‘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?”
About Cameron Lund
Cameron Lund is a young adult author, singer/songwriter, and cheese enthusiast. Her love of travel has taken her to more than 25 countries – there’s nothing she loves more than writing while on an adventure somewhere, preferably with a view of a waterfall. Cameron’s debut novel, The Best Laid Plans, will be released on April 7th 2020.
I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire. When I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to leave. My hometown felt so suffocating – the kind of place where you know everyone by name everywhere you go – and there was a whole wide world that I so desperately wanted to explore.
And California was it for me. It had mystique. It was where the happy, talented, beautiful people lived and dreamed and I wanted in. You belong in California, people told me my whole life, and the words became a prayer. Things will get better when you move west. Your life will finally begin. For the most part, it didn’t disappoint. I’ve lived all across California now – first on the beaches of Santa Barbara, then in Los Angeles, and now in San Francisco. I love it here. But every year when October hits and the holiday season begins, I start to miss New Hampshire just a little bit more.
My first year in California, I bought my Halloween pumpkin at a Kmart. This was devastating. In contrast, New Hampshire becomes a witchy wonderland in October. There are hay-rides, haunted walks through the forest, mountains painted orange and gold. By November, the leaves have mostly fallen away, the air has gotten crisper, and the big wool sweaters and LL Bean boots come out. Sometimes on Thanksgiving it snows. My parents’ house is tucked into the middle of the woods – there’s a farm with an apple orchard on one side and then the other side is just trees. We’ve seen all manner of wildlife: white tailed deer, flocks of turkeys, foxes sunning themselves on the road to stay warm. One time we even saw a moose. But when it snows, everything gets quiet.
And oh man, does it snow. Sometimes the snow gets so high we can’t open the front door. It takes an extra twenty minutes to defrost the car, scrape all the ice off the windshield (I was always late for school because I never left enough time to scrape). But the snow is wonderful too. In the snow, the woods behind our house transform into a web of cross country ski trails. One time the snow banks got so tall that I could climb up onto a friend’s roof and safely jump (probably don’t try this one at home though). We built an igloo in a friend’s yard in high school that could fit ten people and it became our secret party spot. And on Christmas eve, my family builds snölykta, swedish snow lanterns, out in the backyard at dusk.
The fact that some of my California friends have never experienced a white Christmas is wild to me. I’ve never gotten used to hearing holiday music while wearing shorts, seeing Christmas lights wrapped around the trunk of a palm tree. But I’ve found new holiday traditions with my friends here. I haven’t been back east for Thanksgiving since high school because of the long flight, so I’ve gone home with a different friend each year and joined their families and traditions instead. It’s interesting to see how varied these traditions are. Some of my friend’s families wear sweatpants and spend the day watching football, while others put on their finest and set the table with their fanciest china. One family went full vegetarian; one had a Japenese menu instead. Another ordered all their food from Safeway and ate it out of to-go containers while standing over the kitchen counters. And then there was the family that woke me early on Thanksgiving day for spin class, the instructor shouting at us to “think of pumpkin pie!” as we peddled. I’ve had Friendsgiving and Friendmas celebrations too, most notably the time we all brought several silly costume changes and walked in our own parade through the neighborhood, singing and dancing for everyone on the cul-de-sac (yes we are those theatre kids).
But always – no matter how different the traditions – the feeling is the same. No matter where I am, or whose family I’m with, it’s safe and cozy and warm. So to me, when I think of the holidays, I think of home. But there is so much contained in that small word. Home will always be my family in New Hampshire – watching silly Hallmark movies with my mom and dad or reading the picture book Mr Willowby’s Christmas Tree together around the fireplace on Christmas eve (our tradition since I was little). But home can also be found here in California. Home is reading Harry Potter for the millionth time. Home is my friends. It’s laughing so hard we can’t breathe. It’s spending a day marathoning the Lord of the Rings movies because they make us feel festive. It’s gathering around a piano and spontaneously singing Les Miserables songs together in six part harmony. It’s that one bar on that one night of the year where you meet back up with everyone from high school that it turns out you kinda do miss after all.
Maybe one day I’ll move back to the East Coast. I think about it every holiday season, and every year I get just a bit closer to making the leap. But then the holidays end and December becomes January and suddenly there is a glorious seventy degree beach day and I change my mind. Why not stay out west just a little bit longer?
Title The Best Laid Plans
Author Cameron Lund
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date April 7th 2020 by Razorbill
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com ● Chapters ● The Book Depository ● Barnes & Noble ● IndieBound
When the only other virgin in her group of friends loses it at Keely’s own eighteenth birthday party, she knows it’s time for drastic measures. If she’s going to avoid heading to college without any experience of her own, she needs to find the guy, and fast.
Problem is, she’s known all the boys in her small high school forever, and it’s kinda hard to be into a guy when you watched him eat crayons in kindergarten. So she can’t believe her luck when she meets a ridiculously hot new guy named Dean. Not only does he look like he’s fallen out of a classic movie poster, but he drives a motorcycle, flirts with ease, and might actually be into her.
But Dean’s already in college, and Keely is convinced he’ll drop her if he finds out how inexperienced she is. That’s when she talks herself into a new plan: her lifelong best friend, Andrew, would never hurt or betray her, and he’s clearly been with enough girls that he can show her the ropes before she goes all the way with Dean.
Of course, the plan only works if Andrew and Keely stay friends – just friends – so things are about to get complicated.