I’ve gotten away from books and writing over the past couple of weeks, so I think it’s time to bring that back into focus.
This time of year, I love reading books about the holidays. One of my favorites is The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. This is always the first one I read each holiday season. L. Frank Baum tells the story of Santa’s life. It isn’t the traditional story, if there really is one, and it takes place in Oz.
Santa begins life as an abandoned baby taken in by the nymph, Necile, in the forest of Burzee. He grows up among the immortals and doesn’t know there are others like himself until the Great Ak takes him on a tour of the world. Once he learns that he is part of the human race, he decides he will serve them and leave the protection of Burzee. It’s a great tale, full of fun and imagination, and one I highly recommend for seasonal reading.
Another favorite of mine is A Christmas Carol. Yes, I’m aware that there are hundreds of variations of this story, and I watch them all. Every year. I try to see one movie a day for the entire Christmas season, but I also read the book at least once. It, too, is one of my favorite, must-have holiday books. I love the creep factor Dickens wove into the tale. Sure, it’s a Christmas classic, but it’s also a horror story that slithers into your blood and rattles your bones. It’s a wonderful ending to the reading I begin in October with Frankenstein, Dracula, and the like.
I also enjoy writing holiday books, and have two that take place during the Yuletide season. One is The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III: Revenge of Cronus, and the other is A Gift from Sir Klaus. Both are available from Amazon, though A Gift from Sir Klaus is currently only available in paperback. I also have a short story for adults called “Yuletide Sparkle.” I’m thinking of working on a few more, but not for this season.
What are some of your favorite holiday reads? Share with us and help us find something new.
Thanks so much for the 5-star Amazon review for Wolf in the Shadow! It’s nice to hear when someone enjoys one of my books.
In other news, there’s a new Yuletide recipe on my website. This is a fun part of the world-building for me, and it helps me to get in the right head space to really work in the world. I think it adds something to the reality of a fictional world if there are everyday things, like recipes, to think about. None of mine are that complicated because I’m not a master chef; I just like to play in the kitchen. So, kick back with some rada’ke cakes and enjoy your Yuletide season.
In 5168 AOP, Steamreach Coal set up operations and brought humans to an area that had been sparsely inhabited by other creatures. The workers came from the Xaggarene Empire, Moirena, and Corleon, and the traditions that had always sustained them soon morphed into a culture all its own. Most people meet in taverns on the eve of Yuletide for community-wide parties that carry far into Yuletide morn. Gifts tend to be handmade or practical in nature and are exchanged among friends as much as family. There are few private celebrations of this holiday in the Shizzuria Wasteland, though there are those who prefer to be alone.
Rada’ke is a cheap Yuletide dessert popular in the mining towns of the Shizzuria Wasteland. Since many of the miners have little to spare, their holiday lacks the opulence seen in other parts of Grevared. The main Yuletide meal consists of game, preserved fruits and vegetables, and rough bread made from what little flour can be spared. As work tends to continue, regardless of the day, celebrations are short but intense.
Rada’ke is a chewy, cake-like treat topped with a piece of dried or candied fruit. The fruit varies depending on what is available.
1 ½ c premade, add water pancake mix
½ c dark brown sugar
½ – 1 c water
Candied fruit of your choice
1-2 teaspoons ginger paste
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ – ½ teaspoon ground cloves
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ – ½ c self-rising flour
- Preheat over to 350°.
- Grease baking sheet.
- Combine pancake mix, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a bowl. Add ginger paste and vanilla. (The amount of spices depends on taste.)
- Add water a little at a time until you have a very soft dough. The consistency should be a touch softer than spritz cookie dough. If you add too much water, add flour until the dough is the right consistency. (I used flour in mine.)
- Mix well.
- Spoon or spritz dough onto greased baking sheet (the dough will not hold its shape well). Add a piece of dried or candied fruit to the top of each one.
- Bake 10-15 minutes until the edges are a darker brown. Cake will be springy.
I’ve was always one of those people who loved the hustle and bustle from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I didn’t even think about getting gifts before the turkey had been carved, eaten, and put away. I loved diving into the day after Thanksgiving, not so much for the deals but for the experience of it all.
I got over it.
Several years ago, I figured out that getting everything done in advance made the season much more enjoyable. I started getting the gifts early and had them ready to wrap as soon as the tree went up. I discovered, too, that this eased some of the financial burden, the one thing I really hated about the holidays.
This year is no different. Everything’s decorated and wrapped, and now I just have to bake the goodies as we want them and watch cartoons. I love it! I’ve also found that I have more time to write doing things this way. Being a winter junkie, I’m far more productive when the weather gets cold.
And to make things even better, we got snow. Now, I know some folks are from the northern climates that see lots of the white stuff, but where I live snow before January, and even then, is rare. Loving it! It’s a nice change of pace, and I was able to focus on writing and just watch the snow fall. It was awesome!
How do you prepare for the holidays? What are your secrets to getting things done without stress?
The holiday season is in full swing, and I think we’ve gotten everything ready at the homeplace. The tree’s up, the gifts are wrapped, and the stockings are hung. I think we’ve watched all the classic Christmas cartoons at least once and are starting on the second round.
There have been times in the past when the holiday season seemed to be far more work than it was worth, but this year feels a bit different. There isn’t as much running to do anymore, and my work schedule allows us to go out and participate in some of the community activities. For the first time in years, we were able to see the parade. It wasn’t a fancy thing like the Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it was nice to finally get to see a hometown parade again. Hopefully, there will be other activities to do over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, we’ll continue our tradition of watching movies and cartoons and picking from our advent box. This is something we started several years ago. We wrap a large box and cut a hole in the top. It’s filled with small gifts of nothing much–candy bars and gum, silly toys, stocking stuffers–and we reach in and take something each night from December 1 thru December 24. When the box is empty, it’s Christmas. Granted, my children are mostly grown now, but it’s still a fun thing to do together in the evenings. W
I hope everyone has a joyous season, regardless of which holiday you celebrate, and remember to do what you can for those less fortunate. Even the smallest gesture performed with pure intention can mean the world to someone else.
Have a wonderful season with family and friends, and feel free to share the traditions you value most.