Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Today is the day! After about 9 months of planning, and waiting, and counting down, we are now down to the wire. In about 7 hours, we will leave our home for 3.5 weeks, and by new dawn tomorrow, we will fly across the Pacific Ocean to Singapore, and get a connecting flight to the Philippines.

My next post (whenever that would be!) will recount our experiences in the Philippines. I doubt it will be before Christmas, so to all of you, a very Merry Christmas! May it be filled with joy and laughter, spent with your family and those who are dearest to you.

And as Christmas is my favourite holiday season of the year, it’s only natural that all of my books to date have touched upon this subject. Here’s a little excerpt to bring you more Christmas cheer and joy, from Lizzy & Michael III.

“Ready?” He asked his companion, fingers intertwining with her slender ones, tugging her arm excitedly she had no choice but to trudge along the narrow footpath serving as some kind of an entrance, teeth tightly clamping her bottom lip upon witnessing Michael’s apparent glee.

“How big is this tree going to be?” Lizzy asked, envisioning the available space provided b the humongous living room of the Presidential Suite Michael had called home since May of this year; if he wanted to, he could order a nine-foot tree to fill up a corner, and more.

“Whatever tree that’s light enough for both of us to carry,” Michael replied, sensing the churning of Lizzy’s mind as to how to possibly transport an enormous tree.

Lizzy couldn’t help but chuckle; Michael had booked her diary for this evening as far back as two weeks ago, stating with apparent exuberance that in light of the fact that neither of them will be leaving the Big Apple this year, both wanting to fully experience the joy of Christmas in their own apartments for the first time, they would need to slightly modify their annual Christmas tradition instead of the usual venture to the Fenway Park fete.

“This one’s nice,” Lizzy commented, running her fingers lovingly through the short-spiked leaves of a slender Balsam fir tree the height of her chest.

It would be, Michael thought dryly, for your place. He looked over the tree somewhat dispassionately, believing that his majestic place would swallow the petite plant, making it look even smaller than it actually was.

Lizzy wrinkled her nose when Michael suggested as much, her eyes trailing up and down the length of the five-foot tree with no more enthusiasm than what Michael had displayed just moments earlier. Herself an agnostic, and growing up believing that Christmas was a less-than-special occasion compared to birthdays and Mother’s or Father’s day, the thought of having a lit-up, fancily decorated Christmas tree was foreign and unsettling.

“Let’s find your tree first,” Lizzy said at last. She concluded that should she decide to have a Christmas tree after all, a five-foot tree would be lighter and easier to drag along than a much larger one.

They combed through the well-known SoHo trees displayed on Armsterdam and 98th Street, schooling both their faces to nod and smile appreciatively at the salesman trying their hardest to sell the features of each tree they inspected and put a mild interest on, eyes rolling the whole three-hundred-and-sixty degree or making faces at one another as they walked away from what they believed to be half-dead trees it should already be sent to the chipper.

They emerged out of the lush evergreens some one-and-a-half hour later, both faces beaming and flushed, their hands busily balancing the five-foot tree that had first attracted Lizzy’s attention, Michael’s choice of a seven-foot Douglas fir bushy tree was being delivered this coming weekend, the docket of purchase was safely wedged inside his overcoat pocket; the occasion was made even more memorable as coming out of the display space, they felt small white drops of snow from the sky above, landing on their skins softly like balls of cotton wools.

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I’m talking about ‘Secret Santa’/’Kris Kringle’ – that notion of gifting someone you may not necessarily know very well. I’ve been involved with a few of these over the years, playing the game and conforming to all variations of the rules. As I wrote a card for one of the SS/KK I’m involved in this year, I realised that I put a lot of thought and energy into the whole concept. Below are some of the ones I have done/thought of over the years.

1. I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of an open book. I trust people semi-easily, and I tell people things about myself. When it came to Secret Santa/Kris Kringle and having to ‘torture’ your ‘victim’ for a period of time with cryptic clues, I found myself having to be very inventive with the clues I give him/her, so as not to be guessed correctly too early in the game. I once even did a word scramble, but alas, it was a bit too hard for my victim to guess, and I stopped doing that since.

2. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I could write a whole other post about giving gifts based on the intended recipient’s wants/needs/interests vs giving whatever present you deemed appropriate, “it’s the thought that counts” argument.  But over the years, I find that even with close friends, their preferences change from time to time. When it comes to work Secret Santa, the challenge of sourcing a gift that is remotely aligned to that particular colleague’s wants/needs/interests become that little bit more… daunting, to say the least. So, over the years, I’ve set myself a little detective work, trying to find out a little about my victim’s interests (more often than not involving another work colleague who might know my victim a little bit better than I do), and give a gift accordingly. I pretended that I didn’t know who the gift-giver to my victim was and struck a conversation to find out whether they liked the present or not.

3. This relates more to the Secret Santa present I have to mail out, either to another part of the state I live in, or a different state altogether. Each year, I’ve been involved in Secret Santa with a bunch of close friends I met on an on-line wedding forum many moons ago, when I was planning my own wedding. There were only about 20 of us, and if they were like me in conducting a vigorous detective work, they could probably work out who their Secret Santa is from either the location the mail has originated, or from their handwriting. To that end, I took great pains in posting the gift from a suburb different to the one I live, or work in. I enlisted my darling husband to write the address and sign the ‘Dangerous Goods’ Declaration Form’ on the parcel. I alter the curves and lilt of my handwriting, to ‘stretch’ the Secret Santa game to the very last possible moment.

What about you? What measures have you gone to to ensure that your SS/KK victim doesn’t figure you out so easily?

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Is the greatest artist on earth. The sound of his voice, singing or otherwise, flutters my heart.

That is all – I’m off to swoon again 🙂

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Ahh… it’s 1st December – the first day of the Festive Season. Just like I’ve previously written in Don’t Think… Just Write! post, there is something magical about Christmas, and the lead-up to the biggest holiday season of the year.

I wish I could say that it had something to do with the changing of the leaves and the temperature drop, but alas, living Down Under, the ‘changing of the leaves’ (or in this case, the Jacaranda tree) happened in September, when the season changed from winter to spring. And instead of cooling down, today in Down Under marked the first day of summer.

Nevertheless, there’s something in the air as the clock struck midnight on December 1st that always perk up my spirit from the long slug that was November. Perhaps it’s related to the fact that school finishes on the first week of December, and to me, it means a significant reduction in the amount of phone calls I have to take at work, giving me more ample time to get to those outstanding work I’ve been meaning to get to all-year round (like filing!). Perhaps it’s the fact that each shopping centres compete against each other in erecting the tallest, biggest, brightest Christmas tree and ornaments; or that the Christmas carols they have been playing since October have been further ramped up, and replaced more and more with choirs singing or real-life bands playing. Or perhaps, it was just as simple as people’s spirits everywhere being lifted up in anticipation of celebrating the birth of Christ.

To mark the first day of the last month of the year, I have changed the look of my blog accordingly. And of course, everything I post this month will naturally be Christmas-related.

What about you? What does the lead-up to Christmas mean for you? Do you get excited as November turns to December?

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As writers, we all tend to mull over each word, each sentence, each paragraph, making sure that one flows from the next; that the adjective we’ve chosen aptly reflect the mood of the character or the atmosphere of the situation. We consult our trusty Thesaurus over our word choices; sometimes, we even (gasp!) select a whole section we’ve deemed unworthy and press the ‘Delete’ button, or rip pages of handwriting we simply believe are made of utter crap.

Not so long ago, I came across the concept of Freewriting, written by Sue Healy. She describes a writing exercise in which you put whatever that first comes into your mind onto the screen, dismissing grammar and structure. It’s a warm-up exercise; a chance to stretch and flex those muscles inside your head; a great way to ignore those voices criticising your every literary move and just… write.

So here is my debut effort of it, dedicating three whole minutes writing whatever it is that comes into my mind. In 3… 2… 1…!

Sitting in front of my computer, with no sound other than the whirring of the air-cond above me, my husband snoring in the bedroom, it suddenly dawned on me that it’s nearing Christmas. And there is something magical as December approaches. While Christmas carols have been playing in big department stores since October (something I don’t quite get), nearing December, I can’t help but get swept up in the whole festivities. I love seeing the Christmas decorations each department store puts up, the baubles hanging from the Christmas tree branches, the bows on the displayed gifts under it. Nearing December, I always put on my personal Christmas compilation, imagining myself standing in the middle of snow-covered ground, wearing one of those thick, fur-lined red suit, watching the snow falls from the sky.

I must say that writing this was somewhat therapeutic. And I can definitely use that, almost as is, for a passage in one of my books. Go on – I dare you – if you haven’t tried this before… give it a go!

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