When I was a young girl, my father used to take my sister and I deep into the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree. Now, this wasn't a tree from a tree farm (I didn't even know those existed until I was some years older). This was a native Maine pine, all scraggly branches and bald patches and earthy scents.
Despite my mother's strict orders to the contrary, we were most attracted to the tallest tree we could possibly find. Ten feet? Ha. We didn't look at anything if it wasn't fifteen feet or higher. This made for quite a few interesting trips back up to the house (through the woods, over the horse fence, and up the hill to the house... all in the snow, of course, because we got a lot of snow back then) and words were always exchanged between my mother and father when we dragged it through the kitchen and dumped it on the living room floor, scattering pine needles everywhere.
When I was around thirteen, my father began sending my sister and I out in the woods by ourselves. Scarves, mittens, a handsaw... and off we went, always seeking that elusive pine that would top the tree from last year. Looking back, it's a wonder we didn't kill each other. My sister and I didn't always get along great back then, but now that I think about it the one time we never fought was when we were looking for our Christmas tree.
I live in Pennsylvania now. I'm not able to go home for Christmas anymore. I haven't been for a while, but that's okay. Traditions change. Old ones fade, and new ones start. For the past several years Christmas morning has turned into a Skype fest. My dad will wear a silly hat and hold the computer too close to his face. The dogs will jump in my lap and bark frantically while they try to figure out where all the voices are coming from. I'll go down to the barn when it's all quiet and give the horses their Christmas carrots.
This year I'm going to be starting a new tradition: giving away books on Christmas day. Last January my first book, A Brooding Beauty, came out on Amazon. Since then five others have been released, and I am constantly amazed that people are still reading them. It's exciting and it's wonderful and I have big hopes and dreams for 2013. I hope all of you do too, and I hope that even though your lives are busy you are always able to find a little time to read.
I know that's what I'll be doing on Christmas: after the presents are opened and the dogs are given their treats and the horses are munching happily on their carrots I'm going to curl up with one of my favorite books (Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught) and read it cover to cover. It's such a small, seemingly meaningless thing to do... But it makes me happy, and it soothes me, and isn't that what Christmas is all about?
So on Tuesday, if you're looking for something to read, A Brooding Beauty and The Winter Wish will be free on Amazon until midnight. If you have already read both of them, or they simply aren't your cup of tea, I would suggest the following authors if you're looking for a little romantic magic:
I'll leave you with some pictures of Maine in the winter... If you've never been, it is a truly beautiful state, and I always get a little homesick this time of year. I would not suggest going during the winter, however... At least not without a good sturdy pair of snowshoes.