Tag: Holiday Traditions

The Week Between

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day was one I looked forward to with great anticipation each year during my childhood.

It wasn’t just the break from school that made the week fun (although I so enjoyed the freedom of not being at school or being plagued with mountains of homework).

If there was more than an inch of snow on the ground (which was typically the case on our Eastern Oregon farm), it meant unlimited outdoor entertainment. We went sledding off the hill right outside our back door, skating on the pond, snowmobiling across the sagebrush on the other side of the canal, and we even built snow forts a time or two.

Because my parents had a big house with ample room for parking, we almost always hosted Christmas for our extended family. My mom’s family and dad’s family took turns coming.

One year in particular I remember well because Mom’s family had all come for Christmas. We barely had a dusting of snow on the ground, so we spent most of the day inside with nothing to do but play with new toys, eat yummy food, and wish it would snow.

But then, in that magical week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, it snowed, and snowed. And then snowed some more. In an impromptu effort to wring every bit of fun we could from the holiday season, Daddy invited his family to come over for New Year’s Day.

Snowy fun, circa 1970-something. That’s my John Deere snowsuit in the back left side of the photo with the hood securely tied almost up to the nose.

Mom made a huge pot of chili and enough cinnamon rolls to feed a small army.  My aunts provided salads and sides along with oodles of desserts. Family began arriving late morning and we spent the rest of the day sledding, skating, and having a wonderful time. The cold and darkness didn’t even put an end to our fun. After warming up with chili and hot chocolate, some of my hardier cousins trouped back outside to sled in the dark.

I’ll never forget that special New Year’s Day or how much fun we had.

Do you have any special New Year’s Day memories from your childhood

(or maybe from a holiday with your children?) 

One lucky commenter will receive their choice of a digital copy of any one of my books.

Wishing you all a safe, peaceful, joyous New Year’s Day and a fabulous 2018!

Holiday Decorating in the Desert Southwest

Decorating for the holidays in the desert Southwest can be challenging~no fluffy white stuff covering the ground and the sun shines bright and strong. In the desert when the wind blows it doesn’t whistle through bare tree limbs, it rustles palm fronds. Even though we don’t have weather that makes you want to curl up inside with a good book and cup of hot chocolate we still decorate our native landscape and get into the holiday spirit. 

    

The Ahwatukee Foothills area which is close to my neighborhood does something special every year. For one mile against the backdrop of South Mountain trees and Saguaro cactus are decorated with over a million white lights. It’s a lovely drive and one we take often during the month of December.

   

 

As far as Christmas trees go….most people choose artificial trees but some buy real evergreens. Last year I went rogue and bought a seven-foot rusted metal saguaro Christmas tree–something I’ve wanted for a long time. I have it decorated with lights and western ornaments. 

 

All across the country city zoos decorate with lights and Phoenix is no exception. It’s a tradition in our family to visit Phoenix Zoo Lights ever year. There are about 3.8 million lights and nearly 700 light sculptures at ZooLights. My favorite part is to watching the techno-synchronized music & light show that plays every half hour throughout the evening. 

 

   

 

NEW RELEASE & GIVEAWAY!

On Tuesday December 12th YEAR’S at the GRAFF releases! This is book #3 in the all-new Holiday at the Graff series from Tule Publishing and Montana Born books.

 

Back cover blurb:

After being banned from celebrating the holidays with his stepfamily, San Diego businessman Lucas Kendrick arrives in Marietta, Montana, in time to attend the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Graff Hotel. The rodeo-theme party isn’t his style but he’s drawn to the pretty cowgirl running the dice table. When the clock strikes midnight and they ring in the New Year with a kiss, Lucas almost forgets he’s in Marietta on business and not pleasure. He believes he’s found the perfect property for his prized client. There’s just one problem—the pretty cowgirl has her sights set on the same piece of real estate.

Now that single mom Ava Moore has earned a business degree, she wants to help other struggling women get back on their feet by opening a co-op on Main Street. The last thing she expects is competition from the handsome city slicker whose New Year’s kiss she hasn’t been able to forget. Lucas isn’t only stealing Ava’s heart he’s bonding with her daughter. Can Ava convince Lucas that the best business deals are made with the heart and not money?

 

For a chance to win a digital copy of New Year’s at the Graff share your favorite holiday tradition!

***I’ll announce the winner on Sunday, December 10th in the comment section of this blog post and then send the winner their digital copy when the book releases on Tuesday! Be sure to check back here to see if you won!

 

Until Next Time…Happy Trails!

 

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Traditions & Mail Order Brides

 

When people talk about opposites attracting—I am living proof.

Kathryn's Wedding Day

Me and my DH Married on my grandparent’s farm

Although I wasn’t a mail-order bride ~
I was a big city girl from the Pacific coast marrying a small-town boy from the Midwest. I locked every door and checked them twice. He never locked a thing. I would do anything to avoid long lines and crowds, but he used them as a chance to be friendly with the people standing in line with him.

One of the real eye-openers about his different set of traditions was our first Thanksgiving as newlyweds. We traveled “Over the river and through the woods…” to spend the holiday with his family. May I just say that that entire Thanksgiving Day simply felt “wrong.”

His family didn’t watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. His family didn’t start a Christmas puzzle. And they didn’t sit down at a beautifully set table together while “father” carved the turkey, the children got to sneak a sip of wine, and conversation flowed as the meal and my mother’s cooking was appreciated. (I’m beginning to sound like a Hallmark card, but it was really a great up-bringing.)

Instead his family filled their plates full buffet-style and then sat down in the family room and watched the Thanksgiving football game while they ate. Talk was about the game. Then later that evening, after pumpkin pie, they played cards.

The food was the same—traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, and pie. Really, the differences were minor, but for my first holiday away from home, they seemed huge—and of course I was homesick.Sarah Plain and Tall

It made me think that holidays must have been hard for those mail-order brides back in the old west. Even if the new ways were better than what they’d left, they’d still be uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. One of my favorite mail-order bride stories is the Newbery Medal winner ~ Sarah, Plain and Tall  by Patricia MacLachlan.

Traditions – rituals that are done intentionally on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annually schedule–have the ability to strengthen family ties, provide comfort and security and a sense of identity. Traditions are a constant in a world that is continually changing, and a world that is going too fast. Like the comfort of knowing the leaves change color in autumn and snow flies in winter, traditions gird and strengthen roots in a family.

When my own children came along, my family traditions and those of my husband’s melded and became one.  It has been a pleasure to realize that along the way we created a few family traditions that “stuck.”

  1. Family game night
  2. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
  3. Christmas puzzle
  4. Birthday measuring against the doorpost
  5. A special holiday table setting and meal and conversation—and THEN football.

I’ve never written a mail-order bride story, but I can see how the situation would ripen the plot for misunderstandings and emotions. Even today, I have several friends who have met their spouses over the internet. They are the mail-order brides of today and I can only imagine some of their first holidays together bumping heads regarding traditions.

As this holiday season approaches I am thankful for many things. One of them is you–my readers. It is my hope that you have a few traditions that enrich your life and bring you happy memories. If you don’t—please consider starting one.

The Gunslinger and the HeiressI would love to hear of any family traditions you’d like to share…

Comment for a chance to win my book,
The Gunslinger and the Heiress
packaged with Bronwyn Scott’s ~ Playing the Rakes Game.

(Neither one of which are Mail Order Bride Stories!)

Petticoats and Pistols Sweepstake rules apply.

Non-Traditional Christmas Traditions with Sherri Shackelford

I’m working on a Holiday book for next year, which got me to thinking about Christmas traditions. So many of our traditions are passed down from generation to generation. When I was growing up, we were always allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve. We spent Christmas Eve with family – one year with my father’s family, and the following year with my mother’s. Christmas Day was reserved for the immediate family. My mother’s family lived in Minnesota, and they were fond of a particular drink called a Tom & Jerry. The drink consists of a batter which is mixed with hot water and rum or brandy.

Christmas1897-300

You can find recipes for the batter on the internet (it’s a mixture of eggs, spices and powdered sugar), but I’ve been lucky – a local store in my hometown carries the mix around the holidays. (Although you have to order early, it goes fast!) There are special glass and bowl sets for the batter and the drink. I have to admit I like the drink better without the booze! The ritual of mixing the batter with hot water while the smell of nutmeg and cloves fills the air, instantly brings back memories of Christmas.

Tom & Jerry

I’m from the Midwest, so I associate Christmas with cold and snow. For a few years we lived in California. While I enjoyed our Christmases in California, I missed the changing of the seasons and the added communion of being forced indoors by the weather.

When I became a parent, I developed a bit of resentment for the holidays. Usually, the women in the family are the keepers of traditions. (Not always, of course!) And as the keeper of the traditions, we have the added pressure of making everything FESTIVE!

For the holiday book I’m writing, my heroine has no Christmas traditions. Raised by her father, they treated Christmas as a ‘day off’. No chores, no cooking, and no church. The day following Christmas, they traveled into town and bought each other a gift. (This ‘tradition’ started when the heroine’s father forgot Christmas, and had to make up an excuse on the fly.)

Naturally, when my heroine enters into a marriage-of-convenience with a ready-made family, her family traditions are a bit of a shock to my hero.

Which brings me to my questions – Did your family have any holiday traditions that were non-traditional? 

One commentor will win a $5 gift card from Amazon.

Here’s a sneak peak at the cover/blurb for my February book – this is definitely NOT a holiday book! The heroine is an independent suffragist, and I had a lot of fun writing her 🙂 This book kicks off the Prairie Courtship series. Here’s a hint – If you’ve read The Marshal’s Ready-Made Family, you’ll be happy to know that this is her brother, Caleb’s, story.


The Engagement BargainMake-believe betrothal
;

Rock-solid and reliable, confirmed bachelor Caleb McCoy thought nothing could rattle him; until he discovers he needs to pose as Anna Bishop’s intended groom. After saving her life, his honorable code bid Caleb watch over the innocent beauty. And a pretend engagement is the only way to protect her from further harm. 

Raised by a single mother and suffragist, Anna doesn’t think much of marriage;and she certainly doesn’t plan to try it herself. But playing Caleb’s blushing bride-to-be makes her rethink her independent ways, because their make-believe romance is becoming far too real.

Have You Been Kissed Under The Mistletoe?

Janet-Tronstad This is Janet Tronstad and I’m very pleased to visit with you here in P & P. Before I mention my latest Christmas book, I just have to ask though.  Have any of you ever been kissed under one of those big kissing balls? The ones the Victorians used to make of mistletoe and hang up for their parties?

My latest novella is in a book entitled ‘Mistletoe Courtship’ and I realize I don’t even know anyone who has seen one of those kissing balls. I’m hoping that some of you have though. The mistletoe I usually see at Christmas is one of those small pressed-looking twigs that you buy in the plastic wrapper. I’m sure the Victorians would be appalled.  

From what I’ve read, they took their mistletoe seriously.  I didn’t realize that if you went un-kissed when you were standing under a kissing ball (male or female) it was supposed to mean you would never get married. Talk about pressure. I’m sure that was reason enough to line up. mistletoecourtship

In our culture, it seems to me that we save The Big Kiss for New Year’s Eve.  What’s your take on it?  Do you think mistletoe is still popular? Do any of you have any hanging in your house as we speak?  Do you plan to put some up this year?  And – for the big question – have you ever been trapped under some mistletoe with someone who wanted to kiss you and you’d rather not kiss them back? What’d you do?

I’ll be happy to send a copy of ‘Mistletoe Courtship’ to one of the people who post today so leave a comment if you can.

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