(I’m giving away PDF or e-copies of my two Christmas releases, the inspirational novella Christmas Lights, an installment of my Hearts Crossing Ranch series, and A Cowboy Under the Mistletoe that includes my sweet short story, Every Knee Shall Bend and five other Western romances! Two winners. So please leave a comment and check back tomorrow.)
Since I am a firm believer that animals are righteous, lead us, and help us heal, it is no surprise that both domestic and wild beasts have a special role in my Christmas story, Every Knee Shall Bend. But the story goes deeper than that. It deals with the grief of losing a dear friend, but also the hope that comes with Christmas. And of course, true love, the greatest gift of all.
Somewhere in my childhood, I heard that animals kneel at midnight on Christmas Eve. Maybe somebody read me Thomas Hardy’s poem, The Oxen. All these years later, the idea came to life in my story. But how about other animal antics at this wonderful time of the year?
Well, we already know reindeer fly, thanks to Clement Moore’s 1823 poem A Visit from St. Nicholas. Two years before, in his 1821 Sketches of Upper Canada, author John Howison related how a Native American told him deer kneel to the Great Spirit on Christmas Eve.
In 1879, a Reverend Hugh Taylor of England’s Northern Counties claimed bees assembled and hummed a Christmas Carol. And a parish in Whitebeck said oxen kneeled to a chorus of bees.
A legend from the German Alps tells how animals on Christmas Eve spoke out loud and foretold their owners’ deaths.
In the sweet song The Friendly Beasts, the animals explain how they helped the Baby Jesus on His first night in the stable. The camel carried the gifts from the Wise Men, and the sheep gave wool for His blanket. The gift of the manger came from the cow, and the dove and her mate cooed Him to sleep.
The donkey, shaggy and brown, carried His mother safely to Bethlehem. And this sweet equine has its own holiday in France for similar reasons. The “Fete de L’Ane” celebrates the donkey who carried the Holy Family into Egypt and is praised with the chorus “Hail, Sir Donkey, Hail.”
Have you heard any other legends about animals at Christmas?
By Thomas Hardy
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel
“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.
Blurb: in Every Knee Shall Bend, vagabond Alder Dale leaves the mountains after many years to come to his brother’s Colorado homestead for Christmas. However, last thing he expects to find is a beautiful widow raising kids not her own. Suddenly the wide-open range he loves seems cold and lonely. Walls and hearth call out to him.
Mail-order bride Sadie Dahlstrom leaves Kansas for a new life, unprepared for widowhood. When she kneads the war wound of a rugged yet gentle stranger, her heart swells with a warmth far different from a Christmas fireplace.
In Christmas Lights, the tone is serious, too. It’s an installment for my Hearts Crossing Ranch series. The heroine Lori appears as an “ex” in a prior story, but I wanted her to have a happy ending all her own. She has to go through a lot to get there, but I’m glad she saw the “light”.
The Christmas party at Hearts Crossing Ranch is the highlight of the Season in Mountain Cove, Colorado, but Lori Lazaro longs to be anywhere else.
Until a handsome cowboy driving a one-horse open sleigh starts a journey of the heart. Deep down, she doesn’t want it to end, but it must. Heston Calhoun lives life in the spotlight, and after past trauma, Lori needs the comfort of a life in the shadows.
Lori Lazaro stirs Heston like no woman ever has before. Sure, his family stars in a popular unscripted television show about ranch life, but he’s not going to let Lori’s skittishness end their story before it even begins. Having faced dark moments in his own past assures him God can brighten her future. He simply needs to convince Lori that together, they’ll write a happy ending after all.