So sit down and let Beth’s tale of Christmas memories out you in the holiday spirit!
Christmas Memories by Beth Albright
I have always felt particularly blessed when it comes to Christmas memories. I have so many wonderful memories from childhood. They are sprinkled with stardust, filled with magic and laughter. I can honestly remember every year during the school Christmas party, I would look around my classroom filled with snaggle-toothed third graders and the smell of construction paper and paste and think how sorry I felt for all those poor children—they weren’t going to get to be at my Nanny’s house for Christmas. How in the world did I get so lucky? I always felt like I had won a prize—I got my family and no one else did.
My Nanny was my mother’s mother and the tiny little spitfire I based my character of Meridee on in my Sassy Belle series. (She is also in my new series in snippets, IN DIXIE—Magic In Dixie is book 1 and now Christmas In Dixie is book 2)
That house was filled with more LIFE than anywhere I had ever been! And I know that was exactly what I was looking for and needed when I was growing up since my mom, brother and me had suffered the loss of my dad in a car accident when I was only 4.
Friends and family would come and go, in and out of the large house like it was Grand Central. I loved it. I never knew who was coming. Those were the wonderful days of drop-in friends. My favorite years were the three Christmases we lived in Oklahoma and me and my mom and my brother would make the long drive from Lawton, Oklahoma to Tuscaloosa, Alabama—always in our tiny Toyota Station Wagon filled to the ceiling with presents and one year—puppies—in Pampers diapers! (My mother was always a genius (Some call it crazy)—the puppies were just 2 months old and we had to bring two of them home as gifts to each of my uncles—one was ours. We also had two cats along with the three of us in that car. Three puppies, two cats and three people in a Toyota! For over 11 hours! It was crazy, but wonderful.
I loved getting to spend the entire two weeks at my Nanny’s house! I grew up sleeping there anyway and I remember how elated I was to be back home in her house, my safe haven. Her Christmas tree was almost always a Nobel Fir—that is why I now buy the same kind. The food every year was the same, and I couldn’t wait to bite into everything—and my Aunt Patsy made the most scrumptious delights ever known to a child! Magic Cookie Bars! She made all kinds of snacks, sausage balls and chocolate bourbon balls, rum balls, chess squares, oh my—my mouth is watering as I sit here and remember.
But what I loved the most, as a child was how busy my Nanny’s house was. I love people and my Nanny did too. My one uncle was only 9 years older than me and he had a ton of friends who were always dropping by. No one ever knocked—they all just came in through her back porch and yelled for somebody to know they were there, “Anybody Home?”
I had my other uncle who had friends too. Sometimes they would drop by with a dog in tow. The dog came right on in the house too, scampering around everyone’s knees. We had a cousin who was only a tad younger than my brother and me. We would all play pool in the basement, or Ping-Pong, or go caroling up and down Glendale Gardens or play a great game of touch football in the gigantic backyard. Usually there would be at least ten of us to play, my uncles, and aunt, friends and cousin, my brother and me. We’d come inside, red cheeks stinging from the frigid air, Nanny greeting us with hot chocolate, mini-marshmallows floating on top, a warm grin and a giggle, “Y’all freeze your asses off?” she’d laugh. She was one of a kind!
Then on Christmas Eve, the entire family gathered for an all day feast. Many times my other grandmother, my Dad’s mom, joined in all the fun. She was totally hilarious and she and my Nanny were always good friends. I loved having them both there. Christmas day was always spent with her at her house, but when she came for Christmas Eve to my Nanny’s, it was always special! We spent the day eating, laughing, playing jokes, playing tons of board games and cards and eating some more—after the big dinner, the opening of the presents exploded, leaving the house in a shambles. Paper and bows littered the living room. Then we all headed to Midnight Mass. And no, it wasn’t over even then. We’d get home after 1AM, open our stockings, then my mom, my Nanny and my Aunt Patsy and I would stay up laughing in our bathrobes till around 3AM. It was the most wonderful times of all my growing up years.
It is these times, with the strong funny women who raised me, that influence my writing the most—time with the women in the family, gabbing around my Nanny’s yellow laminate kitchen table, laughing hard into the wee hours of the night.
Christmases can be hard and can be sad, I know. Mine sure could have been with my dad having died so young and so suddenly. But it was growing up at my Nanny’s house, surrounded by more love than I knew what to do with, that I remember the most as an adult. Christmas isn’t about the gifts you can hold in your hands—it is always only about the love we can share with other people. That is the true spirit of Christmas. So remember this year—love passionately, laugh long and hard and look into the eyes of the ones you love and remember all the moments as best you can –those moments may become a favorite Christmas memory for you some day. Focus on being present, rather than the Christmas presents. Merry Christmas Y’all, with love.
Now that we have Beth’s Christmas memories dancing in our heads- what are some of your Favorite Christmas memories?
Beth Albright is the author of the award-winning, nationally best-selling series The Sassy Belles, and now her new nationally best-selling series In Dixie.
After knowing Beth for just a few short seconds you’re sure to learn she is from Alabama. No, its not the lilt of magnolia you can still catch in her voice, or even the way she lovingly describes her undying love for her famous alma mater’s football champions. She will tell you she loves Tuscaloosa, even after living quite literally all over the country. Though Beth has had a remarkable career, from New York City to Hollywood, and all points in between, she has never forgotten where she came from…and what she loves. That’s why when it came time to write, Beth had no choice but to write about Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama, and all the quirky people she still calls family, though some do not actually share her bloodline!
Beth Albright has always been a storyteller. After spending nearly 15 years in talk radio, as a talk show host, playing the part of a principal character on the soap opera, DAYS OF OUR LIVES, owning her own acting school and children’s theater, and raising a son who was a nationally ranked figure skater, Beth has decided to return to her roots; storytelling. When she was in the sixth grade, her teacher gave her the floor every Friday to tell her stories. See, Beth was a talker, a future talk show host in the making, and she was sharing her stories so much that her teacher couldn’t teach. The teacher told 12 year old Beth if she would begin writing her stories down, she would be allowed time to share those stories with the class.
And she’s been writing, AND talking ever since. Beth has interviewed Bob Hope, Oprah Winfrey, Betty White, Wolfgang Puck and George Burns live from the Chinese Theatre, as well as numerous other celebrities, and authors. Then Beth became a principal character on Days of Our Lives. But through all of the excitement of talk shows and soap operas, Beth loved telling stories to her audience the most. With a degree in Journalism from her beloved University of Alabama, She always remains true to her roots, born and raised in Tuscaloosa, “My grandfather was the play by play announcer for the Crimson Tide in the 50s!” Beth will proudly tell you. She is a down homespun girl, although she currently lives in San Francisco with her TV producer husband and her brilliant son. But her heart is always in Alabama.
Giveaway: Beth Albright is generously giving to 1 lucky winner (US only) a Starbucks Gift Card, 1 signed book, and some holiday surprises. Check the Rafflecopter link!
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Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,
T @ Traveling With T