Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Holiday Guest Post by C.Lee McKenzie...and gifts

In the spirit of the Holiday Season I've asked C. Lee McKenzie to write a guest post about her favorite holiday memory. And she graciously included gifts!  Thanks Lee!

The Best Christmas Ever

A few years ago, the December blahs hit everyone in my family. We’d shared a rough year. Our father died. Our uncle was gravely ill and too far away to visit. A close cousin was divorcing, and it wasn’t amicable. Putting up holiday decorations and pretending to be “jolly” just wasn’t going to work for any of us. But what about the little kids? We didn’t want to ruin their holiday. That’s when we hit on a plan that would get all of us through the month.

That plan was Idaho and involved skis.

We found a cabin to rent near Ketchum, packed the cars with ski gear and caravanned our way several hundred miles from California to that wonderful snowy state north of us. When we arrived just the day before Christmas, the driveway didn’t exist--well, it existed, but it was buried under three feet of snow. We wanted snow, and Idaho was giving it to us. Our first few hours were spent shoveling. The next few unloading the cars, finding firewood, and building a fire. Those were frosty hours to be sure. And dark because we discovered we had no electricity. Dinner was cereal and fruit, but that seemed to be enough because the beds looked very inviting. We were tired, and, in spite of a roaring fire, we were cold. Surely the next morning would find us with electricity.

Nope. The next morning found us with another three feet of snow. We had cross-country as well as downhill skis, so they seemed to be the best option for striking out and getting help and maybe finding a tree--something the kids reminded us we didn’t have yet pretty much every other minute. The eight of us, including the five and six year olds headed out of the cabin and across the fresh white snowfall in the direction of town. There we discovered power might be back that night. That was a positive. Then we discovered there were no Christmas trees for sale. They’d all been sold days before. And if you cut a tree without a permit, there’s a hefty fine, so we were looking at a treeless holiday.

None of us were about to leave that year on a sad note, so everyone rallied with ideas to save Christmas. Someone found boughs at a vacant tree lot and stapled them on the wall in the shape of a tree. The kids made paper ornaments with glitter and, using an old camp stove we found in a shed near the cabin, we made pancakes and eggs with hot coffee and cocoa for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas day the lights came on, the furnace came to life and sent wonderfully warm air throughout the cabin. We’d brought a turkey, so we put that into the oven, grabbed our skis and had a morning skiing and throwing snowballs at each other. We’d given ourselves a gift of a wonderful day that all of us would remember as our best Christmas ever.

To celebrate Christmas this year I’d like to offer three eBooks of Alligators Overhead. Just leave a comment (Rafflecopter sign in) and, if you would, visit my fb page and my Amazon page to give them a like.

Merry Christmas, Elizabeth and thanks for hosting me on your blog today. I’ve enjoyed being able to tell this story. It brought back those memories and made me smile.

About the author:

In her other life--the one before she began writing for teens and younger readers--C. Lee McKenzie was a teacher and administrator at California State University, San Jose. Her field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried her to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. She can say, “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects.

Her idea of a perfect day is one or all of the following: starting a new novel, finishing writing a blockbuster novel, hiking on a misty morning trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saying Namaste after a great yoga practice, sipping a cappuccino topped at a bustling café, reading in front of a fire with snow outside, swimming in an ocean someplace. Taken from her Goodreads author profile.

TWITTER : @cleemckenzie

Alligators, witches and a spooky mansion aren't your average neighbors unless you live at the edge of the Ornofree swamp in the backwater town of Hadleyville. The town’s bad boy, Pete Riley, may only be twelve, but he’s up to his eyeballs in big trouble, and this time he isn’t the cause. This time the trouble arrives when a legendary hundred-year-old mansion, materializes next door and the Ornofree alligators declare war to save their swamp from bulldozers. Things only get worse when Pete’s guardian aunt and several of her close friends vanish while trying to restore order using outdated witchcraft. Now Pete must find his aunt and stop the war. He might stand a chance if his one friend, Weasel, sticks with him, but even then, they may not have what it takes.

Kirkus Review:

"McKenzie pens a swampy middle-grade story full of humor, hauntings, quirky characters and a mystery that continues to develop to the very end."
"A short, fun story that will excite both young and old imaginations."


Warning: any error in the Rafflecopter set up is purely mine (Elizabeth). This is my first time using it. =)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for sharing Lee. I had one of those years too when my sister died. It sounds like you had a great idea to make Christmas special and then to make the best of a hard situation.

  2. It's hard when Christmas doesn't feel like it. Glad your family was able to make it shine! And of course I would LOVE to read Alligators Overhead!

  3. It is a great story. Sometimes we take the smallest things for granted. I'm so happy your family was able to make the best of it. =)

  4. A little rough at the start but it turned into an excellent, memorable Christmas. Really enjoyed the story and the spirit shown to never give up!

  5. Wow now that's the true spirit of Christmas. I felt like I was there. Thx for sharing that Lee!

  6. Wow now that's the true spirit of Christmas. I felt like I was there. Thx for sharing that Lee!

  7. @Natalie Yes. When we lose people we love, the holidays take on a different feeling and we have to work a bit more to make them good.

    @mshatch I hope you win. I'd love your comments on the book.

    @E. Arroyo So true. I really think the simple celebration is the best.

    @ Angela Thanks for taking the time to read the story. Glad you enjoyed it.

    @Anita Great to meet you here. Thanks for leaving a comment about the story.

    @PK Thanks so much. Appreciate the comment.

  8. p.s. Thanks for the chance to be here! Love your bookshelf to the right!

  9. What a wonderful story, Lee! :) Thank you for sharing!

  10. Great story. One year we had to decorate our banana plant as our Christmas tree. I don't remember why - just remember the great tree.

  11. Such a moving and wonderfully written story. Thanks so much for sharing!

  12. I was so glad when Elizabeth asked me to tell a Christmas story. It made me recall a really great time. Great to read all of your comments here.


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