I’ve always been ambivalent about Christmas. I’m Jewish, although not particularly religious, and Christmas never entered my home when I was growing up.
I knew all about the holiday, of course. I saw Santa at the mall. I sang “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” in school concerts. I admired the window displays in the stores, and the festive lights on my neighbors’ houses. I congratulated my classmates when they bragged about all the loot they’d received on Christmas day. I read A Christmas Carol and Miracle on 34th Street. But when I participated in my college dorm’s annual tree-trimming party and “Secret Santa” gift-giving, I felt like an anthropologist observing the unfamiliar rituals of an alien tribe.
Then I went to graduate school and met the man who would become my husband. He’d been raised a Catholic, and he was very into Christmas.
As our sons grew up, we displayed both a menorah and a Christmas tree in our house in December. The boys loved lighting the candles and spinning the dreidel. They loved decorating the tree. They loved the presents! I relished their excitement, enjoyed baking special treats for the holidays, appreciated the gifts my family gave to me...but when it came to Christmas, I still felt like an outsider witnessing the practices of a culture in which I didn’t quite belong.
One day, my editor at Harlequin invited me to write a Christmas-themed book. I said yes, then found myself wondering just how I’d tackle the subject. After a bit of brainstorming, I came up with a concept I could relate to personally: a romance in which the heroine loved Christmas as much as my husband did, while the hero didn’t care for the holiday at all. My editor okayed the idea and I wrote Comfort and Joy, in which an atheist hero and a religious heroine both learn that the true essence of Christmas isn’t singing carols or decorating trees or indulging in all the commercialism of the season, but rather making the people you love happy.
Comfort and Joy was a huge hit with readers. It won the Reviewers Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. I got the rights back to the book after it had been out of print for many years, and I’ve just reissued it as an e-book.
Revising the book for this new edition, I realized that my feelings about the holiday haven’t changed much. I still feel a little like an outsider, but like the hero and heroine in the book, I understand what Christmas is all about: making the people you love happy. Giving them comfort and joy.
Whatever holidays you celebrate this season, I hope your days are filled with comfort and joy—and lots of love.