Squawk Radio

Friday, December 16, 2005

On the FIFTH Day of Christmas, the Squawkers Give to Thee...JILL BARNETT!


I’m not sure which of the Twelve Days of Christmas Writers I am, so I’ll hope for five golden rings—the best verse of the song because it slows everything down, builds anticipation, and I always sing it the loudest by the time the pipers are piping and maids are milking. It’s the verse you laugh and smile through.

My Christmas story is about change. When my daughter Kasey was about six, I looked at our glorious tree lording over the family room and I saw nothing joyous, just way too many packages. Frankly, I was disgusted. We were a family of three. I cornered my husband, Chris, and we talked. What I remembered about my time with my mother (who died when I was ten) were the things we did together.

We decided then to change the way we celebrated Christmas and spend time together instead of time shopping. So I made a list of five golden things to do. Our first event was a day in San Francisco, with its mimes on the corners and carolers walking the streets, looking at the phenomenal display window themes of Gump’s and the huge tree in Union Square, the street sellers and musicians, all topped off by a fabulous dinner overlooking the Bay.

We picked names from the giving trees at the stores and post office and one year packed up gift boxes for Gulf War soldiers without families. (They told us the yo-yos were a favorite in the desert.) Our gifts became about giving to people who needed Christmas.

Along with Kasey’s best friend and her mother, I planned a girls’ day, with manicures together and the girls had Santa or Frosty painted on their red fingernails. Then dressed in our velvet we’d take a horse and carriage up to a 19th Century mansion and tour all the traditions of Christmas past, followed by a wonderful high tea.

Chris and Kasey and I went to the symphony, a live performance of A Christmas Carol, the Nativity, or the Nutcracker. And lastly, on Christmas Eve, we dressed up in Christmas finery and ate dinner by the fire at a favorite Christmas lit restaurant before we went to candlelight services.

Our Christmas had changed; the stress was gone and joy was back. We learned to give each other the best gift: time together. Within a few years, Kasey would say, “Remember Dad singing on the street corner? Remember the mimes?” And when we lost Chris a few years later, Kasey and I had all those times together with him to hold deep in our hearts.

So I wish for you the gift of time with those you love. And perhaps when you hear or sing “five GOOOOOOOOOL-den rings” you will think of a few golden changes you can make to celebrate the season. I would love to hear about the places and events where you live that make your Christmases more golden.

May you and yours have a joyous and most memorable of holidays!

Born and raised in the beach areas of Southern California, Jill Barnett is the author of fifteen novels and short stories, which have been published in 17 languages and have appeared on national bestseller lists. She now lives with her family in the lush Pacific Northwest. Her next book, THE DAYS OF SUMMER, will be published in June 2006
Teresa Medeiros, 7:30 AM