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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Holiday, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 473
1. Happy Thanksgiving!

On behalf of the co-author team, I’d like to thank you for your dedication to the writers you teach. As the eight of us know, the work of a teacher of writers is… Continue reading

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2. Thanksgiving Greetings

watercolor illustration of animals having thanksgiving dinner by Jessica Lanan

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope that wherever you may be you have plenty to be thankful for.

Congratulations to Priscilla Alpaugh, for winning a signed copy of The Story I’ll Tell. Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing.

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3. Thankful


“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”

_W.T. Purkiser

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4. Family Holiday

I created this illustration years ago to reflect the "new look" of traditional family gatherings.
Inspiration from a classic Rockwell painting helped get the message across.

Steven James Petruccio
Acrylic on Paper

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5. Happy Halloween


Miranda Mummy groaned in despair…
“When I open my coffin, I’ve nothing to wear!”

Then she looked in her mirror and said with a pause….
“Does my bottom look bigger when wrapped up in gauze?”

Her very best ghoul friend knew just the right trick.
“I’ll pull on this string and you’ll soon look less thick….”

……. OOPS!

~by Roberta Baird

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6. Trick or Treat

Happy Halloween, from the creepy demon children. I hope that you have candy for them, because they don’t look very friendly.


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7. Ten Thankful Turkeys – $0.99 through November 4th

Turkery Cover

Our favorite season is here…autumn!  We are celebrating by reducing the price on our adorable Thanksgiving book, Ten Thankful Turkeys. This colorful autumn tale follows ten turkeys as they get ready for an important celebration. This story teaches about gratitude using numbers. There are also fun turkey facts in the back of the book.

We hope you’ll gobble up this deal before it’s gone!

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8. Fireworks

Let your colors burst!

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9. 5 ways to use poetry in class RIGHT NOW

Howdy, Campers! Happy Poetry Friday! (the PF link is at the end)

Authors-anthologists-publishers Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell have written an article well-worth reading (it's brief!) for National Poetry Month in the online magazine Bookology which begins:

"We are pressed for time, so we multitask. You might be eating breakfast while you’re reading Bookology, or doing laundry, or both. “Killing two birds with one stone” or “hatching two birds from the same egg”—integrated teaching—is the best way to fit everything in, especially in the K-5 classroom." (read the whole article here)

Janet and Sylvia's Poetry Friday Anthology series does a LOT of heavy lifting including:

1) helping pressed-for-time teachers and librarians teach poetry while meeting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the Texas TEKS for English Language Arts (ELA)/Poetry and Science & Technology,


2) including a “Take 5!” mini-lesson with every poem in their collection for librarians, teachers, and parents with instructions for sharing, picture book pairings, and curriculum connections.

And in their NEW collection Janet and Sylvia have added another bonus: each of the 156 poems in this newest book appears in both English and Spanish--WOWEE!

JoAnne's recent post sang out about this book (which includes JoAnne's terrific Graduation Day poem), and Esther's post continued, including an interview of these two visionaries and Esther's very green Saint Pat's Day poem.

As JoAnne writes:
I’m thrilled to be one of 115 poets (and 3 Teaching Authors!) whose poems are featured in the brand-new Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations

I'm thrilled that they've included two of my poems. This one's for National Thrift Shop Day (who knew?)
(Click to enlarge )

Have a fabulous Poetry Friday...and consider donating to a thrift shop today and then shopping in one, too ~

Remember to enter our Book Giveaway to win an autographed copy of Paul Janeczko’s 50th book, DEATH OF A HAT, illustrated by Chris Raschka.  You can enter between now and April 22 (which just happens to be our SIXTH TeachingAuthors Blogiversary!).

And...please stop by my poetry blog where all Poetry Month long I'm posting PPPs--Previously Published Poems--from anthologies, Cricket Magazine and my novel in poems.

Thank you, dear Robyn Hood Black for hosting PF today!
And thanks, too, to Jama Kim Rattigan for posting the 2015 National Poetry Month Kidlitosphere Events Roundup

posted with love by April Halprin Wayland with help from Monkey and Eli ~

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10. Cracked Christmas Reindeer Ornament

As promised, here's another one of the products I had the pleasure of working on.  I think the concept behind this is pretty self-explanatory.  In case it's hard to tell from the photo, the reindeer's scarf doubles as a hook/noose!  Poor stressed-out reindeer.

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11. Happy New Year! – Top Ten Books of 2014

New yearsWendyWehman


Top 10 Fiction of 2014

1. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (20)
2. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (18)
3. A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James (15)
Redeployment, Phil Klay
5. Lila, Marilynne Robinson (13)
The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters
7. The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (11)
8. Euphoria, Lily King (10)
9. We Were Liars, E. Lockhart (9)
10. Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill (8)

Top 10 Nonfiction of 2014

1. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast (15)
2. Being Mortal, Atul Gawande (11)
The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison
4. On Immunity, Eula Biss (10)
The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert
In The Kingdom Of Ice, Hampton Sides
7. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Jeff Hobbs (9)
8. Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay (6)
Flash Boys, Michael Lewis
What if?, Randall Munroe
Capital, Thomas Piketty
Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson

These are the 53 sources counted so far — and from each we take only their most selective lists (e.g. the NYT’s Top 10, not their 100 “notable” books).
Awards (Good Reads; National Book Awards; Booker Award; Kirkus Awards; Giller Prize; Governor General’s Awards; FT McKinsey Award) Critics (Maureen Corrigan; Dwight Garner; Michiko Kakutani; Janet Maslin; Sarah Weinman; James Wood) Magazines (Entertainment Weekly; Newsweek; New York Magazine; Oprah Magazine; People Magazine; Time; Village Voice) Newspapers (Boston Globe; Chicago Tribune; Christian Science Monitor; Guardian; Houston Chronicle; Minneapolis Star Tribune; New York Times; Newsday; Seattle Times; Wall Street Journal; Washington Post) Online publications (BuzzFeed; Daily Beast; Gawker Review of Books; Grantland; Huffington Post; Slate) Other Distinctions/Lists (Monthly Indie Next No. 1 picks; monthly Library Reads No. 1 picks; BEA Buzz Panel books; PL Buzz Books titles; top Google searches) Retailers (Amazon; Amazon Canada; Barnes & Noble; BookPage; Hudson Booksellers; iBooks Store; Indigo; Kobo) Trade publications (Library Journal; Publishers Weekly; Shelf Awareness)

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Book, Holiday, illustrating, list, success Tagged: Best Wishes for 2015, Happy New Year, Top 10 Fiction Books of 2014, Top 10 Non-Fiction Books of 2015, Wendy Wahman

3 Comments on Happy New Year! – Top Ten Books of 2014, last added: 1/3/2015
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12. Happy New Year’s Eve! – Poem

Andreja Peklar

This illustration was sent in by Andreja Peklar to help us ring in the new year. She was featured earlier this year on Illustrator Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/illustrator-saturday-andreja-peklar/

Have a happy, safe celebration. If you take any pictures and want to share them, I will post them this week.

Here is a poem sent in by Hally Franz:

An Introvert’s Dilemma


It’s New Year’s Eve, and I have not a clue,

As to what I am doing, so I’ll run it by you.


Shall I put on heels and make-up and glitz,

For a glamorous evening down at The Ritz?

Or shall I stay home with Ryan Seacrest,

Dressed in my blue jeans instead of my best?


Perhaps dinner and dancing for a romantic night,

My hubby and I might stay out ‘til daylight.

Thought sometimes it’s hard to stay out so late,

When it’s been twenty-five years since you’ve been on a date.


We’ll have some friends over for board games and soup,

My skill in Balderdash will throw them all for a loop.

Of course, I’ll have to cook yet another meal,

And, if I liked to cook, it would be no big deal.


It’s New Year’s Eve, so communing is key,

One more chance to socialize, how lucky are we?

More time and friends, more time with fam,

Another minute might put my head in a jam.


Thanks for your input, thanks for your ear,

I’ve made a decision on how to ring in the year.

I’ll cozy up with my jammies, book, and hot tea,

And spend the whole festive evening with little old me.


Check back on Friday for Erika Wassell’s Guest Post.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Holiday, Poems Tagged: Andreja Peklar, Best of, Top 10 2014 Non-Fiction Books, Top 10 Fiction Books of 2014

3 Comments on Happy New Year’s Eve! – Poem, last added: 1/3/2015
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13. Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant

Christmas in the CountryChristmas in the Country is a picture book full of Cynthia Rylant’s remembrances of Christmases in the country where she lived with her grandparents when she was young. From stringing lights, to singing in the choir in the church at the bottom of the hill, to writing a letter to Santa on Christmas Eve – the traditions remembered are not unusual, but they are so lovingly evoked with Rylant’s sweet, simple prose and Diane Good’s soft ink and watercolor illustrations. Reading this book with loved ones will be a sweet celebration of the season, and may prompt a conversation about your own Christmases past. If you are feeling at all harried or overwhelmed with all you have to accomplish this holiday, this book may inspire you to slow down and remember all the simple joys the season offers.

Posted by: Parry

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14. Merry Christmas

ana ochoa

This Christmas illustration was sent in by Ana Ocho to help us celebrate the day. Ana has worked with most publishers in Mexico (both private and government), doing picture books as well as school text books. She was featured at the beginning of the year on Illustrator Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/illustrator-saturday-ana-ochoa/

Christmas Andreja

This happy North Pole Illustration was sent in by Andreha Peklar. She was featured earlier this year on Illustrator Saturday. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/illustrator-saturday-andreja-peklar/

DECEMBER’S LIGHT by Eileen Spinelli


It’s the slanted light of a silver star,

  soft candlelight in a quiet room.

  It’s lantern light from house to barn

  swaying bright against the gloom.

  It’s the light of home across the miles.

  It’s the puddled light of moon-on snow.

  It’s the light in eyes…in smiles…in hearts.

  It’s the sweetest light of all I know.

christmas tree

Thank you Eileen and Carol for the Christmas cheer. Hope everyone is having a wonderful day. Merry Christmas!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Ana Ochoa, Andreja Peklar, Carol Murray, Eileen Spinelli

4 Comments on Merry Christmas, last added: 12/25/2014
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15. Christmas Eve is Here! Two Poems for Judging – One for fun

Christmas Lauren Gallegos FINALAsleep

Lauren Gallegos sent in this cute illustration that rings so true. She is a Children’s Book Illustrator who was featured on Illustrator Saturday: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/11/03/illustrator-saturday-lauren-gallegos/  www.Laurengallegos.com Twitter: @laurengallegos

Here are two holiday poems. More tomorrow and Christmas Day. Voting will start on Friday.

The Tasting Tree

By: Robin Jordan

Busy hands stained juicy, red.

Berries strung. Needle ‘n thread.

Draped around a fragrant pine

Over, under branches fine.

Popcorn seeds shake, shake, shake, then

Burst into a snowy flake.

Loosely sewn all in a row

On the festive tree they go.

Vanilla scents thrill the nose.

Cookies tied with shiny bows

Sprinkles shimmer, precious gems

Dot the sweeping verdant stems.

Shepherd crooks, a sweet delight

Twisted stripes. Some red, some white.

Candy canes hung by their hook

Help create a gleeful look.

My tasting tree’s now complete.

Leaving Santa lots to eat.

Working hard all through the night

Must stir up his appetite!



The above illustration was done by Mark Meyers. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday in 2012. Here’s the link.  http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/illustrator-saturday-mark-meyers/

Christmas Movies and Meaning

By Hally Franz –

On the Twelve days of Christmas I hoped I could see,

The classic holiday movies I’d missed on TV.

So many favorites make me smile, laugh, and cry,

But the days left for watching are flying right by.


Day one, I will start with some time spent with Clark,

Though his house was lit well, he was left in the dark,

‘Bout what grand or glum bonus would come his way,

And what crazy cousin Eddie would do that last day.


Day two, it’s time for a freckle-faced kid,

And the tale of what the two robbers did.

Left all alone, but helpless he’s not,

For few have the tricks clever Kevin has got!


Day three, I must visit a lodge in Pine Tree,

For Vermont is a lovely white place one should be,

On lyrical holidays with Danny and Bing,

Engagements and soldiers, all the songs they will sing.


Day four is saved for a swelling single dad,

Who put on the suit and left the life he once had.

Shaving and gaining, graying and growing,

He flew to the North Pole where elves he’s employing.


On day five, I’ll enjoy a sugary treat,

A Caan-Ferrell combo is one hard to beat.

Jovie leads carols, gets Santa’s sleigh off the ground,

In a place folks think no Christmas cheer can be found.


From sweet to a sneak on day six, I will go,

When I watch the green guy with the heart yet to grow.

He seemed determined to ruin Christmas for young Cindy Lou,

Until Dr. Seuss taught him a lesson compliments of the Whos.


By seven I travel across the pond to hear,

Tales of Mark and Daniel and Bridget dear.

Their accents are lovely, their troubles quite mad,

The kiss in the snow leaves me a Colin Firth fan.


Now when on day eight, loves turns to divorce,

It’s time for “delousing babies in Burma,” of course.

Though they try to avoid crazy families, they find,

Even spray cheese and spending limits are better than “lies.”


Though Peter B. helped produce my selection above,

He’s rabbit-costume-hating Ralphie in one we all love.

On day nine it’s Red Ryder BB guns and lady-leg lamps,

Frozen tongues, broken glasses, and little guy scamps.


My nostalgic mood continues on ten,

When I’ll watch my old black-and-white friend.

George questions himself and thinks his life’s been a waste,

Clarence reveals he’s made Bedford Falls a fine place.


Dickens’s story, reincarnated has been,

But, any version works fine on day eleven.

Visions and dreams appear as in our story above,

Unlike good-guy George, Scrooge must learn how to love.


Day twelve is reserved for one from way back,

A short film of a child and the love he did lack.

A poor boy he has only his drum he can play,

For the newborn king on that most glorious day.


Thank you, Hollywood, for movies we enjoy year after year,

For stories of love, life, and lessons held perennially dear.

But, if one studies the list, I think you will find,

Few of the flicks bring the true meaning to mind.


The most known films are sweet and funny, it’s true,

But fail to bring Mary, the manger, and Jesus in view.

Tinsel Town, try addressing man’s internal crave,

And, give us more to see about the son that He gave.

It’s a story that’s true, compelling, and brave,

Of One born to die, our sinning souls to be saved.


Consider my list, along with my request,

While I reveal answers to the above test.


“Christmas Vacation” should not be spent “Home Alone,”

Unless it’s a “White Christmas” and you’re talking by phone.

But, then “The Santa Clause” and his “Elf” won’t find you around,

If in spite of “The Grinch that Stole Christmas” down the chimney they bound.


If left stranded deep in snow read “Bridget Jones’ Diary” for fun,

Are remember “Four Christmases” are rarely better than one.

Tell “The Christmas Story” for one or all who are near,

Be thankful “It’s a Wonderful Life” whether you’re there or you’re here.

Sing “A Christmas Carol” or two with joy in your heart,

And, one called “Little Drummer Boy” is a great way to start.


Blessings to all at this Christmastime,

And, thank you for reading my ramble-ing rhyme.

In summary, I say watch those movies we love,

But save time for the Savior sent from above.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

This was sent in by Margo Sorenson. She doesn’t know who wrote it, but it is a very well-known in Hawaii.

“Da Night Bafo Christmas” Was da night bafo’ Christmas, and all ova’ da place,

Not even da geckos was showin’ their face.

Da stockings was hangin’ on top da TV

(‘Cause no mo’ fireplace in Hawai’i )

Da kids stay all crashed, my old man too.

They leave all da work for you-know-who.

So me, I stay pickin’ up alla dea toys,

When – boom! – outside get only big noise!

I run to da window, I open ‘em up,

I stick out my head and I yell, “Eh! Whassup?!”

And then, I no can ba-lieve what I seen!

Was so unreal, you know what I mean?

This fat haole guy get his reindeers in my yard!

And reindeers not housebroken,

you know, as’ why hard!

But nemmind, this Christmas,

so I cut ‘em some slack.

Plus, had uku pile presents pokin’ outta his sack!

So I wait ’till he pau tie up his reindeer,

Then I yell out da window,

“Huui! Brah, ova hea!”

An’ I tell ‘em first thing,

when I open da door,

“Eh, Hemo your shoes! You going dirty my floor!”

He take off his boots, he tell, “You know who I am?”

I go, “Ho! From the smell, must be Mr. Toe Jam!”

He make mempachi eyes and he go, “Ho, ho, ho!”

By now, I stay thinking this guy kinda slow!

He look like my Tutu, but little less weight,

And his beard stay so white, mo’ white than shark bait!

He stay all in red, specially his nose,

And get reindeer spit on top his nice clothes!

But him, he no care; he just smile at me,

And he start fo’ put presents unda-neath da tree.

I tell ‘em, “Eh, brah, no need make li’dat,

And watch where you step! You going ma-ke da cat!”

Then, out from his bag, he pull one brand new computah,

Choke video games, and one motorized scootah!

He try for fill up da Christmas socks too, But had so much pukas,

all da stuff went fall troo.

When he pau, I tell ‘em, “Eh Santa, try wait!

I get plenty leftovahs, I go make you one plate!”

But  he nevah like hang, he had so much fo’ do;

Gotta make all them small kids’  wishes come true.

So I wave ‘em goodbye, and I flash ‘em da shaka,

And  I tell ‘em, “Mele Kalikimaka!”

When he hear that, he stop…and I telling  you true,

He go, “Garans ball-barans! Merry Christmas to you!”  


Thank you Hally and Robin for sending in your December poems. I will post a couple more tomorrow and a few on Christmas, then you can vote on Friday. Please stop back an vote  for your favorite Holiday poem. Have a Merry Christmas.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Christmas Poems, Hally Franz, Lauren Gallegos, Mark Meyers, Robin Jordan

2 Comments on Christmas Eve is Here! Two Poems for Judging – One for fun, last added: 12/27/2014
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16. Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Greenglass HouseIt seems like every year at this time, I assert once again that winter is the best time for slightly creepy stories — it’s cold outside, and we all like to huddle by the fire (or the radiator), feeling cozy and protected. A spooky mystery can add to that feeling of coziness — weird things are happening out THERE, but in HERE I’m nice and warm.

Greenglass House takes place right before a freezing cold, snowy Christmas. Milo is happy to have his loving innkeeper parents to himself for once, and planning to laze about over the school break. Unexpectedly, and at a time of year when this NEVER happens, the inn fills up with guests. And not just any guests: shifty guests. Shady guests. Guests who seem to be hiding something (or who are just plain unpleasant). It’s an open secret that Milo’s parents’ inn is friendly to smugglers, but do the guests know that? Is that why they’re there at such an odd time? Can anyone be trusted? And that’s before the mysterious thefts start, or the electricity fails due to sabotage Not to mention the ice storm! Milo’s parents and the cook are run off their feet, and Milo is either ignored or needed to help out. So much for Christmas!

Luckily for Milo, the cook’s younger daughter, Meddy, hitched a ride with her mom, so he has someone to talk to. She introduces him to the role-playing game Odd Trails, one that his father used to play when he was Milo’s age. Milo’s game character is braver (and tricksier!) than Milo himself, and their games are a great cover for an investigation into the thefts and sabotage. Do the guests have anything to do with the most famous historical owner of the house? What do they really want? And what significance is there in the guest that arrives on Christmas Eve itself?

Greenglass House is one of the best books I’ve read all year—it was enthralling, amusing, and emotionally affecting, with stellar, atmospheric prose. I’ve been able to recommend it to both adults and children, and everyone who has read it has loved it. If you love Greenglass House as much as I did, check out any of Kate Milford’s other books. None of them are as cold and wintery, but we have them all here at the library, and they’re all truly wonderful.

Posted by: Sarah

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17. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day… oh who knows

god rest ye merry gentlemen 2

Just when you thought you were safe from puns for the rest of the holidays…

Why not take a stroll on over here for links to see what the rest of the HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the heck HoHoDooDa is, check this out.

1 Comments on HoHoDooDa 2014 Day… oh who knows, last added: 12/22/2014
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18. Illustrator Saturday – Santa Favorites

I thought this Saturday I’d bring you some of the Santa’s from past Illustrator Saturdays. Remember that not every illustrator has done an illustration of Santa. I am sure I missed some Santa’s, so if you were featured on Illustrator Saturday and have a Santa that you would like me to add, please email me with the illustration and I will add it to the celebration of Santa.


Yvonne Gilbert http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/


David Thorn Wenzel – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/illustrator-saturday-david-thorn-wenzel/


Glenn Zimmer – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/illustrator-saturday-glenn-zimmer/

ruthsantacircling house

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/


Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/


Michele Noiset – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/


David Harrington – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/illustrator-saturday-david-harrington/


Micheal Garland – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/


Yvonne Gilbert http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/


Carlyn Beccia – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/illustrator-saturday-carlyn-beccia/

santa running

Michele Noiset – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

dillardsanta bear tree

Sarah Dillard – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/illustrator-saturday-sarah-dillard/


Michael Garland – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/


Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

Karen Romagna Santa_&_Lamb_For_Prints

Karen Romagna – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/illustrator-saturday-karen-romanga/


Shawna JC Tenney – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/illustrator-saturday-shawna-jc-tenney/


Susan Detwiler – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/illustrator-saturday-susan-detwiler/

eberzSanta small

This Santa was done by Robert Eberz. Robert will be featured on Illustrator Saturday in January, so check back for more. www.roberteberz.com

Merry Christmas! Remember that I will be posting Christmas poems on Christmas Day, so if you have a Christmas poem, please email it to me.

Talk tomorrow,



Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Christmas, Santa Claus, Santa illustrations from Illustrator Saturday

5 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Santa Favorites, last added: 12/23/2014
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19. HoHoDooDa 2014

All right.
Everybody upstairs.
Get dressed.
We are going out to eat.
No! Not, “ra ra ra ra ra.” “La la la la la.”
Sing like this:
Try again.    Stop!
Sing something else.
No!       Stop!
Kitchen. Bring food. For customers.
Oh, I’m sorry.
It’s a beautiful duck.
It really is.
But you see…
It’s smiling at me.
That Christmas would live in our memories…
as the Christmas when we were introduced to Chinese turkey.

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20. HoHoDooDa 2014

Next to me in the blackness lay my oiled blue-steel beauty.
The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received… or would ever receive.
Gradually, I drifted off to sleep, pranging ducks on the wing…
and getting off spectacular hip shots.

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21. HoHoDooDa 2014

I started this challenge in November with #SKADAMO, a sketch a day challenge. No rules, just a way to get those creative juices flowing. I like to give myself a theme and this year I decided to highlight The fun and totally relatable, A Christmas Story, based on the original work of Jean Shepherd. I’ve come to the end of it now with #HoHoDooDa.  This has been fun. You can see the original illustrations with the text as you scroll through by blog. I just thought it would be fun to see them all together.

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22. Parenting during the holidays

The holiday season can be an insanely stressful time. Looking for presents, wrapping them, cooking, getting the house ready for visitors, cleaning before and after. Nothing like a normal Saturday night on the couch in front of the TV or with a couple of close friends. The holidays demand perfection. You see it all around you, friends are talking about how stressed out they are, how much they still have to do in just a couple of days. Hyper-decorated stores are talking in their own way. As you approach the 25th of December you still haven’t bought half the gifts you need to rack up for family members, the house looks like a bomb crater and you occasionally wish yourself back in the office with piles of work on your desk waiting to be completed. There are even times when you would exchange a chilly Monday morning and an 8 o’clock meeting for this nerve-racking time that’s supposed to be happy, fun and merry.

What many rattled folks forget in the midst of buying last-minute bequests for loved ones or checking on the unhappy-looking beast in the oven minutes before guests arrive, wishing themselves far away, is that as many as half of the population face a holiday season without their dearest family members. There are people who have lost their loved ones in gruesome ways. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must feel, as they approach every new upcoming holiday season. There are people who have lost their parents to old age, people who have gone through heartbreaking divorces, separations and breakups and people who are overseas defending their country because they have no other choice. The holidays will not be what they once were for any of them. And then there are the single parents, parents many of which have decent custody agreements that are “in the best interest of the children.” According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 10 million single parents in the United States today. Each year millions among them can look forward to days of loneliness because the little ones they really want to spend time with are with the other parent.

When sane parents separate, many judges, thankfully, divide custody equally. Each parent gets his or her fair share of custody, if at all possible. Even when it’s not possible to share the time with the children equally, judges will usually attempt to divide up the holidays evenly. The kids spend every other holiday with mom and every other holiday with dad. It certainly is in the children’s best interest to get to spend some time with each parent. Most kids, with decent moms and dads, would prefer to spend every holiday with both parents. The precious little ones secretly hope for the impossible: That their divorced or separated parents will get back together. But despite their wishes, they adjust to the situation. They have no other choice.

The array of Christmas presents, by SheepGuardingLlama. CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0 via Flickr.

Nor do the parents. As we face the holidays many single parents face a very lonely time. They may be with dear family members: parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. Yet they may nonetheless feel a profound pain in their hearts, even as they watch close relatives savor the pecan pie or scream in delight when they rip open their Christmas presents. Their own children are far away. In most cases the youngsters are in a safe place elsewhere, stuffing their faces with goodies or breaking out laughing when the other grandpa makes a funny face. In most cases single parents know that their children are enjoying themselves in the company of the other caregiver and his or her extended family.

Yet the children are missing from the scenery. Their absence is felt. “It hurts. It hurts every other Christmas when my kids are with their dad during the holidays,” says Wendy Thomas, a St. Louis, Missouri single mother of two girls ages 8 and 5. Thomas shares custody with the girls’ father, who lives in Illinois. “The first year was the hardest but I don’t think I will ever get used to it. Shopping malls and Silent Night make me shiver,” says the 38-year-old entrepreneur. This is her third Christmas and New Year’s without her children.

Each holiday a single parent truly misses his or her children on that one day that is supposed to bring delight to everyone. “It’s going to be a lonely, lonely Christmas without you” may just be tedious background music for the families that didn’t break apart. Each year, however, the oldie is causing a tiny tear to run quietly down the cheek of some single caregiver.

But could some of the reported agony over absent children during the holidays be the result of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance, a psychological mechanism we use to justify our choices and conflicting belief sets? For example, you choose to volunteer three hours a week at the local children’s hospital. It’s killing you. You can barely fit in everything else you have to do. But you tell everyone, including yourself, that volunteer work is truly rewarding and every (wo)man’s duty. Making irrational decisions seem rational is a way to preserve your sense of self worth.

Studies show that the hardship involved in raising children makes us idealize parenthood and consider it an enormously rewarding enterprise. In a study published in the January 2011 issue of the journal Psychological Science researchers primed 80 parents with at least one child in two different ways. One group was asked to read a document reporting the costs of raising a child. The other parents read the same document as well as a script reporting on the benefits of having raised children when you reach old age. The participants were then given a psychological test assessing their beliefs about parenting. The team found what they expected. Parents who had only read about the financial costs of parenthood initially felt more discomfort than the other group. But they went onto idealize parenthood much more than the other participants and when interviewed later their negative feelings were gone.

“How do single parents get through Christmas as painlessly as possible?”

Could cognitive dissonance explain why single parents feel empty-handed and depressed during holiday seasons without their children? St. Charles, MO, family counselor Deborah Miller doesn’t think that’s what’s going on. “This year it’s my turn to be one of those parents. I’ll be the first to admit that raising a child is not always a blessing. There are countless times when I feel more like a chauffeur or a waitress or a slave than a free agent with some real me-time.” She thinks the lonely-parent phenomenon evidently is not a manifestation of cognitive dissonance, as we don’t idealize away the pain of being without our children on Christmas or New Year’s. The heartache often doesn’t go away until we see our kids again in January and abruptly remember just how draining it is to raise a child. “I’ll finally get some time to myself, and I know my son will have a blast. But I’ll miss him immensely,” says Miller.

How do single parents get through Christmas as painlessly as possible? The solution is not necessarily to have a huge family gathering with your side of the family to ease the sorrow. A gala dinner on Christmas Day may have its advantages. You can hug your little nieces and nephews and maybe feel a bit of comfort as they open their presents in a way only children can approach surprises. You may feel a teensy bit of wonder (or is it jealousy) as you view your siblings and their spouses exchange loving smiles and their young ones take delight in the simplest of things. “It may work for some but there is a sense in which you will only be a spectator,” says Miller. She recalls her Christmas two years ago. “I felt gratified to be part of a functional family, and it was good to see my siblings interact with their children. I also remember being thankful that my parents were still alive and healthy and that they got one more holiday season with some of their grandchildren. But I also felt great sadness, because the dearest thing in my life wasn’t with me. I really missed my son that day.” This Christmas, Miller is getting together with a few friends. “Sure, we will still have Christmas dinner but there won’t be any children or presents or sacred family traditions. So hopefully I won’t be reminded of what I’m missing out on.”

Featured image credit: Christmas Decorations, by Ian Wilson. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

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23. HoHoDooDa 2014

Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a fact, that Scrooge had seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Scrooge had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the City of London, even including — which is a bold word — the corporation, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on Marley, since his last mention of his seven-year’s dead partner that afternoon. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change: not a knocker, but Marley’s face.
Marley’s face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up upon its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot-air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression. ~Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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24. Happy Chanukah!

Amalia Hoffman sent this in to help us celebrate Chanukah. Amalia was featured on Illustrator Saturday: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/illustrator-saturday-amalia-hoffman/


Michelle Kogan not only sent in the illustration above, but also the poem below to celebrate Hanukkah.

Hustle of Hanukkah
Michelle Kogan © 2014

Hustle of Hanukkah
somehow squeezing it in
In between holidays
falling often mid week

In between school and work
and numerous car trips
In between tradition
and finding your own way

In between Maccabees
the temples destruction
In between stolen oil
a miracle appears

In between night’s darkness
inner warmth radiates
In between lights glowing
throughout cold winter days

In between your mom’s arms
and between dad’s embrace
Making Hanukkah fit
in between for eight days

The poem below was sent in by Marie Wagner. Marie is an Artist, Author, Publisher, and Web designer. http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/marie-wagner.html?tab=artworkgalleries


Thank you Amalia, Michelle, and Marie for sharing your work with us.

Hope all my Jewish friends around the world have a wonderful holiday!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, illustrating, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Amalia Hoffman, Chanukah, Marie Wagner, Michelle Kogan

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25. 10 quotes to inspire a love of winter

Winter encourages a certain kind of idiosyncratic imagery not found during any other season: white, powdery snow, puffs of warm breath, be-scarfed holiday crowds. The following slideshow presents a lovely compilation of quotes from the eighth edition of our Oxford Dictionary of Quotations that will inspire a newfound love for winter, whether you’ve ever experienced snow or not!

Are there any other wintry quotes that you love? Let us know in the comments below.

Headline image credit: Winter bird. Photo by Mathias Erhart. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr. All slideshow background images CC0/public domain via Pixabay or PublicDomainPictures.net (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10).

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