My husband and I share similar Christmas memories despite having grown up hundreds of miles apart. On Christmas morning when he was a little kid, my husband and his younger sisters were all required to put on their best clothes, pile in the car and drive from Connecticut to their grandparents’ house in Yonkers. As soon as they arrived, they were gathered around a table with their large extended family for a gut-busting Christmas dinner. After dinner their mom would herd them all back into the car because their day was far from over. Next stop, White Plains. Every year she begged her parents not to make any food. And without fail every year when they arrived, a Christmas day feast was already prepared and spread out on the table set with the best linen. There was no arguing about it. The family was having two Christmases. No, if ands or buts.
I had a similar experience growing up in the north woods of Michigan. My mom and dad and I celebrated Christmas twice — separately at my mom’s parents’ house and then again at my dad’s mom’s house. The only difference my grandparents lived only a few miles apart. The drive between the two houses winds through a stand of maple trees, dipping down into a pine-filled valley, and finally skirting the Lake Michigan shore. As far back as I can remember, I sat in the backseat of the car, knowing I was the luckiest person alive.
We’d eat dinner at Grandma’s house with all my cousins, aunts and uncles at the table. Then Mom would swear me and Dad to secrecy, and we’d return to her parents’ house for a second Christmas dinner. It wasn’t until my grandparents divorced, and we were faced with the prospect of three Christmas dinners that my mom finally called a halt to the Christmas Day gluttony and established our own family traditions at home.
How do you hold onto memories of Christmas past and make new Christmas traditions? That is the struggle at the heart of the many problems facing Eli Adair and Audrey Elliott, the main characters, in my new book The Christmas Dilemma. Audrey would like to wrap herself up in her childhood Christmas memories and stay there. But Eli is haunted by his Christmas memories. He wants to forget the holidays. They’re drawn together but will he be able to get past his trauma in time for them to create new Christmas memories and have a happily ever after together?
In the end, Christmas is the time to rediscovery love, hope and joy. My best wishes to you and yours this year, and every year at the holidays.
About the Author.
Sarah Vance-Tompkins was born in a small town in northern Michigan. She received an MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California, and went on to work in feature film development for ten years. Prior to film school, she worked as an on-air radio personality. She is a lifetime reader of romance and is excited to be writing in the genre. She and her husband live in Southern California with a glaring of unruly cats.