photo holiday gathering

Characters, Holidays, and Changes

by Sparkle Abbey

Do you love all the holiday books that are coming out? We certainly do!

photo holiday gatheringHalloween, All Saints Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and more. From now until the end of the year there are celebrations galore. Families and friends getting together for various festivities. Or not.

We’re working on our new series, the Shady Palms Mysteries, which is set in a 55+ retirement community. And we’re realizing that holiday celebrations change as our characters go through new phases in their lives.

Much like what happens in real life, our characters have experienced various events and turning points: a big move, the loss of a family member, meeting new family or friends, and shifting roles.  Some people feel pressure to maintain tradition and others are better at embracing change. And relationships are complicated. Right? And it doesn’t help that there’s just more stress in general around the holidays. So much stress! Some may love the chaos around a bit group gathering and others may just wish for a quiet celebration at home.

Bread and ornaments

Our characters, MJ and Cass, are working through a lot of life events… as well as solving a murder. (We do write mysteries after all.)  Though these life changes may find them changing up their holiday traditions, we know they’ll get through it. These are some smart and resilient ladies! They may have to let go of some long-established traditions, but they are making new ones. And they’re finding that the thing is – sometimes new traditions can actually honor the past.

So as we head into this busy holiday season, we’re thinking about traditions – old and new – and about how life changes can change our celebrations.

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition? Has it continued through the years or is it new one? Or is it one that has morphed over time? We’d love to hear your favorites and your advice for our characters who are going through changes in their holiday plans.

Ornament with bear holding pencil Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)


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9 replies
  1. Mark
    Mark says:

    Have I mentioned that I’m so happy to hear you have a new series in the works?

    I’m not expecting too many changes in traditions this year. We’ve had them in years past as my brother and I have gotten older. But we are kind of in between major changes right now, so we can rest for a few more years.

    • Mary Lee Ashford
      Mary Lee Ashford says:

      Thanks, Mark. We’re very excited about it! It’s great to have those family traditions that you can look forward to year after year. We’re both at a point where our children are older and there are grandchildren in the picture. So things morph a bit but that’s okay. 🙂

  2. Debra H. Goldstein
    Debra H. Goldstein says:

    Our holiday traditions keep evolving with the birth of a new generation. There’s the every other year get-together of everyone for Thanksgiving (which I’m hosting this year – and with my cooking skill, you can imagine it won’t be me making the food ) and the quieter times for the other holidays….. The main thing is letting everyone enjoy.

    • Mary Lee Ashford
      Mary Lee Ashford says:

      You’re absolutely right about that, Debra. It’s really all about the people. I laughed when I read your comment about cooking skill. There was a running joke in my family that my mom feared that when it came to my generation being in change of the food that we might just order pizza. She wasn’t totally wrong about that. 🙂 However, we’ve collected some family members with different skill sets and we take advantage fully of those with culinary skills!

  3. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    Now that our family is scattered all over, nothing today resembles the traditional celebrations of the past. Nowadays, our best new tradition is on Thanksgiving. It always falls on or around our wedding anniversary, so we usually celebrate it with a quick trip to a nearby destination. We’ve had some unexpectedly wonderful experiences celebrating our Thanksgiving/Anniversary this way.

  4. Kathryn Lane
    Kathryn Lane says:

    I enjoy the Holidays and there’s one in particular for those of us of Latin backgrounds – Dia de los Muertos. It’s so much fun and family oriented, which includes all the deceased members of the family as well. The posadas in December are also so much fun and of course, go on for days, culminating on Christmas Eve.

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