Born and raised in Scotland, I heard tales of the wild Highlanders who fought battles in little more than their plaids (if that). They slept beneath the stars and brandished swords and clubs, but I’d never heard of a cowboy until I ventured to Montana Territory in search of answers about my family. These men: cowboys, ranchers, horsemen, certainly are interesting specimens and I’ll admit I’ve become rather fascinated by them.
The first one I ever met stood tall and proud and behaved as a true gentleman. Of course, he was wearing strange and dusty clothes and an odd hat, but those deep, blue eyes of his bore through to my soul. His strong hands were warm to the touch, and his gruff demeanor couldn’t mask the heat in those eyes on that cold autumn day. Lucky for me, I married him. I’ve learned a few things since my first encounter and I’m here to share my meager expertise, so listen carefully.
A lady must know that a true cowboy is both charming and dangerous. He’s a little like the wild land on which he lives. It doesn’t take much more than a swish of skirts and a pretty face to get his attention, but he won’t be easy. If a lady wants to hold onto a cowboy, she must be strong and even a little stubborn. She has to show him that she has what it takes to survive in his world, but don’t worry ladies, he’ll make it worth your while.
A hard-working cowboy is independent, stubborn, and even a little fierce. He’ll charm you just as easily as he charms a bull so you’ll want to keep him on his toes. Show him you’re not a lady to be trifled with. He won’t be able to control you, but he’ll certainly want to keep you.
He’ll rarely tell you what’s on his mind and doesn’t like sharing his emotional feelings. If you want to understand your man, let him come to you. Don’t push or prod because he’ll make for the range. If you want to rope him in, you’d better learn how to handle the lasso.
Most importantly, a true cowboy is loyal to in life, and to the death. Be warned ladies—he expects that same in return. Treat your cowboy well and he’ll move heaven and earth for you.
WILD MONTANA WINDS
By MK McClintock
What happens when a mountain man tries to tame the heart of a Highland lass?
Ainslee McConnell turned down every eligible bachelor who asked for her hand, for she knew none could quiet her adventurous spirit. When she travels from Scotland to visit family and seek new experiences, she discovers a life more rewarding than she could have imagined.
Raised in the wilds of the Montana mountains, Colton Dawson lived as rancher, mountain man, and tracker. He was content . . . until one day a spirited Scottish lass crosses his path on her way to Hawk’s Peak. When a moment in Colton’s past revisits him, he fights to keep safe those he loves most.
Return to Briarwood and Hawk’s Peak to experience a timeless western romantic adventure that will sweep you away on the wild Montana winds.
Don’t miss the other books in the Gallagher series . . .
I don’t know if this happens to other writers, but I’ve had some strange things happen during the writing of a book. I once turned a manuscript into my editor at the same time another writer turned in hers. Oddly, enough, our protagonists shared the same first names and professions. There were also many other similarities throughout our manuscripts, and all had to be changed.
Another time I was hiking a trail in Mammoth when I met a geologist who was the spitting image of the geologist hero in the book I was working on. Even weirder, his first name was Damian and I’d named my hero Damon. Close enough, right?
But the strangest thing that happened occurred recently. I’d been toying with the idea of taking a DNA Ancestry test for quite some time, so my daughter decided to gift me with one for Christmas. The results were pretty much what I expected, with one surprise. It turns out that the outlaw Jesse James and I share a common ancestor.
The timing was especially weird since Jesse James plays a part in the book I’m currently working on. Come to think of it, it’s not the first time Jesse James has popped up in one of my books, and I can’t count how many blogs I’ve written about the outlaw.
That’s because Jesse is a fun person to write about. Not only was he controversial, he had both a light and dark side. The son of a Baptist minister, he was known to pass out press releases to witnesses at his holdups and had no qualms about exaggerating his height. He might also be the only person on record who took a gang on his honeymoon. I don’t know what his bride did while he and his gang robbed a stage. Maybe she went shopping.
Jesse James lived for only thirty-four years, but there was never a dull moment. He was a Confederate guerrilla, was shot in the chest on two separate occasions and once overdosed on morphine. He also claimed to have murdered seventeen people.
Jesse went by many aliases, but his nickname was Dingus because he shot off the tip of his finger while cleaning his pistol. He wrote glowing articles about his gang, saying that they robbed the rich and gave to the poor, though all indications are that they kept the spoils to themselves.
Far as I know, he was also the first person to prove that housework can kill. While tidying up his house, he was fatally shot by his new hire Bob Ford in the back of the head.
I can’t tell you what it was about Jesse James that first caught my interest. I can’t even tell you why this writer, who’s allergic to horses, writes Westerns. All I can say, is that it must be in my DNA.
Have any of you had your DNA tested? If so, were there any surprises that you’re willing to share
Since we are coming up very soon on Valentine’s Day, I thought we might talk about love, and, if you will bear with me, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my own very personal story of finding love. The year was 1995 — late in the year — and my third book, PROUD WOLF’S WOMAN had recently been turned in to AVON/HarperCollins for editing. As I awaited the editing process, my attention went to another story and I had begun work on that. That story is GRAY HAWK’S LADY.
My own tale began with a kiss. But let me backtrack. I had in 1992-1993 gone through a divorce and had come back to California, because at that time I had considered California like my home. Unfortunately for me, I jumped right into a relationship that was very bad for…many reasons. After that relationship, I wanted nothing to do with men, love, marriage again. Sigh…
So I was on my own and definitely enjoying being on my own. One of my best friends (whom I had known since 1970) was pushing me to go on a blind date. I didn’t want to go and I told her I wanted nothing to do with men, relationships, marriage, dating…nothing….
But she insisted and I found my self consenting to one date. That was in January of 1996. GRAY HAWK’S LADY was due to my publisher (AVON) in July of 1996, but I had plenty of time to write it and had, indeed, started writing it when I went on this first date.
So off I went on this first ever in my life blind date. The gentleman picked me up at my house and I noticed he was wearing cowboy boots, and, since I am interested in the West and Cowboys and Indians, this was great. He was also born and raised in Montana, and I was very interested in Montana because the story of GRAY HAWK’ S LADY was to take place in Montana.
The date was good — okay. We went out to eat, but I was left with the impression that he wasn’t really interested in me. So, I put it behind me. He never called, never asked me back out and never told me what was happening and so eventually, just to end my wondering about it, I called my friend, told her I was sorry it hadn’t worked out and … well, so long sort of thing. To my surprise she wouldn’t let it go — I had just wanted to put it behind me. She said, “Oh, no, he’s really interested in you.” and I said, “Oh, no, I don’t think so. Let’s just relegate that date to the past and go on from here.” And she said, “No, I’m sure he really liked you.”
I had no idea that she would call his brother. I am told that they talked, and that the upshot of it was that Paul then called me and asked me for another date. Well, it had been a good first date, I thought, and he was a nice gentleman and perhaps we could be friends. So I accepted.
Goodness! Little did I know what was in store. On the second date, we were both more relaxed, held hands, and I thought, okay, we’ll be friends. He took me home, walked me to the door and just as I was about ready to go inside, he took me in his arms and kissed me. Now, this was quite some kiss. He meant it. And I became very aware of that. His hands caressed my cheeks, my eyes, my face, my hair, my neck. It went on and on and on, and when he was done, I felt as though my world was spinning — but in a good way. Afterwards I stared at him and for the first time, I thought to myself, “Who is this man who can make me pay attention to him with no more than a kiss?”
Well, that was that. We had a date the next week, and within 2-3 weeks, I had moved in with him and we were married in May 1996. Our first date was February 3rd 1996. So it definitely was a whirlwind romance.
Now you may be wondering what this has to do with the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY. Well, a lot, I’m afraid. As I mentioned earlier, I was in the middle of writing that book, and I fell so deeply in love with this man, who is now my husband, that of course that love was written all over the printed pages of GRAY HAWK’S LADY. That first kiss and my emotional reaction to it is recorded in that work. Also, my gradual coming to understand that this man was the most important man in my life is in that book. His calmness, his teasing, his care…it’s all written there as I fell head over heels in love.
Did I mention that my earring (the night of that first kiss) fell off — and I have pierced ears…!
In May of this year, we will have been married 23 years. Interestingly, I still have the pictures of our wedding on my website http://www.novels-by-KarenKay.com — can’t bring myself to take them down, even though 23 years more or less have gone by now. People sometimes write to me and congratulate me on my recent marriage — and I smile. To me, in many ways, it does seem like a recent marriage, as I fall in love with this man all over again every day.
I’ll tell you true that I love this man with all my heart — and as the years have gone by, that love does not diminish; it grows and grows and grows. He stole my heart with that first kiss. (I’ll knock on wood here.) As the — gee, was it the Ronettes that once sang the song, “And Then He Kissed Me,” — it has always seemed to me that it started with that kiss. Ah, sweet!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog today and I hope you’ll come in and leave a message. I would love to hear about your own personal love stories.
Will I be giving away GRAY HAWK’S LADY today as a Valentine’s Day Gift? You bet I will. I’ll be gifting that book to 2 (two) lucky readers today, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Please know, also, that all rules for Giveaways apply — they are listed off to the right here of the page — at the very top.
And please remember to check back on Wednesday or Thursday evening to see if you are a winner!
Today we are thrilled to welcome former Fillie Tracy Garrett back home for a visit! Please join us in welcoming her!
I’m so happy to be back at Petticoats & Pistols. Hey there, Fillies! I get to see old friends and make some new ones. I’m also glad to be here because I get to share my new release with you.
GRACE is one of a seventeen-book series set in Wildcat Ridge, a small mining town in the Uinta Mountains, Utah Territory, in 1884. The mine was devastated by two explosions, killing men, women and children, and leaving mostly widows in town. Each book introduces a widow who struggles to find a way to survive—and finds new love in the process.
When I started the book, I chose to have the hero work for the Wells Fargo & Company, and the stagecoach line serving Wildcat Ridge. As I learned more—and researched more—I discovered a television series called “Tales of Wells Fargo.” I watched a few episodes and, when Michael Landon appeared on screen as a young man wanting to be a shotgun messenger on the Wells Fargo, I knew I’d found my hero.
The shotgun messenger was literally that: he rode shotgun beside the driver, with the treasure box between his feet, holding a sawed-off shotgun loaded with buckshot. A shotgun messenger had to stay alert, identify danger in an instant and not be afraid to act on his decision to shoot. Though Wells Fargo policy said to let a robber have the money rather than risk lives, the shotgun in the hands of a good shooter was an effective deterrent.
“But the real security of the treasure boxes came from who was guarding them — the Wells Fargo shotgun messengers. They were ‘the kind of men you can depend on if you get into a fix,’ according to Wells Fargo detective Jim Hume. If thieves were foolhardy enough to try and steal a treasure box in transit, they would find themselves staring down the barrel of a sawed-off shotgun, loaded with 00 buckshot, possibly held by Wyatt Earp himself.” [from http://www.WellsFargoHistory.com]
The shotgun messenger gave me a strong hero, sure of himself and capable. All I had to do was add… Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out.
— Now Available —
Book 10 of The Widows of Wildcat Ridge series
When a woman who has always done what she was told decides to take matters into her own hands—she just might discover her future waiting
Grace Hill has spent most of her life caring for others. When her beloved little sister is in trouble, Grace defies those who tell her she can’t, and rushes to her aid. Joining the other widows in Wildcat Ridge struggling to survive, she discovers the woman she is—a woman strong enough for a man like Benjamin Sloane.
Benjamin Sloane rides shotgun on the Wells Fargo stagecoach line through the rugged Utah Territory. He’s big-hearted, tough and about as civilized as a grizzly bear. But there’s something about a fancy lady from the big city makes him want to clean up his ways and give her his heart.
EXCERPT FROM GRACE:
Grace Hill stared in horror at the article in the several-weeks-old Denver newspaper. “No. This isn’t possible.”
“What’s that, Grace? Speak up. I’ve asked you not to mumble in my presence.”
“I apologize, Mother Hill. There was a mine collapse in—”
“There’s always a disaster, Grace. A mine today, an earthquake tomorrow. God will have his vengeance one day soon, mark my words. Close that drape. I swear the sun is hotter this April than ever before.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Grace rose to do as she was told. “But this collapse was in Wildcat Ridge, Utah Territory, where my sister, Eleanora lives.”
“Scandalous place for a woman of breeding to live. Why ever did she settle there?”
“Her husband is a miner, ma’am. He moved his wife there soon after their wedding.”
“Is he dead?”
The emotionless question shocked Grace and sent a shaft of sorrow through her. Could Eleanora actually be the widow of Darvin Cavender? “I don’t know. A list of th-the deceased isn’t included.”
“If it’s God’s will, he lived. If not, she’ll find another husband to provide for her and give her children. It is the task for which woman was created.”
Grace clamped her teeth around her tongue to keep the retort inside. God created women with minds and dreams, just like men. Woman was created for more than marriage and procreation, not that she’d say that to Mrs. Hill.
“She has a child. A daughter.”
She read further in the article, her brain stuttering to a halt as she realized men weren’t the only victims. “It says townspeople were killed in a second explosion while trying to rescue the miners.” Townspeople? Women? Children? “I have to go.”
“Go where, young lady?”
“To this place. Wildcat Ridge.” She waved the newspaper. “My sister might be…” She swallowed hard and blinked back tears. Her employer thought tears a useless luxury and Grace didn’t want another lecture. She’d had her fill of her mother-in-law’s opinions. “This article was published in the Salt Lake City paper nearly a month ago. The Denver Rocky Mountain News released the story three weeks ago. I haven’t had a letter from my sister since before the accident. She would have written if she could. I have to go to her.”
“You will not. I forbid it.”
Grace rose, clutching the newspaper in her fist. “My sister could be injured, even de—” She forced air into her lungs. She refused to even give voice to the possibility. “My sister and niece might need me. I have to go, Mother Hill.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. It’s probably still winter at that elevation. Some of the passes may not even be open. How will you get there? Who will go with you? A decent woman may not travel alone all that way.”
Grace stared over the woman’s head into an ornate, gilded mirror. She hardly recognized the image staring back. Her dark eyes seemed lifeless. Her long, dark hair tamed into a simple chignon at her nape was dull, as dull as her life had become. She wore an unflattering high-necked black gown and her only jewelry was her wedding ring and a mourning pin, woven of Theo’s blond hair, at her throat. Little remained of the happy girl she’d once been.
If she didn’t get away from this house soon, she would become as dead inside as her husband was in truth.
Please give a big Petticoats and Pistols welcome to our
Friday guest author ~ Mary Sullivan!
Miss Mary hails from Toronto, Canada and today is giving away a
copy of her newest release, MONTANA RODEO STAR
to one lucky person who responds to her questions at the end of this post.
Petticoats and Pistols, thank you so much for having me here today!
I write about cowboys, ranchers, sheriffs, and small towns. Often, I have wondered why I’m fascinated with ranching and farming life when I have never lived that life. I grew up in a large city.
The source of this interest, I believe, was my parents who grew up in rural Newfoundland on the eastern edge of Canada. I grew up listening to my mother’s stories of her childhood, her experience light years from my own urban childhood. Her family lived a life of self-sufficiency ruled by ‘island’ mentality. She was a small child during the Great Depression. Anything they needed or that had to be done or fixed had to be handled on their own. They were hardy and resourceful.
Newfoundland’s nickname of The Rock is justified. It’s rugged, to say the least.
Despite this, the family grew all of their own vegetables—potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, cabbages, and onions—and stored them winter-long in root cellars. Even the children had their daily chores. They were not idle.
They fished for cod and laid it out to dry on ‘fish flakes’ set up on a hillside in the sun. They also salted the fish.
They owned cows and chickens.
Every spring, they bought a pig that they fattened throughout the summer for butchering, curing and preserving in the fall. My mother, a great animal lover, doted on the pig every summer and would steal buttermilk after the cows were milked to rub over the pig’s back to make it soft!
Then, one day in the autumn, her family would send her off to visit friends or family so she wouldn’t be around when they killed the animal she had nurtured for months. It saddened her immensely. I asked her once how she felt about all of this and whether she could bring herself to enjoy the bacon and ham the pig produced. Her pragmatic response was, “Of course. I had to eat.”
Winters were harsh, with frigid temperatures for months on end and deep snow nearly covering ground floor windows. Winter started early and ended late.
The buckets and buckets of wild blueberries my mother picked and sold every summer bought her a new pair of shoes for the start of another school year in September.
I don’t romanticize how difficult her life was, but even given such a bare-bones existence, my mother had a happy and healthy childhood with loving parents. She had a wicked sense of humor, loved to play pranks and was adored by her one older and six younger siblings.
My brothers and sisters and I love to visit. The island and my extended family there hold captive a huge portion of my heart. Here’s a photo of me with my sisters wearing our tourist t-shirts during a recent visit!
I imagine large ranches as being much like islands, with life lived so close to the land and the harsh reality of nature and death a hairs-breadth away. I imagine self-sufficiency and pragmatism. I imagine tough, hard-working people.
My latest book, HOME ON THE RANCH: MONTANA RODEO STAR is the final, sixth book of my Rodeo, Montana, series. I have loved writing about the six women who labored to keep their small town afloat by reviving the local fair and rodeo.
Cocky but likable Dusty Lincoln meets his match in stubborn Maxine Porter.
If ever two opposite should not attract, it is these two, but attract they do!
I’m giving away a copy of MONTANA RODEO STAR to one of today’s blog visitors.
Please respond to the questions below for a chance to win.
Have you ever visited a ranch or wanted to?
Or did you grow up on one?
Or are you a die-hard city person?
Multi-published author, Mary Sullivan, finds fulfillment in writing heart-warming, small town romance.
Her first book, No Ordinary Cowboy, was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart contest.
Her books have since won awards and glowing reviews. For Mary, writing a book is very much like putting
together a jigsaw puzzle without the final image. She indulges her passion for puzzles—particularly getting
her daily cryptic crossword fix and putting together real jigsaw puzzles without the box—in her hometown
No doubt about it. I am a California beach girl. Somehow, though, the heroes in my books always seem to end up cowboys. For that “wild west” reason, the fillies here in Wildflower Junction let me be a member of the corral for almost nine years.
However, in June 2017, family matters demanded I put writing and blogging on hold. Some good stuff, like a baby granddaughter. Others, not so good, like a still-ailing mother-in-law. But the fillies assured me I’d always be welcomed back. And after twelve months of catching my breath, four amazing inspirational authors invited me last summer to participate in a Valentine anthology. It released January 11, so—here I am!
Timing was perfect. Jumping back into the writing saddle with “Heart of Hope” was a great ride. Since the keystone of each of our novellas was a recipe, nothing else would do but the directions for my late Aunt Grace’s historic banana bread. And well, that itself led to the hero having an Aunt Grace…
Of course, nowhere else would do for my setting but my beloved California. I decided to return to a place I’d used before, fictional Rancho Lorena inspired by the real-life Central Coast town of Santa Ynez, established in 1882.
It’s a favorite place to visit, and rich in history. In 1858, the Overland Coast Line stagecoach ran from San Francisco to Los Angeles with the Santa Ynez Valley area just about smack dab in the center. Sometimes travelers stayed on or came back, and civilization grew into a true microcosm of the American West with saloons, mercentilers, blacksmiths, and tillers of the soil. By 1887, the Pacific Coast Railroad roared through.
The valley and town likely took the name Santa Ynez from the nearby Mission of Santa Ynes, established by the Franciscans in 1804 and named for Saint Agnes of Rome.
Then and now, the near-perfect climate is ideal for raising cattle, olives, and fruit. These days, 20% of the valley’s land is cultivated for wine grapes.
This photo I took is the tree that lends its name to my hero, Akron McCrory’s, ranch, the Leanin’ Tree. I have no idea why it’s bent, but I liked the idea it somehow could have been a trail marker left by the native tribe.
The Thyme Arbor Inn, where Akron and Bree run into her sneaky ex Marshall, is inspired by this restaurant:
The California coastal oaks are one of the area’s hallmarks. I think you’ll see some in my story.
As well as these horses on Akron’s ranch.
If you want to get into the Valentine spirit early with some sweet reads filled with love and romance, food and family sprinkled with faith, please check out our anthology.
From today’s commenters, I will be pulling one name out of the Stetson to receive a digital copy of Love, Sweet Love, so don’t be a stranger. Please and thank you.
So to get you in the sweetheart mood, what do you prefer giving/getting—flowers, a mushy card, or CHOCOLATE?
And before I ride off into the sunset, I need to publicly thank Mary, Dora, Delia, and Zoe for all their hand-holding. Thank you, Mary Manners (head of the project), Dora Hiers (aka my rock), Delia Latham (who designed all our covers) and Zoe McCarthy (made this old lady want to go skiing again.)
Here’s a bit about HEART OF HOPE.
He gave Bree her first kiss, but can he give her a future? She’s back in Rancho Lorena but not to stay—until Akron steals her heart. For good this time. But his ranch is in financial trouble, and she’s a rich developer. A recipe for disaster. Until they find the missing ingredients of love, happiness, and hope when they help out together at a home for young women in need.
LIKE A DANCE by Delia Latham A former celebrity dancer with a child she adores. A successful but burnt-out therapist to Hollywood’s rich and famous. When they show up in Hummingbird Hollow at the same time, sparks fly… but can they fan the flames?
LANDING IN LOVE by Mary Manners Erin Mulvaney is comfortable in front of both crowds and cameras. It’s the tango of one-on-one relationships, especially when it comes to men, that ties up her tongue. When handsome Kyle arrives to renovate her family’s restaurant, can she conquer her fears to cover the project alongside him?
HER VALENTINE VET by Dora Hiers Veterinarian Murphy Denton doesn’t trust people. Heiress Micaela Stanford would donate her fortune to care for abandoned animals. Her generous spirit crushes his defenses. Will his dysfunctional past prevent them from a happily-ever-after?
GOOD BREAKS by Zoe M. McCarthy Life has dealt a mammography tech and an entrepreneur bad breaks and led them to a small North Carolina ski town. A new bad break introduces them. Can they share more than a love of skiing? Or is she intent only on fixing his flaws?
Each year, I try to choose one word that serves as my motto, or mantra, if you will.
It helps frame my year with intention and purpose, and I always learn some good lessons along the way, too.
In the past, I’ve chosen a variety of words:
I’ve also chosen happiness, gratitude, faith, and hope.
Each week, as I think about what that words means, or how I can apply it in certain situations, it helps me stay focused on something that not only shifts my mindset in a better direction, but helps me be a better person.
I typically have a word in mind for the following year by the time November rolls around. Only I was struggling to come up with something for 2019. Then, my husband and I were on a long road-trip and were talking about the possibilities. At the same time, we both said “brave!” and that’s when it felt right.
So for 2019, my guiding word is “Brave.”
I’m excited at the prospect of the lessons I’ll learn and the places I’ll go being brave this year!
Do you remember the excitement of getting the Wish Book in the mail? To me, that event marked the beginning of the Christmas season. My brother and I would pore over the pages, marking the things we wanted. One of my most fervent wishes was to receive a full-on cowgirl outfit, so those pages of the Wish Book were always well worn by the time Christmas rolled around.
Because of my Wish Book cowgirl outfit mania, I thought I’d share some catalog pages showing western wear from bygone eras. Do these bring back memories for any of you? And was anyone lucky enough to actually get one of these outfits? (If so, I’m officially jealous.)
Aren’t these outfits great? Playing the game I played as a kid, I would have wanted either the boy outfit with the rearing horses on the chaps, or the red girl outfit.
Roy Rogers was such a huge influence on me–and everyone else, it seems–back in the day. I didn’t know anyone who tucked their pants into their boots back then, but Roy carries it off well. And, now that I have fancy boots, I’ve been known to do the same!
I always thought that boys got the best western clothing. Look at the cool fringe jacket hidden in the lower corner. One thing that I really like is the fake boot tops in the lower left of the picture above. What a great way to handle not needing or being able to buy cowboy boots. I was one of the lucky ones in that regard. While growing up, I had four pairs of shoes for the year–school shoes, dress shoes, sneakers and…yes…cowboy boots. But if I hadn’t had cowboy boots, I would have had the tops to make my school shoes into cowboy boots.
Oh my goodness! Leopard print cowboy wear! Does it get any better than that?
Okay–I can’t help myself. I still want a full-on 1950s cowgirl outfit. I wonder if I have time to shoot off a quick letter to Santa?
Now the give away part! I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate, that you can put toward a cowboy outfit or something else of your choosing. Just leave a comment to be entered. The winner will be announced in the comments on Wednesday, so check back tomorrow afternoon.
One caveat–I am going to the dentist today, so my replies will be a little late, but I’m excited to check in with everyone.
I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Are you one of those super organized holiday people who have up their Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving and mail out their Christmas cards the following week? I used to be, but I have to admit, not so much lately. As of today just about the only decorating I’ve done is to hang up the Christmas stockings. (Mantle is looking mighty crowded these days – I LOVE it!!)
The four stockings made from the same fabric are ones I made for my kids when they were very young. I even crossed stitched their names and a holiday design on the cuff. When my oldest daughter got married I purchased her husband a stocking but cross stitched a cuff to add to it so that it matched the other four. Unfortunately, by the time my next daughter got married my cross stitching days were behind me. So I personalized the rest of them with jaunty embroidered patches.
As I was taking care of that fun bit of holiday tradition (and remembering holidays past), it made me wonder, where did the custom of hanging stockings come from. So I decided to do a bit of research.
It turns out that there are two schools of thought on how this came to be, both shrouded in myth and tradition.
The most popular theory is that it is linked to the stories surrounding the generosity of the original St. Nicholas. Nicholas lived in the third century and was renowned for his concern for and generosity toward those in need. One story tells of a poor widower who had three daughters. The man was distraught over the fate his daughters were facing since he had now dowry to offer prospective husbands. The story goes that Nicholas heard of the family’s plight and secretly, so as to not gain honor for himself, entered their home and left gold coins in the girls stocking which were hung by the fire to dry. Thus the practice of hanging stockings by the fireplace in hopes of receiving a gift was born. Oh, and sometimes an alternate version is given that has Nicholas leaving a small gold ball in each stocking. This is supposedly where the custom of putting oranges in the toe of stockings comes from.
The second theory on the origin of the Christmas comes from a completely different belief system, that of Norse mythology. According to this version, children would fill their shoes with straw, root vegetables or sugar and leave them on the hearth for Odin’s flying horse to eat. As a reward for their kindness Odin would replace their offering with one of his own, that of gifts or sweets.
This practice was widely spread through Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Once Christianity was adopted, the legend of Odin’s benevolence merged with the stories of St. Nicholas evolving over time into today’s current practice.
Whatever the truth of the matter, I’m glad this fun tradition is part of our current day holiday celebrations.
So what about you? Does your family hang stockings? Is there a story behind any of the stockings themselves?
Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one of two copies of the re-release of The Christmas Journey
Philadelphia lawyer Ryland Lassiter is everything Josephine Wylie wants – for a brother-in-law! As the sole supporter of her family, Josie’s plans for herself have always had to wait. But Ryland will be ideal as the new head of the Wylie clan…once he finally realizes how perfect he is for her sister.
Ry knows its time to settle down. The newly appointed guardian to a friend’s daughter, he’s ready for a home and family. All he needs is a bride…and Josie’s sister is not the Wylie who has caught his eye. If only Josie would see the truth – that the only Christmas present he needs is her love.
I hope this finds everyone well! This is the beginning of the long slide into the holiday season and I want to take a minute to thank each and everyone of you for reading our blog and being part of our family here at Wildflower Junction.
This is will a different Thanksgiving for me. When my daughter was a freshman in college, her boyfriend’s family invited our family to dinner. It meant a drive and an overnight stay in Reno and breaking our own holiday traditions, which was me cooking a huge dinner for the family. Long story short, we said yes to the invitation and it was the beginning of a very good thing. I discovered that bringing a pie instead of cooking the entire meal was an amazingly freeing experience. We discovered that we liked spending Thanksgiving in a hotel and shopping Black Friday the next day in a city–something we’d never done before.
My mother, who at the time lived too far away to travel to our family Thanksgivings (and vice versa), was horrified. Not cook dinner? Eat it out? Break tradition?
Yes, Mom. It’s amazing!!!!
Thus started our tradition for the past fifteen years. Eventually Reno became San Francisco, and we saved all year for our stay in the big hotel in the city. We had dinner out. Our daughter-in-law joined the tradition, first as a girlfriend, then as a fiancee, and finally as our official daughter-in-law.
But this year is different. My daughter got married three days ago and is off on her honeymoon, so Thanksgiving as a family in a city simply isn’t working out. Another change. So this year I am cooking the entire dinner for the first time in almost two decades. My turkey is defrosting in the fridge. I’m baking pies today. My son and daughter will spend the holidays with their in-laws and I will cook for my parents who now live close by.
Change is good and traditions need not be carved in stone. I will miss my city Thanksgiving, but am so looking forward to bringing back the old traditions we’d carried on for years prior.