Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another Christmas, another nutcracker added to my collection. My daughter, Lezlie, gave me the Mouse King. Isn't he cute?

One thing we got plenty of here for Christmas was snow. We had blizzard conditions all day and by the time the storm finally blew itself out, the official weather station said we got 20 inches of the white stuff. It's beautiful, but it has been a real challenge to get walks and driveways cleared and to travel anywhere. That's okay, I also got a bit of a cold and don't mind curling up in front of the fireplace and trying to work out a few Sudoku puzzles.

Here's our grandchildren, some in their new Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve and some who think they're too old to wear their new pj's home from Grandma's house. Of course there's a bit of silliness going on too, but what do you expect from ten children between three and seventeen?
We had a wonderful evening together. The little ones put on the nativity pageant, then the oldest read the story from Luke, followed by the next two oldest playing their guitars while the others sang a Christmas lullaby.

I also got a surprise idea for a Christmas story, one best told from one of my sons-in-law's point of view. If it works out, I'll let you know before next Christmas.

And if I don't get a chance to post again before next Thursday, Happy New Year to all of you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Nuts, or tree nuts if you will, are one of my favorite treats and have been a part of my Christmas celebrations as long as I can remember. Christmas wasn’t the only time I got to feast on nuts as a child. Daddy used to bring home a paper bag with a pound or two of mixed nuts from winter trips to town. Mama would spread papers on the floor and the nuts would be poured onto the paper, then armed with the usual U-shaped metal crackers, my brothers and sisters and I would dive in. Being one of the younger and smaller children, I had difficulty managing the nut cracker, and too often got stuck with peanuts while my older brothers wielded the crackers and gorged on walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. I’ll admit I resorted to borrowing Daddy’s hammer on occasion to make certain I got my share of the good nuts.

Once when I was very young, my parents took me to visit someone, I have no idea now who the person was other than that he herded sheep, but this person had a marvelous nutcracker. It was made of metal, looked like a battered soldier, and had a lever on the back that when operated opened and closed the soldier’s mouth. When a nut was placed between the soldier’s ragged steel teeth and the lever employed, voila! The nut cracked. I was in love! I dreamed of having a nutcracker like that.

Sometime later I happened on a story about a little girl named Clara who received a soldier nutcracker as a gift, which her brother promptly broke. I could relate to that, having two younger brothers and three older ones. The man who gave Clara the nutcracker repaired it on Christmas Eve while she slept. Also while she slept, she was attacked by mice. The soldier nutcracker came to life and, along with sugarplum-filled adventures, saved her from the mice and became her hero. The story was a great fairytale, but I was more interested in the nutcracker’s practical application, getting those pesky hard shells off of nuts.

I was an adult with children of my own when I finally saw Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet. It was a thrilling performance, but the part of me that was once a little girl who loved eating nuts, still loves the doll-like nutcrackers more than the fairy tale or the ballet. Long ago I began acquiring nutcracker dolls whenever I got a chance. Mine aren’t the expensive collectors’ nutcrackers, but they’re of invaluable worth to me and are an essential part of my Christmas decorations.

My first nutcracker was a reward for spending so much money on other things at a local furniture store. He’s not much good for cracking nuts, but I like him. He's the one in the blue coat. The Canadian Mountie is a souvenir from a wonderful trip to Victoria with my husband, our daughter, Mary Jo, and her husband, Rich.

My second nutcracker came from ZCMI the year I decided to buy myself a gift. He's the tall one in the red coat on the bookcase shown below.

When family and friends discovered my fondness for nutcrackers, I was inundated with the dolls. Suddenly everyone knew what to get me for Christmas. I received tall nutcrackers, short ones, characters from the ballet on a music box, and even nutcrackers for the twelve days of Christmas.

My daughter Lezlie made a special nutcracker for me to commemorate 9-11 and to honor the brave firemen who lost their lives trying to save others that day.

My grandson, Brandon’s favorite nutcracker is the one wearing Army fatigues he calls the “daddy one.”
All of my grandchildren love the big nutcracker and try to entice each other to put their fingers in his mouth. Fortunately none have gotten hurt. Even this nutcracker will only crack soft shell nuts.

I’ve never been too sure what nutcrackers have to do with Christmas except for the fairytale/ballet which is set at Christmastime and that in earlier times, children, like I once was, received nuts in our Christmas stockings. But gradually, I’ve developed my own reason for decking my home with nutcrackers each Christmas. Just as the Christ Child was a gift of love to God’s children, my nutcrackers represent the love family and friends have given me. They’re bright and colorful and make delightful decorations, but sometimes I think about that old sheepherder and wonder what became of his marvelous nutcracker. As much as I love all my nutcrackers, not a one of them will crack a decent nut.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I was going to wait until after Christmas to post a picture of my new book cover since it won't be available until January 5, but I couldn't wait. It's a pretty bold and exciting cover. High Country isn't a western in the usual sense. Yes, it takes place mostly on a ranch and there are horses, but it's a contemporary story that begins in California when Laura and her cousin Bruce inherit their elderly great aunt's house and all the boxes and clutter she's collected over nearly a century of living. One of those boxes contains a few shocking documents; Laura's late father's will leaving her a half share in an Idaho ranch, a baptism certificate, and a marriage certificate with Laura's name on it.

Wednesday my oldest grandson became an Eagle Scout. I hope you don't mind my bragging a little, but I'm awfully proud of him. Yes, that's a real eagle.

I only have a handful of Christmas cards left to send out. I wish I could send Christmas greetings to all my friends and family, but since that isn't possible, I'm wishing you all a Merry Christmas with a little help from my grandson, Brandon who is checking out the nutcracker's bite.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good bite.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


There's a fun new Christmas Story contest on LDS Publisher's blog. All you have to do is write a short Christmas story, less than 2000 words, and submit it to LDS Publisher. Various books, including one of mine, will be the prizes. There's a category for published authors and one for unpublished. Check out the details here. All of this coming week entries will be posted on LDS Publisher's blog and the following week readers will get a chance to vote on their favorites.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stories of Scrooges, angels, and miracles abound at Christmastime. Tales of a Grinch who sees the error of his way and makes a complete about face are plentiful too. But it’s the little moments of compassion that touch me the most.A few years ago I was working at the desk of a major library when a young man came to the desk with a book he was desperate to check out for a class he was taking at the University. Unfortunately he had fines on his card that had exceeded the limit I could override and allow him to take the book. He had no money and we were at a standstill. A stranger waiting in line stepped up and paid the fine. “I try to do one good deed for a stranger every Christmas season,” she said, brushing off the young man’s thanks. I love that concept. What a wonderful Christmas it would be if we all did just one kind thing for a stranger this holiday season. To read more on this topic click here.

For me each Christmas season includes a lot of book signings and the opportunity to meet old friends and new who are shopping for books to give for Christmas. This Saturday, December 6, I'll be at the Redwood Seagull Book Store (1700 South) at 11 a.m, then at the West Jordan Seagull Book at one o'clock. The West Jordan store has some fun things planned including giving customers copies of favorite Christmas recipes, including one from me. Michele Bell, one of the co-authors of The Spirit of Christmas will be signing with me at both stores. Come on in and say hello.

Along with putting up our tree, decorating the house, and doing a ton of Christmas shopping this past week, I managed to get new glasses. They're smaller than my old ones and take some adjusting.