Today brings to a close a entire year of celebrating the publication of my 50th book, THE SHEIKH'S UNSUITABLE BRIDE (just shortlisted by Romantic Times for Best Harlequin Romance of 2008) and what a totally fabulous year it's been. Countless guests, wonderful stories from authors around the world and a book giveaway to make Jeff Bezos weep. Huge thanks to the authors who've generously given their precious time (and books) to make it so special. And huge thanks, too, to those of you who've left wonderful comments, joined in, shared the pain (the thumb!) and the joys (the wedding) and made the whole thing such fun.
We're finishing on a high today with my last guest, Susan Meier.
Susan is the author of over 35 books for Harlequin and Silhouette. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader's Choice Awards and Cataromance.com Reviewer's Choice Awards and have made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan.
Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA chapter conferences. Her article “How to Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets and she's in great demand for workshops at RWA chapters, but she's here this week not to help with the blank page, but to share the "magic" of Christmas. Over to you, Susan.
THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS
This time of year, I hear a lot of grumbling and complaining about the commercialism of Christmas. Truth be told, I categorize the complainers into two camps: Those who hate to shop and those who’ve never experienced the magic of Christmas.
When I was young, I spent a Christmas Eve in the back seat of the family car, with five or six of my brothers and sisters, waiting while my dad fixed our car, which had died halfway to the popular discount department store where my parents planned to buy our gifts. In the dark backseat, we whispered to each other that there’d be no Christmas that year. Not only had the money been spent for car parts, but also by the time the car was fixed the stores were closed.
But under the tree the next morning were gifts galore. Things my parents had purchased at a drugstore that stayed open later than the department store. I remember pop beads, a toy medical bag complete with candy pills, and, of course, a doll. Some of my all-time favorite presents. I don’t remember what I got for Christmas most years, but that year sticks out – - because of the magic.
One year, my father worked away from home and because Christmas was on Monday, he had to leave on Christmas Eve. The mood at our dinner table that night was solemn, sad, until my sister went into the living room and under our tree were our presents. Santa, my parents told us, had visited us first since he knew Dad couldn’t be around Christmas morning.
The “how” of all my Christmas magic is transparent when I look back as an adult, but it’s magic all the same. The memories make me smile and also make me realize how far my parents would go, what they would sacrifice to make our Christmas special.
That’s what Christmas magic is all about.
The magic of Christmas isn’t something you can buy at a store or catch in a jar. It’s an unexpected jolt of joy, a sense that anything’s possible – if you believe. Sometimes you feel it from something as simple as having someone open a door with a smile, a merry conversation with a stranger in the checkout line, or a parking space that suddenly opens up when you’re trying to shop on your lunch hour.
Sometimes your heart will be touched. Listening to the choir sing a familiar melody, you suddenly feel lifted. Dropping your coins into the Salvation Army container, you receive a smile of gratitude from a cold, probably hungry, bell ringer and you suddenly realize that lots of people do more than shell out money to make the holiday special for their friends and families, they give time and make sacrifices for needy strangers, people who depend on others for their Christmas magic…and you ask yourself…why haven’t I?
Sometimes the scent of pine cones or fir trees or gingerbread will transport you to a happy time, when you were young and everything was magical and you realize how much your parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends loved you to make all your Christmases special, wonderful.
That’s what we pass on. Our legacy to our kids isn’t a philosophy of success as much as it is the ability to see real magic and to know we’re all magicians.
All it takes is a smile, a helping hand, an open door, more time than money, more love that sacrifices.
That’s the magic of Christmas.
And that’s what my hero, Jared learns in HER BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS. Jared has a tragic past, the kind of past that would level most people. He survived by living in denial. But face-to-face with someone who’s suffering in the here and now, longing for the type of family he’s throwing away, Jared not only learns to count his blessings; he also realizes that Elise copes by seeing the magic in everything. But can he learn to see the magic before his time runs out and he must return home for Christmas?
HER BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS easily turned into one of the favorite books I’ve written, all because of the magic.
I’d love to hear other Christmas magic stories and I have two copies of HER BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS to give to away so step up and share. You're got until midnight Sunday.
Thanks so much for sharing those stories, Susan.
HER BABY'S FIRST CHRISTMAS is available in the UK, Australia and eHarlequin on the sidebar links to Harlequin and Mills & Boon. And is also available Amazon.