The tradition in our family is to celebrate on Christmas Eve.
This year I had a fantasy. Come with me.
I decorated the house with all my old ornaments, the manger with my grandmother’s figures, chipped and broken as they be, the food was prepared and when I opened the door to my first guest, the music swelled behind me. A familiar polka brightened the air and my parents swirled past with broad smiles. They looked as they did when I was a child and we went to Eugene park to the dances. Somehow my space had swelled to hold them.
I teared up, then blinked as I beheld my daughter Theresa and her husband Don, both of whom have gone before. they looked so happy.
I know when my sister Patricia joined them, this was to be Christmas to remember. All the people I ever loved were coming.
My sons and their wives brought covered dishes to share. Like usual they took over in the kitchen and told me to have fun. My nephew Bobby came in time to greet his children with hugs and smiles.
When I opened the door and my cousin Bill Petersen grabbed me in a huge hug and whirled me off my feet I couldn’t stop the tears of joy. I have missed him so much.
All my grand-children spilled in in a flood of laughter. My Great Grandsons, Charlie and Henry grabbed the spotlight.
The family shared memories from years ago. The highlight for me was all my sons singing carols as they did when they were growing up.
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
― Will Rogers
Dixie by Barbara Edwards
Dixie’s Gift, my Christmas novella is based on memories of my Dixie who spent her days keeping me from becoming a hermit. She’d demand a walk. Taking me out of my house to enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise. She’d sleep on my feet, keeping them warm while I wrote.
We got Dixie from a retired teacher who fostered dogs waiting for a forever home. It was a serendipitous happening.
My husband wanted a German Shepherd, but ever time I got bitten it was a shepherd so I said no. I was watching the Westminster Dog show and a beautiful dog called a Belgian Malinois was competing for best of show. They described the breed as being family oriented, energetic and needing an owner who spent time with them. Since the breed looked similar to what my husband wanted, I checked with several breeders who said their females weren’t breed every season.
My husband and I were having coffee and I was flipping through the Penny Saver when I spotted the ad for adopting her. I called despite the fact we weren’t going to be home the following weekend. It was love at first sight. This beautiful dog had been discarded after a bitter divorce. She’d been kept in a dog cage all day every day.
When we got home we didn’t know if she was housebroken and put her in a dog cage. I never heard such a horrible scream from a dog. She vomit and pooped and I let her out promising not to do it again.
We decided to take a chance and took her inside. She was housebroken, but wouldn’t answer to the name they provided. My son came over and started calling her by dog names until he laughingly called Dixie, a reference to our Civil War reenacting. She perked up and went to him so Dixie it was.
Dixie loved re-enacting and went with us to events, she loved riding in the car, sleeping in the tent and watching the horses.
Dixie went with us to Yellowstone.
I didn’t really think about my companion passing away and when she was diagnosed with cancer, it broke my heart. She was in terrible pain, but I didn’t want to let her go. It took me a week but I finally made the wrenching decision to send her over the rainbow bridge.
This story features the ghost of a dog who doesn’t want to leave her mistress alone and writing it helped me through those first lonely months.
I still miss her. Dixie is buried in my flower garden next to our house.
Blurb: Ellen Carter deeply grieves for her husband Dan, but at least she still has Dixie, her beloved Malinois. However, soon Dixie leaves her too. But the faithful dog cannot rest easy in heaven while her mistress is unhappy. Dixie pleads with the Archangel Michael to let her send help, and intercedes for Ellen in the only way she can. But will Ellen get the message, and more importantly, will she accept Dixie’s gift?
Sexy newcomer Michael Burke can barely take enough time from his successful restaurant for a decent night’s sleep, let alone romance. Still, he is intrigued by the beautiful widow and can’t resist entering her shop. Sparks fly, and when Ellen has an accident in a snowstorm, he comes to her rescue. Trapped by a blizzard and aided by Dixie’s Gift, Ellen and Michael find more than shelter–they find love.
Cover artist: Debbie Taylor
He brushed a wisp of her hair from her cheek. It clung like spider silk to his fingers.
He rubbed the strand and his heart raced. When her lips parted, he bent forward to taste their soft curve.
Sweet, so sweet, he thought as her mouth melded with his. His hands slowly slid from her slender shoulders to her waist. Soft as a feather, she sighed. Her curves fit against his hard chest like matching puzzle pieces.
The lights blinked, dimmed, and then flared back on.
Dixie’s Gift tugs at your heart, and though the snow threatens, you can’t help but be warmed by this sweet story. A must read! — Kara O’Neal, Author
“Dog lovers, do not read this book . . . without a box of tissues nearby. A touching story of love and compassion.” – Diane Burton, author of the Outer Rim series.
“Delightful. . .Barbara Edwards weaves a heartwarming holiday tale of rediscovering love after the death of a spouse and the loss of a beloved pet. It’s a refreshing story with a theme of joy and peace and filled with engaging characters. And who can resist a romantic winter setting with lots and lots of snow?” ~ Judy Ann Davis, Author and Educator
Dixie’s Gift by Barbara Edwards is a gift of a read. Sweet, romantic, poignant, and touching, it will bring a lump to your throat and satisfaction to your heart. If you don’t shed a tear, you’re a robot.” ~ Award winning author Alicia Dean
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2016 was a rollercoaster ride. Not the fun one at an amusement park, but a shock after shock. My husband was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He started with chemo that hurt his kidneys and he had his bladder removed along with his prostate, two lymph nodes and six inches of his small intestine to rebuild the drainage duct. I learned more than I wanted to know.
He had complications that resulted in his gall bladder being removed and a collapsed lung. Four months later he was home and doing better. It took him all summer and fall to get back his strength and routine.
During the summer I got an inquiry on my ancestry.com account asking about my deceased daughter. It turned out to be my grand-daughter, her child, looking for family. She’d been adopted and her father had claimed there was no family for her. Just grandparents, five uncles with spouses, a dozen cousins and a half brother they didn’t know about.
Thank you, God, for answering twenty years of prayer that her children would be taken care of. I now have spoken with my three grand-daughters. It is difficult to know what to say. They are scattered across country and my husband and I are thinking about a road trip to at least the closest.
My book was rejected by a big publisher. Sigh. Another asked me to remove a sub-plot and its back to work. Otherwise my writing has been slow. Even my blogs have been difficult.
Most of my family gathered for Christmas Eve and did a silly grab bag involving colorful socks. My oldest son and his wife had her son for company in another state.
On Christmas morning my oldest son’s wife Linda had a massive heart attack and later died. She was a wonderful woman who loved my son as much as he loved her. She called me her Mom. I don’t know why things like this happen. I don’t blame God. I may never understand.
So here I am. At my computer, determined to write my stories. To have a good year. To remember Linda with love. To welcome my grand-daughters, and in another sweet moment, my grand-son’s wife calls her two children my great-grand-children.
She strained to see past the broken windshield. Her throat hurt when she swallowed. Other vehicles lay tangled in a mess, not just the truck and her car. She prayed another car wouldn’t hit her again and inhaled to calm her racing pulse. She finally got the seatbelt lock to release, forced her door open and stood. Her knees shook and she had to hang onto the sagging door for support. She stared around. Headlights glittered like monster eyes. Her vehicle was at the edge of a horrendous multi-car pile-up.
Sirens wailed like lost children. Blinding red and blue lights flashed everywhere as emergency personnel rushed by. Her hands shook as she dragged on her cashmere coat. Time squeezed and expanded like an accordion being played. A fireman asked if she was okay and ran on at her nod.
She brushed moisture from her face and realized she was crying. She pillowed her head on her arm, the roof supporting her as she wept.
“Hey, lady, you okay?” A gentle hand gripped her shoulder.
This time the questioner stopped to listen.
She looked up into scorching blue eyes so bright they could have been a propane flame. Her skin warmed and her pulse leaped as if it recognized the message in them. They promised heat and comfort and strength like the hand on her shoulder. He’d pulled his knit hat down over his forehead and his lower face was covered with dark stubble that matched his thick black eyelashes. His hands were splotched with grease and he smelled like oil and fuel fumes. His quilted jacket was stained and patched, his boots wet and cracked, but he exuded strength and caring.
She swallowed. Her mouth was suddenly dry. Another fixer-upper, like her ex, she briefly thought, although with those gorgeous eyes he might be worth the trouble.
The heroine, Noel Martin is struggling to keep her promise to her children. A blizzard in Minnesota, a broken down car and lack of money halts their journey to a home in Connecticut. When the man of her dreams offers his help and love, can she resist?
I had fun writing this holiday story, a departure from my edgy paranormal romances. I revealed my soft heart and love of stray animals, small children and tall, dark and strong men.
I took a number of personal experiences to write the plot. I breast-fed my children like Noel does her baby and drove a clunker of a car for years. Minnesota during November came from my son’s wedding to a girl from that area. The snow was deep and the temperature deeper. The parking lot in the motel had a warning not to leave your vehicle if the bears were in the parking lot. The people were among the friendliest I’ve ever met.
My house burned and we lost everything. A period in my life I’d rather forget.
There is nothing like Christmas in Connecticut. We all gather to decorate wreaths to sell on the Christmas tree farm. My husband and I dress up like Santa and his wife to entertain the kids and hand out candy canes. On Christmas Eve we gather to exchange gift and share a family dinner. I cry each year for those who can’t be there and with happiness. My children and their families are growing and changing with every season.
An excerpt from Journey of the Magi:
“Oh, Holly, how many times have I told you not to open the door to strangers?”
Holly stared at her mother.
“That’s what Dan said, too.” Her forehead wrinkled as she pursed her mouth. “Do all grown-ups say the same things?”
“Not all. And I think you should call him Mr. Longstreet.”
“I did. But he said I could call him Dan since you were already friends.”
Noel ducked her head to avoid Holly’s gaze as her stomach warmed. Friends? Her pulse raced and her skin tingled when he was close, not feelings she had for a friend. Dan sparked a strong attraction in her, but she had no intention of acting on it. She had to keep firmly to her goal: they were going home.
Home. She’d dreamed of returning for so long. If she was honest, going home had been her hope for years. The big old farmhouse had given a sad, lonely child more than shelter. It held the memories of loving arms cradling her, fresh-baked cookies and safety. All the things she wanted for her babies.
Nicholas gave a contented hiccup and she eased him over to burp. As soon as she dressed, she’d remind Dan she had to leave before Christmas.
I realized exactly how disorganized I am after reading all the New Year’s resolutions and suggestions all my friends are posting.
Do I really need to organize my kitchen cabinets? I can find stuff most of the time. Well, maybe not the spices I needed for the Christmas cookies until I empited the top shelves. And I did find the cocoa for the chocolate cake after only ten minutes hunt. That’s not too bad since I do the cookies only once a year.
My closet is another matter. I do wear clothes daily. Last year, or maybe it was the year before, I bought those pant hangers for my slacks, and double hangers for the top and bottom outfits. they do work. I can find them without too much searching since they are a little different than wire hangers. See? I am organized a little.
And I sorted my bureau drawers when we purchased new bureaus. (Not saying when) Little items like jewelry boxes go in that skinny top drawer. Undies and socks in the next since I wear them every day. Can you see how my mind works? Next come pjs and nighties. Next are sweaters and sweatshirts. The bottom drawer is empty since I hang up everything else.
Don’t go in my office. My office is off-limits to all. This is where all my efforts are concentrated. I have a file. Colored folders inside. I have bookshelves. All my research books and my ‘keepers’ go there. My computer sits on a clean desk. What I am working on is at my fingertips. Eat your heart out.
Then there is the area I use in our trailer. The snug corner I have roped off for my PC, printer and chair. Wipe your feet and sit over there, not in my seat. I can balance a coffee mug next to me, put the raido on low and work. Another eat your heart out.
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Lily Alban escapes a murderous stalker, but his vicious attack leaves her with the ability to see auras. She finds safety in the tiny hamlet of Rhodes End where a stranger stands out like a red light. Try as she might to deny her growing desire for Cole, she seeks his help but soon discovers the man she loves is not a man at all.
Werewolf Cole Benedict resists his attraction to Lily. A botanist researching the healing herbs to find a cure for Lycanthropy, he’s determined to protect Lily from her stalker as well as himself even in human form, but instinct takes over when he changes to his inner beast.
Together they must use their extraordinary gifts to catch Lily’s stalker before he attacks again, but revealing their secrets to one another could destroy their growing love or save them both.
“Lily?” His strong hands gently cupped her shoulders.
“Don’t, please don’t.”
She pulled away, fully intending to flee. Her resistance shattered, and she turned into his embrace. It was too late to escape. Pressing against his strength, she wound her arms around his neck and pulled him closer. His erection prodded her stomach, and she moaned. A heavy groan filled his throat as he lifted her from her feet. He kicked the bag aside as he sat her on the counter.
“I can’t wait,” he growled. His flaring aura spiraled with colors she couldn’t name. She caught her breath. One hand burrowed through her hair, keeping her still as he stepped between her thighs. “You’re all I could think about all day.”
Clasping her bottom, he slid her to the edge of the counter. With his lips claiming her mouth, he unbuttoned her slacks, than lifted her slightly to push them down and off.
The cold surface only made her more aware of his scorching heat. His rough denim pants scraped her inner thighs in contrast with the silky hair under her palms. Her pulse leaped, and she gasped. His male scent mixed with hints of the wild forest filled her nostrils. When his fingertip explored the heated moisture gathering at her juncture, she tightened her thighs around his hips.
Every Christmas table has been blessed with a fruitcake. Every family has the sory of the fruitcake that is re-gifted for years. A form of immortality I think.
You have to understand about fruitcake. It is a mix of candied fruit, nuts, raisins, and a very thick cake batter that is baked then soaked in brandy. Or rum. Or sherry. For weeks. Or months. Or a year if no-one wants to eat the heavy thing.
This year I baked a ten pound fruitcake. Honest. That was the name of the recipe. And it felt like ten pound after I finished.
I wrapped it in sherry soaked cheesecloth, wrapped it with foil and put it in a cool place to flavor. Every week for three weeks, I re-soaked the cheesecloth and therefore the cake. It smelled delicious.
The day before my family gathered for Christmas dinner I decorated the top with green and red cherries. It looked so festive!
Understand, my sons are willing to try anything I put on the table. I expected the fruitcake to be a big hit; instead it was, ah, something else.
Everyone protested being too full to try a piece.
Hard to keep up the denial as they scoffed up the cheesecake, the apple pie, the mince pie, and the oatmeal-raisin cookies.
A good-hearted daughter-in-law cut two slices and quartered them on a plate. The plate circled the table of twenty guests and returned with one piece gone. I think my grandson fed it to the dog.
I wasn’t disappointed. Not much.
The funny thing is that as the evening progressed and we drank coffee and chatted, the fruitcake quarters disappeared along with several more slices.
When we shared out the left-overs so I wouldn’t eat them all, several more slices went out the door.
Will I be making fruitcake next year? Maybe. It might be more fun to make a Boche de Noel (Christmas Log). I’ll see.
Hope your Holiday, be it Christmas, Hannukah or something else, be joyous.