Published by the Rains County Leader on December 24, 2019:
As a kid, December 24th and not the 21st seemed like the longest night of the year. The day was busy with running to the store for some forgotten item, wrapping just one more package, and cooking. The house was filled with holiday smells as Mom prepared her offerings for the Christmas Eve party at Aunt Fay’s house and Christmas dinner the next day.
Later on, when Aunt Fay’s five children were older and another sister and her family moved to town, the party rotated among the three homes. But in the early days, the number of presents for their large family required opening them on Christmas Eve to make room for Santa Claus, so we always gathered there. It was almost as exciting watching the chaos at their house as it was opening our presents the next morning. By the time we made it to bed, I was so revved up with cookies, candy, and excitement that I couldn’t sleep. In looking back, and knowing how sensitive a mother’s ears are, I wonder if my restlessness kept Mom awake. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 17, 2019:
When I was a kid, December 26 was Granny Hagan’s birthday. Later on it became the day to return those what-were-you-thinking gifts and to stock up on Christmas supplies for next year. More recently I’ve heard it referred to by a specific name, especially on Facebook when greetings of “Happy Boxing Day” appear on the day after Christmas.
It turns out that Boxing Day began in Britain as a time when the rich boxed up gifts for the poor. I’m thinking it might have been a charitable way to get rid of the leftover turkey and those unsuitable gifts. It also became a day when servants were given the day off after receiving a Christmas box or gift from their employers. The servants in turn would go home and give Christmas boxes to their families.
Boxing Day isn’t widely celebrated in the U.S., but boxes certainly play a big part in the American Christmas season. Even though gift bags are probably more popular now than gift boxes, online shopping has resulted in an over-abundance of shipping cartons. And some traditionalists still like to wrap and tie bows on containers with square corners. (more…)
If you’re down to those hard-to-buy-for people on your gift list, or if you’re looking for stocking stuffers, books are a great idea. Here are five suggestions:
A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos: This memoir is the story of the hilarity and chaos that happen when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend seven weeks traveling through sixteen states in a forty-foot motor home. It is also the story of the lives and experiences that led these four people to this particular place and time in their lives. https://www.amazon.com/Long-Winding-Road-Caregivers-Chaos/dp/1947327054
Mom’s Long Goodbye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort: After finishing Winding Road, many readers asked what happened next. Mom’s Long Goodbye is the rest of the story. Mom’s goodbye began with a red photo album and ended fifteen years later in a hospital bed in the Alzheimer’s wing of Southridge Village. This is her story and mine. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1947327453
Tatia’s Tattoo: As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life is to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knows where to find it. She’s been there. Filled with tragedy, crime, redemption, and love, Tatia’s Tattoo is a story that exposes the sordid underbelly of small towns and shines a light of hope on how the evil might be defeated. https://www.amazon.com/Tatias-Tattoo-Linda-Brendle/dp/1945455829
Fallen Angel Salvage (Tatia’s Story, Book #2): Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong? An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors. Will it be enough? Or will their daughter become another statistic? https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Angel-Salvage-Tatias-Story/dp/1945455985
Kitty’s Story: From Feral Kitten to Reigning House Cat: A four-ounce ball of black and white fur walked out from under the porch of an unsuspecting couple who had no intention of having any pets, much less a house cat. Four years later, she has grown into a beautiful, thirteen-pound semi-longhair tuxedo cat who reigns supreme over the Brendle household. https://www.amazon.com/Kittys-Story-Kitten-Reigning-Housecat/dp/173421080X
Merry Christmas Blessings,
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 10, 2019:
At the end of last week’s column I mentioned that I was planning to be one of the vendors at the Christmas Around the Square event on Saturday. It took a bit more planning than some of the events I’ve done because it was my first outdoor one.
First of all, I had to plan for the weather. I know that everyone thinks the weather where they live is the most unpredictable, but if you’ve ever experienced a Texas Blue Norther and felt the temperature drop thirty or forty degrees in as many minutes, you know that Texas ranks pretty high on the volatile weather list.
I watched the long range forecast for several weeks, and the predicted temperature was consistently in a forty to sixty degree range. Of course, allowing for a ten to twenty degree variance along with wind chill, that could mean anything from a snowsuit in the morning to short sleeves in the afternoon. I settled on multiple layers and moved on to precipitation. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 4, 2018:
Kitty came to live with us in June of 2015, and a lot has changed since that mouthy little fur ball walked out from under our porch and into our hearts. She has become a big part of our lives, and she has become one of the favorite subjects for my columns, both for me as the writer and for my readers as well. I met another reader this weekend who recognized me. At least she knew my name, but she still identified me strongly with Kitty. That’s okay with me. She’s usually the more interesting of the two of us anyway.
Sunday afternoon I was going through some old files in my computer, looking for inspiration. I came across one of those nuggets writers love to find – an unfinished project that, even though it was abandoned for some reason, seems to have potential now. What I found was a paragraph I wrote about Kitty’s second Christmas with us. (more…)
Sara Beth Williams, Christian romance author with Anaiah Press, has used her marketing skills to organize several fellow authors into a special Christmas giveaway, and you readers receive the benefits. During the twelve days leading up to Christmas, Ms. Williams will feature a different author each day on her blog Live, Love, Writing. Each blog will include an opportunity to enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway to win ebooks, autographed paperbacks, gift cards, and other goodies. Check this blog daily beginning on December 13th for details and a link to each giveaway.
My day is Sunday, December 16th. My giveaway package includes a paperback copy of the first edition of my memoir, A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos. The book was written in the hopes of amusing, inspiring, and encouraging other caregivers or people who are going through a hard time. To provide the most relaxing atmosphere possible for reading, I’m also offering the following: 1) an envelope of mineral bath soak, 2) a cooling watermelon and aloe gel mask, 3) several herbal tea bags, and 4) most important of all – chocolate.
No purchase or subscription is required to enter the giveaways, but physical prizes can only be shipped to U.S. addresses. Come and join the Christmas fun.
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Published in the Rains county Leader on November 27, 2018:
It’s been a long time since I wrote a letter to Santa – in fact, I’m not sure I ever did. When the Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck Christmas catalogues arrived sometime in November, my brother and I went through them page by page with special attention to the toy sections. We marked items we wanted and passed the information on to Mom and Dad. Somehow they made sure the pertinent information reached the Jolly Old Elf because on Christmas morning one or two items appeared under the Christmas tree. (Santa wasn’t nearly as extravagant in those days, at least in our neighborhood.) Anyway, I thought a note was long overdue, if for no other reason than to say thank you for gifts of Christmases past.
How are you? I’m fine – well, not exactly fine but getting better. I’m recovering nicely from my shoulder surgery, but considering how it hurts when the weather changes, I think the doctor installed a barometer in there before he sewed me up. My knee acts up some, too – probably from a skiing incident several decades ago. It would probably feel better if I would lose a few pounds, but I’m sure you know all about that. (more…)