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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Holiday Traditions, a New Release & an Awesome GIVEAWAY. Check it out!

It’s all about the Children
If you’d asked me three years ago who decorates my Christmas tree, I’d tell you I did—alone, as I had every years since I don’t remember how long. This year, I put the trees together and that was it. I had my four wonderful grandchildren over to decorate the tree. That’s right. I entrusted my delicate decorations, some over seventy-five years old, to kids aged 9, 8, 7 and 5. Only one item got broken, a green glass ball that was maybe 40 years old, but really had nor sentimental value. Do you know what? The trees have never looked nicer.
Did I mention I have close to 400 ornaments divided between two trees, one upstairs in the living room window, and the other downstairs by the fireplace? The tree upstairs looks lovely especially with the lights in the window and the large manger under it, but the tree we see most is the one in the family room because we spend our evenings there.
I have always loved Christmas, not because of the gifts but because of the joy on the faces of children. For many years, that magic was missing. Our children were long past believing in Santa clause, and Christmas just wasn’t the same. We had stockings, exchanged gifts, ate and drank way too much, but the fun was gone.
Enter grandchildren, God’s reward for not killing your own offspring during those trying teen years. Once there are babies, everything changes. The magic is back. It starts with the arrival of Santa in the annual nighttime parade and doesn’t end until the last gift is unwrapped. In our tradition, it includes a visit from the jolly old elf himself the week before Christmas, a chance for all the members of my family to get together—ten children ages 5-18 and over 20 adults to share the look of wonder on the faces of the kids as each one sits on Santa’s knee for a little pre-Christmas treat. As well, at some point in December, we’ll go to Upper Canada Village to see the lights in the Alight at Night, watch the grandkids participate in the annual Sunday School Christmas Pageant, contribute to the needy with offerings for White Gift Sunday, and attend Christmas Eve service followed by watching the definitive version on A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim, cuddled up by the fireplace dinking spiced and laced egg nog.

Since Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October, Christmas morning means getting the turkey ready for the traditional Christmas Day meal. We open our stockings first and then our gifts and wait for the arrival of the kids whose eyes light up when they see what Grandma bought and hear them tell all about the wonderful things Santa left under the tree.
Christmas is about the magic and laughter, but sadly, for many it’s also a time of sorrow. This may be the first year without a loved one, a job may have been lost, or someone diagnosed with an illness that may or may not be curable. It’s a time when faith as well as a tight budget are tested, and my heart goes out to those who find this time of year painful. May their belief system bring them the comfort they need as the end of the calendar year nears.
In Coming Home, Alana goes home for the first time in ten years because of her three-year-old niece and her mother’s determination to give her a traditional Christmas to remember. After all, it’s all about the children.  She dreads her return to Chance, never expecting the Christmas miracle of love she receives. May the holiday season brighten your life, restore your energy, and bring you peace this year.

Book Blurb Coming Home, Book One, Taking a Chance on Love

Home is where the heart is.
Motorcycle riding, attorney Alana Stewart is a far cry from the shy, teenager who left Chance determined never to look back. Family obligations force her to return to the town that only holds bad memories for her. A stop at her former sanctuary brings an unexpected surprise...the new manager just might be what she needs to get her through the holidays. When sexy, leather-clad Alana walks into the bookstore, Connor Tate, has a feeling he may be in for the ride of his life. Despite the fact that their lives are headed in different directions, they are drawn to one another. Connor is determined to prove to Alana that Chance isn’t the place she remembers, but will his efforts fail when she discovers he hasn’t told her the whole truth about himself? Can they trust each other enough to take a chance on love?
You can get your e-copy of Coming Home from:
About the Author: Misty Matthews
Misty Matthews is a newly formed writing partnership between Susanne Matthews and Misty Cail. These authors have never met and the book was created by grace and virtue of email and Internet chats. It's a true Twenty-first century miracle.
Misty and Susanne met in an online Facebook chat group back in December, 2012 and have become fast friends and partners. Misty, the plot genius, had the idea for the book, but found it hard to do the research and polishing necessary for the story. Susanne loved the premise of the story and offered to handle that aspect of it in partnership with her. The name seemed a natural choice. The rest as they say is history.
Follow Misty Matthews on



Ten minutes later, Alana opened the door and noted her mother had been busy putting the final touches on her Christmas wonderland. The house was decorated more or less the way it had been for as long as she could remember, and the sense of nostalgia she experienced surprised her. Santas of various sizes, shapes, and styles posed in corners, wreaths hung on the walls, and fake snow—not a flake out of place—lay under the miniature Dickens Christmas village which had grown substantially in size since the last time she’d seen it. A short, white, wooden fence surrounded the village, no doubt to keep curious little fingers from playing with the breakable figurines.
Christmas had always been her mother’s favorite time of year, and she loved all the glitz and decorations that went with it. None of this had come to Austin when the family had come for the holiday. Alana noticed a number of familiar items as she moved through the room, but there were several new things too. A waved of guilt flooded her. What a sacrifice it must have been for her mother to leave everything behind for the sterile confines of Alana's condo. A fake, designer tree, no matter how expensive, didn’t stand a chance against all this.
The empty corner of the room had been cleaned and awaited the tree, a real pine, not an artificial one. Christmas Eve, the whole family would gather to decorate it together. It was a Stewart tradition, one she’d tried to continue in Texas, but it hadn’t been the same. Pine-scented spray couldn’t compare with a natural evergreen’s aroma.
When she’d been a child, once the tree had been decorated, they’d all gather in the kitchen to bake and ice cookies. Afterward, her father would sit down to read A Christmas Carol, until she and her sister, buried in a mountain of blankets and pillows on the floor, fell asleep. Melody always crashed after the Ghost of Christmas Past, but she usually managed to make it through the Ghost of Christmas Present. That particular tradition, the one nearest and dearest to her heart, was one she hoped she could persuade her father to revive this year.
How could I have forgotten all this? God, I hope I’m not turning into a female version of Ebenezer Scrooge, putting my job above everything else. The thought sobered her.
Grasping what she’d ignored selfishly over the last few years, Alana realized why her mom had insisted she come home for Isabelle’s first real Christmas, one the child would understand and remember. She wanted her grand-daughter to experience a traditional Stewart Christmas with all the bells and whistles that made it great. Letting the memories wash over her, Alana thought about the past. And when the scene shifted to include images of future Christmases with Isabelle, she knew she couldn’t ask the family to give them up.
It would be wrong to deprive that beautiful little girl of what she herself cherished.



I'd like to thank Misty for joining us today. Just leave a comment and tell us about your holiday traditions with your email address on this post and you're entered for a chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Misty will announce her winner on Monday Dec. 22

Best wishes,
~Jennifer Labelle~


  1. Best thing about the holidays is that you take the time to spend time with each other.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. We exchange silly Santa gifts after dinner. We all love those.


  3. We always open one gift on Christmas Eve & the other gifts after church on Christmas morning.



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