Winter Blogfest: Christine Potter

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Oh, Christmas Tree!

I never understood families who put up their Christmas trees early. I have to say that lately, there has been a whole lot of Christmas Tree Creep.  Right after Halloween is TOO SOON, people—I don’t care what is going on on The Hallmark Channel.  I can sort of kind of get the folks who unspool the lights for Thanksgiving—you’re going to do a fancy dinner, may as well get festive—but in my world, that’s robbing a late-autumn oasis of calm and gravy of its simplicity and loveliness.  Eat the meal and take a nap!

I don’t like to admit it, but I’m slightly old.  So I came up in the sixties, and my parents were the weird, arty family on the block.  We always had live trees, and they never went up before the week of The Day.  One year, my parents actually pulled off the whole Tree and Presents Magically Overnight. I don’t know how they did it, but my sister remembers it, too, so it must have happened.

I found my true love late in life, after a whole lot of romantic chaos best not discussed in a blog about Christmas trees.  And here’s the thing: he’s part elf.  (He’s also a church music director.  Dirty job.  Somebody’s gotta do it.) Ken loves and lives for Christmas trees.  They need to be enormous, live, dripping with a zillion lights and ornaments.  He has a collection of antique Christmas ornaments like you wouldn’t believe.  We don’t even have room for all of them most years, even though we put up three trees: one for the living room, one for the bedroom, and a mid-century modern one in the TV room.  The TV tree’s the only faux one of the bunch: aluminum with blue lights.  It’s very Jetsons, you know?  

Trees in our house go up on Ken’s birthday, December 14.  Raised as I was by almost-Christmas-Eve-is-plenty-of-time parents, that seemed awfully early, but I soon lost my Grinchy ways.  We drive to the Christmas Tree lot that morning, often after a breakfast of pancakes, and pick out two.   Our living room tree is enormous, a ceiling-scraper, and often very wide.  It’s very vintage. Even the lights on it used to be antiques, but we got tired of worrying about burning our house down a couple of years ago and have been rocking the LED’s since the technology got better.  The smaller bedroom tree sits on a table in front of a floor-to-ceiling mirror.  That one has lights that get left on 24/7 because Ken likes falling asleep in a room with Christmas lights (another good reason for the LED’s).   It actually is a sweet thing to do.

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It’s all a little exhausting, but it’s a good kind of exhaustion.  And on January 6th, it all goes away.  We’re strict about that.  Keeps it special.  We set aside a day called The De-Christmas-ification and box things up, vacuum, and enjoy having our house simple again.  There isn’t a lot of magic left in our sorry world—but I think Christmas trees are the strongest spell for happiness that we have.  

October, 1962
It’s almost Halloween, but something a lot scarier than ghosts is on everyone’s mind: nuclear war. After President Kennedy’s speech to the nation about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Grace Ingraham overhears her parents’ plans to keep her safe. She’ll be sent off to live with a wealthy uncle—in the nineteenth century.

Gracie’s from a family of Travelers, people who can escape into time. Too bad her mom and dad haven’t Traveled since their honeymoon trip to the Lincoln Inauguration. So Grace will have to go alone—even though taking a wrong turn can have serious consequences: like heading for 1890, and ending up …in 2018.

Christine Potter is a writer and poet from the lower Hudson River Valley. She’s the author of the time-traveling young adult series The Bean Books. She’s also a widely published poet with three collections of verse in print. Christine lives in a very old, slightly haunted house with her husband and two spoiled cats.

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Buy the book at Amazon.


  1. kim hansen says

    Book sounds good.

  2. Debra K Guyette says

    I put my tree up sometime during December. Your books sounds great.

  3. When my children were young, we put our tree up mid-December and it was mostly decorated with homemade decorations (many of which I still have and cherish).

  4. Your assortment of ornaments sounds lovely.

  5. I put my tree up at the beginning of December and take it down January 1st.

  6. I love time travel books. After losing someone close in an accident, I time travel in my head often to go back and save him.

  7. The first day of December our Christmas decorations go up and by New Years or the day after, we take it all down.

  8. Your book sounds wonderful!! And I love your essay about your trees and how special your ornaments are. They are full of memories, aren’t they?

  9. Jean Patton says

    Our Christmas trees go up right after Thanksgiving and they stay up until the beginning of January.

  10. Diane Sallans says

    I like to put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving so we can enjoy it all December – then take it down the weekend after New Year – as you said, not too long so it is special.

  11. Katrina Dehart says

    We put our tree up anytime after thanksgiving. I admit I’m slow to take it down though. Last year it was up until March lol!

  12. We squeak by, and are lucky to have the tree up the night before Christmas. We keep it up until the end of the first week in January.

  13. Shirley Emitt says

    Book sound good. Loved reading about the Christmas trees.

  14. Gracie’s Time sounds like a very interesting book!

  15. Linda Romer says

    Gracie’s Time sounds amazing! Thank you

  16. The book sounds awesome. And I put up my tree in late December and take it down right after New Years and it is filled with special ornaments and memories.

  17. Beautiful memory!

  18. I don’t like to get the tree up before mid-December either. We decorate with handmade ornaments and those given to us over the years by people special to us. Our grown children always have to look for their favorites, including the ‘biting mouse.’ Everyone has to take a turn getting their finger ‘bitten.’

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