Eeek another day closer to Christmas, and I’m thrilled to have Vanda Symon pop by the book review café to discuss all things Christmassy. So why not put your feet up and grab a mulled wine and take a moment to read all about a “Vanda Symon” Christmas.
What is your favourite Christmas memory?
My favourite Christmas memories involve the excitement and fun of decorating the house. The hours spent cutting and folding crepe-paper to make streamers and stapling loops of paper together to make paper chains. When I was little my Dad used to suspend a hula hoop around the central light in our lounge, then we’d attach the multi-coloured streamers to the hoop and then run them twisting out to the walls creating the effect of being in a vibrant and shimmering marquee. Add the Christmas tree in the corner with its wonderful pine scent, and tinsel by the mile… magic!
Where will you be spending Christmas?
We’re celebrating Christmas at home this year (and don’t tell anyone, but that’s the way I like it!) It will be a low key affair with family – but I can promise you the house will be decorated within an inch of its life – and I’m already buying more sparkly lights. Christmas in New Zealand is in the heart of summer, so think hot sunny days, Christmas lunch cooked on the BBQ, chilling out having eaten too much pavlova, reading a good book in the shade. If we feel overly energetic we’ll head down to the beach…
Do you have any Christmas traditions?
My Mum had the most wonderful tradition where every year she would buy all her grandchildren a Christmas decoration each, so over the course of their lives they built up an eclectic and special collection. They are even more poignant now she has passed away, and when we decorate the tree and my boys pull out their special Gran boxes of decorations we have a wonderful reminisce about how special she was, and a little cry.
What was your best ever Christmas present?
This probably sounds corney, but the presents I have cherished the most have been the wee home made ones my boys have made over the years. There has been some lovely home-made jewellery that I happily and proudly wear. And one year my youngest (then 13) did such a spectacular job of decorating the gift wrapping, that I have kept the origami flowers he painstakingly folded.
What was your worst ever Christmas present?
It wasn’t my worst ever Christmas present, but more my most unfortunate. I was 10 and really hoping to get a swingball set for Christmas and couldn’t believe my luck when I went looking under the tree and there was a suspiciously long and rectangular box. I ripped off the paper and hello, there it was – sooo excited. So we went outside and went to push the base into the ground, but it being summer and all the ground was baked pretty hard, one of the adults went and got a hammer to help bang it into the ground. And bang away they did – but it didn’t occur to them to pop a block of wood on top of the tube and hit that with the hammer, noooo, they hit the top of the metal tube, and munted it completely, closing it up so you couldn’t slot the top half of the swing ball in. Wrecked it, totally wrecked it. I was devastated.
Favourite Christmas tipple?
Bubbles. Got to have the bubbles. We never have Champagne any other time of year, and certainly never drink in the middle of the day, so it makes Christmas feel extra special when we bust out the bubbly at lunchtime!
What are you hoping for this Christmas?
It’s funny how your priorities change as you get a bit older, and Christmas becomes less about the stuff and more about the people. We are at a stage in life where we are beginning to lose loved ones, and others are of fragile health. And next year we will have had both our boys fly the nest, so the dynamics and practicalities of us all gathering at Christmas time in the future cannot be taken for granted. So other than a new book (always hopeful) what I’m really hoping for this Christmas is a relaxed and happily memorable time with family.
Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?
I adore Christmas and see it as a special fun time with family. But for some it can be a very sad time and a very stressful time. I am concerned when I see people become overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations, spending more than they can afford, and running around trying to please everyone – particularly the mums out there. My message would be step back from the hullabaloo, keep it simple, look after yourself and look out for each other. Reach out to those who are lonely. Christmas is a time to celebrate people, and cherish those you love.
About Vanda Symon
Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.
Books published by Orenda books
My thanks to Vanda Symon for taking part in this feature.
The giveaway includes all the books featured in the above photo, 18 fabulous books in total. The competition is open to UK residents only. Competition will close on midnight on the 19th December and please note the prize will be sent directly from the publishers (hopefully in time for Christmas) and you must be following my blog.
To enter click on the link and good luck Orenda Books Christmas bundle 📚🎁🎄