Sunday, 29 November 2009

The first day of Winter contest!!! (guest: Michelle Moran)

The day has finally arrived!!! It's a first Sunday of Advent and the first day of Winter contest. As I've mentioned before, the goal of this contest is to share our customs regarding the winter holidays - whichever you celebrate.

Today's quest is Ms Michelle Moran and she'll share her story with us.
Here's a little bit about Ms Moran (from her web

Michelle Moran was born in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer's Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. When she was accepted into Pomona College she took as many classes as possible in British Literature, particularly Milton, Chaucer, and the Bard. Not surprisingly, she majored in English while she was there. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University. Michelle has travelled around the world, from Zimbabwe to India, and her experiences at archaeological sites were what inspired her to write historical fiction. In 2006, Michelle was married at the Chateau d'Esclimont in France, a 16th century location which spoke to both her and her husband's love of history. Every year, both Michelle and her husband embark on a historically-themed trip for two to three months. In 2008, they retraced the journey of Homer's Odysseus, and most recently they followed the path of the American Revolution from Boston to France to Virginia. A public high school teacher for six years, Michelle Moran is currently a full-time writer living in California with her husband. She is the author of Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra's Daughter. Her fourth novel, Madame Tussaud, will debut in March 2011.
You can find out more about her work at And you can read my review of her book Cleopatra's Daughter in my yesterday's post.

Host: Hello Ms Moran! Thanks for coming here today!!! Please, tell us how you are going to spend your Christmas holidays this year.

Michelle: This holiday season my husband and I will be going on a trip to Scandinavia. Every year we go on a different historically themed trip, usually in the summer for two to three months. We thought it would be interesting, however, to add another trip to our schedule, this time at Christmas. Neither us have wandered through the Christmas markets of Europe, listened to carols in a Danish church, or sipped hot chocolate by a Swedish fire. We're very excited about spending this Christmas abroad, and though we'll miss our families, new adventures await!!!!

Host: Ohhh, I love your plan. It sounds very exciting! Three years ago I went to Wien on a second Sunday of Advent. It was really magical experience. I visited several different Advent fairs through Europe and I think you'll love Europe in Christmas time.
Thanks for sharing your plans with us!

Ms Moran will stop by during Sunday so please leave your questions and she will be happy to answer them. Ms Moran has offered a signed copy of her book Cleopatra's Daughter - that I really recommend reading - to one lucky commenter this week!

So, to be eligible to win Cleopatra's Daughter, you have to leave a comment describing how you celebrate your favourite December holiday. Please, write a little story, don't just leave one sentence. I would really like this contest to be about sharing and learning about different customs.
The contest is open worldwide and you have to leave your comment during this week (last day is Saturday 12/5) to be entered in this week's contest. You can leave as many comments as you like but only one comment will count towards the winning. To get an extra entry, you have to put the Winter contest widget (it's on the sidebar) at your blog's sidebar and leave it there until December 20 (please state in the comments that you did so). On the forth Sunday of Advent (12/20) I'll draw the names of the winners of 3 Advent Sundays (there will be one winner for each of the three Advent Sundays). The winner will have 48 hours to contact me. If he/she doesn't show up I'll draw another name and the same procedure applies to that winner.

Good luck! And let the sharing begin!!!


  1. Since getting married, traditions have changed slightly, but now they're ours. On the day after Thanksgiving, we put up our tree and decorate our small apartment.

    Starting last year, we've taken over baking hundreds of pierogies and Polish pastries. It takes two days and the whole family pitches in.

    We've always done a late church service until we had Little Miss and now we do an earlier Christmas Eve service.

    Also, unfortunately, now that I'm married, there's football as part of the holiday tradition but, luckily,

    Christmas is Husband's favorite holiday so there is a lot of Christmas traditions. He loves Charlie Brown Christmas so much so that I bought it for him, but his love has yet transferred to Little Miss who has no appreciation of the Peanuts as of yet.

    My favorite moment is that night before Christmas. Husband and I sit in the living room with only the Christmas lights lit and sometimes music and just sit. I think that's my favorite because it's so easy to get crazy during this season that the quiet moments really shine.

    I shall go put the widget up as well. :)

  2. Thanks April for sharing your story. I love your traditions. Do you put an artificial tree or the real one? And if it's real, how do you keep it fresh until Christmas?
    I also love an evening before Christmas, because we as a family go to Church for a Midnight Mass and a lot of celebration and congratulations happen :)

  3. Oh wow, I want to move in with April!! I love your tradition!
    Host, this is an awesome contest you are having honey!

    The traditions have changed over the years... And like April said, with the new families, your own family and the extended families you gain... tradition changes a bit. I am not sure if I like change in my tradition, but I am learning to adjust to them. One thing that has remained a staple in my tradition is watching Charlie Brown - from The Great Pumpkin, Thanksgiving and the Christmas story. I even bought myself the dvd's one year, because I wanted to make sure that that tradition continued. But now that I am married, and settled with my own family. Our tradition is (and has changed - because this year, I bought a fake Christmas tree) We put up our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Hubby goes to a hunting camp for the whole weekend after Thanksgiving, so he is not home. My daughter and I do the decorating while listening to music and watching tv. We try to wait till hubby is home to officially decorate the tree... but sometimes she is a little impatient. Lol! Hubby is not a big romantic person, but I do enjoy to sit on the couch with the music playing lights off and just enjoy the tree lite and the feel of the season. And one must not forget why we celebrate this season. So, we always put out a nativity set.
    And honey, you know I have your widget up at my place!!!
    Love ya!

  4. I would love to be there to see you baking Polish pastries, April!!!

    Like Cecile, we put up ourn tree the weekend after Thanksgiving as well :]

  5. Hi Cecile! Thanks for stopping by!!!
    Love your story :) I'm always impatient about decorating the tree, too. But our custom is to decorate it on a Christmas Eve before going to Midnight Mass, so I'll have to wait a little bit more...

  6. Hello Ms Moran! It's good to have you here!
    So, tell us: do you decorate yourChristmas tree with sphinx and pyramids? :)

  7. Ha-ha. No. Actually, I like to color-coordinate everything, so my tree is entirely white and gold, as are the rest of the decorations in my house.

  8. Host, when you do all take down your tree? I mean, to decorate it the night before Christmas and then to have to take it down in a week...
    I think a new tradition was started this year... My Mom lives with my grandfather and they do not put a tree... and she admitted to missing decorating and putting it up and all... So, she came over today and we did that together! It was nice.
    And now I am sitting here, typing... and enjoying my tree.
    Host, I have you have a great Monday!!!!

  9. Hi Cecile! My Monday started with an Early Mass 6:30 a.m. and now I'm an one hour early to work, which is fine because I have a lot of work to do :)

    Usually in Croatia people take their decorations off on the 6th of the January which is the holiday of Three Kings but in my city we take them down on the 20th of the January because that's the day of our city's guardian saints.

  10. Thanks! I'm glad you stopped by today too!

    Forgot to say that the colours of my Christmas decorations have to match as well...

  11. We do have a real tree. We cut it down every day after Thanksgiving. It looks like someone threw up decorations. It's very eclectic. No organization at all except non-breakables up top so the little one doesn't get to them.

    As for the Polish food, I'm not given a lot of the more difficult tasks. It's amusing to watch especially because I'm Korean making pierogi. :) Still, there is a great sense of accomplishment and it's neat to know the recipes have been in Husband's family forever.

    I love that cover of Cleopatra's Daughter. I'm trying not to buy for myself during this season, but I've so far purchased 2 books and may add more books. Books don't count as impulse buys. They're more necessities though.

    Oh,I didn't mention one tradition. When I was little, my parents bought me an ornament every year (or at least one), put my name on it and dated it. This was more to distinguish from my sister's ornaments. Then, when I moved out, my parents gave me all my ornaments so our first tree wasn't naked. I've started the same thing for Little Miss. I haven't purchased this year's yet, but I love the idea even though I don't love the idea that one day she'll move out and leave me. :)

  12. What a great tradition, April! If I have children, I'd love to do that.

  13. April, I really like your tradition! I wish I have all the decorations from my childhood :)

  14. No need to enter me, but I just wanted to let you know I've added your contest to my sidebar. :)

  15. Hi Anna! Thanks for stopping by and promoting my contest :)

  16. I have two daughters ages 9 & 12. I'm a single mother and I've tried to create traditions that will give my girls lasting memories. When I was a child I remember tramping through the woods with my parents on Christmas Eve looking for the perfect tree. Now that I'm older we live in a wooded area and through I am single the girls and I still tramp through the snow to find the perfect tree, though we put it up around the 10th now. When we decorate the tree, we turn on Christmas music and string popcorn and put on all of our special ornaments. I have bought a special ornament for the girls every year since they were born. Then we make hot chocolate and read the Christmas Story. There are a lot of other things we do this time of year but these are some of the best.

  17. Welcome to my blog justpeachy!!! Make yourself at home and stop by any time :)
    I like your tradition of finding your own Christmas tree - it sounds wonderful (but who takes it down?). I really like when Christmas is celebrated like a family holiday. Thanks for sharing your story!

  18. Host,

    I was (and still am, but better) ill with fever and cold, so I didn't see you post until now. Sorry for that. Please try to email me again at

    This should work.

    Thanks a lot! Love and hugs, Sanna

  19. Hi Sanna! Thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll get better soon. And since you aren't feeling good, I forgive you for not posting about your favourite holiday and you are entered into the giveaway!