12 Days of Christmas, Day 3 – Sydney Salter

Welcome to the 3rd day of Christmas and my delightful friend Sydney Salter. When not writing, Sydney enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, skiing, traveling, and searching for the ultimate cupcake or here at her website. I have met Sydney a number of times in Los Angeles at the annual SCBWI summer conferences and it is always a great catch up! We must swap cupcake recipes … or at least pictures of them!

Here is her reflection on Christmas traditions … and change:


Thirteen years ago, I was determined to steep my daughter’s first Christmas in wonderful traditions. I bought Emma a holiday village piece, even though I wouldn’t let her touch the fragile object. I purchased a special tree ornament; I didn’t let her touch that either.

We took Emma to sit on Santa’s lap. She screamed her head off! But that didn’t stop me from tormenting her with a photography session for my holiday card. I dressed her as Santa, thus creating the gimmicky card-photo tradition: reindeer antlers, angel wings, candy cane striped clothing… This year, using fudge, I bribed my daughters into crawling under our Christmas tree with bows on their heads. (I’m running out of ideas.)

Santa also went crazy with gifts that first year. More than an eleven month old really wanted or needed. Her grandparents went a bit overboard too, competing to spoil the one and only grandchild on both sides of the family. Our tiny living room looked like an overstocked toy store. I woke early, anticipating all kinds of Christmas magic. Worn out, Emma slept until 10 o’clock, even though I made a lot of noise. I should’ve heeded that warning.

Year after year, I bought village pieces, ornaments, and added new traditions like an advent calendar, decorating cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, et cetera, et cetera. A few years ago, I realized that I needed to slow down. For one thing, the Christmas villages for two daughters had started to take over the house. And the toys! The worst part is that I’d started dreading the month of December because it always left me exhausted.

It’s taken me thirteen Christmases, but I’ve finally started to simplify. So even though I begrudgingly stamped and addressed stacks of holiday cards this year, I managed to convince my daughters, again with fudge, to forgo decorating cookies. We also skipped torturing my toddler-aged niece with a Santa visit.

In the decades ahead, I plan to focus less on traditions and more on simply enjoying my family and friends. Maybe I’ll even sell those village pieces on eBay…

Sydney lives in Layton, Utah in the USA with her husband, two daughters, two hairy dogs, two lazy cats, and a pair of quiet tortoises and she is the SCBWI Regional Advisor for Utah. She writers terrific YA novels that include My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters, Jungle Crossing, and Swoon At Your Own Risk.

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