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Author M. J. Schiller on Christmas Traditions

mjOne of the things that make holidays so special is your family’s personal traditions, whether intentional, or unintentional.  What I mean by that is, sometimes you set out to make something a tradition, sometimes it just happens to become one. For instance, one year on the Fourth of July, I just happened to pick up a tub of chocolate ice cream. The next year the kids asked, “Did you get the chocolate ice cream?” I was like, “Huh?” “ You know,” they responded as if I was the slowest person in the world, “for after the fireworks!” I think I lucked out and just happened to have some. Good thing, because in their little minds Fourth of July had come to equal chocolate ice cream.

There are other traditions that you purposefully set about creating. One of those for our family is to read Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve. One year we spent Christmas Eve at my parents’ house in St. Louis and Grandpa got to read the story instead of me. That was pretty cool! Let’s face it, Grandpa’s deep, resonating voice beats Mommy’s out any day. Plus it was fun to have all of the little cousins around participating in our smaller family tradition. I can still remember how the kids looked as he read it, some sitting on the couch next to him, some on the floor in front of him, smiles on their faces and eyes aglow. That made it worth all the effort of packing gifts up and hauling them down to St. Louis, let me tell you!

A second tradition we have, that sort of mirrors the first, is to read the nativity story on Christmas morning before heading downstairs to stockings and gifts. It is a way for us to refocus for a second, calm racing hearts and think about the true meaning of Christmas. Then we hold hands and say a prayer before lining up on the stairs to head down. We do birth order one year, reverse birth order the next. How many of you do the same thing? We take a picture each year to capture the moment.

Now there’s a new tradition that I’d like to start with you, if you don’t do it already. Each year I like to choose a couple of Christmas books to read during December.  Just another way—along with the decorations, music, and special foods—to put me in the mood for the holiday season. Might I interest you in a little holiday romantic suspense novella I’ve written…?coverRockHardPlace_CVR_MED


Between Rock and A Hard Place:

Heath “Hawk” McGowan is a young, single, cop and father. Jasmine Barrett is the rock star who has just discovered her best friend murdered in her own bed.  Jasmine, or “Jazz”, as her fans call her, is not at all what Heath expects when he first meets her. Anticipating having to work with a prima donna, he is surprised to find her sweet and completely unassuming, in addition to being as sexy as her onstage persona. After outlining a number of reasons why he shouldn’t become involved with her—the top reason being he is the lead investigator in the murder of her best friend—Heath finds that he can’t stop himself from falling in love.

Things heat up between the two, especially after Jazz discovers another body in the condominium’s garage, and her terror drives her closer to Heath. Will Heath be able to solve the murders before Jasmine becomes the next victim? Or will he save Jazz, while, at the same time, losing his heart to her?


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Sandra Elzie - December 11, 2013 - 6:24 am

Hi MJ,
Traditions….we have several through the year…and especially at Christmas. We watch all the old favorite Christmas movies during December (White Christmas, Santa Clause, Grinch, etc) go to a candle-light service at church on Christmas Eve…and open gifts on Christmas morning vs Christmas Eve. (We watch Independence Day the night before or the evening of 4th of July)

Between Rock and a Hard Place sounds really good…can’t wait to dig into it…and I agree about reading a couple of Christmas books/stories during the season.

Marilyn Baron - December 13, 2013 - 12:24 am

Great post. I enjoyed reading about your holiday traditions. And your romantic suspense novella sounds great. Thank you so much for being a guest author on our blog. And Merry Christmas.

Connie Gillam - December 13, 2013 - 9:39 am

My kids (they’re adults now) have certain foods that have to be on the table for Christmas. And don’t dare miss with the receipe! I think this connects them to the joy and anticipation of Santa, snow and toys they loved when they were little.

Merry Christmas.

hildie McQueen - December 13, 2013 - 10:33 am

I love the Nativity story tradition. My only tradition is to wait for everyone to gather then we talk about the year that is about to end, our high points and our low points. FInish it by toasting the year ahead.

Pam Asberry - December 13, 2013 - 11:22 am

Thanks for blogging with us today. And I’m happy to have a new title to add to my list of Christmas reads – because that’s a much-anticipated part of the holiday for me! Cheers!

M.J. Schiller, Romance Author - December 13, 2013 - 2:01 pm

Thank you so much for having me today, ladies! I love hearing about traditions from other families. They are all so diverse, yet so special to the people that share them. Hope you enjoy your traditions this year and for many years to come!

Maxine Davis - December 13, 2013 - 8:30 pm

MJ, I really enjoyed your post. Thank you for joining PFHT today. The book sounds fabulous. A must read!

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