Holiday Cheer with L.A. Kelley

by Anna on December 17, 2013

Hi, L.A.  Thanks so much for joining me today on Holiday Cheer!  I’m loving your post…really, hanging the orthodontic molds on the tree? Too funny.  And I am always for easy, yummy recipes. The Peanut Butter Squares sound great!

 Egg nog or hot chocolate? Most definitely hot chocolate…with marshmallows…and cookies…and more marshmallows…perhaps, a few sprinkles, please, if it’s not too much trouble.

Share one of your favorite holiday memories. My parents married rather late in life and had lots of friends who never married, never had children, and never had a clue what was a fitting present. My siblings and I always waited with breathless anticipation to see the look of horror on my mother’s face when one of them would hand over a totally inappropriate gift. I recall fondly the year I was eight and presented with a bullwhip.  We lived in the New Jersey suburbs, so I’m not certain what prompted the choice. Naturally, I was delighted and attempted to test its durability on my brother. My mother (the spoilsport!)  confiscated it immediately.  I believe after that day she developed a nervous twitch every time the holidays rolled around.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition? The hunt for the kids’ orthodontic molds on the tree. Those damn things cost me $1500 a pop, and by God, I swore to get more than one use.  I tie them to the tree with a ribbon.  No one is allowed to open a present until they find their mold. It annoyed the heck out of the kids when they were little. Now they’re adults and just think I’m nuts.

 What is your favorite holiday song? I’m not a traditionalist so I have to go with You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…

 What is your favorite holiday movie? Die Hard. Did I mention I’m not a traditionalist? (It’s set during a Christmas party, so it counts.)

What do you leave for Santa? Nothing now, but when my kids were little my daughter used to leave her socks. For some reason she got it in her head his feet would get cold in the sleigh.

Do you have a real or artificial tree? I live in Florida where real Christmas trees dry out the day after purchase.  Spikey fir needles nestle like green snowdrifts among the presents. I gave up on real trees long ago and own an artificial one.

What’s your favorite holiday quote? “You’ll shoot your eye out,”  from A Christmas Story.

What color lights do you put on your tree? White—they’re prewired into my artificial tree. 

Do you wrap as you go or do you do a marathon wrapping ‘party?’ I don’t wrap. Many years ago, I stumbled upon a delightful invention called a gift bag and never looked back.

Christmas 8


I know you don’t have time to fuss.  Neither do I. This recipe is fast, easy, and oh-so-good.

Peanut Butter Squares


1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

2 sticks butter, melted

¾ of a 1 pound box of confectioner’s sugar (Don’t bother to weigh the sugar. Estimate the amount. This is a very forgiving recipe.)

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips


Mix together the first four ingredients. Press into a 13 x 9 pan. Melt the chips in the microwave. Spread on top.  Chill and cut into squares.  Yup, that’s it. Sit back with a glass of cocoa and a good book. Enjoy.



Not your mama’s yuletide tale unless she drank too much egg nog or was born with a cheeky sense of humor.

Murder, mystical artifacts, an invisible demon with anger management issues, and an overbearing cupid—not what Rosalie Thatcher wished for on her Christmas list. The holidays had always been a magical time for Rosalie, but not this year. Stephanie, the new manager at Penrose’s Department Store, is determined to make this season the most profitable in the store’s history, even if it sucks the life out of every employee. Introducing arbitrary rules and stealing the affections of Anthony, the cute temp Santa, were bad enough, but forcing Rosalie into the stupid elf hat was the worst. The worst, that is, until she meets a real E.L.F. (Elemental Life Form) named David and gets lassoed into a desperate hunt for the stolen Naughty and Nice List. Now, they must dodge a murderous invisible demon and recover the missing artifact before hellhounds track them down.  The couple race against time for without the magical guidance of the Naughty and Nice List, the world will tumble toward eternal chaos.


David experienced a rush of guilt. All around the atmosphere had changed. He was super-sensitive to the yuletide. Magic in the air, holiday spirit, whatever—there was always something indefinably optimistic about this time of year. Even as a kid, before he understood family responsibilities, he sensed the truth. As easily as he now sensed the diminished effect of The Book. Whatever goodwill the season stirred up rapidly faded. Hard-working people like Rosalie paid the price of his stupid mistake.

The young man slipped out of the break room. He had enough time left to make one quick circuit of the first floor before staff trickled in. He worked from the front of Penrose’s to the back corner, ending up at Customer Service. For an instant, his spirits rose. A large box stashed underneath the counter wasn’t there the last time he checked. He ripped off the top, pawing through the contents. Fingering the garish green material, David didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The oversize ears stuck out like a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong. The lining felt like steel wool. Had the holiday spirit been reduced to this?

A wave of despair enveloped him. “I’m so sorry, Rosalie.” On impulse, David reached into his pocket. He pulled out a gold-wrapped chocolate bar saved for later, swiped from a stash hidden in the store manager’s office. David scribbled on a sticky pad and pressed the note to the wrapper. He slipped the candy under the counter just before a sudden murmur of voices broke the silence. The staff had arrived. He ducked behind a rack of clothing in the back as a girl walked up to the counter, an elf hat tucked under her arm.

“Ears, Rosalie.”

She halted in mid-stride. A sharply dressed twentysomething in a skin tight pencil skirt swooped down on her. To get a better view, David carefully eased back the clothes hanging in front of his face. He saw Rosalie’s fingers clenched around the hat. He chuckled to himself. She’s pissed, but hides her aggravation well. Sadhri would definitely approve of her self-control.

“Stephanie,” Rosalie stated calmly, “the hats are extremely uncomfortable. Everyone hates them.”

“Nonsense, they’re fine.”

“If you simply try one on you’ll see—”

“I don’t have to. I know they’re fine. The hats put people in the holiday spirit and cheerful people spend more money.” Stephanie examined her perfect French manicure. “So close to Christmas is an awful time to be out of work.” Rosalie jammed the hat on her head without another word. “Excellent,” cooed Stephanie. “Keep that attitude up and your name will stop appearing on the Motivation Memo.” Without another word, she flounced off.

David knew he should dash-away. Every moment in the open was risky, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Rosalie in the idiotic hat. What would she do?

The young woman leaned against the counter glaring after Stephanie. She bobbled her head back and forth and spouted in a falsetto sing-song:

“I’m a special elf from Penrose’s

I wear the special hat

You are not a special elf

You’re a dirty rat

You don’t belong at Penrose’s

You don’t know how to play

Wiggle your tight ass out of here

Damn you, go away.”

David snorted. Rosalie stiffened and turned around.

“Who’s there?” she called.

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The Naughty List

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