Sharon's INSPIRATIONAL Short stories of Faith and Romance can be found HERE or visit her
Facebook Page, which also has the links in the comments.)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Countdown to Christmas with Cate Masters

Hello and welcome to Day 20 in my Countdown to Christmas Blog! Today’s featured guest is Cate Masters. Cate is here to share a few favorite Christmas memories with us.
Merry Christmas Comments
Oliver, his heart all a flutter with only a few days left before Christmas, gazes out the window as the snow comes down. He quietly observes the neighboring houses, a warm, fuzzy feeling nestling deep in his gut. He waves a cheery hello to some kids, sled riding, their eyes shimmering with excitement. A man and woman walk hand in hand, smiling at the kids. Twinkle lights sparkle beneath the eaves of homes, snowmen frolic in the yards and doors are decorated with fresh sprigs of holly. When Cate pulls up, he rushes out to greet her, belting out a tune of his favorite song.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There’s a feeling
Of Christmas
Children laughing,
People passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you’ll hear
Silver bells
Silver bells
It’s Christmas time in the city

Sharon: (rushes to embrace Cate and wish her holiday greetings) Welcome, Cate! Have a seat around the roaring fire and Oliver will bring refreshments.

Awe struck, Oliver stares at Cate, totally unabashed, mouth agape. Hearing his command, he takes off, but not before flexing his biceps with a wicked wink.

Sharon: One of these days I’ll trade him in. LOL But not today. As you know, I love to chat about favorite Christmas memories and traditions. Do you have a favorite memory to share?

Cate: When I was little, my dad was a rural mailman. Christmas time meant tons of goodies from
the people on his route! We couldn’t wait till my dad came home each day to see what
yummies he had. Although the USPS probably frowns on it, I continue the tradition
by leaving cookies for our own mailperson each holiday season.
Being the youngest of seven kids, every meal was an occasion in our household!

Oliver swaggers out, pushing a caddy full of coffee, te, hot cocoa and oven fresh chocolate chips. Humming away to Silver Bells, pours into Santa mugs.

Sharon: Thank you, Oliver. That will be all. Cate, what lovely memories those are. Now do you have a favorite tradition, and if so, why?

Cate: Every year since my kids were little, I’d buy a new ornament for each one. Once they
start families of their own, they’ll have a good start on their own Christmas trees,
and hopefully some happy memories to share with their future kids! That, and decorating
our house to the hilt. Every nook and corner contains a decoration to make the season
special. It takes awhile to finish, but is well worth the effort!

Sharon: I agree. I love to decorate and dress up the home. What fun. Do you have a story about your child or your pet at Christmas that will always
make you smile?

Cate: My husband and I loved to take our kids to Santa events when they were little. When
my son Chris was five, he made the local newspaper during a train ride with Santa
when he gave the Jolly Old Elf a big smooch. By the time Becca, my third and youngest,
was born, breakfasts with Santa were already a tradition. All my kids share a love
of music, but at one such breakfast, three-year-old Becca cut loose dancing to Christmas
tunes. I snapped a photo, and it still makes me laugh to see her exuberant smile
while she’s dancing away all by herself.

Sharon: How funny. A star is born! Did you ever give a gift to a child that would make his or her Christmas wish
come true?

Cate: Other than trying to fulfill my three kids’ wish lists, I also tried to
instill in them a desire to help others. They always helped me pick out stuffed animals
to donate to Toys for Tots, and we’ve donated clothing and other necessities to families
in need. I wanted my kids to realize the joy of giving can be greater than getting.

Sharon: And that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it. Sad but true, there are a lot of children, adults and pets out there without a home or tree or anyone to care about them. Let’s all spread the cheer this season!

Oliver presents Cate with an apron as they go into the kitchen to bake. Cate has agreed to share her favorite cookie recipe with Oliver and he is overjoyed.

These little cookies are bite-sized, tasty and with their colorful sprinkles, add
a festive touch to any table. My Mom’s maiden name was Narducci, so as you might
have guessed, we grew up on Italian food. My sister Claudia makes these the best
(she was blessed with all the cooking genes in our family!).
Italian Anise Cookies a la Claudia
2 ½ cups flour
1 tblsp baking powder
¼ cup softened butter
3 tblsp. Oil
½ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp grated lemon rind
½ tsp anise extract
Small pinch of salt
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat butter and
oil. Add sugar and beat thoroughly. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add lemon rind and
anise. Add flour mixture, mixing well. Chill to handle easily.
Form into balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes
about 40.
Glaze: Mix 2 tblsp. Butter with confectioner’s sugar. Add a small amount of milk

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative
fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling I I did not want to put it down,”
“such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which
made it a riveting story,” and “the
author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story
refreshing to read.”

The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania
with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens
of characters inhabiting her imagination.
Visit Cate online at
or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Thanks so much

Oliver walks Cate to the door, but not before stealing a kiss under the mistletoe!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Comments


Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Cate,
Thank you for sharing such lovely memories. Good luck with all your stories, you are an awesome writer.

Sharon Donovan said...

Let's have a warm welcome for Cate Masters. Cate, come on out! And Margaret is already here with her warm wishes. Join us for a cup of te, coffee or cocoa around the hearth. What's that Oliver? Oh, but of course. Oliver says with it being so close to Christmas, he has some spiked eggnog for those who dare! How are you today, Cate?

Cate Masters said...

Margaret, you're such a dear! Thank you for such kind words. I hope you have a lovely Christmas.
And Sharon, thanks so much for having me here today! I love Oliver's rendition of Silver Bells. He's incredibly multitalented!

Sharon Donovan said...

Oliver sticks his head out from the kitchen, blowing kisses to Cate as he comes out with a platter of their cookies. He still manages to stuff several into his mouth and grin his roguish grin...

Cate Masters said...

Oh yum, fresh baked cookies! Just what I need after yesterday's snowstorm. We had more than a foot of snow here. It's so gorgeous! Like a Christmas card.

Kathleen said...

What lovely traditions you have Cate. Thanks for sharing them with us on a cold (even in Florida day).

Cate Masters said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Kathleen! Have a wonderful Christmas. Hope it warms up! (It's 28 here, if that helps!)

Barbara Edwards said...

What fun! I haven't baked cookies, just pies, but these sound delicious. And I want to be kissed under the mistletoe.

Sharon Donovan said...

Cate, I've just noticed on your bio you are from PA, same as me! Small world. And our temperature is also 28 and while we are not in the mountains where all the snow is falling, we have plenty. The forecast is indeed a White Christmas. Amazing how our lives touch on this amazing Internet!

Cate Masters said...

Thanks for stopping by Barbara! Wishing you a merry holiday with lots of mistletoe!

Cate Masters said...

I never knew that either Sharon! How nice. Hope you fared well through the storm!

Sharon Donovan said...

Come in and get warm around the hearth, Kathleen and Barbara. Drink some virtual eggnog and be merry. LOL Barbara, I'm still waiting for my kiss from Oliver! Should we form a line?

Cate Masters said...

Oh yes, a kiss from Oliver would definitely warm me up!

Sharon Donovan said...

Oliver and Sharon dance around the tree singing "It's a Small World After All," as Sharon and Cate realize they are from the same state and have been caught up in the same snowstorm sweeping through the countryside. Then when the song is over, Oliver beats feet to Cate, his lips puckered...a gleam in his eye...

Linda Banche said...

Oliver, that bad boy. Cate is a respectable married woman with three children.

Hey, Cate, enjoy it. We all should be so lucky!

Judy said...

Really enjoyed the memories and your great traditions. I just finished all my Christmas baking a couple hours ago. "Relieved" I love doing it, but happy when it is done!!

Hope you have a safe and happy holidays.

Cate Masters said...

Thanks for stopping by Linda! Happy holidays to you and yours!

Cate Masters said...

Hi Judy! Sounds like you have your Christmas just about wrapped up. Hope you have a wonderful one.

Sharon Donovan said...

Big hello to Linda and Judy. Come in for a toast and a cheer to Cate. We are almost there. Here's hoping no one gets caught up in the hub bub of holiday rush. Take time to relax and count your blessings. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Mary Ricksen said...

I thought I'd stop in and say hello to you both Cate and Sharon.
I see Oliver is up to his usual hey is that him at the front door with a big group of Carolers? Looks like he joined in when they came to the door. Boy do they look familiar. Strange?
Good luck Cate and I sincerely hope your dreams are replaced with new even better ones every day!
I have it on good authority that the additive in the egg nog is 150 proof. Wow.

Cate Masters said...

Mary! It wouldn't have been a party without you. Wishing you a wonderful holiday, and an amazing year to come!
Hm, that eggnog's sounding pretty good. Think I'll have to sample some.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Sharon, Cate, how nice of you to share memories with us. Cate I am sure your children will love to show their ornaments to their children one day. My children and grandchildren arrive tomorrow. I may not be around much. So MERRY CHRISTMAS to all of you and Oliver.

Sharon Donovan said...

Warm wishes to Mary and Mona! Yes, the carolers are all Cate's friends, wishing her a Merry Christmas. Sharon holds her ears... And by the sounds of it, they have all indulged in Oliver's 150 proof eggnog!!

I would like to thank one and all for dropping by today. A special thank you to Cate Masters for sharing memories and a cookie recipe. Big shout out to Hywela Lyn for decorating my blog with such merriment. Thanks, Lyn, dear friend.
Until next time, may the luck of the Irish be with you as you travel through life.
Love and Blessings,

Cate Masters said...

Thanks Mona! Have a wonderful holiday with your family. Thanks so much for visiting.

Cate Masters said...

Thanks again to you, Sharon, for opening your lovely blog to share today. It's been such a pleasure, as always.
Yes, Lyn's done a wonderful job decorating. A toast to you, Lyn! And to you, Sharon. Merry Christmas!