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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Pink Squirrel Press

The Joys of the Holiday

The holidays are here! The holidays are here! Do you ever feel like as if the robot from the old television series, Lost in Space is standing behind you, arms flailing as he announces “Danger, Danger”. Or maybe you wish he was; ready to alert you to potential pitfalls in your preparations?

Despite our best efforts, we’re not Martha Stewart, and our holidays don’t always turn out as perfect as we hoped. Somehow the best laid plans manage to become unimaginable disasters. Roasts overcook, cookies burn, and somehow the wrong gift label always ends up on the worst possible gift (my mother-in-law may never forgive me!). But that’s when the magic of the holidays truly makes itself known as it adds a little extra sparkle to these difficult times and turns them into cherished holiday memories.

Here to share some of our unexpected holiday happenings are the authors of Winter Warmers, a seasonal anthology from Lou Harper, Clare London, JL Merrow, Chrissy Munder, and Josephine Myles. Five stories of winter hope and heart set across Britain and in the USA.

JL Merrow: The Great Turkey Disaster of 2006 will never be forgotten. I generally spend my Christmas holidays with the in-laws, and traditionally, the turkey is plucked, squawking, from a farm somewhere in Cheshire. This particular year, for some reason, mother-in-law got her turkey from a local butcher. Never again...

Come Christmas morning, mother-in-law went to dress the turkey—only to find said turkey smelling like no turkey should smell. Major flap ensued—from mother-in-law, not the turkey. The turkey was way beyond all thoughts of flapping, and was given a decent burial in the back garden.

Don't panic, father-in-law said. We'll just have the Boxing Day ham joint instead. Cue weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from mother-in-law—the shame of it! Christmas dinner without the turkey!—which only increased when the ham joint, sourced from the same local butcher, was discovered to be smelling suspiciously like the late, lamented turkey.

The ham joint was given a rather indecently-hurried burial next to the turkey, and poor mother-in-law was left to make the best of things.

Christmas dinner? Was lovely, actually. Funnily enough, it turns out that when you've got roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots, home-made stuffing and chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon, you don't miss the turkey in the slightest!

Lou Harper: My parents divorced when I was little but fortunately they remained good friends. My mother and I moved from small town to big city when I was seven. We planned to spend our first Christmas there alone in our tiny on-bedroom apartment. To our complete surprise, my father knocked on our door on Christmas Eve. We were both happy to see him. An hour later my mother's aunt showed up – also unannounced. Not much later Aunt Liz's daughter, Judy arrived too. All three of them lived a couple of hours away at different towns, and decided to pay us a surprise holiday visit without consulting each other.

The apartment was so small that we could barely move without bumping into each other. Needless to say, that was the best Christmas ever.

Clare London: We’ve had our share of disasters, including my toddler Son#2 eating two dozen sausages wrapped in bacon (pigs in blankets, we call them) that were meant to be for the whole family; my gift of Christmas pudding ingredients for my friend in the USA being confiscated by Homeland Security; and the last time we had a “real” tree, when 85% of all the needles fell off on Dec 23 and got wedged under the sofa cushions that the grandparents sat on…

Maybe the worst event – potentially, at least – was when the church lights fused one year during the children’s Christingle service. We had a church full of primary school and kindergarten children, dressed as various Nativity characters, wailing and whooping in the dark, and holding lit candles in small, wobbly hands. A recipe for real disaster, you say? Apart from one bash on the head from an over-enthusiastic shepherd with his crook, and tears when one girl dropped a blob of wax on her best shoes, we managed to get them singing “Away in a Manger” and calmed them all down while someone fixed the lights. It became the year we all remembered best!

Chrissy Munder: No one knows what evil lurks in the heart of man, or so the saying goes. In our case it applies to our latest cat, and his love of Christmas trees. Over the years we’ve made certain adjustments to how we decorate our tree. The lights and baubles only half-way down the tree are a recognizable sign to other pet owners, and immediately alert them to our beloved beast’s presence. It was a sad day when we had to banish icicles and garland from our list of approved decorations, but a necessary one. One trip to the vet was more than enough, although we display the resulting X-ray image on the mantel every year as a reminder.

Despite the hours it takes to fully decorate the tree with the cat having to approve each and every decoration with the scratch, sniff, and lick test, we managed to get our tree up in record time last year. Guests were due, and we both rushed to get ourselves ready, and the needed nibbles out on the table. The doorbell rang, the guests were impressed, and all went well until we heard a terrific crash from the other room.

We rushed in to find the tree and all its decorated glory knocked over onto its side, and a very proud cat perched on top of his downed prey.

What can I say? As true cat lovers, we were rather proud of him as well.

Josephine Myles: I think it would have to be the carol service my choir sang at two years ago. We had an incredibly cold December and unusually early snow, which by Christmas had been compacted into treacherous ice. Britain was caught out by the weather, and there wasn’t enough grit to cover all the roads, let alone the pavements. I remember skidding and sliding with my daughter down the hill to get there, laughing all the way. My legs ached horribly from trying to stay upright on the sheets of ice; it was freezing cold inside the church; and there were only about twenty people there in the congregation (I think the choir outnumbered them).

Still, it was magical, and when we came out afterwards the snow was falling again. It was the first white Christmas I’d experienced since I was a child, and watching my little girl’s delight in the snow was the perfect antidote to the thought of climbing a mile back up the hill on all that slippery ice.

Have you experienced a holiday disaster of your own that you now look back on and laugh? Children’s pageants gone wrong, embarrassing moments in the kitchen, or maybe just that one relative you wish you could un-invite. What stories are shared year after year around your tree?

Don’t be shy! Comment below to give us your examples and be entered in the random drawing for a copy of the anthology in ebook. Even if you’re not a winner you can pick up your copy of Winter Warmers:

Mulled wine. Butterscotch kisses. Hideous sweaters. Candy at the beach, or a trip to a sex shop in Amsterdam. And the man of your dreams, wrapped around you...

Winter warmers come in many shapes and sizes, from the tongue-in-cheek to the hot-as-hell. Enjoy a quintet of heart-warming tales of men loving men from Clare London, Chrissy Munder, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, and Lou Harper that are guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.

One thing's for sure—it's going to be a red-hot Christmas!

"Lucky Dip" by Clare London

Andy Jackson always knew that class 2C's help in preparing for the annual Christmas Fair would be a mixed blessing. Then he's paired up on the Lucky Dip with Greg, the man who dumped him but now can't keep away, the pupils are either lecturing him on his lovelife or losing bladder control, and no one's fixed the broken handle on the storage room. It may all be one whoopee cushion too far for him.

"Butterscotch Kisses" by Chrissy Munder

Matthew Morrison is determined to conquer his fear of heights and achieve a winning outcome. At least, that's what the best-selling, self-help book he's listening to promises. Being stuck on a three-story tower in the middle of a snowstorm wasn't part of the plan. With no St. Bernard in sight, it's Cute Ticket Guy Adam to the rescue, and an outcome Matthew never anticipated.

"Wintertide" by Lou Harper

May meets December when Jem and Oscar chance on each other at the Santa Monica Pier, only weeks before Christmas. The two men are separated by age, social status, and their taste in candy, yet if they are both naughty and nice, they might just find holiday cheer together.

"When in Amsterdam..." by Josephine Myles

Brandon is on his first visit to new boyfriend Jos's home country, just in time for their Sinterklaas celebrations. But an unexpected detour into a sex shop leads Brandon to new discoveries about himself, and a whole new dynamic to their relationship. The weather may be cold and damp, but Brandon and Jos soon heat things up!

"A Pint of Beer, a Bag of Chips, and Thou" by JL Merrow

What's the best gift a young man could get for Christmas? Mohawked saxophonist Liam wouldn't have picked the hideous collection of knitwear he's presented with by his mum and his aunties. He'd rather have the gorgeous older man he sees every day while busking at King's Cross. But with a little Christmas magic in the air, maybe those garish garments are just the thing for attracting a silver fox...

Winter Warmers - Now available at your favorite eRetailer including: / / Smashwords / All Romance Ebooks


Debby said...

One year, my brother in law was stationed out of the country and my sister and I spent Christmas drinking. We forgot about the turkey and It was quite done. We took it out of the pan, it slipped and fell. The entire turkey fell apart which I thought was great. We did not have to carve it.
debby236 at gmail dot com

elaing8 said...

My father bought pumpkin pies one year.(I don't know why my mother let him)
So we're all ready for dessert after Christmas dinner. He cuts up the pie gives everyone their piece.And one by one..people were spitting it out in napkins,making disgusting noises..My BIL ask "did you forget to cook it"
My dad.."No its store bought,they cook it"
So he gets the box and yep in big bold letter uncooked pie.

My BIL teases him about it every Christmas.

Happy Holidays!!

Jessica Klang said...

such a nice holiday happenings from ou Harper, Clare London, JL Merrow, Chrissy Munder, and Josephine Myles!


shadow_kohler said...

i have had holiday disasters. a few times now, we've gotten into a fight with my dads side of the family and christmas was ruined. we've burnt dinner before. that wasnt very good...and my puppy (who was four month great dane) chewed up 2 christmas trees in one year and destroyed all of our ornaments, and we had some really old ones. :( thanks for sharing! happy holidays!

nancy said...

I remember the Christmas program at church when I was about 6, a long long time ago, we were standing in front on the altar steps singing when I barfed all over the place. I have since wondered who had to clean the altar steps, all I remember is my daddy carrying me out. Rotten kids teased me about that for years.

June M. said...

I understand completely about the cat & the tree. That is why I don't bother. I don't have kids so it is just not worth it to try to keep my cat & 2 dogs away and from bumping into it, batting things off, etc.
Hope everyone has a safe & wonderful holiday season.
manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

Chrissy Munder said...

As much as these made us cringe at the time, such is the stuff family memories are made of. Thanks so much for sharing!

Jean P said...

No major disasters here, just a few late dinners, because something didn't get put into the over in time.

Happy Holidays

skpetal at hotmail dot com

VampedChik said...

I can't really say that we've had any holiday disasters. My family its self can be called a disaster sometimes. We've had plenty of food fights at the holidays. The best was a whip cream fight. Thanks so much! Happy Holidays!

GladysMP said...

I don't have an ereader, but I still enjoyed all the Christmas disasters you mentioned.

flchen1 said...

Love these Christmas memories, you guys! Thanks for sharing them, and love your collective name--Pink Squirrel! Awesome!

BTW, please don't include me--this yummy anthology's already in my hot little hands!

Chrissy Munder said...

A big thank you to everyone who commented! We loved hearing your stories, but we know you really want to know who won *wink*. According to the random number generator our winner is: Jean P.

Congratulations, Jean. An email has been sent out to you.

Best wishes for a safe, and Happy New Year to everyone!