Not a Creature Was Stirring…yeah right!

Trouble in Texas Series by Mary Connealy
Trouble in Texas Series by Mary Connealy


I have this wonderful Christmas memory of practicing with my brother and sisters. Practicing sneaking past my mom and dad’s bed.

They weren’t in it. It was daytime. I was six.

My brother and one sister played mom and dad and laid down in bed with their eyes closed and listened, then two of my sisters and I—the three of us slept in the bedroom past theirs, would tip toe by them. My brother and sister were probably…four and 18 months. They were probably bad at playing their parts, but we had to make do!

‘Mom and Dad’ listened for creaking floorboards.

I’ll back up and set this up  just a little.

First, it’s important to know that Mom and Dad could have put a stop to this if they’d wanted to but they probably thought it was fun, either that or they were just too nice. It’s possible, I guess that we, that’d be my three sisters, ages 8, 7, 6 (me) and 2 and my brother age 4 were really, really sneaky. Yeah, I’m gonna go with my parents being nice!

But every Christmas morning all my growing up years, my brothers and sisters and I would get up crazy early in the morning and open our presents. I have no idea how early. I have a suspicion we were getting up almost the instant my poor tired mom and dad went to bed.

Instead of growling at us to get back to sleep!, my parents would just come out and watch and enjoy the madness and let us tear into the gifts. There was no order to it. None of the lovely ‘taking turns’ I hear about in some families. Nope, we just launched ourselves onto the tree, tossing presents to each other, ripping them open when we found one with our own name on it.

It was chaos.

This went on until we got the tree utterly stripped.

Then we played and talked and just generally had the time of our lives for who knows how long, then we’d all go back to bed.

But this  year was different. This year we had an EMERGENCY.

Why? Because we had a new housing situation. Not a NEW HOUSE…a New House Situation.

My Family 1960, I'm the CUTE ONE! (okay, you know I had to say that) I'm the oone farthest left at the top of the picture.
my two My Family 1960, I’m the CUTE ONE! (okay, you know I had to say that) I’m the one farthest left at the top of the picture.

With the birth of my sixth sibling my parents added on to the house.

This black and white picture is with five of us–I’m five, on the top left–two older sisters, an infant sister and a little brother (where did he get that hat?) It would be our last year in the smaller version of the old house .

We lived in a two bedroom farm house which, when the sixth child was born, the year I turned six, the November after this picture was taken, my parents bought a small house and had it moved and attached to our small house and our two bedroom house became (brace yourself) a THREE bedroom farmhouse.

It should have been more, because the new house had three bedrooms, but the old house didn’t really have two bedrooms it had a tiny attic and my parents slept in a room that was really a dining room between the kitchen and the living room. So when  the ‘new’ house came we quit using those ‘bedrooms’….so plus three bedrooms, minus two. We didn’t gain that much. Eventually my strangely-hatted brother moved back to the attic so it became a four bedroom house in the end.

But we thought it was a mansion, a mansion with unpredictably creaking floors. And CHRISTMAS WAS COMING! AND MOM AND DAD WERE BETWEEN US AND THE TREE!!! We needed to find out which ones not to step on.

Somehow, even though my folks never stopped us, we seemed to think we needed to START without getting caught.

My brothers-the one in this picture, and the yet-to-be-born infant–slept in another room that wasn’t blocked by mom and dad (they always were spoiled) with two cribs. One containing the baby in the picture (my little sister who would have been eighteen months old at this New House Situation Time and was I’m sure no help with our plotting and planning) and the baby brother who prompted the new house–he must’ve really been an emergency, because we had NO MONEY.

Well, we successfully sneaked past my parents that fateful first Christmas in our new house. (Now, after having been a mom myself, I have a mental picture of my mom and dad lying awake listening to us tip toe past}

And for the next two eighteen month cycles we added more babies and we kept sneaking and somehow my ‘gullible’ parents (God bless them) never caught us.





My family at Christmas 1965. Mom is the one holding the baby. She's 36 and had 8 babies in 11 years and she looks like one of the kids, I think.
My family at Christmas 1965. Mom is the one holding the baby. She’s 36 and had 8 babies in 11 years and she looks like one of the kids, I think.

In the picture above I’m the one with the white headband standing next to my dad. My gosh I was cute! WHAT HAPPENED!!!???

You know, I don’t remember much about the gifts. We didn’t have much money and the gifts weren’t expensive, I do know that.

But the memories I love about my childhood Christmas are sisters and brothers. Kind, patient parents. Fun, laughter, togetherness, sneaking. All of it makes me smile. All of it is more precious to me than the most valuable long gone gift or the grandest mansion without a single squeaky floor.


I hope that God is at the heart of your Christmas joy.

Remember the true spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit.

And may you always be blessed to know that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

Merry Christmas

Leave a comment about your own childhood Christmas memories to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of my novella collection which includes our own P & P filly Karen Witemeyer and Carol Cox and Regina Jennings. It releases JUST IN TIME FOR YOU TO BUY IT WITH THAT EXCESS CHRISTMAS GIFT MONEY YOU HAVE BURNING A HOLE IN YOUR POCKET! But I’ve got my author’s copies now and can get it to you Ahead of the release date!


A Match Made in Texas

Four novellas from

Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Carol Cox and Mary Connealy

There’s a secret matchmaker at work in frontier Texas!
In the small town of Dry Gulch, Texas, a good-hearted busybody just can’t keep herself from surreptitiously trying to match up women in dire straits with men of good character she hopes can help them. How is she to know she’s also giving each couple a little nudge toward love?

A Cowboy Unmatched

Neill isn’t sure who hired him to repair Clara’s roof–he only knows Clara desperately needs his help. Can he convince this stubborn widow to let down her guard and take another chance on love?

An Unforeseen Match

Hoping to earn an honest wage on his way to the land rush, Clayton ends up on Grace’s doorstep, lured by a classified ad. He may have signed on for more than he expected though–and he may have found the one woman who can keep him from moving on.

No Match for Love

Andrew can’t fathom how refined Lucy ended up as the caretaker to his dotty aunt, and somehow her arrival has prompted even more bizarre occurrences around the ranch. When they join forces to unearth the truth, will the attraction between Andrew and Lucy develop into more?

Meeting Her Match<<<(this one’s mine!)

When the tables are turned and a tenderhearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker’s son how much she cares for him?

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

47 thoughts on “Not a Creature Was Stirring…yeah right!”

  1. Mary, I loved your article. It reminded me of my childhood. Of course I was #7 so don’t remember my oldest sister, tho she would have had to still been home . I was told she went to NM with our aunt and Uncle who were visiting. I only remember how fun it was when daddy would go cut us a tree and we all would get paper and make some ornaments. Also, paper chains and strung popcorn. But, we were so proud of our beautiful tree. Daddy was always up before us kids and lit the first. And we always had our presents on Christmas morning. No Christmas Eve opening like most of us kids did after we married. The only time we opened gifts on Christmas Eve was when Christmas was on Sun. and we would have been late to church. I remember one special memory was when I was about 9, we had moved to Houston, Tx. so daddy could work in the Shipyard during WW ll. All of the older girls got jobs. Well, one of the sisters bought me a little girl doll that came in a small red tin suitcase. And, she had made me some doll clothes. And there was a little rod to hang the clothes in one side of the suitcase, and stood it on end.
    I was so excited for it was my most precious gift up till then. MAXIE

  2. What I remember most about Christmas is every Christmas Eve my parents would be in their room wrapping presents and asking us through the door what color we liked. We tried hard to listen and try to figure out what the presents were. We didn’t get much but it was fun.
    jennydtipton at gmail dot com

  3. I used to tell my girls when they were little, “I think you need to really get all excited and worked up and anticipate what you’re getting. Really go wild with it. Cuz once you start opening the lame presents I got it, well….the anticipation is gonna be the high point, so enjoy it.”

  4. I loved your post. I’d love to win a copy of this. We had a few gifts when I was little. I can’t remember the last time I got a gift at Christmas though. It’s hard with no family or close friends so the holidays bring me down and are hard.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  5. My Christmas memories were of good food and sweets that we usually didn’t get throughout the year. One of the most looked forward to presents were the stockings above the fireplace. They always had an orange in the toe and walnuts along with a couple of small presents. I do recall that we always got a new dress usually made by my Mother to wear on that one occasion.

  6. Those old pieced together farmhouses were the best quirkiest places to live. I grew up in one also. Our bedrooms were upstairs and the stairs were right over my parent’s room. So we learned early what steps creaked and what ones didn’t. Oh I know now that they knew every step we made, no matter how quiet we were. But it was great fun thinking you were getting away with being sneaky back then. Loved your story, thanks for sharing! Merry Christmas!

  7. Cathy, I’m sorry Christmas is no fun for you. I hope you do something to break up that holiday. Go away, go out. Go on a cruise. There are other people looking for someone to spend the holiday’s with, search for them.
    Are you involved with a church? Find one, a BIG one, they have small groups that are very focused. You could find a group that gathered for holidays for just exactly the same reason you do, because they have no family.
    God bless you.

  8. Joye, I remember we always got those small brown paper bags of candy from school, with an orange or apple in them and peanuts still in the shell and hard candy in bright colors and pretty shapes that looked like wavy ribbons.
    That was special to Christmas time.
    It seems like we got one of those bags of candy at school and maybe at Church, too. So two, and of course there were eight of use so 2 x 8 = 16
    That was a LOT of candy and peanutes.
    Of course we probably ate them up instantly. 🙂

  9. Susan, I had the funnest talk with my youngest sister the other day, she isn’t born yet in the black and white picture, and the new addition to the house was before she was born and I realized she had no idea what the house was like before. I was amazed because adding on that second small house to our small house is such a HUGE childhood memory for me. I mean c’mon….a house came rolling down the road. How can a kid forget that???
    She didn’t even know which rooms were from the old house and which from the new.
    It was so fun to talk about it.

  10. Mary – Loved seeing those family photo’s. Such wonderful memories! I’m afraid we’re one of those “take turns” families, but the kids have free rein when it comes to their stockings. They don’t have to wait for mom and dad or take turns then. They just dive in. They used to come wake us up before opening their stockings (which I loved because I always want to watch them open everything)but now they just jump in all on their own.

    Christmas is just so much more fun with children around. They are such a blessing – sneaking around on squeaky floorboards and all. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the story, I thought it was funny how you made your little siblings play the “mom” and “dad” parts. Was it cheaper to move an entire house than build an addition? That was interesting. I don’t remember any particular happy Christmas memory. I do remember when my family was at a Christmas church service and everyone was standing in a circle holding a candle—and my sister bent her head over the candle and caught her bangs on fire. That still makes me laugh thinking about it. Isn’t that awful of me?

  12. Wow, Mary, you’re so BRAVE! Someone (a crazed fan) may blackmail you for your exposed secrets. Love the pictures. The one of you all with Santa….you all LOOK so angelic and not sneaky at all! And loved the family picture. Your poor mom! She’s so young. And she does look like one of the kids. If you hadn’t said she was holding the baby I’d never have found her.

    In my family, my parents had two sets of kids. The first three are a lot older and I don’t really remember them much. And then my parents were a glutton for punishment and had me and my baby sister. We were the partners in crime. We snooped until we found Mom’s hiding place where are gifts were. Sure, they were wrapped, but that didn’t stop us. We sneakily unwrapped each present, looked it over, then wrapped it back up. We got very very good at this. Mom never caught us…that we know. Great memories!

    Thanks for such an interesting blog! You always entertain. And BIG congrats on the Christmas anthology!!! Gotta have it.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!

  13. Aw, Mary, you’re still adorably cute, and hilariously funny, but I DO wish you’d give spew alerts before you post. I’m wiping milk and cereal off my computer now.

    Merry Christmas, Mary and P&P!

  14. Wow, Lis, nothing says MERRY CHRISTMAS like the smell of burning hair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m pretty sure my littlest sister, the 18 month old, was just being a pest. We probably wanted her to go away but she INSISTED on ‘helping’.
    I think we took turns being ‘mom and dad’ too. Because I have a vague memory of laying there myself and listening, then popping up and saying, “I heard that.”
    Then we examined the board my sister had just stepped on and the ones beside it, trying to figure out how to avoid that exact spot!
    We were born to be super spies!!!

  15. Linda, My mom was probably??? 37 years old in this picture and she’d had 8 kids in 11 years. You wouldn’t think she’d be able to stand upright, and yet there she is, looking pretty good.
    She’s 85 now and going strong. She’s terrific.

  16. Karen, there is NOTHING WRONG with taking turns.
    I admire your sense of decorum.

    I’m pretty sure the chaos of Christmas morning manifested itself in all areas of my family’s life.

  17. One of my favorite memories growing up was always trying to figure out if Santa was real or not. When I was about 8 I asked my mom if Santa would look in on us while we slept to make sure we were a sleep. She me told that he did so I devised a plan! To make sure he checked I placed a long piece of chalk between my door and the hallway. That way I would know if the chalk had been broken I knew he checked on me. That next morning I found my piece of broken chalk and got very excited and then to see a mound of presents. But my curiosity got the best of me. That next year I waited till my parents were asleep and then snuck back out in the wee hours of the morning and hid my talk boy recorder. It was that toy that was used in the first home alone movie. Anyway I set it to record by the coffee table hoping to hear Santa but as I retrieved the next morning I heard my parents talking about the presents. Needless to say I was a little disappointed and may have gotten in a little trouble for being so sneaky but it was still fun helping my little brother believe for the next several years!

  18. I remember my brother putting together my dollhouses Christmas morning and the two of us playing board games during Christmas vacations.

  19. Lovely post, reminds me of my childhood. I can remember sneaking around trying to find our Christmas gifts. I wanted a type writer one year and when mom and dad came home from Christmas shopping I remember peeking out the window and and seeing it in the trunk of the car. It just wasn’t the same though knowing what you were getting. I think its all about the surprise.

  20. What sweet memories, Mary! You reminded me we have a creaky floor in our house. We were going to have it fixed next week, but with six grandkids arriving for Christmas . . . maybe we should put it off!

  21. OH I enjoyed reading your post today Mary! 🙂 When I was a kid, we were not allowed to get up before 7am and were told not to wake anyone else up… we would be so excited we would watch the clock… then sneak downstairs. We always dug right into our stockings and my grandmother would “wake up” and let me help make breakfast… slowly everyone would trickle in… we had to wait for everyone to finish before we could go and open up presents… then we would have more presents to open when the rest of the family showed up for dinner… such great times!

  22. anon101 that’s such a nice memory shared with your brother. It was so sweet of him to do such a ‘girl’ thing. And yet building is a boy thing, right? So it’s allllllllllll good.

  23. Quilt Lady, I don’t remember ever finding my presents. And we had such a tiny house. I have this foggy memory that maybe my folks first of all…….waited until the last minute to go shopping, so they didn’t have to hide them for long. And then, I think maybe at least some of the time, they kept them in the trunk of the car. Except was this before the days when car trunks needed keys? If so that wasn’t very safe.
    Maybe they hid them at my grandma’s house. She lived three miles from us.

  24. Such wonderful memories. My niece has 7 children – such chaos lol. I remember that my parents made us wait to open presents. Church came first. That was so agonizing for me as a child lol. We would walk down the steps Christmas morning and see the gifts under the tree waiting. And like you there weren’t very many but I guess that taught me patience which I do have and to appreciate even the small things in life.

  25. What a fun post, Mary. You always make me laugh! Oh, how I remember those headbands. And what a nice big family! We have friends in Nebraska who just had the old farm house moved to somebody else’s lot several miles away. That’s just a foreign practice to me LOL. They had to match it up to the basement and plumbing!

    I think my favorite Christmas memory was being an angel in the Christmas pageant at our Lutheran day school. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Merry Christmas to all of you and may all your Christmas dreams come true. xox

  26. I loved seeing your family pictures. What a great bunch! I always loved my stocking at Christmas. It was always filled with an orange, some candy, a special surprise and a box of sparklers. Loved it!

  27. My mom wore the same style glasses as yours! I remember coming downstairs to the closed pocket door of the living room. Dad would have the movie camera set up to film us finding what all was in our stockings… mostly I remember the blinding lights of the camera!!

    So it would get to you in time for Christmas! SWEET!!!!
    The word it, the Kindle version will still wait to load onto your Kindle on Release Day December 24th.

    But the book would be here in two days!

  29. Well, Tanya, who’s gonna throw away a perfectly good house. It may be in the wrong spot, but c’mon!
    My brother in law and his wife live in a house they moved from one farm place to another. They’ve been there for….wow, maybe 35 years. Nice house. They’ve done a lot of work to it over the years, but what house doesn’t need work, right?
    And we have new neighbors who moved a house in, that was only a few years ago, maybe … five years ago. So it still goes on.

  30. MELANIE, sparklers? Really? Wow, that’s so different. There were no sparklers in Nebraska for Christmas. Was that a tradition in your area? Were they for sale? Or did your folks buy them on the Fourth of July and save them?

    I love that. I know there are fireworks sometimes on New Years Eve, though not around here.

  31. CateS do you have those movies? Do you ever watch them? My uncle was the movie man in our family and none of those movies seem to exist?
    He had that camera out at every family get together but where are those movies? I’ve asked him. He’s close to 90 years old. I KNOW he’s got them stuck in a box in his house somewhere, probably 80,000 roles of what was it? 8 millimeter film?
    I’d love to see some of those old movies.
    Maybe they’ll surface someday. His wife has passed away and he still lives in the same house. There’s no reason those movies shouldn’t still exist.

  32. I love seeing your family pictures and reading about your special childhood memories! I remember the excitement on Christmas Eve- putting out cookies and milk, watching the Santa tracker on the news, and not being able to fall asleep for hours because the anticipation was so great. Then, waking up early on Christmas morning and running to tree to see what Santa had brought. Such fun! I delight in the excitement of my own children now. Christmas is such a special time!!

  33. Britney, at our house, my own house, for my kids, it seemed like I always worked SO HARD to buy gifts for my four girls and then at the last possible moment, I’d talk it all over with My Cowboy husband and he’s say, “Let’s get them a … fill in the blank…some really big cool thing.”
    Something I’d never have dared spend the money on.

    A toboggan or a racetrack, sort of BOY toys, but our girls were always outdoor kids so it was great. And then all my hard fought presents, so carefully picked out were like, “meh, nice, Mom, let’s go sledding!!!!!!!!”

    But I really got so I depended on him to come up with something so heaven help us both if he didn’t!!!!!

  34. Oh, Mary, I have always envied large families. I was raised as an only child because my two brothers were 10 and 11 years older than me and so I only knew them until they were graduated from high school and then they were away in WWII. Then they were married. Our Christmas’ were not that exciting. We always had a tree and decorations. But it doesn’t bring back too much. So cheers to everyone and for the freezing weather to somehow bring joy to the middle and east coast. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Bright New Year full of warm days and happiness.

  35. Another Mary! Great name. Well, now, looking back all those kids seem so homey and fun and charming. But I promise you, at the time, sharing that bedroom with first three and eventually FOUR of us girls, well, a little space and privacy sounds soooooooooooooooooo good, Mary J. so focus on the positive.

    My idea of privacy was……I had my very own DRAWER!!!

  36. Loved your post and pics. I don’t have any pics anymore since he house I grew up in burned. Lost it all. But my memories are in there somewhere. I was an only so I guess you could say I was spoiled. I got up at 4:30 one time. My parents then told me I couldn’t get up until 7. I never found my mom’s hiding places. She hid my bike and a couple of other Big things. What I remember most though about Christmas was the time my mom and I spent making cookies and candy. We would make cakes, cupcakes, candy, and cookies in the weeks leading up to Christmas and we would package them up and take them to different people. Some went to my piano teacher and school teachers others went to the post office people, the grocery store people (we live in a small town) and to church for different parties and fellowships. Of course we saved some for our family too. We always had a Christmas pageant or cantata at church. I was always in the middle of it as Mother always was part of setting things up and helping with it. When I got older I played piano for church and I played the accompaniment for the singers. Mother and I sang too. Daddy always put stuff together for us and going to my grandparents to get the Christmas tree was always fun. Now I usually just celebrate with the church. I have a couple of very good friends that try to get together at Christmas and July 4th. This year we may not be able to get together like we usually do. My other friend and I usually go out to eat together but he is going to see his sister in another state so I guess this year I’ll be by myself. But with Christ with me I’m never alone.

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