18 December 2010

Yes, Virginia, There Is Another Holiday Post--With Pictures

'Tis the season to be stressing, fa la la la la la la la,
Baking with my head is messing, fa la la la la la la la...

That's what I brought home from Costco in anticipation of my annual baking marathon. It's 1:30 a.m., and I have miles of brownies to bake before I sleep. (Yes, I use a mix. Don't judge me.) That doesn't count the cleaning and the decorating (done, at last) or the cards (don't remind me) or the book signing (more later) or the out-of-town guests (whee!)
Which brings me to the point of today's blog. Holidays are hard. They come with a load of emotional freight and outsized expectations that can all too easily overwhelm you. That's why, in the middle of giving to others, you need to give a little to yourself, too.

With everything else on the agenda, I'd be the last person to tell anyone to decorate anything. But if you're like me and have this overwhelming urge to turn the house, apartment, barn or loft upside down once a year, pull out the stuff that gives you joy. For me, it's a mass of wax angels, reindeer and a Bavarian music box bought in Germany when I was very small. When I was eleven, I thought the richly gowned figures were the most beautiful things in the whole world. I still do.

Get together with the people you love. As the season's short days remind us, we're no more than candles in the greater dark--quick burning and all too easily extinguished.
If the stars line up for a splurge, take advantage of it. An unexpected chance to take high tea at the Willard Hotel sent Ellen Byerrum, the ever stylish author of the Crimes of Fashion mysteries (shown here lifting a glass to the holidays), and I scurrying into Washington, D.C. on the coldest day of the year. It was well worth the chill, taking the edge off deadlines and pre-release jitters (Shot Through Velvet, her latest Crime of Fashion novel, debuts in February 2011) and jumpstarting our holiday spirit. (With tea! With tea! That glass was just for show. Honest!)
But the occasion doesn't have to be extravagant. I've already made a date with the spouse for our annual in-home viewing of the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol (sometimes called Scrooge), simply the best version of the story--possibly the best version of any Dickens story--ever. And we can watch it wearing fuzzy slippers. (Or we could if we owned any--there are some crimes of fashion I just won't commit.)

It wouldn't hurt to take a page from our pets either. Indulge your inner feline with a nap in a favorite spot, sleep late or spend a few minutes hidden away with a book. Put on the dog with a big goofy smile, lolling tongue optional.
In short, be kind to yourself and follow your bliss whenever and wherever you're able.

And if your bliss happens to be books and you're in the neighborhood of the Borders in Bowie, MD, from 7-9 p.m. tonight, I'll be signing with five wonderful authors:

- Rising romantic suspense star Jeanne Adams,

- Bestselling science fiction and fantasy writer Catherine Asaro,

- Break-out historical romance author Grace Burrowes,

- Award-winning children's author Deborah Da Costa, and

- Three time Nebula Award nominee and veteran SF short story writer Bud Sparhawk.

If that weren't enough to make your Saturday, Catherine will be singing, as well as signing, with keyboardist Don Wolcott providing back up. Hope to see you there. After all, 'tis the season for commerce, too.

Wherever you are and whatever you do between now and January 1, I hope the days find you happy in the company of those you love. May 2011 be healthy, joyful and prosperous, and bless us, everyone.
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