You love her breezy beach reads (The Matchmaker, Beautiful Day), but this year our favourite Nantucket novelist has turned her keen eye for relational drama to the holidays. (Because nothing says “narrative tension” like your entire family in one room hopped up on sugar cookies.) We presented some of our thorniest holiday dilemmas to the Winter Stroll author…

Q My (new!) husband and I have four separate Christmas celebrations to somehow go to on the 25th. How do we manage this marathon of holiday eating without offending anyone?

“I’m thinking a holiday in Napa Valley is in order. (My favourite place to stay is Auberge du Soleil.) But, short of a complete escape, my advice is to schedule four visits: late breakfast, late lunch, cocktails and dinner. Start with the parental unit you like the least and then move up the food chain so you can end with the one you like the most and linger at the end of the evening.”

Q My daughter is threatening to tell her little brother that Santa Claus doesn’t exist—unless I get her the latest must-have Barbie. Teddy’s only three!

“There are so few advantages to being a child, and believing in Santa is one. Teddy will figure out the truth soon enough. Appeal to your daughter’s innate sense of goodness and allow her to be your co-conspirator in keeping the secret alive for him. If that doesn’t work, then, yes, by all means, cave. It’s just a doll.”

Q I’m expecting my first child just before Christmas, and I’ve been thinking alot about holiday traditions, and how I want our family to celebrate in the years to come. Do you have you don’t recommend?!

“I’m Swedish and my mother used to make me participate in “St. Lucia Day,” December 13, which involved me wearing a white robe and wearing a cardboard crown topped with actual lit white candles and serving my mother and brothers sticky buns in bed. Seriously? I mean, seriously.”

Q I really want to knock it out of the park this year with my gift for my mom. She’s had a rough year, and I’m lucky enough to be in a position to spoil her! What should I get her?

“I’ve always been more about experiences than things so my favorite present was the trip to Hawaii I gave to myself for Christmas 2013. It was in Oahu and the big Island that I started writing Winter Street.”


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