Category: Christmas

Santa’s On His Way

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone! It’s that day of the year when kids can hardly contain their excitement, knowing that it’s only mere hours before Santa will make his way to their house (if they’ve been good) to eat cookies, drink milk and leave toys beneath the tree. I can remember my parents ushering my sister and me off to bed as soon as we saw Santa on the radar during the weather report on the 10 p.m. news. The Santa tale includes him making his way down the fireplace chimney, which brings me to how I began to question this whole Santa thing when I was a kid.

One, how could Santa come down a chimney in the middle of winter without burning himself? And what if you didn’t have a chimney that would accommodate a man of that size? This last question came up because we had a wood-burning stove when I was a kid. There was no way that Santa was fitting down a stove pipe, escaping the fire in the stove and magically squeezing himself out the stove’s door along with his unburned bag of toys. When challenged by my questions, my mom said he came in through the back door. Again, I wasn’t buying it. I knew for a fact that Mom locked that door and checked it multiple times in classic OCD fashion before she went to bed. There was no way she was leaving it unlocked.

I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that kids figure out the Santa fib even earlier these days. Between their friends and the Internet, it’d be hard to not figure out. But even when we’re older and no longer believe in the existence of an actual Santa Claus, we still love the story and what it symbolizes — the magic of the season as seen through the eyes of a child on Christmas morning.

When and how did you figure out that Santa wasn’t real? Were you disappointed?

From the Milburn family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I hope your 2018 is happy, healthy, fun and prosperous.

Updated: December 20, 2017 — 9:17 pm

Christmas Nostalgia

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  I always get nostalgic when I take the Christmas decorations out. So many memories attached to various pieces.  And while they all evoke fond thoughts of Christmas past, there are a few that are extra special to me.

The first is the little bubble light tree I’ve pictured below. I believe I’ve posted about this before, but one of my earliest Christmas memories is of raptly watching the dancing movement of these lights as this tree sat on the console table of my grandparents’ home.

The second one is our tree topper. This ornament that is a combination of angel, nativity and star has topped our tree for over 30 years.  I can still hear my children vying for the chance to be the one to set it in its place of honor and the lively debates over who did it ‘last year’.

And the last ones I want to share with you are these. They are two of the few surviving ornaments from the very first set hubby and I bought our first Christmas after we got married. Our tree was rather bare that year, and several of the decorations were handmade, but I was so very proud of how it looked.

There are many more memories that the decorations bring to mind, but I’ll leave it there.

I want to wish each of you a very joyous and blessed Christmas – here is my Christmas card to you.

Christmas Confections by Shanna Hatfield

Christmas has always been such a beautiful, blessed, wonderful season to me.

A tradition that my mom taught me, one I still carry on, is to bake goodies, infused with love, and share with family and friends.

One year, I spent hours and hours making elaborately frosted sugar cookies. In particular, I recall a little rocking horse that I’d painstakingly decorated with tiny little reins and a saddle accented with mini holly and berries made of icing.

Then my dad and brothers came in for supper and made short work of my creations!

I still make sugar cookies (a recipe I spent years experimenting with until I got it just right), although I don’t spend hours decorating them like I used to.

Sugar Cookies

I also love to make cinnamon rolls and share them with our neighbors when the rolls are warm from the oven and icing is melting into sweet pools all around them.

Cinnamon Rolls

I have an overflowing recipe box with all the traditional sweets I typically make during the holidays.

But while I was researching details for my latest release, I found so many more recipes I’d love to try.

The heroine in the story is a Swedish baker. My goodness! I think I gained five pounds (or ten) just writing about all the delightful pastries and goodies she created in her bakery.

Confection long

The Christmas Confection is book 6 in the Hardman Holidays series, set in the old western town of Hardman, Oregon.

2017 Christmas Confection

Will a sweet baker soften a hardened man’s heart?

 Born to an outlaw father and a shrewish mother, Fred Decker feels obligated to atone for the past without much hope for his future. If he possessed a lick of sense, he’d pack up and leave the town where he was born and raised, but something… someone… unknowingly holds him there. Captivated by Hardman’s beautiful baker, Fred fights the undeniable attraction. He buries himself in his work, refusing to let his heart dream.

Elsa Lindstrom adores the life she’s carved out for herself in a small Eastern Oregon town. She and her twin brother, Ethan, run their own bakery where she delights in creating delicious treats. Then Ethan comes home unexpectedly married, the drunks in town mistakenly identify her as a missing harlot, and a mishap in the bakery leaves her at the mercy of the most gossiped-about man in Hardman.

Mix in the arrival of three fairy-like aunts, blend with a criminal bent on dastardly schemes, and sprinkle in a hidden cache of gold for a sweet Victorian romance brimming with laughter and heartwarming holiday cheer.

Excerpt:

“Well…” Fred gave her an odd look as he stood in the doorway with autumn sunshine spilling all around him.  “There are two other things I’d like.”

“Two?” Elsa asked, wiping her hands on her apron and facing him. “What might those two things be?” She anticipated him asking for a batch of rolls or perhaps a chocolate cake.

“My first request is simple. Please call me Fred. I’d like to think, after all this, we’re friends and all my friends call me Fred.”

Elsa nodded in agreement. “We are friends, Mr. Deck… er, I mean Fred. If you want me to call you Fred then you best refer to me as Elsa.”

The pleased grin on his face broadened. “Very well, Elsa.”

Her knees wobbled at the sound of his deep voice saying her name, but she resisted the urge to grip the counter for support. “You said there were two things you wanted, in addition to cookies. What is the second?”

“It’s a tiny little thing really,” Fred said, tightly gripping his hat in both hands.

“A tiny little thing? Then I shall take great honor in bestowing whatever it is.” Her gaze roved over the kitchen, trying to imagine what in the world Fred could want. She kept a jar full of assorted candy. Sometimes, she used the sweets to decorate cakes and cookies. Perhaps he wanted one. “A piece of candy?” she asked.

Fred shook his head. “No, Elsa. It’s sweeter than candy and far, far better.”

Intrigued, she took a step closer to him. “What is it?”

He waggled his index finger back and forth, indicating she should step closer. When she stood so her skirts brushed against the toes of his boots, he tapped his cheek with the same finger. “A little sugar right here would be even better than ten batches of cookies.”

~ Giveaway ~

red bowed packages on white background

Make sure you enter this drawing for a chance to win a mystery box of Christmas goodies!

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Wishing you all a bright, beautiful, holiday season!

What’s one thing do you always look forward to baking or eating each Christmas?

Welcome Guest – Erica Vetsch!!!

Are you anticipating Christmas yet? Only about six weeks to go. (I know, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but…Christmas!!)

This month, my newest novel, A Child’s Christmas Wish released. This story is set in the pioneer town of Berne, Minnesota, and the characters are immigrants from Switzerland. And if anyone knows how to celebrate Christmas, it’s the Swiss. Even in the harsh realities of frontier living, they found a way to celebrate the joys of the season.

One of the Swiss Christmas traditions I found most interesting was the widespread use of Advent Calendars. Swiss parents use Advent Calendars to teach their children patience and anticipation in equal measure. They want their children to learn that anticipating an event can heighten the joy of its arrival.

Swiss Advent calendars can take many forms from opening a little window to reveal the day to lighting a new candle each night to building a Christmas train, adding a car each day.

In fact, in some Swiss villages, the whole town becomes an Advent Calendar. Each evening beginning on the first of December, a different citizen hosts the day’s Advent party by decorating and opening one of the ground-floor windows of their home. Hot drinks and treats are served through the window to their friends and neighbors, carols are sung, and much fun is had by all. The next night, it is someone else’s turn to host.

Doesn’t that sound like a great way to bring a neighborhood together?

I love that so many of these traditions were brought to this country by immigrants brave enough to strike out for the New World, bringing the best of the Old World with them as they traveled.

Questions for you:

  1. Do you have any Christmas Traditions based upon your family’s origins?
  2. Do you have a special Christmas recipe that you only bring out during the holidays?
  3. Do you use an Advent Calendar?

Answer any or all of these questions in the comments to be entered to win a copy of A Child’s Christmas Wish.

About the book:

A Baby for Christmas The only Christmas gift Oscar Rabb’s four-year-old daughter prays for is one the widower can’t provide: a baby sibling. And when his neighbor’s house burns down, he’s willing to open his home to pregnant and widowed Kate Amaker and her in-laws—but not his heart. Even if his little girl’s convinced Kate’s unborn child is the answer to her wish.

Kate quickly sees the generous but aloof Oscar has little interest in growing closer to his houseguests. Still, she intends to make the coming Christmas a season to remember for his daughter. And as Oscar starts to open up to her, Kate can’t help picturing just how wonderful the holidays—and a future together—might be.

About the author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, http://www.ericavetsch.com where you can learn about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!

A Post-Christmas Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I’ve got a bone to pick with you. On Christmas morning, I didn’t find a drop-dead gorgeous cowboy with a sinful smile lounging on my sofa or a Lexus (new or used) in my driveway. In fact, I didn’t find anything except a few bird droppings.

I don’t know if you got my name on the naughty list by mistake, but I can assure you that I’ve been a perfect angel. Really, really perfect. Ask around. Everyone I’ve murdered was only made up people, even though I modeled them precisely after live ones right down to their beady little eyes. And I only shot the ones who needed it. I can’t help it if there were a lot. I’m sure you understand that, you being the kindly old gentleman you are.

(I just wish you’d give up smoking that horrible pipe though. It’s not good for your health. And it’s not a good example to set for the children. Mrs. Claus should’ve taken you in hand long ago. I’ll bet you’re a stubborn old coot though.)

Now, I know you want to correct this oversight so I’m giving you another chance.

I’d still make room for that handsome cowboy anytime you can swing it. And you can definitely wiggle back into my good graces by delivering a diamond ring (30 karats would be nice. I don’t want to be too greedy.) and pad my bank account. A few million should cover it and I would be sooooo appreciative. Writers have to spend a lot on promotion you know.

But, if those are not an option…..can you just give me a few more hours in the day this next year? I have books out in February, May, August, October, and November and I can use all the time I can get.

Plus, I have deadlines to meet for new ones. Yikes!

Thank you, Santa, for all you do! I really mean that. You’re a saint!

Sincerely and with much love,

Linda Broday

 

Updated: December 23, 2016 — 1:15 pm

Ed Picked Winners!

A big Texas thanks to everyone who stopped by to put in a good word for Ed with Santa. He scoffed when I told him he would be getting a lump of coal this year, but the cute factor evidently saved him.

As a small token of his appreciation, he plucked two names from my Stetson (before shredding the hat).

Susan P and Kathleen O,

Ed drew your names! He’s sending each of you a Wishing for a Cowboy ebook. The Christmas anthology from Prairie Rose Publications contains not only heartwarming tales from eight popular authors, but also recipes for all kinds of Christmas goodies. He’ll be in touch shortly, ladies.

Ed, Miss Li’l Ol’ Biddy, Dog, Underdog, and I wish everyone the merriest of Christmases and much health, love, and laughter in the new year.

 

Miss Li'l Ol' Biddy

Miss Li’l Ol’ Biddy

Dog

Dog

Underdog

Underdog

Ed Christmas 2016

Ed

 

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Dear Santa: I Can Explain

Kathleen Rice Adams

 

Dear Santa,

Ed's teethI was framed.

You’ve probably heard by now that I’ve been bad this year. All those things? I didn’t do them.

For example, I did not snap at my brother, repeatedly. I was showing him what good dental hygiene looks like. And anyway, if he hadn’t tried to usurp my spot in Mom’s lap, somebody who wasn’t me never would’ve snapped.

I also didn’t hop onto the kitchen counter. I climbed up there using a stool. If Mom hadn’t left the stool in such a convenient spot, that wouldn’t have happened, either.

The trash bag incident was the fault of a marauding pack of wild Chihuahuas who broke into the house while I was occupied trying to remove a squirrel from the premises. Have you ever seen the mess marauding Chihuahuas make? It isn’t pretty.

As for the bathroom trashcan… That was my brother. He’s always committing crimes and then pointing the paw at me. Let me tell you, Santa, he’s no angel. I was just trying to clean up the disaster.

Ed cuteWhen I dragged the roast out of the shopping bag, I was trying to help Mom put away the groceries. Do you realize how flimsy the packaging is on meat? Someone at the grocery store needs to address that.

Likewise, I did not rip open the bag of dog food. “Ripping” is too strong a word. I carefully chewed off a corner—and I only did that so Mom wouldn’t have to wrestle the bag open on her own.

As for peeing in the house… That rule simply isn’t fair. Mom pees in the house. I’ve tried to teach her to go outside, but she’s stubborn. And besides, there’s no DNA evidence to support her claim that she caught me in the act.

I did not drag the clean sheets out of the laundry basket, scruff them into a pile, and lie on them. Everybody knows sheets are much more comfortable on the bed.

Neither did I hide Mom’s shoe. I was redecorating, and Mom left her shoes in a spot that completely destroyed the aesthetic. One shoe created a pleasing avant-garde effect. Two shoes was one too many.

Ed's earsMom was also to blame when someone bit her nose. She shouldn’t have tried to trim my toenails. I go to great trouble to grow my nails to the precise length required for gardening (which, by the way, isn’t being bad, despite Mom’s insistence she hadn’t planned to put a plant in that spot). It was just a tiny little nip, anyway.

I did not leave teeth marks on the corner of a book. I was checking to make sure Mom’s editor hadn’t missed anything embarrassing. (Mom is notorious for mixing up words like “desert” and “dessert,” you know.) I had to turn the page somehow.

And speaking of her editor… I admit I typed a message into a chatroom where Mom was conversing with the Prairie Rose honchos. I can explain that, though: The minute Mom stepped away from her desk, I could tell gossip was about to erupt. Was I supposed to sit quietly and let them savage Mom while her back was turned?

Ed's profileThe accusation that I ate the tamale Mom was going to have for lunch is nothing more than a vicious rumor. There is not the slightest bit of evidence a tamale was ever on that plate.

I also did not find a chicken bone in the yard and attempt to run off and gnaw on it. That was another case of me trying to tidy up the place. Indoors isn’t the only part of the environment around here that could use a good cleaning.

In my defense, I should mention that I try to atone for all the bad things I don’t do by being a fierce watchdog. Nobody gets into my house—not burglars, rapists, ax-murderers, or Mom’s family. (You can’t be too careful, and some of Mom’s relatives look pretty sketchy.)

Ed on Santa's listI hope you will keep all of this in mind when you decide who’s been naughty and nice this year. Just to be sure there’s no mistake, I belong on the “nice” list. If you have to put someone around here on the naughty list, I think it should be pretty clear by now that Mom’s the real troublemaker.

Love,
Ed

P.S.
I hope you will bring me my own treats. Otherwise, my brothers and sister will just claim I stole theirs. I would never, ever, contemplate snatching a treat out of someone else’s mouth, no matter what the others say.

P.S.S.
If the cookies and milk are gone when you get here, it’s because there’s a marauding cat in the neighborhood, too.

 

(Ed would like to convince someone to vouch for him to Santa, and he’s willing to stoop to bribery to do so. Leave a comment telling him what you want for Christmas. He’ll pick two commenters and send each an ebook version of the Christmas anthology Wishing for a Cowboy.)

 

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All I Want for Christmas …

 

It’s almost unreal that we are only a week from Christmas.  I’m proud to kick off our two special holiday weeks with my favorite letter to Santa. Like everyone else, I always wrote letters to Santa when I was a child, but when I went back and pulled out an old box of “stuff” I found this letter to Santa.  I hope you enjoy.

December 1969

Dear Santa,

I’m sure you don’t get many requests for a present like what I’m asking.

Santa, could you please bring me our little baby boy, Charles Robert Paul Miranda.  The doctor told me today that he’s ready but just not willing to face the world yet.  So if you could hurry getting him into the world, I’d appreciate it.  I’m even enclosing a picture, so you can see we’re ready for his arrival.

  • Now, Santa, you might ask how I know we’re having a boy, but we’ve done all of the practical things to tell us which sex we’re having.
  • Since girls are naturally sweet, if I’m carrying a girl, I’d crave sweets.  But I don’t. I prefer sour and salty foods.
  • Of course, I’ve been told by a zillion people that I’m carrying a little boy because I’m carrying him low.
  • Now this one I’m not so sure about but a lot of women have told me that if I lead off with my right foot, it’s a boy.  Frankly, I thought I had been doing that all along, but apparently not, so that’s another indicator we’re having a little boy.
  • But the one that is 100% sure is, “One Ring to Bind Them.”  A friend suspended a gold ring on a string over my tummy.  It swung side-by-side, so I know I’m carrying a little boy.  Otherwise we’d be having a little girl if the ring took on a circular sway.

Santa, now I have to go because my back is hurting and I’m tired, so I’ll finish this letter tomorrow!

Three weeks later!

  1. Well, Santa, I didn’t forget you but couldn’t get  back because I’ve been in the hospital twice trying to have our little Christmas present.  The tiny one was pretty stubborn.
  2. We ended up in quite a dilemma, since we’d already promised Bob’s dad and my dad that their grandson would be named after them.  Well, what do you know … little Charles Robert Paul Miranda ended up being Kathleen Louella!  Yes, a little girl.  This picture is one of my favorite.  I’ve tagged it “Bob the Baker”.  I have no idea why her daddy had to dress up like a baker just to see her, but rules are rules!
  3. Well, Santa, I guess I shouldn’t blame you, but since you’re such a precious man, I know you can take it.  We were so sure we were having a little boy, as well as knowing he’d arrive by Christmas, so could I ask you for a name since we had none picked out for a girl?  The last examination I had in the doctor’s office, the nurse asked what names we had in mind and I told her.  Then she said, “You know it’s not 100% positive which sex you’re gonna have until you deliver … don’t you?”  I told her we were 100% sure it was a boy, but if it turned out to be a little girl, we’d name her after the nurse, who we knew well.
  4. So now Santa we have our baby girl and although you didn’t get her here before Christmas Day, we’re very happy with your choice … our little Kathleen Louella Miranda.
  5. Well, dear Santa, I’m putting this letter in safe keeping and when our second little girl comes around, I’ll send it all to you.
  6. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

To one reader who leave a comment, I will give you an autographed copy of Wishing for a Cowboy.  A short-story collection  of eight stories with some written by a sister Filly.  Good luck to all!

 

Updated: December 19, 2016 — 11:35 am
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