In which it is Anna’s turn

For the month of December–with bonus posts on November 30 and January 1!–I am delighted to welcome a wonderful assortment of guest bloggers to take over the helm. Please enjoy their generous contributions to the blog this month. My own bloggery will resume January 2. I wish you and yours happiness and health this holiday season. Please note: comments are disabled until my return.

Anna Lee Huber is the RITA and Daphne Award nominated author of Mortal Arts and The Anatomist’s Wife. A summa cum laude graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, Anna majored in music and minored in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana with her family and is hard at work on the next Lady Darby Mystery.

I’ve always enjoyed the holidays—the excitement and good cheer, the spirit of hope. But I’ve been looking at them a bit differently this year. I feel the magic, the wonder of the season once again, more than I have in years. Perhaps it’s because I’m expecting my first child—a magic all its own—so I can’t help imagining how things will be different next year. Soon there will be a baby to wrap presents for and watch marvel at the lights on our tree. Soon she’ll be waiting for Santa and asking to bake Christmas cookies. I can hardly wait.

But in this last season before the childish joy begins, here are some of my favorite things about the holidays that I intend to revel in to the fullest:

·        Family Get-Togethers – I grew up in a rather large family with five siblings. As you can imagine, there was never a dull moment in our house, especially around the holidays. For me, Christmas just isn’t complete without a house full of relatives to share it with. We laugh, we fight, we eat, we dance and play games. You are never alone, and that suits my introverted-self just fine at this time of year. In early January I need about a week to recover, butI wouldn’t trade these holiday gatherings for anything. Especially when my siblings and I get to reminisce and shock our mother.

·        Peppermint Mochas – There is just something about chocolate and peppermint and espresso that is soooo delicious. I cannot resist them, although this year I guess I’ll be ordering mine decaf.

·        Stocking Stuffers – I love hunting for the perfect little gifts to stuff in my loved ones’ stockings. Something that costs next to nothing but is cute or whimsical or humorous. Several years ago, I took over handling my mother’s stocking. I felt bad when the rest of us would open our stockings to find little goodies, while my mom’s was packed with just a few lame trinkets. Ilove my dad, but stocking stuffing is just not his strong suit. So now it’s my privilege to fill mom’s sock.

·        Snow – I love all the seasons, including winter, and Christmas just isn’t complete without a blanket of white. It’s just more festive and fun. The holidays seems to bring the kid out in all of us, so my grown siblings and I join our nieces and nephews in building snowmen (or snowcats, as we did a few years ago), sledding, playing king of the mountain or snow football (which is much safer with all of our padding, but a tremendous workout). My mom always has cookies and hot chocolate waiting for us when we finally traipse inside.

·        Baking – I am an indifferent cook, but I’m a fabulous baker, and the holidays are the one time of year when I get to truly shine. My sister and I team up a few days before Christmas and whip up a dozen different treats. Simple seems to work best for my family—chocolate chip, sugar and spritz cookies; puppy chow; chocolate buckeyes; and my famous chocolate peanut butter pie. Then we alternate trying new recipes.

·        Advent and Christmas Carols – I was a music major in college, so this comes as no surprise. I especially adore the rather melancholy ones often set in a minor key, like What Child is This. And please, please don’t use an arrangement that resolves to a major chord at the end to ward off the evil spirits. Nothing drives me battier.