Posted by: Debrah Martin | December 14, 2015

A Big Blue Dog, Writing and Christmas


Hello on the fourteenth day of December (and the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop)! Are you looking forward to Christmas? I am; as a big blue dog.


Yes, you did read that right.

Last Christmas I had someone staying who didn’t celebrate Christmas at all, so I pulled out all the stops for him to be able to experience a traditional British Christmas, Martin-family-style.



He went to the Christmas Eve carol service with us and listened intently to the retelling of the Christmas story, complete with real donkey, (Tracy, courtesy of the local donkey sanctuary…).

He watched with wry humour as I left out a glass of sherry and mince pie for Santa, and a carrot for Rudolf, before we went to bed. (In our family, Santa drinks sherry, right?). He counted up the ‘stockings’ hanging in front of the fireplace – a gas fire, sadly, not a roaring yule log blaze – and he joined in the usual eat-too-much-then-fall-asleep-whilst-the-Queen’s-speech is-on Christmas day routine.

‘It’s great, Matt said in summary, later on that evening. ‘But what do you do it all for?’

Now, that had me racking my brains for an answer. Wasn’t it obvious? I left the question unanswered and we moved on to Christmas evening, which in the Martin family home, is Monopoly time; and that’s where the big blue dog came up with the answer to Matt’s question. 

Here we are, playing property magnates on Christmas evening, 2014:

Monopoly table

Residents of the UK will already know all about Monopoly – the iconic board game we have here, based around acquiring London ‘property’. The more property and cash you acquire, the more houses and hotels you can put on your ‘property’; and when someone else lands on it, the more you can charge them. Cash is king in Monopoly! Added to that there’s the dreaded random gifts or groans bestowed on you by a Community Chest or Chance card – for example “win £100” – hooray! Or “go to jail” – ah: not so hooray! A lot like life when all the bills are rolling in at the end of the month, actually…

Monopoly BBD


As you can see, we ran out of player tokens so I became the big blue dog, and the dog (the real one) became the banker.Dog and cash We reckoned the ‘cash’ would be safer with her than us because she only steals food.



The ‘Mayfair’ and ‘Park Lane’ properties are generally everyone’s target, especially my younger daughter’s. In fact she can be quite ruthless … I, on the other hand, am totally useless as a wheeler-dealer. The Old Kent Road and Whitechapel (the scene of all those gruesome Victorian murders) are more my limit.

Ironically, though – who do you think won this particular game? Yes, you’ve guessed it!

 Me surprised

As a writer, of course I always have to find the moral in a story – the theme (and the answer to Matt’s question, as it happens, too). I guess it was this; I had no expectations other than to be bankrupted in time for me to go and make supper for everyone whilst they played on, but I won. Being the big blue dog had me falling about laughing – literally since he was rather top-heavy, even without the hat – but I won. Success isn’t often unintentional. Usually it comes from a lot of hard work and careful planning, but only because we’ve got into the habit of defining success in terms of cash and kudos. More often, it isn’t. We win with every tiny achievement; every pat on the back from a friend, every smile from a stranger, every unexpected bit of praise, and often we don’t even notice it. Just like Christmas isn’t about the trappings that we’ve now attached to it, success isn’t about fame and fortune, it’s about being content with what you have done and with what you already have. 

‘What do you do it all for?’

Well, the answer is a little different for everyone, depending on what they’re hoping for. For some cash is king, like in Monopoly, but for me, I do it simply for the joy of it; the glow I get from seeing others enjoying something I’ve put heart and soul into. Maybe that’s making Christmas as exciting as it was when I was a kid and Santa really did exist. Maybe it’s writing a book that really does transport its readers to a different world, be that Mayfair or Whitechapel. 

Maybe it’s being awarded a BRAG Medallion.IMG_1989

Or maybe it’s simply being lucky enough to do what I love doing (writing) and be surrounded by family and friends, playing Monopoly at Christmas time.

Dog and hat



I’m going to enjoy reprising my role as the big blue dog (no doubt) this year as (no doubt) we’ll run out of Monopoly counters again. I shall laugh my way to wherever I end up in the property tycoon stakes, without worrying where that is, because – whether I’m me or a big blue dog – I shall be surrounded by what really matters; and the reason I do it all. For the joy of it. (The dog’s looking forward to it too). 

Happy reading, happy Christmas, and a happy 2016!



The next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is with Helena Schrader, also today, December 14th. Check in and see what’s happening with her this Christmas.

If you wander off the route, you can still find your way back (without passing ‘Go’ or collecting £200 though, I’m afraid: more Monopoly! Just click this link, indieBRAG, where you’ll find the entire Christmas Blog Hop schedule.

And if you’re curious about what makes me write as well as tick, have a look on my website: where you’ll see which part of London my indieBRAG Medallion hero’s world is based in.



  1. Nice post, Debra. 🙂

    Your dog (the real one) looks like the cousin of my Max.

    Have a wonderful Christmas.


    • She’s the spitting image of the retriever we had before her too – must be a secret plan to take the world they have … 😉 Have a great Christmas yourself too.

  2. Thank you for a fun story. A great idea for us all to enjoy what we have. Happy Christmas!

    • I hope it catches on! Have a lovely Christmas too. 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for sharing – this was a terrific stop on the hop! My youngest son is a monopoly fanatic and has too many versions of it- disney, Star Wars and of course in the USA Atlantic city. One of your traditions I think we might just steal is Sherry for Santa- I know he will enjoy that more than the glass of milk we usually leave!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    • Sherry is, of course, my personal take on it as I prefer sherry to whisky (oops, I mean Santa prefers sherry …), but I think Monopoly is one of those games universally enjoyed wherever or whoever you are. A happy Monopoly Christmas to you, your son and your family!

  4. Thanks for sharing! I will admit that I’m not a big Monopoly fan. My husband and daughter enjoy it though, and I’ll suffer through it for them. I usually try to get out first in that game 🙂 Maybe I’d enjoy it more if I had a blue dog …

    • I can certainly recommend the big blue dog for that – and maybe a glass of wine or two … 🙂 Happy Christmas!

  5. What a cheerful, delightful story, Debrah. I may have to add a big blue token to our American Monopoly set.

    • I can’t advertise but it came from a very colourful French shop in Oxford. Have a great time. 🙂

  6. Great Blog. Happy, fun, and charming. Very Christmas. Love the blue dog. And the photos. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Monopoly has been my favorite for years. Live the blue dog!

    • The blue dog is actually a novelty pen my younger daughter found for me as a surprise Christmas present but I haven’t the heart to pull his head off to use it! He now sits (on four paws) on my dressing table…

  8. How cute and fun!!! Blue Dog Girl. This was fun. I was NEVER good at Monopoly. Have a wonderful Christmas and better New Year

  9. […] Source: A Big Blue Dog, Writing and Christmas […]

  10. Love the story, love Monopoly and love your enthusiasm. Happy Christmas!

    • Thank you Prue, and a happy (Monopoly) Christmas to you 🙂

  11. Yours sounds like my idea of the perfect Christmas, surrounded by family and playing games. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • I hope you have your perfect Christmas 🙂

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