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From: Ann
On Christmas Eve

December 2006

Hi, readers! Many of you know that the Christmas season is my favorite time of the year. My sister Jane and I grew up in a family that loved celebrating the . My father had a special fondness for Christmas, so it's not surprising that we inherited his sense of excitement and anticipation about this special time of year. We thought we were the luckiest kids on the street to have a dad who couldn't wait to take the Christmas decorations down from the attic and get the house and tree all spruced up. While Dad was happy to leave the fruitcake and cookie baking to my mother and Jane and me, he loved wrapping presents so much that he usually started on the day after Thanksgiving. And it was Dad who taught us to send our letters to Santa Claus up the chimney so they could go directly to the North Pole.

As a child, I spent a lot of time thinking about Santa Claus. On a practical level, I couldn't figure out how he could deliver toys to children all over the world on just one night. But in my heart, I knew that the spirit of Santa Claus was very real, and to me he has always represented everything that is wondrous and magical about Christmas.

It was with this in mind that I wrote On Christmas Eve, which tells the story of an eight-year-old girl growing up in a small town in New England in the 1950s. Tess McAlister has decided that this is the year that she will meet the real Santa Claus - not a pretend department store Santa, but the real one - and she will meet him in her own living room on Christmas Eve. Tess has a long list of questions for Santa Claus, and a special Christmas wish for her best friend. But she knows that this meeting can only happen if she is ready for it - if she is a true believer. Because Tess truly and unconditionally believes in the existence of Santa Claus, she doesn’t doubt that they will meet on Christmas Eve.

I loved having the opportunity to weave my childhood thoughts, wishes and memories into a story of magic and hope. For example, I like to believe that animals can understand everything that we humans say to them. In On Christmas Eve, Tess’s dog Sadie (does that name sound familiar to anyone?) plays an important role in helping Tess understand the magical world that all people live in but which is only visible to those who believe.

I'll be spending the Thanksgiving holidays with my parents in Pennsylvania and I'm willing to bet that my dad has the Christmas wrapping paper out and ready to go! It's nice to know that some things never change - and I wouldn’t want them to. As for me, I'm counting the days until Christmas. Unlike Tess McAlister, I plan on being sound asleep at midnight on Christmas Eve, but you can be sure that I'll be the first one out of bed on Christmas morning.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season,

Ann

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