Christmas is My Holiday

Here's some holiday cheer, snippets from my writing, and a Gift for you!
Tales of Resilience released in 2020
Purchase them here.

Finding Peace
Struggling after the death of her husband and hindered by her inability to recover from cancer treatment, Lynn isn't expecting to find anything other than entertainment at a music awards show.  When she meets music executive Donovan Rue, there's instant chemistry - and instant chaos.
Donovan faces lawsuits and complaints from disgruntled employees.  Lynn's fragile self-esteem and her recent personal tragedy make her leery of Donovan's interest.  As things heat up between them, their chemistry threatens to implode.
As outside tensions and pressures mount, Lynn breaks away, but Donovan refuses to give up on the strong, resilient woman he sees beneath the damage. 
Can these two people find peace?

Making Magic
Dara Rue’s mental struggles lead to dangerous behavior. Connor Cerami masks his worries, covering panic attacks. The beautiful, intelligent girl brings joy to the overly intense Connor.
Magically, she comforts the sick, helped reconcile her father and grandfather, and holds evidence needed to squash harassment accusations against her father Donovan. While aiding his sick mother and working on a fledgling career, Connor brings stability to Dara.
Their road to happiness is long and difficult.


Christmas is My Holiday
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The Chicago part of My Village
     I know for a fact that sometimes people who do not celebrate the holiday are curious about how we celebrate, decorate, and even worship. For me, it was important to share my culture’s holiday with others, but always respect their own celebrations.

     I was raised Catholic and we always said Merry Christmas.  In fact, I remember my mother getting upset if we wrote (or said) Merry Xmas …  the holiday was about Jesus Christ, not someone named X.
One way we celebrated the birth of Jesus was by worship or attending church.  Lynn does this in Finding Peace.
Christmas scene in Finding Peace by Adelyn Zara,  2020, On Word & Upward LLC
From Finding Peace:
     When Donovan woke her early the next morning, he could not have known that he was continuing another tradition.  Sleeping flat on her stomach, Lynn opened one eye to see her clock.
     “Wait!  I’m sleeping past five thirty for the first time since the hospital, and you’re waking me up?  For what?”
     Donovan swatted her lightly.
     “Get up, woman. Mass is at 7:30!
     Lynn always attended Christmas mass, but otherwise her days of being a church-attending Catholic were over. Today, however, she felt it important to attend.
    So much to be thankful for.
     Sitting towards the front of the church, Lynn glanced around the beautifully appointed church. An arched arrangement of poinsettias with entwined gold ribbons were in front of the alter, behind the creche. Heavy velvet red and gold banners hung intermittently along the side aisle walls. A choir waited to sing, seated in a balcony in the back of the church, poinsettias there as well.
     All the woman in the church wore holiday green or red, including Lynn who wore a red, boiled-wool coat over a red silk blouse with black pants and a red chemo cap that had some satin and beading on it thanks to Bea. The only outliers in color were four white-clad nuns.
     “Oh, my God, Donovan,” Lynn whispered, “I haven’t seen sisters in habits with their heads completely covered in years.”
     “Maybe they’re the nuns from your village come to life,” he teased.
     Then Lynn noticed the age of the people filing in for Mass. Old. Most of them required help to walk in either with a cane, a walker, or strong-armed assistance. The caregivers were showing them to their seats, assisting them with finding the correct spot in the prayer book.
Do I look that old?
     She closed her eyes and thanked God for her life, her family, and the wonderful man she believed was sent from above. Opening her eyes at the last bit of prayer, Lynn saw Donovan’s observant expression.
     “I know,” Lynn said. “I’m tilting my head back.
     When he smiled, she took his hand lightly in hers.
     “I’m glad you brought me here. It’s beautiful.”
     Decorating is a huge thing for my sisters and me. Our childhood home was not decorated much, probably because of the expense. I remember Dad bringing in a tree the eve of Christmas Eve; it always reminded me of Charlie Brown’s sad little tree.  Dad put on the big old, hot lights.  My mother would spend hours laboriously putting tinsel - string by string - on that small tree. 
     One of my grandmothers decorated everywhere with a Village beneath her tree -  complete with a skating pond, cardboard houses, and a running train.   We were not allowed to play with any of  it, but I have fond memories of lying on my belly and creating stories about the skating pairs.  Sigh.
    My other grandmother put her lone decoration - an aluminum tree – one year with a light that revolved turning the tree bright jeweled colors!
     Anyway, all of this is to explain that my sisters and I go nuts at Christmas.  One sister has something like twelve Nativity sets and five trees. At least four of us have Villages. All seven of us love decorating.
     In Making Magic Connor stirs Dara’s interest in Christmas decorating my telling Dara that his mother is a huge decorator, something that Dara is curious about.
From Making Magic 2020 On Word & Upward LLC
     Lynn led Dara to a closet under the stairs that were in the middle of the main floor. After removing coats and smaller items from the closet, she finally had access to a hidden section that held Christmas boxes.
     Dara began pulling out boxes carefully marked “WREATHS,” “TINS,” “SANTAS” and “MISC.” After emptying the main area, she got to an inner, smaller alcove that held porcelain houses in their original boxes. Marveling, she handed them out to Lynn.
     “How many Chicago houses do you have?”
     “A lot,” Lynn said as she looked them over. “These – the ones you’re handing me right now - are imitations of landmarks in Chicago.”
     “Well, here’s something from England,” Dara said as she handed Lynn a box that held Buckingham Palace.
     Dara came out from the closet, stretching up. “That closet is a killer on the back.”
     “Wait until we start climbing up and down the ladder to put these in place.”
     When the younger woman groaned, Lynn said, “And then we have to put lights on them. And then there are trees and people to add.”
  Did Connor want to torture me? Or did he really want me to get his mom back doing something she loves?
     Gamely, she finished hauling out all the boxes. Lynn started directing her moves. “We need to put down the snow first.”
    “Yes. I put white quilting batting on the shelves, so it looks like snow,” Lynn explained. “Don’t forget, I grew up in the Midwest, and we had tons of snow. Especially in Chicago.” Lynn accepted another box. “But first I take everything off the entertainment shelving unit, so grab some laundry baskets.”
     Such a process! Damn Connor.
Do you decorate?  Was it influenced by family tradition?
     One of my first jobs in higher education was as a receptionist for a Hillel Center at on of the State Universities of New York. I was one of two Christian employees. As I got to know the others, they would ask me questions about Christmas. All of them were fascinated with decorating, admitting that they would drive around to look at outdoor lighting, wondering what the inside of the homes looked like. I invited them to a dinner.
     By this time, I had quite the Village. My oldest son started my Village thirty years ago when he brought me a ceramic train station.  About that time Department 56 houses were becoming popular.  I loved it!  People started giving me houses, including two coffee shops, a Harley Davidson shop, four British buildings, a ton of Chicago landmark houses, and a White Castle. 
Do you have a Village?
     Over the last five years I have downsized those houses so that I only have Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and a ton of Chicago landmark buildings. There are trees and small people. Oh, and a skating pond! 

    Imagine my surprise when my Jewish guests – students and a few staff people – spent a lot of time looking over my village and my tree. (Dinner was very late!) I have never had such an examination, and I must admit that I do not look over each item as thoroughly as those people did.  They wanted to know the story behind every ornament, the reason for the Nativity scene, what each Village piece meant to me. My throat was raw from explaining each item by time  the evening finished. And, yes, I loved it.
     Fast forward five years and I worked in a multicultural and international programs’ office at a small, private university. As the international students came to get their paperwork signed for travel to go home over the winter break, I hesitated on saying anything other than “Safe travels!” until they would wish me “Merry Christmas!”  It didn’t matter if they were Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian, or even Atheist. They knew who I was (because, yes, I decorated my office for Christmas), and most wanted to wish me well.
Do you say, “Merry Christmas?”  What is your greeting this time of year?
     My Village has downsized these last five years.  I still have the Chicago landmark buildings, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace, and, of course, the skating pond.  The Chicago scene includes people walking around, mailing packages, and even stopping at a Starbucks!  The skating pond is filled with children.  I let my granddaughter play with the Village … until she took the simulated snow and scattered it around the living room.  I moved the pond out of reach.
     I drive my editor crazy with the scenes about Christmas and The Village in Finding Peace and Making Magic. He knows there’s two small scenes coming in Overcoming Obstacles and Caring for You (both to be published in 2021). Here’s a sneak peak at the Caring for You scene.
From Caring for You, coming soon, On Word & Upward LLC

     “Haven’t . . .” She paused, then smiled at him. “I have not told you about Lynn and Christmas.”
     “I need to know something?”
     Bea rolled her eyes and then said, “She kinda goes overboard.  Decorations everywhere!  Presents in mounds by an over-sized Christmas tree.  It’s insane.”
     “Okay,” Sam was again nodding, smiling as he again started toward the door.  “I can deal.  I like Christmas.”  He paused to give Bea a shy glanced, then said, “I’m really going to like this Christmas.”
     He reached into the back seat, removed four shopping bags full of wrapped presents, and said, “Looks like you enjoy it, too, Beatrice.”
     Connor Cerami greeted them at the door, a big smile replacing the serious look he’d had a moment before.
     “Aunt Bea!”  He reached out and hugged Bea tightly.  “You’re feeling well?”
Bea scoffed, then told him, “Fine.  Just fine.  And how’re you and Miss Dara?”
     “We are good,” Connor said and then held his hand out to Sam.  “I’m Lynn’s oldest son Connor.”
      “Sam Meyers.”
      “Mom’s told us all about you,” Connor said as he ushered them into the foyer.     
     Sam whistled as he took in garlands and decorations.
     “Oh, this is nothing!” Connor said.  “Haven’t you told him, Aunt Bea?”
     Bea cast her eyes around the redesigned room.
     “Wouldn’t be Christmas without seeing Lynn’s stuff all over.”
     Connor, Sam, and Bea took in the sight of multiple garlands, ceramic houses, and mementos of the Cerami boys’ childhood.
     “It’s different from last year,” Bea whispered, thinking back to the last Christmas in the Rue house, the first with Lynn as Donovan’s wife.
     “Well, after the shooting in here, she wanted to completely change it, maybe help people forget about what went down here.  So, it’s been remodeled to be a kind of library. You know:  Lots of shelves.  A better place for all the Village stuff,” Connor said, pointing at the small specially-lit houses on each shelf.  He sighed, then added, “God help Donovan.”
     When Connor led them into the great room, Sam let out an audible gasp. A huge tree was set in the middle of the large room.  Furniture had been moved to accommodate it.  Garland, knickknacks, even throws in Christmas colors changed the ambiance of the room he’d only seen a couple of times.
This year I need to find out where my decorations look best; it’s a task I’ve undergone in seven different homes.  I’ll figure it out. 
What are your holiday traditions?
This Christmas we are all preparing for more than just the celebration of a child’s birth long ago.  We are anticipating the beginning of the end to a horrible virus, to once again being able to go out, mingle with others, be with extended family.  No matter how the few people I see this December greet me, I will acknowledge with “Merry Christmas!”  And, so, I wish all of you Buon Natale, Happy New Year, many more!
And truly, let us hope that we are moving onward and upward into a bright new year!
On Word & Upward!

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About the Author

I'm a wife, mom, sister, daughter, and very much not perfect. My own multiple health problems led me to write about women who experience life's traumas, but bounce back because they are resilient. I strive to bring happily ever afters to all my characters.

On Word and Upward!