Christmas Break

I have heard it said that the week between Christmas and New Year’s is sacred and indeed, it does feel that way. Everything feels quieter and more peaceful (or maybe it’s just that we never turned on the news). We relax, stay in our jammies all day. We make big elaborate meals. We visit with family and friends.

When the girls were little, we would put together toys that needed to be put together and play with them with the girls. Now we play board games and read. I read three books over the last two weeks.

Jason and I both love yoga, but we rarely practice together as he likes to get up at 4:30am to practice and I don’t go to sleep until 11:30pm or later. But, we try to always do a yoga routine together on holidays. On New Year’s Eve we did Yoga with Kassandra’s Winter Solstice Practice and on New Year’s Day we did Partner Yoga -Thai Massage.

The very first year we started homeschooling, we got to be good friends with a family that lives about three blocks away, also has two girls and at the time, homeschooled. We invited them over for New Year’s Eve and the girls slept over and a tradition was born. With the exception of the year I had surgery on December 30 and one year where we went to a party at another family’s house, we have had “the homeschool neighbors” over for every New Year’s Eve and every year it has grown a little. But, I am so thankful for this family. The four girls call each other “sister-friends” because they are closer than just friends. They have been through A LOT together. A LOT. Ups and downs. Months of not talking. Huge Fights. Then huge apologies. The “homeschool neighbor girls” went to school several years ago, but opted to homeschool again last year and in the spring will start taking classes at community college on the same days (Tuesdays and Thursdays), same times as my girls.

I am not sure if our New Year’s Eve party will go on again next year. We planned it in November, but as New Year’s Eve got closer, invitations from the girls’ friends started coming in… and two of them accepted the girls’ invitation to come to our house (but didn’t want to be in the photo). But, I know it’s only a matter of time before the girls want to make their own plans for New Year’s Eve…so many changes happening here. 2018 was a year of transition and I have a feeling 2019 will be as well.

4.5 star reviews, Book reviews, Christmas, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

4.5/5 stars

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I spent the last four Christmases with the Quinn family in Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter Street series and it was beginning to feel like they were part of my Christmas tradition. I looked forward to my time with them, just as I look forward to my friends’ annual holiday parties and spending time with my friends and their families and neighbors. I was disappointed that the series ended and not sure how I felt about a new series.

I fell in love with the Steele family. Irene Steele is poised and has so much integrity and warmth. She guided her adult children without getting overly emotionally involved in their lives, something I want to strive to do with my children. I found her to be such a great role model!

Irene has two adult sons, Cash and Baker, both struggling in their own ways – one’s business failed, the other’s marriage failed. The day after New Year’s, Irene gets a call from her husband’s business associate’s secretary that her husband was in a plan crash off the coast of St. John and that he is dead. Irene gathers her sons and they make the trip to St. John, where they realize that they never really knew what their husband/father did for a living and how he made money and that he had a secret life for many years that none of them knew about.

While down there, Irene’s two sons both fall for the same girl – Ayres, who was the girl I wanted to be when I was in my twenties, free-spirited, sexy and fun. Irene meets Huck- a fishing captain and so different from Irene, yet they really seem to hit it off and he seems to bring out something in her.

I loved all of the characters in this book, but I am Team Cash all the way; Baker kind of annoyed me, but I did like that he had his “school wives” since he was a stay-at-home dad and I liked the advice they gave him and the things he learned from them.

I look forward to spending my next two Christmases with the Steele family and finding out what happens next in their lives.