A Pioneer Christmas–and Book Giveaway


a pioneer christmas

A Pioneer Christmas Collection!

  (Tell us about your most interesting or unusual Christmas and you could win a book)

“Paying twenty-five dollars for me was your mistake, ma’am. I’m not worth more than fifteen.” Margaret’s story   


When Barbour Publishing announced they were looking for novellas for A Pioneer Christmas Collection, they had just a few parameters: the story needed to take place between the 1700s to the late 1800s, have a pioneer experience, and celebrate Christmas in a unique dwelling.

The stories that appear in A Pioneer Christmas Collection certainly meet that criterion.

Ranging in time slots from Shannon McNear’s lead-off Revolutionary War story, to Michelle Ule’s final tale of the 1897 Alaskan gold rush, the novellas sweep across North American locales both familiar and little known.

Shannon McNear portrays a surprising romance between a militiaman loyal to the Crown hiding after a battle in which his side lost, and a young woman patriot in charge of her siblings when her father goes to fight in Defending Truth. “People were all just struggling to live their lives, and the politics were as upsetting and confusing as today.”

Celebrating Christmas in the cave where her hero was hiding,seemed a terrific idea, and certainly a unique one.

Kathleen Fuller has often driven past her setting for The Calling: the Unionville Tavern in northeast Ohio. “Once I found out the tavern was a stagecoach shop [in the early 19th century], I immediately came up with the idea of a traveler stopping at the tavern on a regular basis.”  In The Calling, the traveler is a young man convinced he’s called to preach to those heading west, rather than the settled east. It’s the tavern keeper’s daughter who catches a vision of who he really is.

How many of you have spent Christmas in a tavern?

Several writers deliberately sought often over-looked times and places.  Anna Urquhart had seldom heard of pioneers traveling by water and examined the opening of the Erie Canal in 1830’s which led to settlements in Michigan Territory. A Silent Night actually begins in Edinburgh, Scotland and follows the challenges of making a life in the big woods of the upper Midwest.

The drama of a marriage lost and found is played out over Christmas in a barn beside a smoldering cabin.

A Pony Express Christmas by Margaret Brownley takes readers to a spot most of us think we know—or do we? When a vigorous young woman goes in search of her long-lost express-riding brother, she saves a man from outlaws and drives him to help her search. Set during the Civil War era, A Pony Express Christmas leads us eventually to Chimney Rock where she finds something totally unexpected.

What happened to those Pony Express stations and could they make an abandoned spot a holiday site?

A Christmas Castle by Cynthia Hickey features a mail order bride who arrives in post-Civil War Arizona to discover her intended dead and a small child needing a mother. With outlaws trying to run her off her “inheritance,” she struggles with the help of a handsome neighbor to keep her land. Somehow she’s able to fashion a Christmas celebration in a virtual hole in the ground.

Who knew it could snow in Arizona in the winter? Have you ever had to cram a too-big Christmas tree into a too-small room?

Lauraine Snelling returns to an area familiar to her readers in The Cowboy’s Angel, set in 1875 Dakota Territory. With her long-overdue husband miles away seeking supplies, a pregnant woman is forced to give birth with a stranger in attendance. Snow socked them into a half-built claim with the farm animals a thin wall away.

Using meager resources in a rough home, a woman finds cause to be thankful. How often have you had to “make do” for Christmas?

 Marcia Gruver takes us to sophisticated 1885 New York City in A Badlands Christmas, though we don’t stay there long. Inspired by the adventures of Theodore Roosevelt in the town of Medora, A Badlands Christmas shows the contrasts between festive scenes in the city and a Christmas spent in a dilapidated sod house in the middle of a brutal Dakota Territory winter.

While you may have dealt with the weather outside being frightful on December 25, were you half under the ground?

Buckskin Bride by Vickie McDonough introduces us to a capable but desperate young woman who is more comfortable in buckskin than calico. She and her sisters are squatters on land the hero won in the 1889 Oklahoma land run. The handsome Irish landowner is kind but dare she trust him when her father warned her to avoid all men? With Christmas approaching, her father missing, and young sister injured, will she and her sisters spend Christmas alone in their tipi?

Have you ever spent Christmas in a tent?

In The Gold Rush Christmas, Michelle Ule takes her trio to 1897 Skagway, Alaska where they meant to enjoy the season in the newly-constructed Union Church. Searching for a missionary father, however, lands them in a Tlingit cedar-planked long house for a lesson in how to present the gospel in a way anyone could understand.

Who can beat salmon for Christmas dinner, even if eaten off a plank?

 Interested in Christmas spent in novel ways, surprising settings, heroes and heroines filled with love and pluck? Why not try the nine stories found in A Pioneer Christmas Collection?

My thanks goes to Michelle Ule for writing this blog.

Tell us about your most unusual Christmas and you could win a copy of A Pioneer Christmas Collection.


Order from your favorite bookstore or Click Cover.

This book will make the perfect hostess, teacher or  party  gift!

a pioneer christmas

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130 thoughts on “A Pioneer Christmas–and Book Giveaway”

  1. Growing up we had lots of fun and interesting Christmases but I think the best one was when my husband asked me to marry him at Cinderella’s castle at Disney Land! It may sound cheesy but it was so romantic and unexpected! My fiancé at the time had come with my family and I to visit my relatives in CA. When he found out that we would be going to Disneyland the day after Christmas he had it all planed. He told me all this after the fact 🙂 Anyway he hid the ring in his back pack that he had been carrying all day through Disney Land. At one point I asked him if he wanted me to help carry it and all of a sudden got possessive of the back pack and wouldn’t let me carry it 🙂 As the day at the park ended we were trying to find a spot in front of the castle to watch the firework show. We finally found a spot that we had to squeeze to get to but it was right in front! As we waited for the show to start he pulled something out of the back pack and gave it to me. It was these 12 boxes that went from big to small. I asked him what it was but he just told me to read the letter on the fronts of the box lids. So as I read this beautiful letter about what our lives would be together in the future and how much he loved me I was getting very excited. I thought I knew what was coming getting to the smaller boxes but as I got the smallest box hoping there was going to be a ring in there it was actually a tiny piece of paper! I was very confused. Anyway I turned to look at him but he just stood there holding me from behind and asked me to open the little piece of paper. So as I did he written on there a riddle. The main part of the riddle that I remembered said “what is red that you wear on your head” at this point I had no idea what he was talking about and thought he might be going a little crazy 🙂 But as I finished that line of the riddle he brought out a cute small white teddy bear with a red Santa hat on his head and that very moment I looked at the Santa hat I saw my diamond sticking out of the bottom of the hat and the fireworks went off!! As most women during this time in their lives I started to cry and because there was no room to kneel he held me tight and asked me to marry him! (I said yes!) We just celebrated our 5 year anniversary!

  2. Some of my childhood Christmas’s were a bit unusual with all the travels from one family place to the next.

  3. I’ve had lots of memorable Christmases, but a special on was in 1997–my youngest daughter was due Christmas day, but I had her a week early and was able to be home for Christmas. I remember my mom holding her while I helped my other two children open presents, my husband took pictures, and my dad sat back and watched everything, beaming. It was a wonderful time!

  4. I remember going to the department store with my mother. This particular trip I was probably four years old. As we went around a a rack of clothes, there, on a high shelf sat the prettiest baby doll I had ever seen. I wanted her so badly but my mother said that maybe Santa would bring it. I left the store very disappointed but Christmas morning, that same baby doll was setting under the Christmas tree. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Well, that was over fifty years ago and I still have that baby doll that I have loved dearly. And so much better than that, I still have my mother and daddy with me. Both in their eighties, I am truly blessed!

  5. We spent one memorable Christmas traveling to Tucson. We left Milwaukee and ended up circling O’Hare Airport for two hours due to inclement weather. The weather wrecked havoc everywhere so the plane to Tucson didn’t arrive. Much, much later we ended up in Phoenix and still didn’t have a way to get to Tucson. I spent the night at an airport hotel. Not my idea of a Christmas with family and friends. I will no longer fly into Chicago for any reason.

  6. this book sounds like good reading!
    Christmas is not the same after you grow up, although in ways with your kids it’s better–in a different way. I think if we continue to see Christmas through kids eyes, we will still enjoy it.

  7. We have had so many memorable Christmas’s in my family. But I think some of my favs were the 1st Christmas’s when my nieces and nephews were babies.. The first time they see the Christmas trees lit up and all the holiday decorations. Such preciouses memories.

  8. Several memorable Christmases come to mind but I want to share about one that our family will always remember. We were unemployed and had very little in the way of material things. Knowing that presents and a tree are not what Christmas is really about we explained to our children the financial position we were in, which three of the four were very aware of, and they were such troopers. Then on Christmas Eve we received a call from an older couple from our church. They said we needed to come over to their house, they had something for us, but not to bring the children. Off we go, 45 minutes away on Christmas Eve…oh I was a little irritated. But when we got there, our friends explained that a childless couple (not from our church) had asked about providing for a family in need and our friends told them about us. I have tears now even thinking back on that Christmas. The Lord didn’t have to provide gifts for our children but he did. There were four huge black garbage bags full of gifts. Each bag for a different child and we had a big age range from 17-4. And our friends gave us a ham with all the fixin’s for our Christmas dinner. On the way home we passed a little store that was getting ready to close and there was a Charlie Brown looking tree sitting lonely at the corner of building. My husband stopped and asked if it was for sale. We’ll never forget that scrawny tree top that the man sold us for 10 dollars. It was a humbling experience but the Lord taught us that even when something seems inconsequential (like gifts and a tree at Christmas) he cares for us. And yes, we pay it forward every year!

  9. I have many Christmas memories. But the most unusual memory I can remember on Christmas Day happened when I was about seven years old. My mom worked as head of housekeeping at a nursing home and had to work the morning shift. Her place of work was kind enough to let her bring me in on Christmas morning so I could still be with my mom along with a few other children my age whose mom’s worked there also. The nursing home brought in a Santa Claus Christmas morning to pass out gifts to the elderly people (and my mom even made sure there was one under that tree for me). The Santa Claus passed out the gifts and was ready to leave when something happened. I was too young at the time to know exactly what happened but later learned that the Santa Claus had a seizure in the doorway as he was leaving the building. The ambulance came and Santa Claus was taken to the hospital. That’s an unusual Christmas memory that I will never ever forget.

    Pioneer Christmas looks like an excellent read and is on my must read list. Thanks for the opportunity to win such a great looking book.

  10. Katie, what a scary experience! I can’t imagine what must have gone through your mind as you watched Santa being carted away in an ambulance.

    I just love reading all these stories!

  11. I guess the most unusual Christmas I had was when my son was a police officer. He was on duty, but unless there was a call, he could go to the house, so he was in and out all day. He came back one time bright red because he had to intervene in a father/son fight and had to use pepper spray. I am so thankful that our Christmases are so much more peaceful and focused on the real meaning of the season.

  12. I remember as a young child sitting in the hallway at the top of the steps with several of my brothers and sisters waiting for ‘daddy’ to come home. Christmas was not a holiday at the cab company where my Dad worked. They were so very strict and he worked long hours to support all of us (9 siblings, mom and dad and my grandmother). Once Dad arrived back home with his cab, Mom allowed us to come down stairs to see what Santa had left under the tree for us. Mom and Dad watched and tried to keep a bit of order. Once the gifts were all opened, we had a big breakfast together in the dining room. Eventually, Dad would have to leave and go back to work. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that Dad could have been fired for spending those happy few hours with us. What wonderful Christmases we all had together. What a wonderful family we had.

  13. One memorable Christmas for me was one that I spent in Scotland. Newly married to a Scotsman, we went over to the Highlands to spend Christmas with his side of the family. It was my first Christmas away from my family–and we have lots of traditions in my family that made it hard to be away–but the Scottish have some amazing Christmas traditions as well, like a 7 course dinner culminating in flaming Christmas pudding and bellowing bagpipes! It is a thing to behold, and was truly memorable for me.

  14. My favorite Christmases were when we went skiing in Colorado. Coming from Arizona where we had no snow, it was great.

  15. I can’t wait to read this one!!! Thanks for the synopsis and details. My most interesting Christmas was when my husband and I drove to Nebraska from California to spend it with my in-laws. I missed being with my own family, but that year they were spread all over the country too. My sister (who married my husband’s brother) flew her 90 lb black lab to Omaha as well, fretting the whole time about him. My husband’s family are loud people, so there was lots of drama and exclamations the whole time. Different than what I was used to, but they are good people.

  16. The Christmas that comes to mind is the year I got my new bicycle. Up until then, I’d had to ride my brother’s battered old bike. When we awoke to brand new 1960 model Schwinns under the tree, we didn’t bother to open anything else. We rushed outside and hopped on, grinning back at our parents as we raced to the nearby elementary school where we liked to ride. As we roared onto the grounds, we didn’t notice the chain stretched over the drive. The bikes stayed on one side and we went airborne, landing in a scratched and battered heap on the other side. Who knew those bikes came with flying lessons?

  17. Anna, you are a brave, brave soul! In case some of you don’t know, haggis is a combination of minced heart, liver and lungs of a sheep or calf and boiled in the animal’s stomach.

  18. Hi Heidi, it’s always hard being away for Christmas. My daughter in law is from Okinawa and is very quiet and reserved. She was really intimidated by our loud family at first, but I think she’s used to us by now.

  19. Ho, ho, Marcia (another Pioneer Christmas author whose snowy tale is sure to delight!) You bicycle story sure did bring back memories. It wasn’t that long ago that seeing a new bike under the tree was the best. Most kids today would rather have tech stuff. Boo hoo!

  20. My most memorable Christmas was the one the year I moved out of my parents home for the first time. I lived with a roommate, and we’d both gotten puppies a month before Christmas. We had our tree up–decorated with blue and gold silk bulbs my parents had given me because we didn’t have enough money to buy our own decorations. I remember coming home to a disaster area. The puppies had gotten out of their pen, attacked the Christmas tree, which had fallen over, and they’d shredded the silk bulbs. Filaments of blue and gold silk covered the couch, the carpets in three rooms and just about everything else. Those naughty puppies sure had a good time but did we ever have a mess to clean up. My parents came through again with a new tree and more decorations. Bless them.

  21. Our most interesting Christmas was the one our newborn daughter spent in ICU after contracting bacterial meningitis four days before. It turned out to be the best Christmas ever when the doctors all declared her “fine and perfect” that day, and that she’d recover fully with no residual damage!

    Great post, Margaret.

  22. I loved to go Christmas shopping with my Mom. Now it is me making memories with my children. Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday. We would go shopping and decorate the house for her.

  23. One Christmas my family was living in Saudi Arabia! THAT was interesting! Another Christmas I was living in Guatemala and it is traditional to eat tamales. I visited about 10 people that day and had to eat tamales at every house! It’s been over 30 years but every time I see a tamale, I still think of that Christmas!

  24. Hi Vickie (another Pioneer Christmas writer! You won’t want to miss her enchanting story of Christmas in a tipi)

    Laughing at your puppy tale, Vickie. Our cat once pulled our Christmas tree down, but we were able to save the decorations.

  25. One memorable Christmas was the one I spent alone in my pj’s watching tv and reading. I enjoyed the “me” time.

  26. LeAnn, what a lovely memory. People complain that Christmas is too commercial but I disagree. Some of my happiest memories are of shopping with friends and family and finding the perfect gift for loved ones. Shopping is really a great way to bond.

  27. Hi Vairi, you really have had some memorable Christmases.

    My next door neighbor always brings tamales over for Christmas. I’m not that fond of tamales but they sure beat fruitcake!

  28. Nothing truly unusual for my family… just on two occasions we were on a cruise for Christmas… it was great… upscale eating, entertainment… one time we even went to an island on Christmas day and the whole island was actual shut down for the holiday… no shops to visit… we wondered why they even took us there…

  29. I don’t think I’ve ever had an unusual Christmas. I know my saddest was when my husband was in Vietnam but at least I had my family to celebrate with.

  30. Back in the 1960’s, our parents and 8 of their friends, took their families to a resort outside of Rockville, IL for a post Christmas holiday. Imagine waiting on a table of about 15-25 children of ages from 7 to 19… We were probably their worst nightmare come to life! But the resort had swimming pools, ice rink, all kinds of stuff.. Must have been a good year for all the dads to afford this!
    I do remember Mom saying that the first year or so after we moved back to my dad’s home town, Christmas gifts were limited.. He was just getting started selling real estate. But you know, none of us remember that part of it..

  31. Mt most memorable Christmas was Christmas Eve in 1965, when I found out my husband and I were expecting a baby! 47 years later, I have an amazing son, who i love dearly!

  32. Catslady, I guess that would be the saddest–for your husband too. Back then there were no cell phones or Internet so soldiers really were isolated–families too. How times have changed!

  33. The one that stands out for me was just last year. My son and daughter in law and grandson are missionaries in Ecuador and could not get back for the holidays so skype was the best we could do. We were opening their presents to us when my other son handed me an envelope. In it was a picture with my daughter in law and grandson who had a very surprised look on his face. On the bottom was written Merry Christmas Grandparents of…4!! I screamed very loud and of course cried. It was a very special way to announce a new blessing. August 7, our newest grand daughter arrived. Still have not held her and it may not be till February but still feel blessed.

  34. My husband and I were married going on 25 years ago on Dec. 23rd, so we spent our first Christmas at a bed and breakfast on the Washington coast. It was strange for us, both coming from large families, to be surrounded by people we didn’t know, but it was cozy and wonderful at the same time. We found a Christmas Eve service in the little town to attend, then enjoyed a delicious dinner with a group of strangers afterwards. It was a really romantic and memorable way to start off together. Looking forward to this new book.

  35. What nifty Christmas stories so far! My most memorable Christmas was one from my childhood. I was six or seven, and so excited that I woke up at 3 AM to see what Santa had brought. My mom, who was camping out in the LR with my dad because of the cold (who remembers the days of shutting off extra rooms to conserve energy??), woke up and joined me. I don’t remember much except for a toy guitar and a child-size record player with a handful of story and song 45’s. (I still have them … !) I do remember my mom’s shining eyes and smile as I played one of the records (quietly, we didn’t want to wake my dad) and exclaimed over everything. 🙂

  36. Hi Shannon, you sure did bring back memories having to shut off extra rooms. I also recall sleeping in the park because it was too hot to sleep in the house. Getting back to Christmas, I remember my kiddies waking at three or four in the morning to see what Santa had left. I give your mother credit for having shining eyes. I’m pretty sure my eyes were red and dull as I watched my children open presents.

  37. I LOVE Christmas and have had so many memorable ones that I don’t know which to choose. One tat jumped into my thoughts happened when I was very little. Because my Grandmother’s birthday was on Christmas the whole extended family gathered for a gift exchange and party at my grandfather’s house. My mother was one of 11 children and most of them live nearby so it was a big crowd! MY uncles took turns playing Santa but this particular year my eldest aunt decided she wanted to be Santa. Imagine a petite Santa who try as she might could not stop her high pitched giggle. What fun!

  38. Would love to win a copy of this book.

    I too have many memorable or unusual Christmas’. One that still brings a chuckle is when my sister, brother and I were young we had an artificial Christmas tree. It was silver tinsel tree that had a stand with colored lights in the stand. The tree went around in circles and the colored lights changed as it turned. A couple days before Christmas my mother decided to get the bee-be gun, I think it was, out and started shooting the Christmas balls off the tree. It sat right in front of the living room picture window and she did not hit the window. My siblings and I thought that was kinda neat. Not sure why she decided to do that.

    Blessings, Tina

  39. My most unusual Christmas was getting to spend it in Hawaii one year and it just isn’t the same without snow. It seemed really weird.

  40. What interesting stories! I cannot wait to read more. Most of my Christmas memories are about my family. Sometimes we would go to my aunt’s house in NY to see all of my Dad’s family, or other times we would drop by one of my Mom’s sister’s house. Lately though, we haven’t been doing much of anything. What I would love for my Christmas present is to see my oldest brother again. He lives in Florida and we haven’t seen him in four years. He has been through so much…I remember Christmas being my favorite time because my big sister came home from college. Now, my older brothers look forward to when I come home from college for Christmas break..and so do I! I would have to say that my favorite part of Christmas cannot be explained in words.It lies within..music.. the wonder of Christmas, Christmas movies watched throughout the years, ornaments with stories behind them, our Christmas customs, and special times spent together. God has been so good.:)

  41. When Burger King was still open we would go there on Christmas where you could eat for free(real food too). Perhaps it may sound unusual to some, but a few of my best Christmases were spent there in such good company. We were also at our neighbors for Christmas one year, I believe.We also always go as a family to Kraynak’s during Christmastime. It brings back so many special memories.

  42. I don’t think it’s wierd, but the “worst” Christmas I ever spent was one when I was so sick I couldn’t get off the sofa or out of bed. I would get strep throat and be so very ill with it every year. It so happened that that year, I had it during Christmas and had to miss out all the Christmas activities both in my own home and with my family.