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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Countdown to Christmas with Linda Swift

Hello and welcome to Day 3 of my Countdown to Christmas blog! Today’s featured guest is Linda Swift. Linda is going to share with us a family memory near and dear to her heart. And with the twinkle lights all aglow in the parlour, the cherry log in the hearth and the snow falling on the bristly pine needles outside, Oliver, donned in his Santa cap, arranges tea and cookies, humming Let it snow let it snow let it snow. And when the doorbell rings, off he runs to greet Linda, his heart all a flutter.

Sharon: Welcome, Linda! Have a seat in front of the fireplace and take the chill out. Oliver pours tea, winking to Linda as he continues humming Let it snow.
Sharon: And while we sip on our tea and sample Oliver’s oven-fresh sugar cookies, Linda has a beautiful Christmas story to share with us.

With the backdrop of snowflakes swirling down on the bristly pine needles, Linda tells us her beautiful Christmas story.

My Best Christmas Present

As my children grew older, the Christmas season gradually became a marathon I began running right after Halloween. There were school and church functions, family gatherings, a house to decorate, festive food to prepare and shopping for gifts. No longer believing in Santa, the “want list” included specific brand names, colors and whatever the current fads were. (these sometimes changed after the requested items were bought.)

Gift buying had become so complicated that I was designated to shop for my children’s gifts from my parents and grandmother as well as my husband and self. One Christmas Eve, my daughter stood empty handed outside the last department store on the block. She had asked for clothes this year and after searching all afternoon, still hadn’t found what she wanted.

“You have to buy something,” I said desperately. “We have to spend Grandmother’s gift money.”

“I didn’t see anything I want.” She looked near tears. “I can buy something later.”

“No, you can’t,” I raised my voice. “We have to put something under the tree.”

“Well, I’m not buying something I don’t want,” she shot back. “That is not what Christmas is all about. This is Christ’s birthday, not mine.”

We stood a moment in the cold wind, glaring at each other, and I suddenly realized the truth of what my daughter had said. I put an arm around her.

“Okay, let’s go home.”

I don’t remember how we explained to my mother the lack of a tangible gift under the tree. But I do remember that on the way home we discussed the way we would handle Christmases from this time forward. There would be no more marathon shopping sprees or pressure to spend money just to satisfy the gift-giving syndrome the merchants would have us think exemplifies the spirit of Christmas.

We decided to introduce our plan now for the following year and give the grandparents time to get used to the idea. Feeling no gifts would be unacceptable, we suggested a token gift exchange, with each family member buying for the others. Since little money would be involved, a bad choice would not be disastrous. And each person would have a special celebration on his or her own birthday with larger gifts if they chose.

Even with prior notice, it was not an easy transition for them. As the next holiday season approached, they began talking of the usual large gifts. My daughter and I gently reminded them of the new rules and encouraged them to go shopping early. And me? I wandered through the stores, watching those harried mothers rushing about, arms loaded with packages. And I wanted to stop them and remind them that this was not what Christmas was all about. It had taken a stubborn teen-age daughter to teach me the lesson and in so doing, she gave me the best Christmas gift I ever had. And to this day, every season, I enjoy her gift again.

Sharon: That is a very beautiful and heart-warming story, Linda. And you have a special author’s note you would like to add. Please tell us.

Linda: My daughter continued to grow into a beautiful spiritual woman who blesses the lives of her family and others and still teaches me lessons today. Not surprisingly, she now has a website called More Blessed Than Stressed

I invite you to visit the link below to meet her:

Sharon: That’s beautiful, Linda. I will be sure to pay your daughter’s website a visit. Thank you for sharing and for reminding us about the true meaning of Christmas. I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Oliver, a tear in his eye, packs a box of sugar cookies for Linda for teaching him a lesson. He bids her farewell, but not without stealing a kiss under the mistletoe!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Linda Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She
has been writing since she was ten and is an award winning author of published poetry,
articles, short stories, and a TV play. Her first two books were published by Kensington.
In addition to her holiday e-book, Let Nothing You Dismay, Linda also has Circle
of Love available as an e-book and in print from The Wild Rose Press.
Linda's Awe-Struck Publishing books include Single Status, available as an e-book
and in print. Another holiday book, The 12 Days of Christmas, will be released in
December and her first published historical in 2010.


Sharon Donovan said...

Let's have a warm welcome for Linda Swift. Hello, Linda! Your heart-warming story has certainly given me pause. We all need to take a hard look at the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you so much for a lovely story. Oliver stands in awe, a tear of joy in his eye as he pours tea for Linda. Despite his flirty nature, he has a heart of gold. All right, Oliver. I said it. So you can stop elbowing me in the ribs. About my tea? Sharon holds out cup...

Linda Swift said...

Thank you for your kind words, Sharon. And Oliver. It's an honor to be on your web site today and I hope my story will give pause to all those exhausted shopper out there who find the time to share my story. It's too early for a cup of tea for me, but I'll have a cup of hot coffee if Oliver has the time, please.

Sharon Donovan said...

Linda, this is such a beautiful story, I only hope everyone will stop by and read it. It is so heart-warming and how often the true meaning of Christmas is cast aside for the hustle bustle of the holiday. Thank you for sharing. And here comes Oliver with a steaming cup o coffee with your name on it. He winks, be it a bit more humble.

P.L. Parker said...

Loved the story. Christmas can be exhausting and expensive but my sisters and I have a Christmas tradition, we can only spend $10 on each other. We have the whole year to find the perfect gift and it's really fun to hit the sales, etc., to find that most wonderful thing.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

What a great story, Linda! How cool your daughter realized that and that it made Christmas nicer for everyone! I'll definitely have to go check out her website.

I have a story a little similar to yours. About 5 years ago my hubbys parents bought so many gifts for the grandkids that they were unwrapping and tossing aside for the next and my youngest didn't even want to finish with his--he'd had enough (1 1/2 yrs old) and we had unwrapped presents under the tree.

It was nice they wanted to give so much, but not good at all. After talking to a co-worker, I was given a great idea that I instituted the next year while the kids were young enough: The three wise men each brought Jesus one gift, so no one (Parents, GP's, or even Santa) was allowed to buy more than 3 gifts. It worked and Christmas is much nicer now, because the gifts are tied to Jesus' birth, not just gifts.

This year with the adults in our family, we aren't even exchanging gifts. We're celebrating being together and donating money to charity instead.

Merry Christmas Linda and Sharon!

Linda Swift said...

Thanks, PL, for your comments. Do stop by to see Kaye. I know she'd appreciate it. And Stacey, I loved your idea of the three wise men and three gifts. We, too, have given up even the small gifts now the grandparents are gone. We have no grands and I'm sure it would be a great idea to use if we did. And Sharon, thanks for adding the book covers. We here "in-house" got the photo up as you saw but when it went up the computer went down and I hadn't been able to send anything else to let you know.

Mary Ricksen said...

Your daughter is wise beyond her years. Her thoughts took the stress out of Christmas for you and that is just what you needed!
I'm gonna check out her site too Linda. Merry Christmas!

Another great blog Sharon as they always are.

Sharon Donovan said...

Oliver struts in with a tray of tea and oven fresh chocolate chips. Setting the tray in front of Linda, he stands awe struck while feeding her a cookie.
Big hello to Patsy, Stacey and Mary! Dig into the goodies. Isn't that a beautiful story told by Linda?

Julie Robinson said...

Hi Linda and Sharon,

That is so sweet of your daughter! And is that her picture in the black t-shirt with the slogan on it?

I tend to shop all year, unconsciously. If I am out and about and something strikes me as just having that person's name written on it, I get it, then put it in a specially designated box until Christmas (or birthday).

This year, my parents sent us 4 kids an email saying that they do not want anything from us for Christmas. Instead, they want us to put money in our children's college accounts, since, as my Dad said, 'it's an investment because they are our future.'

Kaye said...

Just wanted to say that I am honored by my Mother sharing her Christmas memory and also blessed to have such a loving family. Many thanks for mentioning my website and to all those that visit. Thanks to Sharon for featuring Linda Swift, a very talentd author and best Mother a daughter could ever have!!!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hello Kaye! How nice to meet you. I was so very moved by your mother's story about you and the valuable lesson you taught us all through your words. Sadly, the true meaning of Christmas is overlooked every year at the malls and on Black Friday. Thank you for teaching us to reflect this Christmas season. I think your mom is pretty special too! Have a very Merry Christmas!

Danielle Thorne said...

Thanks for sharing that touching Christmas story. It is so true--and so is the fact that we can learn so much from our children. I'm really looking forward to getting a hold of your new holiday book during the holidays. Wishing you safe travels and tons of patience!

Judy said...

Your story was very nice and inspiring. We all need to stop, take a look at ourselves, and change some of the hooplah in the holidays.

Celebrate by having as many of your family and friends you can and remember who Christmas is really for.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Linda,
Beautiful story, your daughter sounds like a sensible and truly caring person. From the mouths of babes, so the saying goes. No wonder you are proud of her.

Linda Swift said...

Oh my, I had my head in closets for a few hours and missed the visitors who stopped by. I'm going to do an individual within the a group reply to save dealing with google more than once.

Mary, my faithful cyberfrind, thanks for stopping by. Yes, my daughter de-stressed Christmas for me. Now if she could only de-stress this semi-annual packing to and from Florida! But she is offering dinner and a bed for the night en route and a chance to cuddle my granddog!

Julie, thanks for your comments. No, the girl in the black tee shirt is a model, I think. My daughter is the one sitting on a rock by the Gulf. The was she loves the beach makes me wonder if she was a mermaid in another life.

Danielle, I do hope you find time to read my book and lots of books during the holidays but with four boys home from school, I think you might be lucky to read your Chrismtas cards.

Judy, I think you have the right idea of celebrating Christmas and all holidays with family and friends. That is what life is all about, isn't it?

Margaret, I agree that I have a sensible daughter. I wonder how my two kids can be wiser than I am but I guess they got their dad's genes.

And Kaye, I think we have a mutual admiration society going here. At least, I know I admire you greatly. And I thank you for your sweet comments about your ole mum.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks for stopping by, Julie, Mary, Danielle and Judy. And a special thank you to Linda for being my featured guest today and to her daughter Kaye for visiting and for the lesson learned.
Until next time, may the luck of the Irish be with you as you travel through life. And thank you, Lyn, for adding the Christmas graphics.
Love and blessings,

Celia Yeary said...

LINA--what can I say? You and your daughter have said it all. This is a lovely story, and worthy of spreading everywhere. We buy too much, do too much, want too much-- (Not us--we hardly buy anything.)
Love you--Celia

Donna B said...

Wonderful interview and I love the story of your daughter. Out of the mouths of babes come some of the deepest truths. I love "More Blessed than Stressed" - what a wonderful way to look at life.

Your stories sound wonderful too.

Linda Swift said...

Celia, Kaye and I have only said what many others have said before us but it can't be said to often to remind us what is really important about the holidays. And speaking of blessed, having you for a cyber friend is one of my blessings. Linda

Linda Swift said...

Thanks for stopping, Donna. Today was one of those days when I needed to remind myself I am more blessed than stressed. Two blogs on the same day and last day of packing for winter sojourn to FL. But it has been lovely to read all the nice comments. A special thanks to Sharon for having me here on her blog. And to Lynn for her contribution. The graphics were perfect. And to all goodnight.

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Linda and Sharon -

so sorry to be late popping in to say 'Hello' Linda, yesterday was 'one of those days'and I had horrendous problems with my internet connection. Hopefully it's sorted now.

What a wonderfully heartwarming story about your daughter, it saddens me when people forget what the 'Christ' in Christmas stands for, and the season seems to become more and more commercialised.

It was great to 'meet' Kaye too, and I'm sSo glad you like the graphics, My dear friend Sharon is such an inspirtion with her eloquent use of words.

Stressed Family Strong Family said...

Thanks for wonderful insights. During the holidays, stress levels rise in many families, workplaces, and schools at this time of year. Readers can consult
"Reduce Stress; Recycle Your Family" appearing in installments now at .
That chapter comes from Stressed Family, Strong Family, and e-book available at
William R. Taylor, M.D.