Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ho Ho Ho Harlequin Holiday Extravaganza - Brenda Harlen - Merry Christmas Baby Maverick **Giveaway**



Today the blog belongs to Brenda Harlen another fabulous Harlequin Special Edition author who hales from our neighbor to the north. Her tale is titled Home For The Holidays. Read about some of her past traditions as well as what will be happening this Christmas too. Then be sure to enter to win a special Christmas prize package!



Home for the Holidays
Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, and there are so many sights and sounds and scents that evoke memories of holidays past: the twinkle of colorful lights on a tree; the jolly jingle of sleigh bells; the mouth-watering aroma of just-out-of-the-oven gingerbread. My assignment for The Reading Frenzy’s Annual 2015 Ho Ho Ho Harlequin Holiday Extravaganza was to talk about a favorite holiday memory or tradition—sounds like a simple task, doesn’t it? Except that while I have hundreds of wonderful holiday memories and lots of traditions, I’m not sure there’s any one that is really a ‘favorite’ . . .  
Thinking back to my childhood, one of my earliest memories is of listening to Christmas music on the old console record player in the living room while my parents assembled the tree. The wire ends of the branches were color-coded so that they knew which branches to put into what holes, but the tree had been taken apart and put back together so many times, most of the paint had worn off. But it didn’t matter to any of us that the tree was old—as soon as it went up in the corner of the room, we knew that Christmas wasn’t too far away.
(Yes, we always had an artificial tree while I was growing up. It wasn’t until many years later that I visited a tree farm with my future husband and his parents to chop down a fresh one. He, of course, still prefers fresh, but I prefer to have my tree up by the first of December so we have an artificial with hinged branches—no color-deciphering required J)
And on Christmas day, after opening the gifts left by Santa, we would head over to my grandmother’s house where all of the aunts, uncles and cousins gathered to celebrate the occasion together. There were more people than could ever fit around my grandmother’s dining room table—even fully extended, so there was always a separate ‘kids’ table’ set up for the younger generation. My grandmother had nine children and when all of those children and their children gathered together, it was a little noisy, a lot crowded—and a ton of fun.
In addition to the traditional turkey dinner, there was always a delectable assortment of cookies and other treats. I enjoy holiday baking, too, although I usually focus on a few family favorites. And over the years, my boys have proven to be quite innovative in the decorating department, creating gingerbread ninjas, zombies, aliens, hockey players and even ‘fixing’ broken limbs with icing casts.
This year, there will be holiday music playing again while my kids help me to decorate our tree, but it will be Bruce Springsteen from my iPod rather than Gene Autry on a 12” vinyl LP. And my sons will inevitably rearrange the blocks that spell out “BELIEVE” on the fireplace hearth to read “BE EVIL,” just because they’re teenagers and that’s one of their more recent traditions. But they will also snuggle on the couch with me to watch our favorite holiday shows and movies, because it’s what we do every year. And on Christmas Eve, they will put on their matching red plaid pajamas (okay—they wear sleep pants and mismatched t-shirts now, but there was a time . . .) and listen to me read Clement C. Moore’s famous poem ‘The Night Before Christmas’ before the lights are turned out.
Then, on Christmas morning, we’ll have homemade cinnamon buns for breakfast, open our presents, then pile into the car and head to Grandma’s house.
Of course, the cast of characters has changed a lot over the years. As inevitably happens with the passage of time, we’ve lost some family members and gained new ones. My mother is the grandmother now, and although it requires traveling farther distances and coordinating various schedules to gather everyone together, we look forward to reconnecting at Christmas and creating wonderful new memories with our loved ones. I guess that is my favorite part of the season—celebrating the love of God by sharing it with our family.
Wherever you are and whoever you celebrate with, I wish you all the best for a happy holiday!
Brenda
xo

 





According to her mother, she fell in love with books even before she could read and was always content when she had a book in her hands. It didn’t surprise anyone when she decided that she wanted to be a writer, but she was encouraged to pursue “a real job” first.
So she did—she became a lawyer. Two years of practicing law taught her a lot about the world—and reinforced her determination to become a writer. Because in fiction, she could promise a happy ending!




Brenda is offering one lucky entrant 
A very special Christmas Package
to one lucky winner US & Canada ONLY




Visit Gonereading for anything the discriminating
reader on your gift list would want

37 comments:

  1. My favorite holiday memories are always those with my huge family as well at my grandparent's house. So much fun and yes, mass chaos. ;)

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    1. But it's the best kind of chaos, right? And was there a 'kids' table' at your grandparents' house, too? Hope you have a fabulous holiday this year making lots of new memories!

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    2. Oh Ali, I also remember being a kid and going to grandmas for Christmas. There were 17 grandkids all running around a very small house. But those are some of my favorite memories too.

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  2. Brenda, you Christmas memories match mine perfectly! We had the Christmas tree with the colored branches, listened to Gene Autrey and now I would rather listen to Bruce Springsteen too! We always spent Christmas with my Grandparents but then it ended up being my parents house. We didn't didn't do Cinnamon buns but my Dad would always make eggs, bacon, gravy and biscuits. And yes I remember the matching pajamas with my little ones and now that they are teens its mistmatched yoga pants and t shirts! Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas this year!!!

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    1. Too funny, Connie--I swear we were sisters in another life :-) Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful Christmas, too!

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    2. Connie Dave, thanks for the comment and sharing some of your Christmas memories. I think all the kids in the family these days favor leggings or yoga pants. The good old days of matching dresses and outfits are long gone. :)

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  3. I loved your memories, Brenda. We always play Christmas music while decorating the tree. My favorite carol is Silent Night though the Muppet's Christmas CD still makes me laugh.

    Marcy Shuler
    bmndshuler(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Anonymous I have to hear the Muppets thanks for the comment

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    2. I love the Muppets Christmas Carol--a fun twist on a classic! And, of course, their songs are always great :-)

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  4. That's what's good about the holidays, it's not really about the presents, it's really about family and the time spent with those who are here and have left, old and new, family by blood or via friendship, etc. As for Christmas music, it makes me feel sad, but I love Bill Crosby!

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    1. How true Braine. Thanks for the comment!

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    2. I absolutely agree, especially the part about family not necessarily meaning those we're related to by blood--family can mean so many things . . .

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    1. I love that one, too :-)

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    2. LynneB thanks for posting I love Silver Bells too!

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  6. Carol of the Bells! Hi Brenda! Your tradition matches mine, but since we've been living in FL we're a bit far from family in NJ, yet on occasions we drive up to spend time with my grandmother and family.

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    1. Oh I love that one too, Love the harmony!
      Thanks for sharing Lorelei! Will you be making the trip north this year?

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    2. Do you decorate the palm trees in Florida? I've always thought that would be fun! Of course, we don't have palm trees here, but it's almost warm enough this year . . .

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    3. No palm trees around my neighborhood, at the malls-yes! I live in Orlando, you may find more palm trees further south :-) This year I only put out wreaths on the door and lamps outside. Been a busy year, barely got the tree up. :-D But houses around here are decorated with lots of lights!
      No trip up north this year since some came down to visit us. Merry Christmas, ladies! Thanks again for the chance!

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  7. The Gift by Garth Brooks - always makes me tear up!

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  8. I love Silent Night. Going to the candle light service at church on Christmas eve and singing this brings tears to my eyes every year. My grandma passed away three years ago and it was her favorite thing about Christmas :)

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    1. That's one of my favorites, too!

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  10. I love your Christmas memories, there are a lot to choose from in my memory as well. We never had much money growing up buy Mom and Dad always made Christmas special. My favorite Christmas Carol (this last two years anyways) is Penatonix "Mary Did you Know" I just love the song, the way they sing it and the message!

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    1. That's the great thing about Christmas--it's the memories and traditions that make the holiday special, not the value of the gifts under the tree :-)

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  11. My favorite Christmas song is What Child Is This.

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  12. Ah, good times! I remember putting on the Christmas records and decorating our fake tree, too. Sometimes we stopped to raid the Christmas cookies and sometimes to have a tinsel war. Family is great.

    I don't really have a favorite Christmas song, but one of the many is 'O Holy Night'.

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    1. What fun memories Sophia Rose, thanks for sharing!

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  13. Loved this blog, Brenda is one of my favorite authors, anything she writes is a guaranteed great read. I also have memories of listening to Christmas records on the stereo, and going to my grandparents house every year, now they come to our house. I hope everyone has a wonderful Merry Christmas, surrounded by your loved ones.

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    1. Pam I agree and Merry Christmas to you too!

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