Monthly Archives: December 2014

It Started with a Poem: Sentimental Scots and “Auld Lang Syne”

I blame my sentimental side on my Dad’s Scottish ancestors. After all, it was a Scot – the legendary writer Robert Burns, below – who wrote the poem, “Auld Lang Syne,” first published in 1787 and arguably the most sentimental words ever put on paper.

Robert Burns

Auld Lang Syne means “Old Long Ago” in an ancient Scottish dialect. I don’t know about you, but I can’t sing (or even hear) “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve without a tear coming to my eye. In Scotland, where no doubt it is sung with more gusto than anywhere else in the world, they get a double dose of the song, since apparently it is sung not only to usher in the New Year but again on January 25th, known as Burns Night.

“Auld Lang Syne” is an exquisite example of how words (and words put to music) express the human experience. Who among us does not feel regret and longing about love and friendship, and the passage of time? And who does not wonder what might have been, while fearing what will be? And on what day of the year could those words put to music have a greater impact than December 31?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

Such a bittersweet sentiment! Although it’s a bit overwhelming, it is worth embracing. While New Year’s leads us to somberly assess the previous year, it is also a time of faith, love – and hope.

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Blessings to all in 2015!

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A Simpler Christmas

I sometimes envy the way people celebrated Christmas in days gone by. The Delany Sisters, born in 1889 and 1891, often told me about being thrilled to find an orange in their Christmas stockings – an orange being a treat.

My mom recalls the Depression when some years there weren’t Christmas celebrations at all. One year she received a Shirley Temple doll, definitely the best gift of her entire childhood.

My dad’s favorite recollections of Christmas involve singing Christmas carols while someone played piano. His favorite: “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” He doesn’t remember the gifts; that wasn’t what was important to him.

In my generation, post-war parents began spoiling their children with many presents. This includes my parents! Still, Christmas in our household meant church. It meant carols. It meant fun traditions like baking cookies. No matter how crazed it seems looking back on it, our Christmases were nothing compared to what many people (usually women) feel they have to do today.

Here are a few suggestions for getting a handle on an out-of-control Christmas:

1) Think twice about adding someone to your gift list. If it’s an impulse, don’t do it, unless you are prepared to give a present to this person every year.

2) Never add anything new to your holiday plans without subtracting something else. You don’t have to do everything every year.

3) Give to charity rather than shopping for people who already have too much. It is so easy today to give to a favorite cause. Just go online and donate!

4) Buy local. Then you won’t have to worry if your gifts will arrive in time. Lots of “mom and pop” stores will even gift-wrap for you.

5) Share activities with your friends and neighbors. One of my friends, who lives alone and doesn’t want or need to bake a thousand cookies, participates in a “cookie swap” at her church. Less baking and more variety!

May you all have a Merry Christmas with many moments of peace and reflection!

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Cover Reveal for My Upcoming Novel!

LOST HEIRESS COVER  I’m thrilled to share the cover of my new book, Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, a sequel to my first novel! I am ecstatic about the cover and so excited! It’s scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books imprint on September 8, 2015. If you like, you may Pre-order it by clicking here: Simon and Schuster

or by clicking here: Amazon.com.

Here is the publisher’s description:

“In this sequel to Amy Hill Hearth’s “funny and charming” (Publishers Weekly) debut novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society, the eponymous book club reunites one year later, in the late summer of 1964.

“Their mission: to fight a large development along the tidal river where member Robbie-Lee grew up and where his mother, Dolores Simpson, a former stripper turned alligator hunter, still lives in a fishing shack.

“The developer is Darryl Norwood, ex-husband of narrator Dora Witherspoon, who returns to Collier County to assist in the battle. An old land deed, the discovery that one of the key characters has been using a false name, and a dramatic court hearing are just a few of the highlights. Not to mention the reappearance of the Ghost of Seminole Joe.

“Just as Hearth’s debut explored the ways we can find a sense of belonging in other people, her latest novel shows how closely tied each of us is to our sense of home—and the conflicts that can arise when our idea of that home becomes threatened. For Darryl, the river is a place ripe for development. For Dora, who’s known as the Turtle Lady because she rescues Everglades ‘snappers,’ it’s a place that belongs to the critters. And for Dolores, former stripper, it’s a place to hide from the world.”

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This will be my ninth book (and second novel)! I look forward to sharing more about it in the months to come.

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