By Cassandra O'Leary
Potpourri PostThis month the Genre-istas are re-posting a mixed bag of popular posts from the past. So here's my Christmas post from last year.
Author's note: today is almost 100 degrees F and we're inside playing on the new X Box and also Harry Potter Scrabble. We hope to visit the beach when it's not so hot!
I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…Well, one day I might see a white Christmas if I travel to the other side of the planet during the holiday season. But as an Aussie, my experience of Christmas is quite different to many of my American and European friends and readers.
I’ve been thinking about Christmas in Australia lately, since I’ve just written and released a Christmas-themed novella set in my home city of Melbourne, Australia. There’s shopping and mayhem, plus a little romance. Also, steamy weather changing from thunderstorms with lightning to hot sunny days over 35 degrees C (95 degrees F), maximum strength sunscreen and hat required. This is Christmas to me!
As I write, we’re experiencing a spring heatwave with temperatures over 30 degrees C already. I can tell you I don’t feel like doing any Christmas shopping. Or writing. I must admit my brain turns to mush in the heat, so it's just as well the holidays are coming.
Christmas as an Aussie kidLeading up to Christmas, we often made our own paper chains and Advent calendars at school and then decorated our lounge room with them. My favourite decoration was the pretty angel doll that went on the top of the tree. It was always exciting to decorate our Christmas tree in December. When I was younger we had a massive pine tree in our backyard, so Mum and Dad would cut off a good sized branch to be our tree. The whole house would be filled with the scent of fresh pine.
Our family usually went to Catholic Mass on Christmas Eve. I’ll admit it wasn’t much fun – too hot, too crowded and too many hymns and long-winded readings were boring to a child. But some years we went to the children’s service when kids would dress up as Bible characters like shepherds and angels, and that was fun.
As a kid, we’d often have a barbeque lunch for Christmas dinner or Boxing Day, when we’d see a few more members of our extended family. Lots of sausages (snags) in bread, hamburgers and salads, seafood platters and cold ham.
My favourite Christmas desserts were always Pavlova (fruit and cream-topped meringue dessert) and cheesecake, maybe ice-cream too. I never did care for hot Christmas pudding or fruit cake.
Despite being from England, my mother doesn’t like the traditional English hot dinner in the Australian heat. I don’t blame her – I wouldn’t want to cook roast beef and Yorkshire pudding in stifling hot weather with no air-conditioning either. My cousins and I would sometimes play a backyard cricket match after lunch. None of us were very good players but it was still fun.
Later, after Christmas dinner, we’d relax and eat leftovers, play with our new toys and then go to the beach over the next few days. I loved when we’d go to our family holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula, a gorgeous spot close to the ocean beach. Since it was also school holidays, we’d sometimes stay there for a week or two.
Christmas Eve – making our own traditionsAs an adult, my boyfriend (now husband) and I started our own tradition of hosting Christmas Eve parties at home. We have lots of food and wine, catch up with old friends and family and the kids run around outside until late. The Christmas Carols in the Domain (a Melbourne live concert) is usually playing on TV. We do a Kris Kringle exchange of presents for all the kids. Last year we gave everyone water pistols, so they all got soaked but it was hot weather and good fun.
My two little boys love laying out their Christmas pillowcases ready for Santa Claus to come after our party winds down. We also leave out a few snacks for Santa and his reindeer near our Christmas tree. We’ve found Santa likes red wine and chocolate cake, while Rudolph prefers a carrot.
Last year my boys received BMX style bikes (still with training wheels at the time). This year it might be skateboards as well as Lego and other fun bigger kid things. Exciting! I'm sure we'll be riding and skating at the local park on Christmas day.
Getting ready for summer holidaysThe kids will be on summer holidays for six long weeks from the end of December, so it will probably mean a slow-down in my writing. It will probably also be hideously hot and sticky, so I’m hoping to take off to the beach somewhere for a while.
I won’t be travelling anywhere white or snowy this year, but I’ll watch a couple of Northern Hemisphere Christmas movies and live vicariously through them…while I sip white wine or eat gelati by a beach somewhere!
What are your Christmas traditions and favourite holiday treats? I'd love to hear from you all.
Christmas novella - Heart NoteMy holiday release is titled Heart Note: A Christmas romcom novella. It's out now at all major ebook retail sites and already has some wonderful reviews. The story is about Lily, a perfume counter manager at a major Australian department store. In the lead-up to Christmas, it's all about gift sets, keeping the grumpy customers happy and maybe...finding romance and catching some criminals!
BlurbA funny, romantic comedy Christmas novella, perfect for fans of Love Actually . . . from the award-winning author of Girl on a Plane.
Love is like a fine perfume. The top note draws you in, an instant attraction, but the Heart Note is the true essence. Like true love – a great perfume should be a woman’s perfect match.
At least, that’s what perfume counter manager, Lily Lucas, tells her customers in one of Australia’s largest department stores.
It’s almost Christmas, the store is bedecked with baubles and Lily has about eleventy billion gifts to wrap and sell. She and her team of spritzer chicks are glamorous, professional and hoping they don’t have to wear the hideous red onesies and reindeer antlers the store manager has in mind.
The high point of Lily’s work life is Christos Cyriakos, ex-cop, security guard, possible Greek god. He's a mystery box she’d love to unwrap. But can she trust him?
All Lily wants for Christmas is to kiss Christos (and more), catch a band of thieves running amok in the store, and live happily ever after. Is that too much to wish for?
Heart Note is on sale for a few more days! Only 99 cents at Amazon or free in Kindle Unlimited.
Buy linksAmazon US - https://amzn.to/2LCfwj4
Universal link - mybook.to/HeartNote
About Cassandra O'Leary
Winner of the global We Heart New Talent contest. Nominated for Best New Author in the 2016 AusRomToday Reader's Choice Awards for excellence in Australian romance fiction.
Cassandra O'Leary is a romance and women's fiction author from Melbourne, Australia. You'll find her drinking coffee, dreaming of Italy and Spain, and raising two mini ninjas with her superhero husband.
Cassandra loves romantic comedies and is having fun writing her own romcom books. Heart Note: A Christmas romcom novella, was released in November 2017. Her debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was released in July 2016. It was also translated into Czech!
In 2015, Cassandra won the global We Heart New Talent contest run by Avon Books/HarperCollins UK. She was also a 2015 finalist in the Lone Star contest, Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America, and a 2014 finalist, First Kiss contest, Romance Writers of Australia.
Read more or sign-up for Cassandra's newsletter at cassandraolearyauthor.comcassandraolearyauthor.com