Guest Post with Maria V. Snyder

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Maria V. Snyder changed from being a meteorologist to a novelist in 1995, when she began writing to keep her sanity while raising two children. Since then, she has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers, and teaches fiction-writing classes at the local college and area libraries. The classes give her the wonderful opportunity to encourage fellow writers, and to keep improving her craft.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria always had a fascination with big storms. Dreaming of chasing tornados, Maria earned a bachelors of science degree in meteorology at Penn State University. But she discovered, much to her chagrin, that forecasting the weather wasn’t one of her skills. In order to chase tornados you had to predict where they might form. Creating fantasy worlds where she has complete control of the weather was more agreeable to her.

Maria’s research on food-tasting methods with an expert chocolate taster, her husband, turned out to be a delicious bonus while writing Poison Study.

Maria has a brown belt in Isshinryu Karate, and enjoys playing volleyball and the cello. Traveling in general and via cruise ship in particular are her biggest distractions from writing. Maria has traveled to Belize, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal.

Maria lives with her husband, son, daughter and yellow lab, Hazelnut, in Pennsylvania where she is at work on more LUNA novels. She is also pursuing a master’s degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University.

 

Maria V. Snyder’s Christmas Traditions

When I was little, Christmas was such a magical time and my favorite time of the year.  I loved everything about it, decorating the tree, shopping, wrapping presents, and the music.  I’d get so excited on Christmas Eve, I couldn’t sleep and would wake my parents at 5 a.m.!  I only received new toys or games on my birthday and Christmas.

 

The week before Christmas, we’d drive around the city (Philadelphia) and look at all the Christmas lights.  On Christmas Eve, my sister and I would be allowed to open one present from my parents.  It was always new pajamas or a nightgown to wear that night.  Looking back, I suspected my mother wanted to have us look good in the pictures 😉  Because she would make us stand on the stairs on Christmas morning for a picture of us before we went downstairs to see what was under the tree (see picture – I’m the one in red – don’t laugh at my hair!!  All right, you can laugh.  And notice the dials on the TV – Google it if you don’t know what dials are!).  Our expressions turned more and more annoyed as we grew older and I think I rolled my eyes in one when I was a teenager.  We dreaded that picture once we hit high school!

 

Christmas morning, we take turns opening presents from Santa and each other, then my mother would cook a big breakfast.  That afternoon, we’d get ready to go to my Aunt Vickie’s house.  We’d dress up in dresses my grandmother bought for all of us, and my father would wear a suit.  All my mother’s sisters and my cousins would assemble at Aunt Vickie’s.  My grandmother who grew up in Italy cooked her home-made spaghetti – yes, she made the dough, rolled it out and cut each strand by hand!  Yum.  And the gravy (what we called the tomato sauce) was delicious because it had been simmering with beef, veal, meatballs, and Italian hot and sweet sausages all day long.  We also ate straciatella (Italian egg drop) soup, and chicken capons.  So far, I’ve haven’t encountered another family who ate home-made spaghetti for Christmas.  Anyone?

 

Now it’s a bit different.  We still drive around one night and look at all the lights.  On Christmas Eve, my husband’s family comes over and we exchange presents, eat sandwiches and feast on cookies.  His mother use to bake twelve different types of cookies, but since she passed away, we all bake and bring the cookies for dessert.  For this meal, the dessert is the main attraction.

 

On Christmas morning, I confess that I make my kids stand on the steps so I can take a picture of them!  And yes, my 17 year old son is rolling his eyes in the picture.  But it’s lovely to have all those pictures as they grew up.  Yes, mother, you were right.  Happy?

 

We take turns opening presents like when I was little, but we added a twist to make the morning special.  Since my kids are spoiled (my husband’s fault 😉 and will get new things, like books and video games throughout the year, instead of just two days, they’re not as excited.  My husband started hiding our children’s gifts throughout the house and on Christmas morning, he gives them clues to find their gifts.  They have to figure out the clue to find their present.  I believe it’s their favorite tradition, but I’ll have to see what they do with their kids!

 

My parents come over to my house for dinner and I make a tenderloin that can be cut with a fork!  I make a ginger and garlic rub and let the meat cook for four hours.  Yum!  My mother brings pizzelle (my kids call them snowflake cookies) and a pecan pie, and I bake an apple pie for dessert.  We exchange presents after dinner.

 

It’s a pretty low key, but I enjoy the relaxing quiet after all the work leading up to the big day.  Plus I need my energy for New Year’s Eve J  This year, I’ll be in Walt Disney World, chaperoning my daughter’s marching band trip.  Where will you be?

 

 

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