Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

4/6/20, Resurrection

Posted on April 6, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you are doing okay in confinement, “sheltering in place”, quarantine, and all the necessary restrictions we are living with right now. Those restrictions are our gift to each other, and ourselves, to prevent further spread of the virus, and save lives. It is vitally important that we all follow the rules in our areas, stay safe, and stay home.

 

This coming Sunday is Easter, with Good Friday two days before. Easter has always been a holiday that my family has loved. Although it has much more serious religious connotations, in a lighter vein, it’s a happy holiday that we have all enjoyed, with Easter bunnies, and dyed Easter eggs, big chocolate eggs, Easter egg hunts, lots of jelly beans and Peeps (marshmallow bunnies and chicks in fluorescent colors). When the children were younger, and still had Easter vacations in school and college, we went to Hawaii every year. It was our tradition, and we had a terrific time.  We did Easter brunch, and everyone wore bunny ears, even the adults. And more recently, with all my kids grown up, we still have brunch (and still wear bunny ears), decorate the table, and enjoy the day together. (This year we will all be in isolation, separately, around the world, and visit with each other on Face Time.)

 

But beyond the more light-hearted more commercial side of the holiday, there is the religious side, with some serious introspection on Good Friday, to honor the death of Christ on the Cross, and a jubilant religious celebration on Easter Sunday, to honor the resurrection. Religion is not for everyone, but that is the essence of the religious aspect of the holiday. And in the Jewish faith, Passover comes this Wednesday, which I believe is a joyful holiday.

 

My very favorite religious concept, whatever one’s faith, is the one of Resurrection: of rebirth, a new beginning, a new chance, a new life, an opportunity to rise from the ashes, and whatever sadness or disappointment in our life.  There is no question whatever our faith, or none at all, there are times when life just beats us down, when bad or sad things happen, when we are overwhelmed by loss of some kind, the loss of a loved one, a marriage, a partner, a relationship, a child, a job. The loss of happiness, and even the loss of hope. And no matter how far down our spirits plunge, or how devastating the losses, the idea that we can Resurrect our hopes, our life, our trust, our faith in life and mankind—-that we can come back from the deep dark black hole we have fallen into, the idea that we can come back and recover and start fresh is vital to our survival and the quality of our lives. It is the rebirth of hope and joy that is so important, and what we celebrate on Easter, along with the Easter bunnies and jelly beans and peeps.

 

If ever there was a time when we need to cling to the idea of Resurrection, of rebirth, and starting fresh and starting over—it is now. This virus that has traveled the world, claiming lives across every continent and every border has knocked the wind out of us, and left us flattened, isolated, frightened, even terrified. And I am so grateful for the reminder of Resurrection right now, when we need it most. Resurrection is the rebirth of Hope, of Life, of trust, and of Love. We have to hang onto the belief that we will come out of this, alive, and better and stronger. Our countries will recover, most or all of our loved ones, and our hearts. We WILL bounce back!! We HAVE to. We MUST!!! And we WILL.

 

I send you all my faith and love. I have my dark, frightened moments too, we all do. But beyond that, and so much bigger is my faith in mankind and human nature, in my fellow man and his/her ability to endure and to survive, and surmount the obstacles we encounter—–and this is a big one. But we are bigger than this virus, and bigger than these dark times. I believe in the resurrection of our hopes, our dreams, our lives, our economies. We will not be down forever.  This has been our moment on the cross….but after that comes Resurrection. That is what I am placing my faith in. In every country, every language, we will overcome.

 

We will rise from the ashes. And each of us in our own way, will experience a resurrection, a rebirth.

 

For Christians, this is a Holy Week…..and this year, may be it be a week of blessings, hope and resurrection for the entire world.

 

 

with all my love, Danielle

 

2/18/20, Second Chance!!

Posted on February 18, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week. I’m in whirlwind mode at the moment, working on a book and an outline, some family events, and publishing schedules for this year and next. Keeping busy!!

 

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. I think I used up my Valentine’s Day tickets years ago—-I had 2 marriage proposals on Valentine’s Day (not on the same year!!), which was very romantic, I said yes to both!. This year I went out for burgers with one of my daughters who was free, and a friend. And I had a very good time!!!

 

But for those of you ladies who didn’t get what they hoped for on Valentine’s Day and were disappointed, take heart—you have a second chance!!!  This is Leap Year, and the tradition for Leap Year is that it’s supposedly the one day a year when a woman can propose to a man, and it’s considered quite acceptable!!! So 12 days from now, you can turn the tables on the man (or woman) in your life, if they’ve been slow to propose, and as a woman, you can propose!! I’ve never tried it myself, but why not, if it feels right to you. I think I’ve heard that it’s originally an Irish tradition, but it seems to apply worldwide. There’s a cute movie about it called “Leap Year” with Matthew Goode and Amy Adams, it’s not new but it’s still around (It turns up on Netflix from time to time). So get ready, get set!!! Personally, I’ve always wished I had a Leap Year birthday, then I would only be a quarter the age I am now—-you’d miss out on birthday gifts that way, but it might be worth it.

 

So maybe this year Leap Year will be your big moment. Don’t miss it!!! Or you’ll have to wait another four years!! Have a great week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

2/10/20, The Big V

Posted on February 10, 2020

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and a busy one, and this is a big week for some people, for many people: Valentine’s Day!!! My week is off to a great start: today, Monday, is the birthday of my youngest son, Maxx. He was the best Valentine’s Day gift, EVER!!! So Happy Birthday, Maxx!! We’ll be having dinner together tonight, with our family. And Friday will be a very big day for some people, and a lucky one. Valentine’s Day can go either way, it can be memorable and heartwarming, a non-event, or even heart-wrenching and disappointing.  That all depends on who you love, and whether they come through and make an effort or not. This is a particularly interesting year for Valentine’s Day since it’s Leap Year, and according to tradition, a woman can propose to a man on Leap Day, February 29th (which only happens once every four years), so hang onto your hat, here comes Valentine’s Day.

 

I have always believed, particularly in my writing, that people haven’t changed in centuries, nor the issues that really matter to us: concern for our kids, the importance of our loves, our relationships, our worries about jobs, money, friends, family, health, the loss of loved ones, etc. The costumes may change over time, but the things we care about haven’t changed, although more complicated in modern times. It’s what makes my books timeless, because we care about all those same things, just as our ancestors did.

 

A couple of things have changed noticeably in very recent times, which make love, or relationships, challenging to find.  It’s more about how we meet each other than how much we love each other.  Most people today, especially ‘Millennials’ (in their twenties and thirties) want jobs with ‘flexible hours’, which means working all or mostly from home, which sounds cool at first, and has its definite downsides. It used to be when you went to school or university, you met and saw lots of people every day, the influx of people in your life was constant, lots of people in and out, and lots of opportunities to make new friends and fall in love. The same was true at work, depending on your job, there was a constant flow of new faces, new people, new opportunities. Today, many people get an education on line, and many, many people work from home. It’s considered desirable. No fuss, no muss, no bother, you don’t have to wear makeup, look nice or even comb your hair. You can work at home in your pajamas with your computer, but the downside to that is huge: you are isolated and alone, no new people in your life, or very few. And most communication happens by text now: so not even a human voice all day. The result is that many more people are depressed because of that isolation. And I know how challenging working like that is. Because I work at home in my pajamas too. It’s certainly convenient, and I get a lot of work done, but the isolation can be very challenging. And it’s not necessarily good for us when the only person we see all day is the Fed EX or UPS delivery person to sign for a package!!! And a big source of new people (and potential loves) is removed when you work at home. And there is no one there, not even a friend of the same sex or semi-stranger to say that you look great today, or even ask you how you are. We all need an influx of humans and human contact in our lives.

 

The second big change of style is again very typical of Millennials, but has spread to many/all generations. Since the traditional ways to meet people have changed (school and work), and computers and the Internet have taken over our lives, a LOT of people meet now on line. That is a HUGE change in our habits and mores now, for everything!!! You don’t have to go to a store, you can buy anything you want on line, from groceries to cars. You can find a new home, do all your shopping, meet a new person and fall in love, all on the Internet. I have personally always thought internet meeting and dating extremely dangerous—-there are some seriously terrifying, dangerous and even criminal people out there, and there is no screening process, you can meet an axe murderer—but you can meet scary people at a dinner party too, or on a bus. But what internet shopping and dating has changed is how we view the selection process. And I do know several people, at every age, who have met and married as a result of on line dating, and are very happy. But I’ve also watched people, again at every age, swipe their way through the process at full speed. This is a visual generation that moves fast, look, check out, like, don’t like, move on at lightning speed. It’s kind of a merciless unforgiving process….”Ugh….don’t like his/her ears….chin…nose….too fat…tooo short….too tall….looks dumb…yuk, bald….or weird hair….wrong neighborhood….” It sucks the humanity right out of human contact, I can’t even focus fast enough to make decisions that fast at the speed they do. You don’t hear a voice, you don’t see them move, you don’t feel that incredible flutter in your stomach when someone different and special walks into a room. If they don’t pass muster in a fraction of a second before you swipe on to the next one with better hair and a better chin, they’re dead in the water, and gone forever off your screen. I find that scary and incredibly limiting. It’s like shopping for fruit in the produce section….too soft, too hard, too green, too ripe….gone. Wow!!! You will never know who they really are at that kind of speed. While not wasting a second, we are losing life-altering opportunities. We learn to forgive people their funny ears, or thinning hair because they have qualities we learn to love, that just don’t show up between swipes in an 80th of a second.  The three men I have loved, and was married to for a relatively long time in each case (9, 8, and 18 years) stopped me in my tracks when I met them, they each had something very special, an ephemeral quality, an unseen chemistry, and I knew each of them for a long time (years) before anything happened between us (but there was always that chemistry, that feeling that they were important and special to me, which eventually proved to be true, and I loved them deeply).

 

Relationships happen so fast now, they start while you’re internet shopping for them between swipes, begin by text, and often end by text just as quickly. In this case, I like the old style better, it’s way more romantic. And I’m sure people would swipe by me just as fast.  Too fast for all of us. It eliminates that chemistry when you see them, meet them, and hear the sound of their voice, and everything depends on their nose, their chin, or the tee shirt they’re wearing in the picture (ugh, I hate that band!!), so you miss a great opportunity. Personally, I need human contact, chemistry, and lots of time to really get to know them before I love someone.

 

So that’s what you’re up against this Valentine’s Day, a lot more isolation these days, thus fewer opportunities, and you have to hope someone doesn’t swipe past your picture at full speed because you were having a bad hair day in the picture or wearing that sweater you knew you shouldn’t have bought but you did anyway. Or because the details about you don’t sound so great on paper (or on a screen), but you’re a fantastic love-worthy person!!!

 

I hope you get LOTS of chocolates and flowers—-I was proposed to twice on Valentine’s Day, and my youngest son proposed to his fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Those were the best ones ever for me, romantic and wonderful. And I’ve had my share of disappointing, lonely Valentine’s Days too, most of us have. I hope that this is your best one ever, that the person you love loves you equally, and is thoughtful and kind, and I hope all your dreams come true!!!

This Valentine’s Day and always, With lots of Valentine love to you,   Danielle

 

1/6/20, Family

Posted on January 6, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope the last week has been peaceful and that you got through New Year’s Eve and Day safely and happily. I have to admit, as much as I love Christmas, I don’t like New Year’s.  New Year’s Eve is always heavy with expectation and often fraught with disappointment. Plans don’t work out quite the way we want them to, parties aren’t as much fun as we hope. We don’t have the right date or the right dress or the right plan. And although New Year’s Day is supposed to be a fresh beginning and the start of a whole New Year and clean slate, it’s often also a reminder of what didn’t work out last year. It’s just not a holiday I love!!! Having said that, my New Year’s Eve was surprisingly nice this year. For several years now, I have been alone on New Year’s eve, my kids have left after Christmas by then, so to avoid being sad and missing them too much (after the joys of a full house over Christmas!!), I start a new book every year when they leave, around December 27th—-and by New Year’s eve, I’m deep in the book and forget everything else. This year, one my daughters decided at the last minute to stay until New Year’s Day. She cooked all day on New Year’s Eve, set a beautiful table, with decorations, and provided a really festive happy New Year’s Eve for me, one of my sons and his fiancée, and another friend, and we had a really great time together, unexpectedly, on the spur of the moment. It was the best New Year’s Eve I’ve had in years. None of us had high expectations or elaborate plans, and we had a great time together!!!

 

I was mulling over what to write about today, in the blog, and read a reader’s comment to the last blog, about a minor family argument that turned into a big fight during holiday cookie baking and spoiled everything. And I thought I’d write about that. I’m an only child, so I’ve never had the problems or the blessings of siblings, and my family was tiny (just my father and I, while I grew up). In contrast, with nine children, I’ve been blessed with a big family and have had a front row seat to the closeness of siblings, what a joy it can be, and what a challenge at times. I do find that in big families, kids seem to get along better than in small ones, because it’s such a big group that there are always other options if they’re not getting along with someone. It’s kind of a moveable feast!!!

 

Families are a work in progress. They move, they change, they shift, like the sea or the tides, or the shells on the beach. We’re a close knit family, and are all very close, and spend holidays together, and I think we get along surprisingly well, but in any family, storms can come up, and blow over, or hang around for a while. Someone can make a careless comment and upset someone else without even intending to, or people dig their heels in and disagree over something trivial. I think it happens in all families. There are a lot of personalities involved, spouses and in laws, or siblings, and things get bumpy for a while. What I do find though is that as fast as something can come up and turn into a storm, it can calm down just as fast and hours or days later, it just doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. I think ALL families go through it, just like no marriage is without the occasional argument. It’s just the nature of humans, and life. And hopefully, love carries the day in the end, and we all forgive each other. So I hope that the cookie baking argument was or will be short lived, and has been forgotten by now.

 

Families have a life force of their own. And the things that drive us nuts at one moment, seem silly a short while later. (And too much alcohol sometimes consumed during the holidays can turn small fights into big ones too)

 

But a little rain falls in the life of every family. And I envy my children the fact that they have siblings. It looks like having a best friend, only better!!!

 

I hope your new year is starting out peacefully, and that the holidays were happy. But if your holidays were a little stormy, I hope the storms clear up soon, and everything will be happy again!!!

 

My new book, Moral Compass, is coming out tomorrow, on Tuesday. I’m REALLY excited about it, and I hope you love it!! I worked really hard to get it right. It’s about how an act committed by high school seniors can escalate into a life changing event and touch everyone around them, parents, teachers, students, friends, even police and a judge.  I think it deals with an important subject, and I really hope you enjoy it and it’s meaningful to you too!!!  And I’m hard at work on new books at the moment. I’m working on a new book, and an outline!! That will keep me out of mischief for a while!!!

 

 

Be well and happy, and I hope that everything is smooth around you!!! Have a great week!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

12/30/19, Happy New Year

Posted on December 30, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that the holidays went smoothly for you, and that you had some wonderful heartwarming, happy times. And if for some reason, the holidays fell short, at least they are behind you now. Some years are just harder than we expect, or don’t turn out quite the way we hope.  My holidays were very busy with a full house, lots of details to see to, to make sure that everything went as planned and everyone was happy, and I was very grateful to have my children at home. We were only missing one on Christmas Day, who had to visit his in laws in another state. But everyone else was home, and there were 27 people at our dinner table on Christmas night, with extended family as well. It was a big, noisy, chatty, happy group. And my children spoiled me this year, as they always do, with some really lovely thoughtful gifts. I got some great sweaters (a happy face one, and one with hearts!! and one in gorgeous bubble gum pink, and a beige one with black polka dots), and very cute shoes (including a pair of bubblegum pink high top sneakers I wanted!! some shoes with hearts on them, and a pair of pale blue satin high heels), a beautiful bracelet with a red enamel heart, and two beautiful bead bracelets, and the print of a painting I have wanted for years!!! And the best gift of all was being with my children!!!  As always, the time flew by, and now I’m back at work.

 

The holidays are a real challenge for some people, or even for everyone at times. And the next hurdle is New Year’s eve, a night full of expectation and hopes that are hard to live up to in real life. It’s a night I’ve never liked, although I’ve dealt with it in many different ways. When my kids were young and I was happily married, we watched old movies on TV and went to bed early, which I still think is the best way to spend it, with someone you love. Out in the world, people try so hard to have fun, and expect so much of that night that it rarely is fun. Everywhere I am, it’s cold on that night. Driving is dangerous with some people drunk on the road, and I don’t like to go out. I’m much happier at home.

 

At another time in my life, I gave elegant black tie dinner parties with dancing on New Year’s Eve. It was very pretty, and seemed elegant and glamorous at the time—but the evening I enjoyed most was once during a bad storm, when the bridges of San Francisco were closed, and my caterer couldn’t come to cook dinner and cancelled at the last minute, so in desperation, we ran around to all the fast food places we could think of, and had burgers hot dogs, corn dogs, pizza and curly fries for my guests in evening clothes. And it turned out to be much more fun than our fancy dinner!!! Once divorced, without a partner, I gave poker parties on New Year’s Eve for several years, which made who to kiss at midnight no longer a problem. I had about 20 people over to play poker and we had a ball, and I think I made $20.00 that was so much fun that I did it for several years, and then eventually the poker parties got tiresome. And a few years ago, I figured out that the best way for me to spend New Year’s eve was writing/working, so that’s how I spend New Year’s eve now. When I write, I don’t know what day it is, or where I am. I don’t feel alone when I write….I don’t get dressed up, I’m at home, and don’t have to drive anywhere. It’s not glamorous but for now it works for me. There is a time for everything, and New Year’s Eve is such a challenge and is so often disappointing that I don’t want to have to struggle to make it fun. I think a lot of people feel that way and prefer to stay home.  So that’s what I do!!! It’s one of those nights which underlines what you don’t have in your life, rather than what you do.

 

However you spend it, I wish you a wonderful, productive, happy, healthy new year—-and I hope that all your wishes come true in the coming year!!! I hope it will be your best year ever. And I hope that you have a plan for New Year’s Eve that appeal to you and sounds like fun to you. But above all, I hope that 2020 is your very best year, and that “The best is yet to come” describes it perfectly.

 

I wish you a very, very VERY Happy New Year, and lots of fun times and good people up ahead in 2020!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

12/23/19, Christmas Wishes

Posted on December 23, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that the preparations for the holidays have gone smoothly for you so far, and that in spite of last minute rushing around, that everything is falling into place as you want it to, and you are looking forward to your plans. Some years are easier than others.

 

With Christmas Eve tomorrow, or Hanukkah today, I hope that you have plans to spend the holiday with people you love and who appreciate you and will make you happy. Or maybe this year, you’re devoting yourself to those around you to make it a special holiday for them, even if it’s not exactly as you wanted it to be. Some years the holidays seem so perfect, and other years they fall short in unexpected ways. On harder years for me, being grateful for what is right, rather than focusing on what is wrong, has really helped me. What I hope most for you, and for all of us, is that the holidays will be easy this year, and full of joy—-that the right people thought of you and remembered you, that the right kids came home (or ALL your kids!!!), that you had a few private special moments to just feel good about these special days, and can enjoy the warmth of friends and loved ones, and good times.

 

I wish you beautiful holidays this year, and always, easy, satisfying, fulfilling days throughout the year. I hope that the year ahead will be a great one for you—-and that however you spend the holidays, with family, or friends, or at work this year, or even alone, I hope that it turns out to be a precious moment for you, one that warms your heart, and brings you joy.

 

May these holidays bring you many, many blessings, and peace, joy, and love, with all my love,

 

Danielle

 

12/16/19, Miracles Large and Small

Posted on December 16, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Wow….the countdown has begun in earnest, Nine days until Christmas, as of today. I hope that your preparations are going well, and that you have plans you like for the holidays, with friends or family, and the people who are meaningful to you. I still have to buy a gift for the “elephant game” we play on Christmas Eve. Other than that, I think I’m set, with things I hope my friends and family will enjoy. We will have new future in laws at Christmas Dinner with us this year, so it should be a big happy group with some new faces.

 

I thought of a holiday tradition today which is very meaningful to me, although it’s not of my own religious traditions. It’s the children’s tops called Dreidels that they play with on Hanukkah, in the Jewish faith. When my son Nick passed away, it was a very hard time for me, and for our whole family, as you can imagine. He was barely more than a kid, in his teens, and shortly after he died, I got a terrible cold (as one does sometimes after emotional traumas), and it was getting steadily worse, so I went to see our family doctor, who startled me by taking one of those tops, a Dreidel, out of a drawer and handed it to me. The top has four sides, and has a Hebrew letter on each side, and our doctor explained that it says “A great miracle happened here”. At the time, I thought he was crazy—-a great miracle? My son’s death? He said that in time, we would find that a great miracle had happened. I kept the Dreidel, and always remembered what he said, and years later, I realized what he said was true. Although a loss for all of us, we established two foundations in his honor, to help the mentally ill, the homeless, and to support suicide prevention. In the years since Nick’s death, our foundations to honor Nick have supported dozens of organizations that assist the mentally ill in solid, concrete ways, and through those organizations have helped thousands of people. Surviving a hard blow like that brought us closer together as a family, and has helped others as well. The lessons we learned from him, and after him have been cherished lessons, and miracles of love. It is comforting to know that indirectly Nick helped so many people, and that it truly is a kind of miracle. Do we still miss him terribly? Of course, and there is always a bittersweet edge to holidays when we miss him even more (he was the family clown, and always made us laugh with his antics!!! he had a great sense of humor). But Nick’s life was a miracle, a miracle of love. I have always had a tender affection for Dreidels when I see them, and remember what the doctor said. ‘A great miracle happened here’. Nick was a miracle, love is always a miracle, family is a miracle even if they aren’t our birth families, and are friends who have become families to us. Love in all forms is a miracle.

 

I’m so grateful for those miracles, and the reminder that the Dreidels provide. I have several on my desk, and collect them. No matter how hard our paths have been, we all have had miracles in our lives, some are obvious and easy to see, and other challenges you have to look at more closely to see the miracles in them more clearly.

 

May your holidays be touched by miracles, large and small, easy ones that are easy to embrace and identify. And even if these holidays are challenging for you in some way, looking back at them, you may see miracles that you haven’t noticed yet.

 

I wish you miracles for these holidays. And above all, I wish you holidays filled with joy, peace, and love.

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

12/2/19, Juggling Act

Posted on December 2, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that everything is going smoothly in your life, getting ready for the holidays.

 

With Christmas only three weeks away, I was sitting quietly last night, thinking about all the things I have to do. I try very hard to be organized, which is the only way I managed with nine children, when they were younger, more than one house to run even now, and many books to write. I’m not as busy as I was when my kids were little, but things have a way of evening out. I write more books now, and Christmas shopping for my kids is more complicated and more of a challenge than spending an afternoon at Toys R Us, as I did then. (Not to mention putting all the toys together, which took hours—-and an engineering degree I didn’t have!!!). But Christmas and the holidays aren’t just about Christmas shopping. It’s about entertaining friends, preparing certain traditional foods. We used to bake brownies for all the kids’ friends and teachers, put them in pretty tins and deliver them. Writing the Christmas cards, going to school performances if you have young children. The list is endless of what many people do before the holidays. When I look back at all I did when my children were really young, I have no idea how I did it. Especially times Nine!!!

 

I think domestic tasks are more evenly divided now between men and women than they used to be, or at least I like to think so. With a husband who was of another generation then, he was not an active participant in household chores or Christmas preparations, although he loved Christmas. Sometimes I wonder if people realize all that women do by the time the turkey is on the table and the tree is decorated,  all the gifts are wrapped, and the Christmas music is playing. I was lucky in two things, or many things, but one is that I worked at home, on my own schedule, so I could work at night when the kids were asleep, and I was also lucky in that I don’t need a lot of sleep. I still do many things at night, because there are fewer interruptions, and I love to write at night, for the same reason, few interruptions. But as a working woman, the bulk of holiday tasks still falls to us, and somehow it’s expected. We shop for the gifts, and wrap them, if there’s cooking to be done, we do it (lucky for my family, I don’t, but I used to. I am not an outstanding chef, and never was). I did the Christmas cards, the baking (I’m a fairly decent baker). I went to every Christmas school performance, AND auditions, sports games, and all activities, not to mention the orthodontist, doctors’ appointments, and less exciting tasks even right before the holidays. And when the dogs had to go to the vet, I took them. My point is that women have always done an incredible number of ‘unofficial’ jobs, while holding down a real job, and taking care of children.

 

It’s true all year, not just during the holidays. My generation was told that we could “have it all”, an active satisfying, challenging career, AND a family. Women in earlier generations had to make a choice between family and career. We decided, and I did too, that we could have both, and succeed at both. And many women did. What no one told you were the sacrifices you’d have to make, the things you would simply not have time to do if you chose to “have it all”. I used my kids’ school hours to write my books, as well as writing at night. I don’t think I had lunch with a single friend for twenty years, until my kids grew up, and even now I rarely do. (It cuts right into the middle of the day and interrupts my work, to take the time to dress nicely, go somewhere, eat lunch, and get back. it takes 3 or 4 hours out of my work day, even if I enjoy it). I never had time to read a magazine when they were little, and fewer books than I liked. I had worked in advertising as a copywriter, and as a high school teacher, and was able to give that up and work at home on the books before I was thirty. But working at home meant juggling all the household and family tasks, AND doing my job of writing. I wore my hair long and pulled back because I rarely had time to get to the hairdresser. I loved to go shopping, but had little time for that. I think most men, and women who have opted for careers and not kids, don’t realize all the things you don’t have time to do for yourself if you have a family and a job. And they still ask “Have you done the Christmas cards yet?” I don’t know a single man who does them. There’s a lot you can do on the Internet now, but I think as women we take pride in doing the things that are supposedly part of our ‘job’, as mothers and partners. Most of us like doing those things, even if it means that we skip doing something for ourselves. I am amazed at all that I see women do, for their partners and families, and the sacrifices they make without a whimper. They really are the unsung heroes of our busy times.

 

I recently spoke to a female friend who is the head of a conglomerate of 5 publishing houses in France. She works incredibly hard, is married, and has two young children in lower school. It was midnight when we were speaking. She had been to three different book fairs that week in other cities. And while we were talking, she was making lasagna for a class event at her daughter’s school, and had a breakfast meeting with an author the next day.

 

I salute these brave busy women who do so much that no one even notices, and rarely thanks them for. No one realizes all the personal time they give up to do something for themselves that they might enjoy. Most of them don’t complain, they don’t remind us of all they do, whether during the holidays or during the rest of the year. Sometimes women really are heroes, for what they give up, for all they do, and for the incredible juggling acts they manage, to make their families and friends happy. My own life is a lot easier now, but I remember so well the many nights I fell into bed exhausted, or wanted to, but I still had a Halloween costume to make, or a doll house to decorate with tiny little rugs and miniature furniture, so it would be ready on Christmas.

 

So for those of you racing around madly, with no time for yourselves, doing everything—–I salute you with the greatest respect and endless admiration. It really is a juggling act, and in the end, even with little or no praise for it, it is well worth it. There is an enormous satisfaction that comes from it in the long run, and precious memories. I don’t regret a single lunch with a friend that I gave up, and the memories of the baking, making, and running around to make the holidays a success are a tender memory now.

 

Have a wonderful week, and even if you are racing at full speed, doing things for everyone else—take just a minute to do something for yourself!!!

 

much love, Danielle

 

11/25/19, Bittersweet

Posted on November 25, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

As the holidays approach, most people are busy right now, and we’ll get busier. I worked hard on some editing (of a book) this week, adding and correcting research. I’m always very meticulous about the research in my books, and it’s a challenge to weave research, real history, and technical facts, into the story. It gives a book substance, and adds reality to fiction. In addition to that, I was getting ready for my children to come home for Thanksgiving. And a board meeting this week of the foundation established in my son Nick’s name to deal with mental health issues and suicide prevention. So I’ve been busy. And probably you too!!!

 

As the holidays roll around, they always make me think. On the surface, the feeling is one of excitement, happy times to share both on Thanksgiving and Christmas, traditions we love, and the people we love gathered around us, good times to share. Hopefully happy days that will make fond memories. But there’s a lot more to the holidays than that, and a darker side to them that I never forget. For every happy gathering and bright group of friends and families, there are people for whom the holidays are a challenge and not a happy occasion. People alone, or out of a job, or who have just lost a loved one, or have no families, families that struggle, and thousands of homeless people in all of our cities. For some, the holidays are an agony others can’t even imagine. I think of those people. And my heart goes out to them. I have had some hard holidays too, most of us have. And even the happiest families have their challenging times. The Thanksgiving two months after my son died was brutal, and Christmas that same year. I struggled to make it as best I could for my other children, but it was hard for us all, and the year their father died. Those things happen to us all, or the bad timing when something bad happens, like losing a job right before the holidays. None of us are exempt from the rough spots in life.

 

I remember a Thanksgiving when I was alone in a new city a long time ago, before I had my family. And I came across a quote from the Bible which touched me, “God places the solitary in families”. It was true for me, some kind people I hardly knew invited me to join them for Thanksgiving, and I was deeply grateful. I always remember that every year. If we have a joyful gathering and a full table, it’s nice to remember those who are alone and try to include them, or even to work with people in dire need on our streets and reach out to them. For every happy gathering, there is a lonely person somewhere, alone and perhaps in despair, whom we can make a real difference to.

 

I wish you all a joyful abundant truly happy Thanksgiving, with the people you love, and the friends you enjoy, and for those who are alone or struggling, they are not forgotten. I hope that each of us can make a difference to someone in need this Thanksgiving, with some large or small gesture that will warm them and give them hope.

 

With all my love and warmest thoughts, may it be a blessed holiday for all of you, and everyone you reach out to. Have a wonderful holiday and a terrific week.

 

love, Danielle

 

 

Filed Under Family, Friends, Holidays | 4 Comments

10/28/19, Trick or Treat

Posted on October 28, 2019

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a good week, and some good things happened. I actually had a very good week. I finished a new book I’m REALLY happy with, it was challenging to write and one of those books that just flowed (which you can never predict!! The ones I think will be easy nearly kill me, and the ones I dread just roll out like a red carpet sometimes). This one really spoke to me, so it went well and I really enjoyed it. (And if you want to see me typing, check out the short video on my Instagram (at ‘officialdaniellesteel’). It’s a funny little video of me pounding away on my vintage typewriter). So the book went well, I spent a really lovely evening with a friend after I finished the book, and I treated myself to a day off on Saturday. It was a beautiful sunny day, I went for a walk, and then did some Christmas shopping I was happy with, then went to my favorite restaurant with an outdoor terrace, had a virgin Mojito and a snack, and enjoyed the people watching. It’s a busy restaurant, very trendy, with amazing people coming and going, in either very chic or very far out outfits. There was a very good looking Dutch couple on my right, we chatted for a little while, and two Russian girls to my left. The restaurant draws a very international crowd, and I love the outdoor terrace, dogs, people, sexy young women, tall beautiful models, the men they’re with. Lots to see. And then inevitably, I went home that night and did a little more work on the book I finished. It was a fun day.

 

On a more serious note, I am disturbed and worried and sad about the fires in Sonoma in California. The area was ravaged only last year, with so many homes lost and thousands of acres burned In Napa and Sonoma, and now there they are again. I hope the fires are contained soon. It’s becoming a yearly occurrence at this time of year, and tragic for so many.

 

And today begins one of my family’s favorite weeks—-not in a serious, meaningful holiday way like Thanksgiving or Christmas. But—it’s Halloween this week!!! And my family has always thrown themselves into it with delight and great creativity!!! We’ve had the usual witches with green faces, all the SuperHeroes, dogs, bears, bunnies, ghosts, they’ve gone as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator, Prince, Michael Jackson, rock and rap stars, Spiderman, Smurfs—–there’s no limit to what they’ve come up with, all the way into their teens and adulthood. Their Halloween costumes were a Major Topic of conversation for at least a month before. My favorite costume of mine was a Whoopee cushion costume (which will be on my Instagram this week). And one of my daughters really made me laugh a year or two ago when she dressed up as me for Halloween—-and she looked more like me than I do, in black turtle neck sweater, jeans, bracelets on both arms and two pairs of glasses on her head, her hair in a ponytail like mine, except hers is blonde not red. I thought it was very funny (and I’ll put that on my Instagram this week too—-as well as my Chihuahuas in costumes!!!)

 

I used to let each of my kids bring some friends (when you multiply that by 9 kids, that’s a LOT of kids), we had dinner first with “eyeballs” and glow sticks, and all the scary decorations, and then we headed out with their trick or treat bags, and walked our neighborhood, with all of them in their costumes, and then they would finally come home with their trick or treat bags full. And of course we did a haunted house in one room of our house every year, and they loved screaming their way through it. Really fun times!!  I’m not sure if any of them will dress up this year, or if they’re going to Halloween parties, they all have grown up jobs now and may not have the time for it. But we really had fun with it.

 

 

I hope you have a fun week—-that’s all treat and no trick!!! Have a great week!

 

 

love, Danielle