Posted in Personal life, Reading, Writing

The Obvious Solution to a Christmas Giftwrapping Crisis

Front and back cover of Instead of a Christmas card
Is it a card? Is it a present? I don’t care, it’s dead easy to wrap!

Starting to sort out my box of Christmas gifts that I’ve been steadfastly filling over the last few weeks, my heart sinks at the odd shapes that I’ve committed myself to wrapping. I still have quite a few presents to buy, including the one at the top of my daughter’s wish-list – a pair of Heelies (wheeled trainers). I’m hoping these will come in a box, or I’m in trouble.

Boxing Clever

cover of Band on the Run
…as was the girlfriend shortly afterwards (Photo via Amazon store)

I’m reminded of a Christmas in my teens when my then-boyfriend decided to liven up his gift wrapping by disguising his presents to look like something else, so that the recipients couldn’t guess what they were. I’d asked him for an LP of Wings’ Band on the Run. (Yes, I am that old – and for my more youthful readers, I should probably explain that an LP is a long-playing record album, as opposed to a single. Yes, we’re talking vinyl here – out of fashion long enough for it to be coming back into vogue again now.)

When he brought my gift round, it was a big box the size of an LP but about four inches deep.

Oh, how lovely, I thought, he’s bought me something extra too. I wonder what it is?

Cue huge disappointment when the parcel turned out to contain only the record, plus a lot of empty packaging. I tried not to look crestfallen. After all, we were only teenagers, and records were expensive.

Unfortunately he didn’t know that when you are in a hole, you should stop digging. Guessing that I’d expected something else, he added in his defence “My mum said not to get you anything else in case you split up with me again.”

I bet you can guess how that relationship ended up.

Booked Up

In the meantime, I’ve decided that for the rest of my Christmas shopping this year, I’m going to buy the ultimate easy-to-wrap present for everyone – a book, carefully chosen to suit each recipient’s interests, so that I can put my energy into the fun of book browsing rather than wrestling with wrapping paper.

If you’re after festive books for your friends and relations, let me leave you with a few recommendations. Biased, me? Well, it is my blog, 😉

Array of Christmas books by Debbie Young
All now available to order in paperback online and from my local community shop, the Hawkesbury Stores (so from global to local there!) “Stocking Fillers” may also be ordered  from bookshops if you quote ISBN 978-0-9930879-2-9. Clicking the image will take you straight to my Amazon page.

 

Posted in Personal life, Reading, Writing

Christmas Surprises

(This post first appeared as my December/January column in the Tetbury Advertiser, out now.)

Although we put so much effort into planning our festive celebrations, I often find the highlights of my Christmas are the moments that take me by surprise.

Photo of young Laura playing with Playmobil figures at Christmas
From the archives – Laura, aged about 3, enjoying her Playmobil collection. Note Father Christmas is just arriving in his very tiny sleigh.

One such occasion occurred when I was a child, growing up in an outer suburb of London. When I  was  about 11, the age my daughter is now, I was for the first time considered old enough to go to the midnight church service on Christmas Eve. We weren’t a particularly religious family, but the small, plain church in our garden suburb had special significance for us. My parents had married there, we children had been christened, my grandfather was its choirmaster, and the small, rotund, gentle-manner vicar Mr Daniels, was a family friend.

The night was grey and drizzly as we entered the church, which seemed bright, warm and welcoming after our chilly walk from home.  Though battling to stay awake, I enjoyed his service. I was especially impressed by the colourful model crib, but the most memorable moment was yet to come. When Mr Daniels threw open the heavy porch door for the congregation to leave, the churchyard before us lay covered in a perfect blanket of snow. Illuminated by the orange glow of street lamps, big flakes fell steadily as we gazed in wonder, never having guessed that the weather could change so much during the church service.

Yes, I know it didn’t really snow in Bethlehem, but that snowfall felt like a special Christmas blessing: deep and crisp and even, snow on snow. You have to admire God’s timing.

After serendipitous delights like this, I’m happy to leave much of my Christmas preparation to chance. An incurable last-minute merchant in any case, I know that nothing I could plan would ever surpass the wonder of the snowy walk home from church all those years ago.

For Your Christmas Stocking

Cover of Stocking Fillers
My new collection of short stories for Christmas

My love of festive surprises influenced my latest book Stocking Fillers, a collection of twelve humorous short stories about the festive season.. Each tale follows a different character as they prepare for Christmas, from a small boy who tries to give Santa time management lessons, to an old lady celebrating what’s likely to be her last Christmas. Though not all the characters are loveable, I hope you’ll find them entertaining and memorable.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just before writing this column, I received a lovely surprise – the first official review of the book, which describes it as follows: “A delightful celebration of all things Christmas, Stocking Fillers features 12 funny, thoughtful, surprising and heartwarming tales that will get you in the festive spirit. Debbie Young’s writing is thoroughly engaging. If you’re looking to put some of the magic back into Christmas, and rediscover the reason for the season, start by treating yourself to this lovely read.” Well, that surprise has made my Christmas already.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and may it be filled with wonder and surprises of your own.

Stocking Fillers is now available to order as an ebook online and in paperback from good bookshops everywhere.