Williamsburg Hill

Williamsburg Hill

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Traditions

Handmade Ornament
This holiday season has found me melancholy and wistful.  It has brought out the Grinch-like tendencies and bah-hum-bug attitude that I never thought I’d experience during this time of year.  Some of it is due to the dreary, rainy weather that’s overstayed its welcome; snow and sunshine are more preferable at Christmas, in my opinion.  Impatient people and traffic don’t help much, as never-ending road construction in my neck of the woods can double travel time if you don’t plan ahead. 
However, I think this gloomy cloud can mostly be attributed to nostalgia.  This past year has been one of change for my family and for the first time, we won’t all be together for Christmas (my younger daughter and son-in-law live in Colorado now and can’t make it home).  Yearning and remembering seem to fill too much of my time and, while the thoughts are happy ones, they bring about a bit of sadness simply because time passes too quickly.
Just like most families, when my daughters were younger, we initiated Christmas traditions that followed us every year.  We engaged in all of the holiday activities that made the time busy but happy.  Christmas cookies were baked, holiday movies watched, recitals and pageants performed.  We even cut our own Christmas tree every year.  It was tradition to do so until my oldest was diagnosed with asthma and having a tree in the house triggered allergies, which then initiated asthma attacks.  Artificial trees have been part of our lives since. 
Volunteering for classroom parties is something I miss at this time of the year; receiving the ornaments my children made and the gifts they purchased for me at their holiday gift shops at school are things I cherish.  So are the memories.
Of course, the traditions continue.  I still mail Christmas cards, even though most have abandoned this form of holiday greeting in favor of quick emails.  Holiday music fills our house for most of December; my husband and I still jump in the car and drive through neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights (however, now our dog accompanies us instead of our kids).  I cook too much and always have; I love decorating for the season and creating a beautiful table for Christmas dinner.  Those things haven’t changed. 
Hand carved by Polly Page
When I travel, I like to purchase Christmas ornaments as souvenirs.  When it comes time to decorate the tree, it’s wonderful to remember the special places I’ve been.  Some of my favorite decorations include the ones my kids made and a hand-carved nativity set made by my Aunt Polly.  All are displayed proudly.  Traditions and memories that will help get through “a first”.    
I’m trying to take Irving Berlin’s lyrics “Count your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” to heart, and once the skies clear and I’ve actually finished all I need to do (grocery shopping is always last), my outlook will be better.  FaceTime and Skype will make the time a little easier and I do realize that all I’m facing is life, as everyone does.  It isn’t unique to me; it’s just part of growth and change.  Some just handle it a little better than others.
I do hope all of you have a wonderful holiday.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday and Christmas Lists...Shop Amazon and Local Businesses

Thanks to those who purchased a copy of my book, Daniel's Esperanza, on Cyber Monday. Amazon started a sale that day for the paperback and it is still running. The Kindle version is available, too, with a free app to those who don't own the device. You can find the direct link for my book on Amazon by clicking Daniel's Esperanza on Amazon. If you don't like clicking links, just do a Google search of my name on the Amazon site. My book can also be found on numerous other online retail shops.

My deepest gratitude to all who have bought the book and read it, thus far. Thanks also to those who have given me positive feedback. It is very encouraging to hear from readers. Too often, a writer spends years on a book only to hear crickets chirping once it is published. It's a lot of work, we love to hear from people who have read the book, especially if it is liked. Reviews help, too, along with giving shout-outs on social media and to your friends. Believe or not, all of this helps with potential sales.

Please remember to shop locally and frequent small businesses in your hometowns. However, please don't get caught up in the craze of boycotting Amazon. Some of us can only be found online, which includes Amazon. We're hard-working business people, too, trying to sell our work.  While I won't get into specifics as to the war between Amazon and booksellers (along with traditional publishers), if you boycott Amazon, it hurts us. Perhaps, I'll reserve all that drama for a future post.
Finally, I have to say the following. Self-published = self-produced = independently done. Independents can include authors, local businesses and bookstores, plus musicians, singers, actors, movie makers, dance companies, theatre companies (community theatre, too), museums, visual artists, photographers, etc.  If you buy the tickets, goods, CDs, paintings, photography, go to the shows and concerts, and give the business all in the name of supporting the indie (or local, or start-up, or unknown), why not buy the indie book?  If you go to an indie movie or promote an indie musician, do the same for an indie author. Don’t judge a book by its publisher. Art in any form is subjective…it shouldn’t matter how it comes to be.  

Happy Holidays to all.