What is Christmas really about? Family? If so then what is family really all about? I loved this little gem of a book that just shows so much love and care even in the face of matriarchal adversity. A story that shows us the Christmas is about family and the ones we love whether we are related to them or not.
Liam is also with us today talking about food! – Bon Appetite!
Saying "I Love You" With Food
The holidays are often about food. Growing up that meant the kitchen would be home to sugar cookies, fudge, divinity if the weather was right, and stollen, which is a kind of German bread containing candies that I never developed a taste for.1
I bake occasionally, but being single, I don't bake a ton. This is mainly because when I do bake, one of two things happens: 1) the batch is so big it goes bad before I can finish, or, more likely, 2) the batch is so big and I eat all of it myself anyway.
Food is central to many holiday celebrations, and it's also a big bone of contention in some. From the traditional ham or turkey conflicting with a vegetarian lifestyle, to food allergies, to Mama's need to just be Mama and make sure everyone is taken care of (read: stuffed to the gills), there can be a lot of stress around food at the holiday times.
In It's Christmas Everywhere But Here, food plays an quiet background role, but an important one. Russ and his mother disagree about how much Austin, Russ's step-son, is (or rather, isn't) eating. Russ and his brother tease their father about his cooking. (As in, the fact that he can.) And several neat rows of sugar cookies, lined up rank and file to cool, may or may not play a part in Austin's massive meltdown.
Sometimes we do things at the holidays that we'd really rather not. I'd prefer to get my little stuffed tofu-roast from Trader Joe's, cook that sucker up and spend what time off I get curled up with the cat and knitting or mucking about on the computer.
However, since I'm in close proximity to not one, but two branches of the family now, I will likely Hear About It if I don't put in an appearance at least one celebration. So I'll suck it up and put in an appearance. But I'll probably have my knitting in tow.
Any holiday foods you love? Abhor? Eye warily and skip in the buffet line?
1] Recipe links in this paragraph are for informational purposes and are not endorsements.
2] Recipe links in this paragraph are TOTALLY ENDORSED. Seriously. I bought a spring pan just to make that torte and it is delicious. Look at that beautiful baked good! I'm totally putting cranberries on the shopping list right now because it's been a while since I've made it and cranberries are back in season.
It’s Christmas Everywhere But Here by Liam Grey
Title: It’s Christmas Everywhere But Here.
Author: Liam Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release: 3rd December 2014
Genre: M/M (Christmas)
Christmas brings dreams of peace, love, and family time for most. Sadly, Russell Moore isn’t so blessed. Since his coming out and marriage prompted a less-than-joyful reaction from his religious parents, Russ has kept his distance to avoid their conservative disapproval. With his husband David deployed overseas for the second Christmas in a row, Russ gives in to the loneliness and takes his stepchildren to meet his parents for the first time, hoping the “goodwill toward men” spirit will overcome his mother’s zealotry.
But Russ’s Christmas joy is too quickly deflated by his mother’s unmet expectations, leaving Russ to ponder if peace, love, and perhaps matricide go hand in hand.
I loved this gem of a Story from Liam Grey. A story about family and coming home for Christmas. Ever wondered what Christmas and family is all about? Is it about blood relations or unconditional love? Well, here we have Russell who's husband David is overseas with the military and is looking after their two children Emily (10) and Austin (7). They are David's children, but Russell has become their second dad or Papa as they call him and he has taken them with him to his parents for Christmas as his husband is overseas.
I just loved the way that Russell cares for his kids. Patient, loving and attentive, no kid could wish for a better Step-dad and accept him completely. Throw kids into a Christmas story and you have me hook, line and sinker. Emily is ten going on 16 and Austin, oh sweet Austin, the most adorable kid you kid ever wish for but he he takes a lot of patience from a parent as he suffers from Asperger's. But Russell manages this all magnificently with such love and caring it was a joy to read. Just goes to show that family is all about love and caring and not always about blood relations. Here I really would like to have known how David and his kids came to be in Russell’s life. A prequel maybe Mr Grey? Just to satisfy the curiosity.
Here we have the problem. Russell's mother, Doris, is controlling and not very loving at all. To be honest a matriarchal nightmare. A selfish and zealous woman who tries to interfere with Russell at every opportunity, who doesn't approve of his relationship, doesn't approve of the way he is bringing up his kids, doesn't accept her son at all as a mature adult with his own family. She interferes, makes demands, uses emotional blackmail and all the tricks in the book to try and make her son feel bad at every opportunity. It's a wonder that Russell even considers spending Christmas there at all, but when you meet his younger brother Max and his dad then you see patience and understanding. I loved Max, the way he supports his brother and loves the kids as much as any Uncle. Also Russell's dad is patient, doesn’t necessarily agree with his son’s lifestyle but accepts it, who is also caught between his son and his wife who he obviously still loves very much too. So there would be two good reasons for Russell to try to grin and bear his mum if not for the sake of his father and younger brother. To be honest I’m surprised that Russell and Max reached adulthood without being totally neurotic or any other psychological hang-ups.
Christmas day arrives and adults like children always wish secretly for Santa to bring them something. On Christmas Day the doorbell rings and Russell and his children get the only Christmas present they could have ever wished for. The only one that really matters. At this point I had a lump in my throat and watery eyes. The situation may appear to some as being a little clichéd, “home for Christmas” but it is written so beautifully, realistically and with such depth of emotion that I too was tearing up for joy and this Christmas day scene was complete.
As for Russell’s mum? Well, she may come across as being the matriarchal nightmare, but in some respects I felt sorry for her. She had her fixed ideas on how things should be in her own mind, in her own perfect little world and everyone had to play along with these rules. I don’t think she was outright bad, she just wasn’t able to accept that her son is an adult, has his own life and rules for his kids, constantly criticising him as it wasn’t they way she would do it or want it. Someone to be pitied really in my books than hated.
This was a wonderful story, you could feel the lurve happening between Russell and Dave and the way they cared for their children. In may respects a perfect family and I’m sure these kids will grow up with all the love and attention that any child needs
Meet the Author
Liam Grey is a Grad Student by day, an aspiring author and hopeful romantic by night. While he has only recently started submitting, Liam has been writing stories for many years, and reading for even longer. He is grateful for an early love of books that was fostered both by his parents and many of his school teachers. It’s doubtful any of them imagined it leading to him writing gay romance. He currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, and is in love with the mutable weather and landscape (though his sinuses politely decline to comment.)
Liam will be giving away one eBook copy of It’s Christmas Everywhere but here. The winner will need an account by Dreamspinner Press in order to receive the book. Just enter the draw below ~ GOOD LUCK!