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12 Blogs of Christmas – Decorations That Have ‘Kangaroos In Their Top Paddocks’


In case you’re wondering ‘kangaroos in the top paddock’ is an Australian expression for someone who is a little nuts. So… this is a blog about Christmas decorations that are a little bit nuts… or at least a little left of centre, in a weird, hideous, or cute kind of way, featuring decorations contributed by other participants in the 12 Blogs of Christmas.

We start with the wackiest decorations and work our way down to some unique and poignant family traditions.


Chucky the Snowman by Ciara Ballintyne – This thing is hideous. OK, it doesn’t look hideous. It looks kind of cute – in a mad, axe-wielding scarecrow fashion. It’s also huge. I mean, at least three feet high. Once it starts singing, though, it’s hideous. It sings ‘Let It Snow’. In this awful high-pitched voice which should not be permitted to exist. Mum loves it. Because everyone else hates it she says. What does that say about Mum’s sense of humour? Dad says she doesn’t have a wicked sense of humour, she just likes to laugh at other people’s misfortune. I suggested that he reconsider that statement in the context of the definition of the word ‘wicked’ and then get back to me. 



What’s worst about this decoration, though, is kids reallylove it. They don’t want it to stop. After this thing has sung its song a half dozen times even Mum is ready to put an axe through its music box. But the kids want it to keep going. In the words of Bill Cosby… ‘Do it again!’ I would have liked to provided a video but it just wasn’t happening.


6 White Boomers by Ciara Ballintyne – I also can’t miss this opportunity to mention ‘Six White Boomers’. This originates from a Rolf Harris song (of ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down’ fame – if you don’t know him, be sure to look up Rolf and his wobbleboard). 

Santa’s sleigh is pulled by eight reindeer, right? Everywhere else in the world, maybe. But not Down Under. Here, in Australia, the sleigh is pulled by… six white kangaroos. Of course… No I have never seen a white kangaroo, but just go with it… OK?

This does make an awesome yard decoration though.

Check out my short story A Magical Melody in the anthology Spells: Ten Tales of Magic.
  
 
Christmas is Cactus by Kelly Gamble – When you live in a desert, you make do with what you have, right? Instead of a Christmas tree, how about a Christmas cactus.  Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory has a huge cactus garden that they light up every year, and it is so strange, but unique.  And after looking at the various cacti, you can eat chocolate!

Visit Kelly here for book recommendations from the 12 Blogs of Christmas.




Creepy Christmas by Karen Delabar – A couple of years ago we were at my husband’s grandparents and we did the annual search for the pickle ornament on the tree (I have no idea how this tradition started but it’s fairly popular around here). I was so excited when I found it because it meant I won a prize. 🙂 

Then I opened my “prize” and found what I thought looked like two figurines screaming to be put out of their misery. Trying to be of the Norman Rockwell variation, these two Christmas carolers look… well, creepy. However, since I technically got them from his grandparents I can’t throw them away. Each year I bring them down from the attic and put them in a drawer. When his grandparents stop by they come out for the hour or so and then back in the drawer they go until Christmas is over and they join the rest of our Christmas decorations back up in the attic.

Visit Karen here for some favourite Christmas movies from the 12 Blogs of Christmas.

Karen suffered an extreme case of Toxic Shock Syndrome following strep throat earlier in this year and almost lost her life. You can read her story here. If you would like to donate to help Karen’s family meet all her medical bills and other expenses, please click the ‘Donate’ button below. 


 
 

Fallen Angel by Erica Lucke Dean – Several years ago my mother gave me the vintage 1960’s tree topper from our childhood Christmas trees.  It’s just about the ugliest angel I’ve ever seen but it brings back wonderful memories.  My kids won’t let me put her anywhere but the back of our tree but I don’t feel it’s Christmas unless she’s tucked in there somewhere.

Visit Erica here for some childhood nostalgia with the 12 Blogs of Christmas and check out Erica’s book With Love from Katie coming out March 2013.

 

Football Santa by Marie Patchen – We might be living in the milder climes of southern Arizona these days, but my family is Pennsylvania born and bred.  And if it’s one thing we take pride in, it is our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.  

Now, we don’t go to heck with the joke, but the truth of the matter is, if Santa Claus came out of the closet as any other football fan but a Steelers fan, we’d have to take issue with him.  This is why we make sure that when he visits us, he’s always dressed in his finest black and gold, and has a prime spot underneath the Christmas tree.  Because honestly, what other football team is there?

Visit Marie here for Christmas cartoons with the 12 Blogs of Christmas.


More Power! by Natalie Kenney – My mother likes lights on the tree. Lots of lights. It’s a crime not to have lights on your tree in my family, punishable by coal in the stocking. (All of the house lights are off in the first picture. I swear). Last Christmas, one of the cats spent all her time trying to blend in with the decorations… After all, she lit up too!

Visit Natalie here for some delicious Christmas Cookie recipes from the 12 Blogs of Christmas.


Good Things Come In Small Packages by Amberr Meadows – I used to envy my ex-boyfriend’s mother for her Christmas decorations until we went to visit her at Christmastime. She had two Christmas trees, one of them devoted entirely to Santa ornaments and the other devoted to expensive Disney ornaments. She had more Nativity scenes and Disney displays in the yard and around her home than I’d think could fit comfortably in one storage shed, and I resented her magnificent collection of outdoor and indoor twinkly lights. Her family Christmas stockings were of the finest material, and she even had a damn snow machine. I could never have hoped to have decor even half as lovely with my then-salary.

In spite of it all, it took only the one visit to determine I was the luckier one. She was batshit crazy and constantly going through bouts of mania and depression and bringing us along for the miserable, unwanted ride. After jumping through hoops and dealing with the issues associated with that matriarchal drama queen, I realized something important. It didn’t matter that her home was more lovely and her decorations were of the finest quality – she was miserable and destined to continue in this vein, because she thrived on it. The atmosphere in her home was dark and dreary, and not even five storage sheds full of fancy ornaments would have remedied the problem. I hated every minute of my time there.


When I returned home, I looked around my tiny one-bedroom apartment with the 18″ Christmas tree decorated with mini-Santas and didn’t feel the usual sad Holiday feeling. I felt grateful and humbled. The scant decorations didn’t matter in the slightest; genuine joy lived within these walls, and I never took it foolishly for granted again. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Visit Amberr here for traditional Christmas food from the 12 Blogs of Christmas.

Wreathed In Christmas by Justin Bogdanovitch – I love the bubble lights and other vintage ornaments of the fifties and sixties and I’m partial to multi-colored lights for a tree… an all-white lighted tree is static to me, same with the all-gold theme some really stylish people can’t seem to do without. Give me the green, red, blue, yellow, and orange lights powered up to the nines with only a few of them blinking away in syncopation. 


Having said all this about color, my favorite Christmas decoration is a large house wreath hung on the side of the house. It only has the tiny twinkling white lights because when our last wreath grew too weathered with so many winter seasons, the current model was the only one readily available. Just seeing the view as I drive home or walk the dogs around the pond adds to the peace of the season. 

Visit Justin here to read the 12 Faux Pas of Christmas — part of the 12 Blogs of Christmas and check out his book Sandcastle and Other Stories.

It’s Raining Christmas Trees by D.C. McMillen – My favourite tradition during the holidays is to walk around downtown – mostly the financial and the shopping districts – to look at all of the amazingly decorated Christmas trees. 

Many of the trees are the same every year so my excitement builds to an excruciating level before I’ve even left the apartment. Will Dundas Square feature trees made from stacked balls of light again this year? Will the snowflake tree in The Esplanades Park be set up in the fountain?  


Of course, my absolute favourite is the Swarovski tree in the Eaton Centre. This rotating, 35 ft high tree is covered in ten thousand sparkling Swarovski crystal ornaments. Every year I snap a picture and then complain that the picture simply does not do it justice. On that note, here is the picture:

Visit D.C. here for favourite festive drinks from the 12 Blogs of Christmas and check out D.C.’s book A Decent December.

Personalised Christmas Ornaments by Raine Thomas – Our Christmas tree this year is the “pretty and stylish” design that I like.  We also have a “kid-friendly” version with lots of brightly colored lights and ornaments, but this “more traditional” one is my favorite.  So that my husband and daughter can more enjoy the tree, though, they hung a number of ornaments that reflect them… including Chewbacca and the Disney princesses. And I’ll admit it… the Atlanta Braves ornament is all mine!



Visit Raine here for favourite Christmas music from the 12 Blogs of Christmas and check out her Daughters of Saraquael books.

The Yule Log by Maureen Hovermale – In any home at this time of year, there has to be a Yule log. In Neo-Aramaic (the Chaldean language – think Iraq) yule meant child. It took a while for the tradition of the log to be in a hearth, but when it finally did, it was sprinkled with salt, oil, and mulled wine then prayed over to protect the home.  

Nowadays, it’s a cake rolled like a log and decorated with icing holly and roses. Sounds better than salted and oiled wine to me!

Visit Maureen here for a look at the Christmas Clauset in the 12 Blogs of Christmas.



Winter Wonderland by Melody Kauffman – My favorite Christmas decorations are outdoor lighted ones.  My parents didn’t do yard decorations when I was growing up.  I always loved the houses where the yard was lit up with reindeer, snowmen, and other colorful figures.  They were so magical.  As a kid I always wanted to have a house with a yard like that.  I had no idea the time, expense, and work that went in to them.  The first year we owned our house we didn’t decorate the outside.  I told my husband how much I wanted to decorate the yard and we looked at a lot of decorations.  I suffered a bad case of sticker shock and decided not to even try to decorate that first year.  After Christmas that year my husband bought me my first yard decoration – a lighted, beaded snowman.  I was so thrilled.  The year we put it up he bought me a set of the lighted beaded presents to go with it.  The beaded design allows the figure to reflect the light better at night. During the day the beading prevents the figure from looking skeletal.  We’ve added a lot of decorations since then but the snowman and his presents are still out there.  They give me a ridiculously happy feeling when I get in from work at night. They sparkle like some magic winter wonderland dropped right on to my lawn.  Childhood dream decoration realized thanks to my awesome hubby.

Visit Melody here for some fun Christmas toys from the 12 Blogs of Christmas!



   
Thanks for stopping by. This is one installment in the 12 Blogs of Christmas series – do be sure to check out the others!

Merry Christmas!

WANTED: An Editor Who Wants Me – Guest Post by Kelly Stone Gamble

Today I am hosting the fantastic Kelly Stone Gamble, bringing us an excellent rant on editors. Let’s not get started on the debate about whether writers need an editor. For the sake of argument, let us assume they do. But I’ve met my share of people who don’t like editors or, even, *gasp* think they are the spawn of evil, and Kelly may have hit on a few points which led to the scarring of said individuals…
~

Every writer needs an editor. No matter how good you think your work is, how engaging your neighbor found the plot or how interesting and complex your mother finds the protagonist, a second (or third, or fourth) set of eyes to go over it is necessary.  I get it. I agree with it. As a person who spends a lot of time editing for others, I would never claim that I don’t need one myself; and I’ve been looking.  

In my quest to find that perfect freelancer who is going to ‘take my work to the next level’, I’ve discovered something very important.  Yes, writers need editors.  But, guess what? Editors need writers, too.  And because you need me (that is ME-as in Self Appointed Representative of Writers Seeking Editors), I am going to tell you a few things that you have to do to gain my business.  Oh, yes, freelance editing is a business, and I, SARWSE, am a customer.  

1. Have a website.I know, it requires that you actually spend a few hours to get it going, but, look at it this way.  Amazon has a website. Billy Bob’s Discount Books does not.  I do not shop at Billy Bob’s.  I know nothing about him.  I’m not really sure he isn’t some guy in Arkansas selling me books from the local library.  I’m going to trust you with my baby, one that took me years to produce.  The least you can do is have a storefront for me to look at.  If you don’t have a website, go no further in this reading, because trust me, I have gone no further in considering forking over my money and my manuscript. 

2. Make your prices public.  I realize that until you actually see someone’s work, you have no idea the amount of time it will take to make it sing.  However, we, as shoppers, need to know what we ‘may’ be looking at.  “Send me a few page and then we’ll discuss the price” doesn’t work for me.  That is the equivalent of going into a store and trying on that perfect dress without knowing what you are going to pay for it until you check out.  I look at the price before I even try it on.  That’s just me. Here’s a suggestion: three (or four) tiered pricing.  If I decide to send it to you for a critique only at price A, feel free to tell me that you ‘highly suggest’ I let you line edit the entire manuscript at price C.  I can live with that.

3. Prices – Part Two.  Hourly rate versus price per page or word.  Think about this for a minute. I know how many pages and how many words are in my manuscript. I do not know how slow or how fast you are at doing your work.  

4. Give me a timeframe. I visited a website today that said: It will take at least six weeks to edit your manuscript, longer depending on the length, starting on the date that your work comes up in our queue. We cannot estimate when that will be. Okay. So I send you my money, and whenever my turn comes up, you will let me know, and then at a minimum, six more weeks.  Can I count on seeing it, let’s say, by the year 2016?  You’ve got to do a little better than that.  Here’s an idea.  On the website (smiley face) put a statement like this: Due to the high demand of our services, we are currently running at an eight to ten week turnaround time.  Oh, I like that. You are in high demand and I have another book to write, so go ahead, put me in the queue. 

5. Back to the website. If you have several spelling and/or grammar errors on your website, chances are, you aren’t going to make my list of people to trust my work to.  I can make those errors all by myself, I need someone who will find them, not make them.  Professional presentation, remember, this is a business. 

6. Be yourself.  I have to say, I saw a freelance editor’s blog the other day that made me laugh, in a good way.  She made some snarky remark about cats, and I thought, “this is someone I could talk to.”  

7. Be honest about your interests.  If you don’t like historical fiction or erotica or dragons or zombies, that is fine, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you will get scratched from the list.  Maybe I am convinced that my Victorian era, sex-starved, zombie dragon is so awesome that I can win you over.  “I will edit anything” is fine, but I would like to know what makes you tick.  We are, however, going to be entering into a relationship.  Sometimes opposites attract. Who knows. 

8. Tell me about your work. Preferably let your clients tell me.  I called Billy Bob’s the other day, and his mother told me that he’s sold a truckload of books to people as far north as Sioux City, Iowa.  She didn’t know how many actual books he has sold, how long it took him to deliver those books and had no contact information for any of his customers. You may have over a thousand clients, but how many were manuscripts? Blog posts? Journal articles?  Can you get some references or blurbs from some of those customers? Are they willing to let me contact them?  A great place for me to see these is, of course, your website. (Insert happy face)

Okay, I know, this is a lot to ask.  Or is it?  I want an editor that I can form a relationship with because I don’t want to have to go looking again.  You, I would assume, would love to have clients that return to you time after time.  

But, in the end, it is your business, and you are free to run it any way you see fit.  

However, I am the one with the check in my hand. 

~

Was that free to run it, or ruin it, any way you see fit? Thanks, Kelly, for your insights and saying the things that somebody has to say – but all too often, nobody will! I’ve heard some real horror stories about editors, and if those editors had just followed Kelly’s advice, the experience wouldn’t have turned out so bad for either party. 

Writers are forever being told writing is a business, but hey, guess what? So is editing. Remember, for every customer who is complaining to your face, nine are bitching behind your back! Word of mouth is a powerful thing. 
 
Kelly Stone Gamble is a freelance writer and author of the historical novel Ragtown.  

You can find Kelly here:



Now I know this is not Flight of the Dragon, where I post a picture of a dragon on every entry, but since Kelly mentioned zombie dragons…


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