Saturday, December 15, 2007

Letting Go

My younger son has been at college since August. We carted his stuff into the dorm in Tucson, said goodbye and left on our seven-hour drive back to Southern California. His Thanksgiving break was short, so he stayed there (fortunately, his new girlfriend's family invited him home for dinner).

As a result of our driving him to Arizona, he hadn’t been on a plane since last summer, when he went to visit his grandmother in Nashville. On that occasion, I helped him pack on this end and my mother saw him to the airport on the other end.

So, naturally, this week I sent him an e-mail two days before his flight home for Christmas. Don’t forget to check in 24 hours in advance, I cautioned. Make sure you’ve arranged transportation to the airport. And remember not to try to go through security with a Swiss Army knife attached to your key chain the way your older brother did once, because you’ll lose it.

Just a few little reminders.

He wrote back a frosty e-mail. Okay, not that frosty, since it ended with one of those computerized, sideways smiley faces. But he addressed me as mother instead of mom, and even on-line, I could hear the sarcasm in his voice.

He’d already programmed his cell phone to beep him 24 hours before flight time. He knew perfectly well how to pack for a flight. And his girlfriend was driving him to the airport.


I’ve always appreciated the way my parents let go of the reins once I entered college. I flew alone from Nashville to Boston, took a cab to my dorm, and didn’t go home until Christmas. Aside from one visit during my junior year in high school, my parents never came on campus until I graduated.

I was much more self-reliant and highly motivated than my younger son, I tell myself. Nevertheless, it’s clearly time to drop those reins.

That’s what we parents have to do. Watch them like crazy when they’re little, hover on the sidelines while they stagger through adolescence, and then … let them go.

And hope they’ll find their way back again. At least for a visit.

I’m happy to report that he arrived without losing a single piece of luggage. He wasn’t mugged in the airport, he didn’t misplace his laptop, and he easily survived a one-hour delay in his departure, making his connection in Las Vegas with aplomb.

Welcome home, kid. And happy holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bah Humbug!!!!

Hmm . . . Where to start? This has been the worst week I've had in a looooong time.

(As we can't find the camera, I snatched this pic off the web. It was taken by Dayzella, and is representative of how things look around town as far as downed limbs. Only many are bigger, and on top of houses! I've never seen anything like this. It's like a tornado hit the whole town.)
That said, there are thousands in Tulsa faring way worse than me. Sunday night, we had a massive ice storm blow through that wiped out power and phones to over five hundred thousand folks. It's being called the worst power outage in OK history. Our house is cold enough to see your breath. Lucky for us, Wednesday, we hit the lottery by finding an open hotel room. By day, we keep our gas fireplace going for the pets to stay sort-of warm. Most every tree in town has been shredded by the ice. In some neighborhoods, there are so many downed limbs, you can't even drive through. Schools have been out for the entire week.

Seeing how I have a book due tomorrow, all of this free time should've been a major blessing, but with no power, it's been rough. I've written with my laptop plugged in at coffee houses, in the car, and even at the Olive Garden!

Last night, I called in our outage to PSO, and was told that our power should be on within minutes. We rushed over, planning to party, only to find more cold, darkness. Ugh. As of this morning, it's still not on.

Meanwhile, we just heard via text message that Daughter has cheer practice. Cheer practice??!! Um, I was talking with some other cheer moms, and we all decided our minds are a bit preoccupied about now.

The sad thing is that while our situation has been stressful as far as spending $$ for a hotel and eating out every meal, I can't fathom how folks who can't afford what we see as necessities are coping. Please, keep them in your prayers for power to come on soon, although PSO is now saying it may be next Wednesday before full power is restored.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Foreign Editions

One of the fun things about writing for Harlequin American is googling my name and finding wild things, like French editions, on the internet.

The above book came out in November 2007 and guess what, I have no idea what book it is. I'm guessing that this is one of the books set in Chicago, so I'm thinking it may be The Wedding Secret.

Sometimes I received author copies and other times I don't. Usually I recognize the picture, but oftentimes the photo is changed. It's strange--in Australia I'm a Presents author and in Japan I'm a Silhouette Special Edition author. In France I'm a Desire author.

What I really find fun this time is that I've been packaged with a good friend of mine, Patricia Kay. Neither she nor I knew Harlequin would do this. In fact, the authors don't know what books will be picked up for foreign editions. Harlequin does the translating.

Have a great day! I'm off to work--


Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Traditions

My husband and I were married on December 22nd many years ago, in a church decorated with greenery and poinsettias. We spent our first Christmas together on our honeymoon. To me, Christmas has always been the most romantic time of year, one filled with tradition and memories.

That first Christmas, we exchanged gifts with my husband’s parents a few days before the wedding. They gave us camping equipment, which we’d wanted. (We got engaged on a camping trip.) Then his mother presented me with a small wrapped box. In it was one of those Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments — Our First Christmas Together. That started the tradition of buying a new ornament each year. If the ornament isn’t already marked with the year, I mark it. We have a ceramic ornament I purchased at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I was thrilled to find one marked 1997 — that particular year. Only when we unwrapped it later to hang on the tree did we realized the stylized script actually read 1907. We always make jokes about remembering that as a very good year. A wooden plane commemorates the year my husband took flying lessons. Others mark new houses. All the milestone years are also celebrated with special ornaments — 10, 15, 20 and 25th anniversaries.

There are other special ornaments on our tree. Ornaments purchased in different places we’ve visited. Ornaments given to us by friends. And pictures of our beloved dogs, both past and present. Decorating the tree is a trip down memory lane for us, and a special way to start the holiday season.

I try to make time during the holidays for listening to special music (the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Garibaldi), watching holiday movies (While You Were Sleeping, A Christmas Story and Love, Actually are three must-sees) and reading Christmas books. I love Christmas-themed short story collections and just finished The Perfect Tree by Roz Denny Fox, Ann DeFee and Tanya Michaels. I highly recommend it!

Not all my traditions are old. When we moved to Colorado, we added the tradition of going out into the National Forest near our home to cut our tree. We take the dogs and tramp around in the snow for an hour or so until we find just the right tree. Then we cut it, haul it to the truck, and toast our choice with hot cocoa.

A girlfriend and I have made it a tradition these past three years to get together one afternoon after the decorations are up and treat ourselves to tea at Denver’s elegant Brown Palace Hotel.

Traditions help set this time of year apart from ‘ordinary time,’ help us to get into the right frame of mind and enrich the holidays. They can be as elaborate as a holiday feast and as simple as a cup of eggnog. And they can be adapted, discarded, or re-created as it suits our needs. So what are your holiday traditions? What traditions have you added recently? Which ones have you discarded in favor of something else?

Whatever your traditions or celebrations, I wish you much peace and happiness in the coming year — and many wonderful books to read!