Holly Jolly Blog Fest

by Ann Tracy Marr

Romance with a splash of magic


Wedgwood Christmas ornaments





Holly Jolly Blog Fest

(edited to remove extraneous material like introductions)

Week One

What is your favorite holiday novel - and why? Movie?

Bad me. I don't have a favorite holiday novel. I've read any number of books set during the Christmas season, but none stick in my mind, unless you want to count A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In my humble opinion, Scrooge is the only interesting character (who doesn't yearn to know a bah humbugger?) and the plot is overfull of sugar, nutrasweet, and saccharine. Movie? I'll be trite and say It's a Wonderful Life because I almost always tear up at the end. Keep in mind that I have been known to cry during commercials also.

Let us know your favorite holiday tradition that you cherish in your home. And what holiday tradition do you find fascinating, even though you might not do it at your house? (That might be another culture.)

The year my daughter didn't go to sleep began a tradition. Katie was determined to get at her stocking as soon as Santa filled it, and even at the ripe old age of 8, she could keep herself awake. Poor Santa had a bike to assemble and had to sneak it into a cold garage to work by flashlight while Mrs. Claus kept Katie away from the window. At 3 a.m., Katie finally zonked out; her parents didn't last much longer. Enter tradition! Stockings must wait for the sun to rise lest Santa head the BAD CHILD list with Katie's name. As a bonus (and to cover future eventuality) parents are not to be disturbed until their alarm goes off at 8.

I envy families that limit gift giving -- say, one present gifted per person. How do they do it? How do they keep it "even"? How do they avoid feeling Scroogish? Do you do it?


Week Two

What is your favorite holiday food and why?

Hands down, my favorite holiday food is Aunt Peg's fruit salad. She only made it for Thanksgiving, Christmas and sometimes Easter. Dave and I fought over the last spoonful one year. I got the fruit salad and he was awarded the last three pierogis.

Aunt Peg's Fruit Salad

Fill the largest mixing bowl you own with
Sliced bananas
At least one large can chunk pineapple (I like pineapple and put more in) save the juice for the custard
Peeled grapes (unless you are lazy like me and don't peel much; then you halve them)
Mini marshmallows if you remember - it is good without them
Custard (recipe below)

To make the custard, cook in a double boiler until smooth and thick:
1 T. flour, rounded
2 T. butter
¾ cup sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 egg whites, beaten well (yes, do the yolks and the whites separately)
The juice from the canned pineapple
Cool the custard, then add regular Cool Whip to taste

Mix the custard into the fruit. Chill before serving.

 You can have any person in history over for your holiday dinner. Who do you invite and what do you talk about?

To balance all the glitter of the Christmas decorations, Marie Antoinette would be an interesting choice, provided she agreed to be frank. This queen of France was more complex than our age paints her: ignored and intimidated by her mother, married to a king whose country hated hers, a victim of prejudice and propaganda. I'd love to gossip with her about Madame du Pompadour, her husband's famous mistress, and other notables of the time. One question to skip is, "Did you say 'let them eat cake'?" That was one of the lies said about her. If Marie is as shallow as history paints her, she would still be entertaining.

FYI: My husband wants to invite John Wayne.


Week Three

Which charity is most deserving of your holiday generosity and why?

Pick the Red Cross to donate money. Everyone knows of them; no one thinks they are a waste of money. Just don't hogtie the charity by saying what they have to spend the money on. By law charities have to push the money where you say it should go, but what if they have more than enough for that cause already?

Slightly worn goods from my house always go to the Salvation Army. They sell them in their thrift stores and put the money to good use.

What is your favorite holiday tradition in literature?

We all do my favorite tradition one way or another. We buy presents, as the Bible says is proper.
Matthew 2:11  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.


Week Four

How do you manage your writing/reading schedule with all the other activities around the holidays?

If I do it, I do it. If I don't, I don't. It may be a sin, but that's the way it goes.

How about traveling during the holidays: do you go visiting or have you in the past? What has that been like? Have there been any absent family members during the holidays? How has it effected your writing; have you used any of that in your stories?

We used to go "up north" (if you know Michigan, you know what I mean) to visit my husband's parents. Now we could go west or south and still find family, but I prefer to stay at home where the Christmas tree holds ornaments I treasure, where the cats sleep on our feet, where I am most comfortable.

Absent family members means one person to me: my mother. She died over a quarter of a century ago and I still miss her. Other people have died, my eldest daughter moved away, but Mom's death hit the hardest. She's who I want most and can't have. I have not deliberately included her in any of my writing, but then again, I don't need to. Losing Mom and the feelings involved are a part of me. They're bound to be in there somewhere.


Week Five

Are any of your books centered around Christmas? Tell us a bit about them please.

Sorry, none of my books even think about Christmas. Maybe I shoud rewrite A Christmas Carol and make it more real. Less sappy.

And for the New Year, of course: what are your 5 New Year's writing/reading resolutions?

Only one resolution applies strictly to writing. I am so much more than just a writer.

1. Chug along. Isn't that what everyone does?
2. Do better.
3. Work harder.
4. Relax and let it flow.
5. Borrow Shakepeare's brilliance.

And my wish for the New Year is for my daughter to marry the beloved son of a major publisher. That will get me a solid gold IN in the publishing world. No more rejection letters!


Week Six

So now it is June 2013: what have you accomplished since Christmas 2012?

I am a breast cancer survivor. I had my mammogram and PET scan and continue to be cancer free. Chemo brain (remarkably similar to menopausal brain but worse) has mostly gone away. I can remember my phone number now!

Three of the books I have been marketing have been accepted by publishers. One of them is lauded in reviews as more brilliant -- better written -- more insightful -- a better read -- than The Da Vinci Code.

What would you give Santa for Christmas other than cookies and milk? Idea, a heated sleigh blanket.

Let someone else get the blanket. I found a Grinch cookie jar for Santa. (Or should he get the Cookie Monster jar?) It will be the star of his collection.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!  Ann