WHAT I OWE TO CHRISTMAS
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
I'm Jewish, so I primarily celebrate The Other Holiday, but Christmas has always been a part of my life - my husband being a Christmas celebrator, some of my best friends being Christmas celebrators, not to mention my enduring love for How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And really, since my husband and I have a daughter, I like being a two-holiday household because it gives us an excuse to have double the fun with Jackie.
But ever since December 2006, I've had a reason to be grateful to Christmas. Jackie was six at the time. We were out visiting friends in Crested Butte, Colorado. Our friends have no kids, nor do they own a TV, and a blizzard struck, closing down Denver Airport and extending our visit to 10 days. 10 days! For those of you with kids, and those of you with close knowledge of kids, can you imagine being somewhere in this day and age with no TV and no other little people for your own little person to play with? In Jackie's defense, she did very well for the most part. But that blizzard meant that we would not get out of Colorado until Christmas Day and would therefore miss Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the rest of the family. [Note: I'm the only full Jew left in the family, with Jackie considering herself a half, so the celebrations with everyone else are still big and it was a lot for her to miss.]
Well, we had to do something to entertain ourselves on Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas Day, most of which we spent in airports and on planes. So we began brainstorming ideas for a book that kids Jackie's age would enjoy. By the time we finally made it back to Danbury, we had the idea for a whole series of books for 6- to 10-year-olds called THE SISTERS 8, about octuplets whose parents go missing one New Year's Eve, leaving the Eights, as they are known, to solve the mystery of their parents' disappearance while keeping the rest of the world from realizing that eight little girls are living home alone.
We wound up selling the idea to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the first four books in the projected nine-book series have already been published, with the fifth, Marcia's Madness, due out May 3, 2010. All the books are written by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (http://www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com/) with Greg Logsted (http://www.greglogsted.com/) and Jackie Logsted (Jackie doesn't have her own site yet, but the Eights do at http://www.sisterseight.com/).
So thank you, Blizzard of 2006! Thank you, Christmas Spent In Airports And On Planes! Without you, there'd be no Sisters 8, no series written with my daughter, which has been the greatest joy of my writing career.
May whichever holiday(s) you celebrate be joy-filled and creative.
Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night.