CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Jenny LM who won Susanne Dietze's My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho Prize pack!



Friday, November 29, 2013

A Blessed Blue Christmas



Today we’re being treated to an excerpt of LoRee Peery’s Pelican Books Christmas Novella, A Blessed Blue Christmas.

Here’s the blurb, followed by the excerpt:
Dahlia Delisi has poured her life into her store, The Blue Dahlia.  Once her faith was strong, and her life was on a different course.  But when Sloan Letheby left town, Dahlia drifted away from God.

Sloan Letheby has been transformed. His brush with death brought new meaning to his faith in God, and he needs to right old wrongs.  However, there's a murder plot in the way of his reunion with Dahlia.  Can he find a killer before it's too late?  And can Dahlia accept him...and God, back into her life?


*****

The recent activity wiped out Dahlia, and time slowed. Surprisingly, she dozed most of the way back to Lincoln. On the street that housed her duplex, she roused from her lethargy.

Sloan cupped her shoulder, and she sat straight. “I’ll let you know tomorrow if we’ve had any kind of break. Hopefully, this will all be over. Remember to thank the Lord that Ken is going to be fine.”

“Are you sure you don’t think I’m a wimp, the way you’re telling me to take it easy? My little snooze is probably the only rest I’ll get until Christmas. Counting down the days, and Christmas Eve is always the busiest day other than Black Friday. For some reason guys put off that special gift purchase to the last minute. Not that I’m complaining.” She’d forgotten to leave Ken’s bracelet gift for Carrie. It remained in her purse. She unlatched her belt and reached for the door handle.

“Wait. I’ll come around.” He did more than open her pickup door. He pulled her to his side, tucked her against him, and walked her up the drive.

She sighed, relished the familiarity.

Being so near to Sloan erased the years. Dahlia gave no thought to resting her head on his shoulder, falling into an old pattern.

Ever so gently, he shifted his stance so they faced one another. The icicle Christmas lights dripping from the eaves added a golden reflection to his eyes. “I won’t apologize. I can’t resist.”

“What for?”

“Shhh,” he said, sliding a finger across her lips.

He bent forward and replaced his finger with his lips, grazing her cheek with his face. His nose felt cold, but his lips shot fire through her.

Dare she give in? She was too tired to allow her mind influence over the temptation of responding to his touch. This was Sloan after all whose touch and feel at one time were almost an extension of her own body.

She got into the kiss. Within a nanosecond, hands were in motion. His and hers, roaming over arms, shoulders, backs, waists, as though their limbs held memory in the muscles. She skimmed her right hand over the ridge of ribs, firmness of body beneath layers, until her fingers reached his nape.

She cupped the base of his skull, where the indented seven-shaped scar registered through her fingertips. Her traveling fingers rose higher and rolled his warm stocking cap into a heap.

He moaned, and pulled them out of the upsurge of heat. “We’ve both wanted this since we laid eyes on each other again.”

She swerved to the side, her world atilt, and bent to retrieve his cap. He took it from her grasp and balled it into his own fist. Then he picked up her hand with his free one, and lifted her wrist for his caress.

She closed her eyes, marveled that such a minute touch at her pulse held enough force to set her senses on fire.

But she didn’t have time for all that in her life.

She pulled out of his arms. “Thanks for taking me to see Ken today. I need to get inside, and ready for tomorrow.”

His arms dropped to his sides, and he swayed a bit. So he felt shaken as well. “Dream of me tonight, Dahlia. And trust. Ken will be safe. The Lord will work out all the details.”

“There you go again. I’m used to working out my own details.”

LoRee Peery is a lifelong Nebraskan who thanks her mother for teaching her to read when she was four. LoRee has devoured books ever since. She and her husband have tackled some interesting projects over the course of their married life. For one, they built the home they live in with their own hands. they used to want more acres further away from city life, but one day LoRee realized they had their "greener on the other side of the fence" already. All it took was removing the hedge that blocked their view. She feels grounded in her sense of place and considers it a blessing to have lived most of her life in the country. LoRee is blessed to have five children and eleven grandchildren.



Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!



Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34


Here at the Inkwell, we are thankful for each of you! May the Lord bless you and your families as you rejoice in Him today.

 By hotblack

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Idea Seeds

by Jennifer AlLee



"Where do you get your ideas?"

I don't think there's a fiction writer out there who hasn't been asked that question. And for the most part, we like answering it because, let's face it, we love sharing what we do. Every writer is different, but I can tell you that most of my novels have started out with a tiny little seed of an idea.

One day, I was watching an episode of Chopped on the Food Network. One of the contestants talked about how she'd been given up for adoption, and she hoped her birthmother would see her compete on the show and be proud of her. That sparked an idea: a woman meeting the daughter she gave up for adoption when they compete together in a reality show. From there, the story grew and morphed until it turned into Last Family Standing (from Abingdon Press, 9/14).

I have another book coming out with Abingdon in 2015, Vinnie's Diner. The genesis of that novel was from having made many trips back and forth between California and Nevada. It started out as a short story about a woman running from her mid-life crisis and finding a weird diner out in the desert. I started that story in 1997. It moved from a short story to a novel. The age and motivation of the main character changed, it took on a very Twilight Zone quality, and it became one of the most personal things I've ever written.

Creating is a fabulous, frustrating, fulfilling thing. To me, the surprises are the best part. And believe me, there are more surprises than you'd think!

What about you? If you're a writer, what's the most unique way you've gotten a story idea? 


JENNIFER ALLEE was born in Hollywood, California, and spent her first ten years living above a mortuary one block away from the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine. Now she lives in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, which just goes to prove she’s been blessed with a unique life. When she’s not busy spinning tales, she enjoys playing games with friends, attending live theater and movies, and singing at the top of her lungs to whatever happens to be playing on the car radio. Although she’s thrilled to be living out her lifelong dream of being a novelist, she considers raising her son to be her greatest creative accomplishment. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. Her novels include The Pastor’s WifeThe Mother Road and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas from Abingdon Press; Diamond in the Rough and Vanishing Act, the first two books in the Charm and Deceit series, from Whitaker House and co-written with Lisa Karon Richardson; and the novella Comfort and Joy in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories from Barbour.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Of Pilgrims and Puritans

by C.J. Chase

Pictures of turkeys and Pilgrims have been trickling into my house for the past couple of weeks, courtesy of Mrs. R.’s kindergarten class. Yes, it’s November, and across the United States, people will be traveling to share a harvest feast with friends and relatives.

If your education was like mine (that is, you didn’t grow up in New England), your study of Massachusetts history was probably limited to three major events: the arrival of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, the Salem witch trials, and Revolutionary Boston of the tea party and Paul Revere.

In 1614, John Smith—yes, the same John Smith who met Pocahontas in 1607 Virginia—became one of the first Englishmen to explore the region then-known as “northern Virginia.” He renamed the area “New England,” drew a detailed map of the coastline, and wrote a best-selling (by 17th century standards) work titled A Description of New England. Smith wanted to found his own colony in the area, but a series of mishaps prevented him from returning to America.
Statue of John Smith in Jamestown, Virginia

I’ve written before about the trials and costly errors experienced by the early settlers in Jamestown, Virginia. When the group of religious separatists (now known to history as the Pilgrims) planned the creation of their own New World colony, they first turned to Smith for advice. Give the Pilgrim Fathers their due—they were smart enough to learn from others’ mistakes.

The Pilgrims (who called themselves Saints, not Pilgrims) gave us more than a November holiday. They created a representative democracy with an elected governor (as opposed to the Virginia Colony, where governors were appointed—first by the company and later by the king). The Mayflower Compact of 1620 was their mutually agreed-upon promise to follow laws enacted for the good of the colony.

The Pilgrims named their new home Plymouth Colony (sometimes also called New Plymouth or Plymouth Bay Colony). And this is where history takes one of those interesting twists. While the names of the other permanent colonies come down to us in the names of the original 13 states (for example, the Virginia Colony evolved into the present-day Virginia), the Plymouth Colony ceased to exist as of 1692.

Portrait of John Winthrop
What happened? In the years shortly after the Pilgrims arrived, another group of religious dissenters sailed to America. Led by John  Winthrop in 1630, the Puritans settled the area just to the north of Plymouth and named their new home the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Theologically, the Pilgrims and Puritans shared many beliefs--both came out of the Calvinist tradition. Some time ago I wrote a post about how both groups used the Geneva Bible, an annotated version with a Calvinist slant (Geneva was ground zero for Calvinism in the late 16th century) much out of favor with the king and aristocracy because of its footnotes denying the divine right of kings. However, while Pilgrims wanted complete separation from the official Church of England, Puritans wanted to change it (purify it) from within.

Puritanism was a popular religious movement among the English middle classes. Several of the ministers at the fledgling Virginia Colony also subscribed to Puritan beliefs. However, Puritans lacked the political clout to implement their ideals on a wide scale. But what if a group of Puritans found a place where they could create a society based on those ideals? All the world would see the rightness of their claims. Quoting scripture, Winthrop told them they would be “a city upon a hill.”

For the next decade or so, Puritans immigrated to Massachusetts in numbers that quickly dwarfed nearby Plymouth. While Plymouth had perhaps a few hundred settlers by 1630, Massachusetts welcomed almost 20,000 people during the decade of 1630-1640. However, with the elevation of Puritan Oliver Cromwell to “Lord Protector” of England, the inflow slowed to a trickle. By the time of Cromwell’s death and the restoration of the monarchy, the fervor of Puritanism had waned. Immigration into both Plymouth and Massachusetts all but ceased until after the Revolution. In 1692 (yes, the same year as the Salem witch trials) the two colonies merged into one colony called the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

One final bit of trivia to consider over the weekend, particularly as more and more retailers encroach on the Thanksgiving holiday to promote Christmas profits, er, shopping. Neither the Pilgrims or Puritans approved of Christmas celebrations.


After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her current release, The Reluctant Earl, is now available  in online bookstores. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at www.cjchasebooks.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

Great Storytelling Lessons from Dr Who

by Barbara Early 

Well, this past weekend marked the big 50th anniversary celebration of Doctor Who, and a day of fish fingers and custard (you’ll get it if you’re  a Doctor Who fan) led me to consider the cause of the frenzy. What quality or qualities make for a series that elicits such fanaticism, even after fifty years? And can you bottle it?

Rich, evolving characters. One of the special treasures of Dr. Who is a title character who is constantly changing, although never out of character. We don’t necessarily meet a different person after each regeneration, but we see the same one from a different angle, a different point of view, and at a different stage in his life.


The changing companions also provide unique windows into the Doctor’s personality. Will we see the playful side? The romantic side? The serious side? But not only windows, since the Doctor’s trusted friends also have the propensity to change him. Rose, for example, turns him from the jaded, warring hero into something more balanced but more complex. The youthful Amelia brings out his playful side.

There’s a richness in characters that don’t remain completely static. Real people don’t. They work toward their dreams, make and lose friends, and are changed by love, hate, rebirth, death, and the whole extremes of human experiences. When fictional characters do this, too, they become more real to us, and more compelling.

Unanswered Questions. One of the biggest mistakes beginning novelists make is to try to tell the reader too much of a character’s backstory at the beginning. We don’t want to know someone’s life story if we don’t know them--like the stranger next to you on the airplane who won’t shut up. We only want to know more about a person’s history once we come to love them--or at least are intrigued by them. And then when clues are doled out as in a grand mystery, we can’t get enough.

But backstory isn’t the only opportunity to pique the reader with a question. Foreshadowing is another tool, peeks into the future (admittedly much easier when your character is a time traveler). What will happen? How will the decisions made today affect the future? But never too much information. Spoilers!

And don’t forget the cliffhangers, those “endings” that force you to read “just one more chapter” and make you plan your calendar around that next episode. Leaving the audience with those unanswered questions makes them think, wonder, imagine, theorize, and hope.

Crossing Genres. As the plot develops, there can be elements of mystery, history, adventure, and romance. And even noir, Westerns, and space operas. You never know what you’re going to end up with. There’s a freshness in breaking out of the formula, sometimes, and taking the plot--and the person enjoying it--on an unpredictable adventure. That’s why there can be a body in a romance and a romance in a mystery. And a touch of the other-worldly almost anywhere. There are times to conform to genre expectations and times to transcend them.

Boost of Emotion. One cannot be a master storyteller without the ability to make the audience laugh and cry. And the greatest masters can make you do both almost simultaneously. There’s a poignancy in humor, and a glimmer of hope in grief. And a twinkle in the more irascible of old men. The deeper emotional response can only be elicited when we are drawn into the characters. We can laugh at any old fool, but we will only cry for those we truly care about.

Ageless message. The interesting thing about science fiction, is that while the story proceeds, it’s often about something entirely different--an underlying message we might not even consciously be aware of, but if we’re paying attention, it will nag at us as we consider the deeper meanings. Isn’t that true with all great fiction? It engages thought.

If you’re super-attentive and a Dr Who fan, you might have noticed something in the outline of this post: Rich, evolving characters, Unanswered questions, Crossing genres, Boost of emotions, Ageless message. If you want a mnemonic, how about “Run U Clever Boy And...Remember” (Sorry for the chat-speak!)

Remember. The final mark--at least for this post--of great storytelling is that it is memorable. Like fairy tales read to us in bed and those shows and cartoons we grew up with, we don’t forget great stories. They linger in our minds and imaginations. And inhabit our dreams.

Question: What stories have ignited your dreams?


Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance. Her holiday novella, Gold, Frankincense, and Murder was released in e-book and audio format from White Rose Publishing. Barbara also writes as Beverly Allen, and her debut cozy mystery novel, Bloom and Doom, is coming in April 2014 from Berkley. You can learn more about her writing at www.barbaraearly.com

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dance From Deep Within

By Dina Sleiman
Reviewed by Suzie Johnson


This week at the Inkwell, we’re celebrating the release of Dina Sleiman’s newest novel, Dance from Deep Within. Today I’m so pleased to tell you how much this book touched my heart.


Before I go further, in case you haven’t seen the blurb:

Despite her conservative Muslim heritage, Layla Al-Rai longs for a chance to earn her degree in engineering and perhaps even...dare she dream...to choose her own husband. But young women from her background rarely enjoy such freedoms. When she finally talks her parents into letting her attend college, she is drawn to fellow twenty-something students, Allie and Rain, over a class project. Allie, the blonde ballerina, faces her own struggles as she deals with an ex-fiancé and a church she had hoped to leave behind. Rain, the bi-racial hippie chick, longs for something to believe in, but her questioning could cost her the love of her life. When Layla s childhood sweetheart reenters her world, it seems her dreams might become real. Until everything falls apart. When she meets truth face to face, will she find the courage to accept it even if it requires the ultimate sacrifice?

Wow.

Every young woman needs acceptance for who they are, what they believe, and where they’ve been.

But the journey to acceptance usually isn’t easy. So what happens when three very different women, with different backgrounds and dreams, form the beginning buds of friendship?

Truth.

Strength.

Love.

Characterization, balance, and timing are key to a novel with an ensemble cast. Dina Sleiman masters each with a skilful hand, developing a heart in her characters and dovetailing one individual storyline with the next. She delivers an extraordinary book that’s impossible not to love.

I love this tag-line Dina has on her blog:
“Three unlikely friends learning to dance to the song of the spirit.”

This is, I believe, the perfect description for both the book and its author. Dina’s heart shines through the pages in a way that makes me smile. I simply adore this book, and I’m actually reading – and loving it – again.

Dina Sleiman is the author of Dance From Deep Within, Love in Three-Quarter Time, and Dance of the Dandelion.

To read an excerpt of Dance From Deep Within, or to learn more about Dina and her books, you can visit her blog at: http://awesomeinspirationals.blogspot.com/

"Buy" links:
Kindle - $3.99
Nook - $3.99
Paperback - on sale for $11.00 Normally $15

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Find Your Dance from Deep Within

by Dina Sleiman

As with many of my novels, my latest offering has a number of themes including truth, freedom, authenticity, and intimacy with Christ. But the core theme of the book is contained in the title: Dance from Deep Within. We all need to learn to move from that uniquely created place deep inside of us. From the truest part of our being that represents a very special facet of God's vast personality.

In this book, the main characters all struggle to find freedom from the pressures and expectations they've been raised with, as well as from wounds they have suffered in their pasts. They might seem very different on the outside: a veiled Muslim, a bi-racial hippie chick, and a Christian ballerina, yet they are all experiencing that quarter life crisis of seeking to define themselves.

I am not a fan of cookie-cutter Christianity, and I don't believe that God, or his children, should be shoved into safe little boxes. To the contrary, I believe that each of us has a unique dance hidden deep within. That we all need to learn to live in the flow of the Holy Spirit through the rhythm God has placed in our hearts.

As my characters grow in relationship with one another, each has a radical and personal encounter with God that causes them to make life-altering decisions. Of course to fully appreciate their journeys, you will have to read the book. But I will try to encapsulate a few of the keys points for learning to dance from deep within.
  1. Surround yourself with fellow truth seekers: Don't be satisfied with easy answers, and don't take the advice of friends who will encourage you to settle for them either.
  2. Have a fresh encounter with God's word: If it has grown stale to you, look for a new way to experience it. Perhaps a new translation or a different form of media.
  3. Posture yourself to experience God's presence: This could be through worship, Bible study, prayer, meditation, artistic expression, silence, or even time spent in nature. Use what works for you. But in some fashion be still and quiet before God, seek his face, and listen more than you speak.
Now I'd like to share a few thoughts about this book live and somewhat in person.


Are you living from that place deep within? Are there areas in your life where you long for more authenticity? And just for fun, what's your favorite style of music.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dance from Deep Within Release Party!


It’s party time at the Inkwell again! 

Dina Sleiman’s Dance from Deep Within just released from Whitefire Press! And we’re excited about it.

This is the new cover with series info!
Here’s the blurb:
Despite her conservative Muslim heritage, Layla Al-Rai longs for a chance to earn her degree in engineering and perhaps even...dare she dream...to choose her own husband. But young women from her background rarely enjoy such freedoms. When she finally talks her parents into letting her attend college, she is drawn to fellow twenty-something students, Allie and Rain, over a class project.

Allie, the blonde ballerina, faces her own struggles as she deals with an ex-fiancé and a church she had hoped to leave behind. Rain, the bi-racial hippie chick, longs for something to believe in, but her questioning could cost her the love of her life.

When Layla's childhood sweetheart reenters her world, it seems her dreams might become real. Until everything falls apart. When she meets truth face to face, will she find the courage to accept it even if it requires the ultimate sacrifice?

This is an ambitious story that tackles real issues. And though it doesn’t shy away from tough truths, it is ultimately a story of hope. And it’s garnering a lot of interest and good press. Dina’s even got an endorsement from Jim Rubart.

As you can see we have every reason to throw a party! And here to help out are some of the characters from Dance from Deep Within.

This guy is great for Mo, Layla's love interest, although Mo doesn't have that much facial hair. Dina thinks this man is actually a prince from Bahrain.
This guy is pretty close to how Dina pictures Rain's significant other, James.
Fairly good model for Andy, Allie's ex-fiance.
Wow! With wait staff like this, well, let's just say I'm going to pull up a seat and stay awhile!

Ma'moul
So help yourself to the buffet. In honor of Layla's heritage we’ve got all kinds of Middle Eastern goodies. There are dried figs, almonds, baklava, hummus and pita chips. And you’ll love the ma’moul--those are shortbread cookies with all kinds of fillings, from walnut and date, to pistachio, or my favorite--chocolate custard. Mmm. My mouth is watering. And of course we can wash it all down with some strong, hot coffee. I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to drink it the Aarabic way, but if you're game just whisper a word to the wait staff and they'll make one for you. 


The grill is heating up for shish kabobs later. And we might even sneak in a few Greek dolmades. 

But would we leave you with all those calories and no way to burn them off? Of course not! Join in and dance the dabke with us like the girls do in the story. It’ll be fun. Here’s a video to show you how.




And if all that good food and exercise wears you out then now is the time to pick up a copy of Dance from Deep Within. The kindle version is on sale for just $3.99! That is a steal! And you can get it here.

Dina is also giving away a copy of Dance from Deep Within! The reader can even choose whether they want a paperback copy or e-book! Just leave a comment to be entered. The winner will be chosen on Sunday. So be sure to comment even after you buy a copy for yourself, because this novel will make a GREAT Christmas gift! And check back early next week to see who wins.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Historic Santa Claus/Thanksgiving Parades

by Anita Mae Draper


Sunday, November 17th was the 109th edition of  Toronto's Santa Claus Parade, one of the biggest annual parades in the world, and it happened right in York County - the same county where my Guideposts' A Cup of Christmas Cheer story, Riding on a Christmas Wish, is set. My story takes place in December 1911 and by then, the Eaton's Santa Claus Parade was already in its 6th year.

Like other Christmas/Thanksgiving parades, Toronto's Santa Claus Parade was a department store promotion to show everyone that Santa Claus had arrived in T. Eaton's huge downtown store.

Eaton Christmas Catalogue, 1897
T. Eaton Co. fonds
Reference Code: F 229-231-0-1
Archives of Ontario 

The Ask.com website describes the occasion on December 2, 1905 this way: "In 1905, the Toronto Santa Claus Parade premiered when a single float carrying Santa Claus arrived at Toronto Union Station and made its way to the downtown Eaton's department store where Santa shook hands with Timothy Eaton."



1905 image of Santa Claus making his way to Eaton's 


The above photo is a screenshot from the History of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade Part 1 video available on YouTube at http://youtu.be/_whj_sJ1Evc where you can find the following parts as well. Lots of information, historic and current photos, and archival footage.


According to an internet article at www.citynew.ca  "The parade was the longest in both distance and duration from 1910 to 1912 when the jolly old elf started his journey downtown from Newmarket on a Friday afternoon, stopping overnight in York Mills and then heading down Yonge Street on Saturday afternoon."  Newmarket is 26 miles north of Toronto. Another 12 miles further north and the parade would have started in Keswick where my story is set. 


Toronto Santa Claus Parade, 1918, from the Archives of Ontario

The Archives of Ontario has an online exhibit, Eaton's Santa Clause Parade with images, archival footage, and even a printable copy of the 1957 Eaton's Christmas coloring book.

I found this Toronto Santa Claus Parade 1927  version to be quite funny, although it is silent. It also has some of the large heads mentioned farther down in this post when talking about the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade.




In 1975 while stationed in Kingston, Ontario, I took the short drive west to Toronto to see the Santa Claus Parade live. After years of watching it on TV, it was both a surreal and eclectic moment in time. The crowds were noisier, the floats bigger, and some of the people were downright strange to my naive eyes, although my friend, a native Torontonian, didn't even spare a glance at the cross-dressers. But to actually be there for the annual event was something I treasured. I believe the people who are in attendance for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or other huge parades know what I felt that day, especially if they watched it on TV for years first.

Macy's Christmas Parade, as it was first called, began in 1924 where "Employees and professional entertainers marched from 145th Street in Harlem to Macy's flagship store on 34th Street dressed in vibrant costumes...At the end of that first parade, as has been the case with every parade since, Santa Claus was welcomed into Herald Square. At this first parade, however, the Jolly Old Elf was enthroned on the Macy's balcony at the 34th Street store entrance..." (Wikipedia)

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1931. Courtesy of nydailynews.com


If you like the above photo, check out more historic photos at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons through the decades: From Mickey Mouse to Dora the Explorer

For me, Macy's is synonymous with the stories-high helium-filled balloon floats. While looking for a video of them, I found this historic look at Macy's Thanksgiving Parade 1935 ...



Also in 1924, the J.L. Hudson Company Department Store started a Thanksgiving Day Parade but they put their own twist to it. Wikipedia states, "The idea came from Hudson's display director Charles Wendel after the success of the Canadian Eaton's Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, Ontario. In addition to the usual floats and bands, Wendel obtained large papier-mâché heads similar to those he saw during a recent trip to Europe. The heads are made in Viareggio, Italy, and remain a fixture of the parade to the present."

The Michigan Thanksgiving Parade, 1961. Courtesy of www.geocaching.com

I Love a Parade has a whole bunch of old photographs like the one above of The Michigan Thanksgiving Parade, also known as America's Thanksgiving Parade.

Finally, the distinction for being the oldest U.S. Thanksgiving Parade goes to the Gimbels Thanksgiving Day Parade, now known as 6abc Dunkin' DonutsThanksgiving Day Parade.


As you can see, the common factor in these parades is that they all began as a way to bring buyers into the stores - a tradition which continues in many cases. One thing that has changed are the safety factors especially where animals and helium balloons are used. The mishap list is fun to read, but also scary when you think of what the consequences could have been. And when you put it in perspective, all that commercialism detracts from the real meaning of Christmas. Having said that...


Have you ever been to a Santa Claus or Thanksgiving parade? Share your memories - or wishes. 


If you'd like to read more about A Cup of Christmas Cheer and Guideposts Books, check out these posts:

-----------------------------------------

Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and the youngest of their 4 kids. She writes cowboy stories set in the Old West, and Edwardian stories set in the East.  Anita Mae  semi-finaled in the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest, and finaled in the Daphne du Maurier, Fool for Love, Duel on the Delta and the Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests.  Anita Mae's short story, Riding on a Christmas Wish is published in A Christmas Cup of Cheer, Guideposts Books, October 2013.  Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books & Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita at   http://www.anitamaedraper.com/


Monday, November 18, 2013

Acting Like a Christian


by Jennifer AlLee 

A story hit the news recently about a waitress in Bridgewater, New Jersey, who received a lesson in morality rather than a tip. After serving a family of four, the waitress picked up the $93.55 check to see this written on it: "I'm sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life."

In January of this year, a server at a St. Louis Applebee's had a similar experience. This time, a pastor wrote on the check, "I Give God 10 percent. Why do you Get 18?"

Waitress given lifestyle tip, not money tip
From USA Today article
The judgment and blatant lack of respect in these acts is shocking, but I'd be willing to bet that most of us have witnessed similar events. Consider this scenario: You go out to lunch after church with a large group of people. Not only is there a request for seven separate checks, but the guy at the end of the table is paying for his buddy who's sitting way over there, and this woman here needs to make sure that her check includes her husband and two kids, all of whom are sitting in different quadrants of the table. When the server takes the orders, there are multiple additions and subtractions required... no pickles, veggies instead of potatoes, extra ice in the tea, no ice in the root beer... When the food arrives, a few mistakes have been made. Most of the people politely ask for corrections, but a few are downright rude as they point out how they did NOT get what they ordered and send it back. At the end of the meal, (during which the waitress has been moving like her shoes were on fire, refilling drinks, bringing extra napkins and sides of dipping sauce) it's time to pay the bills. Some pay cash, some use a credit card. When it comes to the tips, one woman takes a tract from her purse and tucks it into the bill sleeve. A man who's paying cash leaves exact change, figuring that all the other tippers at the table will make up for him. And the family with the toddler who's been throwing dry cereal on the floor from his highchair the entire time, well, they leave a curt note on the bill about the rainbow tattoo on the server's wrist, and how they can't support someone who mutilates her body.

That may seem overly dramatic, but I've been in group situations that came pretty darn close to it. You know the song that goes, "they'll know we are Christians by our love"? It's true. But what does it tell people when we say we are Christians but our actions are far from loving? Saying "I can't tip you because I don't agree with your lifestyle" is the equivalent of throwing the first stone. What if that waitress had walked up to the family's table, looked them over, then said, "I'm sorry, I can't serve you because I find your nuclear family unit offensive."

It's so easy to forget that we represent Christ to the world. Have you ever been driving and had a car cut you off, and then you see the My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter sticker on the back bumper? Of course, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. But it takes more energy to be judgmental or rude than it does to act with love and compassion. Not only that, but when we shine the love of Christ on others, it not only fills them, but reflects off them and shines back on us. The more love we give, the more we get. Isn't that a much better way to live?


JENNIFER ALLEE was born in Hollywood, California, and spent her first ten years living above a mortuary one block away from the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine. Now she lives in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, which just goes to prove she’s been blessed with a unique life. When she’s not busy spinning tales, she enjoys playing games with friends, attending live theater and movies, and singing at the top of her lungs to whatever happens to be playing on the car radio. Although she’s thrilled to be living out her lifelong dream of being a novelist, she considers raising her son to be her greatest creative accomplishment. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. Her novels include The Pastor’s WifeThe Mother Road and A Wild Goose Chase Christmas from Abingdon Press; Diamond in the Rough and Vanishing Act, the first two books in the Charm and Deceit series, from Whitaker House and co-written with Lisa Karon Richardson; and the novella Comfort and Joy in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories from Barbour.