Winter Blogfest: Marianne Arkins

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Christmas Traditions by Marianne Arkins

I love traditions.  Growing up we had them for every holiday. For Christmas Eve we were allowed to open one package, and it was always new pajamas (that we then wore for sleeping and Christmas morning, of course). We also always got one ornament from my mom, and then when we turned 18, our ornament box was turned over to us so we could have stuff for our own trees in our own homes.

I’ve tried to continue some of those traditions with my own daughter, though her father had some say in things, so it wasn’t always possible.  That said, she always got to open one gift on Christmas Eve and she always got one ornament (still does, actually, even though she’s 24 years-old).

And it’s always ham for Christmas. Period. Never turkey or prime rib or any other type of meat.  Ham.  I put my foot down on that choice.  For me it’s not Christmas without a ham. And potatoes.  My dad used to make his famous (to me, at least) Portuguese stuffing, but my mom and I were the only ones who liked it and, though I tried making it my first Christmas after I was married, it just wasn’t a hit.  I haven’t made it in years…it’s probably the chicken gizzards (yes, really) that folks had an issue with, lol.

Some of the traditions have fallen by the wayside these days.  But we still open a gift on Christmas Eve.  And we still have ham.  Even when it’s just my adult daughter and I celebrating.  It just wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

What are some of your holiday traditions?


Liv is out to prove her high society fiancé is cheating on her. Can she do it without breaking a nail—or falling in love with Mike, the mechanic?

Olivia “Liv” Leigh, wealthy socialite and spa owner, suspects her fiancé of cheating on her. Drastic steps are required to discover whether appearances are deceiving. And if those steps require a bit of stalking, a change of appearance, a hippo-sized dog named Spike, and sacrificing her manicure to clean house for a sexy-but-sloppy man whose neighbor is determined to break several of the strangest Guinness World Records, why should that be a problem?

Mike Peck, a happily single auto mechanic, is more than content sharing his bachelor pad with piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and a sneaky ferret. But when a half-crazed woman in a bad wig shows up on his doorstep, what’s a nice guy to do?

Why, invite her in, unknowingly help her in her search for the truth and, in the process, fall head over heels with a woman who’s never been less his type.


Marianne is originally from California but currently living in the lovely state of Utah with her daughter, two dogs, two cats and one adorable foster hamster. She can’t imagine a world without romance or not having stories rattling around in her brain. There are nights when she dreams a complete story and watches it acted out in her head. Those are the times she wakes up and grabs for a notepad to jot down the important parts – without turning on the light – and hopes it’s coherent in the morning.

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  1. I love how your mom made you each an ornament box! How cool! New PJs were a Christmas tradition at our house, too. Merry Christmas, Marianne!

  2. A couple of traditions I especially enjoy are baking for friends/family and looking at decorated homes at night when they’re lit up.

  3. We make M&M cookies together, decorate together, enjoy an early dinner…

  4. I love that you’re continuing these traditions with your adult child.

    My grandmother continued to fill my uncle’s stocking until he finally moved into his own home in his 40s. (He works for their busy family business in a rural area, so they decided to save money and time and keep living together for many years after he became an adult).

  5. My FIL used to insist on making oyster dressing every year although he was the only one who ever ate it. LOL But the bit about the gizzards in the Portuguese stuffing has me wondering if that’s what my MIL makes since she puts all the giblets in her stuffing (which grosses me out, but I’d never tell her that).

  6. We just finished making 5 types of cookies, family favorites accumlated through the years. And I also make an modified German stollen, a frosted sweet bread with dried fruits. Our decorations each have a story: items made by the children as they grew up, special ornaments received as gifts, even the unique ‘biting mouse’ the (now grown-up) kids like to snap onto each other’s fingers.

    • re: “Our decorations each have a story: items made by the children as they grew up, special ornaments received as gifts, even the unique ‘biting mouse’ the (now grown-up) kids like to snap onto each other’s fingers.”

      YES. I’ve never understood people who decorate a tree with some kind of fancy theme. I have some of the craziest ornaments, but they all have a memory attached. I love it.

  7. For our family, everyone cooks something to contribute to the meal for Christmas and we always do a candelight church service

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