Have Yourselves a Merry Little Christmas

Francesca and Elaine take a quick break from work and festive preparations to wish you all best wishes for the season.

Elaine: The trees are decorated. Presents are wrapped. Lights are flickering inside and outside many XmasTreehomes, bringing smiles to everyone who sees them. We often hear that Christmas starts earlier every year, but any excuse to go out for a meal, a drink, a dance and we are there.

My presents are bought and wrapped, but it may surprise you to know I haven’t put my tree up or displayed any decorations. I refuse every year to let Christmas begin until the last weekend before the 25th. My four-year-old grandson will be round on the 19th to decorate the tree and help place my wonderful trashy ornaments. Christmas songs will be playing and when that is done, we will make the mince pies. The seasonal excitement begins and before I turn into a big child I remember the people who won’t be with me this year. Whatever Father Christmas brings you this year, I hope it is accompanied with good health and lots of love.

Have a wonderfully joyous Christmas and may 2016 be a successful and peaceful year for you.

@RobertsElaine11

Francesca: Here are a few things I like about Christmas…

Family:

Children…

Grandchildren…

 

 

…and great-grandchildren!

Celebrating:

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Love and laughter

Good times

Good times with friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silliness!

Silliness!

Ghosts of Christmas Past:

 

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In this case, 1968

All these are good elements for a Christmas story. And talking of Christmases past…

My favourite Christmas book:

IMG_8335This was given to me by my husband’s first step father, in 1983. It was his tradition to read it every Christmas. Since he was terminally ill, he passed the tradition onto me. I don’t manage it every year, but it has been read a lot. 

 

“…and it was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!”

A Happy Christmas to you all and a peaceful New Year.

@FCapaldiBurgess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dreaming Of a Write Christmas?

Francesca and Elaine compare Christmas preparations with their writing

No wonder it took us till 6.30pm to unwrap the presents!

No wonder it took us till 6.30pm one year to unwrap the presents!

Francesca: In recent years, my immediate family has more than doubled from six to thirteen, with the addition of partners, grandchildren and step grandchildren. It’s made Christmas quite expensive, and time consuming, as you can imagine. Eight adults buying presents for seven adults each equals at least fifty-six presents.

This year, one of my daughters came up with the idea of doing a secret Santa for the adults. Our names have gone into a draw and we each have only three people to buy for. One present is chosen off that person’s gift list. One is maybe a smelly or foody present up to a maximum of £10. The third is to be a recycled or pre-loved present, therefore costing nothing.

Perhaps re-set the story in the 1960s?

Perhaps re-set the story in the 1960s?

It got me thinking about my writing. With time a premium in December, can I fit in anything beyond editing my novel? I’ve been thinking of getting back to writing short stories. Perhaps I could take the ‘Secret Santa’ approach here too. One story could be completely new, a longer piece, say two to three thousand words (which some magazines are calling for). A second could be shorter, a maximum of a 1,000 words. There are a number of competitions around currently requiring this word count or less that would be ideal. A third story could be a recycling of a pre-loved one. I have plenty that I like but have never sold. Clearly something about them was unsuitable but it might easily be put right. What if I changed the age of a character, or the gender? The setting could be altered from town to country, or vice versa. The main character might have a different job. Perhaps the ending is lacklustre and in need of some zing. Then there’s the title.

If things go to plan, by December 25th I’ll have three stories in my outbox and three nice presents under the tree.

@FCapaldiBurgess

Elaine: When Francesca and I discussed Christmas, we were astounded to discover that our families were doing similar things. I also have an ever-expanding family; in recent years there have been fourteen around our table, so we are also doing a Secret Santa. Of course, that doesn’t include other family members that I buy presents for, so Christmas is a well-planned campaign.

I can easily relate our day to a novel structure.IMG_1845

First, there’s the preparation before everyone arrives. The present and food buying are the obvious ones. Then there’s preparing vegetables, setting the table and writing out the times everything has to be switched on or placed in the oven. This is not that dissimilar to planning your novel, with the research, synopsis and chapter breakdown. It’s all in the planning. Fail to plan and you are planning to fail.

Everyone arrives at my house at ten in the morning and an hour is spent catching up with each other; some get impatient to start opening their presents. This is the beginning, our normal life.

The plot really starts as we open our presents, one at a time, in age order, starting with the youngest. There are highs and lows as the presents are opened.

A happy little boy

A happy little boy

There is always the excitement building, before any opening begins. Of course, there’s the disappointment if an item of clothing doesn’t fit and the frantic search for the receipt, which will enable the item to be changed. The happiness when a much wanted gift is opened. Then we have the adults attempting to put toys together for our grandson. One year, nine people tried to breathe life into a blow up goal for a two year old. Now that was funny, but again it had it’s highs and lows as people fell by the wayside because it wouldn’t blow up. Perseverance prevailed and a two year old was very happy to kick a soft ball into a goal that filled my front room.

The darkest moment of the day is when I realise my potatoes are never going to roast and, as usual, I’ve forgotten to cook something. One year it was the Yorkshire puddings, which went down well, as you can imagine. 

IMG_1849The climax of the story is obviously a very happy ending. A good day with excellent memories already stored away, to be told another day.

What will I write over the Christmas holidays? Well, Elaine Everest recently said if you write 100 words a day, that’s 700 words a week, so if you exclude Christmas day, that’s 3,000 words in December. Elaine’s words have made me think, because I often don’t write at all if I haven’t got time to write 500 – 1,000 words, as I think it’s not worth doing. How wrong am I!

@RobertsElaine11