Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas At Home

© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved

This will be the thirtieth year I cook Christmas Dinner. You would think I’d have things down to a science and yet, every year, days before the big event, I’ve always found myself running around in a panic trying to get the house decorated, cards and packages in the mail, get the baking done, and do those last-minute bits of shopping that are always so exhausting.

At best, 2009 can only be described as chaotic and thus I was totally prepared for an equally muddled holiday season. But true to the nature of this not so amazing year, something went terribly wrong.

Three weeks ago, I grit my teeth and joined the hordes of other shoppers in search for those oh so special items on my list. Amazingly enough, I found everything I’d hoped for and then some in one store and spent only two hours and a wee less money than I had expected. Oh joy!

Except for the person who insists on sending us a seasonal letter every year that might as well be a bulleted list of the family’s accomplishments and travels throughout the year, I love getting Christmas cards. This year, our list has dwindled down to only around ten or fifteen, but I was determined to get them in the mail in time for a early arrival. So last week, while I listened to my MB4 pal, Kim Smith interview another MB4 pal, Aaron Lazar on her Blogtalk Radio “Introducing Writers” I addressed the cards, wrote several notes and got them in the mail the following day. Halleluiah!

Last Sunday I put the last of the decorations up and spent much of my morning doing my grocery shopping. I’m normally the one in the family who keeps going from one project to another, but my feet and back insisted I kick back—this time, I decided to listen and was glad I did. A-h-h-h!

Over the past several days, we’ve watched several of our favorite Christmas movies; “Christmas in Connecticut”, “Christmas Vacation”, “Scrooge (1938)”, and “While You Were Sleeping” (okay, it’s not a holiday movie, but the story takes place over the holiday season so in my book it counts). “A Christmas Story”, “White Christmas”, and “The Lemon Drop Kid” are waiting their turn. Love it!

It’s December 23. My house is clean, the presents are wrapped and under the tree, and appropriately, we had our first snow fall a couple of days ago. I’ll start my baking this morning and I have a few dishes to prepare ahead of time for the Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day. A wonderful feeling!

So all in all, this holiday season has been untraditionally “organized.” I’ve continued to write every day and am very near completion of my final edits of SHROUD OF LIES. I have several writing projects planned for the early part of next year, but I was most excited to hear from my publisher last week when he wrote to say that my Sam Harper novels, SILENCED CRY and THE DEVIL CAN WAIT are being re-run, redesigned and reformatted to present in several different e-book formats through in the US and their affiliate retailers including Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and several other online e-book stores. My novels have always been available in e-book format as well as paperback, but this will certainly give us a new focus. I’m SO pumped about this.

2009 has brought us a loss of family and friends, loss of income, the abandonment of a one novel (50,000 words shelved for a better day), and crazy, stressful work schedules that left me feeling beat at the end of most days. And yet ... my family, our humour, and the love we have for each other have remained intact. I’m far more fortunate than deserving of my wonderful friends who have steadfastly been there at every turn—you know who you are and you are a treasure!

In spite of it all, last June I was able to write the first draft of SHROUD OF LIES in 50 days and will soon have it ready for a final read before I start pitching it to agents.

So all in all, this year has ended in a positive note and life continues to be is as it should—filled with countless blessings.

Best wishes to all!


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I think 2009 was a good year for a lot of people. I'm glad you were one of them. Merry Christmas, Marta. Hope all your dreams come true for 2010 and that joy and happiness fill your days.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

What a wonderful piece, Marta! I'm envious of your clean house, with the brood back home now it's quite messy! I need to get crackin, just as soon as I finish wrapping and bringing up firewood and cooking and... you know the usual!

You have been a blessing to all of us, and a great inspiration. Merry Christmas!

Kim Smith said...

loved this post. makes me feel like there is always hope even when the dawn remains shrouded in doubt.

hugs Marta dear! you deserve everything nice!

Marta Stephens said...

Joylene, thanks so much for being such a true friend!

Aaron, I think the answer is to not stress and try to do everything. Somethings just have to get placed on on the back burner. ;)

Kim, never lose hope! 2009 was one of those lemon years that got squeezed into lemonade at the very last minute! :()