Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guest Blogger Joey Hill Spreads Goodwill

Joey Hill is today's Winter Wonderland Week Guest Blogger. She is running a tremendous contest for one lucky winner who'll receive a $50 donation to the charity of their choice and an autographed copy of one of her books. Read below for details, and thanks to Joey for truly spreading the Christmas spirit! THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED. CONGRATS TO ALLISION!

(Look in the post below for the winner of yesterday's contest!)
___________________________________

Love and Sacrifice – The Christmas Message
Does anyone remember The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell, written in the 1940’s? It’s a beautiful Christmas story about a little boy who has a hard time fitting into Heaven. His halo stays tarnished, he’s late for heavenly choir, etc. Eventually, he’s called before one of the head angels to figure out what the problem is. And he confides to the unexpectedly understanding angel that he’s homesick. “Oh, not that Paradise wasn't beautiful! But the Earth was beautiful, too! Wasn't it created by God, Himself? Why, there were trees to climb, and brooks to fish, and caves to play at pirate chief, the swimming hole, and sun, and rain, and dark, and dawn, and thick brown dust, so soft and warm beneath your feet!”
In the end, the littlest angel is brought a box that he’d had under his bed as a human boy, to help him feel better about being in Heaven. And when the momentous occasion of the Christ child’s birth comes about, he decides to give his treasured box to the new infant as a gift. The contents of the box? “Well, there was a butterfly with golden wings, captured one bright summer day on the high hills above Jerusalem, and a sky-blue egg from a bird's nest in the olive tree that stood to shade his mother's kitchen door. Yes, and two white stones, found on a muddy river bank, where he and his friends had played like small brown beavers, and, at the bottom of the box, a limp, tooth-marked leather strap, once worn as a collar by his mongrel dog, who had died as he had lived, in absolute love and infinite devotion.”
God is so pleased by the littlest angel’s gift, the box is placed in the sky as the guiding star that brings the shepherds and wise men to Bethlehem.
It’s amazing how stories we read as children can come back to us as authors. My latest, A Witch’s Beauty (January release), features an angel named David as my hero. David is thirty, which is practically an embryo to the other angels, particularly considering he’s human born, rather than divinely born as most angels are. He came to Heaven as a 14 year old suicide, and at the age of 30 he has a serious and surprising core of steadiness to him that has earned him the respect of the others. He also has a lethal ability with daggers he employs as part of the Dark Legion, the angels who fight the enemies of the Goddess.
One of the first scenes that drew me into David’s mind was this recollection: When he was six years old, David remembered reading The Littlest Angel, the tale of the young angel who longed to be a human boy. He didn’t miss it, really. Not the way that poignant little angel had. The last eight years of his human life had been a taste of hell that eradicated much of the pleasure of the first six. But being the youngest of the Dark Legion and a made angel, he sometimes longed for the familiar, something that was a true part both of who he’d been and who he was now. Something to tie those two things together and fill the emptiness that still existed in the lingering part of his human soul.
But it’s those two parts of him that help him connect with the dark and complicated seawitch Mina. He’s inexplicably drawn to the female who is part Dark One and part mermaid, and whose powers as a witch are as yet unknown. He’s assigned not only to keep her safe from Dark Ones, but to be her executioner if she can’t resist the dark blood within her. And of course this sets up one of those wonderful stories where both characters end up making terrible sacrifices to honor the love that grows between them.
Unconditional love, sacrifice and connecting with one another. At Christmas more than any other time, we seem to understand and long for that feeling, to the point, as Bill Murray said, “it’s the time of year we’re a little nicer, etc”. Since the search for connection is the primary focus of a love story, and unconditional love is a central theme of BOTH Christmas and love stories in all forms, it makes me all the more delighted to be a romance author at this time of year.. On that note, I’d have to say that The Littlest Angel is probably my favorite Christmas love story. A close second? The Christmas special Nestor, the Long-Eared Donkey. Oh yeah, every time Nestor’s mother gives her life to keep Nestor warm, I bawl. Geez, I’m doing it now, just typing it. Even though we all know love is in the little things we do for each other every day – making a conscious decision to give a kind word instead of an irritated snap, helping someone in a way that might seem small, but really sends the vital message that “you’re not alone” – I think many of us are suckers for the stories of ultimate sacrifice. I also think these types of Christmas stories have a way of inspiring us to do more of the little things to cherish our loved ones and those who need extra offerings of love and kindness.
So tell me the title of your favorite Christmas love story, or how Christmas inspires you to be a more loving person at this time of the year. And in a change of pace, because it’s Christmas time, I’m going to draw a random name from those who post comments, and the prize will be a $50 donation to the charity of your choice, as well as one of my signed books, also your choice. So if you don’t mind, briefly mention your charity with your comment. It might give us new charities to add to our own giving lists! [I’ll post the winner in the comments section of this blog post sometime on Friday, Dec 19.]
A very blessed Christmas, Yule and Solstice season to you all.

15 Comments:

Blogger Tasha said...

Well, the charity I would chose is the The Humane Society of Durham (near Toronto, ON Canada). They had a fire on Wednesday. Toronto Star Article
Many of the animals didn't survive.
So, I would like that to be my charity!
Thanks,
Natasha

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 10:23:00 AM EST  
Blogger Joey W. Hill said...

Tasha, I'm so glad you posted the link so other folks can know about this organization. What a terrible occurrence for creatures who already had had such a tough time of it in their lives. And bless Toronto for ensuring the survivors are cared for.

A good choice...

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 11:19:00 AM EST  
OpenID writeidea said...

My favourite Christmas story is The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. That one makes me cry every time.

The charity of my choice would be "Doctors Without Borders". They send doctors into countries where people can't afford medical care.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 12:11:00 PM EST  
Blogger Joey W. Hill said...

Writeidea, I know there are different TV series that have done twists on this O Henry classic, but my favorite one was Little House on the Prairie - I forget the season number, but several family members ended up making sacrifices to get each other the "best gift", the most tear-jerking one being Laura giving away her precious pony Bunny to get her mother a stove. Anyhow, good choice of Christmas story, and very good choice of charity as well! I'm running a similar giveaway on my blog, and that was one of the charities named there as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 1:56:00 PM EST  
Blogger Allison('s)Reads said...

Hi Joey and all, I am thinking hard but can't think of a fav Christmas story at this time, but your post has reminded me of how I should give not only year-round but certainly at this time of year. It is to my local drop-in centre/homeless shelter, and where they provide the needy with a hot Christmas meal for less than 2.00 - when I am guilty of easily spending ten times that for a material gift for someone. I can only imagine how much more precious and valued that hot meal is for the person receiving it. So I am going to donate $50 online to my local drop-in centre right now, and if I am the lucky winner of your giveaway, I would ask that your donation be given to your local centre doing the same thing. Thanks Joey, and wishing everyone a safe and joy-filled season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 3:27:00 PM EST  
Blogger Pamk said...

I love the little drummer boy story. And my charity of choice is St Jude's. a wonderful organization for children with cancer. No child is turned away because of the inability to pay.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 3:41:00 PM EST  
Blogger Karen in TN said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 3:49:00 PM EST  
Blogger Karen in TN said...

The charity I would choose is Second Harvest of Knoxville - they supply food to many other charities and directly all over the East TN area (if allowed a second choice, I'd pick Remote Area Medical - like DWB, they provide medical care to other countries, but do the same to remote areas in the US where the majority have no health insurance or access to medical/dental care).

As to my favorite Christmas love story, there have been so many good ones over the years. A Christmas Story and Miracle on 34th Street are classics, while newer titles like A Christmas Visitor and The Christmas Card deserve a spot in your annual holiday lineup.

For those who need a few suggestions of what to watch, though, you might be interested in the lineup being run on various stations in the US this year (definitely too many for me to watch, at least in one year): http://www.chiff.com/home_life/holiday/christmas/whats-on-tv.htm

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 3:51:00 PM EST  
Blogger Joey W. Hill said...

Allison, that's outstanding. And you pointed out something that I've noticed - since my husband and I decided to make the majority of our gifts this year charitable donations, it's like it's wonderfully contagious. When I've been checking with people in the industry that I typically send what might be called corporate "thank you" gifts, asking instead for their favorite charity so I can make a donation to it, I've gotten responses similar to yours. It's a marvelous side effect I didn't expect, but I expect it's going to inspire me to make it a Christmas tradition. And since I don't ever give enough to charity (horrible money manager and impulse spender that I am), I think it's a good change for me. :>

PamK - oh, yeah, Little Drummer Boy is right there behind Nestor for me. He was so angry and hurt, and then the way he changed at the end - sniffle sniffle. And of course they had to throw in one of his animals getting hurt, and then healed, just to make sure we're all reaching for the Kleenex! Great charity choice. I love St. Jude. I've been delighted to see Robin Williams throwing his talent into their commercials.

Karen - the Second Harvest is another excellent charity. It's amazing and terrible to think of anyone in our country going hungry when we have so much plenty here.

And I agree about the lineup of new Christmas specials. Not entirely sure if it's considered a Christmas special, but they were showing it this month on Hallmark - the Accidental Friendship, with the black lady doctor (Chantal?) from Grey's Anatomy playing a homeless person so marvelously, and the policewoman who strikes up a friendship with her. Lovely story and feel good movie.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 4:31:00 PM EST  
Blogger ddurance said...

I've got to go with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This organization fights breast cancer, of which my mom is a survivor.
http://ww5.komen.org/

Deidre

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 10:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger Amy S. said...

Great post! My fave Christmas book is The Present by Johanna Lindsey. My charity would be for Ronald McDonald House.

Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 11:06:00 PM EST  
Blogger Caffey said...

Hi Joey. I love the story of ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE because it was a movie that I so wanted to understand and when they closed captioned it, I finally could understand so much!

My charity would be Deaf Adult Services. They provide interpreter for people who are deaf and this special fund for those who are deaf who need an interpreter during doctor or mental health services, funeral services for family, etc. Its a wonderful program that they otherwise not have the interpreter to help them communicate their needs. Their agency is at http://www.wnydas.org/

Friday, December 19, 2008 at 2:31:00 AM EST  
Blogger Joey W. Hill said...

The nice thing about this kind of giveaway is learning about organizations I wasn't aware existed. Caffey, thanks for letting me know about Deaf Services. Amy, I'll have to try Johanna Lindsey's book - it would be lovely to read a great Christmas romance. Your mention of Ronald McDonald house made me think about how lovely it is when individuals and/or corporations identify unmet needs and dedicate so many volunteer hours and donation dollars to make them into a reality. And Deidre, goes without saying that the Komen foundation is an outstanding choice. So many of us have mothers, sisters, friends, etc that have been impacted by this cancer.

Friday, December 19, 2008 at 8:29:00 AM EST  
Blogger Joey W. Hill said...

And the WINNER of the drawing is...Allison!! Allison, since my post inspired you to give, I think this is a sign of good karma (grin). Shoot me an email at storywitch@ec.rr.com with the name and address of the shelter. And also shoot me YOUR address, and which of my signed books you'd like to receive. Thank you all for participating in the blog during this very busy season. It's been lovely to talk to you and learn about the many ways that you give to make the world a better place. May you all have a wonderful Christmas season and a delightful 2009.

Friday, December 19, 2008 at 2:37:00 PM EST  
Blogger Allison('s)Reads said...

Wow, thanks Joey! Your post really made me (and others) pause and think. Thank You. And you may already know which book I'm going to ask for :) lol!

Friday, December 19, 2008 at 4:40:00 PM EST  

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