Our First Florida Christmas

We got to Florida on Thursday. I believe Al put the naked tree up that very day. We already had it down here for a family party one December. Our Seattle family flew in and Dad was here and I wanted a tree because Julia was still a baby and Owen was still little too. Kids love Christmas. So do I. Of course there were presents!

Since we’re planning to sell our Michigan home, and never ever ever be there for Christmas again, I brought down some of my favorite Christmas things. Dad came over Friday and we decorated the tree. That’s our bubble, now. Three. I invited Dad for Christmas dinner and then we all looked at each other. When exactly WAS Christmas? Why, just one week away. We’re going to keep our decor Christmasy until whenever in January I can finally part with it.

After Dad left, Al said, “The tree looks nice, but there are no presents!” We don’t usually do much in the way of gifts for Christmas, so this shocked me. Today we will shop for presents (wearing masks of course) and order the ham. Florida is wide open. I’m hoping with all my heart most of the small St Pete businesses and stores survived. We’ll find out today. And maybe see some neighbors and catch up on the gossip. From a safe distance.

I am Covid weary and Christmas cheery. See you next year!

Christmas Differences

Seems like this close to a year, I should be updating Retirement Diaries. On the other hand, isn’t everyone doing the same thing? Staying home? Lots of people dying every day. It’s depressing. We’ve lost several in our Michigan community. Out of 100 or so people, five died within a few weeks. I’ve had to make an effort to stay upbeat, not let fear or depression swamp me. It’s hard. I think it is for most of us.

Al and I have always thought differently about Christmas. It was so difficult in the early years of our marriage. My mother made our Christmas mornings magical so I enjoyed everything about it and Al didn’t share my enthusiasm. He didn’t like the commercial aspects of the holidays. But he never woke up to a living room filled with toys not just under the tree but set up like little scenes. For me, there was the little table and chairs, with a doll in one of the chairs and the Easy Bake oven on the table. Everything sparkled. One year there was a guitar for one of my brothers and a drum kit for the other one.

I didn’t know that having a special Christmas with lots of toys was commercial. I didn’t think about that. But now I see what Al means and it doesn’t matter to me that we don’t give each other loads of gifts. But it mattered to me when my boys were little. Al and I had very different childhoods and it took a few years to understand each other and all the various family traditions. We got to know each other better just by talking it out over the course of ten or twenty years. LOL I’m not even kidding. But we’re fine now and I don’t expect him to have loads of presents for me under the tree.

Many years we’ll think of one big item that we both want and we’ll buy that. Some years he surprises me with a special piece of jewelry. This year, trying to declutter the house before putting it up for sale in the spring, my mind has been hammering home to me that I have way too much stuff. It wasn’t always that way, but somehow I have about twenty boxes of Christmas decorations. I’ve sorted them into donate/trash/keep piles. Then I had to do two piles, one for Christmas in Florida this year and one for Christmas in Florida when we buy our new home. Because our condo is cute, but it’s little.

We are leaving in a week and I’m excited despite Covid. I still love Christmas. So far we have donated two large loads of Christmas things, including a tree and ornaments. I used to shop at thrift shops and Salvation Army so I’m always happy to donate things I can’t use anymore, thinking “someone will like this tree.” I tell myself a little story about how there’s a person or a couple or a family who don’t have money for a tree and they happen to spot my donated tree for $5 or whatever the price. And they’re thrilled to take it home and hang ornaments on it, wondering what kind of person gives away such nice things.

Very early in our marriage I would say to Al “I can’t believe you don’t like Christmas! Who doesn’t like Christmas?” and he’d say “I like Christmas, but I don’t like the commercial aspects of it.” And I would roll my eyes, thinking he was Scrooge. But now that our life overflows with so much stuff, I see his point.

Connecting During Covid

I thought I would be so much further along on my Covid marketing plan. But then I got sick. Not sure yet if I had the actual Covid or just a potent blend of sinus, cold, and flu. Getting blood test tomorrow. Getting results who knows when??? Still, even sick for a few weeks, I did manage to make this little promo image on Canva, and Linda, who you met last week when we swapped blogs, has promised to show me how to do more. Like a story.

Also I did my Facebook Author Chat. I was so happy my voice wasn’t nasal and I did not cough! It was fun and easy but not so fun or easy to upload the video to my site. I checked the link at the start of this paragraph and it will take you to the chat. (Maybe only if you are on Facebook?) I watched it after we stopped talking and noted that I did not mention my new book one time. Not once! I didn’t show the book cover or even mention the title. It was just talking with other writers. Pure fun, which is the best sort of promotion.

In case I have not said it enough due to Covid or whatever I had (my husband gave it to me, whatever it was) the title of my new book is Jane in St Pete. That link will take you to Amazon to buy the book, but you can also buy it on Nook and iPhone. I bought my first Kindle book (by Karen McQuestion) on my husband’s iPhone in 2007 because I didn’t have a Kindle or an iPhone and I was excited about this new KDP program Karen was talking about.

I kind of knew that promotion for this book at this time would not be a whirlwind of success. Besides getting sick and writing the next book in the Jane series, I am also taking care of doctor appointments that had to be postponed when I got sick. Doctors do not want you in their office if you even suspect you have Covid.

What happened after that was I had to wait a few additional weeks for another appointment. It’s an important appointment, additional tests necessary because the first test had a bit of a shadow. I knew I’d be worried (worried is my middle name) the whole time I was in Florida this winter if I waited for Spring to take that test. I’m sure it will turn out to be nothing. Anyway.

We were supposed to leave for Florida December 2. Yes, in two days, now postponed two weeks. My biggest book promotion was going to be in Florida, in St. Pete, where the book is set. That may not happen now. The venue where I was to have a book signing is closed. Due to Covid. I’m glad I gave myself a talking to before the book came out. It’s okay if this is not the book launch of my dreams, despite what my horoscope may have predicted.

There will be other books and other signings and probably even other video chats. Which I really wanted to embed right here. Maybe next time.

Author Talk

I’ve never done a Facebook Live author talk. These are the things we writers do now. I’m a little nostalgic for a book festival or a conference or a signing. That will all be coming back, just not for this book. Not yet. Linda and I have done a lot of that kind of promotion together. A few highlights: We did a book fair, an author signing involving 20 authors in a huge store full of beautiful furniture and clothing and other things, and at least one conference (probably more than one) when we were both in the same writer’s group.

Then there was the reader’s festival in Alpena, a cute little town northern Michigan with indie bookshops and lots of readers. We took our husbands on that trip and stayed at a rustic lodge and had dinner in a great restaurant in the middle of the forest. We took a horse and carriage ride to view elk. It was a fun weekend. Plus we were helping our books.

We did a signing together at one bookstore, then we were on a panel discussing topics of interest to readers at a second bookstore/gift shop. There was a Q & A. I love a good Q & A, especially with a friend.

This Facebook Live event came about being Linda and I both have books out now and we were talking about how in the heck we were supposed to promote them. We came up with a few ideas. Linda was going to set up a Facebook Live Chat, which is how she found Jenifer from Pink Panther Magazine, who kindly offered to host us.

Turns out, long ago, Jenifer was a creative writing student of mine. And she’s now a successful author! It was great talking to her again. Our official talk is on Friday and if you’re my Facebook friend, I invited you. Even if we aren’t Facebook friends (I don’t have my author page on FB anymore, but that’s another blog post…) you can sign up to view the event at 4 pm this Friday. So, as weird as this time is for everyone, including writers, good things happen anyway.

Hope to “see” you Friday.