What I Did (Planned to Do) On My Winter Vacation

With some thoughts, you know when you think them that it means you’re a grownup. When you would love to just go take a bath. When you wish you could take a nap–but you acknowledge that you can’t. When you look around your bedroom at the beginning of a week off for staycation and think, “I need to clean.”

It’s bad in here, y’all. I mean, of course there’s the Christmas clutter. My room is the only safe place for wrapping, and also to get that big ol’ tree in the living room, other stuff needed to be stuck out of the way. So there’s that. Boxes that need breaking down but the dumpster is already full. Wrapping paper odds and ends that I should just stick in the recycling, but I always think one day I’ll need that tiny odd-shaped piece. Need to put the rolls of wrapping paper away, get the bows and the boxes for lights stashed under the bed, make sure the ribbons are out of reach of the cat…

There’s also the new things. I got candles and movies and a book and yay! But all that stuff has to find a home now, and that’s not going to be easy. There was a lot of STUFF in here already.

Which brings me to the old things. Yesterday I spent a pleasant hour getting rid of things I haven’t touched all year (well, since unpacking after the move, and probably for the year or two …

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Tis the Season to Be Jolly

…Or something like that.

This year for my family, it’s a bit different. My mom is recovering from surgery, so we decided to make this a very low-key holiday. None of us felt up to the task of hauling our huge tree up from the basement, decorating it, and then taking it down at the end of the year. So we have a very small tree that my husband bought. We decorated it and put it in the kitchen, where the cat can’t get at it (that’s one thing I won’t miss this year — keeping the cat away from the tree). And while I will sort of miss Mom’s  beautiful tree, I will not miss the stress in getting it up and decorated.

Because technically, Christmas is not about the tree. The tree is important, yes, but it’s not everything. The most important thing to me is family. That’s right. We have traditions — Christmas Eve at my in-laws, unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, etc. — and those are the things that comfort me and make me feel good. I may not be employed full time yet, but that doesn’t even hit my radar (well, we did scale back on gifts a bit to compensate) because Christmas is not about grandiose gift giving gestures or fancy things. It’s about being with the people you love most in the world, the people that are, in essence, your world.

 

My mother-in-law (and now, mother) has a thing on her wall from …

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The Princess, the Pie, and the Sorceress

The Princess, the Pie, and the Sorceress

by Kit Campbell

 

“Uh, my dark queen? There’s a princess at the door.”

Morgwyn, sorceress, looked up from where she was spreading models of her minions across a map of the countryside to find one of her dwarves standing in the entrance of the hall, hat clutched in his hands. “What?”

The dwarf swallowed. “There’s a princess at the door.”

There was, indeed, a princess at the door. She was beautiful, of course, dark hair curled and twisted into an elegant updo, and she wore a thick cloak of the finest wool over what was, no doubt, a ridiculous gown. Behind her was a large traveling trunk that she could have in no way carried herself. Morgwyn could just make out the backs of a couple of attendants as they fled down the mountain pass.

Morgwyn almost asked if she could help her, but caught herself in time. “Yes?”

The princess sighed and rubbed one temple. “I’m dreadfully sorry about all this.”

‘All this’ seemed to be the princess and the trunk, though that didn’t clear anything up. “And?”

“None of this was my idea. You may rightly tell me to go away, and I shall do so.”

With what non-existent attendants, Morgwyn wanted to ask. “I’m afraid I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.” Should she have cursed her by now? Probably, but it had been a long day of plotting, and she could use …

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What Are Your Holiday Reading Traditions?

The end-of-year holidays are almost upon us! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, or something else entirely, chances are pretty good that you’re looking forward to some days off work or school at the end of this month. (And if not, you’re probably doing a very important job, like working in a hospital, so my hat goes off to you.) If you’re in a part of the world where it’s cold, you’re probably looking forward to some cozy hibernating time. And that means…reading!

(Okay, who are we kidding? My fellow Turtleduckers and I were readers before we became writers. Everything leads back to reading.)

Last year, the word of the year seemed to be hygge, the Danish term for a feeling of cozy togetherness. This year, what I’m seeing everywhere is jólabókaflóðan Icelandic word meaning “Christmas book flood”. (Jola-boka-flod is how it breaks down.) It’s an Icelandic tradition where everyone gives each other books on Christmas Eve and then stays up all night reading them. (Note: All gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, not just books, so there’s no danger of wakeful children spotting Santa overnight.) Which means most books are published in the months leading up to Christmas, but I digress. Like Neil Gaiman’s All Hallows Read, this is a tradition I can wholeheartedly endorse.

For me as a child, it was always exciting to spot a book-shaped package under the tree. And I look back with fondness at the Christmas books that only appeared …

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