‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays 2016 With Christina June

‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays is a special seasonal feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which some of my favourite authors help me to celebrate the spirit of the season and spread a little holiday cheer. So, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle in by the fireside as they answer the question: “What does the holiday season mean to you?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!

About Christina June

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become—whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal—the east coast of the U.S. and the east coast of Scotland. She lives just outside Washington, D.C. with her husband and daughter. Christina’s debut, It Started With Goodbye, releases May 9, 2017. A companion novel, Everywhere You Want To be, will be published in 2018.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

When my paternal grandparents left Poland after WWII, they brought their traditions with them. So, instead of sipping cocoa on Christmas Eve, munching on cookies in my reindeer pajamas while watching Frosty and Rudolph, I was having Wigilia. Wigilia is the Polish Christmas Eve celebration that, to borrow from Wikipedia, “derives from the Latin verb vigilare, “to watch”, and literally means ‘eve.’” Though we altered the traditional menu over the years to accommodate for picky eaters (me), and the faces around the table changed as we lost both my grandparents but added my husband and our daughter, some things remain the same.

The first important tradition comes before the meal. Family members are given pieces of communion wafer, to break and share with each other while wishing them happiness and success in the coming year. As a child, it felt strange to wish my parents and grandparents the things I assumed they already had, plus I thought the wafer was gross, but as an adult, the gesture makes sense. As the year comes to a close, it’s always nice to refill the well and perform this connecting ritual. Though the good wishes are unspoken year-round, saying them aloud is a nice reminder that we are here for each other.

The second important tradition of the night is the table setting itself. What’s the big deal about a bunch of plates and a tablecloth, you ask? For Wigilia, you set one extra place at the table for an “unexpected guest.” It is meant for “the weary traveler,” my dad always said. Perhaps a neighbor who doesn’t have family nearby or a friend whose original plans fell through. When I was very small, I was convinced the chair was actually for Jesus, it being his birthday we were celebrating and all, and I hoped one day he would join us.

In these emotionally charged times we’ve been thrust into, it feels important to remember to be inclusive and our Wigilia traditions keep that in focus. If someone needs assistance, or food, or a hand to hold, we help them. If someone needs encouragement, we cheer them on and wish them success, no matter who they are. To always leave a physical seat at the table reminds me that we must leave a seat at our emotional table as well. If we don’t lean on each other and open our arms to those in need, we crumble. We can easily become cold and self-centered. We might forget that everyone may not be as fortunate as we are, or we close ourselves off to the love and companionship we might receive.

So here’s to 2017. I’m wishing you all the success and happiness in the world. May your heart be filled with joy and may you feel the love and warmth that surrounds you. If you should find yourself near my table, there’s a seat here, just for you. Always.

Title It Started With Goodbye
Author Christina June
Pages 304 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
To Be Published May 9th, 2017 by Blink/HarperCollins
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, Christina June’s It Started With Goodbye shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking the rules.

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