Holiday Cheer with Sarah McNeal

by Anna on December 26, 2013

I like December 26. It’s the peace that comes after the storm. Oh, I know, Christmas is so exciting. There’s all those Christmas cards to mail out—and, inevitably, the person or 2 you forgot, and then the mad rush for buying all those Christmas presents. No matter how much you’ve blown your budget, you always feel you should have bought more. But December 26 comes with peace. All the madness is over. The house is filled with tranquility and blessed silence. No one is present to become offended if you sip your coffee and read the morning paper in private. It is the time of the Deep Breath.

Leave a comment, because I’ll give away a PDF copy of one of my books to a commentor—winner’s choice. 

 Egg nog or hot chocolate? Egg Nog (with the magical special ingredient of brandy)

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Egg Nog (with the magical special ingredient of brandy).

2. Share one of your favorite holiday memories. One year after my parents had died and my sister and her daughter were in Seattle, my nephew and I accepted invites from my friends to come to dinner. We made the rounds of eating with friends all day long. I thought it was going to be a miserable Christmas, but it turned out to be one of the best ones I ever had. Friends can be one of God’s greatest blessings. My nephew often speaks of it as one of his best Christmases, too. That makes me very happy.

3. What is your favorite Christmas tradition? For Christmas dinner, I give everyone a little party favor of homemade goodies in a holiday container on their dinner plate. Even though the present is simply homemade cookies and candies, I like to be very inventive about the containers.

4. What is your favorite holiday song? I’ll Be Home For Christmas

5. What is your favorite holiday movie? Miracle on 34th Street – The original movie came out the year I was born.

6. What is something on your gift wish list? Honestly, there is nothing I really need or want, but I’d love to have some birdseed and a rainbow of colored felt pens. The greatest gift is the love of family and friends.

7. What is the most important thing about the holidays for you? Celebrating with family. (I know just about everyone is going to say this, but they say it because it is the truth. I’ve spent several Christmases alone and it was super lonely. One of those Christmases I pretended it was just another day.)

8. What do you leave for Santa? When I was a kid we left cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer. These days I eat Santa’s treat for him.

9. What do you do on Christmas Eve? I don’t think I’ve done the same thing twice. Each one is different. One thing I always do is partake of the Christmas goodies. Somebody has to make sure everything tastes good—right?

10. Do you have a Christmas morning tradition? I get out of bed and give my pets their Christmas stockings filled with treats and toys. The cat doesn’t care, but the dog goes nuts.

11. Do you have a real or artificial tree? In my younger years I always had a live tree and I often went out in the woods and cut one down. These days I take the little artificial tree out of the bag and plug it in. I love that little tree. It has miniature bubble lights on it.

12. What tops your tree? A mirrored star

13. What’s your favorite holiday quote? Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men

14. What color lights do you put on your tree? All colors

15. Do you wrap as you go or do you do a marathon wrapping ‘party?’ I wrap as I go. I have, on occasion, wrapped everything at the last minute. It was not much fun by the time I got toward the end.

16. Where would you spend the holiday if you could go anywhere in the world? It’s a toss-up between going back to my hometown in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and going to the warmth of Australia.

17. What is your favorite holiday book? A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

18. Do you have a favorite holiday decoration? BUBBLE LIGHTS! I love them!

19. What is your favorite holiday dish? I love the stuffing best of all. I’m such a carb addict.

20. What is your favorite holiday treat (pie, cake, cookies, etc)? Gingerbread boys, sugar cookies all cut out in holiday shapes and sprinkled with decorative sugar and chocolate Thumbprint cookies that are positively decadent.

Christmas Cookies 4

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

½ cup butter or margarine                              1/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa

2/3 cup sugar                                                         ¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk (set aside the egg white)               Vanilla Filling (below)

2 tablespoons milk                                              Granulated sugar or ½ cup walnuts or pecans, ground

1 teaspoon vanilla                                                2 dozen Hershey kisses

1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour

Cream butter, 2/3 cup sugar, egg yolk, milk and vanilla in small mixer bowl; blend into creamed mixture.  Chill dough about an hour or until firm enough to handle.  Keep the egg white at room temperature until dough is ready to handle.  Then beat the egg white until frothy and place in a small bowl.  Roll each ball in either the granulated sugar or the ground nuts and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Make a thumbprint in each cookie.

Place in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

While the cookies are cooling,

Prepare Vanilla Filling:

Thoroughly combine ½ cup confections’ sugar, I tablespoon butter, 2 teaspoons milk and ¼ teaspoon vanilla

Once the cookies have cooled, place a dollop of vanilla filling in the thumbprint and top with a Hershey Kiss.


I’ll be giving away a PDF copy of one of my books to a commentor—winner’s choice.

A Husband For Christmas included in the WISHING FOR A COWBOY Christmas anthology by Prairie Rose Press along with 7 other hugely talented authors.

A night of horror… a wish for a new life…and a secret love


Jane Pierpont and her son, Robin, survived the Titanic, but her husband went down with the ship and the emotional scars of that night have kept her and her son locked into that frightening event years later . Robin is terrified of deep water and Jane has nightmares and survivor’s guilt. She yearns for a family, a loving husband and maybe another child, but she feels disloyal to Michael’s memory whenever Teekonka RedSky comes near her.

Teekonka RedSky loves Jane and her son, but all his efforts to help them past their painful memories of the night Michael Pierpont died have been unsuccessful. Unwilling to give up, can his Lakota beliefs help him bring peace to Robin and free Jane to love again?

Buy it now on Amazon.

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