Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Christmas Traditions

Hello. Lorraine Beatty here and I’m really excited today. This is my first post for Craftieladiesofromance so I hope you’ll forgive the gushy tone. I write LI and my first Christmas book is out this month. Her Christmas Hero.
       I love reading Christmas stories and like many of you I buy them in bulk during the Holiday. I think we all enjoy experiencing Christmas through other families and the traditions they hold dear. When I married into a large family – mine consisted of parents and one brother – I was introduced to a new range of traditions. As I started to plot out this Christmas book I wanted to look at what traditions mean to different people. Some traditions are sweet, some are sentimental, some are even silly, but they all hold an honored place in a family. Tampering with those beloved traditions can trigger a storm of emotions.
     When I was coming up with the various events for the heroine to introduce to my fictional town of Dover, aka Do Over, Mississippi, I knew I had to start with the annual Victorian Christmas lights display from the town that serves as my inspiration for Dover— Canton, Mississippi. The charming 19th century town is exactly like you’d picture with a stately courthouse in the middle of town surrounded by a park and flanked on all side with brick buildings housing with their charming facades. Canton has been the location for several Hollywood movies from My Dog Skip to O Brother Where art Thou, and A Time To Kill, but it’s also known for its display of lights and holiday events each weekend in December.

  I also drew inspiration from the massive Christmas lights display in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Billed as one of the top ten Christmas attractions in the South, it is a truly inspiring sight. Situated on the banks of the Cane River in central Louisiana, the event consists of millions of dazzling lights on buildings, bridges, roads, boats, and every tree and shrub available. The banks of the river are lined with displays all reflecting in the water. But the best part is to be there the night they turn on the lights for the first time. All the normal lights in town go dark. For a few moments the crowd waits in expectant silence. Then in a flash the entire town and river bank is flooded in lights. It’s a spectacular sight. If you’ve seen the movie Steele Magnolia’s then you’ve had a glimpse of the real festival. I’ll post a link at the end for you to go and visit the real thing.
     In the book, the hero wanted everything to stay the same because that’s the way it always been done and he finds comfort in the familiar. But the heroine has been hired to beef up the decorations to draw in visitors and help the struggling economy of the small town. Gemma sees ways to keep the old traditions that have deep meaning, but also introduce new and exciting ways to not only celebrate the Christmas season, but get the community involved in the events.
     My family didn’t have any long held traditions, but my husband’s family had one that we continue. Christmas Eve is Sloppy Joe night. When I asked my mother-in-law about it she said it was a matter of convenience. With seven kids and decorating the tree on Christmas Eve it, was the easiest way to feed the brood and have time to trim the tree. Whatever the origin, when my grown up sons and their families arrive in town they look forward to eating Sloppy Joes.

 What unique and fun traditions does your family have?

 Wishing Y’all a happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas.
Lorraine Beatty



  1. Welcome Lorraine! I love the Christmas photos. Congratulations on your new release.

    One new tradition inherited from my husband's family are Grinch gifts. This is kind of the adult version of presents from Santa, except the Grinch shops at garage sales or pulls a "treasure" out of storage in the attic or basement. His wrapping paper is usually newspaper or paper bags. No ribbons or bows. Maybe string if something has to be tied shut. Surprisingly, these low or no-cost gifts have ended up being favorites.

  2. Welcome to the Craftie Ladies! Now you've made me want to go to Lousianna and see the lights. Each member of my growing up family always opened one small gift on Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas morning. When I got married and shared that tradition with hubby, he was appalled. It was a bit of give and take to convince him that I expected that tradition to continue. LOL.

    His family didn't have any real traditions except that everybody even strangers who wander in off the streets get a present. Only child me, who celebrated Christmas with two adults, was a bit overwhelmed when faced with Christmas dinners that could be 20+. The first Christmas, I failed miserably. LOL.

  3. What a lovely post, Lorraine! Congratulations on your book! I'm not all that familiar with southern traditions, so I really enjoyed reading this. Sloppy Joes on Christmas Eve sounds great to me! Whatever is easy. I usually make a big pot of crab bisque ahead of time, and we warm it up on Christmas day. It's delicious and special but lets me enjoy the day without having to slave over a stove.

  4. I love hearing about these traditions. I'm actually Yankee born and raised but my dad was from the South. Pam, I feel for you. That first Christmas with my hubby's family was traumatic. LOL He's the oldest of seven his mom is one of eight and his grandma was one of eight - they all Came home for Christmas. The little house was packed so I found a spot against the wall and just stared in awe at the chaos. IT was fun thought and I soon got the hang of it and embraced all the craziness.

  5. Welcome to the Craftie Ladies. I love Christmas books, too. Can't wait to read yours. One Christmas tradition we have is to open one family gift each when we come home from Christmas Eve service. Also, when my daughter and son were growing up, we gave them a Christmas ornament to take with them when they left home.

  6. Welcome to the blog! We have always attended church on Christmas Eve and had our family gathering Christmas morning. We have a relatively new tradition that I expect my children will probably continue is that as soon as they got old enough to cook, I insist that I will not stumble out of bed as early as they want me to unless they have breakfast waiting for me. So now our Christmas morning tradition is monkey bread and scrambled eggs--and good, hot coffee, of course. And now the grand kids help cook.

  7. So happy to see you here, Lorraine!

    Our family tradition is Christmas Eve at the oldest Mama's house, wherever you are and Christmas morning stocking. We love opening the small gifts and enjoying time with our families. When we celebrate here in New Mexico, everyone comes to my house but in Oklahoma we all go to Mom's.

    Looking forward to reading your Christmas book!

  8. Great post Lori!

    One of our family traditions is to have Christmas Eve at my house where everyone gets a filled stocking after we eat and we have much fun digging into those. Then we go to our daughter's for Christmas day--we take the presents under our tree over there and we all open together--and of course the granddaughters have stockings there, too. The whole family helps with the cooking and makes it easier on everyone.

    Can't wait to read your book!

  9. We're so glad to have you join us, Lori! I love the different Christmas traditions of friends and family. Your book sounds fun!

  10. Also meant to say that when I was growing up, our Christmas Eve tradition was to go eat at Pizza Hut, then go to the candlelight service. Such great memories!

  11. Lorraine, welcome. I enjoyed reading about the Christmas lights.

  12. I love the book, as I do all of them.

  13. Welcome Lorraine!

    Loved your mention of the Christmas lights in Natchitoches, LA! I've seen them and they are lovely. What a nice addition to your fictional town.

    We go to church Christmas Eve and then come home to read the Nativity narrative from Luke's gospel. We process through the house while singing "Silent Night." Our bedroom doors are closed, and we knock on each one as if we're the Holy Family seeking shelter. The youngest carries the Baby Jesus from our manger scene. We end in front of the creche and the baby is placed in the manger. Then we spend time giving thanks for the past year.

  14. Yay, Lorraine! So glad you're here.

    Your holiday book is the only one of yours I have yet to read. Guess I need remedy that real soon. :)

  15. Welcome, Lorraine.

    Our family traditions have changed a little as the children grew and moved on with their lives. My daughter sings in the choir so Midnight Mass has become a custom. We certainly didn't do that when the children were younger, but the church had a special family service early on Christmas Eve.

    Baking Christmas cookies is another tradition in our family.

    Speaking of Christmas lights - they put them up on the main street through my NYC neighborhood last week. Okay, I get that. They have to do it while the weather is warm enough. But last night I noticed they are already lighting them each night! That just feels bizarre!

  16. Missy, I ordered pizza one Christmas Eve. I don't remember exactly why - probably last minute shopping. The guys in the pizza shop yelled at me! Apparently I should have been home cooking the 7 fishes. ;)

  17. Hey Lori<
    I am looking forward to reading your Christmas story! The main traditions we had in our family was celebrating the day with just the five of us--Dad, Mom, two sisters, and me. We always had a real cedar tree my dad got from somewhere on the mountain, which he had scouted out during the previous months. Mom made lots of goodies for the season--I especially loved the peanut butter balls--and we loved having parts in our church's Christmas program. The youth did a full-length Christmas play every year, along with the kids saying rhyming parts. Christmas was all about our family and remembering the true reason for the season. Blessings to you!


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