From traditions to treats, Phyllis Clark Nichols shares some of her Christmas favorites! Keep reading to get a glimpse at Christmastime in the Nichols household and listen to Phyllis’ holiday music playlist below. Don’t forget to grab a copy of Phyllis’ new release, Christmas at Grey Sage—a perfect stocking stuffer!
What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
My favorite tradition has been water-coloring 125 Christmas cards to send to family and friends. Usually around June, my artist husband would do a pen and ink drawing of a nativity scene and then have it printed on water-color cards. As soon as they arrived from the printer in July, we would spend many of our evenings painting each one. In a sense they were all originals with handwritten messages in each card. We so enjoyed getting notes back and even pictures from friends and family who framed the cards. When and how did it begin? This began many years ago and continued for twenty-six years. My husband is an artist and taught me to watercolor. It seemed a creative way to remind ourselves and others of the true meaning of Christmas. I still enjoy pulling out twenty-six framed cards and decorating our home with them every Christmas.
What food/drink do you look forward to having around the holidays?
I’m the odd family member who loves, loves, loves fruitcake. Never tried one I didn’t like, but I must tell you I have perfected the one I make each Christmas. The good news is I don’t have to share much of it.
Are there any Christmas stories you read every year?
There are so many favorites from years gone by, but several years ago, I started writing Christmas stories to share with family and friends each Christmas. Now that has become our tradition.
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Miracle on 34th Street
Share a special holiday memory:
We hosted our annual Christmas party in 1994, and it was so memorable that year – beautiful music, beautiful friends and delicious food. The party was over, the kitchen was clean, and I went to bed in the afterglow. I was awakened at 4:00 am with a phone call that my mother, who lived a thousand miles away, had been transported to a nearby hospital. She was critical and on life support after a serious heart attack. In less than two hours, I was on a plane, praying I’d get there in time. God was gracious and allowed it. She survived open-heart surgery but remained critical for the next few days. That year, I experienced the kind of Peace we talk about at Christmas in almost palpable ways. My husband took my Dad home to get some rest, and I sat in the ICU waiting area alone in the middle of the night. I turned to my Bible for comfort and read Proverbs 14:30 – “A heart at peace gives life to the body.” I thought of my mother’s physical heart, and then I pondered what the scriptures have to say about one’s real heart. I pondered “peace” and remembered that it is not the absence of pain or suffering. Peace is the presence of Christ, and that Peace does give life to the body, life now and life forever. We celebrated Christmas by bringing Mama home from the hospital, and now twenty-three years later, we are still celebrating Christmas with her. And I celebrate Christ’s peace every day.
Would you rather wrap presents or bake cookies?
Oh, honey, tie my apron strings and turn me loose. My house rocks with Christmas music for weeks, and I’m rocking in the kitchen. The house smells mouth-watering with cinnamon, chocolate, and nutmeg. I could write my own cookbook of cookie recipes.
What is one thing you wish was different about the holidays:
I wish they lasted longer and that we didn’t return Christmas to the attic.
Candy canes or gingerbread cookies? Gingerbread cookies. I tend to stay away from things wrapped in cellophane – that is except for the chocolate-covered cherries you can only get at Christmas.
Do you hang mistletoe in your home?
Nope, don’t need to. I get kissed every day.
Best present received?
My husband gifted me with a photo shoot with a professional photographer for my mother and me. It was an enjoyable experience, and I continue to enjoy the framed photographs.
It was a gift we gave a single mother of three who expected nothing. We totally surprise her by making it possible for her to provide Christmas for her young family.
Holiday Music Picks
I enjoy instrumental and choral music of the season. My absolute favorite Christmas CD of all time is Cynthia Clawson’s CarolSinger Her artistry and selections are unmatched.
And I wrote a song when my 2015 Christmas novel, The Christmas Portrait, was released. Here is a link it to the music video on YouTube. It’s entitled “Christmas Went to Heaven” and sung by Hayley Matney.