Monthly Archives: December 2010

Holiday Traditions

Can you ever love the holidays the way you loved them as a child?  When you’re a kid, the holiday season just… happens.  You don’t schedule vacation.  School just stops.  You don’t have to buy a tree or haul decorations out from storage.  You don’t mail Christmas cards or plan the menu.  Stuff just magically appears.  Like Santa.

But for grown-ups, Christmas could simply be a date on a calendar.  It would be so easy — tempting even — to just skip Christmas.

But I refuse.  Maybe it’s the memories of Christmas as a child, but I still need my holiday.  I wish little elves (or maybe some less creepy type of minions) would show up magically under cover of night and make Christmas happen, but it takes effort.  And so many of the efforts we make during the holiday season come from tradition.

I thought I’d share some of my household’s holiday traditions.

Tree Night

We skipped the tree business for a couple of years because floor space in Manhattan is precious, and setting up a tree is a pain in the bum.  But a few years ago, we had dinner at a favorite neighborhood spot, and something about the season hit us.  The restaurant was decorated with traditional white lights and garland.  There was talk of an early snow.  We passed a row of Christmas trees outside the Asian deli next door, and I knew I needed the smell of pine again.  We paid our cash, each grabbed one end of the tree, and dragged that bad boy up University Drive to our apartment.  Each year since, we always go to the same restaurant and deli for tree night.


It’s not the best looking tree, but it contains memories.  I bought those red velvet bows at a drug store in Portland when I was too poor in college to buy ornaments but desperately wanted a tree.  That angel came from a landscaping store in Buffalo and was too tacky to ignore.  That sad-looking plastic shrub on the cabinet served as our tree for those two years we skipped the real thing, so still gets a place in the apartment next to its larger, more authentic sister.

Turkey Frying

Before I met my husband, I prided myself on my turkey-roasting abilities.  I stuffed the bird.  I basted every 15 minutes.  I monitored the temperature like a worried mother.  But then I met a boy who was fascinated by turkey friers.  I discovered an electric version that could be used indoors or out.  I bought said boy a turkey frier, a turkey, and 13 Manhattan-grocery-store sized jars of peanut oil for Christmas.  Our apartment smelled like french fries for three days.

That boy’s now my husband, and we now have fried turkey at Christmas.

The Music

I have bad taste in music. Well, I don’t think it’s bad, but I’ve been told by enough people that it’s bad that I’ve come to accept that description.  My bad taste in music is also reflected in my choice of Christmas tunes.  I don’t listen to the classics.  They’re classics to me, but apparently not to others. The PretendersU2Mariah CareyMadonna. The Waitresses (even though I spent years thinking this song was by Bananarama.)  Elton JohnWhamHarry Connick, Jr. John Cougar.  Mellencamp.  Whatever.  Bing Crosby & David Bowie (though I dare anyone to say this isn’t classic, enough so to be spoofed in this version).

And every Christmas season, I listen to the Band Aid effort, “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” until my husband’s ears bleed.

The Movies

Sure, I’m a sucker for TV’s the Grinch and Charlie Brown’s Christmas, but when it comes to movies, here again, I eschew the classics for more recent and less overtly Christmas-y fare.

Home Alone.

The Ref.


I watch these movies every single year at least once.

And every year, I have to watch at least this scene from “Scrooge.”  Thank you very much, Albert Finney.

Texas Grapefruit from Grandmother

My paternal grandmother sent us all the same gift every year: a box of Texas grapefruit and chunk of Havarti cheese.  She passed away at the age of 101 two autumns ago, but to my surprise, that familiar yellow Pittman & Davis box arrived in the mail the following December and showed up again last week.  My parents have been placing the orders, and my hope is that decades from now my nieces and nephews will be exchanging Texas grapefruits and Havarti for reasons they aren’t even sure of.


Speaking of those lucky children who bear no responsibilities on Christmas, the Duffer gets showered with treats, toys, and his own stocking, and has only one job during the holiday season: to be cute for the Christmas card photo.  This year, Duffer’s photo is with PetCo Santa Claus.  Neither of them looks very happy to be there, but I’m pretty sure Duffer would want you to have this.


Whatever your holiday traditions, I hope they fill you with happiness.  Thank you, as always, for your continued support of me and my work.  I look forward to sharing more news with you in 2011.

Happy New Year!

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These Are a Few of My Favorite (Silly Online) Things

Ah, the joys of holiday shopping…

It took only a few images like these for me to head straight to the safety of my desk for all my holiday shopping needs.  As in years past, I thought you might enjoy seeing a few of my favorite (mostly ridiculous) online finds this year.

10.        Blink Ketchup and Mustard Bottles

Your hotdog and hamburger eaters will love these.  The eyes close when you flip the bottle over!  Adorable and creepy, all in one bundle.  (Or technically two.  Whatevs, they’re cute.)

9.      Fire Bell Alarm Clock

From Moss, one of my favorite modern design stores in New York, this clock looks incredibly cool and is supposed to be as loud as a fire bell.

Moss, incidentally, is the same store that sells this $85,000 chair made from stuffed Panda bears.  (No, I do not have one.  Should I ever purchase one, you are welcome to start boycotting my books.)

8.  Girly-Girl Roller Skates

Okay, that’s not really what they’re called, but that’s what I’ve dubbed them.  As a kid, I used to skate until my feet bled.  These make me want to spin in circles until I fall down from dizziness.

7.    Bacon Soap

We all know someone who says everything is better with bacon.  (Come on, people, you know who you are!)  This soap, which looks and smells like bacon, will put that theory to the test.

6.  Toph Daddy Area Code T-shirts

A few of you were sweet enough to bring these to my attention after my most recent book, 212, was published.  I love my 212 shirt.  They also have ones for Boston, LA, and Chicago.

5. Edible Gingerbread Playhouse

Every year I love to peruse Neiman Marcus’s “Fantasy Gifts.”  Nothing will ever beat last year’s Cupcake Car, but this $15,000 edible gingerbread playhouse gives me a new understanding of how rich, crazy people make weird, bratty kids.

And, just for old time’s sake, here’s a reminder of last year’s Cupcake Car.  Choice excerpt from the catalog description: “Ever had a crowd of kids chasing after you just for the crazy gleeful heck of it?”  No.  And that’s how it should be. Anyone who actually purchased this thing should be on a neighborhood watch list.

4.  Mystery Solver Trucker Hat

This hat is supposed to be an homage to Frank, the trucker-hat-wearing comedy writer on 30 Rock, but I suspect I’ve got a few pals out there who might just rock a Mystery Solver hat without any irony.

3. Keurig Coffee Maker

Okay, no comedy here but I love my Keurig coffee maker that brews single cups with no muss, no fuss. Total time saver.  No soggy grounds.  Awesome.

2.  Soda Stream Soda Maker

No kidding around here, either, folks.  I like to think my home carbonation machine makes up for all those K-cups I’m throwing away thanks to the Keurig coffee maker.  Soda Stream even has a delivery service to send back your CO-2 tanks for refill.  Anyone who drinks sparking water should own one of these.  Added bonus: It makes funny noises that the seven year old boys in your life (in my case, the husband) will enjoy.

1.  And the Number One Holiday Gift This Season:

Now, what could I possibly suggest as the #1 gift for the holidays?  How about… BOOKS!  You know how fun it is to discover a new writer with a backlist so you can read all the books in order?  Consider introducing your friends to a new-to-them writer by buying them the first few books in a series.  Books are inexpensive, personal, and a cinch to wrap with all those right angles!

If you decide to package either the Samantha Kincaid or Ellie Hatcher series for someone on your shopping list, please let me know if you’d like either a short emailed note from me or personalized, signed bookplates to accompany the gift.  As always, I am so thankful for the word of mouth support the folks on this list are so generous with.

While you’re online, you might want to check out the advance praise for my next book, LONG GONE.  The publication date is in June, but it’s already available for pre-order.

Happy shopping, everyone.  More importantly, Happy Holidays!