Book give-away and one of my most memorable holidays

I did a Christmas blog and book give-away for another blog and figured, hey, I should do the same thing here on my blog. After all, I’m going to have to go to the post office one way or the other. (Note to self: next year don’t do give-aways during the holiday season.)

I have plenty of nice Christmas memories: The time a bus full of strangers all sang Christmas carols together for no other reason than it was Christmas Eve. The time my family delivered Christmas presents to a family in need. After we left the presents on the porch and doorbell ditched the house, we watched their little children come outside and search the sky for Santa Claus. I’ve forgotten most of the presents I received over the years, but I remember laying in the living room every year, lights off, just enjoying the glow of the Christmas tree.

Perhaps my most memorable Christmas is the one that happened after my mother died of cancer. I was about six. I say about, because I don’t know the date my mother died. I remember the day. It was a Saturday morning, but I can’t tell you what time of year it was. I’ve purposely not asked and not looked at any documents that would tell me. It’s not an anniversary I want to note on the calendar every year.

Some months later the holiday season rolled around, but my father said we weren’t going to have a Christmas tree that year. He just couldn’t do a big Christmas. I can imagine how overwhelmed he felt, alone with four children to raise—and in all likelihood he was angry at God for taking his wife. At least, I would be. Still, at six years old, I had perfect faith that we would have a Christmas tree. Christmas trees were part of Christmas, and Christmas was coming.

We did end up getting a tree. I remember, perfectly preserved the way some memories are, the pastor of our church showing up at our house and taking the tree inside. “I know what you said about not getting a tree this year,” he told my father. “But I had to bring one. If it’s okay, I’ll set it up.”

How could my father say no? Four children were suddenly jumping around the living room with glee. Or at least I was.

We got presents too. Once a night, sometimes twice, the doorbell rang and a stack of presents would be on our doorstep. We never caught anyone, but we figured it was members of the church.

It wasn’t that we were poor. My father could afford to buy us the presents that we wanted. But it was still a Christmas miracle. Because it meant people remembered, that they were thinking of us, that they cared.

This year I’m super busy. I’m behind on a writing deadline, my husband is out of town, and I have five kids to shop for. The dishes in the sink never end, the library books are overdue, and it’s been so long since my dog had a haircut that she looks like the abominable snow dog. It would be easy for me to rush through this season, but I think this quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf sums it up: In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance.

This year, be the answer to someone’s prayers.

Merry Christmas!

I’m giving away a copy of How To Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend because it’s a book about giving too. Leave a comment and I’ll enter you, be sure to say if you’re a follower and you’ll get two chances.

And if you feel lucky, literary girls are also giving away one of my books over at


Book give-away and one of my most memorable holidays — 54 Comments

  1. How fun! I would love to win!

    Those are some great Christmas memories! I think the best part about the holidays is creating memories with your family.

    Merry Christmas Janette! Thanks for being an inspiration!

  2. Janette, not here for the drawing you are so generously giving away-I still have a book coming to me. I’m just here to say I’m so sorry about your mom and what a wonderful Christmas story. Big *hugs* to you and Merry Christmas!

  3. Oh Janette! Maybe it’s my montly hormonal imbalance, but I just cried while reading your post. It was beautiful, and it reminded me of a Christmas when I was 6.

    We lived in a little town in England and just weeks before Christmas, my Dad was called to be bishop.

    I’ll never forget his soft voice when he told us of a family in the ward that had nothing. Not even money to buy food. Unanimously, all 5 of us kids decided to give away all that we had under the tree. It was so much fun that I never worried that there would be less for us.

    Luv, erin

  4. Hey you got that quote from the Visiting Teaching message for the month. Awesome! Elder Uchtdorf’s quote struck me too. It is truly a blessing to answer someone’s prayers. Thanks for sharing your Christmas memories. I love the Christmas season.

    Merry Christmas!

  5. I’ve been meaning to get that book! Hopefully, I’ll win it? LOL

    Awesome Christmas memory. I don’t remember a really good Christmas memory, but I know that every year my older sister and I get out of be at three in the morning to go downstairs and look at the presents around the tree. We still do it, too, even though we’re both teenagers. 🙂

    Anyway, I’m a follower!

    Merry Christmas,
    Maddz (of

  6. Those are some really great memories. Some of my best memories are of lying on the floor under the tree with my siblings also. I am a follower and love reading the things that you blog about!

  7. I loved this post. My best memories are from Christmas time too, when I was little and my family still intact. Now my goal for the holidays is to make it just as special (and even more lasting) for my sweet children.

    I’d love a copy of that book! It’s one of my favorites–and I’m a follower…

  8. Thank you for that beautiful post, Janette. I love this one by Uchtdorf: “Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our church callings, and in our livelihood.”

    Thanks for the contest. And of course I’m a follower–your posts brighten my day every time.

  9. It’s funny that we rarely remember the gifts, isn’t it? I remember hanging out and watching movies with my family more than I remember any particular gifts.

    I look forward to reading your new book.

    Oh, and I’m a follower!

  10. I love this post. Thanks for sharing such beautiful memories about your childhood.I remember a Christmas in our family just like that – where we weren’t getting a tree and had few presents. We (my siblings and I) ended up making a tree out of cardboard, and I must say that we loved it! And gifts kept appearing on our doorstep. Giving is so great! I’m going to go give a book away on my blog now. happy christmas and merry december days!

  11. I found your blog through my sister’s. (Shar) She said this post was awesome and it is. Thank you for sharing such a special Christmas moment. I’ll definitely be trying harder this Christmas to be an answer. Thank you.

    I would love to win, and I am now a follower!

  12. I found your blog through my sister’s. (Shar) She said this post was awesome and it is. Thank you for sharing such a special Christmas moment. I’ll definitely be trying harder this Christmas to be an answer. Thank you.

    I would love to win, and I am now a follower!

  13. I love your Christmas memories. I STILL turn off the lights and bask in the glow of the Christmas tree. I’ve also been thinking about your mother recently. In part, because my son Drew is turning 8 this year and I believe your mother was my Primary teacher when I turned 8 and was preparing for baptism. I like to believe that your mother played a not-so-small part in shaping my faith/testimony. (She also taught me that at least 2 people should sit between me and Willy Love, or we wouldn’t pay attention in class!)

  14. That is a wonderful (and heartbreaking) Christmas memory.

    I felt the same way about FarMor’s death (my paternal grandmother), I never wanted to remember the date of her death. Unfortunately one year my dad let me know that it was two days after his birthday – which happens to be Trav’s b-day (my hubby). So now I get to remember that every year on his birthday. Oh well.

    I know that is in no way close to losing a mother, I can’t even imagine how devastating that would be. But what an amazing way for Heavenly Father to let you know He loved and cared for your family during a time of pain and loss; to have such a Christmas miracle. That is the true meaning of Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful Holiday. 🙂

  15. I’d love to win. Also, FYI, you can create a shipping label online at and then just put the package in your mailbox for your mail carrier to pick up so you can avoid the post office. You can’t ship media mail that way, but the extra postage might be worth missing the long lines at the post office.

  16. Thank you for sharing your personal story with us. I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one that got teary-eyed. It was very moving. I would love to be entered in your contest. I am a follower.

  17. I loved your Christmas memories- thank you for sharing. My family used to take gingerbread churches with candy glass windows to all the widows in the neighborhood. They loved sharing them with their grandchildren after the holiday. It taught us early in life about service and compassion.
    I’d love to win your book.

    I’m a follower,…not to be confused with a stalker, because in fact they are very different 🙂

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  18. What tender memories, Janette! We love your books at our house!

    I remember when I was about six and I just knew that if I didn’t go to sleep Santa wouldn’t come. I wasn’t tired at all so I started kicking my legs and jumping up and down and trying to make myself tired. Of course, all it did was keep me awake longer!!

    and of course…I’m a follower!

  19. My favorite Christmas memory was giving my brother a penguin stuffed animal as a gift… it all started with when we called him on the first day of Hannukah to get him to tell us the story, and then my sister started going on about how he was getting a penguin sometime soon… It was an interesting night. The best part about Christmas isn’t the presents, or the food, or even the traditions: it’s about the people, the memories, and the birth of our Savior.

    Merry Christmas!!

  20. I am not a follower, but I would be if I could figure out how to become one. (Does that count?)

    Anyway, that was such a beautiful memory. I felt that warm Christmasy feeling which was pretty cool. I love the holiday season! Winning the book would make for a fun Christmas memory, too!

  21. I didn’t know you had a blog. I like your books and would love to read the one your giving away. I added myself as a follower. Love the story of the Christmas tree. Magical things seem to happen at Christmas time.

  22. Ok, I just wanted to let you know that I found your story so touching that my husband wants to read it to his priests at church today. I, of course, put your name and blog on the story. I think this is a wonderful story to remind us of our duty to be the instruments of God. Have you thought of sending this to the Ensing?

  23. What a great Christmas memory! Thanks for helping me remember the true meaning of Christmas–it gets lost too easily with all the material stuff I do to “get ready” for it. Hope you and your family have a great holiday!

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