Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

11/23/22, Thankful

Posted on November 23, 2022

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re having a good Thanksgiving week, and have plans you are looking forward to on Thanksgiving, either hosting people at home, or going to someone else’s turkey dinner, with all the fixings.

What I like best about Thanksgiving (other than the stuffing, my favorite part of the meal) is that it is a holiday dedicated to being grateful for our blessings, and about reaching out to family and friends, and including them in our plans. But stopping to think about who and what we are grateful for always warms my heart and changes my perspective. I love the Melody Beattie quote “Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, and a stranger into a friend.” It is precisely what Thanksgiving is about. And in the Bible it says that “God places the solitary in families”. I have found both of those quotes to be true.

The holidays can be challenging, but gratitude can put a whole different spin on things, and changes plans we are not so keen on, into very special times of joy and peace.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reach out to people who may be lonely and alone, and include them in our plans, which is as much a blessing for us as it is for them.

I hope that your Thanksgiving will be filled with joy and special moments with family or friends.

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving Day, with an abundance of happiness and gratitude,

love, Danielle

11/14/22, “The Crown”

Posted on November 14, 2022

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well with you, and that you’ve had some good times and some fun in the last week.

In the mad rush of time toward the holidays now, things seem to be moving fast, with a lot to do and a lot going on. I’ve been writing steadily, and working on a re-write this week, my second draft of a book, refining and correcting it. Thanksgiving is only a week away—-wow!!! already!!! And I hope you have plans that you are comfortable with and happy about. What I love about Thanksgiving is that it is a holiday dedicated to gratitude and giving thanks, and it’s nice to take a moment to do just that. It kind of gets our perspective on life headed in the right direction again (AND the stuffing!!!! The stuffing is my favorite part of the meal. Yum!!!)

This week will be exciting, because I will be on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts, which is always a special treat for me. She is an absolutely wonderful person and I love her as a dear friend, so it will be a treat to be on the show with her!!!

And I gave myself a treat this week—-the 5th Season of The Crown came out on Netflix, and I binge watched it for 2 nights, and had a ball with it. Six hours the first night, and four hours the second. And I had a great time. I really enjoyed this season!!! And it was fun to take two nights off from work.

I hope that all is going well for you!! Have a great week!!!!

love, Danielle

11/7/22, Time is Flying

Posted on November 7, 2022

Hi Everyone,

I hope that all is well with you, and everything is going smoothly. Where does the time go? It seems like only days ago, it was early September and we were easing into fall after the summer. And now you blink, and it’s November. November!! Halloween is over, and Thanksgiving is two weeks away. That doesn’t seem possible. But there it is.

I have been buried in work, so not paying attention to the Fall speeding by. I am currently working on a first draft, and two re-writes (of a final draft, and a set of galleys/text proofs). This time of year is always heavy writing season for me. And I’m back on schedule. I felt slowed down after the Pandemic last year, but am back at my usual pace again.

I hope your holiday plans are shaping up as you want them to. Once our kids are grown we have to be flexible and understanding about their schedules, their jobs, their in laws, their lives. Only two of my children are coming home for Thanksgiving, but I’m grateful to have them. And all except one are coming home for Christmas. It’s VERY hard to get everyone together once they have flown the nest and have commitments of their own, particularly once they are married and have another family to consider. So I’m grateful for the time we get and the holidays we can share.

I know how challenging holidays can be. People live far from their families now and work in other cities. Travel is expensive and employers not always amenable to employees taking extra time off to make travel work. So many people are not with their families on Thanksgiving, or any of the holidays. It’s a great time to reach out to people we know will be alone, far from their home bases and families. Before I married and had so many children, I remember a lonely Thanksgiving alone in a city that was new to me then. I read in a religious article a quote from the Bible that said “God places the solitary in families”. And he did. I had a lovely Thanksgiving, invited by new people I barely knew but were incredibly kind to me. A year later I was married and had a joyous Thanksgiving. And not long after that, a few years later, I had a family of my own. And I certainly was put in a big family, and was no longer solitary!!!

If this is an off year for you, if your plans are not shaping up as you hoped, try to be flexible about what plans are available, or even reach out to others in your same situation, who don’t have their own families to be with this year. Oddly, the years I expected to be the most difficult, have almost always turned out to be the most fun, in a completely free-form unexpected way. We may not get our typical traditional holiday, but maybe it will be even more special when you least expect it.

I hope you’ll have a wonderful, warm, loving Thanksgiving however you choose to spend it, and with whom. It’s a time to give thanks for our blessings, and sometimes our blessings don’t show up exactly as we thought they would, but it may turn out to be even better than you hoped, especially if you reach out to someone else.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, with much love, Danielle

10/31/22, Why?

Posted on October 31, 2022

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’ve had a good week, and have some fun planned for Halloween. Good, safe fun!!! Please be careful if you go trick or treating.

Halloween has always been a huge deal at our house. With nine children, you can imagine how exciting and fun that was on Halloween when they were little. Costumes planned for weeks, going trick or treating, seeing the fun spooky decorations neighbours had set up, and counting their candy loot at the end of the night, and trading each other for the candy they liked best.

On a more serious subject, I am shocked and saddened by the attack on Paul Pelosi at his home by a deranged intruder, brutally attacked with a hammer, with a cracked skull, a damaged arm and long hours of surgery as a result. Regardless of one’s politics, politics are irrelevant, this is a shocking attack on an innocent person, of a considerable age (he is 82) by a deranged attacker. The assailant could easily have killed him.

One of the things that shocks me most is the dramatic increase in violence since the pandemic. I truly don’t understand how that can be the outcome of more than two years of the pandemic. We all lived through something frightening and terrible, almost like a war waged on us by an unseen enemy. Many didn’t survive, many lost homes, jobs, and loved ones. It would seem that such an incredibly hard time would lead to greater compassion, and kindness toward one’s fellow man. Instead, there have never been more shootings, more violence, more brutal attacks, and crime. Mass shootings are no longer a rare occurrence, instead they happen every day, and the only thing that changes is the number of victims and the name of the location where it occurred. People are being mugged and attacked in broad daylight, stores are being robbed, and people are being killed by assault weapons, by teen agers, with military style weapons that are in wide circulation. Economic circumstances are hard, but not enough so to justify mass crime on an alarming scale, or the murder of innocent people during house invasions. Why is the overriding response to the stress of the pandemic one of violence, hostility, aggression and even murder. What during those hard scary two+ years has led to such an explosion of anger instead of compassion. We were punished enough by Covid, without having the aftermath make it even worse, with people turning on each other with killing sprees and destruction. I just don’t see how that has become the result, or why. Most of us came out of the two years of lockdowns, worry and sickness, exhausted, somewhat demoralized and many depressed. PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become commonplace,—–but so have violence and mass shootings.

It seems to be a noticeable reaction in every city, in every country—-and perhaps worse in the US, because fire arms are so readily available. But crime and violence have increased abroad too, even if not to the extreme degree as in the US.

I remember the somber days after 9/11, with the country in shock over being attacked on their own soil. There was a loss of innocence realizing it could happen. New York was like a deserted city in mourning for months, and the rest of the country was quiet and sad for a long time. But it made people kinder to each other, more helpful, more supportive, reaching out to each other in shared sorrow. Why is that not happening now? We have always faced disasters with kindness and compassion for fellow victims, I think this is the first time that instead of a helping hand, people are the victims of violent crimes and being injured and murdered.

If there is an explanation for it, I don’t know it. And we stand aghast at what is happening, the additional tragedies being added to those of Covid, and the lonely pain of the lockdowns. I hope that this is only temporary, and we are not descending into the hell of violence and crime for a long stay. We all need to heal from the pandemic, not fear for our lives every day. Untreated mentally ill people are roaming the streets freely, and common criminals are having a field day. I hope this stops now. It is the exact opposite of the comfort, healing and peace we need after 3 years of fighting Covid, and struggling to stay alive….only to be murdered when we go to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. The violence needs to stop now, whatever the reason for it beginning. It needs to end so we can all heal from these very hard three years and return to some semblance of normal. And we cant allow violence, crime and murder to become our new normal.

Have a great week, and a fun Halloween if you celebrate it. And above all, stay safe!!!

love, Danielle

8/22/22, Back to School!!!

Posted on August 22, 2022

Hi Everyone,

I hope these last days of summer are still giving you some fun times, as we all begin to rev our engines up for the Fall. This time of year still smells to me of new pencils, new Superman or Wonder Woman lunch boxes, new notebooks, and all the excitement of new classrooms, new teachers and old friends. September always feels like the time for new projects, and moving ahead with fresh energy.

The children I know went back to school last week, and the rest of us are getting the sand out of our shoes and putting on real clothes again. I just finished editing two books and am working on a new outline. My daughters who work in fashion are revving up their engines to start work on fashion week this week. And it’s exciting to start new projects with fresh ideas.

I enjoyed a week’s vacation in July with three of my daughters, and managed to see all of my children for a brief visit in August, but it was so wonderful to see them and be together. And now we’re all off and running to work. September is an exciting month. And I have a new book out, “The Challenge” about the daring rescue of 7 kids in their early teens lost on a dangerous mountain in Montana. It was inspired by the incredible rescue of the 13 boys in Thailand trapped in a cave, four years ago. The entire world held their breath as the rescue unfolded, completely successfully, which inspired my book. There is a new movie out about the Thai rescue, and a documentary, and I haven’t had time to watch either one, but I will. When it was happening, I was mesmerized by the complicated rescue operation and jubilant at its success. And I hope you love my book about the mountain rescue.

Since organizing a big family takes a lot of planning and military precision, I’m already thinking about the holidays, and I start my Christmas shopping in August. My family makes fun of me for it, but I love getting an early start!!!

I hope you have some fun plans for the Fall, and some exciting new projects in view. Have a great week!!!

much love,
Danielle

5/5/22, Mothers

Posted on May 5, 2022

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you, and that things are returning to normal after the pandemic. I keep hearing about how things have changed, familiar businesses have disappeared, new employees are hard to come by, many people have changed jobs, or haven’t found new jobs yet to replace their old ones. Every time I need something repaired, at home, or with my car, I’m told how difficult it is to get parts. (I have been waiting for a replacement refrigerator since last August, and I’ve now been told that I wont have it before September. Over a year to get a new fridge). My florist can no longer get certain flowers. Caterers that were easy to come by and ready to take on any event, no longer have the staff they did before and turn down parties because they just don’t have the experienced servers to staff them, and new staff no longer want to work the same demanding hours, and wont work on holidays.  I have been helping one of my children refurbish a house, and shopping recently at popular furniture brands, half the merchandise had been discontinued and the rest was back ordered for many months. What should have been easy to accomplish was much harder than expected, and before the pandemic. I was stunned, and imports are sitting in containers on long delayed ships. And my publishers, one of the largest in the world, are still not back in their offices, and all their employees are working from home. And in spite of less service, and very delayed deliveries, prices seem to have gone up across the board. Everything is more expensive than before. So other than our concerns about our health, whether consumer, vendor, or employer, the ripple effect of the aftermath of Covid is affecting us all.

 

This Sunday is Mother’s Day—-with nine (adult) children, it is still one of my favorite holidays!!! I love it. My mother left when I was 7 years old, and I grew up alone with my father, so there were many instances in my own childhood, when I was without a mother. But it’s interesting how life provides what we need. Throughout my life, there have always been older women who filled parts of that role for me. A truly wonderful stepmother from the time I was sixteen, and a one time friend of my mother’s whom I connected with later in life and was also an extraordinary mother figure for me. And throughout my life, there was always one or several women who fulfilled a motherly role for me, and one or two who still do even now and have served as role models in my life.

 

Being a mother is an extraordinary honor and privilege, and has been the greatest joy in the world for me, more powerful than any other. It is a special bond, which doesn’t always go smoothly, but can be one of the sweetest relationships in the world and an incredible blessing. Motherhood is not for everyone, and for some it is a form of bondage that weighs heavily. Too often one hears that things will change someone for the better when they have children. I don’t believe in that theory. Some women know that they are not cut out to be mothers, and I respect that point of view entirely. Some women live to become mothers and thrive once they are, others dread it and see it as an intolerable burden. Those women are wise not to have children, going counter to one’s nature about something so important rarely has a happy result for mother or child. And many women also grieve and feel incomplete if they can’t have children. But having benefitted so richly from generous women who took me into their hearts to fulfill a motherly role for me, I can say with certainty that even women who are not biological mothers can play a hugely important part in someone’s life in a motherly role that is mutually fulfilling for both and can be as close, or even closer at times, as ‘real’ motherhood.

 

So I celebrate all kinds of mothers on Mother’s Day, whether biological or adopted, or a warm affectionate relationship that can change someone’s life forever for the better. you can make an enormous difference in someone’s life in a motherly role, whether you gave birth to them or not, and whether official or not. It was certainly true for me growing up, and even now.

 

So happy Mother’s Day to Mothers of all kinds and natures. Being a mother is not an easy role, although to some it comes more naturally than others. And sometimes the closest of mothers and daughters can encounter bumps and challenges and friction in their relationships. Love is always the answer, even at the hardest times. And a child who appears to hate you at one time in your relationship may be the child you will be closest to one day.’ Motherhood is not for sissies’, whether real or adopted. And even if it doesn’t always feel that way, and there may be disappointing times, it is always a blessing and a learning process that benefits everyone. No one can humble us or hurt us like our children, or give us as much joy.

 

I hope you have a wonderful mother’s day, and can celebrate it with the mothers and daughters in your life, whether ‘official’ children or not. I hope it will be a happy day for you!!!

 

Have a great week, love, Danielle

4/11/22, Resurrection, Rise and Shine!!!

Posted on April 11, 2022

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope life is sailing along, and that things are going well for you.

 

Every year, during this week before Easter, I touch on the religious and philosophical concept most dear to me. And with holidays of many religions converging at this time of year, it seems the appropriate time. The whole idea of Easter is Resurrection: Rising again, recovering, starting fresh and new. We’ve all had a hard run for the past two years, with Covid nipping at our heels, and a dark cloud over us for a lot of that time of the pandemic. And we are still feeling the impact of it, and are trying to outrun it with vaccines, and masks, and various forms of caution even two years later. It’s been a hard time for most people, particularly those who got sick, or lost loved ones. Covid has been very present in our lives for these two years, and has created new stresses and anxieties in our lives.

 

And aside from Covid, there is just plain old life. All the challenges we face daily, with kids, and jobs, and people we love, and bosses, and illnesses, car repairs and bills to pay. Life is a challenge. Some times are better than others. And some challenges are brutal. Some people’s lives just sail along, their kids never have major problems, their marriages were the right choice from Day One and still are, their kids don’t move away to other cities and live close to home, their jobs work out perfectly, and major tragedies have never happened to them. I know some people like that, although not many. And you probably do too. I wonder how they got so lucky. But most of us don’t have that smooth a ride in life. And among those people, who among us has not had a bitter disappointment, lost a person we loved dearly, or a job we really needed and lost it unfairly, who hasn’t had a problem with a child, or a betrayal by a friend, who hasn’t had a broken heart at some point, or a relationship that fell apart or marriage that ended badly. Most people have been through some tough stuff. It’s a struggle to bounce back from the hard blows, and you can wind up beaten down by life…..and that’s where I love the concept of resurrection. It is good to remember that religiously, before the resurrection, came the crucifixion. And THEN the resurrection came, AFTER the tough stuff.

 

I LOVE the idea of resurrection, rebirth, starting over, starting fresh, a clean slate—-even if you have NO religion. You don’t need a religion to believe in Resurrection of your spirit, of your body, of your life—-all you need is a tiny bit of faith that life can turn around and be okay again—that you can fall in love with the right person after the wrong one broke your heart, or that your bumpy relationship can recover, or that you can recover from an illness, find a new and better job—or the boss who nearly drove you insane and poisoned your life might quit and move on. Resurrection is the rainbow after the storms. It’s the chance to start again—to get another chance. It’s a fresh start after you thought you just couldn’t do it anymore. It is rising from the depths where you may have fallen, and getting another chance at life. And after you have suffered, how much more will you appreciate the gifts that life gives you—the recovered health, the new outlook on life, the relationship you’ve always hoped for, the person you love who recovers from an illness, the really good job that suits you perfectly. Good things do happen. Life can turn around. You are not doomed to be unhappy forever.

 

I love the idea of resurrection, and it always comes at the right time, when you really need it.

 

May you feel new again, and get a fresh start if you need one. May you feel reborn, with all the joy and peace that entails. For any of us who feel in need of a resurrection, may it be yours. And it can happen any time–not just on Easter. Easter is just a reminder that it is possible, and can happen for all of us.

 

May this be a special time for you, of resurrection, and the renewal of hope and joy in your life.

 

with all my love, now and always, Danielle

 

2/14/22, Raise the Hearts!!!

Posted on February 14, 2022

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week. I was working full tilt on three books in different stages, which was intense. Sometimes I work that way when the ideas are flowing. A few weeks ago, I finished the second draft of one book in the morning, and moved on to another book in first draft that night. I’ve always found that when I’m working, more ideas come, sometimes in a flood, and when I’m not working (and being lazy), nothing comes. I prefer the flood of ideas to the drought. And inspiration is harder to come by these days while staying home a lot, not going out much, and having little or no social life because of Covid. The Covid worries provide a backdrop of anxiety, and staying home keeps one from seeing the little and big things that spark a book when you have a full life out in the world. So in these sparser times, I grab the inspiration when it grabs me and go with it, gratefully!!

 

So I’ve had a very busy month writing, with a third book percolating on the back burner as I work on the outline. And today is one of those days that can be wonderful or disappointing, Valentine’s Day. I’ve had some great ones and some real lemons in my lifetime. I’ve had two marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day, and both came as a (wonderful)surprise!! One led to eighteen mostly happy years and 8 children, and the other resulted in 8 years together, stormy but exciting, to a fascinating person, and no children. Both husbands were much older than I (decades) and were very interesting men, and both are gone now, I stayed close to both of them until the end of their lives. And I do miss them and having them to talk to. My husband John, the father of 8 of my 9 children was incredibly elegant, gracious, handsome, and the other, Tom, was brilliant and a genius, with an extraordinary mind. Both marriages ended in divorce before they died, we had a good run, and stayed close. Both were father figures for me since they were so much older. And both Valentine’s Day proposals were very romantic. (My first marriage was in my teens–my teens were a busy time. I went to college at 15, married in my teens, became a mother for the first time in my teens, and wrote my first book in my teens, at 19—-I started life early!!!)

 

And in contrast to my two Valentine’s Day proposals, I’ve had some really dreary, disappointing Valentine’s Days—haven’t we all!!!—-when nothing at all seemed to be happening. Some years, romance in one’s life is just not happening. And it can be REALLY discouraging if you haven’t met “The One” yet, or you’re between relationships, or if a relationship didn’t work out. I’ve found that (some) men aren’t very good about dates, not as good as women are about them, and some holidays mean a lot to us as women, and just don’t mean as much to them. So a man who really loves you may not come through on Valentine’s day with chocolates, flowers, or a great piece of jewelry, or a proposal, or even remember what day it is!!! (My husband Tom hated most holidays, and particularly didn’t like Christmas (and I LOVE Christmas) and won the prize one year when he asked me on December 23rd—“When is Christmas this year??”—Soon!!!) So your true love may not make the brilliant showing you hope for on Valentine’s Day, although I hope he (or she) does!!! Some men aren’t dazzlers on birthdays either….there is something about dates that eludes them. And if you have the perfect love who showers you with kisses and gifts on Valentine’s Day—–Lucky You!!! Hang on to him (or her).

 

I came across something in the writings of Joel Osteen this week. It is religious, so won’t appeal to those who aren’t, and I love his writings. They always give me hope and strength:  “God has prepared a set time for His promises to come to pass in your life. While you wait, you can trust that behind the scenes, He is working all things in your favor”. I really like that.

 

And there is a lovely saying in French, “Haut les coeurs!!” when you need encouragement, the rough translation is “Raise the Hearts!!!”

 

So, whether religious or not, I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day, and a great week. And May Love be showered on you abundantly by those you love today and every day. You deserve it!!!

 

with so much love, Danielle

 

 

12/31/21, Bye bye 2021 and Auld Lang Syne

Posted on December 31, 2021

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, we made it through another year, a challenging one—not quite as terrifying and devastating as 2020, but anxiety causing and pretty damn scary at times nonetheless.

 

2020 was a lonely year for me, locked down in France, far from my family for every holiday, in confinement most of the time, and isolation. I was alone for 10 months of 2020 and another 5 months into 2021. It was a huge challenge for me, having always been very close to my children, and away from them for a long time for the first time.

 

2021 was a lot happier, I got to see my kids again, and travelled to the States to see them four times, and was able to spend nearly five months with them, in the midst of their busy lives. I wrote more books in 2020, since I had nothing else to do, and was in solitary confinement for most of the year. But 2021 was less stressful and happier since I got to see my kids, and I did plenty of writing too.

 

And now here we are, we made it all the way through the year, with ups and downs, a year of vaccines for many, and hope for the world in this crazy unbelievable pandemic that has brought the entire world to a shrieking stop for nearly two years. How lucky we were not to live with this constant menace before. I believe that we will reach normalcy again, and it will have been hard won. But it has brought its share of blessings too.

 

I have never been a big fan of New Year’s Eve, people try too hard, expect too much, it’s dangerous on the roads, it’s usually rainy and cold and no fun to go out. I’ve always spent New Year’s Eves at home, either quietly with my husband and kids, or having friends in to dinner, a few years of poker parties I gave, which were a lot of fun, and in recent years, I’m always working on a book, after my kids leave after Christmas. I forget what day (and year) it is and get lost in the book.

 

And this year, I’ll be home with two of my daughters, enjoying a quiet evening at home. We can’t give big gatherings, and dont want to go to any, worrying about Covid, and rushing to get a test the next day.

 

The world is definitely in fragile shape, and we are living history that people will talk about for centuries. With the Covid numbers soaring beyond belief, it rattles me when I read them, and it scares all of us. But somehow, as we move on to a new year, I am grateful for the blessings that have happened to me in these turbulent years, the special friendships I have made in these two years, the people who have come into my life, and I have come to love, who have supported me through the lonely, scary times, and made me laugh and brought me comfort when I needed it most. I’m grateful for my old friends, my family, my homes. I am grateful for the hope buried deep in all of us that even dark times can’t extinguish. I am grateful for the good times that will come again, the happy days that lie ahead, and the healing of body and soul.

 

May this new year be an exceptionally great one for you, full of new adventures, unexpected blessings, true happiness, great good fortune, and good health. May this year make up to you for the pain and fear of the pandemic, and bring you solace, and enormous joy.

 

Wherever you are, whatever you do on New Year’s Eve, be safe, be warm, I hope you feel blessed and at peace. I’m grateful for my faithful readers, my children, my friends, all those I love—-thank you for the joy you have given me this year, and I look forward to the good times we will share in the year ahead. I feel certain that we will, and that good surprises are in store for all of us. Take good care and cherish the happy times!!!

 

Happy New Year, and all my love,

 

Danielle

 

12/21/21, Happy Christmas!!!

Posted on December 21, 2021

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re doing well in these frantic last few days before Christmas, and today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. (I prefer the longest day of the year in June), but long winter nights can be cozy.

 

The new variant Omicron is causing lots of concern around the globe. The hope seems to be that although it’s possibly more contagious, hopefully it will be less deadly, and that the virus is getting weaker. It’s rotten luck that it’s gotten underway and is gaining speed right around the holidays. I was in New York a few days ago, where the numbers are high, and there was a feeling of panic in the air. It was extremely unnerving, my daughters and I cancelled all our plans, including a birthday celebration and dinner for one of them, but it just didn’t feel safe to any of us, even eating outdoors. Since then, I’ve cancelled my office Christmas party, and we have reduced our family Christmas day dinner to a gift exchange with masks and no meal, in order to be as safe as we can be.

 

But whatever the circumstances, I wish you a healthy, peaceful safe Christmas, with people you love and who love you. I wish you the warmth of friends, and the closeness of all whom you hold dear. I hope you have a very, VERY happy Christmas wherever you are, and whoever you spend it with!!!

 

with all my love,  Danielle