Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The 12 Authors of Christmas Tour Welcomes Gayle Roper

Welome author and friend, Gayle Roper.

I can't remember the first time I met Gayle, but I knew of her reputation and had looked forward to meeting her one day. She's warm and loving, devoted to the Lord, and fabulous writer with a kind smile. Gayle is a great mentor to new writers and support to those who've been around awhile.

Let's read about her Christmas memories.

Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

I remember going to the front window and looking out to see if my grandparents were in sight since we weren't allowed to open gifts until they came. And there was a new blue two wheel bike! Big stuff!

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

My grandparents always came to us since both my parents were only children. Grandmom and Grandpop Gordinier always came a day early since they drove from Harrisburg to our house in NJ. Grandpop always gave us a silver dollar and Grandmom always brought red and white sweet popcorn.

Today with our children and their families we take turns hosting. This year will be our turn. We usually have our Christmas before the 25th so that the kids can enjoy the big morning in their own homes with no pressure to have to be anywhere. Celebrating on a different date also saves everyone the tension of balancing competing families.

(rh: You're so right. In my late twenties, I was single, lived away from the family, and traveled a lot for my job. For Christmas I'd go to my parents, but on Christmas day, we'd all drive to Grandparents or relatives. Those years were fun but in my mind, also exhausting.)

When do you put up your tree? At my house, it goes up right after Thanksgiving. Describe the decorating at your house.

Our tree goes up sometime in the first couple of weeks of December and stays up until well into January. Once it's up, it's too pretty to take down. (:

We finally caved a couple of years ago and bought an artificial tree. Prior to that we usually went to a tree farm and cut our tree. Chuck helps set it up, but I do the lights and the decorating.

I find myself moving things for about a week after I hang them to get the right balance.

(rh: Oh, me too!)

I always buy several poinsettias because they are the fastest way to decorate the rest of the house. Among my prized possessions is a lovely ceramic creche scene that my mom painted.

What is your favorite Christmas song or album? I grew up with a Johnny Mathis Christmas CD and it’s still one of my favorites. My other is a copy of Mel Torme singing his "Christmas Song."

When I was in college, I participated for the first time in a presentation of Handel's Messiah. The college engaged professional soloists and musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra and Curtis Institute of Music. Top notch all the way. I still remember the goosebumps I got when I heard "The Trumpet Shall Sound" for the first time.

(rh: It had to be wonderful.)

As an adult I sang with a local choral group led by a Westminster Choir College grad, and we did the Messiah every year.

Christmas morning, my parents didn't want us in the living room until the tree was plugged in. So, we'd wake up early, five a.m. or so, and bang on the floor to stir my parents awake. Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.

My brothers and I had permission to take our stockings down and open them whenever we woke up, but we weren't allowed to touch anything else. I still remember the deflated feeling the first year I didn't believe in Santa Claus. Not nearly as much fun.

(rh: Even though Santa is not real, it's the magic of someone like him that engages us, don't you think? That's why we hate to find out he's not real.)

Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, but I've been a Florida girl for 33 years! Tell us about your Christmas setting?

Living in southeastern PA now and NJ growing up, I've experienced the same Christmas weather all my life: unpredictable.

There have been times it was in the fifties and you stare at your new sled or ice skates and wonder if you'll ever get to use them. Then there have been years when the snow made traveling difficult or impossible. You just never know.

It's Christmas Eve. Describe your day and evening.

For years Christmas Eve day was rushing around doing last minute get ready things. Christmas Eve was the service at church. Then our older son became a pastor. Now Christmas Eve is going to his church.

One special Eve we got to take communion with his in-laws, just our little group, served by Chip, our son. Very special. Last year for the first time we shared Christmas Eve with Chip's birth mother and step-brother.

(rh: Gayle, how wonderful! Christmas is a time for unique family interaction.)

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

I have a strong antipathy for malls. Too crowded and they make me greedy.

(rh: LOL, me too.)

Seeing all that stuff I "need" and I didn't even realize it! So I do as much as possible on line. When I do have to go to the stores, I go during the day when the crowds are much slighter.

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

Christmas is, of course, the Incarnation, but I am thankful for that all year. And Jesus probably wasn't born on Dec. 25th anyway.

So while I appreciate the spiritual significance of the day and would never want to forget it, I find family is very high on my list, too. We happen to enjoy our families and that makes the holidays fun and enjoyable.

(rh: I feel very much the same way.)

It's Christmas day, what's for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

I used to bake cookies and enjoyed it. Then it became a chore, so I do not bake anything for the holidays. I'd just eat it anyway.

We do have special dishes we serve with the turkey. I make onions au gratin and my daughter-in-law makes a carrot dish with just enough horse radish to give it a kick. (yum)

At the big Roper get together (25-28 people) I serve filet roasts since by then everyone's already turkeyed out. My one sister-in-law brings her scalloped tomatoes, a niece brings creamed mushrooms (which my husband loves but I can't stand the smell of) and we have home made pies.

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

Divest yourself of any expectations. That way whatever happens is enjoyable. If your family is nice to you, you're ahead, and if they aren't, you didn't expect it. If you get what you want, you're delighted. If you don't, you can roll with it. No expectations.

And remember Jesus, not just the Babe, but the crucified Savior.

The official word on Gayle Roper.

GAYLE ROPER is the award winning author of more than forty-five books. She has been a Christy finalist three times for her novels Spring Rain, Summer Shadows and Winter Winds.

Her novel Autumn Dreams won the 2004 Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance of the year. Summer Shadows was selected as the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Book of the Year (tied with Brandilyn Collins).

Gayle has won the Holt Medallion three times for The Decision, Caught in a Bind, and Autumn Dreams. The Decision won the Reviewers Choice Award, and Gayle has also won the Award of Excellence for Spring Rain and the Golden Quill for Summer Shadows and Winter Winds. Romantic Times Book Report gave Gayle the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her Amhearst mystery series, Caught in the Middle, Caught in the Act, and Caught in a Bind , originally published by Zondervan, has been reprinted in 2007 by Love Inspired Suspense with a fourth original title added, Caught Redhanded.

Another original single title, See No Evil, is also being released. Caught in the Middle has been optioned for film.

A Woman and her Emotions, an updated and expanded version of her title Balancing Your Emotions, is also seeing release in 2007. Another nonfiction title, Riding the Waves, has been called a "thinking woman’s book on contentment."

For her work in training Christian writers Gayle has won special recognition from Mount Hermon CWC, St. Davids CWC, Florida CWC, and Greater Philadelphia CWC. She directed St. Davids for five years and Sandy Cove CWC for six. She has taught with Christian Leaders, Authors and Speakers Services (CLASS), serving for several years as their writer in residence.

Gayle enjoys speaking at women's events across the nation and loves sharing the powerful truths of Scripture with humor and practicality. "It is always a delight to talk about the issues of life in the light of the Word of God."

She lives with her husband Chuck in southeastern Pennsylvania where they enjoy their family of two great sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and the world's five most wonderful grandkids. Gayle enjoys reading, gardening, and eating out every time she can talk Chuck into it.


Ausjenny said...

Sounds like some nice traditions.
i like the "Divest yourself of any expectations. That way whatever happens is enjoyable." this is really good advice.
Thanks for sharing your christmas memories and traditions. i love reading them all.

Sabrina L. Fox said...

WHAT??? Santa's not real? Thanks a lot for bursting that bubble, Gayle. LOL.

I love Gayle's writing and loved sitting at her table at the ACFW conference. She was so engaging and such a great listener. :)

Love that you're doing these interviews Rachel. :)

Tracy Ruckman said...

Great interview, Gayle. It's nice to "run into you" here!

Rachel - I'm truly enjoying all of these stories. Getting to know all the authors is a great Christmas treat for ME!

Merry Christmas to all of you!

squiresj said...

I enjoyed reading about Gayle's Christmas memories. Because this year I am reliving a lot of memories. There will be no tree for me this year as I cannot decorate it or any baked goods. But I am not down over that. My oldest moved to Indiana so she won't be here either. But decorations are nice but the peace and presence in my heart is more. I had an ankle fusion in Sept. who would have thought about it messing up my holidays back in August. I love Gayle's books and website. She's an inspiration. God Bless.