Dickens in Texas

The two most powerful words in a writer’s vocabulary are: What if? When it came time for me to brainstorm a new Christmas novella idea, my mind turned to the classics and those powerful two words – what if . . .

What if . . . the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol took place in 1890’s Texas instead of early 1800’s London?

What if . . . Scrooge’s transformation story was a romance?

What if . . . there was a London, TX? Oh, wait. There is!

What happened next was a whirlwind of fun that is now available as A Texas Christmas Carol the first story in the new collection – Under the Texas Mistletoe.

I had so much fun with names of all my characters, paying homage to the classic tale. There’s even a dog named Humbug.

Meet Evan Beazer and Felicity Wiggins (named in honor of the cheerful Fezziwig).

Our Scrooge never stood a chance when the tenderhearted, cheerful Felicity set her sights on him.

~Excerpt~

“Don’t worry,” Felicity said with a soft chuckle, “I won’t let Mr. Beazer trample over me. My backbone is strong enough to withstand a few snaps and growls.”

Margaret led the way to the stairs leading out of the church basement, tossing a frown over her shoulder. “It’s your time, I suppose. If you choose to waste it, that’s your prerogative. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Evan Beazer might be the wealthiest man in town, but he’s a Scrooge of the worst order. Not only does he refuse to donate to any of our causes, but he insults anyone with the temerity to approach him.”

She paused at the top of the stairway and braced a hand against the wall as she turned to face Felicity. “He called me a blood-sucking leech and threatened to have me brought up on trespassing charges should I ever darken his door again.” Margaret, her face usually placid and lovely, scrunched her nose as if the memory were so rancid she could smell it. “The gall of him. He might dutifully leave his tithe in the collection plate every Sunday to keep his conscience clean, but he refuses to donate so much as a penny to any cause beyond that obligation, no matter how worthy. He’s a tight-fisted, coldhearted man. Completely void of compassion. Why, you could wring him like a dishrag, and not a single drop of Christian charity would fall out. His soul is as dry as a bone.”

Mrs. Talley was a dynamo when it came to getting things done, a blessing to any committee she served upon, but she had definite opinions about how things should go and didn’t react well when thwarted.

Felicity patted her arm. “There is nothing the least bit leech-like about you, Margaret. You probably just caught him on a bad day.”

The deacon’s wife arched a brow. “Every day is a bad day for Evan Beazer.”

Not every day. Felicity ducked her head, recalling one day in particular where Mr. Beazer had been in rare, heroic form.

Pushing the distracting thought aside, Felicity winked at her friend as she marched past. “I recognize the challenge he presents, but I’m determined to try anyway. With the passing of dear Mrs. Humbolt this year, our donation total is down by a third. I can suffer through a few insults if it means more shoes and winter coats for the children. Besides, forewarned is forearmed. Thanks to you, I know what kind of reception to expect, so I can plan accordingly. And believe it or not, I can be rather devious when I put my mind to it.”

“You? Devious?” Margaret shook her head, a huff of a laugh escaping. “Felicity, you don’t have a dishonest bone in your body.”

“Oh, I don’t plan any trickery,” Felicity said, turning to face Margaret while continuing to walk backward down the hall leading to the main sanctuary. “In fact, my strategy comes straight from scripture itself.”

“Really?”

Felicity nodded, a grin spreading across her face. “Remember the parable Jesus told about the man who kept knocking on his neighbor’s door in the middle of the night asking for bread in Luke 11? The neighbor kept trying to turn him away, but the man persisted, and eventually he got his bread. I plan to employ the same technique.” Mischief swirled in her belly, stirring up an excitement she couldn’t quite contain. “I’m going to pester him into cooperation.”

Margaret let out a full laugh. “If anyone can do it, it’s you.”

Felicity prayed she was right. Not just for the children’s sake, but for Mr. Beazer himself. The man never smiled. How awful it must be to be so miserable! She couldn’t imagine a world void of happiness. But then, she’d been blessed with a cheerful family who laughed and teased and actively looked for reasons to celebrate. Mr. Beazer had no one meaningful in his life beyond a handful of local staff and a conglomeration of distant employees. The man needed a strong dose of joy in his life, and she was prepared to hold his nose and force a spoonful of medicinal Christmas cheer down his throat, if necessary.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ChristianBook
(Christian Book version contains exclusive bonus short story!)

What are your favorite classic Christmas stories?
If you could change the setting or characters in one of them, how would you change it?

It’s Yee-Haw Day!

Welcome to Yee-Haw Day, the once-a-month day we’ve reserved to share our news with you – all sorts of fun news!

So check out the post below to get the details on the kinds of things that make us go Yee-Haw!!

Linda Broday

In addition to A Cowboy Christmas Legend…..

Same Day Release (Sept 28)….

THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS

AMAZON

There is another version of this book out so be sure you get the one with my name on the cover.

It’s the Mass Market version only until 9-28 and then the ebook with my story will be available.

Laura Drake

Has a NEW cover!

I posted the cover for my Women’s Fiction to be released in April, 2022 – well, the publisher changed his mind…I have a new cover!

I love them both for different reasons. The left is the first, the right, the final.

Which do you like best?

Pam Crooks

Coming Soon on Kindle Unlimited!  (But you can Preorder now!)

 

Jeb Carson is a fearless mercenary.

—-He’s fought long, hard years on foreign lands to defend his country.  He’s determined to return to America and live a quiet, normal life.

Elena Malone is a mother.

—-She knows nothing about war until her precious son is kidnapped by one of America’s most dangerous enemies.

Together, Jeb and Elena must risk their lives in a daring fight to rescue her baby—and find victory in newfound love.

 

 

Preorder on Amazon

 

Shanna Hatfield

My newest release Sadie is officially here and so far, readers are loving the story (which makes my heart so happy!).

If you haven’t read it yet, you can get the digital or paperback versions on Amazon. It’s also available in Kindle Unlimited.

Inspired by the true stories of women who served in France during World War I, Sadie is a sweet romance filled with courage, hope, and lasting love.

She yearns for far-flung adventures. He longs for the home he’s found in her heart. Will a world at war tear them apart, or draw them closer together?

For most of her life, Doctor Sadie Thorsen has imagined seeing the world on grand adventures. When America joins the war raging across the world in 1917, it seems her dreams are about to come true. She travels overseas as a contracted physician, eager to do her part to help the war effort. Endless streams of wounded push her to the limits of endurance, then she receives word Harley John Hobbs, the man she’s loved for years, is missing in action. Unable to bear the thought of life without him in it, she refuses to let go of her hope that he’s alive.

The day Sadie Thorsen shoved Harley John Hobbs down on the playground was the day she marched off with his heart. He spent years doing everything in his power to become successful, determined to have more than himself to offer Sadie if she ever returns to their eastern Oregon town. Conscripted to join the American Expeditionary Forces, Harley John answers the call and heads to France. Wounded and alone, he clings to the promise of seeing Sadie one last time.

 

I’m also excited Romance at Rinehart’s Crossing will release this month, on September 17! It’s part of the Regional Romance series with books by fellow fillies Kit Morgan and Kari Trumbo!

I have to tell you, I was way behind writing this book. It includes three intertwined stories and I had to hustle by bustle to get it finished in time to send to my editor. I started on a Monday with roughly 41,000 words written. By 10 p.m. that Friday, I had finished the book at 123,689 words! And that Friday was my new personal record for words written in a single day with 19,493 written. Before that, the most I’d written was just a shade over 18,000. Whew! I hope you enjoy the book because despite the haste, I sure had fun writing the stories!

Life on the Oregon Trail will never be the same . . .

Tenner King is determined to make his own way in the world far from the overbearing presence of his father and the ranch where he was raised in Rinehart’s Crossing, Oregon. Reluctantly, he returns home after his father’s death to find the ranch on its way to ruin and his siblings antsy to leave. Prepared to do whatever is necessary to save the ranch, Tenner isn’t about to let a little thing like love get in his way.

? Austen – After spending her entire life ruled by her father, Austen Rose King certainly isn’t going to allow her bossy older brother to take on the job. Desperate to leave the hard work and solitude of the Diamond K Ranch, she decides a husband would be the fastest means of escape. If only she could find a man she could tolerate for more than five minutes.

Claire – Two thousand miles of travel. Two thousand miles of listening to her parents bicker about the best place in Oregon to settle. Two thousand miles of dusty trails, bumpy wagons, and things that slither and creep into her bedding at night. Claire Clemons would happily set down roots that very minute if someone would let her. What she needs is her own Prince Charming to give her a place to call home. When a broken wagon wheel strands her family miles from civilization, she wonders if handsome Worth King, the freighter who rescues them, might just be the answer to her prayers.

Kendall – Anxious to escape her mother’s meddling interference, Kendall Arrington leaves her society life behind, intent on experiencing a Wild West adventure. Hired as the school teacher in a growing town on the Oregon Trail, Kendall hopes to bring a degree of civility and a joy of learning to the children of Rinehart’s Crossing. However, the last thing she expects to find is a cowboy with shaggy hair, dusty boots, and incredible blue eyes among her eager students.

Will love find the three King siblings as Romance arrives in Rinehart’s Crossing?

Read all the books in the Regional Romance Series featuring historic locations, exciting drama, and sweet (yet swoony) romance!

Cathy McDavid

I know it’s early to be thinking about Christmas – or is it too early? Maybe not 🙂

I found out last week that a novella I wrote several years ago as part of an anthology titled A Mistletoe Christmas (original cover on the right) is going to be re-released in France this coming holidays. How cool is that? As you can see from the picture, the anthology has been renamed A Family for Christmas. My story, A Merry Little Wedding is also going to be offered individually and retitled An Embrace Under the Snow.

Now, you wouldn’t know by looking at any of the covers that A Merry Little Wedding is a western and set in the fictional town of Mistletoe, Texas. Still, I like the covers. They have the right holiday feel and put me in a cheery mood. Plus, I’ve always liked this story and am thrilled for the chance to reach new readers halfway across the world! What fun. Oui?

 

 

Karen Kay

 

 

 

Howdy!

Sale!  Sale!

BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER is on sale today and tomorrow for 25% off the regular price, which is $4.99.  It should bring the book’s price down to around $3.99.  But, you will need a coupon and the coupon is BNP1892.

Here are a few reviews of the book:

From MJ:   A captivating read that I didn’t want to end

There’s a New Cowboy in Texas!

 

  • cowboy learning how to start over
  • fiery young woman with the heart to save him
  • A past neither can escape, and
  • A future worthy of any Christmas miracle.

There’s a new cowboy in the Texas Panhandle and he’s definitely NOT looking for love in A COWBOY CHRISTMAS LEGEND. Nope. That’s the furthest thing from Sam II’s mind. He’s happy being alone where he doesn’t have to face the ghosts of the past and indulging a new passion of forging knives. Working with hot steel and making something beautiful from it is a lot better than having to deal with nosey people and all their questions.

But his neighbor’s daughter Cheyenne Ronan is having none of that. Especially with Christmas approaching. No one should be alone.

Having returned from a year away, she’s curious about Sam and wonders what he’d look like beneath all that hair and long beard. Why is he so different from his famous ranching family? Why did he cut himself off from everyone and choose to live in isolation?

When he discovers a sick woman and her children stranded in the snow, he’s forced to ask for Cheyenne’s help. Together they’re determined to bring cheer to the little family. And as they work toward that goal, they discover their own Christmas miracle.

Forging knives is an ancient skill learned from as far back as cave man days. Knives are the third oldest weapon behind rocks and clubs and there’s a lot that goes into the process. I love watching Forged in Fire on the History Channel and seeing the intricacies of the profession.

The steel has to be at the right temperature. Too hot and it turns to liquid. Too cold and it splits as the layers of steel separate. It’s like making love to a woman in a lot of ways. She has to be just the right temperature.

And then after getting the steel in the shape you want, there’s the tempering or hardening process and honing the blade to a razor sharp edge. With no modern tools, it takes Sam about a week to make a knife and that’s if everything goes well. Sometimes they’re ornate and unusual along with the functional ones.

His knives are much sought after and his reputation is growing, much to his dismay, because it means he has to talk to people when they come calling.

A COWBOY CHRISTMAS LEGEND releases September 28th and it’s the second of my Lone Star Legends series. For an excerpt click HERE.

Sometimes I look at my hectic life and wish I lived in some remote place far from everyone. No cell phone. No outside contact. But after the covid isolation of last year and spending much of it in isolation, I know I couldn’t be a recluse for any length of time.

How about you? Could you be a hermit and never see family and friends? Or have a grocery store or doctor nearby? I don’t have any copies of this book yet so I’m giving away a $15 Amazon Gift Card to someone who comments.

It’s available for Pre-Order!  AMAZON | APPLE | B&N | GOOGLE Play | KOBO |

A crazy camel and Christmas in July

I don’t know about you, but in our little corner of the world it’s been hot most days for the better part of a month. In fact, our hottest day was 116. Whew!

It’s kind of fun to watch Christmas movies and read Christmas-themed books this time of year for no other reason than to convince myself it’s not really as hot outside as it really is.

In fact, I’m working on some Christmas books that will release this holiday season and would love to hear your thoughts about  what you enjoy most in a Christmas romance? What are some of your favorites? Do you like holiday romances that are tender and sweet or romantic comedies? Do you enjoy a touch of magic in them or prefer them to be more grounded in reality? What makes you pick up a Christmas book and read it in the middle of the summer?

If you were going to write a Christmas romance, what one thing would you definitely include?

One holiday series I wrote a few years ago was such fun for me. The books were inspired by a Christmas carol, The Friendly Beasts, and I had a blast figuring out ways to incorporate all the animals from the song into the set of four stories.

The first story begins with a meeting among the animals on Christmas Eve. They are a nativity, discussing the their humans and how they can help them fall in love. The ringleader is a sassy camel named Lolly.

 

“Any other business?” Ivy asked.

“We really do need to find a donkey,” Lolly said as one of the humans picked up a toddler and set it on Cam’s back. The pony froze mid-chew then dropped his belly so the little boy almost fell off. “One good with children.”

“I concur,” Jasper said, smoothing his feathers.

“We don’t need to vote on it, but everyone should take the initiative to search for a donkey. If one is located, Jasper can communicate to all of us on the matter.” Ivy glanced up at the bird then back to Lolly. “Anything else to discuss?”

“No. I move to adjourn the meeting.” Lolly narrowed her gaze as the adults continued inching closer to her.

“Meeting adjourned and none too soon,” Ivy said, stretching her neck toward the costumed humans heading their way. “And for goodness sakes, Shep, don’t fall into the manger this year.”

“It wasn’t my fault,” the sheep protested. “The mule we had last year knocked me into it on purpose.”

“And that’s why we’ve got Cam this year.” Lolly turned from her friends to the people trying to take a photo of their child in front of the fence. “You want a photo op with your little darlings? I’ll give you a photo op you won’t ever forget.” She leaned over the fence and opened her mouth, dropping it over the closest child’s head.

Ivy mooed with laughter while Shep and Jasper joined in the amusement.

“Taste good, did it?” Ivy asked when Rhett ran over and extracted the child from Lolly’s mouth, handing the girl back to her mother. Lolly ignored his admonishments for her to behave and quit treating the kids like giant lollipops.

“Like peppermint and strawberries mixed with fuzz,” Lolly said, sticking out her tongue and spitting as everyone ducked. She grinned and turned back to her fellow Friendly Beasts of Faraday members. “I can’t wait until next year. It’s going to be the best, most magical Christmas ever.”

For a limited time, get a digital copy of Scent of Cedar FREE! You’ll find Lolly and the story of her humans on Amazon.

Art of Letter Writing

 

Did you know January 23 is National Handwriting Day? It’s true! The celebration began back in 1977 when the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association established the day to promote the use of pens, pencils, and paper. It also happens to be the birthday of John Hancock, a man remembered for his stylish signature on the Declaration of Independence. In fact, in the U.S., his name became a synonym for one’s signature.

As technology pervades (invades!) more and more of our daily life, it seems we write things by hand less and less.

There’s just something about writing something by hand that is almost therapeutic. And it’s an art that is quickly becoming lost. 

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love getting something handwritten in the mail, whether it’s a card or a letter. Even a sticky note with a message written in Captain Cavedweller’s chicken scratch handwriting brightens my day. 

Writing a letter is an art – from choosing the card or paper to the writing utensil, to the words that are expressed. 

Writing a letter does require a little more effort than sending a quick text, but think about how personal a letter can be. How special it is to the recipient. How meaningful and appreciated even the simplest message of “I’m thinking of you” is to someone who loves you. 

Letters build relationships in a way, a personal caring way, that text messages and emails never will. It’s something tangible that can be held in the recipient’s hand. Whether it’s a card full of glittery sparkles or a formal piece of heavy parchment, what really matters is the message conveyed from your hand to the heart of the reader. 

 

In my sweet historical romance, The Christmas Wish, the heroine, Brynn, writes anonymous letters to people in the town of Hardman. Her only goal is to offer encouragement and cheer to the recipients.

Here’s a little excerpt from the book:

Percy had heard about someone writing letters full of positivity and hope to people in town. His parents had been the recipients of one a year ago, and his mother proudly kept the letter in the desk in the apartment. It was one of the first things she showed him when he returned home.

The handwriting was sometimes shaky, which made Percy wonder if it was an elderly person, but the turns of phrase the writer used hinted at someone younger.

Regardless, the wisher’s identity remained a mystery that Percy rather hoped continued. It gave the people in Hardman something happy to focus on and look forward to since a letter popped up once a week and no one could guess who would be the next recipient.

He glanced at Brynn as the conversation shifted to the holiday season and noticed her looking quite pleased. He wondered if it had something to do with the wisher or the way her grandfather continued to cast adoring glances at Dora Granger.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if  there were more Brynn’s in the world? 

I’m going to try to be more like her, and write by hand more personal notes this year. 

What about you?

Do you write notes for friends and loved ones? Do you enjoy receiving them?

Do you have a favorite note or card that you’ve kept as a keepsake? 

Post your answer for a chance to win a handwritten note from me! 

 

Holiday Dip Recipe

New Year’s Eve spent on the farm during my growing up years meant an array of tasty snacks, a bucket full of confetti made by yours truly from newspapers I spent an hour cutting into teeny pieces and spent twice as long cleaning up the next morning, and the family gathered in our family room around a cozy fire as we waited for the clock to strike midnight.

Mom would serve a variety of chips and dip, meat and cheese with crackers, and there were always cookies and candies left over from Christmas. Those crazy people who wanted healthy options would find a veggie tray and apple slices. 

When midnight arrived, we’d all grab big handfuls of confetti and dump it all over my dad, who knew it was coming but took it all in good-natured stride. 

Captain Cavedweller got in our family craziness a few years before we moved too far away to join in the fun. While my family loved ranch dip the best, CC was a big fan of a particular brand of dill pickle dip. 

Then the manufacturer stopped making it and it was a sad, sad day for CC.

Fast forward to a few years ago when I happened upon a recipe for dill pickle dip. It tastes exactly like the dip he used to love so much. Best part? It’s so easy to make!

If you love dill pickles, you are sure to enjoy this dip.

The ingredients are simple and few.
 
 
You start by draining the pickles on paper towels. It’s important they are dry and not overly juicy.
 
Then you just chop them into little bits of pickle-y goodness.
 
Stir in the remaining ingredients, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour (but overnight is even better because the flavors have time to blend).
 
And enjoy!
 
Ingredients:
2 cups of Nalley Dill hamburger chips, drained and blotted dry
2-3 tablespoons pickle juice
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
 
Directions:
Drain juice from pickles, set aside. Place pickles on paper towels, blotting dry (if they aren’t dry, your dip will be runny). Pulse them in the food processor to chop or chop by hand.
Mix pickles, sour cream, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce. Slowly add pickle juice until dip is a good consistency. The more juice you add, the better the pickle flavor – just don’t overdo or you’ll have runny dip.
Serve with potato chips or crackers.
Refrigerate any leftovers.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of dip.

Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with joy, health, success, and blessings!

Christmas Crispies

Don’t you just love all the decadent goodies at Christmas time? I do. Probably more than I should. But, hey, that’s what New Year’s is for, right? No counting calories until January 1. It’s a Christmas law. Or should be.

My hubby always buys Christmas M&Ms to fill my candy bowl and, of course, I have to have the Christmas-wrapped Dove dark chocolates on hand.

Some of my favorite things to bake at Christmas include snickerdoodles, butter toffee, and shortbread. But the one goody that gets made every year without fail are my Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispies. Super easy to make and scrumptious to eat.

I hope that you and your family had a marvelous Christmas holiday whether together in person or in spirit. Keep enjoying those leftover goodies, and go ahead and make a few more. Don’t forget . . . calories don’t count until January 1!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

 

Whether you say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukah, Feliz Navidad or something else, the Fillies wish you all the best through now and the coming year. 

Thank you so much for your unfailing support and love for each of us at Petticoats and Pistols.

If it weren’t for you, there would be no need for books and we wouldn’t have a job.

Thank You!

Christmas Eve is Here! Santa is Coming!

 

The Fillies have wrapped their last gift and baked their last treat. While they wait for old St. Nick, they’re remembering a favorite Christmas.

We’d love for you to share one of yours.

Margaret Brownley

A favorite family tradition began by accident. When the children were small, I habitually bought Christmas presents throughout the year and hid them. The problem was, some presents were invariably forgotten until after Christmas. One gloomy January, while organizing my closet, I found a set of cars I’d intended Santa to leave under the tree. Not knowing how else to handle it, I entered the room where the boys were playing and announced, “Look what Santa left on the roof.”

Needless to say, the unexpected gift was a big hit.  Every year after that, Santa left something on the housetop. The funny thing is, no one ever thought to ask what Mom was doing on the roof.

Margaret’s website

Karen Witemeyer

Christmas is all about family, and last year we tried something a little different. Instead of a big gift under the tree, we decided to give the kids a big experience. So the day after Christmas we piled in the car and drove 2.5 hours to Fort Worth. There we watched the latest Star Wars movie in IMAX, ate an early dinner at The Cheesecake Factory (browsing in the Barnes & Noble next door while we waited for our table to be ready), then finished the trip by doing an escape room. We had never done one before, but we loved working together to solve the puzzles and figure out the clues to the fantasy storyline. We even managed to solve it with a little grace from the operator who let us go a few minutes over our hour limit. Not knowing what would lie ahead the next year in 2020, I’m so thankful for this Christmas memory of travel and family fun!

 

Laura Drake

My best Christmas was a bit different – it was the year my dad quit drinking. After a horrible night of blood (he fell and cut his head – 18 stitches) and screaming (mom, at him), under the tree the next morning, he promised us he’d taken his last drink. We didn’t believe him – we’d heard it many times before. But good to his word, he didn’t, from then until he passed away, fifteen years later. Best. Gift. Ever.

 

Cheryl Pierson

One of the enduring memories that stands out for me of Christmas–every year–was how we had to orchestrate everything on Christmas morning so we could get it all on film! My dad loved to take pictures and developed a lot of his own pictures when he had time. BUT…he loved technology, too, and when those Super 8 movie cameras came out, he must have been first in line to get one. Every Christmas, he’d hook up the light bar and get the camera rolling. We’d all stumble out of bed, bleary-eyed, anxious to see what Santa had left for us (by that time, I was the only one left in our house that believed in Santa, since my sisters were older). Mom would invariably be calling, “WAIT! I have to put on some lipstick! Let me do something with my hair!” I would be chomping at the bit to start ripping and tearing my presents open, and of course, my older sisters were heaving sighs of frustration at the whole affair. Dad would yell, “COME ON, EL WANDA!” She’d yell back, “JUST A MINUTE! I’M COMING!” It’s so funny now–I can see what a comedy that would have been to an outsider–and it was so predictable. Every. Single. Year. 

 

Linda Broday

My favorite Christmas was when I was about eight years old. My dad had been in an explosion at work around September and received 3rd degree burns on his face and hands. My mom spent many days and nights sitting with him and we didn’t know if he’d make it. On Christmas Eve my mom was back at the hospital and my oldest sister who was married stayed with me and my younger sister. As I went to bed that night, nothing seemed right. I didn’t know how we’d make it if my dad died. And I didn’t know if there would any gifts the next morning. Mom barely paid us any attention and worry sat in her eyes. When me and my sister woke up on Christmas Day, there were gifts and I knew we hadn’t been overlooked. Then my mom came and told us that our daddy was going to live and that was the best present of all. He was released from the hospital three months later. This memory has stuck with me and I’m always amazed by the power of God’s love. Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you find your own miracle.

 

Pam Crooks

After 45 years of marriage, four daughters, and now ten grandchildren, my treasure chest of precious Christmas memories is overflowing.  But there is one that stands out.

We always lay out a table of snacks to munch on during gift-opening.  Several years ago, I used our Christmas dinner centerpiece to showcase the snacks on the dining room table.  With four slender red candles tucked amongst faux evergreen in a lead-crystal base, the flickering candlelight effect was lovely.  We retreated into the living room to open gifts.

About an hour in, I heard a tiny POP.  With all the conversation, no one even noticed, but I KNEW.  I flew off the couch, leapt over a pile of presents, careened around the chair, raced into the dining room, and sure enough, one of the slender candles had tipped over into the evergreens and caught fire.

I kept running to the kitchen for my sleek, white fire extinguisher, but alas, my thumb wasn’t quite strong enough to push the button.  Now that my family had run in, too, I thrust the fire extinguisher into my able-bodied son-in-law’s hand and grabbed a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda out of the cupboard.  By then, the fire extinguisher was spraying like a trooper, I added a large swath of the Arm & Hammer for good measure, and within moments, the fire was out.

But every plate of those savory snacks was ruined. So was my lead-crystal base and the rest of the centerpiece, and we had to have the dining room table top re-done.

It could have been much worse, of course. Thank goodness that POP! saved the day, and I’m convinced the Christ Child helped me hear it when no one else did.

 

Shanna Hatfield

When I was five years old, my parents moved up the hill on our farm into the new house they’d spent a year building. It was my mom’s dream home with plenty of room for all of us and for guests, too. That year started a tradition that lasted for more than twenty years of my parents hosting Christmas for thirty to fifty people, depending on which side of the family was coming.

One Christmas in particular stands out so well in my mind. About ten feet out the back door of the house was a big hill we could sled down and at the bottom was a pond where we liked to ice skate. I’d gotten a brand-new bright orange plastic toboggan that morning and was ready to test it out. Right after lunch, once the gifts had been opened and the mess cleared away, most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins poured outside to join in the fun. My dad and brother ran snowmobiles as a “taxi” service, carrying sledders from the bottom of the hill back up to the top. Some chose to skate and others stood outside and watched. 

We were out there for hours, laughing and having such a great time. The sledding hill seemed to get slicker with each run and finally Mom decided everyone had been out in the cold long enough and drew us in with the promise of hot chocolate and wealth of desserts. Two of my cousins (who were grown and married with their own kids), decided to take one more run down the hill. They grabbed my old toboggan, jumped on it together, and down the hill they sailed in a great impression of Clark Griswold. They hit a big bump, the toboggan broke in two, and off the went in different directions. One landed in the ditch and the other crashed with a face full of snow. I was so glad they hadn’t been on my new toboggan! 

I’m so grateful for all the wonderful childhood memories I have of special holidays at home with my parents and extended family. 

 

Phyliss Miranda

Oh, how I love Christmas!  One of my most memorable Christmas Eve’s occurred when I was a third grader.  I’m the oldest of four girls.  Daddy had just bought a brand spankin’ new Chevy.

We could hardly wait until Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us. I recall waking up to not only a huge snowstorm where drifts had covered Daddy’s new car, but nothing from Santa Claus under the tree.  How horrible!

While Mama fixed us hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, Daddy explained everything to us. The snow was so heavy that Santa couldn’t get in our door because of the snow, so he put all of our presents in the trunk of the car. 

Well, after breakfast, Daddy dug out while Mama kept us preoccupied by doing a jigsaw puzzle.  Sure enough Santa had left our gifts, just like Daddy said.  I’m still confused because if Santa and his elves make all of the gifts in his workshop, how in the heck did they end up in Sears and Roebuck boxes.  But you know, it was a wonderful white Christmas and I’ll never forget it. 

Merry Christmas to all!

 

A Favorite Christmas Candy From My Childhood

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Can you believe Christmas is just a few short days away? December just really got away from me. I only just managed to get my tree decorated and stockings on the mantel this past Sunday. But better late than never I suppose.

 

When I first thought of what I might produce for this post, I let my thoughts run to the Christmases of my youth. And one of the first memories that came to me was of my momma in the kitchen making Christmas candy, so called because she only made these treats at Christmastime.  She would make fudge, pralines, divinity, and bar cookies. There was one in particular that was my very favorite. I know everyone thinks of pecans when you think of pralines but they do come in other flavors as well. One of these flavors is coconut. Since I’ve never been much of a fan of pecans, these were a real favorite of mine. And come to think of it, I’ve never seen coconut pralines anywhere else – just those produced by my mom and grandmother.

And the fun part of these candies, besides the fact that they were oh so delicious, was that momma would buy fresh coconuts still in the shells and once she cracked them open, drained the milk (which I loved!) and dug out the meat, she would give them to me and my younger sister to peel and grate. with a hand crank grater. My sister and I really enjoyed this, especially since once the pieces got too small to work with we would eat them – so yummy! I still have that old grater to this day, though I haven’t used it in years.

 

And here is the recipe, named for my Mom:

Shirley’s Coconut Pralines

Ingredients

    • 2 cups of sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon of salt
    • ½ cup of whole milk (coconut milk can be substituted for all or part)
    • 2 cups of shredded coconut
    • ½ teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract

 

Directions

    • Combine the first 3 ingredients in a 2-quart or larger saucepan.
    • Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
    • Continue cooking, without stirring, until contents reach the soft ball stage (235-240°).
    • Stir in the shredded coconut; then continue cooking until it reaches the soft ball stage again.
    • Remove from the stove and allow to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
    • Stir in the extract and then beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and turns creamy in color.
    • Quickly, before the candy hardens, drop by rounded tablespoons onto waxed paper, forming patties. Let cool before removing from wax paper.

 

Wishing you all a joyous and blessed Christmas regardless of your circumstances.