Christmas Interview with Ann Gabhart and Book Giveaway (11/1 – 11/7)

Ann was our very first featured author/giveaway back in June.  She had so much fun (and we did too!) that she said she would love to come back.  Of course I said “YES!”.  Since she had a new Christmas book coming out in September, I thought having Ann back in November with a special Christmas interview and giving away an autographed copy of her new Christmas book, Christmas at Harmony Hill, would be great.  So, sit down with your favorite Christmas tea or apple cider and enjoy reading this wonderful interview with Ann.

Make a comment between Nov. 1-7, 2013 to be entered in the giveaway. See rules at the end of the interview.

Make a comment between Nov. 1-7, 2013 to be entered in the giveaway. See rules at the end of the interview.

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ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. She’s published twenty-five novels with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on a farm in Kentucky where she lives with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart , Twitter, https://twitter.com/AnnHGabhart , or Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.

I’m reading, Christmas at Harmony Hill, right now.  It’s nothing like I expected.  I’m really draw in and can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen.  What can you tell us about the book and why you decided to write it?

I never intended to write a shelf full of Shaker books. When I wrote The Outsider I thought that would be the only book I would write about the Shakers. In fact, that story sat on my reject shelf for a couple of decades before it was finally published. And then readers liked my Shaker story, and my editor encouraged me to write more books with a Shaker background. So I agreed as long as I could write other historical stories along with those Shaker books.

My editor, Lonnie Hull Dupont and my agent, Wendy Lawton, are the reason I wrote a Shaker Christmas book. Several years ago they took a road trip together and came to visit me out here on the farm. We had a great time and of course did a lot of talking about books. One of them said wouldn’t it be fun to read a Shaker Christmas book. I didn’t even know if the Shakers did anything special at Christmas time, but being carried away by the moment and the great company, I said I might be able to find out about Shakers and Christmas. So I did and came up with some plot ideas that fit into a Christmas theme. Four years later, Christmas at Harmony Hill is the result.

The story is a bit different from most Christmas novels. I feel like it could be read any time of the year even though it is set in December 1864. The Civil War is drawing to a close, but Gideon is still fighting for the Union Army while Heather returns home to have their baby. When she finds no welcome there, she seeks shelter in the Shaker village where her aunt, Sister Sophrena, the Shaker journalist in The Gifted, has lived for many years. Sister Sophrena is ready to help Heather even as she is beginning to doubt her own Shaker walk.

Does your family have any Christmas traditions that have carried over from your parents?  Have you created new traditions?

I remember the great times I had as a child. Every Christmas Eve we went to my aunt’s house for dinner and presents. My aunt never married and so she was like a granny to my sisters and me. She made Christmas special. She died shortly after I married and so the traditional Christmas Eve dinner was then at my mother’s. I’ve had to adjust traditions somewhat after my children got married and all the family traditions had to be merged with their spouses’ traditions too. So now my children try to find an agreeable Saturday or Sunday to come home for Christmas. I suppose if we have a tradition it is just to try to get together and have a time of giving and sharing. I do still make the same orange and pineapple juice punch in my aunt’s cut glass punch bowl.

Do y’all open presents one at a time or everyone at the same time?

We used to open presents one at a time. I still like that way best, but when you have nine grandkids with seven of them under ten, things can go south pretty fast. So now we let the grandkids open their presents all at the same time and then while they’re playing with their new toys, the adults open their presents one at a time. So fun!

Do y’all have a special meal you always have each Christmas or do you just wing it?

I do serve some traditional dishes that the children expect. I have ham, both city ham and a delicious country ham roast. My homemade rolls are a must as well as green beans (canned from the garden), corn pudding, grape salad, fruit salad, and hummingbird cake. The other dishes vary from year to year. And of course, if anybody is here for Christmas breakfast or breakfast on whatever day we have our family celebration, we have homemade cinnamon rolls. Yum!!

Do you have a favorite recipe (or two) that you make every Christmas?  Can you share with us?

Sure. First my punch recipe. We never had a recipe written down, but my aunt just told me what to do. I started making that punch when I was a kid. I loved stirring it all together. So I’ll name it after her. If you’ll notice I also dedicated Christmas at Harmony Hill to her memory.

Aunt Bond’s Christmas Punch

One large can pineapple juice

One large can grapefruit juice

One large can frozen orange juice with only one can of water added

½ gallon orange sherbet

2 liter Gingerale

Mix the juices. Right before add scoops of orange sherbet and half the gingerale to the juices. Save the rest of the Gingerale for each individual to add to their cups to taste.

Note: My aunt always added the grapefruit juice but I often leave it out. If you do use the grapefruit juice, you may need to sweeten the punch to taste.

Then my hummingbird cake recipe. I found it years ago when our newspaper published the prize winning cakes for the Kentucky State Fair from 1971 through 1980.

Hummingbird Cake (Helen Wiser -1978 winner)

3 C flour (see Ann’s note in the directions about the flour and what she does)

¾ C chopped pecans

2 C granulated sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 tsp baking soda

¼ C chopped black walnuts (optional)

1 tsp cinnamon

2 C chopped banana

3 eggs, well beaten

1 ¼ c vegetable oil

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. (I cheat and use self-rising flour and leave out the baking soda and salt.) Add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not beat with a mixer. Stir in nuts, vanilla and pineapple. Finally add the bananas. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 or 30 minutes or until Cake tests done. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Icing (from Debby Osborne’s 1980 prize winning recipe)

2/3 stick butter or margarine

2 tsp vanilla

8 ounce package cream cheese

1 C chopped pecans

1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Whip margarine and cream cheese together. Add remaining ingredients and beat well. Spread between cake layers and then frost sides and top of cake.

Do y’all ever have a white Christmas? And speaking of white Christmas, what’s your favorite Christmas songs?

In Kentucky, it’s hit or miss with the white Christmas. We have had several Christmases that were white. One year, the family built a snowman. Another year we went sledding. And one year, my son ran off the road trying to go home and had to be pulled out of the snowy ditch. But I also remember some Christmas days when the sun was shining and it was nearly sixty degrees. Kentuckians have a saying that if you don’t like the weather, just stick around till tomorrow. So snow is an option, but far from a guarantee on Christmas day.

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I love Christmas songs. I’ve liked “The Little Drummer Boy” forever, but I also like “What Child is This” and “Mary, Did you Know.” So many great Christmas songs, it’s hard to pick just one or two. “Joy to the World” is my favorite carol.

Do you remember, way back when, when they had all those wonderful Christmas programs on, like Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope?  I do, and I miss them!

I do remember those shows. I remember Bob Hope going to Vietnam and having Christmas shows for the soldiers there. I wrote about that once on my blog and got a message back from a soldier who was there for one of those shows. It’s neat the way the internet connects people.

I love the Christmas story told from the original KJV from the book of Luke?  What’s your favorite?

If you’re reading the Christmas story, the King James Version sounds the best in my ears because that’s what I grew up hearing. I do like the New King James because it keeps some of the poetic sound of the KJV but changes enough to make it easier to read. At our youth programs at church, we always read from both Luke and Matthew so that we get the story of the shepherds and wise men too. When I autograph one of my books, I always include a Scripture reference with the signature. I try to match up a Bible verse with the title of the book or the story. For Christmas at Harmony Hill, I use Luke 2:19. I think people will understand why after they read the story.

Do you have any unusual traditions you do each Christmas?  Or if not unusual, maybe just something you do each year without fail?

Life has changed for me since my mother’s dementia, so that some of the Christmas traditions that I loved have been lost along with her memory. I can’t think of any unusual traditions we ever had. For several years I loved going with my mother to her church for a midnight candlelight service on Christmas Eve after our family gathering. It was just so neat to go out of the church as the church bells rang the hour of midnight. We do have the tradition of having a candlelight service at our little country church too, but we usually have it on a Sunday night close to Christmas. I do enjoy the candlelight services and the imagery of the “light of the world” giving light to each of us.

Come to think of it, I guess I do have a grandmother tradition. When my first grandbaby was born, almost twenty years ago now, she was six months old on her first Christmas and I took a picture of her on the floor in front of my Christmas tree. She was my special Christmas gift.Untitled.001 Then, every time I had a new grandbaby come into the world, I’d get that picture of the new baby under the tree. Also I make, beg, bribe, whatever it takes, to get all the grandkids in front of the tree for a picture each year. They have to sit for that picture before they can open presents. Sometimes the toddlers have not been that eager for pictures or presents, but so far we’ve always gotten the picture.

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Oh, and there is that other tradition I have of giving all my kids and grandkids at least one book whether they want one or not. LOL. Fortunately they all love books and this tradition is fun for me too since I love shopping at bookstores.

I’m enjoying this so much I can’t stop, but I’m going to have too!  Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! I do enjoy hearing from readers. It’s fun having conversations with you on Facebook and on my blog, One Writer’s Journal. I hope you have so many blessings in the coming year that your cup overflows and you’re drinking out of your saucer.

Quick, Quirky Questions:

Decorate by yourself or have help?

I love having help to decorate, but it doesn’t always happen. When I was a kid, we had a great time helping my aunt put up her tree and that’s a great memory for me now. Sometimes my grandkids, who live near by, come to help, but they aren’t quite as carried away by the magic of decorating the tree the way I was. It could be because their mom puts up seven or eight trees. By the time I get around to dragging my tree out, those kids are all Christmas tree decorated out. They do like helping me get my Santa collection out of the boxes.

Real tree or artificial?

For years we had real trees. Actually we went out in the fields on our farm and cut a cedar tree and put it in a bucket. They smelled wonderful, but dried out quickly inside the house and were very scratchy to decorate. We also bought a live tree once and it’s now growing into a towering pine out in the yard. But I went the artificial tree route some years ago. Now I have one of those pre-lighted trees. Trouble is the lights are no longer working on some of the strands, but I don’t seem motivated to buy a new tree. I just string some more lights on it. My daughter-in-law says I need to buy a taller tree to fit in my added on family room. Maybe someday I will.

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Wrapping paper or bags?

I know it’s silly, but I feel like I’m cheating somehow when I use bags. I’ve always sort of enjoyed wrapping presents, but it can get tiresome wrapping that many presents since I usually buy several presents each for my husband, three kids, three sweet in-law kids, and nine grandkids. I’ve even been known to buy my daughter’s two dogs doggy treats and wrap them up.

When it gets down to crunch time and I haven’t got the gifts all wrapped, I’ll grab bags. I also use bags for oddly shaped items that don’t fit in boxes.

Cookies or brownies?

That’s according to the flavor cookies or brownies. Maybe my favorite is oatmeal cookies with craisens mixed in and spread in a 9 x 13 pan instead of dropped as cookies.

Cake or pie?

Pie. Very definitely pie. What kind of pie? Round will do. LOL

Tinsel on the tree?

When I was a kid and we were decorating those cedar trees, we always draped shiny tinfoil icicles on the tree. Then when we took the tree down after Christmas, we had to painstakingly pick off the icicles and lay them as straight as possible for use the next year. It was a freeing moment when, after I married, I decided trees looked better without the icicles.

Angel or Star topper on tree?

Angel, naturally, for a writer who titled one of her stories Angel Sister.

Thanks so much for inviting me back for a visit. I’ll look forward to your comments. Why don’t you tell me your favorite traditions at Christmas?  Ann

Ok, if you read this last sentence from Ann, she wants to hear your favorite Christmas tradition too!  So, feel free to include that in your comment below.  This is so much fun!!!

Now for the autographed book giveaway:

Make a comment between Nov. 1-7, 2013 to be entered in the giveaway. See rules at the end of the interview.

Make a comment between Nov. 1-7, 2013 to be entered in the giveaway. See rules at the end of the interview.

  1. You must be 18 years or older and be a U.S. resident.
  2. Leave a comment in the comment section at the end of THIS post.  One entry per person.
  3. We will randomly compile a list of everyone who made a comment and will draw a name.  We will then notify you by email giving you further instructions on collecting your free book.  DO NOT include your personal mailing address in your comment for security reasons.
  4. If we do not hear back from you in 5 days, we will draw another winner.
  5. Please allow 2-3 weeks for book delivery.
  6. If you win the book it would be really great if you could come back to this post after you have read it and tell us what you thought about the book.
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119 Comments

Filed under Featured Author & Book Giveaway

119 responses to “Christmas Interview with Ann Gabhart and Book Giveaway (11/1 – 11/7)

  1. Susan P

    I loved reading all about the Christmas traditions and things you do, Ann! What a great interview. I love everything about Christmas and the love of family that comes with it. My parents have 16 grandchildren total, so gift opening is a huge circus – we also do the “open all at once” method. We have always had a tradition where our four kids open their gifts in their pjs. It’s just a fun thing they started. 🙂
    lattebooks at hotmail dot com

  2. Hi Ann,
    Thank you for doing this fun Christmas giveaway!! I absolutely love Christmas! I love driving around the neighborhood seeing all the houses that have the most Christmas lights and hearing all the different Christmas songs. My favorite Christmas songs are Mary did you know, Away in a Manger, silent night.

    We have a 7ft tall fake Christmas tree that looks like a real one. We have a Angle for our tree topper. We decorate our house after Thanks giving, or we try too 😊 I love to bake cookies my favorite cookie is Egg nog. It’s the best. If I could I would eat all of them. Lol. Last year we had some little girl friends over and just had a baking day and we made tons and tons of yummy cookies. It was lots of fun Any kind of cookie you name it. But my most favorite cookie is The Egg Nog.

    One of my favorite Christmas traditions is that we do is my dad reads the Christmas story right of the KJV bible from Luke, we pray and thank God for blessing us with our family and thankful for his coming too this earth to take away our sins. We have a yummy egg dish that my mom makes every Christmas, and each of our family members gets a gift and we all open it together. It’s lots of fun. I love getting books too for a Christmas present it’s always fun. Then at night we make a ham dinner with a green bean casserole and other yummy foods. Then we go and watch the movie “It’s A WonderfulLife” that’s one of our favorites. Then we open up our stockings and then go too bed.

    And for New Years we do the same thing. Except open gifts, we all take turns praying that’s if we want to pray.

    I really and truly enjoyed getting too know you and what you do at Christmas time. Also I loved your yummy recipes. I would absolutely Love to be able too read your Christmas Book.
    Thanks again
    Your Friend in Christ
    Danie Walther

    • Danie, thanks so much for sharing about your Christmas celebrations. It was fun imagining all the good ways you celebrate and enjoy Christmas. I’ve never heard of the Egg Nog cookie, but I do usually bake cookies at Christmas too. And we share some favorite Christmas songs. I think praying on New Year’s Day is a wonderful way to start the year as a family. May you have a lovely Christmas and a blessed 2014.

      • Wow, Danie! I’d like to come spend December with you! I have to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” every December too, but I will usually watch it at least a couple of times throughout the year!
        Thanks so much for sharing and entering the giveaway!
        Debbie

        • Hey Debbie,

          Oh your welcome. I really had a lot of fun doing the contest. I love hearing about and learning about Anna and what she did for Christmas over the years growing up. It’s very neat. We also would go too my Grandmas house and do gift exchanges and sing songs and my uncle would read Luke 2 it was just fun memories.

          What do you do at Christmas time with your family???

      • Hey Ann,
        If you would like I can send you egg nog cookie recipe for it? Just let me know and I will do it. 😊
        Thanks and I hope I have a wonderful Christmas too. Your friend
        Danie

  3. Since our children are grown and gone (all over the world) we have a more simple Christmas than when they were home. We put them on trees in the yard. And I enjoy bright lights around town. I especially like our candle light services at church and usually the local Bible college orchestra plays. Geni White

    • We put LIGHTS on trees, not our children.
      Geni White

    • Glad to hear your kids aren’t on those trees, Geni! LOL. But I was seeing you put their pictures on trees to keep them near on Christmas day, but lights are good too. Christmas does change for us when our kids grow up and have their own families. I’m fortunate that my children live close enough to make it home sometime during Christmas even if it isn’t Christmas day. Still, there’s a lonesome feeling on Christmas morning when the memory of those excited kids echo in your head. But we’re glad they are making memories with their own children and families now. I enjoy the candlelight services too. Focuses me in on the Greatest Gift and the reason for Christmas. Thanks for your comment.

      • Geni, I LOL when I read your second comment! Life is different when we get older and our kids aren’t little any longer. I, too, am blessed to have my kids and grandkids live close by, but because of in-laws and sharing our kids with them, our usual Christmas Eve and Christmas morning is very quiet. But, I just thank God for being able to get together with them when ever that is. I bet you could Skype or something with your children and that would be a huge blessing!
        Thanks for visiting and entering the giveaway!
        I feel like saying…”Merry Christmas”!
        Debbie

  4. Judy B

    Since there is just my hubby and I, it has been this way for the past 9 3/4 years, I guess our Christmas tradition is to drive around and look at all the outside Christmas decorations. It is a time for conversation and reflection on the past year and what amazing things God has done for us or what God has brought us through. We don’t open gifts. We choose something that we want for us and then purchase it as our Christmas gift together. One year we bought a new desk for the computer room; another year we bought vertical blinds for our bedroom and living room, etc.

    Ann, I love your books and I would be thrilled to win a copy of Christmas At Harmony Hill. I enjoyed your interview so much.

    Blessings!
    Judy B

    • Judy, I remember riding around town and looking at the Christmas lights was my family’s tradition when I was young. We did that when our kids were little too. And my husband and I don’t buy each other gifts, we just give gifts to our kids and grandkids. When we want/need something for our house or ourselves, if the budget agrees, we just buy it then.
      Thanks so much for visiting and commenting and entering the giveaway.
      Be on the lookout for a comment from Ann, she’s wonderful!!!
      Debbie

    • Thank you, Judy. Glad you enjoyed the interview. Debbie asked neat questions. And you’re right that as we get older we have to come up with new Christmas traditions. Sounds as if you’ve started some good ones for you and your husband.

  5. Thank you Ann for telling us about your Christmas traditions, and for the yummy Hummingbird Cake recipe! I love your books, and I love Christmas stories and would love to win a copy of your new book!

  6. ops I forgot to leave my email….
    it is
    ibjoy1953[at]yahoo.com

  7. I guess the Christmas tradition we have kept thru the years is we go home, which is Illinois, for Christmas. My husband was in the Navy and he retired after 20 some years. When we got married and moved to Virginia we decided that every year we would go home for Christmas and spend it with family. We kept this tradition up when both my daughters were born and now 33 years later we still go home for Christmas. We have passed down that tradition to my daughters who are married now and have children of their own, we ALL go home for Christmas. Spending Christmas with family is very important to us.

    • Shaun, that is so neat!!! I love it that you have kept that tradition for so long. Family is important at Christmas.
      Thanks for stopping by and entering the giveaway!
      Debbie

    • Shaun, family is the best tradition we can have. It is so wonderful to have all the family together. I can’t always do that with my kids these days because of their own family celebrations, but we do try to have Christmas together if we can. If they can’t all come home on the same day, then we have two Christmases. Thank your husband for his service to our country.

  8. Bonnie

    Loved this interview, Ann!

    Christmas is my favorite holiday – I love everything about it, the most important being that, it is the day that Christ’s birth is observed. It is also my birthday, & as much as I love snow, in Ky., on Christmas day – Dec. 25th, 1943, was one Christmas that my parents probably wished had come snow-free. The roads were slick, & hazardous, when my father risked his life, more than once – attempting to locate my mother’s doctor, for my impending arrival.

    One of my favorite childhood memories, is of my grandmother making so many different kinds of cookies (for family members, & neighbors, as well), & my grandfather passing around a plate of many different kinds of candy, after Christmas dinner. Those were the days when candy was on display, in the store, instead of in bags, & had to be weighed. My mother’s side of the family got together every night of the week before Christmas – each night at a different house, with a different meal.

    My, only, grandchild lives out of state – when she comes home for Christmas, she & her mother always wear new, matching, pj’s, on Christmas eve, & she, her parents, & I – read a new Christmas book.

    My family’s Christmas activies vary, now – depending on when the grandchildren, nieces, & nephews, are able to get home. We DO enjoy candlelit Christmas eve services. I’m one of those people that hate to decorate a tree – guess I did TOO much of it when I was younger. I used to hand-wrap all gifts, also, but find – I always seems to be lagging behind in getting everything ready for Christmas, now, & opt for using bags, whenever possible! My family used to open gifts, one at a time, also – but it kind of fell by the wayside. Perhaps, if we let the children open gifts, first – like you – we could get back in the habit of one-at-a-time, easier. And – how well, I remember trimming the tree with those tinfoil icicles, what a pain, & saving them for the next year. SO glad, I am past that, also. My grandmother always had an aluminum tree, with an electric color wheel shining on it. When I was young, we always cut a cedar tree, from my father’s farm, for our Christmas tree. As you said – they scratched, dried out quickly, & the needles were so hard to get out of the carpet. I have opted for a pre-lit for years, now. I am an angel collector, so always have an angel tree topper. I love attending the religious musical/dramas, driving around to look at light displays, & town of Bethlehem replicas, at Christmas, & singing in the singing Christmas tree (when I was younger). I always buy a new Christmas book, & cd, – to enjoy every Christmas.

    P.S. Am assuming the cans of grapefruit, & pineapple, juices, in the punch, are not the frozen, as is the orange juice? Thanks for the recipes, love hummingbird cake!

    bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

    • Bonnie, I loved Ann interview too! Actually, I loved your comments also. I so remember that tinsel each year when I was a kid…and we had to hang them one strand at a time and then remove them the same way and save them until next year! I know we weren’t wealthy, but I don’t remember being so poor that we couldn’t afford new tinsel each year LOL!!
      Thanks for entering the giveaway!
      Debbie

    • First so I don’t forget, yes, the cans of grapefruit & pineapple juice are not the frozen cans, but the ones of the big juice cans. The orange juice is the frozen one. It was fun reading about your family traditions, Bonnie. I like that one of going to a different house every night the week before Christmas. All that yummy food and fun togetherness sounds wonderful. Christmas can be such a special time for family and for church families too with those special services. Always fun to read your comments, Bonnie.

  9. Ann

    I loved reading about all your Christmas stuff and seeing the pics. I love Christmas themed books too. I kind of put them and the December mags I get around as part of my decorations. 😉 I always try to get my gkids a book too. Two years ago, I got dupes of ones they had, so last year they got an IOU for a book shopping trip. 🙂 which kinda extended the fun. 🙂

    • Ann

      I didn’t realize I was up as only Ann… I am Ann Mettert. So people don’t confuse me with Ann G!!! 🙂

      • Ann Mettert, thanks for the clarification on your name!! Wouldn’t want to miss you in our giveaway!! Didn’t you just love Ann’s pictures of her grandkids and her tree! I loved the way the lights sparkled in the glass and on the floor.
        Thanks for stopping by and reading this special interview with Ann G!
        Debbie

    • Hi, Ann. And we both are plain Anns without the ‘e.’ 🙂 Glad you enjoyed reading about my Christmas traditions. And books seem to be a wonderful way to decorate. As well as wonderful gifts. I did give my son a book he already had last Christmas. He finally took it back in September and they let him exchange it for a different book. So his fun was really extended. LOL. He’d kept a gift certificate that long too. But he had fun at the book store when he did get to go.

  10. Paula Osborne

    I love to read Christmas stories, hope one year to get home to Ky while the snow is on the ground my dream is to ride one of those buggy sleighs pulled by horses. I love all your Christmas questions, we don’t do so much anymore now that we are seniors and not much family around. I love the pic on here of the Christmas tree mirrored in the windows…thanks for sharing all your love of Christmas with us Ann.
    a fan from Ga
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

    • Paula, we are in GA too! I think a one-time sleigh ride would be fun, but that would be enough for me! I thought the Christmas tree picture was beautiful too.
      Thanks for stopping by and entering the giveaway!
      Debbie

    • Glad you stopped by to read this fun interview, Paula. Debbie asked neat questions and I enjoyed sharing some pictures with you all. That is kind of a neat photo with the lights reflecting all around. Makes up for the tree not being very tall. 🙂 I’d send the snow down your way if I could. You can have it all this year if you want. I’ve never ridden in one of those buggy sleighs either, but I’ve sung Jingle Bells a zillion times. LOL.

  11. I love Christmas stories. This looks like such a good one. I agree with you about the icicles on the tree.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

    • Susan, I love Christmas stories too! I have The Christmas Carol on CD (a Focus on the Family production) and I listen to it each year while driving in the car. I just love it!! I’m ashamed to say I’ve never actually read the book. I bought it a few years ago, but it’s still sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. Maybe this will be the year!
      Thanks for stopping by and entering the giveaway!
      Debbie

    • Hi, Susan. Thanks for stopping by and reading my interview. Those icicles were a good practice in patience when I was younger. But now I’m fine with just the decorations on it. My husband and I looked at new trees today at the store and I think he had sticker shock, so I guess I’ll have the same tree as last year. 🙂

      I hope if you get a chance to read my book, you’ll enjoy my Christmas story.

  12. Love this interview. I have not read any of Ann’s books, but I plan to change that 🙂 (NOT entering the giveaway)
    Christmas traditions? There is one: everytime, before we open our presents, the christmas story gets read out. Then we sing a few carols. The presents get handed out afterward, mostly by my grandpa. This time is also always after a big luch. When I was younger it always seemed to drag out too much, however now I like it. It’s a great reminder of what Christmas is about – Jesus and His birth, not the presents.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and reading the interview and sharing your Christmas traditions. It really sounds neat! If I don’t “talk” to you within the next couple of months, let me go ahead and say “Merry Christmas!”
      Debbie

    • I do hope you’ll enjoy my stories if you do get that chance to change things and read one of my books, booklovers1. I hope you do.
      I can imagine how long it took to get to the presents when you were a kid, but I like the traditions you have and it’s never a bad thing to learn a little patience. However, I do remember thinking Christmas Eve would never get here when I was a lot younger than I am now. Now it seems as if it comes around ever three months or something!!

  13. Sharon

    I would love to win this book! For Christmas!!

  14. Sheri

    Great interview!! This book sounds very interesting and I love the cover!! Thanks for the chance!!

    • Glad you enjoyed the interview, Sheri. Christmas is the time of year when a lot of people want to invite you in to peek at their Christmas decorations. It’s better I just share in words, else I’ll have to do something with that mountain of Christmas catalogs I’ve been getting in the mail. LOL.

      Revell Books did a great job with the cover, giving it a Christmas look and a Shaker look at the same time. I hope if you get a chance to read the story, you’ll enjoy it.

    • Sheri, thanks for stopping by for this wonderful interview with Ann. I just loved it too! The winner will be picked on Nov. 8th…I think I get more excited about who wins than the winner! So fun! And thanks to Ann for giving away this autographed copy, that’s so wonderful.
      Debbie

  15. Jan Hall

    Our Christmas tradition is to allow our children to spend time at home with their children on Christmas. They come either before or after Christmas. That way they are not having to pack all the gifts here for Christmas. None of our kids live nearby.

    • And that is a good tradition to have, Jan. I’m sure your children appreciate you being happy for them to have a good time for Christmas at their own houses. That’s how we do it too. Sometimes our daughter who doesn’t have children is here on Christmas day, and that always makes it more fun for us. But we enjoy the big family get together whenever it works out for our sons. Only one of my kids lives nearby.

    • Jan, I think that’s wonderful! Life changes when our kids grow up and have families of their own and we have to make new traditions. It’s all ok with me, I just want to be together, if it’s on Christmas Day or Eve or one or two weeks ahead of time! It’s not the DATE it’s the DAY and the REASON we celebrate Christmas. I do admit I can get all caught up in the decorating and cooking and forget that none of that truly matters, Jesus is the whole reason we even have this holiday! I’m going to do better this year.

      My son and his family, read the Christmas story to their kids (my 2 grandsons) on Christmas Eve and then they get 3 gifts on Christmas morning…because the Wise Men bought Jesus 3 gifts also (or as far as we know that’s all). I think that’s a great thing. They always have some kind of cake or cookies or something that says “Happy Birthday Jesus” on it also.
      Debbie

      Oh, thanks so much for stopping by and entering the giveaway and sharing your tradition!

  16. I have looked at the receipe for the hummingbird cake and can’t see/find the flour amount. It mentions self rising flour but not the amount. Have I missed it? Thank you for such enjoyable books.

    • Uraina, it’s 3 cups and it’s all my fault the recipe is not written up very well. Ann had it written out right and when I copied and pasted to the blog post it didn’t come out right and I didn’t notice it. I’m going to go in and edit it and make it where it is easier to read. Thanks so much for catching this and letting me know.

      Thanks also for stopping by and reading the great interview with Ann and entering the giveaway!
      Debbie

    • Hi, Uraina. I thought, oh no, I was afraid I’d forgot to write the recipe right. But looks like Debbie has it fixed now. Hope if you make it that you like it and keep in mind about those stretch waistbands. The cake is not diet food!

      And thank you for reading my books. So glad to hear that you enjoy the stories.

      • Ann, I’m so sorry I goofed!! I’m just glad that Uraina really looked at the recipe and mentioned it to me so I could fix it! I must have “proofed” this post a million times and never noticed the recipes!!!!
        Debbie

        • No problem, Debbie. Well, at least not for me. I know how much flour to use. 🙂 And now everybody else does too if they want to try the cake. Isn’t it funny how we can proofread and proofread and mistakes still slip by. Of and by the way, I haven’t proofread any of these comments so they are probably littered with typos. But that’s okay because we’re just talking!

  17. I am definitely going to try that hummingbird cake recipe.

  18. We are a blended family and together, we have five children, four in-laws, and three grands! We still stick with some of the old traditions such as Christmas Eve at my parents house (all of the children aren’t able to come though). My favorite “old” tradition is tramping through the woods on Christmas Eve to collect a “Charlie Brown” cedar tree for my grandparents home. My grandfather was a “bah humbug” type person and would not allow my grandmother to put up a tree. The families would arrive at MawMaw’s about mid-afternoon. The grandkids would immediately take off through the woods with a hatchet (carried by the responsible older grandkid). we would walk, talk, joke, laugh, sing, until we found the “perfect”” tree. Once we chopped it down and drug it home, we packed it in a five gallon bucket to drag it inside and decorate with my grandmother’s old, old decorations. She would beam from ear to ear. My grandparents are long gone and once the grands grew up and had kids of their own, the tradition kind of waned. However, in the last few years, we have picked the tradition back up and now MY grandkids are involved. The ENTIRE family loves it!

    Also, many new traditions have evolved due to the blended family. Since everyone must go separate directions for Christmas lunch, our family does Christmas breakfast – cooked by the MEN! Everyone comes over (still in pj’s) about 7 or 8 on Christmas morning. My husband, sons and son-in-law help! Another tradition is NERF Wars. Several years ago, while the kids were still teens, we hid Nerf bullets in their stockings. Once they saw this, they immediately began searching for the guns to accompany it. Once they found them, my husband and I brought out the BIG guns. Some of the best fun every and it still continues to this day.

    • Julie, thanks for stopping by for Ann’s Christmas interview and entering the giveaway. I really enjoyed reading about your traditions, old and new! Sounds like so much fun!! I bet my grandsons would love the Charlie Brown tree and I know they would love the NERF wars!!!
      Debbie

      • Wow, Julie, sounds like you guys know how to have fun. What a gift you all surely were to your grandmother. That’s the best way to celebrate any holiday with family is by having fun with one another. I like that Christmas breakfast cooked by the MEN. Seems like I’m the cook and bottle washer too at our family gatherings. Thank goodness for dishwashers now.

        Hope you keep having fun with all your family. Thanks for sharing your Christmas fun.

  19. Deborah Thompson

    Thank you so much – wonderful traditions – love the Christmas stories – tomorrow is my birthday and then I start getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas – most of the family is 900 miles away but I still have my husband and friends from church.

    • Deborah, Happy Birthday!!!!! So glad you stopped by to read Ann’s wonderful interview about Christmas and to enter her giveaway. In this day and time so many people live far away from family, but I’m so thankful you have your friends from church to be your “family”!
      Debbie

    • Happy birthday, Deborah! Hope you have a wonderful day. It’s hard when you live far from your family, but it seems you’ve figured out how to make “family” from your friends nearby. Isn’t that one of the wonderful things about church families? Glad you enjoyed the interview and hope if you get a chance to read my Christmas story, you’ll enjoy the book.

  20. this sounds like a good book!

  21. Patty H

    We don’t have a large family, usually only 7 or 8 of us for Christmas dinner and gifts… so we usually open gifts going from oldest to youngest or vice versa.
    My favorite Christmas tradition would have to be playing games around the table letting dinner settle before loading up on dessert!

    • Sounds like a great way to celebrate together, Patty. I like opening the gifts where everybody can watch and enjoy seeing all the gifts. And oldest to youngest and then the opposite sounds like a good idea. I love playing games too, but my grandkids are so young right now that nobody seems able to settle down to play anything quiet.

      • Patty,
        Thanks for stopping by for the interview and giveaway. Before our grandkids came along, we would play lots of games after we opened presents and have a winner with each game. My daughter-in-law was by far, the smartest in our family! We used to love to sit around and play dominos, but then the grandkids came and they were too little and now they are older, but seems like the only ones who wants to play is my mom, aunt, sister and me! Our last family get-together we did actually get my daughter and son and daughter-in-law to play with us, but no one had the time to play all the way to then end. But it was lots of fun anyway.
        I hope you have a Merry Christmas!
        Debbie

  22. Jackie Tessnair

    Thanks for sharing Ann.I love Christmas and all the beauty that it brings.I love the recipes you shared,will definately have to try them.I love Christmas stories,and I will put this one on my to read list.I love your books.

    • Thanks, Jackie. I appreciate you reading my books and I’m glad my story is going on your to read list. Christmas is a beautiful time of the year and such a great time for families and churches. Hope if you try the recipes that they turn out well for you.

      • Jackie, I’m so glad you stopped by for Ann’s Christmas interview and giveaway. You’ll really enjoy her book. I love Christmas stories too, and I’m going to go ahead and pull out all the Christmas novels we have in our Media Center this week and put on display. If stores can put out decorations in September, then I can put Christmas novels out in November! Besides, there are so many, we need 2 months to read them.
        Merry Christmas!
        Debbie

  23. Sandi Ansell

    I love Ann…she is as real as her books! I would love to win this book. God bless you real good, Ann!

  24. Oh, Sandi, what a nice thing to say. I appreciate you reading my stories so much and wishing you much luck in the drawing. Our preacher likes to say that last phrase about God blessing you real good. Sending those wishes back to you.

  25. I loved the interview. Ann is a wonderful writer. I would say our most tradtion we do is ready the Christmas story. We do breakfast then Papa reads the Christmas story from the bible. Then they get their gifts. I would love to have this book in my collection.
    Blessings
    joeym11@frontier.com

    • Joeym11, I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview and entered the giveaway. Your Christmas traditions sound wonderful.
      I’m wishing you a Merry Christmas,
      Debbie

    • I love Christmas breakfasts, Joey. That’s the one thing I miss most about my kids not being close enough to be at my house for a Christmas breakfast whether on Christmas or on whatever day we celebrate. But It’s hard to get all the families together that early on any day! Good luck in the drawing and check out my FB page if you don’t win this one. There are going to be other giveaways going between now and Christmas with this book.

  26. Christmas traditions are so much fun, but like Ann, I’ve had to be a bit flexible, also, about the exact time my family can all get together. It doesn’t really matter the exact day–just so it works out for everyone. I did start something new last year that I’m hoping becomes a tradition. I took everyone out for breakfast. Since we are not celebrating on the actual holiday, this makes it possible to go out together for the breakfast meal. Everyone enjoyed it, even though the service was extremely slow. It gave people a chance to talk, and thankfully, the food was excellent.

    Another little tradition that I follow for myself is reading as many Christmas books as possible between Halloween and about January 12. With that in mind, I would love to win Christmas at Harmony Hill. Thank you for offering a copy.
    may_dayzee(at)yahoo(dot)com

    • Kay, thanks for stopping in and reading Ann’s Christmas interview and entering the giveaway. I love your idea about a breakfast out! How neat!!! And I’m with you about reading a lot of Christmas novels during these couple of months. I love to watch lots of Christmas movies too! Especially the old ones.
      Wishing you a Merry Christmas,
      Debbie

    • I like your tradition of reading all those Christmas books. I think, if you read mine, that you’ll find it a little different from most of the the Christmas stories, but it does have a Christmas setting and there is ice and snow. 🙂

      Fun that you go out for breakfast and leave the cooking to somebody else so that you can enjoy visiting with everyone. That’s the best part of any meal – the fellowship. Hope you enjoy the Christmas books and movies.

  27. Wilani Wahl

    Thank you for this fun interview. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is to have a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve. We would all gather around the tree and quote Luke 2. Then an angel food cake would be brought in with candles lit (A candle for each of us who had accepted the Lord as our Savior.) Then we would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and blow out the candles. this was also served with homemade egg nog.

    • Wilani, I’m so glad you enjoyed Ann’s interview and entered our giveaway. Wow, you have a great Christmas tradition. I love it. Such neat ideas.
      Merry Christmas to you and your family,
      Debbie

    • What a unique and special Christmas tradition, Wilani! At church we always sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on the Sunday closest to Christmas. We are a very small church so we celebrate every member’s birthday by singing to them if they own up that they had a birthday. So we feel it’s only right to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus too. But I like the idea of the cake with candles. I’m sure your family members feel very special when their candle is added to the cake on the first year after they accept Jesus as Savior. Thanks for sharing.

  28. anne@rightler.com

    I love your idea of books for the grandchildren. Maybe I will start a new tradition this year with our 8 lovelies! Thanks for sharing your traditions with your readers. Blessings to you.

    • Anne, thanks for stopping by for Ann’s Christmas interview and entering the giveaway. I like Ann’s tradition of giving books to the grandkids too! I’m loving reading everyone’s Christmas traditions. I’m getting so many ideas!
      Merry Christmas!
      Debbie

    • Anne, you can usually find books for kids that don’t break your budget and so they make a nice extra gift. I also sometimes pick up autographed books at book fairs for my grandkids. Of course, the older the kids get, the harder it is to figure out what they might enjoy reading. But then, I think all of us need our horizons expanded at times. I sometimes give my oldest granddaughter classic novels that I enjoyed when I was her age. Glad you dropped by to read the interview.

  29. June Horne

    I loved reading the interview and finding out your family traditions. When my children were small, we always sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and reading of Jesus Birth to start the day. My boys have continued this tradition with their families. I still use white lights and an angel topper on the tree.

    • June, so glad you enjoyed reading Ann’s interview and so glad you entered the giveaway. You had a great tradition and it’s so neat that your boys have continued it with their families.
      I too, use white lights and used to have a beautiful angel topper, but our last tree we bought didn’t leave enough room for the Angel topper, so we have a huge bow with ribbons cascading down the tree. I place the angel topper somewhere else in the house though. I love it.
      Merry Christmas!
      Debbie

    • That’s such a great tradition, June, and it’s wonderful that your sons have continued it with their families. Keeps front and center the real reason for the season. Celebrating Jesus’ birth, the greatest gift. I’m guessing you have a lovely tree.

  30. I have one book left to read in Ann’s Shaker series and would love to win Christmas at Harmony Hill. I love reading about the Shaker’s.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

    • Wendy, this book sound perfect for you! The timing is just right. Thanks so much for visiting and reading the interview and entering the giveaway!
      Best wishes on the giveaway!
      Debbie

    • Wendy, I just say Ann reply to someone else about more opportunities to win this book: “Good luck in the drawing and check out my FB page if you don’t win this one. There are going to be other giveaways going between now and Christmas with this book.” So check out Ann’s FB page and get in on all the giveaways!!!!
      Debbie

    • Hi, Wendy. Nice of you to come over and read my interview with Debbie. It was fun talking Christmas and of course, I’m always ready to talk about books and writing. I do so appreciate you reading my books. Hope you’ll enjoy this Shaker Christmas story when you get a chance to read it.

  31. Terrific interview…Your books are wonderful. Thank-you for sharing your Christmas traditions and the yummy recipes.

    • Thanks, Julie. Glad you liked the interview. Debbie asked some great questions to help make it different from others I have done on the net. I enjoyed sharing about my Christmas and hope some of you will enjoy the recipes.

    • Julie, I’m so glad you enjoyed this interview. I wanted it to be extra special, since we had already done a regular interview with Ann in June. I loved Ann’s idea of asking for people to share their Christmas traditions, that was great! Thanks for entering the giveaway.
      Debbie

  32. Oh my Ann, so much competition! I love the part of decorating my tree with gobs of ornaments gathered for many years. I can’t seem to let them go. I too have a fake tree with lights already on. But, like you after first years lots quit working so had to add other lights. Now most all wouldn’t light so cut them all out and back to stringing lights again. My most unenjoyable part of decorating my tree. And, it is much harder than when my sweet hubby was still here. He always helped me with that part, then would lay on the couch and watch me decorate. I have always enjoyed decorating the room too, with Tinsel ropes around the ceiling and across the ceiling from corner to corner. Something I got from Christmases when I was still growing up. But, now my kids fuss at me about climbing on stools, tables, couch, etc, so don’t do it like before and miss that. So many memories at Christmas.So many of my friends don’t even have a tree anymore for years, but I must have my tree tho, nobody hardly sees it but me. Always hate to put it away. Room looks so empty for awhile. Also one of my girls has a birthday is on Christmas. But, a tradition we have is as many family as possible gather for Christmas Day for Dinner and gifts. The kids take turns with the years. I look forward to that. I also love giving gifts, tho they be small. My pocketbook doesn’t fit my large family. Hope to win your book. Thanks WFBC for having my friend, Ann for a give-away and interview. God bless you all. Maxie Anderson

    • Maxie, I’m so sorry about your husband. I know when my father passed away, things were not the same for any of us, especially my mom. That first Christmas we had it at my house, just to help her. Now, she too is older and doesn’t put up a tree nor decorate (she has two little lighted trees that are suppose to go on a porch on either side of the door that she puts in her house on top of the end tables) it’s cute. She puts out a few little things, but no big tree nor her beautiful Christmas village. I may go over and help her put up her Christmas village this year. Even if no one sees our decorations but ourselves, they bring back such wonderful memories!
      I’m so glad you stopped by and enjoyed Ann’s Christmas interview and entered the giveaway.
      Merry Christmas!
      Debbie

    • Maxie, great to read about all the wonderful ways you’ve decorated for Christmas. Things do get different when we lose loved ones and as we get older too and our children have families of their own. Probably not a good idea for you to be jumping from coffee tables to couches hanging that tinsel, but it does sound as if it used to be a joyful way for you to make your house sparkle with Christmas spirit.

      I’m glad you still put up your tree so that you can reflect on the Christmas joy of this year and all the years you remember. It’s easy to see that the spirit of giving is alive and well in your heart.

      Glad you enjoyed the interview. I’ll think of you when I’m stringing lights on my pre-lighted tree this year. We looked at new trees last week and my husband had sticker shock. He’s ready to go out with the axe and cut down a cedar again. LOL.

  33. I loved Ann’s Christmas interview and thanks for the generous giveaway. I love Amish books, no matter what they’re about..

  34. Melanie Backus

    What a great interview. Thank you Ann for sharing a bit of yourself. I love it!

  35. Hello Debbie!!

    You always have the ‘bestest’ articles!! 🙂
    Thank you so much for sharing. Ann sounds lovely and the fun, fun recipes!! I can almost smell the cinnamon and pine!! 🙂 Thank you so much for encouraging us!!

    Keep serving Him well Dear Friend,
    k xoxo

    • Debbie does do a fantastic job here on your church media center, k at Healthy Living 4 Him. I’m so glad you came over to read about my Christmas celebrations and my books. The cinnamon and pine will soon be everywhere!!

      • I have to give all the glory to God, because this has NEVER been anything I would ever dream of doing! So opposite of who I am. I won’t get up in front of a crowd of people, but here I am “talking” to people all over the world.
        This blog has been a huge blessing to me, meeting so many wonderful followers, bloggers, people who just stop by and comment and I can’t forget the wonderful Christian authors! I just pray that this blog can and will be used to honor God and that I let Him lead the way!
        Love you all!

  36. I love your Shaker Series and am looking forward to reading CHRISTMAS at HARMONY HILL! I must ask…..Winterville Baptist Church in Winterville, GA? My husband and I were married there on August 21, 1960! Imagine my surprise when I saw this church on this website!
    Hummingbird Cake sounds WONDERFUL!!! And so does the punch!

    • Thanks, Karen. So glad you’ve enjoyed visiting Harmony Hill and following my characters around while they live out their stories. And isn’t that fun that you have stumbled across this website of the church where you got married? That must have taken you down some memory lanes.

      My husband and sons love the hummingbird cake. But for the best eating with the punch, you need a cornbread stick. 🙂 That’s what I always ate with it when I was a kid. Everybody else would be eating my aunt’s fruitcake and I’d go for the cornbread sticks. So glad you came over to read my Christmas interview here.

      • Ann, your cake recipe sounds just like the one my mother-in-law used to make and it is wonderful!
        And like any true Southerner, cornbread is good with just about anything, right? Never thought about it with punch, but I like my sweets, but I always have to follow it with something that’s non-sweet, so a cornbread stick makes perfect sense!
        May God bless you with a wonderful Christmas, my friend!
        Debbie

    • Karen! Wow!!!! Yes, we are the same church, this is amazing connecting this way. I sent you a personal email asking more details, so I hope to hear from you soon.
      I do hope you’ll stop by often and even “follow” us on our journey together.
      I think I’ve read everything by Ann Gabhart except her Shaker series…so I have that to look forward to!
      So happy you found us and told me you were married here! God is good!
      Debbie

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