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Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

The chilliness of late autumn has settled over Wood’s Edge. Juncoes & squirrels haunt the birdfeeders. And just a few days ago, I spent another wonderful Thanksgiving with family. This time of year causes me to think about the things I’m most grateful for. The blessings in my life are many, and family and dear friends are near the top of that list. What, you may ask, does that have to do with my writing? More than you may realize!

One of the reoccurring themes in my fiction is family. Sometimes, it’s a traditional family like the parents, children, and mother-in-law in my mermaid story, “Pacific,” due to appear in Shelter of Daylight from Sam’s Dot Publishing and my forthcoming book from Cold Moon Press: The Greener Forest. Sometimes, it’s a family of both blood relations and friends like the Chaloupek Brothers’ Amazing Oddities performers in “Sideshow by the Sea.”  And sometimes, it’s a patchwork family the protagonist builds through the course of a story.

Whether in fiction or real life, most people need security, a sense of belonging, and love. In “Blood of the Swan,” (another story set to appear in The Greener Forest) the main character, Jorund, is a member of a family and a village community. Yet while on his quest for a healer, Jorund finds he’s ready for a different kind of belonging and love. In my science-fiction adventure, “Assassins,” Flynn has abandoned the security of his mother and the family business. When he finally finds someone he wants to love and protect, he struggles to return home.

Home and all that word represents – that’s the key. Whether it’s Frank Baum’s Dorothy building a family of a scarecrow, tin man, lion, and wizard who still longs for Auntie Em and the farm, or Tolkien’s Frodo building a Fellowship who still longs for The Shire – the characters of a story can teach us about family, friendship, and that there’s no place like home.

And so, this November & December, I wish you a holiday season filled with family, whether traditional, non-traditional, or a combination of the two. May you feel secure and loved, and may you take a few minutes away from the football games and dinner table to read a good story or two.

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Cardinal in Holly Snow drifts are so deep, it’s hard to carry seeds out to the birdfeeders. The red-shoulder hawks perched in one of our trees this afternoon were so cold, they stood on one foot with the other tucked up in their feathers. The fox that lurks in our woods bounds over the drifts looking for a meal. The squirrels seem reluctant to come out in the cold to pilfer the birds’ food. Winter solstice is here, and I long for the warmth of spring.

Now, back to making Christmas cards — with one of my cardinal paintings on them.  The message typed on the front excerpted from Carol of the Birds: “Whence comes this rush of wings? Birds of the woods in wondrous flight…sweetest music bring” And on the inside: “Wishing you peace & joy, not only this holiday season when heaven & earth join the birds in song, but always.” And this is my wish for you in this season of miracles and magic.

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vwc-b-cvr[1] My ghostly holiday eShort, Bells incorporates some of the Christmas traditions of my extended family. Gatherings of friends and family to share in a holiday meal is a tradition that I’ll be celebrating several times again this year. There are always too many of us to sit around one table, so we spread out across the house sitting where ever we can locate a chair or stool or nook by the window. We share memories, the latest news, dreams for the future, love, laughter, and sometimes, tears.

 When I was young, my father, Nathan Winslow,  meticulously put up a HO gauge train garden. He even got my grandfather, an accomplished oil painter, to realistically paint plaster mountains. His was a train garden of exactness and beauty. My husband’s family also put up a train garden. The George Crist family Christmas train garden was so exciting for my husband and his brothers when they were boys, that they’d ignore the gifts and rush for the trains.

My husband, Ernie, and I continued the train garden tradition. On Christmas morning, our kids would run to see the trains. When they became older, they’d help their dad throughout December fix up the train garden for their younger cousins to see when they came to visit. Last Christmas, Ernie and I were lucky enough to have our grandson with us at Christmastime. And little Nathaniel was inspired to crawl his first few feet trying to grab a miniature train that circled around under the Christmas tree.

Sleigh bells on door knobs, watermelon pickles, patched-together trees, and carols playing in the background are other traditions mentioned in Bells we continue in my family. Another Christmas tradition is baking cookies. I baked them with Granny and Mom. My kids baked them with me, and maybe my grandson will sprinkle some colored sugar on my cut-out cookies. (For ”Granny’s Sugar Cookies” recipe, see end of blog).

 I encourage each of you to celebrate the holidays with those you care about. Make good memories and establish family traditions, remembering you’re born into a one kind of family — but you can also build a family of dear friends. And especially at this time of year, treat others with a little more kindness and love. For as Aesop so wisely wrote in his tale of “The Lion & The Mouse” — No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.  Update: Bells can now be read in Owl Light, one of my books from Cold Moon Press.

Granny’s Sugar Cookies:

1) In a large bowl, cream together: 1/2 cup margarine and 1 cup granulated sugar. 2) Blend in: 1 large egg. 3) In a separate bowl, sift together: 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. 4) Next, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and blend well. 5) Chill for 1 to 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dust a pastry cloth with flour and roll dough out to 1/8″ thickness with a lightly floured rolling pin. Cut out holiday shapes with cookie cutters. Put cut-out shapes on a cookie sheet that’s been coated with a vegetable shortening spray (allowing room between cookies). Decorate with colored sugar. Bake in oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Remove cookies from oven when edges are lightly browned and using a spatula, scoop the cookies onto a rack to cool. Watch Granny’s Sugar Cookies carefully during baking, as they burn easily.

I usually double this recipe. Granny’s Sugar Cookies are a family favorite and disappear quickly! They also freeze well in sealed containers.

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