Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best Part of Christmas



by Donna MacMeans

Do you know what the best part of Christmas is?

PRESENTS !!!!!!!!!!!!! (and you were expecting something less materialistic?)
Okay...while presents are awfully good, they're not the best part of Christmas. But before we get into that discussion -- I wanted to remind the five winners of Dianne Castell's book, Star Quality, to email her at DianneCastell@hotmail.com. Those winners were: Helen, Jo, Dina, Terrio, and Michele L.
Looking back over the various December blogs, we've talked about cookies and crafts, movies and snow but we haven't mentioned one of my favorite aspects of the season.

Lunch!

Seriously. This is the season for friends to gather for a holiday celebration so there's lots of well-attended luncheons and parties.

Why is that?

Not the gathering, I mean - I'm always up for a fun gathering - but why do we do it so frequently at Christmas? I met a group of writers at a Chinese Restaurant last weekend, and am meeting a writer for lunch later today who is in-town visiting in-laws. (She's from California and in for a wintery shock when she steps outside in our chill temps). Last weekend, it was another larger group of writers and before that - the red hats. (Have to love the Red Hat groups. Their sole purpose is to party *g*). Before that it was the Investment group and the Gourmet crowd. Obviously, the extra pounds swallowing my waist aren't all from Christmas cookies!

My husband has been going out for annual lunches with his golf buddies and with his co-workers...but have you noticed that men lunch differently than women? I mean, when he comes home, he isn't gripping a bunch of brightly colored gift bags with inexpensive ornaments or cute notepads or homemade goodies or such. When men exchange gifts - they exchange gift cards. That way gift parity is maintained and wrapping is minimal. The only variance is in the vendor. Love it!

Maybe that's why holiday lunches are so prevalent...gifts are involved. So maybe presents are the best thing of Christmas (though I tend to think it's the friendships behind the glitsy bag with the cute notepads).

Merry Christmas to my fellow banditas and bandita buddies! I wish we could all meet in the lair for lunch (and drinks and Sven...) Thank you all for your friendship, not only over the holiday season, but for the whole year through. Friendship is the best gift of all.

So on this note I'd like you to tell me either your favorite gift of all or your favorite part of Christmas. I'd also like you to give me the name of someone whose friendship is a gift (first name only, please). One poster will receive the special bandita prize for the twelve days of Christmas and their friend will receive an autographed hard cover of The Trouble with Moonlight with an appropriate inscription.

Merry Christmas All!

106 comments:

Helen said...

Is he coming to my place
Have Fun
Helen

Helen said...

The GR will be at my place for Christmas Eve he is going to have lots of fun even a birthday party to go to it is my DIL's birthday.

Donna great post I also love the lunches and seeing friends and family and of course I love presents. Lunch on Christmas Day is the best so much food and then leftovers for at least a week.

I guess the best present I have ever gotten was this year when I was presented with two more grandsons and I was able to see them both being born that was a real thrill.

As for a friend who is a real gift that would be my best friend Barbara we have been neighbours for around 27 years now and she is always there for me no matter what. Barbara helped so much when my children were young and is still there when I need a shoulder to cry on or someone just to listen to me winge she is the best.

Donna to you and your family have a wonderful Chrissy and New Year and I totally agree friendship is tops and I have made so many friends here at the Bandits you guys are the Best.

Have Fun
Helen

Donna MacMeans said...

Helen - I was beginning to worry. The post has been up at least thirty minutes without a comment. Glad to see you nabbed the Golden Rooster.

Donna MacMeans said...

A neighbor and friend for 27 years? You are indeed blessed, Helen - as is Barbara. Wishing the both of you a wonderful Christmas as well.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Helen.

My favorite part of Christmas is the getting together with family and friends for dinner and the exchanging of gifts. I also love decorating the tree and wrapping presents. Someone whose friendship is a gift is Emily. We met in school and we've been great friends ever since. We used to meet for lunch or dinner often, but she's been busy with her new baby. I don't see her as much, but we communicate through email.

Sue A. said...

My favorite gift has to be my laptop. I can't imagine having to go to a room to use the computer anymore. Now the computer goes where I want to go (even outside if I want).

While friends have come and gone, my most enduring friendship is with my mother. I'm grateful to have her in my corner. I'm enjoying baking up treats for her to share with her friends and co-workers.

I'm grateful for the online community of authors and readers and I'm enjoying all the special holiday celebrations. Thank you Donna and all the Romance Bandits for giving us readers a place to share and celebrate our love of books!

Maureen said...

Merry Christmas to you! Presents are a favorite of mine too. I love getting gift cards because that means that I can go shopping just for myself after everything is over. My mother and sister are two people I can call at any time and find a sympathetic ear.

Laurie said...

Best part of the Holidays is getting together with my family!
Best present: after a few years of marriage when my husband was in grad school & I worked as a nurse, he gave me a beautiful star sapphire necklace1 That I still tresure 30 years later!
I'd gift it to my sister, Kaye. She's been so supportivethrough out the years. She's my best friend. Together, we take on the challenge of my 84yo mother!
Happy Holidays!

Keira Soleore said...

Frienships! And my laptop that enables me to keep up with the first. With those two every day is Christmas. :)

Got 'im, Helen. Good on ya!

Danielle said...

Hi,

I just wanted to stop by and wish some of my favorite authors a very Merry Christmas.

PJ said...

Congrats Helen! Morning Banditas!

My best gift was a stuffed animal. Seriously. After years of asking for lists one year the dh didn't ask for a single hint. I awoke Christmas morning with a rope tied around my wrist (get your mind out of the gutter-lol) and a note attached telling me to follow the rope and clues. The rope took me all over the house with many lovely handwritten "clues" along the way until I reached the end and found "Big Bear", a beautiful 5 ft. tall stuffed bear. (I can sit in his lap) It wasn't the most expensive gift I ever received but it was the most heartfelt. Big Bear still lives with me and has provided a lot of comfort over the years and soaked up a lot of tears from kids of all ages. He's also been a favorite napping spot for many little ones. He's almost 20 years old now and I can't imagine Christmas without him.

PJ said...

My best friend is Debbie. We met at work over 20 years ago and immediately clicked. We now live in different states but have maintained our strong bond over the 13 years since I moved away. She knows me better than anyone and is always there for me when I need her. I treasure her and her friendship.

PJ said...

I thought I should clarify that Big Bear is *not* a real bear that's been stuffed. That would not have been a pleasant surprise!

danie88 said...

My favorite gift has to be the locket I got from my younger sister this year. She's not the type of person who usually gives "heartfelt/sentimental/meaningful gifts"... so this was a rare occasion for her to do this... it means a lot to me because she picked it out herself (and bought it with her own money that was a gift to her). I have yet to get a pic of her in it so I'm hoping to do that soon.

My favorite thing about Christmas... I LOVE Christmas lights... there just so much fun to look and admire and they just help bring out the fun and joy of Christmas... I also love Christmas songs... they make me smile :)

My BFF Erin, we have both been through a lot in our lives (and still are) and understand what each other is going through. She's always been there for me (and I for her) even though we live across the country from each other (she moved away after H.S. to go to college). We still call each other frequently when we are able and text each other daily. We have tons of inside jokes and laugh a lot. She's the greatest friend I could ever ask for :)

Joan said...

Wonderful post, Donna and hey! Helen! This means the GR will celebrate Christmas Eve twice! Internationl Date line and all (I knew that crafty bird would figure a way to get more holiday cheer, LOL)

As to material presents, when I was a teen I received my very own stereo!!! We have pics of me hugging it.

Um, stereo's for those younger folks among us (and you KNOW who you are!) Were my generations version of iPods. :-)

As to friendships, I won't get all mushy again about how the Banditas and BB's are a very special part of my friendship landscape but..you are.

I'm SO fortunate to have wide array of friends and for me EACH friend brings a special love and gift to me as a friend.

I'll pick my friend Suzanne. We are actually going today for our holiday lunch! She's the one that gave me the ornament of two lady deers at lunch over cocktails and shopping bags at their feet....er, hooves.

We get together 2-3 times a month. She makes me laugh, she helps me deal with stress in my life...esp. the work related as she used to work with me.

She is a bit older than me and can easily step into the role of surrogate older sister and on occasion, surrogate Mom. She is the one who I went to the day the MD told me my age had finally caught up and there would never be any children of my own.

She's the one who held me as I sobbed out my broken heart.

Friends. The best gift in the world.

Kirsten said...

Hi Donna! You know, I was totally with you for the first part of your post -- I LOVE presents! It is will known in my family that I may be OLD and all, but I am still a kid when it comes to presents. Big or small, I love to get 'em and I love to unwrap 'em!

Best present ever? I distinctly recall the Christmas when I got a new comforter for my bed. I think I was maybe in sixth grade. I have no idea why this was chosen for me, but it was bright colored hearts and I adored it. Hard to imagine my kids getting into something other than toys now, but things were different then, right?

Friend who is a real gift? Lately I've been really thankful for a friend named Amy who lives a block down from us. Our kids are best friends, and she is adventurous, caring, and really fun to be around. I feel very lucky she and her husband have welcomed our family into their fold. We've been snowed in this week and so we've been spending lots of time together and it's been great fun.

And naturally, I'm grateful for this on-line crowd of Banditas and Buddies. You all make everyday fun. Seriously! I can't wait to get up and check the blog. It always puts a smile on my face.

DianneCastell said...

Thanks, everyone, for a wonderful time at Romance Bandits.
You all are the best.
Thanks for making me feel so welcome.
Hugs, Dianne

Donna MacMeans said...

Jane -

If there's anyone who needs a lunch out, it's Emily! New babies can make you forget you're a real, living breathing adult. Invite her out - it's Christmas (and tell her she's been nominated in public to receive a prize for her gift of friendship).

Jane - your presence here this year has been a gift and I'm so glad to see your avatar when I sign on. Thanks for being there for us. Merry Christmas!

p226 said...

Hmmm... I think I'll go with "favorite gift of all."

A laptop. That's going to get TONS of use out of me. Sorry, there's nothing more sentimental. Or, maybe there is and I just can't think of it right now.

As to someone who's friendship is a gift... I'm not going to mention even their first name. But there is no question that their friendship has been more valuable than any gift I've ever received. I ran into this friend on-line a couple of years ago. Something was ... different about her. One of the things that caught my attention, was that there was absolutely no hesitation to call me onto the carpet and point out errors in my thinking. Now, some people will do that with everyone. They're just naturally critical. Not this one. She simply pointed out new ways of looking at things. Gave me new angles to see around corners.

Then a friendship started to develop. And this friend became good at something no one else has ever done for me. She became very good at holding up a mirror, which caused (or allowed) me to see myself and the world from a new perspective. But mostly what I saw was myself. And I did not like what I saw.

Keep in mind that this was not done in the form of criticism. It was simply done with the masterful crafting of truth in terms that resonated with me. Things I could not have seen were slowly coming to light. Things about me. Things about the way I view the world.

This friendship and the wisdom provided to me by this friend has been a catalyst for the most profound changes I've ever made in my life. Ongoing changes. Permanent changes. In short, this friend has helped me see how to be a better man. I will always be grateful for that friendship.

Donna MacMeans said...

Sue A -

Wow, a laptop? That is a GREAT gift! You are definitely loved. Laptops are like so essential these days for staying connected with the world, friends and family. (They're also essential for procrastination - something I know much about *g*)

Cherish your Mom and tell her often. Not to sound preachy, but having loss my own mother recently, I realize how much love I had taken for granted. Everyone does - until it's gone. Warm cookies - yum! I'll be making some later today. Merry Christmas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Maureen - You know - this is silly to admit - but I almost get more excited about a wrapped box than the gift inside. There's something about the range of possiblities expressed by a wrapped gift - knowing something was picked out especially for you - even if it's an inexpensive ornament. Wish I knew how to tie those fancy bows like they do in the magazines *g*.

Wishing you lots of giftcards in (ack!) just two days. How wonderful to have family so close by. My sister is in Florida (so I'm wondering here - why am I sittting in Ohio typing this? *g*)
Merry Christmas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Laurie -

I LOVE star sapphires! Then to receive one when life is so stressed - no wonder it's your favorite gift. Kudos to your husband. Mine gave me a necklace a few years ago that I never take off. It's two little rubies cut in the shape of two little hearts and set to look like cherries. He's given me more expensive necklaces since but I love this one more than diamonds. Of course, I might reconsider for blue star sapphires *g*.

How wonderful that you found both family and friendship in Kaye. Not all families are so fortunate.
Merry Christmas to you both!

Donna MacMeans said...

Keira! Love seeing your avatar as well. Merry Christmas! I'm so grateful for the gift of your laptop as it allows you to join us today.

Anyone you'd like to nominate for a gift? We'll exclude all the banditas 'cause we know we're a rowdy friendly bunch.

Gillian Layne said...

Congrats, Helen! How are those beautiful babies doing?

Donna, my Dad is a very strong, silent man type but when I was growing up he used to put gorgeous porcelain music boxes at the foot of my bed on Christmas morning. It makes me tear up just thinking about it. So those were great presents.

I love lunches! I am a sloooowwwww eater, and can easily stretch one into two hours. And I'm awake! Late dinners, on the other hand, find me nodding off. I'm more a daytime gal.

If I won that book, I would want it to go to my Mom. She is "new" to romance reading, just over a year now, and it is so great to watch the joy she takes in each new book. She works like every other farm wife works, before sunrise to way after sunset, and she deserves all the happiness she gets from all of the Bandit's books!

Donna MacMeans said...

Danielle - Merry Christmas! So good to see you as well. Is that your dh in your avatar? He's a cutie and bound to make this holiday bright *g*. Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Donna MacMeans said...

PJ - LOL - Your gift of the big stuffed bear sounds like it comes from a romance. When you read my April release THE SEDUCTION OF A DUKE (at least I HOPE you read my April release *g*) you'll know why I'm grinning so broadly right now.
That is a fabulous story and well work retelling twenty years later.

Debbie is a lucky woman to have such a friend of you. I wish you both a very Merry Christmas@!

Louisa Cornell said...

I think we have discovered that the GR has a real weakness for babies! Or maybe it is just Aussie women! Good on you, Helen!

I LOVE a good long lunch with friends. Can't beat it. La Campbell and I had lunch with my friend, Tammy in San Francisco and our one complaint was that it was not long enough! We'll plan better for DC!

My writing group here in town - Broad Strokes - (yes, as in we are all brassy broads!) had our December meeting at the local Mexican restaurants and I know those poor people thought we would NEVER leave! Try talking about love scenes in a restaurant full of people!

I know one one name "Friend" who has been a true gift to me is BANDITAS! I cannot begin to tell you how much your support, humor and fun mean to me!

The names Diane and Anna also come to mind. They have given me the gift of their time, their encouragement, their wisdom and critiquing skills. I would not be as far on this journey as I am without them.

And a pair of sisters - TJ and BA Hooker (you know who you are!)who have been cheerleaders, butt kickers and wonderful friends to me.

Sherry in Phoenix who got me through the death of my beloved Great Dane, Glory, and who DEMANDS that I write every day. Truly one of the great women on the planet.

And last, but not least, Erin. She will never know what her friendship means to me. She lectures, she threatens, she cheers, she laughs, she worries and she keeps me on track. She's brilliant and funny and sweet and I couldn't even begin to do this writing thing without her.

Donna MacMeans said...

Danie88 - LOL -- My daughter and I were driving home slowly last night just to look at the lights. Now my house is decked out with those tiny white lights, but I must say - I love the multicolor lights better. Don't they lift the spirits? Those house with nothing out - not even a candle in the window - well, it just seems like a bummer. I love a well decorated street.

Lockets seem to be coming back, have you noticed? Or maybe it's my love of Victorian that makes it seem so. I can see why that would be a favored gift through the years. How wonderful that you and Erin have maintained your friendship since high school. So many of those friendships get lost when we're pulled by life in different directions. Wishing you and Erin (and your younger sister with the good taste) a verry Merry Christmas!

Minna said...

My best friend is Saara. I really don't know how I could have survived through elementary school without her. Unfortunately, we don't see each other very often anymore, as we live in the different parts of the country.

http://virtual.finland.fi/xmas/

Kate Carlisle said...

Helen, good catch! The GR can't resist you! Have fun at the party!

Great post, Donna! I've been getting all weepy reading everyone's comments. I love your Big *stuffed* Bear, PJ, and how cute of your DH to make an adventure out of it!

{{Joanie}} I love you, girlfriend!! Wish we were all going to lunch today!

I've got my work BFF Julie who listens to all my woes--and I listen to hers. We met my first day on the job seventeen years ago, and there have been a lot of woes since then. *g* Lots of laughs, too. I don't know what I'd do if she wasn't there to laugh and whine with me every day.

terrio said...

I had no idea I'd won something. How fun! I'll get out that email right away.

Lovely blog, Donna. I love doing one of those long, talk-until-you-lose-track-of-time lunches. The worst part is always when they end.

Thank you to all the Banditas for making this such a great place to hang out. I can always find a laugh, a cry, and lots of encouragement in the Lair. Here's to lots of best sellers for all in 2009!

Minna said...

My favorite gift? This sounds so tacky, but... Money. To be used in the U.S.A.. I went to North Dakota after Christmas for a few months to study, so I did need some dollars for books and stuff.

traveler said...

Thanks for your great posts and enjoyable blogA gift that I will always cherish is being taken to an Andre Rieu Performance which was spectacular.
My friend Marie is sweet, helpful and always there for me when we need someone to talk to.

Donna MacMeans said...

Joan - Sending a blessing to Suzanne. How wonderful to have friends like that with a strong shoulder when one is called for. Merry Christmas to you both!

Kirsten - I can just see you cuddled up in a big comforter. Now that's a gift that gives all year round for years and years! Merry Christmas to you and Amy - a special gift - a friend and neighbor so she's there for times when you're snowed in.

I'm headed off for lunch with Kathrynn Dennis who's in town. I've got a little ornament all wrapped up in a bow to give her (sssh!). Be back in just a bit.

Christie Kelley said...

Donna, I will tell you one of my favorite Christmas presents. My Kitchen Aid mixer.

My dh bought this for me two years ago and I love it! I tend to bake a lot of cookies at the holidays and having this mixer is a godsend. It takes me so much less time.

I even had a special cabinet put in just for the mixer (really!). The mixer sits on a shelf that raised up and locks into place.

limecello said...

My favorite part of Christmas is my family (immediate only - but it's tough to get us together!) is all in the same place, and we can sit down and have meals together. And possibly even *do* something together. It's all very exciting.
As for a great friend... Danielle. I haven't known her as long as some of my other ones (a few years - and many of my friends I've literally known all my life) - but she's a wonderful person. And we always make the effort to have a meal together, talk etc.
And she's going to come visit me while I'm dog/house sitting, so that'll be nice too :) I love the holidays.

Crianlarich said...

Best ever Christmas present? Hands down, my little dog. I've had him ten years now and he's the joy of my life. Funny aside - my husband was dead-set against having a dog again and finally broke down and 'allowed' me to get another little darling. And guess who then went totally gaa-gaa over the little guy? Yep, the dh.
Special friend? H'mmm ... several come to mind, but Val is the one who loves books as much as I do.

Virginia said...

Congrats Helen on the GR again. I think you have had him more then anyone!! Don't work him to hard.

My favorite part on Christmas is spending time with the family.

My best friend would have to be Bebe. We have been friends sense we were 5 years old. She has always been there when I needed someone the most. Thats what friends are for.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey, Donna! Lovely post! I think friends are the best gifts of all!

First I'd have to count everyone of the Bandits as a special friend. My world would be a much duller place without y'all!

Then I have to list all the Texas girls, Sandy, Jo, Jane, Lorraine, Kay, Tracy, Julie, Franny and Alice. These are the people who help keep me sane. I usually have lunch with Jo and Sandy (my CP's) every month, but some months several or all of the others join us.

My two daughters are my friends too. I like to think I've crossed the hardest obstacle in the mother/daughter relationship. I LET them go to be their own people, only give motherly advice when it's asked for, and am there to listen when they need it. The effort has been returned back to me ten-fold.

Thanks for letting me see all these friends as special blessings and gifts, Donna!

ruth said...

The best part is spending time with family amidst the warmth and fun and food that is unforgettable. A gift that I will always cherish is the friendship of my sister whose support, kindness and neverending understanding has made my life easier and special.
Thanks Banditas for your great posts and amazing place.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Donna, my very favorite part has been hanging out with friends and family--we have a few close friends who get together every Christmas--that time together is better than any present! And as for whose friendship is the best gift--that would be my sister. She's the absolute best!!

Congrats on the GR, Helen! Hope you'll have another terrific day together!

CrystalGB said...

My favorite part of Christmas is seeing the joy the children get from their presents.
My friend LaShonda's friendship is a gift to me. We share a love of books.

petite said...

Having your posts brightens my day. Thanks. Lunching is such a treat which I look forward to especially at this time of year. My dearest and best friend who has always been there for me is Jene. My best part of the holiday is to share it with my family and friends, especially when there is a lovely feast involved.

MsHellion said...

I've gotten a LOT of great gifts over the years. It doesn't seem fair to single out one--however--there was this gift that was completely unexpected, completely wonderful...and just all around great.

I was friends with a guy named Mac in college. (He was always dating my friends.) The year Braveheart came out, I was a huge fan. (Okay, I'm still a fan of this movie.) I loved it! Anyway, so that Christmas rolls around and Mac comes over to my dorm room with a present. This was not normal. We were friends, but we were not gift exchanging friends, you see.

It was a limited edition framed artwork of Braveheart, Mel Gibson dressed as William Wallace. Absolutely gorgeous. And the best was, he said, and he was giddy as he gave me the gift: "I saw this and immediately knew you had to have it." He didn't expect anything in return (okay, maybe an extra batch of gooey butter cake) and he just did it because he knew it would make me happy. That was the coolest gift.

And my friend...the one who's friendship is a gift...Lord, aren't they all? Okay, I'll pick one. Kris. She's my CP; and she's absolutely brilliant and she never asks for anything in return. She's generous and kind and she writes the best stuff. It was pure luck when I met her and I've been thanking my guardian angel ever since for putting me at her table at a chapter meeting.

Keira Soleore said...

Donna asked, "Anyone you'd like to nominate for a gift? We'll exclude all the banditas 'cause we know we're a rowdy friendly bunch."

I have a friend who has been a wonderful friend despite the ups and downs in our lives. In fact, there weren't as many ups, but there sure have been many downs. Despite that, we've sustained each other through it all. Sometimes, months go by with no contact, even though we live in neighboring towns, but every time we meet, the time in between just falls away. Marion, you'll always have my heart.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

WTG on luring the GR back DownUnder, Helen! Or, I suspect Joanie is right, he is scamming to have extra holiday time. ;-)

LURVED your post, Donna!

As Christmas presents go, I suppose my best was my engagement ring from my ex. Yes, he could be romantic when he tried...

I am very fortunate to have many good friends, and I count the Banditas and all our Buddies very high on that list! But my BFF Shirl has been my loyal friend and sister-of-my-heart for 22 years now. People actually often think we are sisters, and we resemble each other as much as we do our REAL sisters (not much)! HA! She is the one who got me back into reading (and eventually writing) romance novels, so I owe her BIG TIME!

I'm off to lunch today with my former officemate and long time friend Linda E.

Happy Holidays to all,
AC

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Helen, clearly he's sick of the cold weather over on the other side of the world! I've heard all that ice and snow have left him rather traumatised. I think he needs a nice cup of tea and a Tim Tam and you're just the gal to hand those out!

Hey, it's Christmas Eve in Australia! How cool is that? Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Anna Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna Campbell said...

Donna, what a lovely post! Actually all the Christmassy posts have been lovely. It's interesting how people really make an effort to get together at this time of year, isn't it? I think it's great that we stop and value our loved ones (both friends and family) at least once a year.

Ooh, what a great prize. I've got so many people whose friendship is a gift. All the Bandits, the wonderful Bandit Buddies, my romance writer friends, my other friends! It's hard to nominate someone in particular. But all right, I'll say my dear friend and critique partner Annie West, currently about to enjoy Christmas in Salzburg, the lucky duck!

Anna Campbell said...

Awwww, I'm all misty eyed reading all these lovely tributes to friends and what a difference they've made in our lives. Thank you so much, everyone, for popping by today! And thank you so much for including the Bandits in the list of your friends!

Dianne, you're most welcome! Come back and see us again. You were a great guest!

I was originally going to choose a Bandita Buddy for the friend I was particularly grateful to have. This still seems amazing that we meet online and share so many things. But then I realised I couldn't narrow it down to just one so I had to go outside the fold, so to speak! You're all wonderful and I'm eternally grateful that we've all met! Mwah!

Pat Cochran said...

A Happy And Blessed Christmas
To All!!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, forgot to say the obvious thing - Happy Holidays to all the Banditas and Buddies, no matter how you celebrate the season!

Louisa Cornell said...

Happy Christmas Eve to our Aussie friends! And La Campbell, be sure to convey my very GREENEST envy to Annie West at her Christmas in Salzburg. Lucky duck indeed!!

A hot cup of tea and Tim Tams? No WONDER the GR raced to Oz!! Forget sugar plums. I have visions of Tim Tams dancing in my head!

Helen said...

Yes the GR is going to enjoy Christmas Eve here in the warm and then a cold one as well how lucky is he, and he has a birthday party to go to today as well.

Thank you to Dianne for my prize and congrats to the other winners.

The news reports say they are ready to start tracking Santa's sleigh can't wait to see all the presents and the looks on Jayden and Hayley's faces in the morning next year Corey and Jake will get lots of fun from the wrapping paper and boxes LOL.

Have a wonderful Chrissy and new year everyone I hope they are filled with love happiness and peace.

Have Fun
Helen

Joan said...

What lovely tributes to friends!

I just returned from my outing, and Suzanne got me two more deer ornaments. One is a deer reading a book (to represent my writing she said) and the other is holding a cake in honor of my baking skills.

She enjoyed her gifts too as did her brand new English Springer Spaniel puppy, Sadie. I got Sadie a red and green rope chew toy with a plastic Santa. She went nuts!

Joan said...

Christie,

I LOVE my KitchenAid mixer and am SO envious of your special cabinet for it!

There just isnt' anything else like a KitchenAid!

And Merry Christmas Eve to all our Aussie BB's!

{Pssst...when Santa stops off down there, peek in his bag and check out the gifts for Joanie T :-) }

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Helen, you are keeping secrets of some kind 'cause that bird is ALWAYS coming to your place. Maybe its the pudding...

Donna, love this topic nearly as much as I love lunching at the holidays. It's fun anytime, but you're right, the holidays make it even better. :>

Since I'm not eligible for prizes, I'm going to cheat and say two names - Leah and Malena - whose friendships are just a gift withough price. :> Now it really WOULD be cheating to nme all of the other 19 Banditas, so I had to go for the other BFFs. Grins.

Nothing like having hot nog, or a cold drink or a sweet treat with a gal pal on a cold winter day. :>

Thanks for reminding me that there's a friend I need to call...

Donna MacMeans said...

P226 - Laptops are cetainly topping the list of favorite gifts - and why not? They are really necessities this day and age, and allow us to connect and communciate with such ease of effort.

Hugs to your friend - and to you as well. As wonderful as it is to discover such a unique person, you opened yourself up to her wisdom. Not all would do the same. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Donna MacMeans said...

Gillian - We must do lunch some day. I'm not a slow eater. Eating quickly is a survival skill you learn when you have four brothers and sisters, but I do like to talk *g*. Lunch can go on for hours *g*.

The porcelin music boxes sound lovely. What a wonderful heart warming story. And kudos to your Mom for discovering romance. It's never to late *g*.

principessa said...

The best part of Christmas is seeing friends and being together. Since everyone is so busy having this precious time with familyis wonderful. A friend who I think of immediately is Anne. An absolute upbeat and encouraging person who I count on.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Louisa - One is truly blessed when surrounded by such great friends. I think my husband was surprised when I first started writing by all the encouragement and support I received from other writers. "Aren't they competitors?" he'd ask. But it's true. Romance writers and readers are the most giving and supportive people on the planet. I think it's a gift to have stumbled into this genre. Have a Merry one, Louisa!

Donna MacMeans said...

Minna -

You know, it's never too late to reconnect. I think that's one reason laptops are valued so highly as gifts. Not only are laptops like portable desks to make our worklife easier - but through the wonder of email, social networks, google, etc. we can find friends who we've lost track of through the years. I recently rediscovered one of my old college roommates (she's in Canada now) and am hoping to track down the best man from our wedding. My husband would be thrilled to reconnect if only for a short while.

Tipping a glass in Saara's direction and in yours as well. Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Donna MacMeans said...

Kate - I bet you and Julie are both smiling broadly after that fantastic RT review. Isn't it great to share good news with friends? Wishing you both a Merry Christmas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hear, hear Terrio! I think good things are in store for the banditas & buddies in 2009. We're so happy to have you here with us. Merry Christmas!)

Donna MacMeans said...

Minna - North Dakota in January? Brrrr...Oh wait - you're from Finland so maybe it felt like home *g*. Hey - money is never an unappreciated gift -especially in this economy. It's not much different that gift cards, really - and so easy to wrap *g*. Have a great one, Minna!

Donna MacMeans said...

Traveler - I'm not familiar with Andre Rieu so I dashed over to his website. What beautiful music! Thank you for calling his name to my attention. The site says he's making a US - Australia tour in 2009 so I'll be watching.

It's wonderful that you have a friend like Maria (Oh wait - isn't that a song? Am I channeling the Sound of Music? Must be the Andre Rieu mention *g*). Oh heck - you get the idea. Good friends increase the quality of life. Glad you have found yours. Merry Christmas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Christie - I saw at B&N yesterday that the kitchen aide people have put out a cookbook just for using the mixer! We love ours as well - so nice to do hands free mixing.

Here's my secret to making short work of making cookies - parchment paper. You can buy it in sheets that, when cut in half, fit cookie sheets perfectly - thus no greasing the cookie sheet. You can lay the paper out on the counter - put your uncooked cookie dough on it - and as soon as one batch comes out of the over, you can slide a new batch, paper & all, onto the cookie sheet and back into the oven. Marvelous!
(Says she who plans to make cookies tonight). Have a great holiday!

Donna MacMeans said...

Limecello - It's easy to take family for granted which is why it's especially nice to get everyone together for Christmas. You're right - it's a wonderful part of the holiday.

Isn't it great when you connect with a friend so easily? Blessings to you and Danielle. May you both have a wonderful Christmas.

Donna MacMeans said...

Crianlarich - Oh, I so understand about a dog being a favorite gift. I remember when my dh gave me a puppy years and years ago, I kind of grumbled about all the additional work a puppy causes. But that dog became a close companion. My current mixed breed, Oreo, is sixteen years old and showing her age. We're not planning to get another dog, but I can't imagine being in this house all alone without a canine companion. Pets are a large part of Christmas. Thanks for the reminder.

Everyone should have a friend who cherishes the same good books. Blessings on you and Val for this connection. May you both have a wonderful holiday!

Donna MacMeans said...

Virginia - How wonderful to have a friend who will be with you through thick and thin. Wow - since fifth grade? We've moved to different states in that time. You and Bebe are indeed blessed to still be able to share with each other. Have a fabulous Christmas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Suzanne - Yes - the banditas are a Godsend, aren't they? Hey, I count you as a special blessing as we have those same Ohio roots (Go Bucks!). Next time you're at lunch, lift an iced tea on me *g*.

Your wonderful daughters are indeed blessings. Have I mentioned how your face beams with pride with you speak of them? Wishing you and all your family a very Merry Christmas!

Margay said...

My favorite part of the holiday is hanging out with my family. We usually get together at my sister's house and have an incredible meal, a lot of laughs, and just enjoy being together.

Donna MacMeans said...

Ruth - Have you noticed how friendship and food is almost inseparable? At least it is for me, and I have the figure to prove it *g*. How wonderful that your best friend is also your sister. I noticed that hallmark has a whole series of special cards for sister-friends. Blessings to you both!

Donna MacMeans said...

fichen - I haven't been keeping count, but doesn't it seem the vast majority of friends nominated have been family? No brothers, though, all sisters *g*. (I have both and I understand completely!)

Thank you for visiting us on the blog throughout the year. We consider you part of our family. Have a great holiday!

Donna MacMeans said...

CrystalGB - Children really make the season, don't they? I love watching little kids attack wrapped boxes - toss the gift aside - and continue playing with the box. One of my favorite Christmas memories is being outside one evening and seeing my sister admiring the Christmas tree through a window. My husband had some sleigh bells in his hand that he rang. My sister skidaddled up the steps convinced Santa was right outside. Kids make Christmas, no doubt about it. And they're so much fun to shop for *g*.

Blessings to you and LaShonda. There's something strangely intimate about sharing a love of similar books. It's like letting them into a private part of your life. May you both have a wonderful Christmas!

Susan Sey said...

Hi, Donna! What a lovely post today.

One of my favorite gifts ever (and I'm going to go with the crowd favorite here) was my laptop. I always said that I'd buy one for myself if I ever earned one by selling a book. Until then, I would just write on the family computer. My husband gave me one for my birthday three years ago (well before I sold a book) & said simply, "You need this & you deserve it."

I love that guy. I really, really do.

As for a friendship I particularly treasure, I have to say my friend Ann. Her youngest child is the same age as my oldest & she's such a wise, compassionate soul. I look to her for reassurance, guidance, sympathy & a good jolt of perspective. She's the sort of friend who not only holds your hand while you cry, but actually weeps with you. Raising my little chickens just wouldn't be the same without that kind of deeply felt friendship.

Trish Milburn said...

The best part of Christmas is connecting with people you don't connect with the rest of the year -- whether it's through Christmas cards or the luncheons you mentioned in your post. I'm also a big fan of driving around and looking at light displays, though there don't seem to be as many this year. Maybe everyone decided to save on their electric bills.

The friend who is a gift is Mary. We're so much alike, and there isn't a day that goes by that we don't e-mail each other, usually multiple times, about everything from writing to "OMG! Did you just see what happened on Supernatural?" :) I don't feel a day is complete without at least one e-mail from her.

Donna MacMeans said...

Petite - Aaah...the feast! Let's hear it for turkey and ALL the fixings! My mother came to visit one Christmas and looked first at the spread on the table, then at me and said "What? Did I starve you as a child?"

I was thinking I wouldn't cook as much this year. My daughter and I went out to grocery shop last night but the cart kept getting filled higher and higher. Turns out we can't bear NOT to make certain dishes. If we didn't - it wouldn't be Christmas.

Hope you and Jene get to special some special friend time during the holiday - like lunch! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Trish Milburn said...

Well, the laptop seems to be a popular answer, but it's honestly one of my favorites too. Hubby got me a new one a few years ago, and it's been invaluable to my writing and keeping up with e-mail since I travel quite a bit. Plus, I like to write new pages on it to get away from my desk.

Janga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna MacMeans said...

Ms. Hellion - Of course someone named "Mac" would give a favored gift. My particular Mac has been giving me gifts for years. *g*
Wait a minute...what year was this...what college? LOL

I don't think it was luck that led you to Kris. I think it was destiny. Is it possible to have a good CP without them being a good friend? I mean sharing one's writing is so personal. If you click, you click on a basic fundamental level that can endure the criticism as well as the praise. Blessings to you both. Writer friends are the best!

Janga said...

My best Christmas gift was my #3 nephew who was born thirty-three years ago today. He and his mom came home on Christmas Day. Happy birthday, Andy!

I am blessed with many dear friends, but the friendship I share with Nancy goes back almost as far as our memories. At the age of four, we bonded over our failure to make the tambourine section of the kindergarten rhythm band. Through childhood games, high school angst, young adult soaring happiness and devastating anguish, births of children, deaths of parents, and so much more, our friendship has been an unfailing source of joy and strength. After more than half a century, we still never run out of things to talk about. And we can still giggle together like a pair of thirteen-year-olds.

I also have to say that I am unutterably grateful for my Bon Bon buddies who form the steady core of an ever-expanding group of online friends.

Donna MacMeans said...

Marion - you heard it here.

Keira - I can't imagine you being anything but a great friend. Good things are one the horizon. 2009 is going to be a great year. Blessings to you and Marion. May you both have a wonderful holiday.

Donna MacMeans said...

AC - If Shirl got you into writing romance then we all owe her big time. Loved The Wild Sight. You became engaged at Christmas? I'm not sure when we became engaged - it's a subject up to dispute *g*.
Blessings to you, fellow bandita. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Merry Christmas Eve, Anna!

Yes, I'd have trouble narrowing the list down to one friend out of the banditas as well - and I only have a limited number of the hard covers *g*. I'm not sure why no other holiday brings friends together to celebrate as much as Christmas, but it truly is a wonder of the season.

I should mention my nominated friend - Chris Stahurski down in Florida. You will always have a special place in my heart.

Blessings to you, Anna, as well. We're truly blessed to have you in our fold. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Oops - forgot to say - Way to go Annie West! What a dynamic writing team the two of you make. I'm jealous of the holiday spent in Salzburg. That's a fairy tale holiday. Merry Christmas!

Pat - Glad to see you here as well. Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Donna MacMeans said...

Helen - a shower of sleet just covered Columbus with ice - the thin coating that is treacherous on roads. How about I stowaway with the GR? No wonder he likes staying downunder.

And a birthday party as well? You guys party hearty down there *g*

Donna MacMeans said...

Okay Joanie - what's with the deers? Is there a secret you're willing to share?

Jeanne - my pleasure - tis the season. Blessings to you and Malena and Leah. Friends are just too valuable for words.

Donna MacMeans said...

Principessa - Greetings and blessings to you and Anne. We all can use encouraging friends when times get tough.

Margay - Most of my family is spread out over about eight states. We only all get together at weddings and funerals. Blessings on you and your family. How wonderful you get to spend this time with them.

Susan - you are doubly blessed. Not only with such a wonderful husband, but with a good friend in Ann as well. (Doesn't it seem like the name Ann & Anne has been nominated a lot lately? Does Ann mean extremely good friend in the baby books?) Hope you have a fabulous Christmas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Trish - I suspect I know this Mary *g*. This has been quite a year for both of you so I'm thinking there's been a few OMG! emails flying back and forth *g*. Merry Christmas to you both and my you share many more OMG emails.

Donna MacMeans said...

Janga -

LOL on the kindergarten tambourine rejection. How could anyone do such a thing to enthusiastic little faces? How wonderful that your friendship with Nancy has lasted all these years. I hope you two get to spend some time together over the holidays. Merry Christmas to you both!

Joan said...

Okay Joanie - what's with the deers? Is there a secret you're willing to share?

If there is a secret, it's a pretty good one....I don't even know it, LOL.

But these deer are REALLY cute. They are standing upright (as all scholarly and baking deer should be) and their little hoof are high heels!!!

Too cute!

Be careful with the ice. We're supposedly getting some freezing rain right now.

I'll take their word for it. I'm not risking My little hooves on the pavement!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

My favorite gift was from my daughter when she gave me IOU's for Christmas. 1 day of laundry done, 2 meals cooked, etc. To be used when mom just plain didn't feel like it.
When the kids were young my favorite part of Christmas was after dinner, the kitchen clean and just cuddle up on the couch and they would show me their goodies.
My friend's name is Barbara, she is always there for me, it had been years since I had been close to anyone and I had gotten kind of "stand-offish", she said no, ain't having that and just kept pushing and shoving until I let her in.

catslady said...

I think my favorite part is the tree trimming party that I started almost 40 years ago. It started with an uncle who had nobody to celebrate with and we had him come over and help us decorate the tree. Later we had two children and now we have a new son-in-law and a boyfriend and my nephew and his wife and oh yes the uncle has someone he's been with for 20 years.

I also want to say my oldest daughter is one of my best friends (so is my younger one but she doesn't have the same love of reading and is currently away at college lol). She moved away at 19 to attend college and work and is now recently married and back nearby at 24 and it's wonderful doing things together again. We both go book shopping and share our books and discussing the stories with each other.

Shari C said...

My favortie part of Christmas is getting together with family and friends and having the whole family attend Christmas church service together.

My good friend, Judy, and I have known each other for many years and have been there for each other thru many difficult times and also many good times. We know we can always contact one another even though we don't live close by any longer and we talk often and get together whenever possible.

Lois said...

Well, if this was a different part of the day, I'd probably say something else, but given the state of my tummy -- the food. Definitely love the food. Can't wait for the turkey and the stuffing, and sure am dying to break into the cookies! Yep, there is plenty of the usual stuff that I look forward to Christmas with, but at the moment, I'm just really hungry, and thinking of what's coming, the first thing to pop in the old noggin is the food! LOL :)

Lois

Amy S. said...

My favorite part of Christmas is watching the kids open their gifts.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Donna said: Hey, I count you as a special blessing as we have those same Ohio roots (Go Bucks!). Next time you're at lunch, lift an iced tea on me *g*.

Donna, you're my lunch date when I'm home with my parents friend!! It's always good to hang with my hometown Bandita!!

jo robertson said...

Love this topic, Donna. Gifts, what better way to express your feelings for someone? And when you find the perfect gift for the perfect person? Wunderbar!!

You are on the money about men doing lunch and women doing lunch. I just had lunch with my friend to the tune of much squeeing and gift-bagging, so much fun.

My husband had lunch at Taco Bell and exchanged golf stories LOL.

Helen, obviously the rooster is coming back for more play-time with the grandbabies. Congrats!

Donna MacMeans said...

Joanie - well I know the secret. They're "dears" as opposed to deers *g*.

Dianna - I need some of those coupons! Well - I really shouldn't complain. My daughter cooks the dinner. I do the cleaning after, but she does the cooking. Good for Barbara who refused to take no for an answer. I have a friend like that. She's like a bulldozer and intimidating as all get-out - but such a sweetie and soft on the inside. She's a character, but also a true blue friend.

Donna MacMeans said...

Catslady - I love the idea of a tree trimming party! Especially as each ornament has stories connected with it that get retold again and again. This year, due to entertaining obligations, our tree had to go up fast. I did the decorating, but it's a lonely job doing it all by yourself. I caught my son the other night pointing out various ornaments to his girlfriend and telling her the stories. Ah - the simple joys.

Blessings that your daughters are also friends. Sounds like you raised them right - especially when it comes to the love of reading. How wonderful as well that all chose to stay close to home. Merry Christmas to the whole family - sounds like it'll be a full house.

Donna MacMeans said...

Shari C. - There's nothing like the Christmas service and having yor family there is an extra dose of grace.

Blessing on you and Judy. It's great to have a friend with whom you can share. Hope you have a great Christmas!

Donna MacMeans said...

LOL Lois - I hear ya. I told my husband that I was planning on cutting back on some of the Christmas fixings. A panicked look came over his face and he said, "like what? What aren't you going to make?" I went through the whole menu: turkey & stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, corn souffle, sauerkraut & pork, cranberry sauce, rolls & jello mold. The only thing I was able to drop without long faces and complaints was the jello mold *g* Don't get me started on the desserts!

Donna MacMeans said...

Amy S. - I love that too - the younger the better.

Suz - I would be hurt to the quick if I knew you were in town and I didn't get a chance to catch up face-to-face. Call me anytime.

Jo - LOL - it's universal.

Donna MacMeans said...

And the winner is.....

Hardwrkdmom aka Dianna and her friend that refused to let her keep her distance, Barbara.

Dianna, please email me your contact information for the special 12 days of Christmas gift (I'll get it to Jeanne) and Barbara's snail address so I can send her the book at www.Donnamacmeans.com

Thanks everyone for participating and Merry, merry Christmas to all.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Woo Hoo, Barbie is going to be thrilled and of course you know I am! Thank you all so much.