Saturday, 6 December 2014

Guest Blogger ~ Ofelia Gränd: From All Of Us To All Of You

Release Date: December 1, 2014
A story from Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology.
Simon hates the Holidays. It’s the same every year—awaiting the dreaded Christmas Eve, when his father gets drunk, while the family fake Christmas spirit and strain to hear the TV over Dad’s snoring. This year, Simon’s sister is celebrating Christmas elsewhere, leaving him to deal with their parents on his own. But there’s a glimmer of hope. A work colleague introduces Simon to her son Hannes at the Lucia Day celebrations, the trouble being that Simon mistakenly believes it’s a blind date, and as if that isn’t embarrassing enough, Hannes wants them to be friends, and Simon’s starting to see signals that aren’t there. He’s beginning to wonder if he’ll make it through Christmas with his sanity intact.

Message From Author:
I’m Ofelia Gränd, and I thought I’d come here today to talk a little about a Swedish tradition called Lucia—it might be good to mention that I am Swedish.   
I’m not really sure if anyone outside Scandinavia and Italy knows anything about Saint Lucia of Syracuse. I’ve got the feeling that she isn’t one of the most well-known saints out there. Long story short, she was a martyr who was tortured and killed in 304 for her Christian believes. But our celebration isn’t really about that. Every Swedish kid learns about Saint Lucia in school, but when someone says Lucia we think of girls in white dresses with candles in their hair, and we think of glögg (sort of like mulled wine) and sweet saffron buns.
This time of year is dark in Scandinavia and Saint Lucia day is a festival of light. Before the reforming of the calendar the celebrations coincided with the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year. Due to the dark and cold both people and animals needed extra nourishment. So when Lucia came the celebration of Christmas began, and everyone got to eat a little extra.  
It was believed, being the longest night of the year and all, that there were a lot of supernatural beings present. It was also believed that animals could talk during this one night. To protect yourself from evil you had to stay awake, which often ended up with people being up all night partying. This was also the night when you slaughtered the “Christmas pig”—Swedes eat baked ham on Christmas. Seems a bit strange to kill an animal on the one night a year it’s supposed to be able to talk, but what do I know?
Nowadays people don’t run around killing pigs in the dead of the night, and they don’t believe they need to stay awake to protect themselves from evil spirits. Partying is still a tradition though, but mostly among young people.   
I’m one of the authors behind Boughs of Evergreen: A Holiday Anthology and my story, From All of Us to All of You, starts with the Saint Lucia celebrations in church. I could continue this post by talking about another bizarre tradition we have which would explain the title of my story, but I’m not going to…or maybe I should? Okay, on Christmas Eve (we celebrate on the 24th not on the 25th as people do in many other parts of the world) at three p.m. about 40% of the Swedish population sit down in front of the telly to watch Walt Disney’s From All of Us to All of You and has done so since 1960. If you want to know what role that movie plays in my story, you’ll just have to read it.
But back to the Saint Lucia celebrations. Simon is in church to see his niece perform in the Lucia procession. He hates this time of year, he hates holidays, but Lucia is beautiful and he doesn’t want to miss out on seeing little Annie walking down the aisle with candles in her hair. He is there together with one of his colleagues, Monica, and she introduces him to her son. Simon misunderstands her intentions, though.  
“Well, dear,” she said, turning to me, “this is my son Hannes. Hannes this is Simon.” We shook hands like good little gentlemen, and added a polite nod. “Good, now you two talk, while I go and get us some more glögg.”
“Eh—” I began as she walked away.
“I’m sorry,” he blurted out. “She means well, she really does, but…you know.”
“Yeah, I’m not your type.”
“What?” Hannes looked alarmed.
“The blind-date thing, I’m not what you’re looking for.”
“Blind date?”
I pointed discreetly back and forth between us. “It’s okay, no hard feelings. It wasn’t like I asked her to set us up,” I said with a smile, even though it hurt a little to see him that taken aback by the thought of dating me.
“I’m not…she didn’t…it’s not…I’m not gay! It’s not a date…She just wants me to make some friends. Last week she arranged for me to help a young lady change over to snow tires in hopes of us getting along.”
Shit! I wished the ground would open and swallow me whole.

About Ofelia:
Ofelia Gränd is Swedish through and through. She lives in a small west coast town with her husband and their three children. She has absolutely no time to write, so, naturally, that’s what she wants to do. Have you ever tried to write something with one child in your lap and two more standing around wanting attention? Ofelia does all the time—try, that is. She could give up her glamorous life as a stay-at-home mom, and go back to her work as a teacher. But why not take advantage of the situation when she’s living in a parental leave utopia? Enough about her being a parent, you think, and you’re quite right. Ofelia is a No ‘Poo practiser, a pescatarian who bakes her own bread and makes her own soap—now, you wished that we’d stuck to the children, don’t you?

Find Ofelia Here

About Anthology

Boughs of Evergreen is a two-volume collection of short stories celebrating the holiday season in all its diversity. Penned by authors from the UK, the USA, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, these are tales of the young and the not-so-young from many different walks of life.

Themes of family, friendship and romance take readers on a journey through some of the major holidays, both past and present, including Thanksgiving, Advent, St. Lucia Day, Hanukkah, Eid, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Yule, Christmas and New Year. In each we find at the very least hope, and often love, peace and happiness.

Each story will also be published individually as ebooks on 1st December, 2014.

Proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization [USA] providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. For more information, visit: The Trevor Project.

THE STORIES: (links go to samples and author biographies)

Volume One

Volume Two 

Video trailers

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