It is five days since Christmas Day and here in the Midwest the snow is getting a bit dingy. At my house, the small tree looks a little more forlorn for lack of presents at the base. The leftovers have been eaten and the company has departed. The music that hung in the air is silent. A few items remain out of place, but the house is quiet once again. The frenetic energy that bounced off the walls in the days before and surrounding Christmas, is slowly dissipating.
Although I am the first to admit that I enjoy seeing and hearing from people I haven’t visited with in a while, as the big day draws near, I find myself seeking a time-out. It is all a bit too much—the sounds, the colors, the over-the-top cheer, the rich foods, the ridiculous parking at the stores. There are so many expectations, so many things I should be doing. Because of those, the holidays are stressful for me and that is not what they are supposed to be about.
That is why the days from the 26th to the 30th are my favorite. The expectations of what I should do are gone. (Can you tell that I am a bit rebellious when it comes to the “shoulds” in my life? I imagine it puts me on your Naughty List now and then.) But during the days between Christmas and New Years, the time is suspended. Reflection on the year that has gone by and hope for the year to come slowly seep into my senses like a subtle, fragrant scented candle.
There is a settling inside me. I am full…
Of a quiet joy…(Matthew 1:23)
A quiet peace…(Romans 8:35, 37-39)
And there is HOPE.
This time of year reminds me of a blank page…one that is waiting, expectant, for a new story to be written upon it. I even become a bit giddy with the prospect.
Santa…I have a request. 2016 has been rough for so many. For those that are grieving or suffering, my wish is that 2017 brings a new hope, a new light, and a renewed resilience. A new beginning…
Can we make that their gift in the coming year? And can they get it early? January 1st perhaps?
I can blame Christmas all I want but I never chose a winner from my last post, close to two weeks ago.
I only realized it when I came here to create a NEW post.
I’m so sorry.
Because I am such a slacker
Today I am giving away FIVE copies of Room at the Inn for Christmas rather than the one I promised
(My promise was WORTHLESS up until now)
The winners are:
Stacy T Simmons
Remember this is ebook only!
I will email each of you to get your correct Amazon linked email address. If you do NOT hear from me, email me at email@example.com and DEMAND YOUR BOOK!
I hope you all had a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.
Well, little did you know that every person who came to the blog on Tuesday is welcome to a free book from me to you. Merry Belated Christmas.
So that includes:
Janine; Patricia B.; Eliza; Melanie Backus; Debra G.; Kim Hansen; Elaine Breault; Catslady.
Please contact me personally to claim your gift. I’ll need a physical address (these are print books) or if you prefer an e-book, I’ll need your kind of e-reader or the address to send the book to. karenkay(dot)author(at)earthlink(dot)net.
Also, Patricia B., I hear that you give books to the needy. I would be happy to donate some books for this cause. Just let me know and I’ll send along some books.
Thank you all for coming to the blog so soon after Christmas, and may the coming year be filled with beauty and love.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM MY COWBOY AND ME
My children continue to amaze me. I was there when they were born. No sedatives. In a small hospital so there is no way they got switched at birth with the child of someone really cool. Nope, they’re mine. I get credit right? Well, My Cowboy, too.
The grandbabies are cuter than ever.
I guess our big news is that My Cowboy is going to semi-retire this year. He’s still going to keep the cow/calf herd but his nephew is buying in so My Cowboy will have a new partner and (the hope is) less of a demanding work schedule. He hopes to be able to take time off when he wants to without quite so much guilt!
Above is a picture of My Cowboy and me from Christmas with the four grandkids.
As for news from this year, we went to Washington D.C. last summer to see the renegade Connealy sister who lives far from her mama!!!
We had a wonderful time and we’d never been to the nation’s capital before so it was wonderful. Seeing my daughter and her husband was the best part of course.
(It really was, they’re way better than the Washington Monument!) We also took our annual Minnesota fishing trip and we went to Nashville for a writer’s conference. I’d never been to Nashville or D.C. so it was a broadening experience for me.
I listed three trips but honestly out of a whole year, trust me, we are mostly just here at home all the time, typing…and I really like it here.
I have four books releasing next year. And one of them is a novella collection, probably coming near Christmas 2017 which will have six or eight of my novellas collected in one book—which is why I’m only counting it as one of the four. Anyway, that’ll take me over fifty books in print, which is a fun milestone! That’s enough Mary news to satisfy most anyone (I’m sure).
God bless you this Holiday Season
HAPPY NEW YEAR
I’ve got a bone to pick with you. On Christmas morning, I didn’t find a drop-dead gorgeous cowboy with a sinful smile lounging on my sofa or a Lexus (new or used) in my driveway. In fact, I didn’t find anything except a few bird droppings.
I don’t know if you got my name on the naughty list by mistake, but I can assure you that I’ve been a perfect angel. Really, really perfect. Ask around. Everyone I’ve murdered was only made up people, even though I modeled them precisely after live ones right down to their beady little eyes. And I only shot the ones who needed it. I can’t help it if there were a lot. I’m sure you understand that, you being the kindly old gentleman you are.
(I just wish you’d give up smoking that horrible pipe though. It’s not good for your health. And it’s not a good example to set for the children. Mrs. Claus should’ve taken you in hand long ago. I’ll bet you’re a stubborn old coot though.)
Now, I know you want to correct this oversight so I’m giving you another chance.
I’d still make room for that handsome cowboy anytime you can swing it. And you can definitely wiggle back into my good graces by delivering a diamond ring (30 karats would be nice. I don’t want to be too greedy.) and pad my bank account. A few million should cover it and I would be sooooo appreciative. Writers have to spend a lot on promotion you know.
But, if those are not an option…..can you just give me a few more hours in the day this next year? I have books out in February, May, August, October, and November and I can use all the time I can get.
Plus, I have deadlines to meet for new ones. Yikes!
Thank you, Santa, for all you do! I really mean that. You’re a saint!
Sincerely and with much love,
Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas, filled with beauty and all things good.
Of course, during the Christmas season, there’s the rush to get everything done — all the food shopping done, gifts bought and wrapped, rush…rush…rush…
But once the rush was done, gifts were bought, everything wrapped and only awaiting that special someone to open the presents, I began to think about how different it was in the American Indian’s way of life. The ideas of gift giving were so different from today’s, that I thought I might take a moment to share my reflections with you.
In the days of old, before the white man came to this country and influenced the American Indian into other traditions, giving gifts to others was a point of survival. No chief could become chief who did not give to the needy and the less well to do. Often the chief of the tribe was the poorest person in the tribe because he gave away almost all that he had. However, contrary to a more socialist point of view, this was not pure socialism, because the giving was never regulated and never mandatory. (Compare that to our income tax system.) Only the strong, the wise and the kindhearted could be counted on to give, and it was considered one of the most aspired-to attributes.
Actually, it requires a bit of mind change to grasp the American Indian idea of giving. If a man attained a higher state or did some great deed, he was not given something by the tribe, but rather, he gave gifts to others. If a woman attained some desired state (a young girl attaining puberty for instance — or an older woman being praised for her handicraft) she and her relatives worked night and day to give gifts to others. An example of this might be this: Say it is your birthday, but instead of you getting gifts on your birthday, you and your relatives would work for months and months in order to have a feast, where one would give to the community in celebration of something one attained. This was considered the highest honor one might place upon a family member.
This tradition is still carried on in Native America today. When a family wishes to distinguish one of its own, members of the family will work for many months (sometimes years) to produce goods, not for oneself, but to give away to others — in honor of the family member. In this manner, we have an example of giving something that cannot be measured in terms of finance. The gift of caring, the gift of giving of oneself and one’s time.
These presents in Native America weren’t wrapped. Sometimes the offerings were simply in the form of food or clothing or blankets. Sometimes, in the case of a marriage or some other big event, items such as a tepee were donated to the cause (remember in the movie, Dances With Wolves and the tepee the star of the movie was given?) When one couldn’t give because one didn’t have the wherewithal to do so, that person might give away all that he had. In this way such articles were kept afloat in the society. Sometimes one bestowed the very best possession that he treasured most, especially so if there were a sickness in the family and one wanted to ensure their beloved one’s recovery. Sometimes the donation was in the form of gifting a service to one’s people. Certain societies had stringent rules about bundles or other sacred items and most people didn’t want the responsibility of taking care of these items (such as becoming a bundle holder.) In this case the bequest would be in the form of the entire family taking on the responsibility, in order to preserve the spiritual traditions of the people.
This picture was taken at a give-away celebration that my friend, Patricia gave many years ago. Another aspect to the American Indian’s way of thinking, was that it was considered a great honor if one gave in such a way that the other person didn’t feel they had to return the favor. This happened to George Catlin in the 1830’s when a young warrior bestowed him with the diary that Catlin had lost. The giving was done in such a way that Catlin was unable to give-back, since he was embarking upon a ship.
There is yet another example of giving by the American Indian comes to us from the Iroquois. The Iroquois (which was composed of originally 5 tribes and eventually 6) had a system of government that was truly Of the people, For the people, and By the people. Men served and were never permitted to draw any kind of pay for serving — it was simply considered their duty and their way of helping the tribe. Such service is still in operation today.
I’d like to disagree with corporate America for a moment if I might. I think the most potent gifts are those that one cannot measure by physical means. When my kids were growing up, they used to give me coupons for Christmas — I still have them to this day — little chores they would do for me upon presentation of the coupon. I guess the point is that one can always give something of themselves to another.
And here’s the most beautiful gift of all — something that those who crave material wealth over all else will never understand nor will they ever receive this gift (though some might pretend an affection) — the gift of love — true love. No gold, no silver, can ever replace these gifts, since they have their roots in one’s heart and one’s nature.
And so, I would like to make this wish during this New Year’s season: That the reasons for war — and the profit received from war — will perish from this earth.
And with this thought in mind, I leave you with a YouTube video of a song performed by Keith Whitley (who I believe is one of the best country singers to every grace the stage).
And speaking of gifts, I will be giving away a free copy of my newest release, SENECA SURRENDER — just look over to the side here for the Giveaway Guidelines.
What do you do the day after Christmas? Do you sleep in? Have breakfast in bed? Rejoice that your mission for the year is
Or are you already planning for next year?
I hope you take a few days off and recharge those batteries. I hope that the pictures I’ve seen of tropical Santa in flowered shorts and a straw hat are real and you’re taking the missus on a much-deserved vacation.
When I was a teacher, the day after Christmas was one day closer to going back to work, so I would embrace the day, try to make it last as long as possible. But the days always slipped away and I found myself back at school. Now don’t get me wrong—I loved teaching, loved my kids—but teaching is exhausting and
sometimes my batteries didn’t get totally recharged, which is why I want you to take that vacation. The last thing this world needs is a burned-out Santa.
The day after Christmas represents such a shift. The holiday for which I’ve been preparing for months is over. Done. Gone for another twelve months. If I feel a mixed sense of sadness and relief, I can only imagine what you feel after completing such a monumental task.
So, Santa, take care of yourself. We appreciate what you do, sharing the Love and Hope and Goodness that this season represents.
‘Twas the night before Christmas in this Junction of ours;
The sky over the prairie was ablaze with bright stars;
Our boots were lined up by the fire with care,
In hopes that Old Santa Claus soon would be there;
Felicia’s ornery mule napped snug there in the barn,
Whilst our visiting guest was spinning a yarn;
O’course JEANNIE in her wool socks and CHERYL in her cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out in the corral there arose such a ruckus,
MARY sprang her from bed to see what the heck was…
…outside the window, there on the barn roof,
She banged open the shutters and near busted a tooth!
The moon was so bright it near blinded our eyes
And the snow landed like whippin’ cream coverin’ a pie,
When, what to our hornswaggled sight should appear,
But a covered wagon and eight dusty reindeer!
When she saw the little old driver with red cheeks and nose,
LINDA flew right to work sweeping dust from his clothes.
He was cheery and bright, a right jolly cowpoke,
TRACY laughed when she saw him; he was her kind of folk.
Those reindeers, they ain’t docile. What a hissy they threw!
Nearly toppled the wagon, and Old Santa Claus too.
Quicker’n a youngin’ off to play hookie,
That old geezer came in and asked PAM for a cookie;
KAREN K. found one and he ate it, so KATHLEEN got milk
Then TANYA presented him with a scarf made of silk.
But CHARLENE, she hung back, we think she was a’feared
‘Cause all night she trembled and her eyes how they teared
No worry, KAREN W. told her, the fat guy’s a friend.
To us in the Junction and those ’round the bend,
Sure ’nuff Santa left a package in each Fillies’ boot,
Didn’t matter none to him, they was dusted with soot.
Then somethin’ happened, caught us all by surprise,
WINNIE, she showed up with an armload of pies.
We sat down to eat ‘em, and they tasted fine,
Thanks! With all of our deadlines, we hadn’t had time;
Old Santa asked for seconds; Bet that’s why he’s merry.
He tried pumpkin and apple, even pe-can and cherry.
PHYLISS heaped on whipped cream, and still he ate more.
His belly how it swelled! Would he fit out the door?
“It’s my big night,” he declared. “Only comes once a year.”
Good thing for that, too, or he’d burst, we do fear.
He stifled a burp, and a pipe out it came;
“Smoking’s not good for you,” MARGARET did loudly exclaim.
“All that sugar too,” KATHRYN hollered. “Think of your health.
FELICIA reminded. “Think of the children counting on your jolly old self!”
He listened real close and even nodded his head,
Took right to his heart everything they all said.
He tossed that old pipe in the fire with a pop,
“The Missus, she’s been tryin’ to get me to stop,”
With a hearty laugh and a promise to come back
The Fillies watched that old fella leap up the smokestack.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a yee-haw,
And away they all flew, like twister-flung straw.
And we heard him exclaim as that team took flight,
“Merry Christmas, you bloggers, and to all a good-night.”
*****************************************************************************************************************************************JEFFREY KOTERBA’S ARTWORK USED WITH PERMISSION
VISIT HIS WEBSITE: http://www.jeffreykoterba.com
And with much love and thanks to our dear friend and former filly Cheryl St. John, for incepting this filly poem.