BLOG TOUR: A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby

Today we're delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Chrissie Manby's new festive novel A Proper Family Christmas. We absolutely loved summer novel A Proper Family Holiday, and now the Bensons family's back, this time with some Christmas drama!

As part of her tour, Chrissie has shared with us a memorable Christmas experience - receiving a rather disappointing present. Read on for more...

Merry Cringemas
By Chrissie Manby

One of the most enduring yet least spoken about Christmas traditions has to be the receiving of disappointing presents.  I know it’s churlish to call any present ‘disappointing’, but, let’s face it, we all know that sinking feeling when you open the doll’s house-sized box to discover a typewriter inside.  (Actually, Mum and Dad, that typewriter and the ‘Learn to touch type’ book turned out to be one of my best presents ever. I’m thankful for my resulting super-fast typing speed every time I have to produce a 500 word feature in less than a day).
     A few years ago however, my dear friend Janet in Utah sent me the most hideous Christmas present imaginable.  It was a 'handmade' patchwork waistcoat from an ‘artisan’ craft shop.  Packaged in a recycled cardboard box (of course), lined with tissue paper that reminded me of the rough pink stuff we had in the loos at school, the waistcoat did indeed look very handmade. By someone with hooves instead of actual hands. Worse than that, it smelled as though it had been stitched together from old quilt covers that hadn't been cleaned since the corpse they covered was carted off to the mortuary and the bed-clothes were sent down to Oxfam. In fact, when my flat-mate walked into the house the day I received and opened the parcel, the first thing she said was 'what on earth is that terrible smell?'
     Shutting the eco-friendly box and resealing it would not contain the waistcoat’s 'eau de second hand shop'.  But it was obviously expensive – as handmade things always are - and I was sure my friend had thought long and hard before buying it.  So, of course, I thanked her effusively.  I got out a handmade note-card – the type that costs a pound more than an ordinary note-card because someone has pritt-sticked a chicken feather on the front – and I filled it with praise for the waistcoat’s loveliness.  Totally original, I assured her. I will be thinking of you as I wear it on Christmas Day.
And then I put the waistcoat on E-bay.
     You can sell anything on E-bay - I’m continually astonished by the amount of money people will spend on used shoes – so I wasn’t at all surprised when the waistcoat received a couple of bids.  However, I was surprised to discover that, because I had thanked her so effusively, my dear friend Janet logged onto E-bay to look for an item by the same designer for my birthday.  And that’s how she found out that I was flogging not just her Christmas present but the present she had sent me the Christmas before (a bracelet made out of old spoons)... Fortunately, she claims she found it quite funny and we are, incredibly, still friends.  I suppose that's the spirit of Christmas for you.  Or perhaps it’s just the generosity of Janet.  This year, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to be as open-hearted and forgiving as my pal.

A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby
Take one Queen Bee: Annabel Buchanan, with a perfect house in the country, a rich husband and a beautiful daughter, Izzy ...and one large, loud family: the Bensons. What happens when their worlds collide? When Izzy suddenly falls dangerously ill, adoptee Annabel has to track down her biological family to see if they can help her daughter. But can she see past the Bensons' brash exteriors to the warm, loving people they are at heart? With December just around the corner, is it too much to hope that the Bensons and the Buchanans can have a proper family Christmas?

Author photo by Michael Pilkington.

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