Here’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.

A couple of years ago, 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 34 and 31, 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 and reading 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 9 or so–she really walked (with the help of 2 “C” batteries!) I named my Baby First Step “Christy” — which was the most beautiful name I’d ever heard and I wished so much my parents had named me that at the time! 

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.

Here’s a picture of me with Jane playing in the sandbox one cool day when I was 7 and Jane was 8. Jane is gone now, but I will never forget the wonderful friend she was and the memories we made together.

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.



ALSO, The Devil and Miss Julia Jackson recently was included as part of a wonderful digital boxed set from Prairie Rose Publications, GAMBLING ON A COWBOY, now available for only .99! Other authors in the set include Kaye Spencer, Agnes Alexander, Patti Sherry-Crews, Tracy Garrett, and Becky Lower!  





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: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
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: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
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  1. We certainly didn’t get the quantity of gifts some others got. We weren’t poor, but we were on a tight budget. And one brother was in and out of the hospital for several years. So the year I received a bicycle and the year I received the Barbie townhouse was very special. I certainly didn’t get them the same year.

    • Denise, it was the same with us. My sisters were 10 and 12 when I came along, so when I was starting 1st grade my oldest sister was off to college and 2 years later, my middle sister went. We didn’t have the huge Christmases that some had, for sure, but my parents always tried to be sure we got some things we wanted along with the things we needed. And we only got one “big” thing for Christmas along with the smaller items. They were sure good Christmases though, looking back–more of the feeling of Christmas than anything else.

  2. Your book sounds so wonderful I love the story line. Merry Christmas. Thank you for sharing your talent and your time. God bless you.

  3. Good morning Cheryl, I have heard more parents lately say this is how they shop. I think it’s a very good list.
    Thank for sharing. Merry Christmas to you & your family.

    • Tonya, I wish I had known this little “rule” when my kids were younger. I might have tried to follow it better. Books were always included in our kids’ Christmases, and many times, I still give them a book of some kind, even though they are 31 and 34 now. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Hope you are staying safe!

    • Debra, I can pretty much follow this with my kids now except for the “something to wear” unless they specify exactly what they want and I can just go and order it for them. LOL Everyone has their own tastes now that they are all grown up, so there’s no more “My Little Pony” pajamas or Batman t-shirts. LOL Still, this is a really good “rule of thumb” I think. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.

  4. Merry Christmas Cheryl! Pan grips for Christmas … I actually got some for Christmas a couple years ago. But, I still grab the worn out ones from time to time. We would go Christmas caroling as a family when I was young. I miss that tradition. This year due to health problems, I didn’t bake like I usually do. But I did make carmels for the grandkids. It will be a quieter celebration this year, but nonetheless, celebrated with joy.

    • Oh my goodness, Kathy! Carmel is my very favorite of everything in the candy family. LOL When I get an ice cream sundae, I have them put carmel and chocolate both on top. I have some really worn, old potholders but they are tried and true, so I still use them. I could do with some new ones, too! LOL How fun to go caroling as a family! I think that is wonderful. Yes, there are a lot of things we don’t do anymore the way we did when the kids were younger, but one thing I’ve always done is use those tinsel icicles like we used when I was growing up. I still buy those and put them on the tree every year. I refuse to give them up. LOL

      • When I decorate the tree, I have a few ornaments that were my parents’ still left. I have some old ones that were plastic–some of the first plastic ones made–my dad bought them so I could help decorate the tree when I was about 2. I have ornaments I made in school, and ornaments my kids made in school, and others that I bought through the years. And I still use the “regular” Christmas lights on a string in addition to the small lights that are already on the tree. Then I put a big ol’ blinky star on top of it, and put the tinsel on, and by golly, it’s CHRISTMAS! LOL So many great memories, and I just love it.

  5. Awesome post and your book sounds amazing. We didn’t get a lot for Christmas when I was growing up either. I think it was mostly one top and some clothe, but it was a lot better times then. Times are a lot different now.

    • Yes, times really are different now. I remember getting clothing for Christmas, and I always got a doll of some kind, and usually a new box of crayons and a couple of coloring books. Usually got a game–I remember the Christmas I wanted MOUSETRAP — I think I was about 10 or so, and I did get it, but it never would work right. Still, I was ecstatic to have it and my friends and I would “help it” along when we played so parts of it would work, anyhow. LOL Merry Christmas! Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday!

  6. Cheryl, I love your post; particularly the list. I sure needed it when my grandkids were younger. All but two are now in the adult drawing for Christmas, even their plus 1’s. It’s fun, but I miss having younger kids. Although, I’m suppose to buy for my and hubby’s draws only, I still end up giving a couple of traditional gifts to everyone…Life Saver Story Books and Chocolate Cover Cherries. Just can’t help myself. Memories, you know. Thanks for a great blog and your book sounds great! Big hugs and stay safe, my friend.

    • Phyliss, I would do poorly if we drew names in our family, too. Our family is not big, just Gary and me, the two kids, and a daughter-in-law. So it’s not out of hand to buy for everyone, and I’m thrilled to be able to do that. Christmas is my favorite holiday and this year, I haven’t really been ‘feeling it’, but I did have Gary bring down the “stuff” out of the attic yesterday so I am going to do SOMETHING with part of it at least, today, and get started on it, or else Christmas will be here and nothing will be decorated. When my parents were newlyweds, they were so poor, and Mom bought Dad a box of chocolate covered cherries for Christmas. He loved those things and she could not have gotten him a better gift, but those were lean years, and that first year it was the only gift he got from her. Every year afterward, at Christmas, there was always a box of chocolate covered cherries wrapped up under the tree for him. Such a sweet memory for them, and a tradition for our family, and wow, when I found out you can freeze those and have them later on in the year…well…let’s just say I buy MORE than my share of them these days. LOL Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, Phyliss!

  7. I like those four ideas, but some others in my family are not readers, so I would change the last one for some of them.

    • Colleen, I know what you mean. Anymore, our lives are so busy that sometimes even those of us who love to read just don’t have the time to read as much as we want, and there are other things that might be more useful to us. My son is a reader, but he’s in school working on his doctorate and that takes a lot of reading, so when he has free time he doesn’t want to read like he used to, for pleasure. When he was younger he loved books like The Guinness Book of World Records, and he had one on how they drew the characters in Marvel Comics, and so on–so they were not all “reading” books like I think of them–like fiction stories. I would say anything you can create something with would be a great substitute! Hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful holiday!

    • Hi Caryl! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Guess what I found yesterday in the attic while I was looking for Christmas stuff? My Baby First Step’s gown, coat, and hat that my mom made for her! It was in a box I thought had Christmas stuff in it, but was doll clothes and such. Now I need to find HER. LOL I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas!

  8. I was the oldest of six. We weren’t hard off but there wasn’t always a lot of extra. The nice part of having a large family was even if there were only 2 or 3 gifts each, even small ones, under the tree was full. My mother was one of 9 siblings. On Christmas Eve, almost all of us would attend midnight mass together. Afterwards, we would all go to my grandparents’ house for brunch. With up to 10 couples and 50 more or less grandchildren it was wonderful chaos. We usually got home about 2 AM and out gifts were somehow under the tree. That certainly reinforced Santa’s existence. We would open our gifts before going to bed. What a smart move on my parents’ part. Everyone slept in in the morning and if the kids woke early, they could play with their new toys. We would have a light breakfast, then go to my other grandparents’ for Christmas dinner. Even though my dad was one of 7 siblings, there were only 10 grandchildren. A much more manageable group. It was a nice traditional meal and we would always drag out the box of toys my grandmother keep on the porch to play with. This tradition carried on even while I was in college. I left for the Peace Corps after graduation then married and moved away shortly after I returned. The grandparents and most of my parents’ generation are gone. As my generation and our children have all moved away, the tradition has died. To my knowledge, even those who still live back “home” have not carried it on. We have created our own holiday traditions, but there is something to be said for large family gatherings that include more than just your immediate family.

    No need to enter my name in the giveaway. I bought GAMBLING ON A COWBOY last month.

    Stay safe and healthy. Have a wonderful Christmas and a great 2021.

    • Oh, Patricia, I SO agree with you! I looked forward to getting together with my cousins and seeing my aunts and uncles, and grandparents, almost as much as getting up on Christmas morning to open presents. We usually would go down there after we opened our gifts and got the car packed. It was about a 2 hour drive for us, and lots of times my dad couldn’t go since he was a chemical engineer in the oil fields, on call around the clock. Like your family, my mom’s family was big–there were 11 siblings and she was the eldest. Dad’s family was smaller, but they all lived in the same town, so it was great for me because I always had somewhere to walk to with my cousins, and my cousins that lived there all went to school together (from both sides of the family) so they knew one another. As our family members grew up and moved away and got married, the tradition began to die out, and then my grandparents passed and it completely went away. In my own family, my sisters’ kids are so much older than my own there was none of that ‘cousin’ bonding like I had with my cousins. I still keep in touch with many of my cousins. I sure do miss those days, though. The excitement of seeing family and just being together is something that can never be replaced.

      Merry Christmas! I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday, Patricia!

  9. Your book sounds like such a very good read! Thank you for the excerpt, and I am really glad to hear that you have it in print also. We were 6 kiddos growing up and our parents always made sure that we had very nice and very special holidays and birthdays. For Christmas we would get new outfits, and shoes or boots and we would get toys especially one that we asked for and we would also get a stocking full of goodies and for sure a Christmas coloring book and crayons. Your doll looks so pretty. (not entering the giveaway, but Thank you) I enjoyed reading your post. 🙂 Have a Great week and stay safe. God Bless you and your family.

    • Alicia, I was telling my daughter today about what we got in our stockings when I was growing up–an apple, an orange, mixed nuts that you had to crack and shell, and a FEW candy kisses (all in silver foil–no red or green ones back then!) Very simple but oh, how we looked forward to that. And when my kids were little, I got them a new set of pajamas every year at Christmas and so on Christmas Eve, we’d open two gifts–one of them was always the pajamas, and the other one was something small but treasured–maybe a book they’d asked for, or something like that. Then on Christmas morning was the more elaborate gift-giving, but I don’t think we ever went totally overboard like some other parents I know. I think the ‘biggest’ Christmas gift we ever gave our kids was a key to a “new” car–we made the downpayment, bought the tags, etc., and they had a job they were working to be able to make the payment. Living in Oklahoma City, everything is pretty spread out here and there is virtually no public transportation. So to get to school, to work, to church, to activities, they really needed a car–it was not just something they wanted.

      Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday! Yes, stay safe, and take care!

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