A Season for Giving: Jewelry!! Books!!

Christmas. Ashley

Wearing one of the Christmas dresses Mama made.

My mother loved Christmas. She always made a fuss over it. The last outing she took in her life was to a Christmas service with my nephew and his wife. She rose up Christmas morning and told my brother that she was dying. A nurse, Mama knew all the signs, even when it was her own dying.

She died the next day.

But before that awful season of her dying, Mama always did Christmas up big. She’d be the first to get her tree up. It was fake. When we were growing up in that trailer house, the tree was a four foot aluminum foil tree. I think of it fondly now, in the nostalgia that comes when there’s been a far distance between actually living in the trailer. I’m thankful for the experiences. I never want to repeat them.

I think one of the reasons Mama liked Christmas best wasn’t for any religious reasons but because Mama loved to shop and Christmas gave her all the reason in the world to do just that.

Gift-giving was my mother’s love language, as my own daughters might say about me, indeed, have said about me. My mother loved to give and receive gifts, as do I.

On that last Christmas together, the first thing my mother said to me when she saw me was, “You didn’t bring me a present!” I had bought her a gift a few days prior but that wasn’t enough. It was Christmas Day. She wanted another gift.

One of the gifts I had bought her earlier was a small tabletop tree. Quite a bit smaller than the aluminum one we had in the trailer, it was every bit as kitschy and delighted her to no end.  I keep it in my bedroom year round now and light it during the holidays. My mother would have me leave the lights plugged in all night so she could see the twinkles. She loved that tree with the tiny pink and silver balls and silver star. Nowhere near as elegant as the trees she decorated over the years, it still brought her joy in her dying days.

Joy is something I am always hard-pressed to find during the holidays. The season that brought my mother such joy has always been a season of loss for me. Dad left for Vietnam at Christmas. This years marks the 50th anniversary of that leaving. Mama died the day after Christmas. I am sure she held on because she didn’t want our Christmases forever marred by her dying.

But, like my mother, giving gifts always brings me joy.

So I’m giving away a few of my favorite things – books and jewelry. Sign up below. Tell me a holiday story of your own if you like.

I love pretty jewelry. It’s one of my favorite gifts to give and to get and Sweet Romance is one of my favorite companies.  Sign up below for a chance to win this necklace or a pair of earrings, perhaps.

necklace

Did you know that Beth Moore, Bible Study teacher, has written a novel? She has! And it’s a mystery set in one of my very favorite cities – NOLA. If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Beth’s book, sign up.

 

beth-moore

One of my very favorite mystery writers is Ann Hite. The girl knows how to weave a tale or two. Have you read her Ghost on Black Mountain? One of my all time favorites. Ann’s an old-fashioned Southern storyteller.
chaos

 

And we can’t end a giveaway without another story of grandma thrown in, now can we?  Books make the best Christmas gifts. Books and jewelry, that is.

 

grandmother

 

I have just finished up the last of the edits for the last in the series of the Appalachian tales. Christian Bend will be out next September, but if you’d like a chance to get up to snuff, as they say around the hills, my last offering is an autographed copy of BURDY.  I’ll be drawing names and giving away each of these items over the next few weeks, so share the with your friends and family and y’all sign up for a chance to win!

Burdy

Book Karen

Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

25 Comments

Gail Hardie

about 9 months ago

Karen - Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas memories with us. I too love Christmas - the sights, the sounds, the smells, the crowds - everything about Christmas says good cheer - even if you are broke - your heart is full of joy just because it is Christmas. Do hope we can muster up some of the joy this year....we must!!! Please continue to let your light shine brightly - sending much love and Christmas wishes your way -xoxo

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 9 months ago

Got to find the joy where we can.

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Diane

about 9 months ago

Thanks for your giving spirit!

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 9 months ago

I am trying to keep my head above water. Giving stuff away makes me happy. And the jewelry and books are great!

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Karen Allen

about 9 months ago

My Mom considered anything purchased after November 1st game to be wrapped and put under the tree. One year it was my new gym shoes. That I had been wearing for about 6 weeks during gym. The tree was always a Douglas Fir (I grew up in Oregon and now in Arizona it comes out of a box because it would be a fire hazard after a week and who wants to have a tree up for only a week!) and was placed in the living room. Where we couldn't go. Except when it was time to do our piano practicing. Which all of us except for Miss Goodie Two Shoes tried to get out of. (That was not me.) Mom had made our stockings out of some kind of net. You could see the things inside. There were always some candied oranges. And wrapped toilet paper rolls to take up space. (My brother still has his stocking. He posts pictures almost every year. Sign. I haven't a clue where mine ended up!) Our stockings are quilted ones. My Mom made he originals. (For us and the 2 kids). When they moved out of the house, she gave me the Christmas material. "Here, Karen, you can make the rest." (I did okay for the spouses. And first 5 grands. But I can't see to thread my sewing machine to make the last two....) The stories of late nights hearing my parents laugh - -and cry over directions for putting something together are there, ringing in Christmas Day. (The words "Some Assemby Required" were met with groans in our home.) Andy Williams crooning in the background. Mounds of paper. Drinking hot tea with peppermint candy canes. Laughter. So many people came for dinner we had to eat around the ping pong table.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 9 months ago

Love the stories, Karen. Thanks for sharing. I can smell the hot chocolate and peppermint. And the gym shoes... that made me laugh. Bet those smelled ripe after being in the box, again. Thanks for entering!

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Karen: Congratulations! You have won a copy of Beth Moore's debut novel! I need an address to mail it to you. Congratulations and thanks for entering.

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Jill Hubbs

about 9 months ago

Christmas brings lots of memories for me as well – some happy, some very sad. My father left on his second tour of duty in Vietnam just a couple of days after Christmas 1967. I don't remember Christmas that year other than seeing the living room with our tree and the room seemingly brimming with presents from Santa. The only present I remember receiving that year was something called "The Thing Machine." I'm sure it was something that I had seen and asked Santa to bring me. It came with tubes of ooey-gooey sugary gel that you poured into metal molds and baked. The molds were of bugs and creepy-crawlers. The result very much resembled gummy bear treats. I vividly remember making a root beer flavored lizard in my "Thing Machine" and presenting it to my father who ate it with gusto and declared it delicious. He was packing to leave for Vietnam. It's one of the last memories I have of my father, one of the last times that we were together. As you know Karen, my father never came home from Vietnam. He remains there today, missing and accounted for. I still have my Thing Machine from that Christmas 49 years ago. It is stashed away in a box somewhere in the garage, out of sight but never forgotten. Just a sweet memory from a Christmas so long ago, from a moment that seems frozen in time - a moment I wish I could relive once again. I will cherish that sweet memory forever. ❤️?❤️?

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 9 months ago

Jill: I had forgotten all about the "Thing Machine" until you mentioned the molds of creepy crawly things and BINGO! I could see it right there before me. And I can't believe you kept it all these years! Don't you find it odd that the military deploys people to war zones during the Christmas season? Dad left on Dec.19th. I always count that Christmas Day after he left as one of the loneliest of my lifetimes. Still can put myself right back into that moment of being 9 and walking around with my brother kinda of peeking into the windows of neighbors homes watching all their excitement. One young couple with a small toddler girl invited us in to watch. They felt so bad for us, I realize now, but then it was uncomfortable for all of us. I think one of us got that Thing Machine, too. I remember those gel bugs and they tasted awful! ;) I wish they would bring your dad home.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Congratulations Jill, you have won a copy of My Grandmother Asked me to tell you! Please send me an address to send it to.

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Marsha Tennant

about 9 months ago

My mother loved Christmas, too. Lots of BLING and love. Your mom and mine could have been holiday soulmates.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 9 months ago

For much of our growing up years, after Dad died, Mama would work on the holidays because she got double pay. So the big Christmases came later, when there were grandchildren to spoil. When they got old enough, they had to perform something, a song from a Christmas play, or a poem. It was just great fun all those years, with those 13 grandchildren. My kids are waayayy behind.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Congrats Marsha! You are the winner of Ann Hite's Sleeping Above Choas! Merry Christmas. Stay tuned for more winners!

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Diane

about 9 months ago

Christmas is all about memories, many good, some not so good. Definitely seems to be a time when the emotions run high. My love language is doing something for someone, but giving books is a very close second. I love connecting people with books.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 9 months ago

Books shared are the best. I was in college the first time someone shared The Chronicles of Narnia with me. I was entranced by them. I love that emotion, that one where you are completely lost in another world. It's harder to come by now that I write books, too. Like being the actor and watching movies, I suppose.

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Diane Mouskourie

about 9 months ago

I love your stories. For some reason the Christmas season has always been melancholy for me. Now they are just sad. I lost my son on New Years Eve 2 years ago to suicide. Leading up to that event he was so depressed I tried and tried to reach into his darkness and show some light but to no avail. I do love giving gifts though, usually homemade art. The giving makes me feel somewhat lighter. Wishing you peace this Christmas season.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 9 months ago

Oh, Diane, I am so so sorry. I have a couple of other girlfriends who lost sons to suicide. Hugs and prayers and thanks for entering!

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Diane: Congratulations! You have won a copy of BURDY, autographed. If you already have a copy of that and would like one of my other books instead, just let me know. I need an address for mailing!

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AFRoger

about 9 months ago

Books may be the only thing that can save human beings from ending ourselves. Would love a copy of Burdy. A Christmas story: Working in our 24/7 listening post in the Republic of Turkey, I typed a letter to President Nixon on Christmas Eve, 1972. I used our government owned typewriters that had only upper case letters. I asked the president to end the bombing campaign of Hanoi. Although I was a member of the armed forces working in intelligence gathering on the Soviet Union and was cleared for the highest levels of intel, I was still a citizen. The following month, North Vietnam came back to the table in Paris, and we signed a peace agreement with them that was basically the same as the terms we could have had nearly two years earlier. Some may argue that my letter to the president was disloyal. I had to emphasize that I was writing as a citizen and not on the basis of any information derived from my USAF duty. After all, background investigators had opened and read my letters home for weeks when I was in training. I had to assume that they would do the same when I was writing to the president. But I wrote because I understood that my citizenship took precedence over my service and that my oath obligated me to be the best citizen and airman I could be. It seemed to me that seeking an ill-defined "peace with honor" was costing needless lives and that higher honor could have been maintained and the POW's could have come home much sooner, had different decisions been made much sooner. To this day, I cannot sing "Silent Night, Holy Night" without experiencing the same thoughts.

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Madeleine Tavares

about 8 months ago

Thanks Karen!

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Congratulations, Madeleine! You are the winner of the necklace. Send me an addy to send this off.

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Virginia Hollis

about 8 months ago

I would like to enter.,I love the necklace. I loved KARENSPEARSZACHARIAS,last 2 books ! Loved your story. I wish I could get some information about men from world war 1or2 I think it then, I had some Uncles that died back then. I like all of Karen 's books, I like the story you here. (Karen I am still reading MOTHER OF RAIN AND BURDY THE 2ND TIME.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Ginny: Congratulations! You have won a bracelet from the collection! Send me an address to send it to, please.

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karyn Jones

about 8 months ago

I have so many Christmas memories. I grew up in a neighborhood of family members next door, around the corner, across the street or through the field. Every Christmas Eve we would gather at Aunt Leila and Uncle Clyde's house for dinner and holiday cookies. The children crowded at the kitchen table. Cousins Janine and Lana would play the piano while we sang carols. We all had our favorite and we always sang all the verses with enthusiasm. At some point the doorbell rang and there would be a bag of gifts from Santa. Everyone got one gift to open then. Santa never had time to come in to visit. So many memories of family, neighbors that became extended family members, gratitude for our blessings and the sacrifices that were made but mostly the abundance of love.

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Karen Spears Zacharias

about 8 months ago

Congratulations Karyn! You have won a pair of earrings from Sweet Romance! Thanks for entering!

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