Sunday, September 11, 2016

Special Guest: Gary Metivier

In honor of Grandparents Day, I thought it appropriate to do a guest blog post Q&A featuring the author of the picture book I illustrated, Cody and Grandpa's Christmas Tradition, Gary Metivier.

Cody's Grandpa shares his memories of his experience on Christmas Eve in Vietnam when a bright star appeared through the clouds, giving the soldiers hope. All of the men promised to look for the star every year and remember each other and those who didn’t come home. Cody makes a new tradition with whole family joining Grandpa to look for the star. 

This is a touching inter-generational story we hope will become a Christmas tradition in homes all over the world. And now to the Q&A.

Q: What inspired you to write this story?

A: I was speaking at a wonderful veteran's day school event three years ago in small community. The school had asked the children all to invite a veteran in their life. At the end of the program, a Vietnam veteran came up to meet me to thank me for writing my last book Until Daddy Comes Home and Saluting Grandpa to highlight children's relationships with their grandparents. He wanted to tell me about the Christmas that he spent away from home and how they all thought "at least if we looked at the stars--we could be closer to our families who were under the same stars that night." His story stuck with me and inspired Cody's story.

Q:  Did you serve in the military or have a family member who did?

A: I am from a family of twelve children. My father served during Korea--although he was stateside. One brother and one sister served. I like to say I am at least serving to some extent by sharing our veterans story on the page and through my work in local news.

Q: What are your family Christmas Traditions? Veteran Day traditions?

A: The meat pie in this story was a big time tradition in my house growing up--as was the family gathering at Christmas eve. We would go to midnight mass--then come to eat meat pie and open presents. I obviously covered my meat pie in ketchup!

 Q:  Do you have a special memory with one of your grandparents you'd like to share?

A: Unfortunately I was raised far away from my grandparents and when I did see them there were so many people around. A month before my pepere died (French for Grandpa) I did get to spend some incredible one on one time. I was a bit burned out by work and school--and spent a month with him in Massachusetts. We started our own mini traditions watching the tonight show and the news every night before bed.

Q: This is a Christmas tradition brought back from Vietnam. We now have soldiers coming back from current conflicts, what sort of traditions do you see coming from that?

A: Many of my family's traditions pre-date the current generation. In fact, the meat pie goes back several generations. I think maintaining some of the long-standing traditions comforts both the old and young in ways we can never understand. I think, regardless of the conflict, today's service members will try to keep that going--and like I am doing with my family (and Cody with his) adding a few twists and new traditions along the way.

Gary Metivier is an award-winning author and journalist. A television-news anchor, he enjoys covering a variety of subjects. The author of Saluting Grandpa: Celebrating Veterans and Honor Flight, Metivier lives in Davenport, Iowa, with his wife, two sons, two dogs, and one pot-bellied pig. 
Connect with Gary Metivier
Thank you so much, Gary, for taking the time to answer a few questions and sharing a little behind he scenes of the creation of this wonderful story celebrating Christmas traditions as well as helping us to remember our veterans.

And thank you, readers, for joining me here. I hope you've enjoyed today's post, and I hope you will buy our book which will be available online at Amazon, B&, Pelican's website and hopefully in a store near you September 15th. Buy the book to see the meat pie Gary talks about. Cody and Charlie are not huge fans of that tradition.

Please feel free to share any of your family traditions with us in the comments, and don't forget to hug a grandparent today and let them know how much they mean to you. Happy Grandparent's Day!

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