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Homemade Ornaments

Christmas 2013 -- Tree without lights onThe tradition began with my daughter in law back when our granddaughter was too young to handle anything more dangerous than scissors and glitter. Her mom took over where a hot glue gun was required. The gold and purple stocking at the top of the tree in the photo is an example of one such project.

I don’t honestly know if the stocking was made by our granddaughter or our grandson who joined the glue gun posse a few years later. What I do know is that I dearly love every one of those homemade ornaments.

I’m kind of a nut about Christmas. Maybe because my own birthday is December 26th and somewhere in my soul I imagine the Christ child is sharing a tiny bit of his thunder with me.

Friends and family are aware of this yuletide obsession of mine and the tendency to over-decorate that goes with it. Tree ornaments have been a favorite gift choice for years. The Bloomingdales taxi was also my daughter in law’s inspired bit of glitz in reference to another of my holiday obsessions.

In fact each of the ornaments on that tree is a gift from someone I love. But the homemade ones are all from our grandchildren. Eventually they graduated from scissors and hot glue to dough and paint and the era of the home-baked tree began.

We were living in the Pacific Northwest by then and every year new home-baked ornaments arrived. Carefully crafted and even more carefully wrapped they nestled under the tree they would soon adorn – waiting for Grandma to unswaddle them with a full heart and glistening eyes.

The Santa face and the red flower on a blue background and the brightly colored sun – all in the branches of the photo tree – plus many more. They accumulated as the boughs hung heavier and more precious to me with each passing year. Until it was time to move back home from the northwest to the northeast.

A great deal of packing was involved but none more crucial to me than the packing of the homemade ornaments. Yards of bubble wrap and heavy duty tape were employed. I didn’t care how many boxes it took. And I insisted they were not to travel in the moving van with the rest of our belongings.

My red Jeep Wrangler was being shipped east too. Under my vigilant supervision the cartons of homemade ornaments were stacked inside. Still I was anxious about their fate. Jonathan promised to call me the moment he saw the Jeep at the east coast pickup point.

“The ornament boxes are fine,” he said before I could even ask the question. “Thank you,” I answered. My heart was more articulate as it whispered, “God bless us every one.”

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.


A Vacancy at the Inn – Alice Orr’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Christmas Novella – A holiday bargain for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC. Enjoy!


The Santa Suit

Grandpa SantaThere’s been more than one Santa suit in the history of this particular tradition in our family. The first suit appeared long ago – even before our grandchildren. Santa visited our grown children in those days and always according to the same ritual.

We’d be in the midst of gift giving on Christmas morning when he arrived. “Ho Ho Ho” he’d boom in a jolly voice from the doorway. “Hello Santa” we’d respond with grins plastered across our faces.

“Isn’t that little Eddie?” Santa would ask eldest son who hadn’t been little in quite some time. Santa would then visit each of us with packages he pulled from a bag like the one that hung in our laundry closet.

The first time the Santa suit went public was at the Schenectady, New York YWCA holiday party. Rumor had it that Santa was hesitant about taking his show on the road on a Saturday morning being more accustomed to Christmas midnight creeps and solitary chimneys – until the children were let loose.

They barreled out of a room adjoining the one with the brightly decorated tree. Shouts of “It’s Santa!” filled the air and his mustache twitched into smiling position – swiftly followed by a hearty “Ho Ho Ho.”

At some point Mrs. Santa invested in a second Santa suit made of more substantial material. Velvet in fact with soft white trim. Santa’s beard had grown more curly and lengthy also and the peak of his red hat no longer drooped.

His former suit found a new home with another cash-strapped organization much like the YWCA. Mr. and Mrs. Santa were pleased to know that the long-beloved garment would be gleefully enjoyed by many children for years to come.

Meanwhile our own grandchildren had joined the family and they loved Santa’s Christmas morning visits too. Maybe even more than their parents and aunts and uncles had. Santa’s “Ho Ho Ho” was more enthusiastic than ever.

Nonetheless last year he asked Mrs. Santa a question that troubled her very much. “Do you think the Santa suit is getting a little silly? Maybe they’re too old for it.” The grandkids are twelve and seventeen now.

“Absolutely not” was Mrs. Santa’s vehement answer. “The children would miss it. We all would.”

That was especially true for her and she was quite relieved when he didn’t argue further. Because there are few things as lovable and dear as the Christmas gift of a good man in a Santa suit.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.


A Vacancy at the Inn – Alice Orr’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Christmas Novella – a Holiday bargain for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC .


All About Family

family diversity imageJonathan and I just returned from our family Thanksgiving gathering. We’re dragging ourselves around this morning but we are smiling. Filled with memories as much as with turkey and my daughter’s divine stuffing.

I remember Thanksgivings that weren’t as idyllic as this one. Fraught Thursdays of problems and grievances lowering over the feast table. Thank heaven the psyche performs a blessed erasure of all that when better times arrive.

I also remember less traditional holidays than this one where everybody at the table was related by blood or marriage. When Jon and I personally hosted Thanksgiving we evolved a tradition of inviting folks with nowhere else to go. Nobody in our acquaintance was allowed to avoid being overfed. That day they were our family and we were theirs.

When I was a single mom finances were perpetually strained. Communal Thanksgiving was a must and a joyful good time. I’d roast the turkey and make the stuffing. Never as from-scratch as my daughter’s but Pepperidge Farm mix plus my own additions turned out tasty anyway.

My single mom friends came with their assorted offspring and everybody brought her best side dish. Plastic glasses of inexpensive wine were raised in toast to everything – including having made it through the previous year – but especially in gratitude for each other.

Each of these assorted configurations was a family in the most important sense. We held each other up. We carried each other when necessary. We were there. We still are.

This history is big among my reasons for writing about families. Not idealized family. Realistic family with problems and personality flaws and screw-ups all at the table – keeping on keeping together through thick and sometimes desperately thin. Plus I write romantic suspense so there’s a murder in their midst to complicate the menu even further.

They prevail as family whatever their configuration or their challenges may be. The Kalli family and their habit of adopting stray souls. The Miller family with trials and tensions galore. And a third family yet to come of – guess what – a single mom and her single mom friends. All in Riverton. All in the family. All eager to welcome you to the feast.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.


A Vacancy at the Inn is the first Christmas novella of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series featuring the Kalli family – and now the Miller family too – in stories of Romance and Danger. A holiday deal for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B000APC22E.