Monday, December 6, 2010

Cathy Messecar writes a newspaper column (10 years) for The Courier, Conroe, Texas. Her newest book debuts March 2011, geared to private and group study, A Still and Quiet Soul ~ Embracing Contentment. She also authored The Stained Glass Pickup ~ Glimpses of God’s Uncommon Wisdom, and co-authored A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts ~ Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday.

Visit her at:

We’re focusing on Christmas all this month! What do you most associate with Christmas where you live?

Living in South Texas brings Christmas challenges. With warmer weather here and snow associated with most Christmas scenes, it’s sometimes difficult to catch the spirit of Christmas from the weather alone. But weather doesn’t make or break the season.

We have celebrations in our home and community that point to Jesus. This year, I’m participating in the program at a local funeral home, a remembrance service. The three speakers will encourage those in grief at this time of year. Rejoice with those that rejoice. Mourn with those that mourn.

I love any kind of private or public acknowledgements of the Christ where I live.

Do you have any special family traditions you do at Christmas time?

Since we usually have a Christmas brunch instead of Christmas dinner, my family always requests eggs in a muffin tin. They are simple to make. You line each muffin well with thick or thin sliced hickory smoked bacon. Break an egg into each well and prick yolk. Sprinkle with paprika, and then bake at 350 degrees about an hour until eggs are set. Bacon will be cooked, but not crispy throughout. Remove from tin, drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Do you have a favorite Christmas Carol and if so do you know why?

“Hymn of the Holy Innocents” or by another name “Lulle Lullay." It is the carol that depicts the first martyrs for Christ, the estimated 50 baby boys of Bethlehem mothers. While Herod ordered about 50 infants killed, I shudder when I think of the careless attitude that so many in the world have adopted toward the unborn. The hymn is a haunting reminder of why we needed mercy—from the manger on through Jesus’ public ministry and in our day. I’ve included the lyrics below:

Lullay, Thou tiny little Child
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay;
Lullay, Thou tiny little Child,
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay.
Oh sisters two, how may we do
To preserve this day?
This poor Childling for whom we sing
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay.
Herod, the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His soldiers in their strength and might,
All children young to slay.
Then woe is me, poor Child, for Thee,
And ever mourn and say,
For at thy parting nor say nor sing
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay.
And when the stars ingather do,
In their far venture stay,
Then smile as dreaming, Little One,
Bye-bye, lulle, lullay.

That's beautiful, Cathy! If you could spend Christmas any way you could how would you celebrate?

Just one Christmas I would love to celebrate in “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

Do you have any special memories of Christmas?

Family warmth, grandparents (now long gone), good food, laughter, but my first Christmas with my husband when he returned from Vietnam tops the list. We had only been together for about 150 days out of his two years of service to the US Army. We’d been separated by 9,300 miles for his last year, and being within arm’s reach in our new apartment in Kansas during the holidays was blissful (that story is in my Christmas book).

What does a typical Christmas Eve and or Christmas Day look like for you?

We don’t do typical. Each year is different. Our adult children switch around their schedules to accommodate their in-laws and so our schedule fluctuates each year. Christmas Eve usually finds me making some last minute sweet and watching a sentimental Christmas movie with hubby. Our church’s Christmas pageant is earlier in the month, so we sometimes look for a Christmas Eve service nearby to attend.

Since our children live nearby, most Christmas morns, our children remain at home with their children to open gifts. Then about 9:00 a.m., they all show up at our house hungry. I have awaiting them the eggs in muffin tin, homemade cinnamon rolls, friendship bread, sausage, fruit, coffee, milk, juice and hot chocolate.

Do you have any Christmas movies or Christmas books you like to see or read each year?

For fun: We really like “The Christmas Story” with Ralphie and his desire to own a Red Ryder BB gun. But of course, as a mother, I would have cautioned too, “Be careful. You’ll shoot your eye out.”

To make us think: A wonderful movie is the Hallmark film, “Silent Night” about the enemy soldiers that a woman housed on Christmas.

I love that movie! Tell us a little about your book:

Since Christmas is such a fertile time to speak to people about The Christ, I dreamed of writing a book that would perhaps be read by those who loved Christmas but didn’t embrace “Jesus” of Christmas. When I tossed out the idea to a group of online writer friends, they said, “Why don’t we all contribute?” I agreed and love the richness that came from the voices of six Christian women. Our online group limits our number to six, and through the six years we’ve been together, we continue to encourage each other in our writing for general audiences and the Christian audience. We’ve not all met in person, yet. But we hope to some day.

The hardback gift book, full color inside, has a lovely sophisticated scrapbook feel. Think Starbucks. The shimmering silver snowflakes on the cover represent the outdoors, but invites readers into the Christmas warmth inside. Find all sorts of Christmas information within different segments of the book: Family Snapshots (essays/stories of “firsts” that happened at Christmastime), Vintage Poetry and Lyrics, Peppermints for Little Ones, Stocking Stuffer Tradition, A Gift for You, A few of Our Favorite Things, Trivia Treasures, Cookie Canister, and Evergreen Thumb, Bethlehem Star, Morning Star Light, and Word Quilter’s Wisdom.

The book includes tips, timesavers, holiday refreshers, ideas for added celebrations or for trimming back and enjoying more family time. Included are 20 personal essays about “firsts.”

One essay is about eating Christmas dinner at Waffle House, and when you read the reason why, you’ll find the hospitality of Jesus. Another tells how a daughter rewarded her veteran dad with his first high school diploma at their family celebration. Or would you like to know how a woman who had lost her sight celebrated that first Christmas without the blessing of “seeing”?

Twenty stories such as these enrich this little gem of a book. Can you tell I love this product? Two more teaser-essays, “Purple Stocking” relates Christmas morning in the home of a family who adopted two older children, and “Home for Christmas” is from the point of view of a girl who spent her first Christmas with the parents who adopted her.

Where did you get the idea for A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts ~ Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday?

We wanted to tell about “firsts” at Christmas time, encouraging others to perhaps remember some of their “firsts.” The “scrapbook” theme represents the stocking full of ideas and fun we wanted to share. Our subtitle encourages a simpler Christmas that will enhance the joy of the season by stepping back from commercialism and avoiding chaos at Christmas. That’s the basics that brought us to this title.

Do you have a Christmas message for our readers?

Yes, I do. Here are five tips that I’ve given in radio and online interviews. Follow up on these as soon as possible, and you can sail through December with less friction and more energy to emulate Jesus Christ. Have a blessed holy-day.


1. Make time the first week in December to clean your home and tuck away your other life clutter, because Christmas brings its own bag of extras such as WRAPPING PAPER AND BAKING and none of the other regular household chores or errands stop—the dust mites still need corralling, the kiddos still have piano and football practice.

2. Plan the rest of your December meals ahead of time by marking your meals on your calendar page. Make them simple meals that don’t cost much. If you can afford to have most of the ingredients on hand in your pantry or freezer that saves trips to the stores and getting pulled into buying more. Those Christmas carols are funneled into store speakers for a reason, it’s not just Wal-Mart goodwill. I’m sooooo susceptible to Christmas music. If I hear a carol in July, I at least want to mop my floors with Pine Sol.

3. Display in your home a reminder of why we celebrate Christmas: My mom used to put out a red Bible opened to the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke, chapter 2. Others like to set up a Nativity. These gentle reminders help us focus on others not self.

4. When your family gathers, have them help you list all your holiday traditions, and then take a family poll. Find out which ones are their favorites? Do any customs get shoulder shrugs? Consider dropping those and simplifying this December or next.

5. Relax. Relax. Relax. Don’t set your expectations too high. Things will and can go wrong. It’s Murphy’s Law. Holiday trees will topple, souffl├ęs will fall. Those things don’t ruin a holiday, they can make memories or they can cause your attitude to plunge south.

The following tips appear in A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts:

Santa’s Chair: designate a chair for a resting place, tie on a huge red bow. Announce to your family that whenever someone needs a rest, time out, or just 10 minutes of peace, they are to sit in the chair, and the rest of the family is to give them quiet for those 10 minutes. Parents this can spare your sanity.

Another tip is to have a quiet hour each evening in your home when family members are to turn off all electronics and not answer the phone. This offers an invitation for Christ to settle their lives, he can reach us on a busy freeway, but for me, I more readily hear in a quiet atmosphere.

Merry Christmas to all.


  1. Elizabeth, thanks for posting and hosting this month about Christmas books. I like to read fiction with a Christmas setting during this month and I also like to display lovely books in my home and have them within a houseguest's reach at the coffee table or bedside.

    I do want to give away a copy to anyone posting a comment. Just let me know after you draw a winner.

  2. Thank you so much for stopping by, Cathy! We hold our drawings on Fridays, and I know our readers will be especially glad for a chance to win a copy of your gorgeous book! Talk to you soon.


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