Winter Blogfest: Annalise Russo

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of Two Hearts for Christmas

Fa-La-La by Annalise Russo

Fa-la-la-La-la! It’s December 2014 as I write this and the day I set aside to decorate for Christmas. Last year, since I wasn’t expecting any company, I made do with a couple of wreaths and called it a day. I realized too late that I would miss the smell of pine, the festive lights, the old manger set, and the all-around good cheer that accompanies a home decorated for the holidays. So, this year, I turn on Christmas music and pull out the multitude of boxes from the basement to the tune of Bing Crosby’s, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”

I start with the all-white lights for the tree in my bedroom. Soon, I realize I’m unpacking memories along with the ornaments wrapped lovingly in thin, raggedy tissue paper. The box is a mini time capsule: a fragile glass ornament announces Buon Natali, bought for our first tree together in 1966; counted cross-stitched ornaments made and exchanged with friends, some forty years old now; teacher ornaments from former students; ornaments purchased on vacation to remember the occasion. I place them just so—in my favorite spot around the tree.

I think about how children’s memories last longer than most presents and of the memories I made with my own children. I wonder if I succeeded in sharing what was in my heart. Some Christmas rituals stay, some just fade away, and some new are introduced over the years—the past blended with today. Traditions passed down to sons and daughters, nieces and nephews. And so hosting the celebration evolves.

Then I turn to my favorite task: setting up the manger—the reason for the season. I nestle the wooden manger among three small lit trees, unwrap the paper mache figures, and carefully place them, one by one, in the setting, always placing the Babe in last. I hang the golden angel from one of the branches, high above and all is right with the world.

Holidays don’t always go as planned, but it’s not about being perfect. They may not end as expected or desired, but if they end with shared stories of time spent together and the Child, you have the heart of it.

So, I finish my tasks, make a cup of hot chocolate, and sit in front of the fire to read the mail. I see an old friend’s name on a Christmas card. What a nice end to a lovely day! So I take some time to share my thoughts with you.

Wishing you a stress-free Christmas full of joyful new memories!

When baker Maisie Quinn returns home to open Blissful Bites, she realizes her dream—a business she loves, life in a lovely small town with her two kids, and a chance to win the county’s Christmas Bake-off. With no support from her deadbeat ex, the generous prize money would be a godsend for her tiny family.

After Wade Bennett becomes the new sheriff in town, he figures his four-year contract will give him time to see to his widowed mother and put enough money away to travel the world. Romance isn’t on his mind until Maisie opens her bakery and brings back memories when he thought Maisie might be the one—until she graduated, married, and moved away.

But then dreams confront reality, the Christmas holiday turns serious for the unwary couple. Heavenly power might be needed to help two determined people get what they want for Christmas.

Annalisa Russo is a Midwest girl who grew up in an overpopulated first-generation Italian family in the burbs of Chicago. Twice winner of the International Digital Award for historical romance, her series chronicles the lives of Italian immigrants in the 1920s and 1930s. Annalisa also loves writing sweet contemporary holiday stories with a touch of whimsy: The Green Earth Christmas Series. On a personal note, along with a passion for reading and writing, Annalisa enjoys gardening, cooking for company, and frequently invents reasons for traveling. The mother of two grown children, she inherited a narcissistic tabby named Buster who really runs the show.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Buy the book at Amazon.


  1. I’m not much of a decorator, but my older daughter really is. None of us are really feeling the spirit this year, so our tree is up, but there are no ornaments on it. Hahaha. But it’s there, and it’s lit. 🙂

  2. Unfortunately, a lot of us feel the same way this year. Budgets are stretched to the limit, and the weather hasn’t cooperated here in the Midwest. But my holiday wish for you is that you find your Christmas spirit and joy in the season. Merry Christmas, Amy!

  3. fun way to decorate

  4. My favorite memories are from Christmas growing up. My family handmade ornaments together each year. I have a few ornaments from my youth on our tree today.

  5. Thank you for your comments, and I hope your Christmas was wonderful! I put your 3 names in a pile and drew one. The winner of my book Two Hearts for Christmas is………..Amy!
    After I get your email address from Long&Short Reviews, I’ll be in touch for your home address, Amy, so I can send you the book .
    Happy New Year!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.