Usually I’m the first person to complain about Christmas decorations or advertisements out of their proper season. One holiday at a time, people! Why must stores try to sell me Christmas ornaments before I’ve even selected my Halloween candy?
In our household Christmas music is never played until Thanksgiving is over, the tree doesn’t go up until the first Sunday in Advent, and it absolutely must come down by Epiphany on January 6. Those are the rules. To me, if the Christmas season extends much beyond a month, it becomes too ordinary.
But sometimes I cheat. I’ve sung in choirs off and on for much of my life, and I always enjoy the Wednesday night in October when the director passes out that year’s Christmas music.
And then there was one scorching July day in my native Alabama when I was home for the summer from college. I was flipping from one radio station to another as I drove around running errands when suddenly I stumbled upon a full-on, festive, wintry arrangement of a traditional carol. I think it was Joy to the World. I listened in pure shock at the incongruity of it, especially when it was immediately followed by a more contemporary but equally Christmassy song.
Then the DJ came on to explain that the AC in the studio had broken. It was so hot, sweaty and miserable he had to do something to cool down—so he broke out the Christmas carols. So for the rest of the afternoon, that station played one holiday favorite after another. Laughing listeners called in requests, and a big chunk of Birmingham got to enjoy a preview of Christmas in midsummer.
I got to cheat the holiday rules again when working on my latest Carina release, A Christmas Reunion. I drafted it in January and February, very much in the “Thou shalt not Christmas” zone, but it’s sort of impossible to write a holiday romance without thinking about the holidays. Gabe and Cat, my hero and heroine, both love music, and a small but significant part of their bond is their enthusiasm for the singing the old wassail songs together at their village’s Christmas Eve festivities.
I kept myself in the right mood to write by putting together a Christmas playlist to listen to when I was alone in my car. Since the story is set in 1810, before most of our current holiday standbys were written, I mostly stuck to the old and traditional yet obscure—The Holly and the Ivy, I Saw Three Ships, Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, and the like. While I dutifully put the playlist aside once I typed “The End,” I can hardly wait to pull it out again as soon as Thanksgiving is over.
What are your boundaries for holiday celebration? Do you ever listen to Christmas music in the middle of the summer?
Gabriel Shepherd has never forgotten his humble origins. So when he discovers a war orphan at Christmastime, he resolves to find a home for her—even if that means asking help from the very family who found and raised him, only to cast him out for daring to love the wrong woman.
Lady Catherine Trevilian has spent five years poring over the British Army’s casualty list, dreading the day she sees Gabe’s name. She’s never forgotten him, and she’s never forgiven herself for not running away with him when she had the chance, though she’s agreed to a marriage of convenience with a more suitable man.
When Gabe returns home on Christmas leave just days before Cat’s wedding, a forbidden kiss confirms their feelings haven’t been dimmed by distance or time. But Cat is honor-bound to another, and Gabe believes she deserves better than a penniless soldier with an orphan in tow. How can Cat reconcile love and duty? She must convince Gabe she’d rather have him than the richest lord in all of England…
Susanna Fraser has been writing since the age of 9. Her youthful efforts featured talking horses, but she now writes Regency-set historicals with a focus on the soldiers who fought the Napoleonic Wars.
A native of Alabama, she never lost her love for barbecue or stopped saying “y’all” as life took her to Philadelphia, England and Seattle, where she lives with her husband and daughter.