Thursday, December 13, 2007

The 12 Authors of Christmas Bonus - Gail Gaymer Martin

Please welcome friend and award winning author, Gail Martin.

I've known Gail for many years, and am honored to serve with her as an Advisor to American Christian Fiction Writers.


Welcome Gail!


Tell us about your first Christmas memory.


My most vivid first Christmas memory was when I was four. Because of Christmas, the physician allowed mom to give birth to my sister at home. She was born on December 23.

Remember, this was many years ago.
I was taken to my aunt's house to spend the night while my mom was in labor, and I recall being confused and wondering why I couldn't be home.

(rh: Gail, how special.)

The next day, Christmas Eve, my aunt took me home. The first thing I recall was the Christmas tree. In my childhood memory, it was in the middle of the living room.


Discussing this with my mom years later, she said my father had brought home a tree too big for our small living room and so to my young mind, it probably appeared to be in the middle of the room.


I remember the lights on the tree, and I remember standing beside it, and looking from there into my mom and dad's bedroom. I knew I had a brand new sister but I was very shy about meeting this interloper coming into our home.


(rh: When my sister came home from the hospital, I couldn't wait to see her. But I was ten.)

I was the first born until then and loved my only child status. My mom beckoned me forward, and finally, I tiptoed to the bedroom doorway, and out of the corner of my eye, I remember seeing a bassinet.
My mom opened her arms, and I moved forward.

The words that came out of my mouth were: "I love you."

I suppose I wanted to be reassured that she still loved me too. I recall thinking how tiny this new little sister was and acknowledged I would rather have had a doll. Today my sister and I are dear friends, and a doll would never have given me a lifetime of companionship and fun as she does.

(rh: Same here.)

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or how you created new ones.


I suppose my family was very typical of most, but we did have some traditions special to us.

We opened our family gifts on Christmas Eve early evening - all except what Santa brought in the morning. Then, our whole family - meaning aunts, uncles and cousins - would visit my mother's oldest sister who lived in the area.

There we received token gifts and visited with family and even some friends who dropped by. About 11 PM, we headed for our midnight church service.

We had to leave earlier when I was old enough to sing in the adult choir. When we arrived home, we hung our stockings, and in the morning before church, we opened our stockings.

I remember then we received little gifts like fruits, nuts, candy, and perhaps some small gifts like school pencils or barrettes. Today, I think, kids expect iPods in their stocking because they're small.

(rh: LOL, probably. Nanopods are even smaller!)

We always had dinner with our extended family, and most of the time, it was at the same aunt's home that we visited on Christmas Eve. I do recall a few Christmas dinners at our house.

I remember being allowed to drink wine with our dinner even as a child. I assume that was a German custom. It usually gave me a headache. Still to this day, we have dinner with siblings and their families, but the Christmas Eve gift opening stopped being Christmas Eve.

With marriage comes another family who wants time with their sons and daughters and grandchildren too, so Christmas Day is also our gift opening time - mainly for the children.

We began another tradition. When we're together, we break up into groups of eleven and sing The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Everyone sings On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree, and then the other eleven groups sing the other verses. Usually my brother demands the Five golden rings verse. He thinks he's king.


When do you put up your tree?

This varies depending on our social schedule and on outside deadlines and pressures. Usually I want it up before the middle of December, and my husband believes in keeping the tree up until Epiphany which is January 6.

(rh: What a beautiful scene, Gail!)

Since our tree is up a long time, two years ago, I gave in and bought an artificial tree with lights (love that part) but it was something I said I would never do.

We actually have two Christmas trees. One's smaller that goes in our sitting room on the second floor. This is where our TV is located plus this computer that's on-line. We spend much time in this room so it needed it's own little slim-line tree.


Bob does the outside lights and decorations with a tiny bit of help from me. Along with white lights, we have a Rudolph character made from logs and twigs and a red bulb for a nose.

Our house has large French-pane windows, and I have candles in each window too and a wreath on the front door and a huge one on the attached garage. Inside, I'm it as far as decorating, except Bob helps get the tree up and helps with the lights and garland which for me is beads.

I treasure my ornaments and have a collection of old ones given to me by special people in my life but also ones that we've collected on vacations.

So many of the ornaments take me back to a warm and fun trip we took in the US and all over the world. I decorate my staircase with draped greens and red bows, and my mantel has greenery with miniature white lights, two candles, and a collection of angels - some are mine and some were my mom's.

I love my angels collection. We have a fiber optic tree for the bay window in our sun room, too, and often I hang greenery around an large archway and decorate that with ornaments or most often its draped with gold and burgundy ribbons and burgundy poinsettias.


What is your favorite Christmas song or album?


Oh my. A lover of music, it's so difficult to name one thing. I have a CD that I play every year which I purchased in Germany and it's a boys choir in the Alps singing German carols.

(rh: Gail has a beautiful voice, y'all!)

I also have a CD of a harpist playing Christmas music which is very lovely. I have another CD that's a blend of all the old Christmas favorites by the artists who made the music famous so it includes Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby and so many others.

Another favorite is Mannheim Steamrollers Christmas CDs. If I were to select a favorite Christmas hymn other than Silent Night, it would probably be Whence Comes This Rush of Wings or What Child Is This.

Relive your Christmas morning.

As children, we couldn't wait to see what Santa brought. We would dart out when we woke up. If our parents weren't awake, they were when we let out our yells.

There bedroom was off the living room area. When we had Christmas Day services at church, we were shuffled quickly from our gifts to get ready to go to church. I love Christmas morning because Bob and I still give each other stocking gifts and they're so fun to see how creative we can be.

(rh: I think I should revisit this stocking idea...)


Tell us About Your Christmas Setting.

Michigan. Usually snow, blustery and cold. If no snow, it's still cold. I do love snow for Christmas and then send me Hawaiian weather. We're in the Detroit area but our little town has the feeling of distance. Our street is dirt with many evergreens, and all houses are different and have their own angles so it’s a pretty sight.

Christmas Eve - describe the day and evening.


Christmas Eve day is usually preparing food for Christmas dinner that can be prepared ahead of time.

As I mentioned, we eat as a family with our siblings on Christmas Day. The hosts prepare the meat, potatoes and gravy, but everyone else brings contributions to the meal - salads, veggies, desserts and appetizers.

Bob and I open our gifts on Christmas Eve usually, but this year we will attend both worship services because of handbells, handchimes, and choir so Christmas Eve is a bevy of confusion.

We have a 6 PM and an 11 PM service. Sometimes we've been invited to someone's home from the choir or musical groups for treats and wait for the next service. So we never know.


Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

I proudly say I avoid malls at all cost. I'm definitely an on line shopper but I also do something else. Since we're blessed to do a lot of traveling and usually out of the country a couple times of the year, I buy gifts as they strike me for my husband and family. I tuck them away in two storage areas I have for that purpose and "voila" I'm ready for Christmas.

(rh: Nice idea to look for gifts all year.)

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?


Christmas has always been Jesus birthday to me. It's a time of music and praise and a time to be with loved ones - family and friends. It's always been that way and always will.

Since my teen years, giving has always been more fun than receiving. I love participating in the Giving Tree at our church where we purchase gifts for strangers who have so little and for woman and their families at Haven which is a women's shelter.

This is what gives me joy. Bob and I support a Haitian child through Compassion and I love sending as much as they allow (which isn't much) to help this child have a special day.

Loving and giving is Christmas, when God gave us the greatest Gift possible, our Savior and Lord, born in a manger to save us from our sins.

Christmas Day – what's for dinner?

What's Christmas dinner without turkey, but we often have a second meat. Bob loves to make pork tenderloin. Some make a ham.

Others a pork roast. Stuffing is important and we sometimes have two - traditional bread stuffing and the other is rice stuffing. Bob sometimes makes his grandmother's nut strudel, and we usually make Itallian pizzelles.

(rh: Sounds lovely!)

I bake a variety of cookies but two that I love are thumb-print cookies which I've already made for this year and a nut roll up that is so fattening you’d gain 10 lbs just smelling them. They're made with butter, eggs and flour with a nut filling.


Favorite Christmas memory?


Having a home of my own big enough to host the family dinner is one that I recall. Another is when my sister's husband was in the military and came home, surprising everyone on Christmas Eve.


(rh: What a powerful time. Those are moments of great Christmases.)

What are your plans for the season?


This year we will eat at my sister's home. I am the Easter dinner person for this round of holidays.

My brother and wife had Thanksgiving. Good thing we didn't have four siblings. One would be left out of a holiday dinner unless we added the Fourth of July. We have gifts for the children - but I often have a token gift for others.

This year it will be my newest book, And Baby Makes Five and also some candy we brought back from our trip to Greece and Turkey in September.

It's called Turkish Delight. By the way, I have gifts put away from that trip for my siblings birthdays. We still exchanges gifts for birthdays.


Final thoughts
Since the Christmas message is "Peace on Earth," I wish everyone blessings and peace. May we all pray that wars will cease and loved ones can return home from war, that the jobless find jobs, the homeless obtain homes, and the hungry have food.

When I look at my wonderful life filled with so many blessings, I can weep for those who struggle to find one iota of comfort and peace. Lord, grant us all your blessings.

The official work on Gail
Gaymer Martin.

Multi-award-winning author, Gail Gaymer Martin, writes for Steeple Hill, Barbour Publishing, and Writers Digest.

Gail has signed forty fiction contracts and has over 1 million books in print. She is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers and a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at conference across the U.S.

She has a Masters degree and post-master's classes from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

Look for her book, Writing the Christian Romance from Writers Digest released at the end of December 2007. Visit her website at www.gailmartin.com and her blog site on Writing Fiction Right at www.writingright-martin.blogspot.com

Thanks Gail for coming by! What great memories.

Gail is giving away a free copy of her book, "Family In His Heart" January 2008. Leave a comment to be eligible for a drawing!

15 comments:

Cherie J said...

Enjoyed the interview. Thanks for sharing Gail!

Brittanie said...

I love your books. Enter me please. :)

Ausjenny said...

Gail thanks for sharing, I was beginning to think no one went to a Christmas day service in America.
its interesting reading about the different ways people celbrate. It wouldn't be christmas here (in Australia) if i didn't go to the Christmas day service.
Please enter me in the contest.
ausjenny [at] gmail.com

ChristyJan said...

I enjoyed hearing your memories of Christmas.

windycindy said...

"Seasons Greetings!" What a lovely interview. I love to read about writers. It gives me an insight into their writings! Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories. Amazing what we remember. Please enter me in the contest for your wonderful book! Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Melissa Markham said...

It is so much fun to read the Chrismtas memories of other. Thanks for the great giveaway!

windycindy said...

Hello! Thanks for the fantastic interview and a great book giveaway! Please enter me in the contest. Thanks,Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

windycindy said...

Sorry, I left two comments before I realized it. Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Laura K said...

What a wonderful interview. Please enter me in for the book.

cute said...

Good interview. Please enter me in your contest.

dodo said...

Awesome interview! I learned a lot!

angelaandconnor at gmail.com said...

Great giveaway!! Sign me up!

lev53211 said...

great interview- please enter me!

Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings said...

Great interview.

blogged ya:

http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2007/12/friday-edition-of-contests-galore_14.html

buddyt said...

One of the better interviews I have read in awhile.

Please enter me in the giveaway.
Thank you.

Carol

bthompson[AT] uti.co.za