If you believe the lyrics of carol crooners like Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr., then you'll probably agree that Christmas is, indeed, a magical time of year. My beliefs certainly fall in line with that ideology. I love everything about Christmas–the spiritual significance, the weather, the colors, the wrapping paper, the candle scents, and of course, the holiday break from work! When I'm not being a slave to my imagination and working on my novels, I do actually work as an adjunct professor at King College in Bristol, Tennessee. While I love teaching and yes, even grading research papers, the job also comes with a month-long Christmas break! Who could complain about that? So for the first time since I was in college (we won't discuss how many years have passed since then), I get a long college break that allows me to enjoy the Christmas season to the fullest, which includes:

1. Visiting family. One of my favorite holiday traditions is all the wonderful goodies at my mother's house. Kris Kringle cookies. Chocolate Chip cookies. Italian Creme Cake, Cranberry Swirl Cheesecake. (Do you see a pattern here?) On Christmas Eve my brother, sister, and brother-in-law come to Mom and Dad's house, and we eat to the brink of sugar comas and then open gifts. There is always laughing, loads of jokes, and even the occasional debate. I look forward to it every year as the one day that brings everyone together.

2. Music. Now, I'm not one to tolerate Christmas music that begins in October and lasts through January. However, I do have some favorites on my iPod, and I listen to those while I cook or enjoy the trees. Some favorites that I recommend: Christmas with the Rat Pack, A Rat Pack Christmas, and WOW Christmas Hits.

3. The Decorations: I don't go overboard with decorations, but I love the white lights and all the warm colors. This year, thanks to an amazing friend, I have my very first nativity scene. I've wanted one since Kevin and I got married but hadn't found one. However, a friend and neighbor gave a beautiful Hallmark Nativity Scene to us as our gift this year!

4. Time to write. A month-long break is a wonderful time to accomplish some diligent writing. This year's goal: to finish the sequel I've been working on. I'm only about five chapters away from finishing the first write-through, so I hope to spend lots of time with my lap top in my fuzziest pajamas and fluffiest socks. I'll keep you all posted on my progress.

5. Last but not least, time to catch up on my reading. During December, I have read or re-read, in some cases: The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli, Devil on My Heels by Joyce McDonald, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I recommend all of these wonderful books to anyone, whether you like YA fiction or not. On my list for the Christmas season is: Chime by Frannie Billingsley, The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald, and Defiance by Lili St. Crow.

With that said, I hope that all of you have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. I would love to hear about some of your favorite holiday traditions, so feel free to share those on my site!