December 22, 2020

December 22, 2020

More Belinda Magic!     

Like any Advent Calendar, The Girl Who Found Christmas ends on December 25.

But some of Belinda’s readers would like to know what happens next…  what happens when her mom comes home?  Even Belinda wants to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?? Does she get to stay home from school for a long time since her mom was gone for a long time (that seems fair to Belinda!).   

Will there be cookies or a party or a special trip?  Will Elizabeth and Andrew come over and meet her mom?  Will they go sledding or make snowmen? So many questions!

December 26 and December 27 give readers a chance to see what’s happening and maybe share some ideas about what should come next!  Belinda loves new ideas!!

Visit Red Mitten Books on Instagram or Facebook and download the new chapters. Or download Belinda After Christmas right here!  

Please be sure to let me know what you think! 

 

 

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December 17, 2020

December 17, 2020

A Very Special Review…  AND Only Eight More Days!  

I am always glad to hear from readers whose children enjoyed The Girl Who Found Christmas. But yesterday I got a review that made me cry happy tears.

An Instagram friend – who is an author and extraordinary illustrator – wrote to tell me that she had purchased a copy of my book for her 89-year-old grandmother who has dementia. Apparently this particular grandmother loves to read, and she enjoys the book and follows along each day with enthusiasm.

When I wrote the book, my goal was to tell a story that would help children enjoy both the spiritual Christmas and the traditional Christmas magic. I hoped that parents and grandparents would share stories of their own traditions as children read about the Christmas activities of my six-year-old heroine, Belinda, and her less than angelic cat, Custard.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that an 89-year-old woman with dementia would delight in the daily stories of Belinda’s adventures. And that those stories would make her smile.

I am thankful to the woman whose kind spirit reaches out to find entertainment for her grandmother. And shares the reaction of her grandmother with me! She even sent me a picture, but I think that’s probably a little too private to share.

I hug this review to my heart as Christmas draws closer and I know that I will never be able to reach as many children as I hoped. But the good news is that the message shows up in unexpected places.

And as my wonderful children remind me, Christmas comes every year. So, perhaps, the book will find its way to more children – and even more grandmothers – next year!

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December 10, 2010

December 10, 2010

Book cover

So Many Gifts… 

Illustrator Dayne Sislen sent me a surprise Christmas gift, and I am excited to share it with readers of The Girl Who Found Christmas

The surprise is a coloring page that looks exactly like the cover of the book – all that’s missing is the color that your child or grandchild can add! Just click on the link to download   Coloring page TGWFC

Another unexpected gift was a wonderful review from the author of 2 Very Rare Bears!  If you haven’t read the story of Harry and George, you are in for a treat. Author G.S. Worth said my book “wrapped her in Christmas.” I can’t imagine anything better!

I hope to hear from more readers and would love to get some pictures I can place on my refrigerator! Use the Comments section or the Contact Us page! 

Only 15 more days till Christmas. I can hardly wait!! 

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December 1, 2020

December 1, 2020

Believe Christmas Mug

Believe…  

This December is unlike any other in my lifetime. I won’t be lifting a candle and singing in the choir on Christmas Eve, and I won’t be spending it with family. And yet, it is a miracle.

Five years ago, my husband and I remarried after 13 years apart. When the officiant at Union Theological Seminary on New York’s Upper West Side asked why we were going to the trouble of a big ceremony when many people our age would not, I said that we had been given a miracle in finding each other again. And that miracles have to be honored. As the first December miracle must be honored.

We were blessed, five years ago, with family and friends all around us. Our son was the Best Man and our daughter a Bridesmaid. Our grandsons were ushers. And family came from all over the country to spend Christmas in New York with us. They helped us honor the miracle that we had been given, and we are forever thankful.

Our elder grandson played the guitar and sang at our reception, tailoring a song to our age! And our younger grandson read a poem that he had written, after which there was not a dry eye in the house. Toasts from our son and daughter, and from my college roommate, connected all of our guests with laughter and shared stories.

Family came from as far away as the State of Washington, as well as Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Florida. New York in December is an expensive proposition, yet all of them were joyful and gracious about celebrating with us and loved everything from the giant tree at Rockefeller Plaza to watching ice skating at the Wollman Rink in Central Park. It was a magical time, in a magical place.

My husband and I have loved New York for many years, and people tease me that I should write a “Hallmark Channel” story about our engagement at the top of the Empire State Building. Temperature at ground level that night was 21 degrees, and I can’t imagine what it was on the Observation Deck. Unlike the usual crowded conditions, the Observation Deck was empty – all the sensible people had gone somewhere for a  warm drink no doubt!

But the cold weather brought a brilliant clarity to the darkness, and the lights of the art deco Chrysler Building sparkled in the night sky. We felt lucky to have that view all to ourselves, albeit a little frozen! Before long, I noticed my once and future husband reaching in his pocket for a small box. His hands were shaking in the cold, and the silly wool hat on his head was gathering icicles. But he persevered and opened the box, offering me a ring that would never have been possible when we first got married so many years ago.

When he asked if I would marry him all over again, I actually asked if he was sure! I guess that sometimes miracles have a way of sneaking up on me, and it takes awhile for me to believe it.

So this blog post is not about my book. It’s about miracles. And believing. I hope that you who read this post – and, perhaps, read my book, will believe in your own miracles this year. And thank you for listening. I am thankful.

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November 1, 2020

November 1, 2020

November 1, 2020

Christmas candles

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

 

Families who are able to gather together for Thanksgiving are truly blessed this year. But many of us will find other ways to be thankful without a turkey!

I have a Thanksgiving tradition that people have told me is unusual, but, as a writer, it seems perfect for me.

Starting in 1987, I have written a letter (well, sometimes an email) every year, saying thank you to one or more people who made a difference in my life during the previous year. Most people are startled when they receive a Thanksgiving letter, and many have said that they began a Thanksgiving letter tradition of their own. We are all familiar with the “what’s new with us” Christmas letter, but this is very different. Sometimes it’s easy to decide who should get a letter. Sometimes it takes a little more thinking. But when you start thinking about being thankful, a name will eventually come to you.

I have almost always written these letters in a dark room in a silent household. There are fewer intrusions, and I am less likely to second guess myself about whether a message is “too emotional” or “uncomfortable.” I write from my heart, and no recipient has ever complained about these letters. So, I just keep going!

Today is November 5, so I still have some time this year. My tradition requires that the letter (or letters) has to be in the hands of recipients by Thanksgiving Day, which is November 26 (if you are in the United States). Our Canadian neighbors already celebrated Thanksgiving (October 12).

I have some readers in Australia and New Zealand, so I checked to see if they celebrate Thanksgiving. Answer: No, they don’t, and according to a great blog post, “This is quite understandable, given that Australia is a place where, back in the 1600s, there were plenty of kangaroos, but neither Native Americans nor Pilgrims.” However, Puerto Rico celebrates Thanksgiving by putting up a tree and kicking off the Christmas season (¡Wepa!)*

Back to the letter(s) I have to write this year! I wish I could send a personal thank you letter to all of the people who make it possible for us to keep going through this virus. Doctors, nurses, hospital staff. Grocery store personnel. Delivery drivers. They deserve my gratitude, and they certainly have it. And my prayers. But I’m still procrastinating on writing this year’s letter(s).

So how do I figure out who the recipient should be? I have some tricks that help a lot! Sometimes listening to Christmas music, smelling an evergreen potpourri, lighting a candle will remind me that it’s very easy to let special moments go by. Unless you’re always on the lookout for them, they come and go unnoticed.

But the sights and smells and sounds I associate with Christmas remind me to be thankful. Sometimes it’s just a small thing that I remember – a kindness that brought happiness. And sometimes, when I get it right, there’s a smile that gets to my face all uninvited.

The funny thing is that, just like Christmas itself always comes, so does a memory of thankfulness. And being thankful is a great way to prepare for the incredible thankfulness of Christmas!

*Please know that I am not a Spanish speaker, nor do I know the nuance of language in Puerto Rico. I tried to find a way to say, “Congratulations, Puerto Rico!” and this is what I found. If there is a better way to say it, I hope someone will let me know in the Comments!

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October 1, 2020

October 1, 2020

October 1, 2020

Blog October 2020

Boo!  …

I am not a big fan of Halloween these days, but I find myself wishing that kids could enjoy the “trick or treat” of simpler times. There are so many things that children have lost this year, and I hope that parents are finding creative ways to keep their children safe and enjoy crazy costumes at the same time – even if they only wear them at home! If I had little ones in the family, I would want video, to see what this year’s costumes look like. We have a great-niece in California who will be dressed like a skunk – her costume is adorable – and I think her sister is a dog. They are having fun, carving pumpkins, and perhaps, thinking about a bigger and better Halloween next year.

When my children were little, no one bought costumes! All of us (with or without seamstress skills) made costumes. One year, we used a large cardboard box to create a Rubik’s cube for our son’s costume (that was a good one!). Another year, we covered a football helmet with aluminum foil to make a “spaceman” outfit. Not exactly a showstopper, but it didn’t matter.

One year I used white sheets to make an angel costume for my daughter (remember when I said that I can’t sew??). I think I stapled the hem together so she wouldn’t trip, and her daddy made wings, which were WAY above my pay grade! She looked quite wonderful – at least long enough for some pictures and making the rounds of our neighbors with trick or treat bags.

I have happy memories of trick or treating when I was a child, including a year when I was too sick to go out in the cold. My father was very playful that year, creating a costume for himself in the basement, then walking around to the front of the house and ringing the doorbell. He fooled me every time and made me laugh, which was the goal. If I couldn’t go out, at least I could enjoy guessing who the secret trick or treater was!

We used to do that, by the way. When children appeared at our door, we didn’t just hand them some candy. Instead we would try to guess who was inside the costume. Very often we knew perfectly well who it was, so we could make silly guesses and laugh – “Are you Superman? No? Are you Clark Kent? Oh. You must be –  Jimmy Nolan from down the street!”  After which there was much laugher and plenty of candy changed hands. I am not sure when that guessing game stopped, but I think we lost something in the process. Connecting with the kid behind the mask was fun for everybody. And being wrong a few times made it even better.

So I will hold onto my memories of Halloweens past and look forward to my favorite holiday of all!!

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