Joining us today is Sheila Roberts, whose novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS is the story of the women of Holly who brace themselves each year for stress, overwork, and very little understanding or appreciation from the men in their lives. (Hell-o, those little cranberries don’t just string themselves…) But then inspiration hits and the ladies decide to “go on strike” and give the men an opportunity to see firsthand what it takes to make the holidays merry and bright.
Let’s give Sheila a big Deb welcome!
The holidays are almost upon us, and I can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy as I remember so many perfect celebrations, like the Christmas Eve when our car transmission decided to stay forever in second gear and we got to take the scenic route home from my brother’s house – twenty-five miles at twenty miles an hour. With two little kids. Of course, we took all the back roads and highways, and if I’d been in a better mood, I’d have survived the trip with a lot more grace and humor. As it was, all I could think of was the gazillion things I still had to DO before Christmas morning, five a.m. And, wouldn’t you know it? I had not stocked the car for emergencies. There wasn’t so much as a crumb of chocolate anywhere. My husband kept trying to lighten the mood and keep the kids entertained. “Hey, look guys. A tire store.” Woohoo! All that good cheer of his just made me grumpier. Lucky for him I didn’t have a lump of coal handy. I’d have stuffed it in his mouth. We got home at two in the morning. It was the only Christmas my children slept in.
And then there was Sheila’s overdone holiday. I am not, by the way, referring to the turkey. I’m talking about me. I had completely overdone it. Gone over the top. Baked enough to ensure I gained at least twenty pounds, made Christmas candy for every teacher my kids had or would ever have, and made presents for the entire planet. I had taken on the work of sixty elves and I was totally behind with everything. In fact I was so behind that I was still making presents as we drove into the city on Christmas Eve afternoon, frantically stitching the finishing touches on a gift for my godparents. My husband hit a bump in the road and I stabbed myself in the finger with the needle. I won’t tell you what I said, but you can probably guess that it wasn’t, “God bless us, everyone.” Now, that’s the Christmas Spirit.
That was when I had my epiphany. Holidays should be holidays. They should be fun for everyone. Mom included. Don’t you think? And that applies to any celebration, whether it’s Christmas or the Fourth of July. We women need a break now and then, too. Which is why I have never understood the lure of camping. Mom seems to always be working while everyone else is playing. As far as I can see, a camper is just another house to clean. I say viva the Holiday Inn. I say roughing it should be when the motel pool isn’t heated. I say that a lot. Sadly, when a girl’s pup tent budget doesn’t match her heated motel pool tastes, she ends up spending a lot of vacations toasting marshmallows in the back yard. But I stick to my guns. We women deserve a break.
I still rarely make it to that Holiday Inn, but I do give myself a break, especially this time of year. I don’t go on strike like the characters in my book. I simply take some well-deserved time off. I mean, why not? It is the holidays. So, the week before Christmas, the Mommy Mania work machine shuts down and it’s just me, my hot chocolate, my friends, and my favorite chick flicks. (I never get tired of watching Nicholas Cage learn his lesson in The Family Man!) Other than stocking stuffing on Christmas Eve and re-heating that pre-cooked Christmas turkey, I am a free woman. Now, that’s a merry Christmas, and I encourage all you other overworked Santa’s helpers out there to try it. Slip some extra chocolate in your stocking and put your feet up. And God bless us, everyone.
For more on Sheila Roberts or ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS visit http://www.sheilasplace.com
Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwestwith her husband and three children. She’s been writing since 1989, but she did lots of things before settling in to her writing career, including owning a singing telegram company and playing in a band. When she’s not speaking to women’s groups or at conferences she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.