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Sunday, December 10, 2017


The holidays are coming. Are you ready? Need another gift for a book lover? Or maybe you need a break from all the holiday frenzy?

Today marks the start of the Winter Wonderland Holiday Blog Share. In the spirit of the season I’m joining with authors Catherine Green, Stanalei Fletcher, Doree Anderson, Kathryn E. Jones, Karl Beckstrand, Marie Higgins, and Mary Martinez, to spread a bit of holiday cheer.

The tour lasts through December 18th. Stop by, leave a comment at each blog, and enter the Rafflecopter. You could win a $60 Amazon gift card, an early holiday present for yourself or a bit of help with your gift list. In addition, many of the authors, myself included, are giving away copies of our books.

Author Mary Martinez came up with idea for the Winter Wonderland Holiday Blog Share. She asked that we answer one or all of the following questions:

1. What is your favorite tradition from your childhood?
2. Do you still keep the same tradition with your family? Or have you started a new one for your family?
3. What is your favorite holiday dish?

Hmm…you might think these are easy questions to answer. Not for someone with a rather non-traditional childhood, noted mostly for its lack of any family traditions. And the traditions established with my own children have changed over the years as they’ve grown older and close friends and relatives have moved away. As for my favorite holiday dish? It’s hard to choose just one.

So instead, I’m going to discuss the biggest holiday tradition of all—list-making.

As everyone knows, this is the time of year for lists:
Gift lists.
Shopping lists.
Christmas card lists.
To-Do lists.

One by one we check off or cross out the items or names or chores until all are taken care of—hopefully well before ChristmaChanuKwanzaFestidan has come and gone.

Whatever you celebrate, this is a busy time of year. I don’t know about you, but I’d be lost without my lists. Even with them I often find myself running out at the last minute because I forgot to put an item or a person or a necessary ingredient on one of my many lists. A list, after all, is only as good as the list maker’s organizational skills. Good thing Santa doesn’t rely on me. He’s the most organized list maker the world has ever seen. Not only does he make a list, he checks it twice. And manages to accomplish his tasks all in one night. I envy Santa. I wish I could be that organized.

Along with the aforementioned lists, it's also that time of year for a host of other lists. I'm sure you've seen them in newspapers and magazines as well as on TV and the Internet. But did you know there's even a website of Top 10 Lists? Imagine that, a List of Lists! So along with finding out the Top 10 Grossing Movies of the Year or the Top 10 Searched Internet Sites or the Top 10 Gadgets of the Year, you can also find everything from the Top 10 Strangest LEGO Creations to the Top 10 Most Fascinating Urinals. (Really! Even I couldn't make that one up!)

So since everyone seems compelled around this time of year to come up with a Top 10 list of something, I thought I'd share one of mine:

Lois Winston's Top 10 Holiday List (in no particular order)
10. Favorite Christmas Beverage: John's egg nog
  9. Favorite Christmas Cookie: Rose's shortbread with chocolate frosting
  8. Favorite Christmas Carol: "Angels We Have Heard On High"
  7. Favorite Christmas Song (non-carol): "White Christmas"
  6. Favorite Christmas Movie: White Christmas
  5. Favorite Christmas TV Special: A Charlie Brown Christmas
  4. Favorite Christmas Book: A Christmas Story
  3. Favorite Christmas Activity: decorating the tree
  2. Favorite Christmas Present: a Shirley Temple doll
  1. Favorite Christmas Memory: watching my son perform in Amahl and the Night Visitors

Now it's your turn. What are some of your holiday favorites? Post a comment on today's blog for a chance to win a Kindle version of Elementary, My Dear Gertie, the novella sequel to my award-winning Talk Gertie To Me. (Note: Elementary, My Dear Gertie can be read and enjoyed without first having read Talk Gertie To Me.) The winner will be announced in the comment section of this blog at the end of the blog share. So make sure you check back after Dec. 18th to see if you've won and how to get your copy.

And don’t forget to hop over to these other blogs for more chances to win other books and enter the Rafflecopter drawing.

December 11th—Lois Winston
December 12thCatherine Green
December 13thStanalei Fletcher
December 14thDoree Anderson
December 15thKathryn E. Jones
December 16thKarl Beckstrand
December 17thMarie Higgins
December 18thMary Martinez

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter drawing for a $60 Amazon gift card. 

Elementary, My Dear Gertie
Heat up some hot cocoa, cuddle up on the couch, and treat yourself to a visit to Ten Commandments, Iowa where nothing is what it first seems. Come for the secrets. Stay for the laughs. And watch out for a killer on the loose.

Two years have passed since the happily-ever-after that isn’t doing so well. Nori Stedworth has moved in with the love of her life, Mackenzie Randolph, much to her parents’ displeasure. They’re coping as best as parents from Ten Commandments, Iowa can. They want Mac to make an honest woman of their daughter, and that means nothing short of marriage. Mac is all for exchanging I do’s. He’s even bought the ring, but before he can pop the question, an explosion hurls him and Nori right into the middle of a murder investigation. Gertie, Nori's alter-ego, can't help but lend her acerbic wit to the twists and turns as the town is turned upside down in the search for a murderer and arsonist, and yet another scandal envelopes the not-so-pious residents of Ten Commandments.

Read an excerpt here

Buy Links


Susie-Q said...

My favorite childhood holiday tradition was worshiping at a holiday church service, and my husband and I continue this tradition. My favorite recipe is pumpkin pie.

Kathleen Kaska said...

My favorite holiday recipe is pecan pie and those peanut butter cookies with the chocolate kisses on top. My favorite Christmas show is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Best of luck with "Elementary," Lois. Being a Sherlockian, I love the title.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for stopping by, Suzie! Good luck in the contest and happy holidays!

qnofdnile said...

I love that old fashioned picture of Santa. I may consider collecting old Christmas cards. I no longer have any traditions. My husband and I moved to Florida this past August and have no other family here. Will probably go to the beach depending on the weather.


Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Kathleen! Love pecan pie but I'll take a pass on those cookies. I'm one of a select few people on earth who can't stand the smell or taste of peanut butter. I used to have to hold my breath when I'd make PB&J sandwiches for my kids! Good luck in the contest and happy holidays!

Lois Winston said...

Paula, years ago a friend of mine retired down south. She decided to keep the holiday alive year round by having a Christmas tree in each room of her house (some of them were small tabletop versions...but still...) I loved the idea but shuddered at the thought of the dust collecting on all those branches and ornaments year round. Maybe you could decorate a small palm tree this year.

Anne said...

Sounds strange, but my family's favorite dish is creamed spinach. We almost have to get a scale out to make sure everyone gets the same amount.

Lois Winston said...

Not strange to me, Anne. I love creamed spinach. I make my own with sautéed onions and sour cream. As a matter of fact, spinach was one of the few vegetables I would eat as a kid.

traveler said...

My favorite holiday recipe is latkes and homemade apple cake. Perfect for December celebrations and winter.

Robin Coxon said...

My childhood memory is riding around various areas and looking at the Christmas decorations and lights people put on the house and yard. We still do that today with our children and it's even better since they have Christmas tunes on the radio. My families favorite dish for Christmas dinner is green beans with saute mushrooms and also creamed spinach too. We make a frozen cranberry salad also for a side dish. Lasagna, ham and cheesy potatoes complete our meal.

Unknown said...

I remember getting out of bed on Christmas morning and heading straight to the tree o see what special treat was in our stockings! You never knew what little goodie was there! My favorite food was the turkey and dressing with gravy! Yummm...

Lois Winston said...

Traveler, I love latkes, especially with sour cream. Do you see a theme here? I'll eat just about anything as long as it comes with sour cream. ;-) As for apple cake, have you checked out the apple bundt cake recipe that appeared on the blog a few years ago? You can find it here:

Robin, I'm with you. I still love driving around looking at all the lights.

Mary Jane, we do turkey for Thanksgiving, ham for Christmas, but I'm making cornbread stuffing and cranberry relish to go with it.

Shannon M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathryn Elizabeth Jones said...

My favorite holiday treat is fudge. My mom makes it every year, with nuts and without. I take it without, more than likely because I'm nutty enough without the nuts.

Anyway, we also do a pickle gift. The idea comes from Germany. Hang a pickle ornament on the tree, and the morning of Christmas, the first person to find it gets an extra Christmas gift.

Lois Winston said...

Kathryn, I always wondered about all those glass pickle ornaments. Now I know why people put pickles on their trees. However, I'd worry about the kids fighting to find the pickle and toppling over the tree!

Shannon M. said...

My favorite holiday tradition was decorating the tree. We'd buy a tree and put it up in the special tree spot in our family room but we couldn't decorate it for a day or two so that the branches could drop. At least that's what my dad used to say. LOL! When it was finally time, dad would carefully string the lights while we unwrapped our treasured ornaments. My brother and I were always allowed to hang the ornaments even though I know my dad would come in behind us to "fix" them. We then threw tinsel all over while my dad put our angel on top. My mom, brother and I would all step back while my dad plugged in the lights and we always said that it was the best tree ever.

miki said...

my favourite tradition is while decorating the tree sharing memories of those who left us but from whom we have a decoration it's a way for our history not to be lost and to share happier time

Lois Winston said...

Shannon, what a lovely memory!

Miki, you've reminded us that the holidays can also be bittersweet because of the loved ones who are no longer with us.

Unknown said...

My favorite dish is Pumpkin Pie.Even though it is at the top of my favorite pies list it seems I only eat it during the holidays. What’s wrong with me. It woukd be just as easy to make it all year long.

Lois Winston said...

LOL, Jackie! You're not alone. How many people make a turkey with all the trimmings at any time other than the holidays? It's no more difficult than some other meals we cook, especially if we're having company, right?

Emma Ames said...

I so understand the list making. I even make a list when cleaning house!! I think I must have OCD and the holidays just make it worse!

Lois Winston said...

A little OCD now and then probably isn't a bad thing, Ann, especially if it helps us get things done. ;-)

stanalei said...

Great lists, Lois! The shortbread sounds yummy. Fun to be "on tour" with you!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Stanalei! I've never been able to duplicate that shortbread recipe. :-(

Angela Adams said...

My favorite holiday drink is Egg Nog, and my favorite movie is "Miracle on 34th Street!" Happy Holidays to everyone!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for joining in today, Angela!

Reviews By Crystal said...

For many years my Mom would do really small gifts as a countdown to Christmas. She started when I was a little girl and continued up until a few years ago. It would be just really small little things but they would make my day.

My other favorite tradition is to take Christmas Pictures.

bn100 said...

pumpkin pie

Lois Winston said...

Both great traditions, Crystal! And pumpkin pie is always a favorite bn100--especially when it's topped with lots of whipped cream!

Irish Mom Writer said...

Our favorite tradition, both growing up and now, is to go to Midnight Mass as a family (I sing in the choir), and then come home and open presents at 2 or 3 am! LOL! Then we sleep in Christmas morning, and leisurely enjoy our gifts and treats. One year when my babies were little, we went to morning Mass instead, and it just didn't feel like Christmas that year!

Lois Winston said...

Nice tradition, Irish Mom Writer!

Marla Bradeen/Paige Sleuth, Mystery Author said...

My favorite tradition is to bake cookies with the kids. They get to choose what kind of cookies to make, and it's always fun to hear their ideas.

Lois Winston said...

Cookie baking is always a wonderful family tradition, Marla. I'll bet your kids will always remember those baking days and continue the tradition with their own children when the time comes.

Emily Smith said...

Do cookies count as a holiday dish? I enjoy baking gingerbread and sugar cookies with my three boys. It's fun to decorate the cookies with them. They get really creative and love making special cookies for family members.

Lois Winston said...

Of course cookies count, Emily! What's Christmas without baking Christmas cookies? For years I began my cookie baking the weekend of Thanksgiving and continued making batches for several weeks. That was back when I had a separate freezer, though. Now I wait until about a week before Christmas because I no longer have enough freezer space to store all those cookies.

hamjenny said...

My favorite Holiday Tradition is baking cookies with my family

Lois Winston said...

I'm surprised more people didn't list this one, hamjenny. It's a great holiday tradition.

Lois Winston said...

Thank you all for stopping by and commenting during the Winter Wonderland Blog Share. I used a random number generator to pick the winner of an copy of Elementary, My Dear Gertie. That winner is--drumroll, please--Crystal Benedict! Crystal, please contact me at lois@loiswinston.com to let me know your email for sending the book.

Happy holidays, everyone!