Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

10/31/17, Trick or Treat!!!

Posted on October 31, 2017


Hi Everyone,

My apologies, I’m a day late getting my blog up, which doesn’t happen often. I’ve been swamped and traveling and moving around. After the sorrow and the terrors and trauma of the Napa fires, I’m relieved to say that our old family property survived, but there are soooo many sad stories around, of people we know who lost their homes, and some their lives. Truly tragic.
Other than that, I’ve just been busy. Writing, editing, travelling, visiting my children, doing some big projects. And mostly, just trying to be organized, and keep a lot of balls in the air at once.
And here it is, Halloween tomorrow. My children’s favorite day of the year (other than April Fool, when they LOVE to torture me, and call to tell me that either they’re pregnant or in jail, or both)—-but they have a definite love of costumes!!! Their father was incredibly creative when we got invited to costume parties (He went as a Smurf once, and Picasso’s Blue Boy, and was painted blue for both), and almost all my children have inherited that gene (costumes always seem like a lot of work to me, and somewhat embarassing), but my kids have come up with years of great ideas, as dragons, witches, the Little Mermaid, Ursula the nasty octopus, my little pony, Heidi, the Sound of Music, the witch in the Wizard of OZ with the green face. One daughter’s boyfriend dressed up as her dog, and about 2 years ago, one of my daughters dressed up as me for Halloween—-and actually looked like me!!! One of my other daughters was a great matador/bullfighter a few years ago, they have limitless imagination when it comes to Halloween. And we still set a holiday table with tons of candy, and a big cake at the end. I used to love taking my children trick or treating, and some of their friends, and we would drive up and down the streets in our neighbourhood in San Francisco, the children would roll out of the car, squirt Silly String everywhere, march up to someone’s doorstep, and come back with a massive haul of candy, which they would then eat for weeks. Favorite candies were traded. My kids are real pros at Halloween!!!
So I hope you have a great Halloween this week!!! Whether you collect trick or treat goodies, or hand them out, and whether in costume or not—-have a fabulous time!!!

Happy Halloween, love, Danielle

Filed Under Family, Holidays, Kids | 2 Comments

8/28/17, Early Bird

Posted on September 4, 2017

Hi Everyone,

Say goodbye to August….and summer. We did it!! Hopefully we all got a little vacation time, relaxed a little, and had some playtime. All in all, I had a good summer, even a very good summer this year, although a very busy one, and got two separate vacation weeks with my children, which made it a great summer for me.

And while leaping into September, and welcoming the fall (I love the weather, and the exciting feeling of starting fresh with new energy—I’ve felt that way since my school days)—–I also do a leap frog jump every year, thinking of the months ahead. True confessions: as I’ve told you before, I am one of those incredibly irritating people who start Christmas shopping in August. I know, it’s awful, and it drives people crazy. But the fall and winter months are my busiest writing time of the year, so I try to use any free time I have before that. And by August, I am itching to get started on Christmas. I did that two weeks ago. It also avoids my standing in long lines in stores in December, and no longer finding anything I want in the right sizes. So I am an early bird Christmas shopper. Very, very early. I started dragging shopping bags home a few weeks ago. And I have other bad habits related to Christmas (which I love!!). I rarely have time to shop, and I love shopping. Most of the time, I am socked away in my office, writing. So it’s really fun for me to get out and look around in the stores and shop. And when I do, watch out!!! First, I start seeing cute things for my kids and close friends that I hope they’ll love, and then a little something for me will catch my eye….hmmm…wow that red purse is cute!! Or a book, or a pair of shoes, or something for the house—-for my house!!! Uh oh!! The joke in the family about my Christmas shopping is “one for them, and one for me….okay, two for them, and one for me….uh oh….three for me, and one for them.”….at five for me, and two for them, I’m in trouble!! I start seeing so many fun things to buy for myself, and have to call myself to order, and focus on who I’m shopping for.

So, to confess all, I am up to my usual tricks. On my first Christmas shopping day two weeks ago, I was positively saintly. I found two things for one son, two things for another son (really fun stuff I hope they’ll love), and two things for one daughter….But on the second day, I started slipping. I jumped straight to finding one Christmas gift for three of my kids, and half a dozen things I loved for me: a pair of dressy pants, a fun purse, and two pairs of shoes. I know, that’s cheating. I came home with several shopping bags for me, and a skimpy catch for the day for everyone else. And of course, I felt guilty when I got home. So now, I’m trying to be good, and only buying Christmas gifts for the people on my list, and restraining myself. But I can tell you it won’t last. Something bright and fun will catch my eye (I bought a little red Chihuahua statue for my Paris office, and a little heart dish. I couldn’t resist!!), and I’ll be off and running again soon with the “3 for them, and 7 for me” system. Christmas shopping is just toooooo much fun!!!

So the Early bird is at it again. Christmas is starting at my house. The end result is that I feel ridiculously virtuous by November, when everyone is starting their Christmas shopping, and I’ve finished. But then of course, there are always the people I’ve forgotten on my list, and rush out to buy something for….so it’s Christmas in August at my house. While the rest of the world is wrestling with September, getting past Labor Day, and car pooling their kids to school, I’m Christmas shopping….it’s just toooo much fun!!! And the five for them, two for me system, or the reverse is just too tempting. The flesh is weak…mine sure is when it comes to Christmas shopping. So have a great week, and I’ll wait a few weeks before I wish you Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays.

love, Danielle

5/30/17, “The summer begins…”

Posted on May 30, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day, and had a long weekend!!!

Memorial Day is when we remember those fallen in combat and war, a serious holiday, but it is also the very beginning of summer. It’s not hot everywhere yet, but the weather is warmer, and for many people it’s their first weekend away, to mark the beginning of summer. Every year we scrubbed and cleaned and painted and organized our country house for the summer, and I helped my children do that two weeks ago. It’s fun to get everything ready for the summer. I spent the weekend writing, but I love knowing that summer is just around the corner and I’ll take some time off soon—not quite yet though. I took a few days off last week to read a book and enjoyed it, but I’m back at work now. So my summer hasn’t quite started yet, but I’m looking forward to it!!

I hope you got to enjoy the three day weekend. Children will be out of school soon, and parents will be busy keeping them entertained all summer, and I hope you’ll be able to take some vacation time this summer, to sleep late, go to the beach, or lie in a hammock and read. What a heavenly thought!!!

I’m looking forward to some downtime this summer, and hope you are too!!! I worked hard writing books all winter!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the victims of the attack at the concert in Manchester, England. So troubling and so heart breaking to think of young people being targeted for an attack like that, or anyone. So cruel. I hope we see the end of events like that soon. And my thoughts are with the victims, and their families, and the injured who will have a long road to recover. My prayers are with them. This is an unseen war, which explodes periodically, attacking the innocent, in this case, young people, teenagers and children. Our Memorial Day should include them too. May our troubled world come to a place of peace soon.

Have a terrific, peaceful, safe, happy week!!!

love, Danielle

4/3/17, April Fool

Posted on April 3, 2017

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week, it’s been crazy busy and a full week. And by the time you read this, I’ll have survived another April Fool’s Day at the mercy of my children. Although usually reasonable and sensible people, they take full advantage of April Fool’s day, and have since they were kids. And they haven’t given it up yet. Since I’m usually running around busy, or deep in a book, I never remember what day it is, until the third call to bail one of my kid’s out of jail. JAIL???!!!!! Or the third call from one of my single daughters telling me that they’re pregnant. They’ve told me some lulus over the years, and I always believe them—until by sheer numbers, I realize what day it is. After all, they can’t ALL be in jail!!! They’ve pretended that they eloped to Las Vegas, or broken up with a girlfriend. Have announced that they got fired, and every time I try to be sympathetic, and then of course realize that I’ve been had. One of my daughters played an April Fool’s joke on her boss and nearly got fired years ago. And they trick each other too, no one is exempt in this group!!! They’ve gotten milder as they grow up, but they still can’t resist the temptation to start my day off with startling news!!! I should do the same to them, but never do.

Other than that, I’m really happy about how well my new book Dangerous Games is doing.  I’m soooo happy people are loving it!! I hope you’ve read it, or will soon!!!

And I’ve had a house guest for 3 days, one of my closest friends, so that has been wonderful!!!

I hope that all is going well for you, and that if you had any bad news, it was all April Fool’s jokes, and nothing more than that!!!! I’ll be travelling again this week…..I am definitely leading a nomadic life!!! Have a great week.

love, Danielle

2/13/17, “Happy Hearts!!”

Posted on February 13, 2017

Hi Everyone,

Ahhh…yes…today is the eve of one of those days that can go either way, thrill you or break your heart, or slip and slide from the sublime to the ridiculous: Valentine’s Day of course. I’ve had all kinds, and you probably have too. I had two marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day (I am a profoundly corny person, so I thought that was great!!) One of those proposals resulted in 18 mostly happy years of marriage, and 8 of my 9 children, and the other resulted in 8 years, and a second great love in my life. I am very lucky to have had two great loves, and both of them wonderful men. And our love for each other lasted longer than our marriages, and lasted until the end of their lives. I will confess, I miss them both. So that was the height of my Valentine’s Day experience. But there have been some very major lows too. (The French say “Never two without three”, which is an interesting thought… who knows maybe one day there will be another great love in my life. Anything is possible. I heard of a couple recently who married at last at 87, so that certainly gives us all something to hope for—-and plenty of time to plan!!!)

Valentine’s Day is a tough day because we all have such high hopes and expectations for it, from the time when we are children. I’ve told you before, that mine got off to a rough start when I was the only girl in 3rd grade who didn’t get a Valentine’s Day card!!! But there have been some grown up Valentine’s Days that fell short of expectations. There is always a frenzy of flowers and chocolates and romantic plans and dinners exchanged on that day, and if you don’t have a seat in the musical chairs of Valentine’s Day, it can leave you feeling very sorry for yourself!!! Or you can just treat it with humor and figure it will be better next year!!! The wonderful thing about life is that you really never know what is just around the corner, what wonderful person will come into your life, and how things can change radically in the space of a year, or even months!!! My greatest defeats were always followed by my greatest victories, my greatest disappointments followed by my great loves.

I actually got unceremoniously dumped (yes, it happens!!!) one summer, and 6 months later, on Valentine’s Day, my husband John proposed, and the happiest 18 years of my life ensued. I could never have predicted what was going to happen. It came right out of the blue, when John and his wife separated and divorced, and he stunned me by asking me out a few months later, and 18 years of marriage and 8 children happened after that. So you really never know what’s going to happen. And I’ve watched it happen to my children too. One of them was heartbroken over a failed marriage, and a year later is married to a wonderful man and expecting a baby. You just never know.

So if this year doesn’t look like it’s going to be a winner in the lottery of Valentine’s Day, wait and see, next year you may be on top of the world with the person of your dreams, having the best Valentine’s Day of your life. Tomorrow is just one year, one chapter in your life… my hope for you is a wonderful Valentine’s Day, and that all your dreams come true. And if it isn’t tomorrow, next year may be your lucky year. And if you are in the throes of a grand romance with romantic plans for tomorrow, good for you!!!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day—–and be sure to eat all the chocolate you can!!!

All my love,


1/2/17, Happy New Year!

Posted on January 2, 2017

Hi Everyone,

Congratulations!!! You made it through the holidays. I had a really nice one with my kids. The best holiday of all is one with my children. I ignored New Year’s Eve, was working on a new book, which I really enjoy doing. It’s the perfect way for me to end the old year and start the new one.

There seems to be a lot of grumbling that 2016 was a dicey year. Life is a mixed bag….blessings, heart aches, problems, disappointments, happy times, and joys and great surprises. If this is multiple choice, I pick happy!!! But it’s not always (or ever?) up to us.

So today, as we begin the year, before the year is old enough to complain about—–I want to start with a clean slate and wish YOU THE HAPPIEST, BEST, FUN-EST, HEALTHIEST, RICHEST, MOST ABUNDANT, WONDERFUL-EST year EVER!!!!

I hope it will be a GREAT one with some wonderful times, and fabulous surprises in store!!!

all my love, Danielle

12/26/16, Auld Lang Syne

Posted on December 26, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you made it through Christmas and the holiday with some warm memories, and a Christmas as close to what you wished as possible, though holidays are unpredictable sometimes as to how they will turn out. But however it went, you made it through, and you can heave a sigh of relief.

There are three holidays I find potentially difficult. I love Christmas, and despite occasional bumps, it’s usually a happy time. But I know how challenging it can be for many people, and it can be an opportunity for loneliness instead of joy. I hope that yours was happy and not lonely. The other two holidays that can be tough are Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. Most of us associate those two dates with being in love, or at least in a couple, and you feel like the odd man out when you’re not either one of those things. It is not fun to be the one person on New Year’s Eve who has no one to kiss at midnight. And Valentine’s Day can be really painful without flowers, chocolates, or dinner with a person you love. For me, those two dates are a real opportunity to feel like a loser, and feel left out if I’m solo that year. And even in a good relationship, your partner can fail abysmally on Valentine*s Day, and not bother, or forget what day it is. I regard those two dates with caution, and even dread on some years.

I never cared about New Year’s Eve for most of the years I was married. We stayed home and watched movies on TV, and were often asleep before midnight when our kids were small (We used to cheat and serve them ginger ale at 9pm, blow horns and tell them it was midnight, and then we’d go to bed after we put them to bed). I also had some ‘glamourous’ years when we gave big black tie dinners on New Year’s Eve, with everyone in black tie and evening gowns, with a delicious meal and champagne. Actually, the best New Year’s Eve we had of that kind, there was a huge storm in San Francisco, and the highways and bridge were closed—-with our chef for dinner on the other side. At 6pm he called to say there was no way he could get through. I didn’t want to disappoint my guests two hours before dinner, and leave them without plans, so we did the only thing I could think of—-we rushed around to fast food places, Jack in the Box, Kentucky Fried, pizza places. My guests arrived all dressed up, looking very elegant, and when they sat down to dinner instead of an equally elegant meal, they got corn dogs, and hot dogs, pizza, tacos, cheeseburgers, and every kind of fast food. There was a moment of shock, and then everyone started to laugh. We had the BEST time ever, and I still remember one of my beautifully dressed guests with ketchup on his chin saying “Who has the Curly Fries??” It was really fun, totally silly, and everyone loved it so much that I served the same menu again the next year at a black tie dinner. Personally, I’d rather eat a hot dog than a fancy meal any day—I eat like a 5 year old, and I love Kentucky Fried, and peanut butter and jelly any time!!!

Once I was divorced and alone, the idea of giving a beautiful dinner for all my friends who were in couples, while I was alone, really depressed me, so I thought about what would be fun and NOT depress me. I love to play poker, so I organized a poker game on New Year’s Eve. It was fantastic, about 20 people, playing for low stakes, with fast food again, and no one cared about what time it was or who they were going to kiss at midnight. And on a good year, I made about twenty dollars for the evening. It was a super fun way to spend a dicey holiday. And I hosted a poker game on New Year’s Eve for several years—not a hint of romance, just good friendly fun with other friends who were also alone. (it was in the vein of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, and we really had fun!!)

And last year, I shifted gears again. My ex husband, whom I often spent that evening with, was very sick, (and passed away this June), I didn’t feel like celebrating—–nor did I want to spend the evening mourning the past, and thinking of happier New Year’s eves. I decided to stay home, and started a new book a few days before. When midnight struck, I was plunged into the book, enjoying the work thoroughly, and didn’t care what day it was. Work is always a wonderful escape for me. It’s not a night I like being out, there are too many drunks on the road, and it seems dangerous. People try too hard at parties, and there is a melancholy feel to it when midnight rolls around. And if your life isn’t exactly where you want it, it’s too easy to see what’s missing, and remember happier times.

My children leave right after Christmas, and I’m going to spend New Year’s working again this year. For now, that really works for me. So there are lots of options on New Year’s eve, as a happy couple, at a party, at home with friends, tucked into bed with the person you love watching favorite movies or alone watching whatever you enjoy, playing poker, casually with a few friends, or all dressed up in a jazzy dress. I think the best way to spend it is doing exactly what you want to do, in whatever your circumstances are right now. And if it isn’t exciting for you this year, maybe it will be everything you hope for next year. In the meantime, I’m going to be working on a new book, and I hope you spend it some way you really enjoy. Have a great new year’s eve. Happy New Year!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Holidays | 7 Comments

12/19/16, Merry Christmas!! Happy Holidays!!

Posted on December 19, 2016

Hi Everyone,

It’s Christmas week, and I know how exciting and fun the holidays can be—-and also how difficult, lonely, and challenging they can be. No one to be with, not enough money, alone in a new city, or at home with a family you don’t get along with, or in the midst of a divorce, just after a break up, or after you lose a loved one. The holidays are not as easy and simple as they look on Christmas cards, or in the movies. It’s a time when we are acutely aware of whatever is missing in our lives, or whatever is difficult. I’ve had my share of difficult Christmases too, a long time ago, when I was divorced, and barely three months after my son Nick died at 19. That was a brutal year. Oddly, I worked harder on making Christmas special for my family in the hard years, than in the easy ones. And sometimes those Christmases turned out the best—the ones I expected to be terrible, and then they weren’t. Trying to cheer up my children after Nick died, I gave a skating party that year for my friends and their children. It didn’t bring Nick back, but it was a warm, loving event that became a tradition we loved every year, until all my kids left for college and everyone else’s kids grew up too, and we stopped doing it. But it was a lovely time of families joining each other during the holidays. We’ve all had our tough years, they’re part of life.

We’ve always been about twenty or more, at our holiday table, for dinner on Christmas eve, they’ve always been loud, happy, fun events, with a visit from Santa during dinner. it’s a grown up, dressed up event, and on Christmas night, the next day, we have Christmas dinner with the whole family and all the children in the family, it’s more informal, and really a fun night. Five years ago, my ex husband John (whom we spent all holidays with even when we were no longer married) had recently died, and all my older children went to their in laws for the holidays, and instead of 20 at the table, and John being elegant and jovial and loving among us, we were going to be the 5 younger children and me for dinner on both nights: 6 of us, not twenty, no older kids, and no John. It was a radical change, and a sad time we were all wrestling with, and there was no way to pretend that it was going to be the same, or even a happy event, and we were all dreading it. So I decided to really turn it upside down, and told my 5 younger kids, in their early 20s, that they could do Christmas however they wanted that year. We could get dressed up, as we always did, and have a serious formal dinner, or wear blue jeans and eat pizza, or no dinner, invite friends or not, go to the movies, or go bowling, or leave town together—-if it was going to be different, I invited them to make it as different as they wanted. We didn’t have to please anyone but ourselves and each other. After discussing it among themselves, they decided they still wanted to get dressed up and stay at home, still go to mass on Christmas eve, and no one felt up to having friends over, but they wanted to play games at dinner, and we collected a bunch of ridiculous party games, including the White Elephant game, where everyone brings a gift of some kind, you don’t know who brought it, and you take turns and randomly pick a gift. If someone else likes the gift, they can steal it 3 times, and after that you’re safe, if you like the gift it’s yours. Let me tell you, it was ridiculous, the gifts were funny, everyone stole everything from everyone else, my youngest son flatly refused to give up his Chewbacca (from Star Wars) back pack, which he said he was going to wear to the office. We were loud and silly, had fun, we played lots of games, and cuddled up together and watched movies afterwards, and ate popcorn. Somehow just being together worked, we didn’t have to ‘behave’, and we all missed John terribly, but the love and laughter between us got us through the evening, and it was one of our sweetest holidays. I still have the pink ballet tutu that I stole from two of my daughters during the white elephant game. Sometimes you just have to make the best of what is, when things are different or not the way you hoped, like watching all your favorite movies on TV or DVD if you’re alone.

And I know it’s hard to be alone during the holidays. I hope that you can be with your family, or with friends, or people you like, or bring joy to someone else. And if Christmas isn’t quite the way you want it to be this year, I hope that you get through it peacefully, and that it will be better next year. Life changes, it flows, it gets better, and worse and better again, and everything does not depend on how great your Christmas is. I hope it will be a good one, even a great one, and if it is a small one this year, I hope that you can cherish it, and enjoy it anyway. I send you all my good thoughts, and thanks and love on this holiday, whatever your holidays, and I wish you a beautiful new year!!

with all my love, Danielle

11/21/16, Happy Thanksgiving

Posted on November 21, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a good week—Wow the year is whizzing by. I’m always stunned when the holidays roll around. The year has really sped by. I had a VERY busy week this week, editing some writing, adding research to two books, working on a new outline, picking book covers, doing errands, Christmas shopping, going to the dentist, meeting with a new attorney to replace one who retired, and working with the puppy trainer to introduce Minnie and Blue to the new puppy in the least stressful way for them. I had dinner out with friends three times, and also dinner with my youngest son. AND I did something really fun—-a woman friend invited me to a matinee of the King and I, one of my very favorite musicals. She asked me months ago, and the day finally came, and I just loved it. I love the songs and know them all, and it was a really lovely, happy interlude in my week. So it’s been a very nice week, and next week my children will be home for Thanksgiving, which is always a wonderful time for me.

Thanksgiving is always a lovely way to spend time with family and friends, but what I like best about Thanksgiving (even more than all the yummy food) is what it symbolizes: gratitude, being grateful/ thankful for the good things in our lives, whether family or friends, our jobs, or opportunities, or the good things that happened this year. We don’t always have the time to think about what we’re grateful for, and to count our blessings. Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to that. I know it can be difficult too, with challenging families, or no families, or difficult families, or hard circumstances sometimes. Its nice spending the day with people we care about, but sometimes we find ourselves alone, thinking of what others have and we don’t. If we can take time out to be grateful for what we do have, to give thanks for the small things in our lives, our lives become richer from that gratitude. So whether you are alone, or surrounded by loved ones, in a good space, or not having a great time, I hope that all of us will find the time and the grace to be grateful for even a few things, even one thing in our life. Gratitude is like a seed that you plant, that becomes a tall tree eventually, with leaves of gratitude that grow and multiply. Gratitude is an enormous blessing available to all of us.

I was alone one Thanksgiving many years ago, in a new city, divorced, with no friends yet, and my daughter was visiting her father far away. I came across the Bible verse “God places the solitary in families”. And I’ve had many occasions to remember that, grateful for my family, and the friends I’ve made over the years. May your Thanksgiving be filled with warmth and blessings, and good people. And may we all remember to reach out to those who are alone. And on the list of things I am thankful for, you, my readers are high on that list. Thank you!! I am VERY grateful to and for you…..I hope you will have a wonderful holiday!!!

with much love, Danielle

7/4/16, HAPPY FOURTH!!!!

Posted on July 4, 2016

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well, that July is off to a great start, and that you have a well deserved day off and can relax and enjoy the Fourth of July holiday!!! It really is a fun holiday, with parades, picnics, barbecues, people of all ages getting together to celebrate. It’s a holiday which embraces everyone, and all ages can enjoy. It gives everyone a chance to celebrate all the good things that this country stands for. And I love hot dogs, fried chicken, corn on the cob, apple pie, and all the treats that go with it.

As with many holidays that have a lot of history and meaning behind them, we tend to forget how meaningful America’s independence was to those who fought hard for it, and how greatly Americans have benefited from it. And now it is a day to swim and sun and picnic and have fun with our friends. It’s good to remember what a great country the United States is, and all the wonderful things it stands for. It is a day to celebrate independence, freedom and the liberty that Americans enjoy every day. It is truly a great country, and I hope you have a wonderful July 4th!!!

love, Danielle

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