Welcome Guest – Erica Vetsch!!!

Are you anticipating Christmas yet? Only about six weeks to go. (I know, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but…Christmas!!)

This month, my newest novel, A Child’s Christmas Wish released. This story is set in the pioneer town of Berne, Minnesota, and the characters are immigrants from Switzerland. And if anyone knows how to celebrate Christmas, it’s the Swiss. Even in the harsh realities of frontier living, they found a way to celebrate the joys of the season.

One of the Swiss Christmas traditions I found most interesting was the widespread use of Advent Calendars. Swiss parents use Advent Calendars to teach their children patience and anticipation in equal measure. They want their children to learn that anticipating an event can heighten the joy of its arrival.

Swiss Advent calendars can take many forms from opening a little window to reveal the day to lighting a new candle each night to building a Christmas train, adding a car each day.

In fact, in some Swiss villages, the whole town becomes an Advent Calendar. Each evening beginning on the first of December, a different citizen hosts the day’s Advent party by decorating and opening one of the ground-floor windows of their home. Hot drinks and treats are served through the window to their friends and neighbors, carols are sung, and much fun is had by all. The next night, it is someone else’s turn to host.

Doesn’t that sound like a great way to bring a neighborhood together?

I love that so many of these traditions were brought to this country by immigrants brave enough to strike out for the New World, bringing the best of the Old World with them as they traveled.

Questions for you:

  1. Do you have any Christmas Traditions based upon your family’s origins?
  2. Do you have a special Christmas recipe that you only bring out during the holidays?
  3. Do you use an Advent Calendar?

Answer any or all of these questions in the comments to be entered to win a copy of A Child’s Christmas Wish.

About the book:

A Baby for Christmas The only Christmas gift Oscar Rabb’s four-year-old daughter prays for is one the widower can’t provide: a baby sibling. And when his neighbor’s house burns down, he’s willing to open his home to pregnant and widowed Kate Amaker and her in-laws—but not his heart. Even if his little girl’s convinced Kate’s unborn child is the answer to her wish.

Kate quickly sees the generous but aloof Oscar has little interest in growing closer to his houseguests. Still, she intends to make the coming Christmas a season to remember for his daughter. And as Oscar starts to open up to her, Kate can’t help picturing just how wonderful the holidays—and a future together—might be.

About the author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, http://www.ericavetsch.com where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

Guest Blogger

41 Comments

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  1. Hi Erica,

    Every Christmas morning our family makes chipped beef gravy over toast or biscuits. Also, for years my Mom and I worked together to make gumdrop fruitcakes. When we became diabetics we stopped doing it. I have thought about dusting the recipe off and making them again in honor of my Mom who passed away on February 1st of this year.

    Thank you for the chance to win your book.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    1. Hi, Cindy! Chipped beef on toast! That takes me way back to my childhood. At my house, we have Christmas waffles.

      Gumdrop fruitcake sounds amazing! I hope you get to make one in honor of your mom this year!

  2. We are mutts and traditions are whatever we like. There is one that we only make for holidays which is basically fresh green beans and bacon. I love advent calendars. We get one every year.
    Debby236 at gmail dot com

    1. The beauty about your situation, Debra, is that you get to start new traditions! We’ve started a few of our own, too, like the Christmas waffles and reading Luke 2 before we open presents.

      I have a kit to sew an advent calendar…wonder if I will get it done this year!?

  3. Christmas cookie making used to be a tradition. Its now just my Cat and I so there’s no special anything for any holiday. Its just another day. I do put up a tree.

    1. Hi, Cathy, I had a cat who loved my Christmas tree. She thought I had put up the worlds greatest cat toy…and then forbid her to play with it! I had to put all the non-breakable ornaments on the lower branches. She especially liked one that had a bell on it and would race through the house and knock against it to ring the bell before scampering off. Nut.

  4. I love all the different traditions that were brought here. When my children were young and still at home we used an Advent calendar. A side dish that we have every Thanksgiving and Christmas is mashed turnips mixed with mashed potatoes. So good. Because I grew up with it and all through my children’s lives it just doesn’t seem like the holidays if it isn’t there. Or so my seven kids said. 🙂 Another is an Italian cookie that was and is only served during Christmas It’s called Cucidati (hope I spelled it right). So time consuming to make but so worth it.
    Carol Luciano

    1. Carol, yay for excellent Christmas traditions! At my house, we can’t officially start the Christmas season without watching the 1950’s version of A Christmas Carol entitled Scrooge starring Alastair Sim. Other Christmas movies are optional, but we can’t have Christmas without watching Scrooge.

  5. If there was not another crumb of food on our table at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we would have to have sweet potato casserole. It is my husband’s favorite dish and he thoroughly enjoys himself when it is around.

    1. Melanie, I hear you! My husband must have his ‘sweet potato souffle’ or else he is just dejected! I love your description of your husband thoroughly enjoying himself when his casserole is around!

  6. My children love using the Advent calendar though sometimes we forget to do the activities associated with each day on the calendar ???

    1. MH, sometimes during a busy holiday season, it’s all you can do to remember to open the little door on the calendar! 🙂

  7. I think the idea of using an Advent Calendar would be fun. My family has no traditions and my husband and I don’t have children to really start new traditions.

    1. Hi, Janine,

      Start a few traditions of your own with just you and your husband. A special food, a special movie to watch together, a book to read aloud? Or maybe start with an advent calendar of your own? There’s no rule that says traditions have to be centered around children 🙂

  8. We always go to my sister’s house on Christmas Eve and my Mother in Law’s on Christmas Day. At my sister’s house we always have Turkey and homemade dumplings and I bake a pecan pie like my mother use to make.

    1. Your traditions sound lovely! We always go to church on Christmas Eve, and we have my FIL over on Christmas Day.

      Pecan pie is one of my favorites! I love that you continue your mother’s tradition!

  9. Oh I love the idea of a town being the advent calendar! How cool would it be to visit and get stuff through their windows. 😀 In my family we have Navajo tacos for Christmas dinner when we get together. I don’t even remember how it started – just that we always do it now. Haha!

    1. Hi, Susan,

      Navajo tacos! That’s unique! How fun!

  10. We used to visit every single relative on Christmas Day–saving Christmas Eve for at home–but hard to believe but the only family we have left now are a few cousins in other parts of the country, with just my son and I left here. So, our new tradition is to be grateful we have one another.

    1. Eliza,

      It’s so great you have those memories of all those holiday visits! As someone who grew up not near extended family, I love the thought of visiting so many relatives.

  11. Hi Erica……Welcome back! We love when you visit. I’ve always loved the Advent Calendar but for some reason I’ve never gotten one. Maybe I will this year. I love how the Swiss do it. The whole town! That would be so much fun. I wonder if we could get that started over here –one neighborhood at a time.

    Congratulations on the new Christmas book! I just love that cover. It and the title have hooked me.

    1. Hi, Linda!

      A neighborhood Advent Calendar would be fun, wouldn’t it?

      🙂

  12. I love doing an advent calendar every year! As for favorite recipes… we always use my grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe… yummy!

    1. Colleen,

      Pumpkin pie is my favorite! With enough whipped cream to obliterate it on the plate! 🙂

  13. I used to use an Advent calendar when my daughter was young but it went by the wayside for many years. This year I plan to introduce my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter to counting down the days!
    Thanks for sharing your interesting post.
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Hi, Connie!

      How fun to pass on a tradition to your little granddaughter! More wonderful memories to be made!

  14. Hey Erica! I love to attend a Candlelight Christmas Eve Service. No, I don’t have a special recipe or use an Advent calendar.

    psalm103and138atgmaildotcom

    1. Hi, Caryl,

      The Christmas Eve Service is my favorite of the year!

  15. Hi, Erica! I am enjoying this book!
    I used to use an advent calendar when my daughter still lived at home. Now, she uses them for her boys. We used to go to a movie on Christmas day too. Now, it’s too crowded. If we get to travel to visit family it is a tradition for me to make fudge. When it is just the two of us home alone, our new tradition is to shop online for last-minute bargains for stuff we need. I usually will put the tv on the Yule log channel and listen to Christmas music while shopping 🙂

    1. Andrea! 🙂

      Last minute bargain shopping while listening to Christmas music! How fun! I have only made fudge a couple of times, though I do enjoy a good piece of fudge!

  16. When my kids were little I made an advent calendar that took all the symbols of Christmas, both Christian and secular, and it related each one to the real meaning of Christmas. I kind of miss doing it now that they don’t live at home any more.

    1. Susan,

      What a great idea! I hadn’t thought of doing something like that!

  17. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Erica! It is lovely having you here! I tried and tried to have traditions with my family but it was very difficult due to my work schedule as a hospital nurse. I either had to work Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and ditto for all the other holidays. I guess the one that was most important to me was trying to make the Christmas Eve Candlelight service. When I had to work, my husband would take the kids. Now that they are grown, I still look forward to going with my husband.

    1. Kathryn,

      Thank you so much for working as a hospital nurse on the holidays. Such a necessary thing, but one that doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves.

      Aren’t Christmas Eve Candlelight services the best?

  18. The only family tradition that could be linked to prior generations was my mom’s family all attending midnight mass together. It is a good thing it was a big church. She was a one of 9 siblings and there were about 60 grandchildren. Afterwards we would go to my grandparents’ house for brunch. Not everyone participated but there were usually 40+ of us there. I think this came down from the French side of the family.
    We never used an Advent calendar, but one year I made about 30 for a Wives’ Club Bazaar. I made one for us and we started using it that year and made it our tradition. They were easy so a few years later, I had my daughters’ girl scout troop make them for their own families. With no children at home, we haven’t done it for years.
    I usually make Swiss Merengue Horn cookies at Christmas. They aren’t hard, just multiple steps and time consuming. They are elegant so I save them for special a time. We had a friend request I make them for his wedding reception.
    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Holiday Season. Thanksgiving to New Years ohs such a busy, wonderful time.

    1. Swiss Meringue Horn cookies sound intriguing, Patricia! I will have to look up that recipe! I bet your family really looks forward to those each year!

  19. I don’t know of any specific traditions based on our heritage, and I love to do genealogy, finding most of my family was here in the US by early to mid 1700’s. However, as desserts for the holiday, sweet potatoes played a big role, with our always having sweet potato pies and my Aunt’s sweet potato bread, in addition to the typical fudge and my Mom’s date nut loaf. Very interesting and educational article!

  20. Hi, Cathy,

    Those recipes sound de-lish! And wow, your family has been here for a very long time! We can trace my husband’s family back to 1720, but they didn’t come to this country for 150 years after that.

  21. What a charming concept for a Christmas story, Erica! And I love the neighborhood Advent Calendar idea, if I lived in a neighborhood (and not on a big old country road), I’d instigate that. What a fun idea!

    I want Cathy’s recipe for Sweet Potato bread!!! That sounds marvelous!

  22. Our Christmas traditions have been to go to the Christmas eve service at church and then go see Christmas lights. Also we had each of our kids read scripture before presents were opened. The only holiday recipes are sweet potato and green bean casserole. I would love to use an advent calendar when we become grandparents.

  23. we use a hanging advent calendar with pockets I fill with Hershey Kisses for the kids

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