Christmas On The American Frontier By Kristy McCaffrey
A Christmas filled with cowboys inevitably evokes images of the Old West. Back then, the holidays were celebrated much as they are today, with holiday decorations, Santa Claus, presents, and a Christmas feast. I thought I would share some historical recollections directly from the pioneers themselves.
In 1884, Mrs. George C. Wolffarth of Estacado, Texas, reflected, “Christmas day was warm and beautiful and we had a watermelon feast on the church house lawn. Isiah Cox … had stored the melons in his cellar and they were in fine condition for the Christmas feast.”
“Now, you really must hear about my Christmas dinner!” began Evelyn Hertslet of Lake County, California, in 1885. Her holiday meal was filled with items from her native England. “The plum-pudding and mince-pies were all that could be desired, and we had also tipsy cake, Victoria sandwiches, meringues, and dessert ….”
In 1849, Catherine Haun wrote, “Although very tired of tent life many of us spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in our canvas houses. I do not remember ever having had happier holiday times. For Christmas we had grizzly bear steak for which we paid $2.50, one cabbage for $1.00 and oh horrors, some more dried apples! And for a Christmas present the Sacramento River rose very high and flooded the whole town!”
Elizabeth Le Breton Gunn, who was living in Sonora, California, in 1851, wrote this letter:
“Yesterday was Christmas Day …. We filled the stockings on Christmas Eve …. The children filled theirs. They put in wafers, pens, toothbrushes, potatoes, and gingerbread, and a little medicine …. They received cake and candies, nuts and raisins, a few pieces of gold and a little money, and, instead of books, some letters. Their father and I each wrote them letters, and better than all and quite unexpected, they found yours, and were delighted. In my stocking were a toothbrush and a nailbrush (the latter I wanted very much) and some cakes and a letter from Lewis …. We had a nice roast of pork, and I made a plum pudding. Mr. Christman gave the children some very nice presents; each of the boys a pearl handled knife with three blades, Sarah a very pretty box, and Lizzie a pair of scissors, and each a paper of macaroons.”
Englishman William Redmond Kelly visited California in 1849-50. He celebrated Christmas at a mining camp near Middle Creek. “Our dinner-table was quite a spectacle in its way in the diggings … its bear meat, venison, and bacon, its apple-pies pleasingly distributed, its Gothic columns of plain and fancy breads … the plum-pudding alone being reserved for [a] second course …”
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of the preparations for Christmas on the Kansas Prairie: “Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas. She baked salt-rising bread and r’n’Injun bread, and Swedish crackers, and huge pan of baked beans, with salt pork and molasses. She baked vinegar pies and dried-apple pies, and filled a big jar with cookies, and she let Laura and Mary lick the cake spoon.” That Christmas, Laura received a shiny new tin cup, a peppermint candy, a heart-shaped cake, and a brand new penny in her stocking.
How would you like seven brand new contemporary Christmas stories set in the West this holiday season?
The weather is cold, the atmosphere is festive, and the cowboys are hot. How do you keep a cowboy at Christmas?
Don’t miss this holiday collection of modern-day cowboys and the women they love, featuring the same USA Today, Amazon Bestselling, and Award-Winning authors from “A Cowboy to Keep,” which garnered 55 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 stars.
CHRISTMAS, LIBERTY, AND THE THREE MINUTE MAN by Carra Copelin
Nashville event planner, Liberty Ann Hart, tries not to fall for a local carpenter, but his charisma is difficult to ignore, especially at Christmas and in the rustic setting of a Texas town called Mistletoe. Daniel Dylan Layman is determined to show the headstrong city woman a country life. Will a Christmas fundraiser spark a lifetime of love?
A CHRISTMAS CAROLE by Andrea Downing
Carrie Matheson is happy to start a new life at the Wyoming ranch she has inherited, but her six-year-old son wants to return to New York. As Christmas approaches and his pleas to Santa receive replies, it’s alarm bells not sleigh bells that start ringing. Tate Schrugge is amused by his new neighbor when she jogs over with some mis-delivered mail, but after she calls him Scrooge, she’s definitely not on his Christmas list. If these two can get together, it might be the Dickens of a romance.
THE PEPPERMINT TREE by Kristy McCaffrey
When an unexpected inheritance draws lawyer Skye Mallory home for the Christmas holidays, she’s surprised by a longing to set down roots in her Colorado hometown. Only one thing stands in her way—a cowboy who broke her heart in high school. Joe Carrigan has returned to the community he left years ago, ready to face his one regret in life—Skye Mallory. But this time, he won’t be so chivalrous.
THE DEVIL’S CHRISTMAS KISS by Devon McKay
Some things never change. Kristen Kelly’s hometown is still Christmas crazy. Her sister, Laney, will always need to be rescued. And Cole Lawson will never stop pestering her. The handsome
cowboy has picked right up where they left off, teasing her without mercy. And though her head tells her to run from Cole as fast as she can, her heart has a mind of its own.
SLAY BELLS by Hildie McQueen
Carmen and Jared can’t avoid the sparks that fly between them at first sight. But when a dead body surfaces at the Christmas festival, she becomes a witness and he becomes a suspect. Not exactly the recipe for a perfect match. Can they find love amidst the mayhem and sleigh bells?
THE BEST CHRISTMAS by Hebby Roman
Sofia Rossi and Gar McCulloch meet under challenging circumstances—her estranged son has been admitted to Gar’s ranch rehab-center. Sofia is a successful New York model who had an ill-advised liaison with a wealthy, married member of New York society and lost her son to her ex’s manipulation. Gar is divorced and lost his daughter to a drug overdose. When they bond together to reclaim Sofia’s son, the last thing they expect is to find redemption in each other’s arms, making this their best Christmas… ever.
COUNTING DOWN TO CHRISTMAS by Patti Sherry-Crews
Melody Evans, a professional wedding planner, views happily-ever-after endings with a skeptical eye, but she’s never lost her childlike enthusiasm for her favorite holiday—Christmas. To veterinarian rancher Leland Jennings IV, Christmas is just for kids. If he could, he’d skip the whole month of December. But he does believe there’s one woman out there for him, and he’s holding out for her. Melody revives Leland’s Christmas spirit, and he rekindles her heart.
Only 99 cents at Amazon or FREE in Kindle Unlimited
Leave a comment about what the cowboy on ‘A Christmas Cowboy To Keep’ might be bringing home for the holidays and one lucky winner will receive autographed print copies of A WEST TEXAS CHRISTMAS TRILOGY and BLUE SAGE!! Winner will be drawn tomorrow morning.
It’s Christmas Time! It’s a season for giving. And today I will be giving away not only a free e-book of my latest release, BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY, but I’ll also be giving away another free e-book of the first in this series, THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF. So come on in, leave a comment, and also please sure to check back here for the winners on either Wednesday or Thursday evening.
One of my most favorite Christmas memories is being told a story the night before Christmas in an attempt to get me to go to sleep. It didn’t work very well (getting me to go to sleep). But it is a wonderful memory.
And so I thought I’d regale you with this beautiful story, an ancient, timeless, American Indian Legend. I was late today making the post, and so I’ve posted the legend that I told you last year, but this year, because I’m late, I’m first going to tell you a beautiful story of The Gift of the Creator. This story is taken from the book, LEGENDS OF THE IROQUIOS, by Tehanetorens. Enjoy!
Long, long ago, an old, old man came into an Iroquois Village. He was tired and hungry, and his clothing was tattered and torn. As he walked through the village, he came first to a longhouse of the Turtle Clan. Pulling on the entryway, he asked for food and lodging for the night. But he was turned away because he looked to be an old beggar, and he was instructed to go away.
Next the old man came to the longhouse that had the symbol of a snipe on the house — a snipe is a kind of wading bird. Again, he pulled back on the entryway and he asked for food. But like before, he was scolded and turned away. He moved on.
He walked on to the longhouses of many of the other clans, including the Wolf, the Eagle, Beaver and more. Each time he asked for food and lodging, but each time he was turned away.
Exhausted now, the old man came at last to the very last longhouse in the Iroquois Village. Pulling back on the cover across the entrance, he was met by an old woman. Again, he asked for food and lodging for the night.
However, this time the old woman took pity on him, and asked him to come inside, where she treated him to a hearty meal, and invited him to stay for the night. She made him welcome, giving him warm clothing and warm bedding.
However, the next day, the man was very ill, and he asked the woman to please help him by going into the forest and gathering the roots of a plant.
This she did for him. When she returned, he guided her on how to make a soup and a tea from the plant, which he then consumed. Soon he was well. But it wasn’t long before he became ill once more, and again, he instructed the woman to go out into the forest and to gather the stalk of yet another plant. This she did. Again, he instructed her how to make a tea of it, which, when he drank the tea, he became well.
Over and over again, the man became sick, and sent the woman into the forest to pick different herbs and plants, and each time, when he drank the tea, he became well. One day, the woman came home to the longhouse and found that the old man had become a handsome, young man.
The old woman became frightened, but the young man told her to be calm. He told her that he was the Creator, and that because of her kindness to him, he was going to bestow upon her, and the Bear Clan, a wonderful gift: the gift of healing. And so it came to be. The old woman became the most respected member of that tribe, and from that day forward, the Bear Clan, and all within it became the Keepers of the Medicine. The lesson learned is that kindness, empathy, and good-will are always rewarded. We may not always see it, as did the old woman in this story, and yet, we will, in our own way, be rewarded.
And now comes the story that is so beautiful to read about at this time of year.
This is the tale of a girl who married her one, true, love, a man who was a star. It’s origin is Sioux — I don’t know if that’s Lakota or Dakota or Nakota. All three are Sioux, just different dialects. By the way this story comes to us from the book, Favorite North American Indian Legends, printed by Dover. Before I start, I wanted to say that this story reminds me of a legend from one of my books, Soaring Eagle’s Embrace, which is now in e-books. Although the story of Soaring Eagle’s Embrace is based on a similar legend as the one I’m telling you today, it is a little different. Mainly in Soaring Eagle’s Embrace, it was the young man who fell in love with a star. Okay, that said, let’s pretend we are sitting around a fire in a warm, warm teepee. The scent of smoke is strong in the air, and loved ones surround us as we wrap ourselves in warm blankets. And so the storyteller begins:
Long ago, there were two sisters, one whose name was Earth and the other’s name was Water. This was at a time when all people and animals were in close communication with each other and so the animals supplied the sisters with all their needs.
One night the sky was clear and beautiful and both sisters looked up to the sky through their wigwam — comment, now we know that this was most likely the Dakota since they were living in Wigwams — anyway, they looked up through the hole in their wigwam and admired the beautiful stars.
Earth said to her sister that she’d had a dream about a handsome young man and that she thought he might be a star. Water responded saying that she, too, had seen a man in her dreams who was a brave man.
The sisters chose stars that they thought might be these men that they had dreamed of. Water chose the brightest star for her husband. Earth chose a little star that twinkled.
Then they slept. When they awoke, they were in the land of the Sky. The stars were, indeed, people. Now it happened that the man that water chose was an older warrior and that the man that Earth chose was a young, handsome man. Both sisters married these men and they were very happy.
One day the sisters went out onto the plains to dig turnips (a much favored food at this time in history). Both of their husbands warned them not to strike the ground too hard. But Earth, in her haste to dig the turnips, struck the ground so hard that she fell through the sky to the ground.
Earth was found and cared for by two older people who tried to help her. But she was so upset about losing her husband that all she did is cry. She could not even see her husband in the sky because he had blackened his face because he was now a widower. Earth waited and waited for him to come to her, but he could not. However, he did give her a most precious gift.
That night when she went to sleep, she dreamed of a beautiful red star. It had never been in the sky before. She knew at once that it was her son.
When she awoke, she found a handsome boy by her side — her son. Although Earth’s husband could not come to rescue her, and though he loved his son deeply, he gave to his wife the only gift that he could — their son, Star Boy. It was a gift from his heart..
‘Tis the season of giving. I hope you have enjoyed this story, short and simple though it is. I thought it was quite beautiful.
I’ll be giving away a free e-book of BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY to some lucky blogger. I’ll also be giving away a free e-book of THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF to some lucky blogger. Please do read the Giveaway Guidelines that govern our give-aways — off to the right side of the page.
BRAVE WOLF AND THE LADY is my most recent book. By the way, the paperback is reduced in price from $14.99 to $11.99 for the Holiday season.
THE PRINCESS AND THE WOLF is on sale for the Holiday season for $.99, and the paperback is on sale for $11.99, as well.
The picture below and to the right is of myself and my husband with Chief Mountain in the background, the setting in the book, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE — on the Blackfeet reservation.
And so from my heart to yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! And, or, Happy Holidays!
Thanks to all of you who stopped by to share stories related to your own Christmas stockings. I enjoyed reading them so much I decided to give away three books instead of two! So I threw all the names in a cyber hat and drew three names. And they are:
Congratulations ladies!! Just contact me via my website or Facebook Messenger with your mailing info and I’ll get your books on out to you.
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Are you one of those super organized holiday people who have up their Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving and mail out their Christmas cards the following week? I used to be, but I have to admit, not so much lately. As of today just about the only decorating I’ve done is to hang up the Christmas stockings. (Mantle is looking mighty crowded these days – I LOVE it!!)
The four stockings made from the same fabric are ones I made for my kids when they were very young. I even crossed stitched their names and a holiday design on the cuff. When my oldest daughter got married I purchased her husband a stocking but cross stitched a cuff to add to it so that it matched the other four. Unfortunately, by the time my next daughter got married my cross stitching days were behind me. So I personalized the rest of them with jaunty embroidered patches.
As I was taking care of that fun bit of holiday tradition (and remembering holidays past), it made me wonder, where did the custom of hanging stockings come from. So I decided to do a bit of research.
It turns out that there are two schools of thought on how this came to be, both shrouded in myth and tradition.
The most popular theory is that it is linked to the stories surrounding the generosity of the original St. Nicholas. Nicholas lived in the third century and was renowned for his concern for and generosity toward those in need. One story tells of a poor widower who had three daughters. The man was distraught over the fate his daughters were facing since he had now dowry to offer prospective husbands. The story goes that Nicholas heard of the family’s plight and secretly, so as to not gain honor for himself, entered their home and left gold coins in the girls stocking which were hung by the fire to dry. Thus the practice of hanging stockings by the fireplace in hopes of receiving a gift was born. Oh, and sometimes an alternate version is given that has Nicholas leaving a small gold ball in each stocking. This is supposedly where the custom of putting oranges in the toe of stockings comes from.
The second theory on the origin of the Christmas comes from a completely different belief system, that of Norse mythology. According to this version, children would fill their shoes with straw, root vegetables or sugar and leave them on the hearth for Odin’s flying horse to eat. As a reward for their kindness Odin would replace their offering with one of his own, that of gifts or sweets.
This practice was widely spread through Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Once Christianity was adopted, the legend of Odin’s benevolence merged with the stories of St. Nicholas evolving over time into today’s current practice.
Whatever the truth of the matter, I’m glad this fun tradition is part of our current day holiday celebrations.
So what about you? Does your family hang stockings? Is there a story behind any of the stockings themselves?
Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one of two copies of the re-release of The Christmas Journey
Philadelphia lawyer Ryland Lassiter is everything Josephine Wylie wants – for a brother-in-law! As the sole supporter of her family, Josie’s plans for herself have always had to wait. But Ryland will be ideal as the new head of the Wylie clan…once he finally realizes how perfect he is for her sister.
Ry knows its time to settle down. The newly appointed guardian to a friend’s daughter, he’s ready for a home and family. All he needs is a bride…and Josie’s sister is not the Wylie who has caught his eye. If only Josie would see the truth – that the only Christmas present he needs is her love.