Holiday Reflections

by Julie, sitting by the lit but undecorated tree in Somerville

cheers to twenty sixteenThis time of year, though festive, is also a challenge. There, I said it. Much as I enjoy eggnog, December is bittersweet. I miss the people who aren’t here, reflect on the year behind me with both joy and ennui, navigate the stress of the season, and dread the winter looming in front of me. I’m hardly a holiday elf. But there are a few things that I find get me in the holiday spirit.

One, connecting with people. For some people that connection may be a phone call, or even a card exchanged. For others, it may be a quick cup of something with a promise of a longer visit. I’ve run across a lobby to give someone a quick hug. Facebook posts may suffice. Often, it requires carving time, and making choices. But for whatever reason, this time of year feels like it is more necessary than others to make sure to connect, and remind people that you are thinking of them.

Two, give up the sugarplum dreams. As we get older, perfect gets in the way of good enough. I’m all about good enough. Wrapping isn’t stunning, but it is done. The niece may get more of a vest than a sweater on Christmas day, with a promise of sleeves in the new year. I’m sending New Year’s cards, because there’s no way Christmas cards are getting done in time, so why pretend?  My halls may not be decked until I’m done with work, but they’ll be decked.

Three, as Bing Crosby sings in White Christmas, fall asleep counting your blessings. Every night, I list five things I am grateful for. That is more challenging some days than others, but there is always something. In that spirit, allow me to list five things I am most grateful for in my writing life.

  1. I am grateful that I write cozy mysteries. In these difficult times, I am thrilled to create puzzles that challenge readers, but only intellectually. They also create communities, characters, familiarity, and comfort.
  2. I am grateful for my fellow mystery writers. Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, folks I meet at conferences and conventions–I’ve met a lot of writers over the years. I’m here to tell you, they are terrific people. Maybe we all work our an
    Clock and Dagger cover
    Clock and Dagger will be released August 2016!

    xiety out on the page?

  3. I am grateful for my Wicked Cozy blogmates. Regular readers of this blog know that we are all friends as well as blogmates. What you don’t know is how kind every one of these women are, and how much they have added to my life.
  4. I am grateful to you, our readers. So many of you come by every day, and say hello, or leave a comment. I wish you knew how much your support of this blog and our books means to all of us.

I got a wonderful holiday gift, the cover of Clock and Dagger, which is coming out next August. Isn’t it wonderful?

How about you, dear readers? How are you doing as fall turns into winter, and a new year is almost here? I’m sending you lots of good wishes for a wonderful new year.

27 Thoughts

  1. I love the new cover, Julie – and the title! What a wonderful Christmas present. I got my gift last night: my older son, Allan, came home for the holidays. What else could I need, really?

    I’m grateful for all and exactly the same items as on your list. Aren’t we lucky? Have a lovely cozy holiday, friend.

  2. I’m all about “good enough.” I’m grateful for so many things–especially this year–the first being that the hysterectomy I had in August eliminated all those pesky cancer cells. I’m grateful for my hubby, my two sons and my daughter-in-law. We’ll all be together for an entire week! I’m grateful for all my friends, especially all the writers and readers I’ve met both in person and online. Yinz guys are the best. Last but not least, I’m grateful that I’m finally a published author.

    I love your cover, Julie! I can’t wait to read Clock and Dagger.

  3. There never seems to be enough time for that holiday letter (which we all discussed here recently), but then the letters from absent friends and distant relatives roll in, and we realize that this is the only time we have contact with them. So it’s worth making the time, as you said. And worth hauling all those boxes out of the attic and welcoming the ornaments and decorations that come with decades of memories attached.

    And, yes, it is great to be a writer with writer friends, because we can share our ups and downs with people who understand. Thank you all, ladies! (And readers too.) Hope everyone’s holidays are wonderful.

  4. Clock and Dagger is a great title, Julie. Love the cover. Counting your blessings is good advice. My list starts with our 3 year old granddaughter and a new grandson who will be celebrating his first Christmas. The happiest of holidays to all of my friends at Wicked Cozy!

  5. I think counting five blessing at the end of every day is wonderful and I love the blessing song from White Christmas. This blog has been a blessing in so many ways that I didn’t realize it would be when we started it. I love the post but learn a lot be reading the comments!

  6. What a marvelous cover! Can hardly wait for the book! Thank you for this post. I like your idea of being thoughtfully and mindfully grateful. I am so very blessed, but often lose sight of the goodness and abundance in my life, distracted by the myriad small tasks that grow large in my mind. Stopping to be grateful refocuses the mind positively.

  7. For some crazy reason, I invited my immediate family over for our Christmas this year. Last weekend, I was looking at a dirty house and no decorations- no tree even! Now, it’s cleaner (well, mostly clean but I plan to distract everyone so that they don’t notice the stuff I missed!) and the tree is up, with lights and only star garlands because that seemed like enough.

    My motto has become that of the farmer from Babe: “That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do”.

    And I love the covers of both of your books- they look mysterious!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Wickeds!

  8. Love the cover! (But can I say Berkley is killing me with all the books in favorite series coming out in August? They really need to talk to me about their release schedule to make it suit me better.) 😉

    I am grateful for the writing community as well. I count so many mystery authors are friends even if we haven’t met in real life. They are such warm, welcoming people, the exact opposite of what you might expect from people who spend all day plotting murder and creating suspicion.

    1. It’s because we get it out on paper – we don’t have to do it in real life! Seriously, I get great pleasure in putting certain unpleasant traits of a certain unpleasant ex-spouse into certain characters. And who knows, that character might even meet his end one of these books. ;^)

  9. Clock and Dagger – great name, and wonderful cover! I am so looking forward to it, as clock shops give me fond memories …. have a great Christmas!

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