Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Magic

I'm not a Grinch or a Scrooge.  I like the holidays. I enjoy the decorations and the occasional gathering of family and friends. I'm not a fan of Black Friday sales, or the insanity that comes with shopping for the perfect gifts, but overall I welcome the holidays.  Decorating the tree and stringing lights outside always triggers memories of Christmas past. Here's one that always jumps to mind.

When my sons were young, maybe seven and four, we had the usual pile of presents around the tree for them. But knowing that our efforts to cleverly wrap each package, using special Santa paper for those gifts from the jolly elf, wouldn't last more than five minutes once the guys got started. Soon a mountain of paper would cover the floor and the mad rush would be over. So we decided to prolong it with a little misdirection.

We took one special gift for each guy and hid it in the house. Then I drafted a series of clues, sending them on a treasure hunt. These were fairly simple, like 'where the clothes come out warm' for the dryer and 'better check the tub' or words to that effect.  There were about six clues, leading them at long last to that special gift. To my surprise, the guys loved it. The treasure hunt became a Christmas tradition, right up there with the orange Danishes for breakfast after the presents were unwrapped.

One year when the boys were in their teens, I'd forgotten all about the treasure hunt. Travis, my eldest, approached me after church on Christmas Eve and asked if we were still doing it. When I told him we could, he turned and said "Can you make the clues rhyme?"  I knew this was getting out of hand, but somehow muddled through. Dr. Seuss had nothing to worry about.

A few years ago, we gathered for Christmas. Travis was out of the country, so he called in on Skype and got the play by play as we opened our gifts.  Then Cameron, his kid brother, handed my wife and I our first clue. The tables had been turned. The brothers had worked out a treasure hunt for us. After we wandered the house, gathering the extra present, Cameron looked at me and said "writing those clues was a pain in butt."  I could relate.

I'm sure we each have our own special holiday memories. There are others, but that's one that always makes me smile.

May the holidays be filled with laughter and love, shared with friends and family.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Just Breathe

The last few weeks have been pretty much nonstop activity.  I'd swear there has been so much going on, at times I had to remind myself to take a step back and just breathe.

Before Thanksgiving, we flew from Michigan to Tokyo, Japan. My oldest son, Travis, was getting married. This was my first opportunity to experience the culture, see many historic sites and to meet his beautiful bride and her family. What followed was ten days of excitement as we tried to squeeze as much as possible into our visit.  I was very impressed with the people and the culture. Everyone was extremely friendly.  And the trains run on time!

Upon my return to the states, I began dueling with the devil known as jet lag. He didn't seem to bother me much on the flight there, but I've been paying my dues for the last week, trying to get back to Eastern Standard Time.  With everything said and done, there has been little time to do any writing, although a number of story ideas have been percolating in my brain since the trip began. We'll have to wait and see which one makes it to the surface.

I learned yesterday that one of my publishers, Secret Cravings, is having a sale on print copies of their catalog for the holidays. So on Sunday, 12/14 and Monday, 12/15 you can get $ 3 off any print copy by including the code BV5JK96G.  I'm sure you'll want to check out copies of my two Jamie Richmond novels.  They make great gifts.  The link at the bottom should take you there.

Happy holidays.