Holiday Traditions & Memories with Karen Docter

Welcome back to my Holiday Traditions & Memories event, where some wonderful authors are sharing favorite traditions and/or memories with you. Today’s guest is Karen Docter, an award winning author of two different kinds of romance novels.

Karen’s contemporaries are cute romantic comedies—she loves writing about real men and women with dreams and goals that don’t allow for a relationship just so she can throw them in each other’s path…with a tickle and a smile. Her romantic suspense novels are also filled with romance, although the dangers the hero and heroine face are intense, usually because a serial killer is bent on ending one or both of their lives before they can fall in love. These are psychological, woman-in-jeopardy stories.

When she’s not saving her characters from death and destruction or helping them fall in love, Karen loves camping and fishing with her family, reading, gardening & cooking. If she can do most of those things over a campfire, all the better!

After you’ve read about Karen’s memories of giant Christmas trees below, you can see more wonderful traditions and memories that readers have shared in their comments on my 30 Days of Holiday Magic giveaway. Share your own story there for a chance to win, too!


Merry Christmas, Linda! Thanks so much for inviting me to share my favorite Christmas memory with your readers!

Your invitation prompted all sorts of stories I’d love to regale your readers with, however, as I have a tendency to go on and on (my newest book is 100,000 words if you wonder exactly what that means <vbg>) I’ve decided to share the one tradition I miss most now that my husband and I are “Empty Nesters”.

When we were raising our two little girls in the early ‘80s (my son wasn’t born yet), we lived in a two story log home in the Colorado Rockies. There was a lot I loved about that particular house but I especially loved celebrating Christmas there.

Needless to say, we always got a lot of snow at 8,000 feet each winter. I remember one Thanksgiving I invited 50 people for an open house. I cooked a 20 lb. turkey, 10 lb. ham, tons of potato salad, etc. It snowed four feet in 24 hours and snowed us in without our guests! (Now, that would have been a party!) We ended up feeding all of the neighbors we could reach, and I learned to never, ever, ever plan a big party that demanded my guests drive the thirty to forty minutes into the mountains anytime after Labor Day. J

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m going on about snowfalls and other holidays, but now that I’ve set the scene I can talk about what an adventure Christmas was for us in this house. We never bothered to decorate the outside, mostly because the houses were too far apart to make the effort worthwhile, not to mention the difficulties of trying to balance a two-story ladder on the side of the mountain.

What this meant was that we went nuts decorating inside.  That house was built for an old fashioned Christmas! The entire bottom floor, with the exception of the bathroom was open. From my country kitchen, I could look straight across the entry through the L-shaped roughhewn wooden staircase into the living room. On the left was the dining room with the wood stove anchoring the other end of the living room.  Think big beams and acres of carpet. We even had room to hang a swing for the girls from one of the beams. As a result, we didn’t experience cabin fever…much.

Every year we lived there, we had a 25-30 foot Christmas tree. I love the look and smell of real pine trees and, back then, there weren’t a lot of tree lots. Finding a tree that big in a lot was impossible. So, we’d pick a day around Thanksgiving to trek through the snowdrifts looking for the perfect, biggest tree we could find to fill up the inside corner of our staircase.

It was always a cold – okay, insanely icy – adventure!  Fortified with thermoses of hot chocolate, we’d shlep our way up and down the mountainside.  There was always one more – “Look at that one over there, Mom!” – tree…well, until small gloves were soaked with snow from eating snowflakes, faces were bright red, and lips were turning blue. Only then was daddy allowed to cut down “the best” tree while I and the kidlets ran back to the truck to warm up.

It’s a good thing my husband loved this experience as much as the girls and I did because he still had another thirty minutes of wood cutting and dragging and tying up to do.  Bless him!

Then came the decorating, usually a two to three day affair. It would take a full day to get the tree in place with the lights from top to bottom, then another day for decorating. The girls loved running up and down the stairs adding ornaments everywhere they could reach. We’d fill in the empty spots…which ran the length of the tree opposite the stairs. The girls “directed” our efforts, of course. J

Lighting up the fully-decorated tree the first time was an event, with lots of “ohs” and “ahs” which  were repeated every night after that. With all of this work and the beauty of the “fresh” tree, we often didn’t take it down until mid-January. We loved the scents – we also decorated the beams with greenery and bright red bows – and it felt like we were outdoors, even when we were snowed in.

I loved the homey feel during Christmas, the scents, and the “pretties” that brightened our  home then.  I know the girls have wonderful memories of those Christmases, too. We had to give up our huge tree when we moved, then gave up real trees altogether when allergies hit one of my kids several years later.

I have to admit, now that it’s just us in the house, I’m tempted each year to leave the box of “fake” tree limbs in the box and go out to find a place where we can cut down our own just to recapture those moments. Thankfully, I have a lot of beautiful memories I can pull out when I decorate now. These days, I decorate our tree with ornaments my children, and now grandchildren, have made for us over the years.

I’ve learned that it isn’t so much the tree that is tallest or shines the brightest, but the family who decorates the holiday together that makes Christmas such a joyful experience. I wish you all a wonderful holiday, filled with joy, family, and oodles of warm memories. Merry Christmas!


When widow, Sara Marks, hears her Grams has gone on the lam from Happy Acres Residence on Christmas Eve – on Santa’s arm, no less — she teams up with sexy stranger, Francisco de la Vega, to chase the couple down with one thing in mind. Keep her Grams from becoming Mrs. Claus. Of course, Francisco’s grandfather is not really Santa Claus, but Grams did run off to Vegas to marry him and she’s obviously not in her right mind. 

Sara leaves her seven-month-old baby, Lanie, with a friend and she and Cisco head west in the worst snowstorm in decades, chasing his grandfather’s ’57 Ford Fairlane over the river and through the woods.

Will they catch Santa and his crazy Mrs. Claus before it’s too late? Or will love stop them in their tracks?

Find Karen online:

Romantic Comedy ~ Karen Docter

Romantic Suspense ~ K.L. Docter




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2 responses to “Holiday Traditions & Memories with Karen Docter”

  1. The middle child Avatar
    The middle child

    It’s so true! I do have fantastic memories of picking out trees (even though I shouldn’t be able to remember things that young!) Thank you for sharing!

    1. Karen Docter Avatar

      The memories are strong which is probably why you remember! 🙂

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