The holidays are a special time of the year, a time we spend with family and friends enjoying each other’s company and counting our blessings.
There are certain Christmas traditions I keep repeating each year. When I was growing up, my mother decorated every inch of our house with festive decor. My father strung lights on the house every year, no matter if there was snow on the ground or not. I have ornaments from when we were kids that I still put on my tree today. There were even the years my brother managed to knock over the fully decorated tree, but thankfully my mother put a stop to that tradition before it caught on.
I got married and started a family, continuing the merry tradition of getting carried away with the decorations. My daughters looked forward to watching me unpack my snowman collection, which grew and grew every year until it got out of control. But it was something they will always remember. They always helped their father with the outdoor lights. Now, I go shopping with my grown daughter and watch her buy decorations she will one day pass on to her family.
When the girls were young, my mother sewed Christmas dresses for them every year. I love looking back at those pictures, to the smiles on their faces while they modeled the newest outfit. We always went to church together, even sang a special song together as a family in front of the entire congregation from time to time.
My oldest daughter passed away a few years ago. When I was finally able to put up a Christmas tree again, I used the tree she bought when she moved into her first apartment. While seeing it decorated is bittersweet, it is a tradition I will probably keep every year because she will always be in my heart.
I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but I can’t wait to see which traditions carry over to them, as well as new traditions the family will embrace. This is what makes the holidays so special, in my humble opinion.
Reading is always an important part of the holidays. I love to curl up by the fire, with a warm mug of cocoa or tea, and get lost in a good book. This year, I have a story in A Heartwarming Holiday, 15 new connected holiday stories set in Christmas Town, Maine. Experience a sweet and romantic Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year all for 99 cents!
In Cooking Up Christmas, Gabi Fortier, general manager of the Blue Spruce Mountain Resort, can’t wait to reopen the lodge just in time for Christmas. A traditional girl, she loves living in Christmas Town and can’t wait to fill every room with heirloom decorations from the original lodge owners. Until new head chef, Simon Tucker, who doesn’t have much Christmas spirit, asks her to keep the decorating down to a minimum. For a woman who loves Christmas, is that even possible?
“I like it here,” Simon said, looking out the window as they cruised down Main Street. The city workers were attaching light-up star decorations to the lampposts. Holly had already been hung on the white-picket fences surrounding the town square. “Even if everything revolves around Christmas.”
“What? You don’t like the holidays?”
He shrugged. “As much as anyone, I suppose.”
“Well, I love Christmas. Trust me, when the lodge opens, it’s going to be Christmas Central.”
As she motored past the square her heart soared. A tall evergreen stood in the center. Soon it would be time for the lighting celebration, one of Gabi’s favorite nights of the year. She loved the look of wonder on the children’s faces when the bright lights illuminated the night sky. Loved the spirit of hope permeating the entire town. Christmas was the one time of year she let her hair down, so to speak. She loved tree trimming, baking cookies and shopping for gifts. Most of all, she loved the true giving spirit of the season.
“Do me a favor,” came Simon’s deep voice. “Keep the dining room clear of decorations.”
No Christmas decor? The comment startled her. “Not possible. This is the first Christmas under new management. We’re going to do it big.”
I hope you enjoy Cooking Up Christmas. Make reading this collection your own holiday tradition!
Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of thirteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, The Business of Weddings series, as well as books in a new series, Amish Inn Mysteries. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books