Sunday, December 09, 2007

The ninth 12th Author of Christmas - Jill Nelson

Hi everyone! Please welcome my friend and fabo author, Jill Nelson. She writes intrigue-adventure-romance stories that spark the reader's faith.

I'm honored to have her stop by the Christmas tour!

Let's read about Jill's Christmas memories.

Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

This isn't my earliest memory, but it was something I was reminiscing about just the other day. I was in grade school at the time. My father was the pastor of our church and was working on the Christmas program. I found a poem I liked in a book and suggested someone read it for the program. He smiled and assigned that task to me - and I had to memorize it, too.

I learned a valuable lesson that day: When you make a suggestion, be prepared to carry it out yourself! It's also a treasured memory since my father passed away suddenly when I was 18.

(rh: Jill, I'm sorry to hear your Dad died so young. But what a great memory to have of him.)

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

We open our presents on Christmas morning, not Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is set aside for attending candlelight church service. Always a beautiful, blessed time!

When do you put up your tree? At my house, it goes up right after Thanksgiving. My husband works assembly and outside lights. I do the rest. Describe the decorating at your house.

The tree goes up the first weekend after Thanksgiving. I don't do ANY Christmas decorating until after our family has given proper thanks on the special day set aside nationally for that purpose. Besides, I love the fall decorations. Why would I want to switch them out before winter even hits?

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."

We wouldn't miss our town's local Country Christmas production. It's amazing how much musical talent is contained in our rural area. The annual event really gets us in the Christmas spirit. Tryouts for the production take place in the summer, they practice intensely starting in the early fall, and then put on a quality show I'd stack up against big city troupes any day!

(rh: What a great tradition.)

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.

Early was the name of the game. Sometimes when we showed up in their bedroom at 4 a.m., our groaning parents sent us back to the sack. My sisters and I shuffled off reluctantly for another sleepless hour or two, but we knew better than to sneak into the living room until everyone was up and at 'em.

When we finally got the go ahead, the dash was on. After checking out the Jolly Old Elf contributions, we opened up our presents that were under the tree for each other.

We always took turns opening from youngest to oldest so everyone got to see everyone else's blessings. Lots of oohing and aahing.

The first time my husband attended one of my family's Christmas celebrations, he was amazed at this practice. No one paid attention to anyone else's gifts at his house. They all ripped stuff open simultaneously and basically went and put them away at the first opportunity. At first, he thought my family's way was weird, but he likes it now.

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

In Minnesota, we usually have snow, but there have been a few "black" Christmases. No, I don't mean depressing; I'm just saying the opposite of white. We can't call it "green," because no snow in winter here means a barren landscape - lots of black dirt in the fields, dark tree limbs stark against the sky. It's actually a rather striking tableau.

It's Christmas Eve, describe your day and evening.

Busy, busy, busy in the morning and afternoon with cleaning house, meal preparations for the next day, wrapping last minute gifts, and - um - nibbling Christmas baking. Late afternoon is the candlelight service. Then we come home to a supper of oyster stew and hot dogs. (Gotta go with simple after all the other work.) Then we read the Christmas story from the Bible and take communion before bed.

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

Some of each. But I definitely do NOT shop the day after Thanksgiving. My husband and I tried that misadventure once with my brother's family when we had just celebrated Thanksgiving in Minneapolis at my sister's place.

We arrived at a Walmart at around 4:30 a.m. for the 5:00 a.m. opening and had to park at least a block away. We stood in line a good football field distant from the doors.

As soon as the holy portals were unlocked, machine gun fire went off. I nearly hit the deck . . . until I realized it was only the people in nearby cars leaping out and slamming their doors. Of course, they all bucked ahead in line.

When we finally surged into the building, thoroughly chilled from the freezing weather outside, we could hardly move for wall-to-wall people. Doug and I ended up finding a bench out of the way and just watching folks battle for whatever treasures they came for. Never again!

(rh: I've never braved the day-after. Probably never will. ;)

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

A celebration of the greatest gift of all - Immanuel! God with us! The very concept is awesome beyond belief. That God, the eternal, almighty Creator would take on a flesh and blood body and go through the whole messy birth process to not only live among us, but die with the full burden of our sin upon Him! No wonder fallen humanity has trouble getting their heads around this concept and opening up their hearts to His love.

(rh: Amen. He does love us so very much.)

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

When I was a child, my favorite was my mom's gingerbread men. She made one special for each of us with our names on them in frosting.

Now when we happen to be at my mom's for Christmas day, I adore her anise cookies. The meal is pretty traditional with ham and meatballs and green bean casserole. Oh, and the hors d'oeuvres! Pigs in blankets, mini-pizzas, chips and dip, cheese and crackers. Love! Love! Love! (Can you tell I sorta like the holiday feasting?)

(rh: Yum. What time shall I be there?)

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

When I was a kid, I had the brainstorm to play Santa for my parents. I bought little things on the sly, sewed them stockings out of felt, and then filled them on Christmas night.

My folks were very surprised when I dragged them into the toy room and showed them what Santa brought. Well, they acted surprised anyway. I got such joy in pulling off my little stunt.

(rh: What a great idea. How sweet, Jill!)

What are you plans for this season?

Christmas Day will be our immediate family. Our four kids plan to be at our house, plus one spouse and a serious boyfriend.

We'll open gifts, eat yummy stuff, play board games, or lie around watching movies. Oh, and laugh a lot. To me, that's about as perfect as a day gets. Extended family celebrations will occur the weekends before and after Christmas. Those will be way more hectic.

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

Whatever you need to do in order to pull it off, if at all possible, be together with someone you love. Share your adoration of the Christ child and laugh as much as possible. Joy to the world!

The Official Word on Jill Nelson.

Jill Elizabeth Nelson writes what she likes to read - tales of adventure, intrigue, and romance laced with soul-stirring faith. "Reluctant Burglar" and "Reluctant Runaway," the first two installments of her "To Catch A Thief" series, are on bookstore shelves now.

"Reluctant Smuggler," book three, releases on January 15 to acclaim from the
Library Journal and Romantic Times magazine.

Jill and her husband Doug live in rural
Minnesota, with their four grown children also living in the area. No grandchildren yet, but they are blessed with a wide variety of "granddogs," as their kids tell them. To find out more about Jill and her books, and to play a fun art matching game for a chance to win an autographed book, drop by her web site.


Ausjenny said...

Thanks Jill, we too have the open one gift at a time idea but not always in youngest first. we will take one from the tree and give it out. When Dad was alive he did this and when he died when i was 11 My brother then got the job.
its good to enjoy everyones gifts.
Thanks so much for sharing. Oh and on shopping after Thanksgiving, being aussie we dont have this but we do have after Christmas sales which are as bad but being from a small town I have never been. The one time i could I chose to go to a Cricket game instead.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing all the Christmas memories. It set me to thinking of my own special Christmastimes and remembering things I had let slip away.