

Blessings and enjoy the holiday season. You are probably getting toasty warm down under by now. smile

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Ruthy and Jenny, what a great team. Don't put me in the drawing. I've got both books already. I just read Red Kettle Christmas yesterday and it's so wonderful!!!

Sharon Reece said...

What a wonderful interview! I really enjoyed reading it.

Snow was also symbolic of Christmas for me until my husband and I moved to the Amazon jungle to be missionaries. I used to cry with homesickness for snow at Christmastime. Seems pretty silly now after so many years of going swimming and boating on Christmas Day. That became our new tradition instead of sledding and ice skating.

I would love to be in on the drawing for one of the books. (That was a pleasant surprise at the end of the post!)

My email address is: hww.reece@gmail.com

Jenny Blake said...

Thanks for commenting Beth Love the idea of a new ornament. Thanks for dropping by Mary and Sandra. Sharon that sounds like a good new tradition. I cant imagine snow on Christmas, I must admit I dont like the really hot ones but I enjoy sun and a chance to get out. When the nieces were younger I would take them to the playground and there was always someone playing cricket. Which we use to also.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

BETH!!! I love that idea of the new Christmas ornaments. That makes me smile! And handmade is such a treasure! What a wonderful tradition!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Sandra and Mary tracked me down!!! DOWN UNDER!!!!! SUHWEET!!!!

Waving from upstate NY!!!! :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Sharon, I love special surprises at the end!

You know, it's tough when you're away from home for the holidays... doing mission work, besides... in a totally new country and climate! God bless you for doing God's work... and thank you for stopping by today!!!!


Sherida Stewart said...

Hi, Jenny and Ruthy!

I enjoyed Ruthy's Christmas interview....and especially love the "Yarn for Jesus" idea.

Red Kettles have a special place in my heart...and Christmas traditions. At the end of WWII, my father was liberated from a German POW hospital. Anxious to let his loved ones know he was injured, but alive, he went to an international aid provider where he was told he needed to pay a dollar to call home. He had nothing except the crutches he needed because his leg had been amputated. The Salvation Army came to his rescue and gave him a FREE call home. My Christmas tradition is to put some money in EVERY red kettle I pass, knowing that money will help someone like my father. After reading this interview, I realize I should be doing the bell ringing also!

Thanks and merry Christmas to you both, Ruthy and Jenny!

DebH said...

hi Jenny
saw your "shameless" plug over at Seekerville and came over to see what you had Ruthy doing for your blog. So glad I did. I love reading about people's Christmas traditions.
Our family tradition is to read the Christmas story before we open gifts. My younger brother, who is dyslexic, is the one to always read it. My mom started him reading it the year his learning disability was diagnosed to show him it didn't matter how he read something - that content trumped skill of reading aloud every time. From then on, he refused to let anyone else read the Christmas story. He wanted to be the one to share the real meaning of Christmas every year. Reading about the birth of Jesus always helps us focus on how special Christmas really is.

would love to have a chance to win anything of Ruthy's. nm8r67 at hotmail dot com

Jenny Blake said...

Hi Sherida wow about your father and what a great tradition. We don't have the kettles here. We do have wishing trees etc.

Deb shameless Im glad you came. Wow great about your brother how cool was your Mother.
thanks you both for coming.

CaraG said...

Love the "Yarn for Jesus" tradition. I also love Ruthie's
irrepressible spirit that comes through in this interview.

Thanks for an uplifting post.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Sherida, I love that story! It's stories like that... and Karen's story in Red Kettle Christmas... that show us the inside take on things we hear about all the time, but maybe we've never been actually touched by the reality. Thank you so much for sharing that!!!

CaraG Aw, thank you! You made me smile with your sweet words! Bless you! And isn't the Yarn for Jesus precious? We cut up our strips today, it's the first day of Advent for my preschoolers here... and we cut up some yarn for the bigger kids, too. It's such a sweet, inexpensive way of bringing Christ back into Christmas. Glad you liked it!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Deb H, I love that image of your brother reading the Gospel! That's beautiful, a true family gift. We started a new family tradition last year, I forgot to list it... "Bake a Memory Day", a day where the local grandkids come over to my house and we bake up a storm together, making a mess!!! :) They don aprons and measure, and roll and mix and chop and grate... it's wonderful! And then I send home the cookies/cakes, etc. with their parents so they can taste Christmas early. So fun! And messy!

Missy Tippens said...

Jenny and Ruthy, a great interview!

Deb H, we read the Christmas story as well. Along with The Night Before Christmas. Such a fun tradition. The kids kind of make fun of it now that they're so "grown up" but we still make everyone gather around for it. :)

Missy Tippens said...

P.S. Don't enter me, either. I will be reading asap!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Missy, it's such a shame that they have to grow up.... and they don't realize what a mother's heart is made of, all those "Mary-contemplated" things of the heart and soul.

I love that you still read the Christmas story from the Bible... And The Night Before Christmas!!! Good for you!

Jenny Blake said...

Thanks for dropping by Cara,
Missy I dont think we ever read a story at Christmas as a family. Not that I remember. I was 8 when dad had his stroke and things changed but I really don't remember.
When he was alive he always gave the gifts under the tree out and when he passed away that job became my brothers.
Now its just me here alone but I wait till after Church on Christmas day and then will open the few presents that are there. This year the tree is a more is less tree. its has the ornaments but less trimming and I look at some of them and can see them well this year and think of the different places or people who made them or gave them to me. (Part of my new illness is I tire so easy and doing more at the time was not possible but I like it like it is I will put a little frosting but not for a few days)

Myra Johnson said...

So nice to learn more about your Christmas traditions, Ruthy! I agree, nothing is more special than being surrounded by family at this special time of year.

And after reading Sherida's comment, I'll never look at those Salvation Army bell ringers the same way again. What a touching story!

Jenny Blake said...

Thanks for commenting Myra, I agree about Sherida's story was touching and really made me think

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