Blog Spotlight — 11 December 2012
Authors on Holiday – Nancy Northcott

A reindeer, family, holiday guests are memories shared by author Nancy Northcott. Welcome Nancy!

One Lone Reindeer

A single reindeer graces our Christmas tree, but he isn’t Rudolph.  His nose is plain white, like his body.  His eyes are red, a color choice I can’t explain, but not his nose.  I’m sure he used to have 7 buddies and possibly an eighth who did have a red nose.  They’re gone, though, and have been for so long that I’ve no idea what happened to them.

When my parents downsized, we all understood their future Christmas trees would each fit on a tabletop.  We divided the ornaments, but there was no longer a set to match this guy.   My mom was for tossing him–no set, after all.  I couldn’t  though.  I always loved the story of Rudolph and the idea of reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh.  So this guy came to live with us.

The first year we had him, the little loop for the hook snapped off, so we prop him up in the tree’s branches, as we did in our holly bush here.  He’s a link with all the past Christmases past I can remember.

One of the things I most enjoyed about childhood Christmases was having my mom’s cousin and her husband, Dot and Moe, come for a few days.  They always arrived before dinner on Christmas Eve in a car laden with gifts.  I used to sit  in front of the living room windows and watch for their car in the growing darkness.  Having them arrive made me feel as though the holidays had truly begun.

That division of holiday decorations included our old stockings.  The dh and I had a newer, matching set made by his sister for our first married Christmas, but I’d continued to hang my original stocking on my parents’ mantel, adding one for him.  As I folded that worn stocking, which was red felt decorated, coincidentally, with a cartoon-style, white reindeer, Mom told me Dot and Moe had given it to them for my first Christmas.

My grandfather lived with us in the last years of his life, so my aunts and uncles and cousins frequently came for Christmas.  Sitting down to dinner for seventeen wasn’t unusual. This reindeer (and probably his buddies) hung on our Christmas trees all those years.

That became less common as we cousins grew up and cared more about spending Christmas at home.  When you’ve been away at school, getting in the car to travel for the holiday loses a lot of its appeal.

The first ornaments I bought on my own came from K-Mart.  I splurged on the tree and didn’t have money for ornaments, too.  The dh’s decorations were bought inexpensively or made by his sister, who does beautiful work.  Yet many of those inexpensive purchases, along with those made for us or given to us by friends and family, are among our favorites.

One of our most prized decorations is a white Christmas-tree-shaped ornament decorated with dyed Cheerios.  The boy made it in preschool, and hanging it on the tree reminds us of the days when our college sophomore wasn’t even “waist-high to a grasshopper,” as the saying goes.  For us, ornaments are storehouses of memory, treasured not only for what they are but for what they’ve seen and what we experienced in their presence.

I’m sure this reindeer didn’t cost much, either.  He’s plastic and only has one color, and my parents bought most of their ornaments at the dime store in Mooresville, NC, or the Western Auto in Davidson, where we lived.  But that doesn’t make him less special.  He’s a tie to a past that’s gone, a part of memories I hold dear.

What are your favorite memories, Christmas or otherwise?  How do you like to spend the holidays?

About Nancy:
I love comic books, fantasy and science fiction. I try to get to Dragon*Con every year. I’m also a lifelong history geek and Anglophile. I majored in history and spent a fabulous summer studying Tudor and Stuart Britain at Oxford University. I am an RWA PRO member, I’ve served my local chapter, Carolina Romance Writers, as president, program chair, workshop coordinator, and newsletter co-editor. I also belong to two home-away-from-home chapters, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and Georgia Romance Writers, and have served on the PRO advocacy committee of RWA. As a three-time Golden Heart finalist, I also belong to The Golden Network. I’m currently the secretary of that chapter.

Renegade is her first novel in the dark fantasy series “The Protectors”. You can follow this link to her website, and follow this link to purchase Renegade or this one.


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About Author

I am the Senior News Editor for Reader's Entertainment News. I also write articles, scripts, and reviews for multiple print and online media outlets. I am also the author of romantic comedies and humorous mysteries.

(29) Readers Comments

  1. What a lovely post, Nancy. Thanks for sharing the story of that adorable reindeer ornament. I love to hear about the memories attached to ornaments as our tree is full of mementoes like that. Hubby and I always pick up an ornament from wherever we travel to, so there are lots of smiles when we unwrap those. This year’s are a hand-painted bauble and bell from an artisan in Florence and a Delft-style penguin and kissing couple from Amsterdam.

    • Thank you, Anna. I bet those ornaments you and hubby picked up are gorgeous. We also like to get an ornament when we travel. The only one who knows what came from where, unfortunately, is me.

      When we were decorating the tree last year, I commented that I should make little tags for each ornament so the boy would know all their origins when they came to him. He shrugged. “Oh, that’s okay. I don’t really care about stuff like that.”

      Ack! I was wounded–but he is, after all, a guy, and a young one at that.

  2. Nancy, I am terribly sentimental about our Christmas ornaments and some of the decorations I put about the house, as well. There is an ornament on my mother’s Christmas tree every year that I will someday claim for myself. It’s one I made in Girl Scout Brownies in the first grade. It’s a couple of half-circles of styrofoam with a plastic tube connecting them. Inside is a plastic Christmas tree and fake snow. It’s festooned with red rickrack and a red ribbon loop to hang it. I have seen that ornament on my mother’s tree since the year I proudly presented it to her. There are also any number of wooden ornaments my mom painted with us when we were small children that appear every year.

    When I began having my own Christmas tree, all my ornaments were bought at super-discount (mainly after-Christmas) sales. But I have painted wooden ornaments with my own children and we love those on our tree. I also have ornaments the three of them have made over the years, from preschool through high school. I began a tradition of buying an ornament for each of them every year probably ten years ago. My hope is that they will have fond memories attached to these ornaments when they take them and move away and have their own trees. Of course, my son has been in his own place for 8 years now and has not yet fully committed to a Christmas tree. :) It will happen in time, I’m sure!

    Thank you for the opportunity to visit your Christmas memories and revisit mine!

    • Caren, I’m glad you liked the post. Your Brownies ornament sounds pretty sophisticated for a grade schooler’s project. And very clever.

      I love your idea of buying ornaments for your offspring. We have one, the “first Christmas” one. The boy had a hand in picking out all the ones from trips since he was born, but I suspect the ones we bought in San Francisco on our honeymoon or in Savannah just before our wedding or in Maine on vacation before he came along won’t have much appeal for him.

      I’m not good at crafts, but the dh’s sister is. She makes beautiful cross-stitched ornaments, and one year sent us balls made of multi-layered tissue paper, one in varying shades of green and yellow and the other in purples and blues. She and her boys glued the tissue paper around balloons, a piece at a time, then finally popped the balloons.

  3. Merry Christmas Nancy!

    Christmas memories….cherish them. Ornaments include ones that my Mom and I made out of cardboard, glue and felt from patterns she got out of a Ladies Day magazine. Then there are the tiny cross stitch aprons I made for these tiny brooms and oh…the colorful, sparkly “glass” balls circa ’50’s and ’60’s. What type of tree would the Mages have?

    • Thank you, Joanie! Little aprons for brooms? Tell me more. I love sparkly glass balls. Of course, I’m a sucker for pretty glass in any form.

      Hmm, a mage tree. Probably strings of cranberries or popcorn, glass, maybe ornaments that look like birds or flowers. And a star at the top, of course. Interesting question.

      I’m assuming your Romans would observe Saturnalia. And just BTW, congrats on the release of The Patrician!

  4. So OK you didn’t really have to twist my arm. I gave into the temptation pretty easily on my own. Yes I went and bought the book. It looks really good. Plus I like to help support debut authors. Thanks for introducing us Linda.

    • Margie, thanks for buying the book. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I do appreciate the support.

  5. Hi Nancy and Linda!

    What a great trip down memory lane, Nancy. The holidays are such a wonderful time, but for our family of 27 kids and grandkids it can be overwhelming to have them all in one spot at the same time.

    One of the traditions we had for a long time was to rent a hall, which gave the kids plenty of room to run, with a kitchen so we’d have lots of room to food prep. We had a buffet and Christmas program where every family participated. Our favorite one was when each of the seven families took a decade and performed a skit around that decade. Lots of talent, lots of fun.

    Happy holidays!

    • Thanks, Jo. Renting a hall sounds like a great idea. My parents’ house overflowed with 17 people in it. Thinking of 27 boggles the mind. My grandparents’ house was much bigger.

      I wish we’d had enough people to do family programs like that. I loved those scenes in Eight Cousins (at least, I think that was the book).

    • Jo, I LOVE the thought of that! Wow! 27. And the decades thing is totally cool too…

  6. Hey Nancy!

    I do so love this time of year. I love Christmas ornaments – tiny little symbols of places, popular concepts and events. We try to buy an ornament for the tree whenever we travel (and yes, I brought home some from our trip to Scotland). While I know the history and purpose for purchase behind every ornament on the tree (and you can’t see the tree for the ornaments), I was afraid my kids wouldn’t know/remember the stories. So I’ve written a paragraph explaining this for each ornament and put it in the ornament’s box. Putting up and taking down the tree is a real trip down memory lane – and every time I see the tree, another fun and loving memory springs to mind.

    Hope you have a fabulous holiday….(and you too, Linda. I see you back there :-) )

    • Hi, Donna–that’s a great idea about the boxes! I should do that so that if the boy suddenly cares, long after we’re gone, he won’t be at sea. The dh doesn’t remember, which means it’s all on me. And I don’t remember as well as I used to.

      And wonderful holiday wishes back at you. :-)

    • Donna, I meant to add my thanks for a very special ornament that’s going on our tree this year and currently lives in my study–the sword ornament with “Renegade” on the blade. It’s wonderful for the book’s first Christmas. :-)

      • Considering the above, maybe I should also add that Renegade is set in a contemporary world. The mages (think wizards if that term is unfamiliar) just happen to use swords. :-)

  7. Hi Nancy! *waves madly*

    I LOVE that reindeer ornament. The ornaments from my childhood are still special to me, too. The past few years we haven’t had a tree because of just not having time to put it up, or being in the midst of renovations on our house. I love Christmas and always miss it when we don’t have a tree. I’m hoping for one this year.

    This is a wonderful story of the path of that reindeer through your lives.

    And huge congrats on RENEGADE! I’ve got that on my Kindle, and am saving it for a night over Christmas. ;0)

    • Thanks, Cassondra! I’m rooting for you to get your tree up this year. Thanks, too, for picking up Renegade, which I do hope you’ll like.

  8. Hi, Nancy! Hi, LInda! Nancy, what a beautiful story. I love that you still cherish that lone reindeer! And congratulations on the release of RENEGADE! My copy is winging its way from the Book Depository as we speak. If it doesn’t arrive before Christmas Eve, I’ll have serious words to say to Santa! Down in Australia, we have a really different Christmas to you guys. For a start, it’s the middle of summer! So Christmas memories for me are things like summer fruit and the beach and watching the cricket with my dad and whingeing because it went all day and I wanted to watch a movie on another channel. Cricket is the big summer sport here although tennis gets a look-in – the Australian Open is on in January and that’s always really exciting. Wishing you and yours all the best for the Holiday Season!

    • Anna, I wish you and yours a lovely holiday as well. Thanks for ordering Renegade. I do hope it arrives before Christmas and is worth the wait.

      Yes, your Christmas is very different. It sounds a bit like the one we spent with my dad’s family in Florida. My cousins and I ate our big meal sitting outside at the picnic table, wearing shorts!

      I’m a huge tennis fan, and one of the things I enjoy now that we’ve gone to satellite instead of cable is that i actually can see the Australian Open, not just the final.

  9. Hi Nancy!! First of all, LOVE the book! :> But then again, you knew that. Fabulous read. :> I also love all the ornaments you were describing. Like Joanie, I have a lot that are handmade from my childhood, and some hand me downs. I’ve also got “the kids made it” ornaments. And mercury glass balls, love those. I tend to do either red and silver one year or red and gold. :> None of this pink or lime green business. Hahahah!

    Fun post!

    • Jeanne, thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed Renegade and liked this blog post.

      By “mercury glass balls” do you mean those solid color, shiny ones that are really flimsy and don’t feel entirely like glass? If so, we have quite a few, mostly red, green, gold, or silver but with a few blue thrown in. I tend toward traditional tree ornaments. Except for the starships and super-heroes.

  10. Nancy, your post made me smile, then drift into a nice trip of happy holiday memories. Thank you!

    My first tree was decorated with plaster ornaments I bought on discount at the craft store in late summer, then painted myself. That was rounded out by garlands of stringed popcorn and paper cut into snowflakes :-) Discount tree filled with love is how I remember it.

    The year I lost my MIL to cancer, I couldn’t bring myself to do the tree and big holiday hoopla. She and I shared the overboard love of Christmas and it was just too soon to do it without her. But I had two little girls who needed their holiday – so we made bought a smallish potted tree to plant later. We glued together glitter-covered popsicle sticks into the shape of stars and in the center of each star we put a photo of a family member. It was a pretty awesome tree :-)

    • Tawny, I’m glad the post made you smile. I envy you and the others here who make their own ornaments. I just don’t think I have a “dab hand” at that. I surely do enjoy what others make, though. Your “discount tree” sounds fabulous!

      That’s a sweet story about the Christmas after your MIL died. My dad died in early December. We went through the motions for the boy, but the dh really shouldered most of it. He even wrote the Christmas cards, except for a handful that went to people who were more my friends than his. All I had to do was sign.

      I may steal the popsicle stick star idea. It’s such a home-y but pretty idea and simple enough even for me!

  11. Lovely post, Nancy! I’ve only bought a few ornaments – most of the ones decorating our tree were given to us from my mom, made by the kids or handed down from various grandparents. It’s a hodgepodge of decorations but we love it.

    I have a slender tree that I decorate with antique ornaments from my husband’s grandmother.

    • Beth, our tree is a hodgepodge, too, partly because we buy ornaments that aren’t in sets, partly from the homemade, and partly because of gifts. Our only antique ornaments are woven paper baskets from Sweden that belonged to the dh’s grandparents. We have, I think, three. They’re very fragile so they go on first and come off first.

  12. Hi Nancy! What a lovely post. You’ve made me nostalgic for my own childhood Christmases.

    I have a favourite reindeer ornament that’s relatively new–it’s a girl reindeer with lipstick, high heels and a feather boa skirt. So cute! We also have ornaments made of old-fashioned wooden clothes pegs that are home made but none the less precious, as you say.

    Merry Christmas!

  13. Thank you to Linda for hosting me today and to everyone who stopped by. It was a fun day!

    • Thank you for posting. This has been a lot of fun.

  14. Love the post…thanks for sharing your Christmas memories.

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