Cheryl PiersonHere’s something I learned recently that I sure could have used in Christmases past when my kids were younger! Searching for the perfect gifts, the ones that “everyone” would be getting, made for a stressful time—not the relaxed, easy-going holidays we always imagined in our minds. You know, the Norman Rockwell scenes we all believed our Christmas holidays should look like—but that was before Playstation, X-Box, iPad…the list goes on.

Last year I read something that really opened my eyes and made me wish for this bit of wisdom much earlier in my life. A simple Christmas list like this would have surely made life easier and less stressful—what do you think?

“Something they want

Something they need;

Something to wear,

Something to read.”

Problem solved! FOUR GIFTS! No, I’m shaking my head. I know I couldn’t have limited it to four gifts—not “back then”, anyway. Now that my kids are 31 and 28, this is a lot easier to follow and keep to! “Toys” are more expensive—as is everything. Clothing, wants, needs – yes, even books!

Maybe that’s why we enjoy writing historical western romance—those were simpler times and the expectations were not so great. My parents grew up during the Great Depression in the Dustbowl days of Oklahoma’s history. Their families were so poor—and, coming from the same small town, Mom and Dad knew each other—and everyone else in that area—from the time they were born.

Mom talked about how sparse the Christmases were, but how happy they managed to be, in spite of it all. I imagine, with her being the eldest of eleven kids, her Christmas was especially small. She mentioned that the girls got a doll and a pair of shoes. If times were “good”, they got ribbon candy and an orange in their stockings.

When I was growing up in the 60’s-70’s, Mom kept up that tradition of always getting me a doll. When I got too old for baby dolls, she switched to the Madame Alexander collectible dolls. By that time/age, I was on to other things—blacklights, posters, incense, record albums, and of course, bell bottom jeans and “smock tops” to wear! Did I mention crayons? There was nothing more wonderful than getting the HUGE box of crayons and new coloring books—I don’t think I ever outgrew those. I would still sit down today and take joy in coloring!


This is BABY FIRST STEP–I got her when I was about 10 or so–she really walked (with the help of 2 “C” batteries!)

A woman with no home. A rancher with no heart.
Can holiday magic bring The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson together?

In my story, THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON, the heroine has fled her home in Georgia to get away from a distant family member. Filled with a sense of propriety, she scarcely knows what to ask for when the hero, rancher Devlin Campbell, asks her what she might like for Christmas. Even though they’ve made the hasty decision to marry to avoid the scandalous talk that might otherwise surround them, they don’t know one another very well yet—certainly not well enough for Julia to mention anything personal she might want or need—even though she has arrived in Indian Territory with not much more than the clothes on her back. What does she ask for? Take a look…


Something had changed. Julia felt it. His touch was more…possessive. The bitterness seemed to have disappeared, only to be replaced by lines of weariness, instead. What had happened in the short space of time since he’d left?

“Got anything left to make for breakfast?”

Before she could respond, he went on. “We’ll head for town here in a bit. Gotta take the prisoners in.”

“I have my list…it’s long.”

He laughed. “Good thing there are so many of us going. Still too treacherous for a wagon, but maybe we can pack what you need back on the horses.”

She brightened. “That will be wonderful, Dev. Thank you.” What a relief to hear him offer, with no complaint. She breathed deep, knowing this Christmas was going to be special for everyone. But it was especially important for the children.

“And…what would you like for Christmas, Julie?”

His voice was rich, low, and somehow, his question was reassuring. It had been so long since she’d thought of wanting anything for herself—even necessities—that she struggled to think of how she should respond.

“I—maybe some new pan grips for the kitchen—”

Dev stood looking at her in shock. “Pan grips—you mean pot holders?”

She nodded, and he laughed in disbelief. “Well, I tell you what, Miss Julia Jackson. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a man who buys his betrothed pan grips for Christmas.” He leveled a narrow look at her. “You better think of something other than…pan grips.” Shaking his head, he started for the door. “I’ll go gather eggs. At least, we’ll have those for breakfast if nothing else.” He grabbed his coat from the wall peg and shrugged into it. Just before he closed the door behind him, Julia heard him mutter, “Pan grips.”

Asking for any kind of personal gift would mean…reciprocating. And she had nothing to give him. If only he knew how she’d had to scrimp, even with the money he’d sent her—to get here! She had a blessed five dollars left, saved back in case she and Lauralee hadn’t been able to make it to the Flying C and had to stay in town.

How could she tell her soon-to-be husband that she needed—everything? She had bought one dress for herself and one for Lauralee. The first new dress Julia had had in over two years. And in those past two years, she’d embarrassingly filled out in certain places. And even grown taller. She was an excellent seamstress and had done all she could. The older dresses she possessed were tight, and shorter than was decent. But Julia supposed a man would take no notice of that. Dev would probably not realize that it wasn’t the fact that her clothing was woefully out of fashion, but that it was bordering indecency, that embarrassed her.


What were your childhood Christmases like? I miss those days! As soon as it was a “borderline” decent hour on Christmas morning, my best friend, Jane, who lived down the street, would call—or I would call her—and we’d excitedly talk about what we got and when we might get together to play. Those were simple joys—just sharing our new gifts with one another and enjoying each other’s company.

Please leave a comment to be entered in my drawing for a digital copy of THE DEVIL AND MISS JULIA JACKSON! If you can’t wait to see if you won, you can snap up your copy at Amazon—and it’s also available in paperback.

Thanks for stopping by today!


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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here:
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35 thoughts on “SOMETHING THEY WANT…by Cheryl Pierson”

    • Oh, Denise, YES! Exactly. I remember my first Barbie so well–and I was not very old–maybe 4 or 5? My sister’s boyfriend had gone to work in the melon fields over the summer and he bought me one for my birthday in July. I still have that Barbie. Though she’s worth some money, she’ll never be leaving me until I die–I treasure her that much. I remember how I went through my blacklight poster stage and of course the cassettes, oh those were a marvel, weren’t they? Good memories!

  1. We lived on a farm by a small town, choices were not very many at our local store. But always seemed to be something special we wanted for Christmas.
    Now kids seem to say “I want that” for every commercial.

    • Linda, I remember when I was growing up how my mom mentioned that the toy manufacturers were “playing dirty” by putting so many toy ads on during the Saturday morning cartoons. LOL The closer to Christmas it got, the more ads there were. LOL She talked to me about how we couldn’t get everything they advertised. I had a Sears catalogue that was MINE–I carried that thing around until it was tattered and torn, but I made my Christmas list from it. And I think I revised that list about 40 times before Christmas. LOL

  2. Cheryl- good morning and Merry Christmas. I had wonderful christmas’s Growing up. My “dolls” I received every year were horses. I was horses, horses, everything. And the color purple. One year I was about 6 I asked for a purple stuffed horse. My mom looked everywhere for one. She found a purple stuffed bull, but no horse. So she bought the bull. I remember opening it up and just squeaking!! I thought I had won the grand daddy of ‘em all presents. Mom told me when I was older she held her breath hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed it wasn’t a horse. She still has my purple horse up in my closet at her house. Priceless memories.

    • Hi Tonya! Merry Christmas to you, too, dear friend! Oh, how wonderful to get horses instead of dolls! LOL I wish my mom had been that way, but she was determined we were going to have a DOLL every year. Your purple stuffed bull reminds me of a teddy bear I got. I remember this — though I was really young–maybe about 3 or 4– Mom and I went into a kind of “general store” that sold toys, batteries, tires, etc. and on the top shelf there was a stuffed bear that was orange. He had a molded plastic face and looked like he was getting ready to cry. At that time, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo were really popular and I just remember standing there and looking at that bear–I wanted him sooo much. I wanted him right then. He was the ONLY ONE. What if Santa didn’t get him in time before someone else got him? But luckily, I think a smile and a wink to the storekeeper made sure that Boo Boo came home to be with me on Christmas morning. I still have that bear. Still love him with all my heart. I’m so glad Mom kept some of our things for us–the Barbie I mentioned earlier and Boo Boo are two of my most treasured possessions.

  3. I remember wonderful times with not as many presents but I was happy with what I got. We played all day and were very content.

    • Caryl, I know I sure did–thank goodness for good friends that lived nearby–it was always a day of just going to each other’s houses and playing with new board games, etc. Wonderful days back then.

  4. I lived a rather privileged childhood and received more than a child should for Christmases! I wasn’t a huge baby doll kid. Funny I do remember getting a stretch Armstrong but can’t think of other dolls other than Barbie dolls. My childhood Christmases make my current Christmases very stressful because I want to make my daughter’s Christmases at least partially as good as mine were and on disability income and single that’s just not possible.

    • Stephanie, your daughter will remember the time you spend with her more than any gifts. When I was growing up, I remember asking my mom to come play a board game with me. She would always say, “I have to clean up the kitchen, I can’t right now.” She was the oldest of 11 kids and used to always having to get everything cleaned up, and put away and perfect (which we know it will never be) before relaxing. So when I had my kids, I decided I was not going to be that way. I would leave the kitchen to be cleaned up the next morning so I could play a game with them, or take them to activities, or read books with them, etc. The greatest gift you can give is time–making cookies together, or reading together, etc. Your daughter will remember that, for sure. Hope you all have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

      • Your comment struck a chord within me, Cheryl, because that’s what I did with my boys…left chores for later and played with them now. When I was a mother of four baseball-age boys, my mom tried to tell me to stay home and do housework instead of going to their baseball games. I told her I want my boys to remember me for cheering at their every game, not remember me for my clean floors. To this day my hubby and I have a wonderful, close relationship with our boys. And we spoiled them absolutely rotten at Christmas (and birthdays). Money was tight, but at Christmas I received a lot of practical gifts, like clothes, but I do remember my favourite toy as a child: Roy Rogers and Dale Evans ranch, complete with plastic horses and figures to ride them. The ranch was made of cardboard to put together, complete with cardboard fences. I added things from anything that worked. To this day, Christmas is my favourite time of the year and we have a lot of fun and laughter opening the gifts Christmas Eve (German tradition) but there was always gifts from Santa the next morning, and even now, there’s surprises beneath their stockings on the mantle.

        • Elizabeth, that was smart of you! Oh, heck, yes, I would much rather have been at baseball practice than doing about anything else. LOL I remember when Casey played his last season of little league–and sadly here in OK where we live, once they finish little league there’s nothing else for them until they go into highschool–or there wasn’t at that time. I really missed those nights and afternoons at baseball practice and at the ball park. And Casey still teases me about the night I almost got thrown out of the game for calling a balk (when the umpire didn’t call it!) LOL I think it was because that was not something I did–I usually just cheered for our team, but that night…best to forget my play calling. LOL I spent a lot of time at ice skating practice and competitions for my daughter, and dance for her, and karate and baseball for my son. And both of them did swim competition when they were young. I’m so glad I did all that with them. The housework will always be there. We open a couple of gifts on Christmas Eve, drink hot chocolate–and we used to drive around and look at the Christmas lights when they were younger. Oh, I’m like you–there will always be a surprise for them at Christmas as long as I’m able to do it! Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas this year, Elizabeth!

  5. I always loved Christmas. I could not wait to get up Christmas morning and run to the Christmas tree to see what Santa had left. A doll, a game, a new shirt or pair of boots and my favorite……a stocking filled with an orange, fireworks, and special small gifts.

    • Melanie, we never got fireworks in our stockings, but we did get the orange, apple, mixed nuts and of course the Hershey’s kisses. LOL Those were wonderful days. I enjoyed those nuts as much as the kisses, almost. I still buy those nuts today and put them out from Thanksgiving on through the holidays in a nut bowl. And we got a small gift or two in our stockings, so I tried to continue that part of the tradition on with my kids–just more candy and no fruit–we had that all the time, unlike when I was growing up.

  6. We didn’t have real big Christmases but we love what we did get. We usually got one big item and maybe a few smaller things. I still have my Barbie dolls from back then but they are not is the best of shape because I played with them a lot. I have four of them so it must have taken a few Christmases to get them.

    • Quilt Lady, I still have my Barbies–all of them–from back in the day. Remember how, back then, you bought different outfits of clothing for the Barbies–not a different Barbie for each occasion like they sell now. LOL I still have Barbie and Ken, and Midge and Allen, etc. on and on…We didn’t have huge Christmases either–there were 3 of us and my sisters were much older than I was so by the time I was 6 one of them was in college and by the time I was 8 the other one was.

  7. Christmases were never stressful that I remember. They’re were five of us kids and we only used yto want 1 major toy. Mine was a pink bike with streamers. And I always got the doll and a few smaller things. We loved what we got and had the best times with everyone coming overt for a big dinner. Times have sure made the holidays so commercialized and hectic. Happy Holidays !
    Carol Luciano

    • Carol, I remember how I wanted a bike with a banana seat! OMG–I wanted one of those sooo badly–but I ended up getting a bike that was a 3 speed Schwinn and it lasted forever–all through elementary school from about 4th or 5th grade on. I had a smaller bike before that one but oh, goodness–those three speeds were all the rage. LOL It was purple–I wish I still had it. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I miss the “good ol’ days.”

  8. I always got what I asked Santa for. What ever doll or toy was popular. Being the only girl in the family my toys always made it through Christmas without any damage. Can’t say the same for my four brother’s though. I remember the dishes I got when I was 6. They were that cornflower pattern and there was a tea pot and pots and pans too. I played with those things for hours with my dolls.

    • I got a set of dishes one year that I loved. One day, my mom insisted that I play with a little girl down the street who was one of those mean girls–but her mom and mine were good friends. I had all my little dishes inside my play refrigerator and she deliberately pushed the refrigerator over and broke almost every one of my dishes. I loved playing with those dishes and it broke my heart. I was so mad at her I ordered her out of the house.

  9. I don’t really remember what I got for Christmas growing up, but what is clear in my mind is that after having Christmas morning at home we traveled to see relatives an hour away. (They all lived in proximity to one another but we had moved an hour away for my dad’s job.) My favorite memory is playing endless board games with two cousins–likely what one of us got for Xmas. Being an only child, they were more like a sister and brother to me.

    My other favorite Xmas memory was looking for our Christmas tree with my dad. Getting the tree and decorating it are among my fondest memories of special times.

    BTW, my mom was a youngster in Oklahoma during the depression and getting an orange was a big deal for her too. And the story The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson sounds wonderful; can’t wait to read it.

    • Eliza, we always went to visit relatives, too, on Christmas day. Both sets of my grandparents lived in the same town–I loved being able to see all my cousins. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

    • Oh, Kim, I’m so sorry. I don’t have tons of memories from early childhood, but I treasure the ones I do have. I hope you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS this year and it’s one of the best ever!

  10. I miss waking up to my grandmother cooking in the kitchen… I was always so excited to see her… I loved gifts like Barbie, cabbage patch, art supplies… so much excitement and happiness…

    • That’s a wonderful memory, Colleen. I was always the first one up, being the youngest. I remember how my parents had a rule that I had to come and get them before I went in to where the tree was. One Christmas I got up and went to the bathroom and it was only about 3 more steps down the hallway to the entry to the living room where the tree was…I did it! I went and stood and looked at the tree–it wasn’t plugged in but the moonlight was coming in the window and the tree had tinsel on it…I thought that was the most beautiful sight. Then I heard my mom saying, “Cheryl? Are you up?” LOL

    • Kay, I miss those days so much when the kids were little and excited about the holidays. Great memories, for sure! Thanks for stopping by–I know you’re busy! Hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and that 2018 is a good year for everyone.

  11. We were a large family of 6 kids plus my maternal grandparents and a cousin lived with us. My mum didn’t work until I was 16 and daddy worked 2 jobs. We all got a toy or two,mine was always a doll until I was 12 or so. We also got a new school outfit and a stocking full of fruit and nuts. I don’t remember suffering from not having so many presents. It was all a grand time!

    • Tommie, you really had a large family, and what a blessing. I was the youngest in my family by a LOT–my sisters were 10 and 12 when I was born, and I remember being so lonely growing up as they were both out of the house by the time I was 8. I remember begging my mom for “even a BROTHER”! LOL I never got a baby sister or brother but I never gave up wishing for one, and I think that’s probably why in my stories my heroes and heroines most always have a sibling. Family is so important–in the long run, much more so than the toys.

  12. I have wonderful Christmas memories but they don’t revolve around costly presents. I usually got a doll, new pajamas and house shoes, a tea set from my aunt and uncle and perhaps some small gifts. When I was about 10 I got my first Timex watch and the next year I received a transistor radio. Yes, I am that old! We certainly weren’t rich but I never felt poor!
    Merry Christmas & Blessings!

    • Connie, I feel the same way. We got new pj’s every year at Christmas and one year, my mom made me a beautiful warm flannel gown that I loved so much. If I still had it and could fit in to it, I would be wearing it to this day. LOL I remember my first Timex watch too–what a wonderful gift! A signifier that we were actually “grown up” enough to have a WATCH. I envied my sisters’ transistor radios soooo much. But I was too young, at that point–they were still pretty new and expensive. But not long after I did get the “next generation” of portable radio, and what heaven. I remember so well taking it outside in the summer evenings when all the neighbor kids were outside and we’d be able to pick up Wolf Man Jack on those clear summer nights–all the way from Chicago to our little town in Oklahoma!

  13. My mother always made sure by brother and I had a good a Christmas as possible. Usually I would get some kind of music, either records or sheet music. I would sit and play. I loved books, but usually bought my own or borrowed from the library. My family couldn’t keep up with my reading. LOL.

    Wishing everyone the best of all possible worlds this coming Holiday season. Doris

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