Giftmas 2017: Stories in the Wintertime

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

Today I am hosting A.J. Wells on my blog and making an appearance on hers. Please enjoy her thoughts on stories in the wintertime 🙂

Stories in the Wintertime
A.J. Wells

The song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” contains the lyrics:

There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of the
Christmases long, long ago

The Christmas season is the perfect time to remember the value of storytelling. It’s a value that doesn’t stop when the snow melts off the ground, and it doesn’t begin with the season. But when Christmas comes, it’s (hopefully) time to relax for a bit, which means everyone has the chance to tell stories, rediscover new stories, or if they’re writers who have too much time on their hands, to create their own.

Why do we want to? Why do we tell stories? We do it to entertain. We do it just to enjoy making something happen. But many of us don’t want to keep their stories to themselves. There are entire industries of people telling stories to each other, or to the public, or teaming up to make their own stories together. While profits are the main concern of mass media, and a lot of subpar material gets churned out every year, even the most trashy material proves that people want to share stories with each other.

But we need to share our stories, not just for bonding, for self-expression, or for profit, but because they allow us to share truths with each other in a secret language, and to expose new truths to each other. This happens to storytellers, too, as through the act of storytelling they will discover new things about themselves.

It’s complicated to exchange truth in this way. Creating a story with a message in mind often cripples it, makes it mechanized and predictable, but on the other hand, stories can’t help telling truths. They might only be the truths the author believes in, but, those are still something. Even when all creativity might be stomped out of a work by executives, even when a story is extremely simple or simplistic, most stories try to say something, and stories can change a person.

When it comes to stories showing truths, the example most appropriate to the season is Christmas stories, whose stars achieve success only after they learn to follow Christmas’s values of charity and companionship, to demonstrate how good it is for real people to hold those same values.

This holiday season, remember the power of stories, and aim to create some of your own. By donating to the Edmonton Food Bank, you will help make sure that others are free to do the same things.

A.J. Wells is an Edmonton writer and member of local writer’s groups The Scruffies and the Smeerps. She works for On Spec: The Canadian Magazine of the Fantastic, and runs a freelance writing and editing site at www.wellsaj.com. Her novel, “The Doll and the Dragon”, is currently in the works.

Giftmas 2017: Shining Lights II

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

Today I have the pleasure of hosting J.S. Watts and appearing on her blog. Please enjoy J.S.’s take on shining a light 🙂

This is the second of my two blog posts for the Giftmas Blog Tour 2017, which is raising funds for the Edmonton Food Bank (that’s Edmonton, Canada if you are reading this in the UK). The link to the fundraiser is here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/giftmas-blog-tour-2017-supports-the-edmonton-food-/

Big thanks to the generous Rhonda Parrish for hosting me and for setting up the Giftmas Blog Tour in the first place.

In my first post, I admitted to my love of shiny lights and the glittering indulgence of year-end. In this one, I thought I’d share some more thoughts about the shiny visuals of Christmas.

As a writer, I try to evoke all the five senses to bring my words to life: touch, taste, sound, smell and sight. I like to think if used correctly they can prove extremely evocative.

My last poetry collection, “Years Ago You Coloured Me”, is all about memory and things that leave their mark. I therefore spent a lot of time trying to write evocative poetry. The collection includes several winter or Christmas themed poems. Over the years, I have also written a number of other wintry or Christmas focused poems. Collectively, they have referenced all of the senses and include, “prickly soft boughs like arms”, “aromas of Christmas, / flavours of a childhood past” and a “sound like jasmine”, but when I consider them dispassionately the sense I find I’ve drawn on most is that of sight, the “festive, / kaleidoscopic lights” of the Christmas period.

If I think about my childhood Christmases, it is the glittery, colourful, nature of them that comes to mind first: the glow of firelight, Christmas tree fairy-lights shining in an otherwise darkened room, the glint of that light on tinsel and wrapped presents. It’s the lights that get me every time.

To illustrate the way the shining lights of Christmas can take me back, I thought I’d share a poem with you. It’s from “Years Ago You Coloured Me” and it is a brief look at how lights, even after Christmas is over, can transport me to a place I thought I’d lost.

Christmas Lights – Ware, January Third

I thought Christmas had gone,

faded back into mid-winter night

and the acid-burn aftershock of New Year.

But, driving through the town centre

after dark, I found the lights,

primary coloured, electric ribbon lanterns

strung along the High Street

in brazen, gaudy delight,

the exact bright shades

of the cheap paper chains

I stuck together as a child,

painstakingly licking each rainbow strip

to form a piecemeal rope of coloured dreams

strong enough to draw Old Christmas down,

bright moon balloon of kaleidoscopic glass,

loudly reflecting entire colliding spectrums,

as well as simpler echoes

of childhood’s undarkened joys.

J.S.Watts is a UK poet and novelist. Her poetry, short stories and book reviews appear in a wide variety of publications in Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the States and have been broadcast on BBC and Independent Radio.  

Her poetry collections, “Cats and Other Myths” and “Years Ago You Coloured Me”, plus a multi-award nominated poetry pamphlet, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” are published by Lapwing Publications. J.S. performs her poetry all over the UK and runs workshops on both poetry and prose. She has been Poetry Reviews Editor for Open Wide Magazine and Poetry Editor for Ethereal Tales. 

Her novels, “A Darker Moon”, a work of literary dark fiction, and “Witchlight”, a paranormal tale, are published by Vagabondage Press. For further details see: www.jswatts.co.uk and, of course, her Goodreads Blog: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6620930.J_S_Watts/blog

 

Giftmas 2017: Lighting Up the Lives of Others…

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

 

Today I’m hosting E.C. Bell on my blog and making an appearance on hers. Please enjoy this post from her about lighting up the lives of others:

When I see Christmas lights I think charity, and I thank my parents (and grandparents) for that.

On the farm, back in the eighties, my grandmother would start knitting mittens “for the kids” a month before she started making Christmas gifts for us. (Yeah. She made our gifts. And they were amazing.) The kids she was knitting for were teenagers who were going to spend Christmas at YESS, a local emergency shelter for teens.

While she was busy at that, my dad would get the outside evergreens prepped to light. He ascribed to “The Christmas Story” theory of Christmas lighting. (He used a tractor with a bucket, not a ladder, to get high enough to decorate them, but the theory still holds.) He’d add strings until breakers blew, and then he’d back off one string. All of it would have blown the mind of every safety officer in the known world if they’d seen, but hey, it was a different time, and that was the way he rolled.

In mid December, he’d light the trees. Then, he’d buy a bunch of frozen turkeys and take them and the mittens in to the shelter, so those kids would have warmth and food, at Christmas.

I imagine those trees were a beacon to him, calling him home to the warmth and laughter that was the farm, after his Santa run.

My father and grandmother are now gone, but their tradition isn’t. It just looks a little different at our house.

One December a few years ago a kid knocked on our door. He was half frozen because it was (surprise surprise) bitterly cold and he was NOT dressed for the weather.

“Nice tree,” the kid said. He was talking about the huge evergreen in our front yard that my husband had decorated with Christmas lights. He’d done it for me soon after we’d moved into the place, because I’d so loved the trees out on the farm.

I will never forget him sitting at our kitchen table calculating exactly how many strings of lights the outdoor electrical outlet could take, (he’s an electrician, so that’s the way he rolls) and then developing a tool (with duct tape, of course) so he could get the lights to start exactly at the top. Nothing like the way my dad lit his trees, but the effect was the same. It looked wonderful.

“Thanks,” we said. And then we waited, because we knew the kid was going to try to sell us on donating to his cause.

“I know you won’t want to make a donation,” the kid said, waving a sheaf of papers at us. “Nobody on your block does. But at least you opened the door. Would you mind if I came in for a second? Just to warm up?”

The wind was howling and he looked miserable, so we said yes. And we let him give us his pitch, even though we donated to local charities and had hit our financial limit for the year.

He warmed up, thanked us for listening, and went on his way. My husband and I watched him trudge off into the darkness, and for a second I wished I knit mittens, because that kid could have used ta pair. Then, my husband said, “Hell, he’s only asking for $35. We can afford that much.”

So we called him back, signed up to be foster parents, and gave him the money. We actually did it for him, more than for a kid from Haiti, but now we are helping a little girl who was caught in a bit of hell not of her own devising. My husband was right. The money isn’t much, to us.

Last year we fostered a couple more orphans. Two young elephants from Kenya, caught in hell. It’s not much money, but—I hope—we are making a difference in their lives, too.

And we turn on the Christmas lights before we donate, so our house looks as warm and welcoming as my parent’s farm did, so many years before.

About E.C. Bell:

My debut paranormal mystery, Seeing the Light  (2014)  won the BPAA award for Best Speculative Fiction Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Award for Light Mystery. The 2nd and 3rd books in the series are out now (both shortlisted for awards, look at me go!) and the 4th will be available in October, 2017. Which means I’m hard at work on number 5. My short fiction includes the Aurora Award winning fantasy anthologies Women of the Apocalypse and The Puzzle Box.  When I’m not writing, I’m living a fine life in my round house with my husband and our two dogs.

Giftmas 2017: Dear Santa

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

For the past six years I’ve written a letter to Santa on my blog. This is not an actual wishlist of things I’d like my friends and readers to buy for me (unless we live together LoL), it’s just supposed to be fun. This year I decided to incorporate it into my Giftmas Blog Tour. In part because I wasn’t sure when else to schedule it (my blog is pretty busy this month) but in part because while I’m not shy about asking Santa for things I want, I also like to ask for things for others… so I think that means it fits the theme of ‘Shining a Light’. 🙂


Dear Santa,

Remember last year when I started out my letter by saying how tough 2016 had been? Well, dude, I had no freaking idea what was waiting for me. 2017 has pretty soundly kicked my ass butt. But I’ve tried to be good, to do good, despite all that, so hopefully I’m on the Nice list. Actually, I met one of your elves at the All Is Bright festival and they told me I was on the Nice list so here is this year’s wish list 🙂

  • I’d really like a new printer. This one is still working (barely) but it’s getting touchier and touchier every day. I guess I don’t blame it, it’s over ten years old now I think — what is that in human years? Like eighty? I’ll probably be pretty cantankerous when I’m eighty too… Still, I’d really like a printer that I didn’t have to coax into working each time I needed it.
  • Could you help the Oilers win a few games? Does that fall within your purview at all? Because that would be sweet. Right now it’s not looking like we’re even going to make the playoffs and though that’s a rather familiar feeling, it’s not one I’m fond of.
  • I’d love to adopt a chimp from Fauna Foundation. The good news is that the chimp doesn’t actually come live with me, but the money that goes into ‘adopting’ them helps pay for their care (and that of all the other animals) at the sanctuary.
  • A mysterious package! They all look so cool. The one I’m most intrigued by is Filigree in Shadow, but I’m pretty flexible really. These are kinda pricey but the Curious and Conundrums thing that I subscribe to from the same company is pretty sweet so I expect these to be too.
  • There’s also this bourbon I’d like to try. Not just because John Wick drinks it, but admittedly, also because John Wick drinks it.
  • Remember six years ago when I said, “I could also really use some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done.” Well, as it turns out, apparently I could see the future…

Thank you Santa, Merry Giftmas!

Best,

Rhonda


Those of us who have donated to this blog tour are not Santa Claus, but we might have a gift for you just the same! See this Rafflecopter here? Well, the prize list for it is so big I can’t fit it all on this page. Seriously. You can check it out by clicking here but first place comes with original art, poetry critiques, books, books, uh, more books… You get the idea.

Everyone gets one free entry each day and you can earn extra ones by donating to our fundraiser or boosting our signal.

Good luck!

Giftmas 2017 – What I Celebrate

2017 was very difficult for a lot of people in my world, myself included. Over the past months I’ve occasionally felt like I was floundering in all the bad news, tragedies and crises. The thing that has helped me out of those dark spots was to make a concerted effort to seek out and focus on positive things going in the world — things are are far too often overshadowed by the bad.

WIth that thought at the very forefront of my mind I decided to make the theme for this year’s Giftmas Blog Tour ‘Shining a Light’.

By sharing our stories and raising money to help feed hungry families, my hope is that this blog tour will be a light as well.

Our fundraising goal is $522 (that’s one dollar more than we raised last year!). Because the Edmonton Food Bank can stretch every donated dollar into three meals if we reach our goal we will have contributed 1,566 meals to families this season, but we can’t do it without you.

If you are able, please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. Every dollar counts and, in addition to the warm feeling that comes with helping others, we are also offering a whack of goodies to every person who contributes. You can check out the details and claim your rewards by clicking here but those rewards include ebooks, holiday cards, stickers, Tuckerizations, handicrafts and more!

And here is the most important link in this whole blog tour:

Please donate to our fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank

There are as many different ways to celebrate winter holidays as there are families and today I wanted to find out about what some of the blog contributors celebrate. You can join in the conversation by commenting here or using the #Giftmas2017 hashtag on social media — what do you celebrate? How do you celebrate it?

Our family celebrates a secular version of Christmas that I like to call Giftmas, hence the name of this blog tour. One of my favourite family traditions is advent. On December 1st we clear all the clutter off our fireplace mantle and replace it with a new kind of clutter — candle clutter! We put twenty-five candles out. Each night in December we light the number of candles that match the date, hang out together and enjoy a chocolate and some holiday music. Some years we’ve read books aloud, but mostly we just sit in the varying degrees of darkness and talk. It’s a lovely, restful way to count down the days toward Christmas. And not just because there’s chocolate, but also because there’s chocolate 🙂

What do the other participants celebrate? Let’s ask them!

“We don’t really celebrate anything anymore, but when I was a kid, we had a the worst fake tree ever made. We used to strategically place the tinsel to cover the gaps between limbs.”

Jennifer Lee Rossman

“We celebrate Christmas, though in a more secular way. (I grew up in the Church of Christ, and was taught that Christ’s birth was something to be acknowledged all year long.) For me, Christmas is about joy and good food and family and Santa Claus. This is what I’ve tried to impart on my son, too. He’s autistic, and we adapted our traditions for his sensory needs. He has always loved numbers and math, so from an early age, I started getting him advent calendars so he could count down the days to Christmas with chocolate. When I hit post-Christmas sales, I try to find one or two more advent calendars too so we can then do “January and February advent” for his numerical joy. We did a third extra advent one year, but since we live in Arizona, I found that the chocolates became too soft by March and we couldn’t get them out of the plastic!”

Beth Cato

“I celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ. Not that he was born on December 25, of course; the Roman calendar at that time was a hot mess (leap months, seriously?), even if anyone had bothered to record the date at the time. But December 25 is as good a date as any other to acknowledge and honor the day. We exchange gifts because gifts are a nominal cultural remembrance of the gifts of the Magi to the newborn Jesus or a Christian rebranding of Saturnalia gifts—but mostly because it’s fun.”

Laura VanArendonk Baugh

“We have a very traditional Advent and then a long 12-day Christmas season until Epiphany. So we start from the 2nd of December lighting a candle on the wreath, we start creating the crib sowing the grass and hay, we soak our fruits in rum for Christmas cake and then start making sweets for the office. The kids all start doing the one-kind-deed-a-day decoration chains and we pull out the decorations. In addition to that, we start caroling at various places, work on the Church star and crib with the community, organize gift bags for the poor, make a retreat and confession. Finally, by Christmas week, the cake is baked, the decorations and lights go on and the merrymaking starts on Christmas day after midnight mass right till Epiphany.”

Pamela Q. Fernandez

“As an atheist, I celebrate my cultural roots: I celebrate that there is glühwein (mulled wine) again and that it’s the time of the year to make feuerzangenbowle (a very German thing), which contains wine, rum, and fire as the main ingredients. Since it is the end of the year and the very tipping point of the dark season, I do have the sense of a coming together with those you hold dear (because drinking glühwein alone is just sad), of reflecting on the past year and setting out to tackle the new one, of a sense of quiet.”

Alexandra Seidel

“I’m not really in the Christmas spirit right now—I’m in the Advent spirit. Advent is a Christian season of hopeful anticipation, of waiting, of expectation. It’s a time to reflect on the darkness in the world and to look forward to the coming of a savior, a messiah who will show us the right way to live and lift us out of the darkness. I think in that way, it has a lot in common with the Winter Solstice—and maybe that’s part of why the early Christian church decided to place Christmas so near to the solstice. Over the past several years, I’ve made an effort to place emphasis on Advent until Christmas Eve—the day my parents and I have always held our own private celebration of Christmas.”

Stephanie A. Cain

“My family has always celebrated Christmas. At least we call it that, but it is really a secular celebration, rather than a religious festival. At times, I have somewhat flippantly been known to draw on the mid-winter and Roman heritage of my home country (I’m British) and offer felicitations for the festival day of the risen god, Sol Invictus.”

J.S. Watts

“My holiday traditions are a muddle! We go Yule singing door-to-door in the days leading up to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we sing carols and go to church. We open gifts on Christmas morning, and eat a supper that includes a cake shaped like a Yule log. Next, we celebrate the changing face of Janus on December 31st by ushering out the old year and welcoming the new. Lastly, I celebrate Imbolc on February 1st, lighting candles and lanterns to welcome the coming of spring. ”

Barbara Tomporowski

“Not a holiday sort of dude. I like the excuse to give presents or hang out with people, but there’s no one holiday that I adhere to. Again, the cynic in me grumbles, but stays quiet for the most part during the month of December. I like the cold, the lights, and the mountain of baked goods that accompany this time of the year. It’s the only chance to watch my favorite version of “Christmas Carol” with Alastair Sims.”

Doug Blakeslee

We celebrate a secular version of Christmas. I was raised on a farm, and that definitely coloured how I celebrate the season. We baked multitudes of fantastic cakes and cookies. We went to the back forty and cut down our own Christmas tree. Then we decorated it and the rest of the house. It was wonderful. But one of the big events that signalled (to me at least) that Christmas had really truly arrived was watching Alastair Sim’s version of “A Christmas Carol” on CBC on Christmas Eve. Now, in my own house, we decorate a tree (sadly, we have moved to artificial, but digging it out of its box and putting it together is just as good as slogging through the snow to cut down a real one. Right?), and bake a bunch of different cookies for the season, but I have developed a variation of “the movie before Christmas.” Now, we watch the “25 movies of Christmas.” We start with “Die Hard” on December 1st, and watch (at least) one movie with some sort of a Christmas theme an evening until Christmas Eve. That’s reserved for… (if you guessed Alastair Sim’s “A Christmas Carol,” you’d be wrong!) “Love Actually.” Because my husband gets to pick movies too, and this is one of his favourites.”

E.C. Bell

Another Giftmas tradition I enjoy is exchanging gifts and it really is true what they say about giving being better than receiving — I love a good gift, don’t get me wrong, but I really love the feeling that comes with finding and giving someone else that perfect something.

Which is an elegant little segue to the fact that if you love books or art I might have the perfect gift for you. Two people will win awesome prizes from this Rafflecopter right here. There are honestly too many prizes for me to list them all here, but you can check out the list by clicking here.

Everyone gets one free entry each day and you can earn more by helping us signal boost this tour and fundraiser, or by donating.

Thank you, and good luck!

Giftmas Blog Tour 2017

Welcome to the 2017 Giftmas Blog Tour!

The Giftmas Blog Tour has been an annual tradition since 2014, but last year we added an extra fundraising layer — raising money to benefit the Edmonton Food Bank and help feed hungry families. We’re continuing that this year and hoping to do even better than last year.

2017 was a very difficult year for a lot of people, so the theme for this year’s blog tour is ‘Shining a Light’. We will be sharing positive, hopeful, funny or otherwise — attempting to shine lights into the darkness. Because every little bit helps.

The tour officially begins tomorrow, but this blog post right here is the main hub. It’s going to be a huge blog post, containing a whole whack of information, but I’ll try not to let it become overwhelming.

The most important part of this whole post, of this whole tour, is this right here:

Donate to the Edmonton Food Bank

Last year we raised $521 so this year our goal is $522!

I’m going to be unrepentantly pushy about that link and here is why — every dollar matters. I’m not exaggerating. Because of their partnerships, bulk-buying and that sort of thing the Edmonton food bank can turn every dollar donated to them into three meals for hungry people. Let me say that one more time:

$1 = 3 meals

Oh, and if you’re American your dollar will stretch even further because all donations made to this fundraiser are in Canadian dollars. At the time of my writing this blog post that means for you every $0.78 = 3 meals.

So if you can manage to donate, even just a dollar, you will have shone a light into three people’s lives. And that ain’t nothin’. And as an added bonus, we’re offering some awesome rewards for your generosity. Check that out below.

If you can’t donate, you can still help by spreading the word, and we’ll enter you into a draw for some awesome goodies for doing that too!

Mmmk. So, in order to try and keep this from becoming super complicated let’s look at this one thing at a time. First, if you can donate, in addition to the warm feeling you will get from the knowledge that you are helping those less fortunate than yourself, I’d like to offer you the following rewards:

Donor Rewards:

The first ten donors (of any amount) will receive a download code for a free copy of Faegotten by Jude Tulli.

If you donate $1 or more you may claim all of the following:

If you donate $40 or more you may claim all of the following:

  • A personalized holiday card from me, Rhonda Parrish*
  • An ebook copy of your choice of any of the Alphabet Anthologies (A is for Apocalypse is already free, so you’d be picking from B is for Broken, C is for Chimera and D is for DInosaur.)
  • Giftmas stickers from Stephanie A. Cain
  • Tuckerization in Circle City Magic by Stephanie A. Cain (Stephanie’s choice of either a villain, victim or werewolf from this series will be named after you)
  • Homemade winter holiday themed fabric coasters from Rhonda Parrish (set of four)*
  • Advance copy of the Magical Menageries Colouring Book (expected release Summer 2018)*
  • eARC of E is for Evil (expected release Spring 2018)

To claim your rewards fill out the form below. Include in the body of your message any of your preferences (which Alphabet Anthology you’d like, for example) and if you’d like to receive any of the physical items (which are marked with an asterisk) I’ll also need your snail mail address.

If you made your donation anonymously please also let me know the date and approximate time that you donated.

To claim your rewards for donating to support the Edmonton Food Bank, please fill out the form below or email me directly at Rhonda.L.Parrish@gmail.com using the subject line ‘Giftmas Blog Tour Donor Rewards’.

This is an ugly form. I know it’s an ugly form, you know it’s an ugly form… but it works. :-p

Once you’ve submitted the form or sent me an email to claim your rewards for donating, don’t forget to keep on scrolling and enter the Rafflecopter too!

But wait! There’s more! As promised there are ways that you can help which don’t involve spending any money and which will still give you a shot at some awesome goodies in return.

Grand Prize:
  • Paperback copies of the first four books in the Amethir series by Stephanie A. Cain
  • Beth Cato will send you a signed copy of a Chicken Soup from the Soul book containing one of her essays
  • Signed copy of Vacuia Magia by L.S. Johnson
  • Copy of Three-Way Dance signed by Brian Rosenberger
  • Sensitivity read or poetry critique by Lisa Bradley
    • Will read and respond to up to 50 pages of fiction from her perspective as a queer USian Latina with chronic illnesses and depression OR critique up to two pages of poetry (one long poem or two shorter ones)
  • Paperback copy of The Stars in My Door signed by Doug Blakeslee
  • Signed copy of Monsters in my Mind by Ada Hoffmann
  • Paperback copy of Heavy Metal by Andrew Bourelle
  • Small piece of art by Lynn Hardaker
  • eBook copy of the Witches of Doyle three book set by Kirsten Weiss
  • Paperback copy of The Songweaver’s Vow by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
  • Tuckerization by Laura VanArendonk Baugh
    • Name if it fits the world and characteristics if it doesn’t, or Laura will substitute another world to keep the name
  • Custom cross stitch (6″ square or smaller) by Jennifer Lee Rossman
  • Art print from Barbara Tomporowski
  • Signed copy of Dying on Second by E. C. Bell
  • Download code for a free copy of He Sees You When He’s Creepin’: Tales of Krampus courtesy of Jude Tulli
Second Prize:
  • Beth Cato will send you a signed copy of a Chicken Soup from the Soul book containing one of her essays
  • Signed copy of Vacuia Magia by L.S. Johnson
  • Themed packet of journaling/scrapbooking ephemera
  • Mini hand-bound leather journal by Lynn Hardaker
  • eBook copy of Bait by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

Wow!

Do you need a moment to catch your breath? I wouldn’t blame you if you do. Like I said before though, here is the most important part about all of this:

Click here now to donate to support the Edmonton Food Bank

All the rewards and the prizes are pretty amazing, but they are nothing compared to how good you’re going to feel for helping to make someone else’s holiday’s brighter. Shine a light — donate today.

That’s a lot right? But didn’t I mention something about a blog tour?

The blog tour runs through December 11th and a whack of fantastic writers and bloggers will be working together to bring you a series of great blog posts, all of which are intended to help shine a light.

 

 

Above and Beyond!

giftmasblog-tour

Wow! You guys went above and beyond. My original goal had been $500 and you guys came through in such a phenomenal way that not only did we meet that goal, but we beat it! Thank you SO much! I am ecstatic to tell you that together we raised $521 for the Edmonton Food Bank. Because the food bank has some awesome buying power and is able to stretch each penny they receive to incredibly lengths that $521 works out to 1563 meals for hungry people!

This makes me so proud, I hope you feel it too.

Whatever you did to contribute — donate, spread the word, whatever — thank you. Thank you so much <3

As part of this blog tour I was offering a giveaway of a crocheted throw. Rafflecopter has chosen the winner and it is:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CONGRATULATIONS REBEKAH K.!

 

I’ve emailed you, so if you didn’t get it, check your spam filter.

Everyone else gets a prize too though! I said if we reached our $500 goal I’d throw something else into the prize pot. After giving it some thought I’ve decided to give out a couple paperback books to two more random winners. I let the Rafflecopter choose them and it picked Emeryl and Leslie V. You guys should also check your email 😉

Thank you again to everyone who participated in or contributed to this blog tour. It’s the best Giftmas present I ever could have asked for. Thank you!

And those blog stops again, in case you missed them, are:

Christmas Baking and Gingerbread Bloodshed

Giftmas Bready or Not: Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge (Microwave)

Food, Glorious Food!

Giftmas Tour 2016

Christmas Lunch 

Snowed in: A Giftmas Guest Blog from Jennifer Crow

Fruitcake and Christmas Wishes

A Place at the Table 

The Worst Thanksgiving Ever

The Weight of Christmas Dinner

A Nontraditional Foodie Christmas

Last Day For Donations!

giftmasblog-tour-2

Today is the last day to donate to our fundraiser to help the Edmonton Food Bank. That’s the bad news. The good news is that so far we’ve raised $426 of our $500 goal! Whoot whoot!

Because the Food Bank is able to buy food in huge numbers (and they are basically magic) they can turn every $1 into 3 meals for hungry people. That means so far we’ve donated enough for 1,278 meals! I’d really like to push it over to a nice even 1500 though — which is only $74 in donations away. Maybe it’s time to add an extra bit of incentive.

If we reach our $500 goal in addition to awarding someone a crocheted blanked from this:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will… well, I’ll do something else. But I don’t know what. Let’s take a vote shall we?

  1. If we reach our $500 donation goal for this fundraiser I will make D IS FOR DINOSAUR free for the first three days after its release.
  2. If we reach our $500 donation goal for this fundraiser I will choose two extra winners from the Rafflecopter and give them a signed paperback copy of any one of my books.
  3. If we reach our $500 donation goal for this fundraiser I will [insert your suggestion here]

Leave your vote as a comment to this blog post. If When we reach our goal I will read through them and let you know what I’ve decided to go with in Wednesday’s blog post — which is also where I’ll announce the Rafflecopter Winner.

Please go here and donate to help!

 

Between now and then, however, we’ve got lots of food-tastic blog posts for you to check out:

Christmas Baking and Gingerbread Bloodshed

Giftmas Bready or Not: Cake Batter White Chocolate Fudge (Microwave)

Food, Glorious Food!

Giftmas Tour 2016

Christmas Lunch 

Snowed in: A Giftmas Guest Blog from Jennifer Crow

Fruitcake and Christmas Wishes

A Place at the Table 

The Worst Thanksgiving Ever

The Weight of Christmas Dinner

A Nontraditional Foodie Christmas

WOW! While I was typing up this blog post some anonymous awesome person made a donation to take us over the top! We’re at $501! Whoot whoot! So it looks like I WILL be adding something awesome into the prize pot (for lack of a better description), it’s just a question of what! So be sure and vote / leave a suggestion in the comments here. And do consider donating if you can spare even a little bit. Though we’ve met our goal for this fundraiser there are still a lot of hungry people out there who would thank you for your generosity if they could!

giftmasblog-tour-4

Check back Wednesday when I’ll announce the winner(s?) 🙂

$209 Raised

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So far, together, we have raised $209 for the food bank. That works out to over 600 meals! Whoot! But we’re not done yet — there are still just over three days left in this fundraiser so if you can donate even a couple dollars please

Go here to help feed hungry families this winter

and accept my sincere thanks 🙂

And then come back here and enter the Rafflecopter to win a crocheted throw by yours truly. As you can see, the odds are most definitely in your favour LOL

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The stops so far on the tour have really covered quite a spectrum. Our theme this year was food, and everyone touched on that but family is also a hugely recurring theme — go figure 😉

In case you missed them, check out these stops:

Snowed in: A Giftmas Guest Blog from Jennifer Crow

Fruitcake and Christmas Wishes by Eileen Bell 

A Place at the Table by Tiffany Michelle Brown

The Worst Thanksgiving Ever by Kara Reynolds

…and there’s more on the way!

 

The Weight of Christmas Dinner

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Today, as part of the 2016 Giftmas Blog Tour I am hosting Barbara Tomporowski. Please enjoy her story which is ostensibly about Christmas dinner, but really is about family, and tradition, and shortbread 😉

The Weight of Christmas Dinner

Barbara Tomporowski

“The day that oven dies, I’ll smash it.”

My son perked up. “Cool!”

“Really?” My boyfriend asked mildly. “With what?”

Having never owned a crowbar, let alone used one, I knew I was trapped. “What I meant is that the day that oven quits in the middle of cooking our Christmas dinner will be the last day of its mechanical life.”

My dad cringed, probably at the thought of purchasing a new stove. My boyfriend shrugged and said, “At least it’ll be cheaper on Boxing Day.”

“I meant today.” They both winced. Neither would want to brave the press of last minute shoppers in any store Scrooge-like enough to sell major appliances on Christmas Day.

Heat blasted my cheeks as I opened the oven. The temperature was probably too hot, but at least the bird was cooking. I would be thankful if the unreliable thermostat in my parents’ stove, a relic from the ’70s, cooked the turkey thoroughly enough that no one got salmonella.

I peered at my daughter’s efforts to make our family’s traditional bean salad. Seeing her rinsing lentils and chopping celery, I offered Mom a wooden spoon. “Could you do the shortbread?” Since her stroke, Mom often seemed lost in a lonely and confusing fog, but that day she seemed happy to be with us in the kitchen. She nodded, I set her to creaming the butter, and the rhythmic, sloppy sound soothed my holiday dinner anxieties.tomporowski-christmas-table-at-government-house-2015

Nobody makes shortbread like my mother. Although the recipe is simple, mine never turns out. Mom claimed the secret was to cream the butter by hand, with a spoon instead of a mixer, but I suspect there was some secret ingredient she kept from me so I would have to come home.

My life changed after my mother’s stroke. Despite having children of my own, I never felt like more of an adult than the day I was solely responsible for the weight of Christmas dinner.

Christmas was – is – a big deal in my family. The tree, the lights, the singing. Parties and families and guests. As a child, the anticipation of Christmas Eve interrupted by Midnight Mass. I liked the carols and the figures in the Nativity scene almost enough to make up for the never ending church service. Afterward, I would help my mom make a midnight lunch: cheese, pickles, crackers; pepperoni and farmer’s sausage; cherry tarts, butter tarts, and of course the shortbread cookies.

On Christmas morning I would wake early, run to the tree and marvel at the presents. After ripping through my stocking to examine what Santa brought me and my brothers, I would fidget until it was late enough to wake my parents and open the gifts. Next would come Christmas breakfast and washing those dishes, just in time to dirty more as we sliced onions, peeled potatoes, stuffed the bird and boiled the dreaded Brussels sprouts. I could never figure out why Mom insisted on cooking a vegetable nobody liked, and we three kids slurped apple juice from wine goblets to disguise their bitter flavour.

As a grownup, wine replaced my apple juice and I helped my mom with midnight lunch. After banishing the kids to bed, I stuffed their stockings by the peaceful glow of incandescent lights and woke, as my parents must have, to gleeful shrieks from the living room. And then my mom had her stroke, and everything changed.

My dad survived an aneurysm a few years later, and every Christmas since has been in the care home where he now lives with my mother. That first year, I brought them a Christmas dinner wrapped in foil and packed on ice for the three hour drive. We had to borrow plates and warm the turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes in a stove that was, happily, newer than what we’d finally hauled out of my parents’ house. There wasn’t enough space for all of the food in the oven, and the turkey was cold by the time the gravy was steaming. No Brussels sprouts, though; even a Christmas cook must draw the line somewhere.

Last year, my boyfriend persuaded me to be easier on myself by ordering supper. My  shortbread still isn’t as good as my mom’s, but I compensate with caramel squares and my father doesn’t notice while I bring him his favourite butter tarts.

A couple of weeks ago, my brother announced that he will fly home for Christmas, and Dad’s anticipation of the holiday meal is surpassed only by his joy at the prospect of having us together. So I’ll make Christmas dinner again, but my boyfriend suggested assembling plates of food at my house and driving them to my parents. Meals on wheels, family style. Still packed on ice, of course, and no Brussels sprouts. But what would Christmas be without shortbread and butter tarts?

Maybe this year I’ll try the wooden spoon.

 

Barbara Tomporowski writes fantasy, justice-related nonfiction, and Christmas blog posts. She chairs a writing group in Regina, Canada, and was recently chosen as an apprentice in the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Mentorship Program. You can find her on Facebook.


A big part of this blog tour is us attempting to raise money to help the Edmonton food bank. If you haven’t already, please click here or on the image below and donate to help feed a family this month — whether it’s a dollar, ten or more every little bit helps! And, as a bonus, all these donations are in Canadian dollars so if you are American, for example, your $10 donation might only cost you $8 (I don’t know the exact exchange rate). Also, if you use PayPal to donate they will add 1% to your donation. Once you’ve donated come back to enjoy the recipe I have to share and enter my rafflecopter to win a cozy prize!

giftmasblog-tour

Thank you so much for helping!

And if you can’t help monetarily, there is still something you can do — help us spread the word about this fundraiser. As with donations, every little bit — every tweet or Facebook share — helps. We can’t reach our fundraising goal without you!

To thank you for all your help I’m also hosting a giveaway. The winner will get a cozy crocheted throw (homemade by me!) in whatever colour(s) they choose. I will ship it anywhere in the world, and though the odds favour those people who donate to the fundraiser (even $1!), you can also earn entries by tweeting about the giveaway or just by showing up because everyone gets one free entry as my gift to you 🙂

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway