Question of the Month: Holiday Plans

by Susan Henderson on December 6, 2010

Tell me about your holiday plans and a tradition you keep.


I’ve been unusually busy writing essays this past month. I have one over at Powell’s about young narrators in adult books, another at BookReporter about the book that turned me into an obsessive reader, another at The San Francisco Book Review about my first signing, another at BookClubGirl about a little boy who wanted magic powers for Christmas, and another at Backstory about, well, the backstory of my novel.

A few more links: I interviewed Renée Thompson here and Shawn Anderson here. And I am so appreciative of these new reviews of my book from Steph the BookwormBooks and Cooks, By the Way, and Dory Adams’ In This Light. I especially like the recommendation of my book on Julianna Baggott’s site, where she simply says, “It’s not what you think.”

UP FROM THE BLUE is now available at Sears, Target, and Sam’s Club, along with most bookstores… in case you’re looking for a cheap holiday gift. And if you buy it from Amazon, let me encourage you to use Charles Shaughnessy’s Amazon store, where he’s very graciously chosen my book as this month’s feature, because a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Okay, looking forward to hearing about your holidays, so let the stories begin!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Nathalie December 6, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I don’t keep any tradition, really, except for the drinking of Guiness Or Fernet Branca on my best friend’s birthday because these were her favourite drinks (more a libation than a drink, most of the stuff is poured on the ground).

Plans for the holidays? My husband and I would love to stay home and ignore the rest of the world, just laze about in our jammies, reading books.
Alternatives are a visit to my mother-in-law on Christmas day or having eight persons show up at my house for Christmas Eve and lunch on the 25th.


Susan Henderson December 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm

That’s the loveliest birthday tradition. How many years have you kept it up?

And I’m with you about the jammies and books. I’d rather laze around than dress up and socialize any day!


Nathalie December 6, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Ever since she died, seven years ago.


Susan Henderson December 6, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I’m sorry, Nathalie. I was thinking the two of you were having drinks together; I didn’t realize you were having drinks in her honor.

Very touching friendship… and bittersweet.


Colleen McGuire December 6, 2010 at 4:31 pm

It wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. When I was a kid, Christmas Eve would entail “Twas the Night Before Christmas” followed by unwrapping the present from my grandparents which was always pajamas and hand made slippers. Now, not only do we get to have hot chocolate and a story, but we also get birthday cake since Christmas Eve is Teresa’s birthday. 🙂


Susan Henderson December 6, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Colleen, So glad you’re here! I love that you read Twas the Night Before Christmas every year. We do the same, but we read A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Love that tradition about the pajamas and slippers… that’s a tradition worth stealing! And how fun that you do birthday cake for Christmas Eve. You’ve created a great family!


billie hinton December 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm

We do celebrate Christmas with gifts and the usual trappings, but for us the more important holiday is the winter solstice. We always make some kind of “treat” for the wild animals who share our farm, and we recite a poem I found many years ago and then walk by candle light to set the treats out in the woods. We go through the barn (very carefully) sharing apples and carrots with the equines – who are generally mesmerized by the candles. We end up making a nice walk in the dark all over the farm, and eventually come back inside for a simple meal by candle light.

We used to use our Christmas tree for a bonfire on New Year’s Eve, at which point we would write down things to “leave behind in the darkness” and toss those into the fire. When we moved to the farm where we heat by woodstove, I became paranoid about a live tree and woodstove in the same room – having seen just how combustible those trees are by the time we took them down.

So now we usually make a small bonfire with fallen wood and do our slips of paper that way.

We always watch It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve, no matter how late it is when we get to that!

So glad to hear that you and your book are out there shining this year – the happiest of holidays to you and your family!


Susan Henderson December 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Billie, that’s gorgeous. Wow. I’m kind of stunned by your tradition.


Jessica Keener December 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm

First, congratulations on the good press you are getting for your stunning novel. I love giving Up from The Blue as a gift and will continue that “tradition” of book giving through this holiday and more.

Otherwise, my holiday plans change every year because much of my family lives at least 1000 miles away–down South and on the West Coast. For Chanukah, I light the menorah and make latkes. I love candle lighting. For Christmas, I try to avoid that magnet of materialism. Generally, I manage until a few days before the big C day. One way I combat that weird buying “pull” is to roll up my sleeves and make dozens and dozens of cookies.



Susan Henderson December 6, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Ooh, I like that… the idea of baking cookies when you feel like you want to spend more. I might steal that idea, too.

I gained about 4 pounds yesterday from latkes but it was worth it. 🙂


Susan Henderson December 6, 2010 at 7:31 pm
GC Smith December 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm

MiMi and I for years played Santa Claus and when the gifts were under the tree on Christmas eve and the children were asleep we had a midnight lobster tail and champagne feast that I prepared. Now we travel to our Son’s and Daughter-in-Law’s home share Christmas with them and their two children, Emmett and Liam.

I still help with the cooking.


Susan Henderson December 7, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Wow, I’ve never heard of doing midnight lobster tail and champagne, but that is fabulous! I hope you have a wonderful time with your kids and grandkids this year.


GC Smith December 6, 2010 at 8:05 pm

I have your book and will read it soon.


Susan Henderson December 7, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Thank you!


Eileen-Rita Folwell December 7, 2010 at 5:36 am

We have a few traditions which always make Christmas a special time for us. We’re only a little family (my Mum, sister and I) and we try to ensure we’re always together at this time of the year.

It starts with the decorating of the tree. We each have one special ornament that we’ve been able to keep safe since we were children, and one which belonged to my Grandma – an incredible task given we’re a family of clumsy clutze’s 😉 Grandma’s is a blown glass ornament of a Cockatoo (She lived in Australia) called Cockie which is hung first and near the top of the tree as our star. Then Mum’s “Googlie-Eyes” which is a Santa dolls made up of collection of Christmas Balls, with very bobbly eyes. Mine goes up next and is an ornament of Snoopy lying across his little dog house and then Nikki’s which is a little Teddy Bear on a chair. Every year for as long as I can remember we’ve been together and decorated it with the same cheesy Christmas music playing which we make fun of but secretly adore. Mum tells the same stories now as she hangs the first two decorations, of when she was little and hanging Googlie for the first time. This in itself has become part of the tradition.

Come Christmas Eve and you’ll find us watching ‘Mickey’s Christmas’ and at midnight unwrapping one gift each.

When we were younger and Christmas for Nikki was all about trying to stay awake long enough to hear Santa tip toe across the roof, we used to get up so early on Christmas morning and rummage through our Stockings and play with all the toys and eat all the lollies we could find. We still try to recreate that even though Nikki has evolved into a young woman who will rarely be up before midday – going in to wake her is the most dangerous part of the holidays now 😉

Once coffee is made and the music is playing we sit under our tree and begin the day, and that’s what I love more then anything else about Christmas; being with my family and remembering each year how truly lucky I am.


Susan Henderson December 7, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Eileen, Thanks for this story! You’ve described this so well, I feel like I’m there with you. And I love the comfort of knowing just what to expect, from the music to the order of hanging the special ornaments. (Our kids open one gift the night before, too.)


Aurelio O'Brien December 12, 2010 at 12:09 am

I am usually the king of corny Christmas: DVD’s of all the classics, music CD’s–Bing & Nat King Cole, decorations thickly slathered everywhere, homemade Christmas cards, cookies, gifts, and the big holiday meal.

This year, everything must remain in their boxes–just too busy. I’m not sad about it though. I got what I wanted this year. I’ll have exciting news soon, and when you see why Christmas went on hold you’ll understand and be happy for me too.

Happy Holidays, LitPark!!!


Susan Henderson December 13, 2010 at 12:38 am

Can’t wait!!


Billy Bones December 12, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Mr. Lincoln likes to perform a family reading of A Christmas Carol. He’s gotten all the way through on a couple of occasions, but typically everyone walks away by the end of Marley’s visit.


Susan Henderson December 13, 2010 at 12:39 am

I would stay to the end. Nothing like a good ghost story for Christmas… and I love those children that hide under the cloak of the Ghost of Christmas Present.


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