The Twelve Days of Christmas Blogging, Day 12

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What am I grateful for this Christmas?

My husband, my health, my family and friends.  Those practically go without saying!

But the other big thing I’m grateful for this Christmas is the Internet.  Yes, you read that right, and yes, I mean it.

I could not have become an author without the Internet.  This glorious series of tubes brings 99% of what I need to my fingertips: writing tips, writing friends, research, articles on every aspect of the process from rough draft to published work.  I could not have become an author without the Internet.

It allows me to work at something I love, and it brings my words to you.  Without the Internet, I would have no audience.  (Well, almost none, anyway.)

If you have purchased and read my book, then, you’re awesome, and I’m grateful to you.

If you haven’t, you’re still awesome because you’re reading my blog anyway, and I’m grateful to you as well.

If you’re a friend I’ve made online in the past year through any social media, you’re super awesome, and I hope I can continue to lean on your friendship when I need an ear to bend next year!

I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who’s been with me through any part of this process, and I’ll leave everyone with one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I would not be where I am today if I had been.  So I’m grateful for me, too, this version of me that’s braver than the old one, that’s happier than this time last year because of all she’s accomplished, that’s looking forward to learning more and doing more next year.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Blogging, Day 11

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What was my favorite childhood Christmas present?

I loved getting toys and dolls and books and all sorts of things, because beneath my childish exterior beat the heart of a truly materialistic soul.  I still love things, though most of that love has transmuted from the need to acquire into the need to create.

But my favorite childhood Christmas present is one I don’t remember getting, though it’s one I still have.  For my first Christmas I received a teddy bear from our neighbors, a perfectly reasonable gift for a baby.

Most children have a favorite toy, and this bear was that toy for me.  His name is Fred, though obviously at not-yet-a-year-old I didn’t name him.  I don’t know who did, actually–I never asked my parents.  Maybe I did name him later when I could talk.  I just know that his name is Fred.

I slept with him every night until I was ten or so and finally decided that I was getting too old for that.  But he still went with me everywhere.  He came along on every vacation–still does.  (I am not sentimental about much, but I never travel without him with me.  Mom joked once that I should make him his own passport.)

He’s old now, too fragile to be handled much–I keep him on one of my bookshelves.  His fur is faded, matted, worn right through in spots.  His nose used to stick out, but now it’s flattened back into his face, and I’ve had to sew him shut a few times over the years to keep his insides inside.

But he still gives the best bear hugs.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Blogging, Day 9

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Who will be sitting with me for Christmas dinner?

My mother, who will be smiling and talking about the last book she read and why I should probably read it too.  (A common topic, I read a ton, but she reads more.)

My father, who will work bad puns into the conversation, which will make us laugh and groan in equal measure.

And my husband, who will recite lines from A Christmas Story along with the TV, making us laugh even more.  If I asked him to, right now, I’m sure he could perform it as a one-man show, word for word.

Christmas dinner with my family is awesome, and I’m really looking forward to it!

The Twelve Days of Christmas Blogging, Day 8

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Share a local Christmas tradition in your town or country.

I have family traditions, and I guess I have American traditions–rampant capitalism being a big one.  But I’m struggling to think of any local things.  There’s a WinterFest-type event (that might even be the name of it, I can’t remember) that I’ve never been to, but I feel like that’s in January and not Christmas-related.

I’m sure at least some of the local churches have Christmas plays or pageants, but again, I haven’t been to any, and it’s not a town-wide tradition.

This is really making me sound like a stay-at-home stick in the mud, but my holidays are completely eaten up by getting ready for, and then having, two separate family Christmases.  Which I wouldn’t give up for anything, don’t get me wrong, I need that vacation for the second one.

So the “local” tradition that I associate with second-Christmas is actually a New Year’s Eve tradition.  There’s a big party downtown with a ball drop and beer and hot chocolate and everything, and we all bundle up and go stand in the cold for an hour or two with everyone else in town until the fireworks go off at midnight.  I’ve only missed one year in the four or five our family’s been going–I was too sick to brave the frigid night air.

And this year, I get to stand under the fireworks a published author, which was only a resolution last year.  So I’m looking forward to it.

And, of course, to my midnight kiss.  Because that’s a fantastic tradition!

The Twelve Days of Christmas Blogging, Day 7

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Photo Day!

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My favorite ornament on the tree, yes, that’s a curled-up armadillo.  Armadillos are adorable!

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This year’s gift wrap selection.  I’m about half done wrapping presents.

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My writing/crafting table.  I’m not done sewing presents yet!  (Featuring my current journal on top of a box of chalk pastels I used to use for art but now mostly use for marking fabric, on top of my old jewelry box that is now my sewing “basket”, next to a bag of rice, yes, a bag of rice because I am making rice heating pads, and then one of four stacks of books from my huge library bag-sale haul I haven’t even gotten a chance to blog about because of all the Christmas blogging.  I came home with over 30 books, and the ones on the table are just the female authors for #readwomen this month.  The other three stacks are behind, mostly hidden.  But I didn’t have any room on my shelves.  I need new bookshelves.  I need more bookshelves!)

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And finally, me, because I was digging the stripey-sweater/stripey-scarf combo.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Blogging, Day 6

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Share a fond childhood Christmas memory.

It was hard to know what to get my brother for Christmas as a kid.  He’s older, and I’m a girl, and we didn’t see eye-to-eye on much.  I wanted to play with his Micro Machines but he never wanted to play with my Barbies.

Then, one year, my parents got him the Space Monorail Lego set.  (I just Googled it and found a bunch of listings on Ebay, and wow, did I have no idea they went for so much now!)

The day after Christmas, I helped him put it together for the first time.

For the next three Christmases, I knew exactly what to get him.  I got him the monorail extension sets.  And we got out the boxes and set up the new, bigger, twistier monorail every year.

By the fourth Christmas after, he was in high school, and as cool as Legos were, building them with your younger sister? Maybe not so cool.  So the monorail didn’t get built.

It did make one more appearance, though, his freshman year of college.  He came home for Christmas and said, “You know, I actually missed you.  You’re cooler now than I remember.”  And the day after Christmas, he asked if I wanted to go out to the garage with him and help him find the Legos.  He put together the monorail while I Frankensteined all our castle sets into one ridiculous sprawl for the monorail to wind through.

I love my brother, and Legos are the best.