Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Holiday Party Round-up - New Year's Eve

So, we’ve come to the end of not only the Holiday Party, but also the end of the year. It’s been a long year, and a lot has changed from this time last year. I’ve gone back to school and am preparing to graduate with my AA in the spring, I’ve reconnected with some old friends of mine, and I’m another year wiser (though I may not always act it). 

On my blog, I’ve added a reviewer (the wonderful Trix), hosted two parties instead of just one, and celebrated my 22nd birthday. I’ve been to two book conventions, been robbed twice, have moved twice, gotten two new jobs, plus my car got hit twice (why does everything seem to happen in twos?!). 

I’ve suffered and I’ve prevailed, and I’ve met some wonderful people and made some great friends along the way. So here’s looking back at a crazy, amazing year of change and growth, and here’s looking forward to an even better year.

What about you? Looking back on 2014, what have been your favorite/most memorable moments? What are you looking forward to in the new year? Though we'll save the resolutions for tomorrow though. We get to have one last night of debauchery and pigging out first :)

I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and that 2015 is even better and brighter for you than 2014.

Also, don’t forget today is the last day to enter the grand prize giveaway, and many of the author giveaways as well.

P.S. I also had another contest going that I left open, but since no one else entered, the Black Friday Challenge is closed! Jbst guessed that I was in Florida, but the full answer was I spent Thanksgiving in Duck Key (Marathon), Florida. Great job guessing Jbst!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Holiday Party - Sara York

Today, I'd like to welcome the final Holiday Party author. I had the pleasure of meeting her at RainbowCon (though I've enjoyed her books for a while now), and so I had to have her come and visit. Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to introduce Ms. Sara York!

Happy Holidays! Our family is nontraditional in our traditions. We try to mix it up each year, never doing the same thing from year to year. We moved to the beach two years ago and that brought us even more changes in our nontraditional traditions. Though it’s not the best weather during December, my husband and I made it to the beach once during Christmas week. We haven’t done a Christmas sand sculpture yet, maybe next year. Anything that allows us to spend time together is on the menu.

We do have a tree and a few presents, but we don't do a big meal. It’s more of a pick at your own pace type of meal. Christmas is about family. It’s about having fun and reconnecting, late night game sessions, and taking long walks. I hope you enjoy your holiday time together and that you’ve had some good cookies too.

And now here’s an excerpt from Colorado Wild:

Roger let the news soak in. Duff waved as he left the room but Grant stayed, leaning against the wall, watching every move Roger made. He felt like prey about to be consumed by a predator. After grabbing a pair of shorts and a blue T-shirt he faced Grant, wondering if his sexuality would get him into trouble. Might as well dive in with both feet.

"Is it going to be a problem that I'm gay?"

Grant lowered his gaze, carefully inspecting his fingernails. Roger started to sweat, wondering how many difficulties he'd encounter here. Then Grant raised his head, the sadness in his eyes struck Roger hard. "No one will care."

"Are you sure? I've been military for a while and though people say they don’t care, they don't like the realities of gay men living in the same barracks."

Grant stood tall and approached, stopping next to Roger, their bodies brushing against each other. His lips were right at Roger's ear, his breath hot on Roger's neck. "Trust me, no one cares who you have sex with. Just keep it off the ranch or know that once you get involved with one of the guys, you're a couple and you don't fuck with anyone else."

Roger didn't want to sniff Grant, but the man was too tempting. He moved just a hairs breath and his nose was at Grant's neck. He breathed in before he could stop himself. The scent coming off the man was a mixture of soap, shampoo, and masculinity that had Roger so hard he wondered if he'd be safe sleeping in the same house with Grant.

Neither of them moved and he wondered if the lack of action was an invitation. He backed up just enough to catch Grant's gaze, the pain and sorrow took his breath away. The man wasn't open to a relationship.

Roger gripped Grant's arm above his elbow. Grant flexed, sending Roger's libido into overdrive. "I'll remember that. And thanks."

Grant nodded but didn't step away. The lines around his eyes softened. Roger wanted the exchange to mean something more than it did. He guessed that after Grant's warning the man wouldn’t even be open for a quick blowjob. This assignment was turning into an interesting placement. Of course, they'd told him over and over again that he had a choice. He could stay and play the game they wanted him to, or he could walk away with a few hundred thousand dollars to buy his silence.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure." Grant stepped away and moved to the doorway.

"Do you regret taking this assignment?"

Grant turned back to him, his lips thinned out and his eyes narrowed. "Never. Not once have I regretted my decision. I make a real difference here."

Roger nodded. "Thanks for answering honestly. I appreciate it."

"Anytime. Once you're past the next phase of your training, I'll answer any question."

You can pick up Colorado Wild at Amazon.

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt from Colorado Wild. Happy New Year.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holiday Party - Missouri Dalton

Today, a new favorite author of mine is stopping by. I was first introduced to her stories in the Masks Off Too! anthology, and when I heard she had a new release coming out, I just had to have her stop by. And so, I proudly present Ms. Missouri Dalton!

The Holidays
When I think of Christmas, my first thoughts drift to baking with my mother. Something I got to do this year for the first time in ages. There’s always the list of things that are absolutes. Russian tea cakes, gingerbread, ting-a-lings and thumbprints. New additions like rum balls and then ever so often we make an attempt at fudge or peanut brittle.

Christmas for us was always a time for special food. We would put the tree after Thanksgiving and me and my brother would help Mom decorate it—and then Dad would put the angel up. Usually, Dad wasn’t home in time to decorate, so we saved the angel for him.

These days, my brother and I are grown, he’s engaged and things are different. Except I still make Chex mix once the weather gets cold and I put up my own tree—which has lemons in it because citrus is a winter fruit you know. I’ve made my own traditions. Tweaked family recipes and rearranged things to fit my life. There’s no angel on the top of my tree, just a bird, but the lights are the same sort my mother got for our tree when I was a kid.

Things are different now, but they’re also the same in the really important ways. We find a way to be together on Christmas every year. Our traditions are still changing, still evolving as our family grows. It’s the time together that really matters.

A Curse on the Mountain Blurb:

In the cursed city of Var Eldore, perched on a mountaintop surrounded by a frigid swamp, the rain never stops. Former pleasure slave Myr lives in hiding, trying to stay a step ahead of his captor. But there’s more to Myr than he realizes, and destiny has other plans for him. Soon, he counts soldiers, spies, nobles, and wizards among his allies. Their goal is to oppose the king and those who perpetuate slavery, and fight for the freedom of their land. As they uncover secrets and conspiracies, each more tangled than the last, Myr also discovers he has unique abilities to aid their cause—the Redeemers.

As the strength of the Redeemers grows, so does the number of enemies they must face. Each member of their alliance has his or her own demons to battle, and Myr must confront the truth about himself and become the leader they need. Alongside his lover Ryall and the people who have become his family—as well as some unlikely friends—Myr and the Redeemers must prepare for war. If they fall, the city in the rain will follow.

Order now from Dreamspinner Press 

It's day one of my A Curse on the Mountain release blog tour! Every day at each stop I'll be recording commentors and giving away fabulous prizes! Today, if you comment on this blog post you'll enter to win an e-version (your choice of the type) of The Blight, a book about elves, goblin kings and strange ways of defeating dragons. 

See more from Missouri Dalton at or on Twitter.

Tour Schedule:
December 28 - Emily Wells
December 29 Erin and Racheline
December 30 - Sean Michael
December 31 - Charley Descateaox
January 1 - Charlie Cochet
January 2 Chris Kat
January 3 Vicktor Alexander

Author Bio:
Missouri Dalton is a writer of horror/paranormal contemporary fantasy and alternate historical novels.

Missouri was raised mainly in transit, slowed down to finish school in one place and was then determined to be as nomadic as possible, if only because that's how things just worked out. She uses writing as an escape from her own neurosi and currently lives with her dear friend Sophia.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Holiday Party - Joyous Kwanzaa

I wanted to wish those celebrating a Joyous Kwanzaa!

What’s Kwanzaa you ask? Well, it’s a week-long celebration, first celebrated in 1966, that honors African heritage in African-American culture. While originally supposedly created as an "oppositional alternative" to Christmas, many people who celebrate Kwanzaa now also celebrate either/both Christmas and New Year’s. In fact, the celebrating of Kwanzaa has even spread to other countries, such as Canada.

There are seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa is dedicated to one: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

Kwanzaa symbols (designed to convey the seven principles) include a decorative mat on which other symbols are placed. The other symbols are corn and other crops, a candle holder kinara with seven candles, a communal cup for pouring libation, gifts, a poster of the seven principles, and a black, red, and green flag.

So what do you think? Did you know much about Kwanzaa or is this the first you're hearing about it? Let me know what you think down below.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert on this topic, I am just sharing what I learned through my research, so please take this with a grain of salt. I am human, which means I make mistakes too, so if I misunderstood something please forgive me.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Holiday Party - M.A. Church

First, I'd just like to note that it has just come to my attention that apparently my post for December 24th posted, yet none of the text showed. It has since been updated and should be showing.

And now, I figured that after hearing my personal ramblings for a few days, y’all would want to hear from someone else. So today, I present an author who wrote one of my favorite sci-fi novels (and mpreg!)  The Harvest: Taken. She’s here today to share a Christmas story featuring three of her characters from her new release (out today!), Trouble Comes in Threes. And now, Ms. M.A. Church!

Cats and Christmas Trees: Trouble Waiting to Happen

A short story from the men in Trouble Comes in Threes


I picked up a few stray cups of eggnog, took them to the kitchen, and quickly washed them out.  The party had gone well. One of my mates, Tal, had come up with the idea of having our Alpha, and the rest of the betas, over for a rousing game of Secret Santa. Since the clowder I now belonged to were cat shifters, they didn’t worship as humans. And since my mates Dolf and Tal found me and mated me, I, too, was no longer human.

Hard to believe it’s almost been a year since that night.

Of course, no longer being human didn’t change the fact I missed having a Christmas tree with a pile of gifts underneath. I glanced over at the soaring, white flocked tree standing in front of the den’s prowl windows. We lived in a huge log house with a truss system that Tal had built before they’d found me.

Honestly, the place was nothing more than a cat play area.

The fireplace crackled, the smell of burning wood relaxing me. This was our first Christmas together, and it had been perfect. The sounds of nails clicking on hardwood floors drew my attention from the fireplace.

A rather large, jet-black cat raced down the hall hot the on the heels of a snow-white cat. Grinning, I sat on the couch. They’d eyed the tree from the first night we’d put it up and decorated it. All those shinning, gleaming objects had driven my mates nearly insane.

Cats and Christmas trees. Boy, if that wasn’t just asking for trouble, I didn’t know what was.

A blur of white flew pass me as Tal ran the length of the room. Dolf was right behind him, swatting at Tal’s hind legs. Tal yowled playfully over his shoulder at Dolf, and then leaped up to on one of the numerous shelves throughout the den. Dolf sat on the ground, his tail swishing as he looked up at Tal.

“Meooow!” Tal’s playful purr echoed around the room.

Even I heard the dare in that. Shaking my head, I looked at Dolf.

“Meeer,” Dolf answered calmly, and then leaped at the shelf Tal sat on.

Damn, the power in those hind legs was amazing. Tal scrambled down the walkway, hauling ass. He kept going until he hit the truss system of the log cabin, flying across the logs as if he was just a few feet off the floor instead of fifteen feet, if not more. The first time they did this, I just about had a heart attack.

Suddenly, Tal stopped and spun around to face Dolf. Tal arched his back, fluffing up. Dolf stopped too, but didn’t back off. Instead he ignored Tal’s warning  as he slowly prowled closer, his bright blue eyes slitted.

“That never works, pretty kitty,” I called from the couch where I was reclining. “Dolf’s gonna swat that cute little ass of yours if you’re not careful.”

Our sweet little Omega just didn’t have it in himself to intimidate Dolf. For that matter, neither did I, but I did often stand up to the man. The smartass in me couldn’t help himself. Surprisingly, Dolf was okay with that. Said it kept him from being too arrogant. The male was the heir apparent to their clowder. Arrogant was his middle name.

“Meerow.” Tal sniffed at my direction, turning his back to me and sticking his tail straight up.

“Yeah, I’ll take you up on that offer just as soon as you’re human,” I called from the couch. 

“Rawl!” Dolf bellowed in agreement.

Laughing, I watched them race down the truss system to the shelves and on down to the floor. Tal ran at me, jumping on the couch and straight onto my lap.

“And how did I know you’d end up here?” I found myself with a lap full of white cat and sank my hands into that lean, lanky, furry body. “Watch the claws, babe.” Jesus, the last thing I needed was him to sink his claws somewhere important.

Seconds later Dolf launched himself at me, too, and sure enough, I ended up with over sixty pounds of feline sitting on me. Dolf and Tal were the size of Savannahs. They were big, big cats.

Dolf licked my cheek while Tal kneaded my thigh. I ran my hands over both of them, enjoying the silky fur.

“Are we done or….” The flashing lights of the tree caught Tal’s attention, and he was off again. “Oookay, guess not.”

Dolf head butted me, grunted in Tal’s direction, and jumped off me. He raced across the top of the coffee table… and headed straight toward the twinkling Christmas tree.

Oh man, I knew it. It was more than their little kitty nature could handle. “Okay you two, you break any of those ornaments and I’m not gonna be happy.”

Tal landed on one of the few brightly wrapped gifts not yet opened and launched himself up the tree. A flash of black, and there went Dolf too. Damn good thing the tree was ten feet tall and the ointments weren’t glass.

Yeah, I’d had a feeling.

A yowl sounded from the tree, but I couldn’t tell which one it was. In fact, Tal was hard to see since he faded into the white background of the tree, but the sparkly red ball a white paw was batting at was a good clue where he was. I heard hisses and mewls coming from them as they amused themselves.

Then God help us, Tal found the pretty red tinsel I’d draped on the tree. What had I been thinking? And wow, he was having entirely too much fun fighting the stuff. The tree shuddered, and I held my breath, but it stayed upright. The two of them played in there for another fifteen minutes or so while I watched. A few balls fell off, tinsel lay on shreds on the floor, but the tree remained standing.


While I enjoyed seeing Dolf and Tal in their shifted forms, I was ready to move this night along. I had plans for my mates, and I need them in their human forms. I stood up and unbuttoned my shirt. The yowling and hissing from the tree abruptly stopped, and two pair of bright blue eyes focused on me.

Seeing that I had their attention, I let the gaping shirt slide off and fall to the floor. I ran my hands up and down my chest, making sure my fingers brushed my nipples. Was that purring I heard? After toeing off my shoes, I made sure my ass faced the tree when I unbuttoned my jeans and dropped them.

Then I bent over and pulled off my socks.

Yup, that was a pleased meow I heard behind me. Turning back around, I noticed one of the tree limbs shaking as a streak of black made its way down. I couldn’t see Tal, but I bet he was on his way down too. Deciding to give them more incentive, I fisted my cock. I’d gone commando. Before I could say ‘here kitty, kitty’, my two gorgeous mates had shifted and were sitting naked by the tree.

Tal’s long, white-blond hair fell over his shoulder and partway down his chest. Resting one elbow on his bent knee, I could see his rosy, hard cock. Dolf sat crossed-legged, his shaft standing up too. His black hair was messy, flopping over his forehead and into those bright blue eyes. Both of them were long and lean with a swimmer’s build… and so sexy they made my mouth water.

Happy Christmas to me.

Walking over to the fireplace, I knelt on the fur rug. Dolf and Tal rose gracefully to their feet and came to stand in front of me. Both of their cocks were nice and long, but Dolf had about a half-inch on Tal. But then, Tal was a bit thicker. My cock bobbed eagerly as I grabbed Dolf by the hips and pulled him closer. I couldn’t wait to get my mouth on that hard dick so teasingly close.

I licked the head then nibbled around the crown. Pre-come glistened at the tip, the salty taste exploding on my tongue. I licked my lips. Dolf’s taste was a little more tart than Tal’s, just as the man was. Holding his shaft, I tongued the thick vein that ran the length. Dolf buried his hands in my hair and tugged me closer.

The slight spark of pain raced down my body and ended at my shaft. He knew I liked a little pain, and he liked giving it to me. My hands clutching his hips, I dropped my mouth over his dick. Silken steel and heat. He was so hard against my tongue.

“Mmm, so good, sexy,” Dolf mumbled.

I glanced up at him. Steel and heat described the man too.

“Yeah, just like that,” Dolf muttered. “Let me see those eyes while I fuck that mouth.”

He tangled his fingers in my hair, urging me to take more, to go faster. Dolf threw his head back, the cords in his throat standing out. Grabbing both of his ass cheeks, I pulled him closer. Dolf hissed, and I caught the flash of a fang as pleasure drove him.

“I want in here, please, Kirk. Gods.” Tal caressed my ass, his fingers cool and slick. Wonder when he got lube? Closing my eyes, I moaned around Dolf’s shaft, and the vibrations caused Dolf to moan too.

Dolf tapped my cheek, and I pulled off his cock, abet very slowly. “What?” I whined, his shaft still nodding right in front of my face. “I was busy, you know.”

Dolf tapped his cock against my lips, smearing pre-come. “Be good, and I’ll let you get back to what you were doing. But first, hands and knees.”

I couldn’t get there fast enough, even knowing the angle wasn’t going to be comfortable. But, before I could say anything, Dolf sat on the furry rug and lay back. Oh yeah, now that I could work with. Dolf grasped his cock and spread his legs. I fully intended to get back to that, but first… I grasped Dolf’s ankle and lifted it.

“Fuck, yeah.” Dolf watched me.

Dolf sighed softly as I rubbed the arch of his foot against my face then nipped one of his toes. His cock jerked on his belly. My foot fetish made this male, who didn’t care to bottom, absolutely crazy even if he wasn’t in the mood to bottom. I was relieved since so many of the other guys I’d hooked up with laughed at me for it.

It didn’t do much for Tal, except make him giggle. I licked and nibbled on those long toes of his, enjoying his grunts of pleasure. Those slim ankles of his called to me, and I placed kissed there too. God, I love this male.

“Keep that up and I’m going to come, sexy,” Dolf warned.

I kissed his instep. “Well, can’t have that.”

Tal patted my ass. “Bend over please, Kirk. I need to open you up.”

I kissed my way back up Dolf’s hairy leg until I found my other source of pleasure. I nuzzle Dolf’s shaft while Tal worked one slick finger, then another, in me. A small flash of pain was a small price to pay, and I liked it. Tal hit my hot spot and pleasure stabbed me.

I thrust back, wanting more. I sucked Dolf’s cock down while Tal slicked me up. I was very thankful we’d taken to keeping lube all over the house. My sweet Tal eased his way inside me, stroking his hands over my lower back. Tal thrust slowly then moved faster as I moved with him. God, I love this man too. He was always so caring when he took me.

I glanced up at Dolf, watching the pleasure I brought him flash over his face. The three of us moved together, each giving and taking. The lights flashed from our Christmas tree and the fire cast a warm glow over the room.

Our love blanketed us as skin slapped on skin. Tal’s shaft tapped my hot spot repeatedly, pushing me ever closer to orgasm. My dick bounced under me, and I knew I was close to coming, even without any friction on my poor needy dick. I deep-throated Dolf as Tal slammed in me… then my toes curled, and I came. Lights flashed in my mind.

Yup, angels sang, and I even heard two strangled yowls as my mates came.

For a few moments we lay there, holding each other while the fire crackled. Tomorrow was Christmas day, but we didn’t have plans outside of just lazing around. There would be time enough later to deal with clowder issues, Heller, and the day-to-day life living in a triad. For now, I had my two mates close to me, warm and happy. What more could a guy ask for?

~Art work by August (Gus) Li

Trouble Comes in Threes
Release date: December 26 (Today!)

A snowstorm in the South—on New Year’s Eve—is a perfect recipe for a catastrophe. After two soul-crushing bad breaks, Kirk’s waiting for disaster number three to strike when, naturally, two stray cats arrive on his doorstep during the storm and decide to make themselves at home. Tenderhearted Kirk lets them stay even though there’s something decidedly odd about his overly friendly felines.

Out of the punishing weather and full of tuna, Dolf and Tal are happy to be snug in Kirk’s house. But then their human goes outside for firewood and suffers a nasty fall that leaves him unconscious. Now the two cats have no choice but to reveal themselves.

Kirk wakes up to find the two kitties are actually Dolf and Tal. They’re cat shifters—and his destined mates. Being part of a feline threesome is enough for Kirk to grapple with, but soon he learns they come from a clowder that doesn’t believe humans and shifters should mix. Kirk knew those two cats would be trouble. Little does he know the real trouble lies ahead.

“Fuck,” he whispered softly. He rarely cussed, except when aroused. Nothing sent his mate whimpering faster than Dolf describing in frank detail how he planned to fuck Tal. He loved hearing Tal’s voice begging… and speaking of that, only then did he notice Tal had stopped talking. Not only had Tal stopped talking, but now he was growling. It was low, but it was a growl, a sound no human would make.

“Tal,” Dolf whispered. “Look at me, mate.”

Tal’s fists clenched, spasms shaking his arms. “That scent….”

“I know. Look at me. You’re growling, and you can’t do that here. Talise!” Dolf’s voice dropped as he snapped out Tal’s full name, power and command flowing from him. His mate was close to losing control right there in a hardware warehouse. “Stop. Now.”

Tal shuddered hard but stopped growling, his muscles relaxing. “What, what…. Dolfoon?” Tal resorted to using Dolf’s full name. He was still shaking. “Help me. I-I… that scent. How can I be smelling a—a mate scent? I’m already mated… to—to you! Are you scenting it too?”

“Yes.” Dolf spoke very quietly, too quietly for the human to hear. In his mind, his cat paced and demanded he claim what was theirs. First things first: he had to make sure Tal was in control. Dolf grabbed Tal by the arm and quickly walked the both of them off the aisle, away from the human whose scent was driving both of them crazy. “I need you to breathe. In. And out. Yes, yes, good. There you go, Tal. Breathe with me. In… and out. Better?”

“Yes… yes.”

“You have control?”

Tal shuddered one last time. “Yes, I do.”

“Good. That was too close.”

Tal’s mouth fell open, the horror of what he had nearly done reflecting in his face. “Oh my… I almost… and here, of all places! I’m so sorry, Dolf.”

“It’s okay. I talked you down. Can you stay in control so we can go back to that aisle?”

“I can. I’m steady now.” Tal followed Dolf. “It’s just…. That scent surprised me. The last time I smelled something like that was—”

“When we met, yes, I know.” Dolf stopped at the mouth of the aisle. The human was still there. “That human is our mate, Tal.”

Author Bio:
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or sitting glued to HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two children.

She was a finalist in the Rainbow awards for 2013. Drop by her blog or visit her on:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday Party - Merry Christmas

Christmas... a wonderful day, full of love and happiness (or at the very least, some peace and quiet).

I love Christmas because it's the one day where my siblings and I call a truce to the sibling rivalry and instead my family and I spend the entire day just hanging out with each other, watching movies, eating good food, and just relaxing. I look forward to it all year long, not just for the gifts and the food (though they are pretty awesome), but because I love having this day to basically reconnect with my family. We put aside our differences and just get along. Christmas is a very powerful, amazing, miraculous day.

So for those of you celebrating, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. And if you’re not, then I’ll wish you a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Festivus, Happy Kwanzaa, and/or a Happy New Year. You can choose J

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Holiday Party - History of Christmas

Today is Christmas Eve, so in honor of that, I wanted to share with you some backstory on Christmas. Most of you probably know the backstory behind the “reason for the season” (started as a Roman pagan festival and then became a Christian holiday celebrating Jesus’ birth, etc). But what about some of the most well-known Christmas traditions? How did they come to be?

So first, the evergreen Christmas tree. Now I didn’t realize this, but apparently there is a lot of controversy surrounding the beginnings of the Christmas tree. Some people believe that the tree has pagan origins. Others say that it was a Christian tradition that originated in the 1500s (the first known use of a Christmas tree) somewhere in Germany or Scandinavia. And still others claim that the tree was actually created centuries earlier by St. Boniface.

Now how did the Christmas tree cross the wide blue ocean to the US? Fast forward several centuries to the end of the Revolutionary War. After losing the war, many German (Hessians) stayed in the US, bringing their traditions, including the Christmas tree. However, problems still arose. The Christmas tree was declared a pagan symbol, and so for many years, people fought to put an end to the “heathen tradition” of decorated trees.

However, the popularity of Christmas trees grew, and having/decorating a Christmas tree has become a widely popular tradition.

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions, stockings. Like the Christmas tree, it’s not quite known where this tradition came from, but there is a famous legendary tale regarding the origins of stockings. It goes a little something like this: A nobleman’s wife died, leaving him with three daughters. Having no money left, the nobleman was worried about the dowry for his daughters to marry. On Christmas, St. Nicholas came to their home and saw the girls' stockings hanging to dry above the fireplace. He then filled them with gold and the nobleman's daughters were able to marry.

While there are slightly different versions of the story, the tradition of stockings is often attributed to St. Nicholas. Children would hang up their stockings hoping that St. Nicholas would leave a gift in their stockings for them. This tradition spread, and by the 19th century, made its way to the US. Hanging stockings is now a common Christmas tradition practiced worldwide in many different ways.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert in this subject, this is just my interpretation of what I researched. For more information on the subject, I highly recommend either Binging or Googling the topics to learn more.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Party - Festivus

So, we’ve had several mentions of December holidays so far (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, etc.). But what if you don’t celebrate one of these holidays? Well, today’s the day for you because today is Festivus. What is Festivus you ask? Well, it’s a non-denominational holiday first mentioned on Seinfeld in 1997 (Kramer celebrated it). It has since become a well-celebrated holiday (don’t believe me? Just Google it).

So what does one do on Festivus? 
Well, instead of a Christmas tree, the symbol of Festivus is an unadorned aluminum pipe. Also, while one might have a Christmas ham for dinner, the recommended Festivus feast is meatloaf. 

Looking for a holiday game? Try “Feats of Strength”, and then later, an “Airing of Grievances” where you can tell someone how disappointed you are over what they did or did not do during the year.

So check it out and have some Festivus fun (and don't forget to enter the grand prize giveaway while you're at it). After all, it’s “A Festivus for the rest of us!”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Party - History of Hanukkah

I’m sure y’all know about Hanukkah. And when you think of Hanukkah, you probably primarily think of dreidels and menorahs. While talking with my friend Jessie about Hanukkah, and how she celebrates, she started talking about the reasons behind why her family does some of the things they do. Which got me to thinking…where did these symbols of Hanukkah come from? And so I decided to do some research. This is what I found, and so I wanted to share with y'all as it's pretty fascinating stuff, plus I think it's nice to think about the roots of these holidays. (Btw, I just wanted to let you guys all know, this is basically the brief Cliff Notes version of this, so I’ve also included some links to do some more research if you’d like. I used various sources including my World Religion notes, Wikipedia, and the links listed to research. I’m sharing this here as a fun facts section, but I am NOT an expert on the subject, so I may have mixed something up, so please take this with a grain of salt).

Backstory on Hanukkah - So, back around 167 B.C.E, the Jews rebelled against their oppressors (Maccabean Revolt) and against all odds, won. When they went to their holy Temple, they discovered that it had been pillaged and damaged. When they went to rededicate the Temple, they lit the great lamp (which must stay lit). However, though they could only find enough oil to last a single day, the oil miraculously lasted for eight days. To remember this victory and miracle, the Jews celebrate Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, for eight days every year (during which they light the menorah).

To learn more, visit:  History of Hanukkah   |   Holidays: Hanukkah

MenorahsNow, the menorah has been around in one form or another ever since the First Temple was built in King Soloman’s time. However, the original menorahs were destroyed along with the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. After this, the Second Temple was built, with a new, gold menorah placed inside.

Alas, the Temple and the menorah inside were then destroyed again in 70 B.C.E. After all this, the menorah became an important symbol used to represent Jewish sovereignty and hope (as well as redemption).

Now, the menorah described originally had seven branches, but in order to preserve the holiness of the original, it was forbidden to use an exact replica of the original. Hence the eight-branched menorahs used today.

Like I said, this is a very, very brief synopsis of the history of the menorah. It’s very fascinating, and I highly recommend you go do some research on your own and read all about this part of history. Here’s one of the easiest sources I recommend starting with.

Dreidels – So, I (like many others) thought that the dreidel was a Jewish custom connected to Hanukkah. And while it is, you may be surprised to learn, it apparently wasn’t always so. Turns out, dreidels have been around and been used in various cultures for many centuries. From England to Germany, the dreidel was around before it was assimilated into the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.

For more on dreidels, and to learn about all the detailed ideas on what the dreidels represent, visit this link (it’s a fascinating article).

Feel free to let me know what you think. Did you know this already? Did I screw something up? Let me know what you're thinking down below. Also, don't forget to enter the grand prize giveaway!