Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Roll Call!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  We hope you are cozy with loved ones today...happy and merry and surrounded by crumpled-up wrapping paper and guzzling champagne. Or whatever makes you happy!
I am here in Boston, where it feels more like March than December. Jonathan and I are unwrapping gifts (though it’s tough to unwrap two yet-to-be-reupholstered armchairs, but we will imagine), and we'll have a lovely brunch. BACON! Then I'll work on revisions for a while. And then--we are going to Star Wars!
How about you? Hallie, in Milton, Massachusetts? 
HALLIE EPHRON: Merry Christmas! We’re home with a houseful. Two daughters, a son-in-law, and an energetic two-year-old who comes tiptoeing into our bedroom to wake us up so her parents get a morning or two to sleep in. We’re going make jelly donuts for Christmas breakfast. Filled with seedless raspberry jam. I’ll let you know how they turn out.
Debs? In Texas.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Home, happily. Daughter and son-in-law over for prezzies and breakfast (Trader Joe's cinnamon rolls,  yum.) Later, our friend Gigi will come over, too, and we are cooking prime rib and Jamie Oliver's Yorkshire puddings. And it's balmy here--it's feels like Florida! We may have our Christmas cocoa on the patio. And then I'll see who I can talk into watching Love Actually:-)
Rhys, in California.
RHYS BOWEN: It's rainy so no going on our usual Christmas hike! We have everyone descending on us later today, so we'll have 9 for dinner tonight and then the other 5 arrive tomorrow. So we're putting off our big Christmas dinner until they all get here on Boxing Day, as we still call it. Tonight a more sophisticated meal with a variation on coq au vin followed by a light dessert of berries in liqueur.  So only three of us for breakfast and one is gluten free and lactose intolerant, so eggs and smoked salmon will have to do.
Wishing everyone a joyous and peaceful day!
Lucy, in Florida.
LUCY BURDETTE: We are at home in Key West, with the kids and their spouses and one brother visiting. I'm making dinner--stuffed shells in homemade (low-sodium) sauce, nice bread, a salad, Christmas cookies, and homemade ice cream I hope! I believe we are having 12 people--yikes!
It's been quite hot here so it doesn't really feel like Christmas. But it will! Merry Christmas Reds and red readers!
Susan, in Brooklyn— who gave us the scoop last night and will check in later today!)

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Right now it's a Christmas battle with Kiddo. "How about four?" he asks, meaning waking us up at four a.m. tomorrow morning.

"How about eight?" we counter. 



"OK, six. My not waking you up until six will be my Christmas present to you guys."

"And we need coffee first."

"If I let you have coffee first tomorrow, can I open one of the presents tonight?"


HANK: Okay, dear Susan. I remember it well. Let us know how that goes… Now to  Julia, in Maine:
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: We've seen what Santa's brought and opened out presents from each other, and now we're bustling around before our guests arrive. Youngest is clearing away presents and writing out placecards, The Boy is setting up folding tables and chairs, the Smithie is laying out the good china and sterling and Ross and I are cooking, cooking, cooking! We're having a small-for-us gathering this year - only 18 guests. After a dinner of roast beef and turkey, our more musical friends will break out their instruments and we'll play and sing.
Yes, Ross and I are, in actuality, Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig. Merry Christmas to you all!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  So how about you, dear Reds? Have you checked the past few days blogs for our winners? And just tell us what you’re up to today—and even simply where you are—and you’ll be entered to win the Hank book of your choice.

We love you all madly!


  1. Although we won't see the Colorado contingent this year :{
    we will be going to Virginia on Monday to have a slightly late Christmas with our youngest daughter and our grandchildren.
    Today we will spend with family: both my sisters, husbands, twin sister Jean's children and grandchildren.

    Merry Christmas to all the Jungle Red writers and readers.
    May all the joys and blessings of the season be yours.

  2. We are going out for Chinese food. Dessert here at home, later. Not too many family members who will travel here. Okay, none will. It's a little sad. But like Auntie Cha-Cha always said, "You make your own fun, Rainy." That's what we do. It's the other side of being left out. Freedom.

    Love you.

  3. We love you all too! And that's a perfect motto: We make our own fun!

  4. Love you all madly, too! About to open gifts with Hugh and one son and call my other son in Puerto Rico, then bacon, blueberry pancakes, and mimosas. Later our good friends with the little kids we are very close to come for an early dinner and more gifts. Many blessings.

  5. Tree lit, cats fed, boys sleeping with gifts piled Harry-Potter-style on the foot of their beds--preparing to put the turkey in the oven. A low-key day ahead--no traveling, just good food and family close to home!

    Merry Christmas to the Reds' family!

    p.s. Edith, can I get a to-go breakfast next year? ;-)

  6. Sure, FChurch! We have leftover pancakes - come on over now. ;^)

  7. YUM! Sounds like a wonderful day is brewing! And so happy to see you all…

    Our standing rib roast and mushroom strudel was DEElicious. And we chose a special wine.

    Today we're having breakfast, and talking to the far-flung family.. .and then going to the movies.

    (Susan, we did watch Jessica Jones! Love it. Thank you!)

    Joan, hope you have recovered from your ridiculous day yesterday. Grr.

    Back soon with yesterday's winners--but need more coffee.

    Anybody get an unexpected present?

  8. We are at my daughter's in Michigan, where it is balmy and spring-like, much to their disappointment. But having a lovely time, anyway. And the biggest hug from my grandson was for the books we gave him!

    Love you all, and love hearing that you are all snug and happy, and surrounded by family and friends. That's the best gift of all, isn't it?

  9. In Florida where it is warm and cloudy, but the weather predictions for New Year's Eve and Day are in the 50s. Brrrr, and YEAH! Happiest of days to all.

  10. Hugs to you, Reine. Whenever Christmas has been less-than ideal for me - and there have been several when I was sorely tempted to sit in the upstairs closet and cry - I remember Dr. Seuss's words:

    He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
    Somehow or other, it came just the same!

    May we all have a blessed Christmas, today and always.


  11. MIchigan, FLorida! I love how we are everywhere.

    Aw, Julia, so perfect. Thank you. and to you, too….

    I'm on the verge of tears every Christmas Day--I can never figure it out.


  12. WINNERS!

    From yesterday:

    Daniele K

    From Wednesday:



    Anonymous in Atlanta

    from Tuesday:

    Jim Collins (who wins Death In Good Company)

    Email me at h ryan at whdh dot com Weds and Thurs winners, choose the signed Hank book of your choice! And include your address. Happy holidays!

    Now off to revise--I have to CUT 7000 words. How many pages is that?

  13. Here in Antioch, CA. Up late (early?) opening presents after midnight. Marvelous Skype w/granddaugher. Going to make ham with all the fixings later and read the 2 new cookbooks I got. Merry Christmas all, thanks for a year of great blogs and books.

  14. I read that sign off as, "We love you all mildly," and was momentarily non-plussed.

    Bill and I are celebrating our first Christmas on our with a stay in Williamsburg. So far it's been marvelous, though yesterday's 80 degree temps make me feel a little ridiculous about fussing so much about how to pack for both Virginia and Key West.

    Lucy, we will see you soon! All Reds, happiest of holidays!


  15. Mildly? Because of the weather, right, Barb? Safe travels!

    Grandma C and Dee…love you mildly! (see Barb's comment above…) xooo

  16. Unexpected gift? I think the Star Trek original series Phase remote control definitely falls in that category! Love it, and glad no one ever views me as the serious grandma.

  17. The jelly donuts were unbelievably delicious!! Even moreso since my daughter made the dough the night before and let it rise in the fridge overnight. Then this morning she cut the donuts and left them to rise while we opened gifts. Then I fried them and she filled and powdered sugared them ... We made 15 and know how many are left over?

  18. Warm and cloudy here in Pittsburgh, PA. We unwrapped presents earlier and The Girl did a fabulous job directing the show. Called my sister back in Buffalo (who has bronchitis). Later there will be the Feast of the Seven Fishes (yeah, yeah, it's a Christmas Eve thing, but we did Mass last night and we're Americans anyway so we're putting our own spin on it). Right now watching The Nightmare Before Christmas. And of course there has to be a fire because...Christmas. So it's smoking in the living room.

    Merry Christmas Reds!

  19. Our celebration is delayed a bit. Our daughter is flying in from Texas (first visit since moving there in August) and fog has delayed her by 2 hours. Mid-afternoon is now later afternoon.
    But whenever it is, it will be delightful.
    The food is prepped and ready to go.

  20. I haven't seen many announcements of winners.

  21. We (me, son, hubby) opened our gifts, then hit the road back to Houston. We've had the first family party at the nursing home with his family. I'm at home, just sitting, then will take off for the second family (mine) celebration this afternoon. Whew. Finished Roberta/Lucy's Death With All the Trimmings this morning.
    Need yummy food. . .now. We are at about 80 degrees right now. My granddaughter called from Ohio; it's warm there too, relatively.

  22. Julia, my first shocking year away from home--stuck in hot California and not knowing anyone except my roomie, my then future sister-in-law (and not knowing that)--I went to the Actors Studio on De Longpre in West Hollywood. We sat outside under the orange trees where we listened to Roscoe Lee Brown read The Grinch Who Stole Christmas!

    Hallie, those jelly donuts sound great! My grandmother (father's mum) used to bake them... brilliant recipe, easy for me to do but invented for her household of eight children in Dorchester (beside the field that used to be part of Dot Park but is now the Carney parking lot--where at least two of my aunts met their husbands... not the parking lot--the coffee shop). They are easy. They are delicious, and I can make them! So I think I might bake Harrington donuts for breakfast tomorrow.

    Edith, when we move back to the North Shore, I will be ready for bacon! I've never had a mimosa, so I may have to ask for the recipe. I think I'll make New England style corn muffins and blueberry, too. I'll have go on a diet now to be ready!

    Hank, I don't know how I ever got along without you and all the Reds. This is a home full of people I love. Steve and I have one another other, still. And each year we are grateful for that. Family is so dispersed... just hard to keep up with them. But not you Reds. You are here.

    Roberta, we do make our own fun! When Auntie Cha-Cha said that to me, and I don't remember what prompted her to, but it stuck anyway. It's always there for me to turn to, like the best Christmas gift ever.

    Time to get dressed for dinner. One of the boys had decided to join us, so that will be fun. Have a great day, everyone, whatever you might be up to.

    Later I'll spend time on the phone with friends and others who call. Love you. Love you. Love you all!

  23. And I copy Hank and say I love you all and your blogs madly! I look forward to your blog each dawn! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  24. Winners posted every day in comments! Xxx

  25. We have settled into our apartment in New Haven and we are having the most special Christmas. Children's service last night (grandchildren were MARY!! and a queen from the Orient) followed by son-in-law's paella!!

    This morning, oldest daughter, who is bunking with us, made breakfast and we exchanged a gift or two. Our new neighbors (four blocks away) walked over and we joined them on their walk on this very warm day -- Daughter #3 with husband and two little girls.

    Tonight, son-in-law and oldest daughter preparing a festive feast (filet, mashed potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and vanilla ice cream with home-made chocolate peppermint sauce). It's time to go!!

    Tomorrow morning Daughter #2 arrives with husband and two boys for brunch here.

    Daughter #4 with in-laws (;() in McCall, Idaho. As close to perfect happiness as I get!

  26. Denise Ann, that is so lovely! Aw..

    Gramdma Cootie--fab! Can we talk about Star Wrs when the time for spoilers is over?

    MAry, do you all do one at a time? Or just have at it?

    Reine, you make me cry. And yes, I feel the same way. As you WELL know. Love to you all….

    LIbby Dodd, hope your daughter has arrived safely!

    Hallie, my guess is ZERO are left!

  27. Hank, it's a one at time thing. We would cook, eat, rest, repeat. It's meant to be all day. But we only made it through three dishes plus a salad before everyone cried "uncle" and we quit.