Tag Archives: Christmas

Grandpa’s Christmas atlas: Why bookshops and print books still matter

Last night (December 23rd) around 8pm, my grandma called me with a special Christmas request.

“Will you do me a favor, sissy? Will you buy Grandpa a new atlas and wrap it up and put it under the tree, from Grandma?”

Grandpa

Grandpa, mid-story, on 4th of July (hence the beads)

It seemed like a pretty random request. She’s never asked me to buy anything on her behalf, but I know that this is the first year she’s struggled to get out of the house. Pain from a few injuries and arthritis has kept her home more and more. Grandpa, too, has had a tough year. When I flew home a week ago, he looked much more frail than he had in July, when we celebrated his 90th birthday. Like the indestructible man he’s always seemed to be, he hasn’t let that stop him from working construction with my dad.

Feeling honored to have such a task – especially one where I could spend time flipping through map books – I quickly agreed and asked what kind of atlas she wanted to give him.

“It don’t matter. I just want it to be a new one. Every time you kids travel somewhere, he looks it up in his old atlas that he inherited from Grandpa Latham in the 70s. Now you’ve moved to Holland, he can’t find the town where your livin’ or the one where you’re workin’, and he’s flustrated.”

She told me, “You’re the only one I know who goes to bookshops. I don’t know nothin’ about them, so I wanted to ask you to do this for me.”

So last night my husband and I drove to the nearest bookstore and spent time looking at their atlases until we found one that had our new hometown in it as well as large-enough print that Grandpa could read it.

I started writing this post this morning, and I was going to make it about why brick-and-mortar bookshops and print books still matter: because with only one day until Christmas, I would’ve struggled to get an atlas delivered in time. And the one I would’ve chosen from the brief browse I had online before going shopping ended up not having the town where I work in it.

But this morning, as I paused in my writing to wrap gifts, we got a message. Grandma left it on dad’s cell phone early this morning, but he only noticed he had a message four hours later. Grandpa is sick, and Grandma had to rush him to the doctor at 6.45am.

We can’t get hold of her. We don’t know what “sick” means, and we’re clinging to hope because she said “doctor”, not “hospital”. My cousin Will lives with them, and he said everyone was fine when he left for work at 6, so whatever it was must have come on suddenly.

When we got the message, I was in the middle of wrapping the gift I’d bought Grandpa: a tin train full of candies, since he has a sweet tooth. The last present I had to wrap was the atlas.

Wrapping it up, and writing “To Grandpa, With love from Grandma” on the tag made my eyes swell up and my throat scratchy. My grandpa is one of Earth’s finest men, and I don’t need an atlas to tell me that.

So we wait to hear. In the meantime, Grandpa’s atlas is wrapped, sitting under the tree, with love from Grandma.

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Winner of my Mistletoe Madness blog hop giveaway!

Mistletoe Madness blog hopI was thrilled to see so many new faces around here this week, thanks to the Mistletoe Madness blog hop. I’m glad we’ve all discovered lots of exciting authors this year.

The winner of a $10 book gift certificate and some chocolates is…Andrea!

Andrea, I’ve emailed you asking for your address.

Cruise on over to PJ Schnyder’s site to see who won the grand prize: a Nook color.

Everyone, you can still comment on Roni Loren’s guest post about heroes with six-packs for a chance to win her debut novel.

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Spending Christmas away from home

Perfect ChristmasMy weekly post is up at The Season for Romance. Stop by and find out about my first Christmas away from home, when I was desperately trying to impress my future in-laws.

Bev’s giving away copies of THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS by Debbie Macomber and MAKING SPIRITS BRIGHT, a collection of stories by Fern Michaels and a few other authors.

Also, don’t forget that on my blog this week you can win Roni Loren’s debut CRASH INTO YOU or a book gift certificate (and find details on how to win a Nook from the Mistletoe Madness blog hop).

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Christmas romance novellas to warm your cockles

Stressed woman at Christmas

© Maridav

For me, December is a time where love mixes with stress in a uniquely potent way, leaving me sobbing “Everyone’s going to hate the gifts I got them—especially you!” on my husband’s shoulder on Christmas Eve.

Thank God he’s got broad shoulders. They’ve absorbed a lot of stress-induced tears over the last nine years.

The very last thing I feel I have time (or money) for during the holiday season is treating myself. That’s why one of my favorite things about the month before Christmas is the opportunity to find short stories and novellas from new-to-me authors. First, they’re reasonably priced. Second, when it comes to Christmas stories, I usually don’t want a full novel. A novel is too much commitment at a time when my to-do list is already laughable and could only realistically be tackled by five military strategists, not one scatterbrained woman.

Here are a couple of novellas I’ve read that are the perfect length for diverting your mind while you stand in an impossibly long line at the post office.

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Announcing the Mistletoe Madness blog hop & giveaway

Mistletoe Madness 2011I’m going to be participating in the Mistletoe Madness blog hop starting on Friday, December 16!

This is my first blog hop, and I’m thrilled to be taking part with more than 50 book bloggers, each of whom will be hosting a giveaway.

On Friday, I’ll announce what my giveaway is. In the meantime, on PJ Schnyder’s site, you can see who else is participating so you can start checking out their blogs and maybe follow them. Between December 16-23 you’ll be able to fill out a form on PJ’s site to enter the giveaway for a Nook! (US only)

Look forward to seeing you all here on Friday!

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Video: British sailors’ Christmas wish comes true

The HMS Ocean was supposed to be at sea for seven weeks.

Seven months later, they’ve finally returned to their port in Plymouth. When they found out they’d be home in time for Christmas, they shot a music video set to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas.

Mariah tweeted them to say they’d made her day.

I hope it makes yours, too!

Many came home today to meet their babies for the first time. One man I saw on the news coverage tonight managed to fly home for the birth of his twin girls, but had to get back to the ship afterward. What an incredible day this must be for them and their families. And an incredible night. 😉

You can see the BBC’s coverage of their homecoming on the BBC News website.

I love a great reunion story, and Christmas makes it all the better. Have you heard or read any great reunion stories lately?

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