Friday, December 21, 2007
The 12 Authors of Christmas -- Nancy Moser
Nancy Moser is the author of three historical novels about real women-of-history: Mozart’s Sister, Just Jane—about Jane Austen, as well as Washington’s Lady about Martha Washington coming out in July 2008. She is also the author of over a dozen contemporary novels including the Christy award-winning, Time Lottery, the Mustard Seed Series, and The Good Nearby. Coming out in January 2008 is Solemnly Swear about the jury on a murder trial. Read excerpts at: http://www.nancymoser/. com
Tell us about your first Christmas memory?
1960. I was six years old and received a Barbie doll from my parents—one of the first ones in the black and white striped swimsuit, with the blond ponytail. The clothes were too expensive to buy, but my mother sewed many Barbie outfits for her, though I will say her wardrobe was heavy on the prom and wedding dresses. All my dolls had wedding dresses, whether they were baby dolls or fully grown. I carried on the tradition for my daughters’ dolls. The poor things may not have had pajamas or a play outfit, but they had a frilly prom dress! A couple years after receiving my first Barbie, Mattel had a trade-in program where any little girl could trade in her Barbie for one of the new bubble-haired Barbies. So I gave up my original Barbie. Hmm. I wonder if Mattel knew what they were doing?
Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.
We always celebrated on Christmas eve, with a dinner and the presents. Santa was not a big deal. I don’t remember ever getting more than an orange and/or my very own Scotch tape or crayons in my stocking. When I had my own family we continued many of these traditions, but added many more. Now, my grown kids are very into finding a certain ornament, or eating certain foods they remember from their childhood. One tradition I did not carry on (because I hated it) was having the kids put on a Christmas program for the adults.
As my siblings and I married, we started having our family Christmas with our own children on the 23rd, went to the Mosers on the 24th, and my family on the 25th. Three days of celebration!
When do you put up your tree? At my house, it goes up when my kids' begging is louder than my procrastination (around December 1). My husband works assembles my prelighted tree. I do the rest. Describe the decorating at your house.
Growing up, we always put the tree up on my birthday—December 2. But with our own kids we put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Before they grew up and moved away, we put on a Christmas CD (Mannheim Steamroller is a favorite.) My husband assembled the tree and I usually did the lights and the garland. The kids would put up the ornaments—many were hand-made sequined balls. I still love making those. Also, I bought three ornaments every year, one for each of our kids, and wrote their initial and the year on them. When they got married I gave them all their old ornaments. The rest of the Christmas decorations inside are mine to do (I have little charts to tell me where I put things last year) and my husband does the outside. We have a few decorations that I didn’t know were important to my kids until this year when they started to claim them “I want the Bumpkin crèche someday.” “I’d love to have the advent tree.” Sorry, I’m not done with them yet! But I’m looking for duplicates on Ebay.
What is your favorite Christmas song or album? I recently bough Unexpected Gift and I love it! They are old favorites sung in a new way. Includes "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (Bethany Dillon); "Do You Hear What I Hear" (Nichole Nordeman); "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (Steven Curtis Chapman); and "Silent Night" (Sanctus Real).
Besides Mannheim Steamroller, I love the Time/Life traditional Christmas album because it has the oldies I remember, the songs with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Perry Como.
Our church has a big Christmas cantata a few weeks before Christmas, complete with a small orchestra. I love singing in that, and usually sing all three services. I think it is very important for the next generations to learn the traditional carols/hymns.
Christmas morning, my parents brother and I would head over to my grandparents' house and open all our presents there. Or they'd come to our house ... so we didn't open them until we were up, dressed, showered and fed. Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.
As I said before, we opened presents on Christmas Eve. I have no memories of what we did Christmas Day! I do know that presents were not the big deal they became when my husband and I had our own kids. We received less, but plenty. I do remember saving up my money in order to buy my parents a gift. For some reason, I remember buying them some crackled glass salt and pepper shakers for $1.98. Odd what we remember…
At some point in our children’s upbringing, I remember being rather disgusted by all the gifts we gave them. We cut back after that. And started doing more of the Angel Tree type of giving.
Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, and in Montana that's almost a given! Tell us about your Christmas setting?
I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and now live in Kansas (though we go back to Nebraska for Christmas with both sides of the family.) I was always disappointed if there wasn’t snow. My childhood home had a nice hill in the back and the year I got a saucer sled was a favorite. I never remember being cold and used to play and play and play until I was soaked.
Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?
Both, though I’m doing more online than I used to. Especially when a company has free shipping. I like being able to peruse at my own pace, in my jammies, and have it sent to my house.
I sure like the sales. When I was growing up (even into adulthood) there were NO sales before Christmas. My sisters and I would go shopping on the 26th to get half-price things. But now, you can get that before Christmas. That’s fine with me.
We give far fewer presents than we used to. After all my siblings were married, we used to draw names, and then our kids would draw names, but even that got ridiculous because none of us needed anything. So, instead of buying presents for each other we started to trade off adopting a family in one of our towns, buying presents for the children and the parents, and groceries. But eventually, we realized the logistics of that were daunting (as was the shipping) so we each started to adopt families in our own towns.
Now, as far as family gifts, we only give to our own children, and to our parents. I like that a lot.
Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?
Love. I know that sounds trite, but that’s the gist of it. God gave His Son to us because He loved us, and now we get together and celebrate with those we love. It’s all about tradition, warmth, hugs, music, and laughter. And cookies. Lots of cookies and kisses.
It’s Christmas day… what’s for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?
There’s ham, mountains of mashed potatoes, corn, my mother’s rolls and butter, cranberry relish, Jell-o salad, lots of green olives, and pie—pumpkin or cherry or pecan. I also make my homemade Heath toffee. I like how everyone gets “known” for something. Our daughter in law Mallory brings peanut butter balls, my SIL Nikki makes “trash” (Chex mix) and hard fudge (don’t ask. It’s a Moser thing that makes no sense whatsoever. Hard as a rock fudge! Yuck.) For many years I changed the menu and made some fancy dessert for our dinner. But then the kids would whine about not having mashed potatoes, and no one ever had any room for dessert, so I went back to the staples. It sure makes menu planning simpler!
Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.
Once in awhile I’ve thought of a special gift for someone that is just perfect. At those times, I am like a kid, almost sick with excitement wanting to see people open it. One recent gift was a set of DVDs for our grown children. I took all the old VHS tapes that we had taken of them growing up, and transferred them onto DVDs. On the face of the DVD I made a label with a photo from the year that the DVD represented (or the vacation.) Each child got a set. We had such fun watching them! Plus, it’s nice to have those tapes backed up like this. Another gift I had fun creating was a three-ring notebook with all the family recipes the kids loved from their childhood.
Memories…I’m a chronicler (I’ve kept a daily diary for 28 years) so any gift that celebrates memories is high on my list.
What are you plans for this season?
The kids’ Christmases are more complicated now, with them needing to be with their spouse’s families. We will have our own Christmas on the 23rd, as usual, here at our house, then my husband and I will travel up to Nebraska to be with our siblings and parents—without our kids! I know I will not like that one bit, but time marches on and traditions adapt, and change.
Any final thoughts on Christmas?
This year we celebrate the birth of our first two granddaughters so suddenly Christmas is more.
More important, more special, more poignant, more full of traditions—old and new. We look forward to see the season through their eyes . . . I am already creating precedent for new traditions as “Grandma”. For instance, I made each girl a needlepoint stocking for their home, and a special stocking for the mantel here. I also created a sequin ball with their name on it. And on the 17th, I had both girls overnight. I know since they’re only six months old, they don't know what’s going on, but I want to be able to tell them “You’ve always stayed overnight at Grandpa and Grandma’s house during the Christmas season. You’ve always come to “Grandkid night”…” Who knows? I sat both girls on the counter and made cookies—cookies they can’t eat yet!
All this said, I want to extend many blessings to all of you. I hope the old memories and the new ones created, are as special as the season.
Christ is born! Hallelujah.
Amen Nancy! Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing!