25 Days of Christmas continues with Stephy Smith! Have you ever imagined what Christmas used to be like?
Christmas and winter stirs my imagination. I cherish the moments I can sit inside and watch the beautiful snow flutter to the ground. The wind howls outside my home reminding me of many years before my time…a time when the people didn’t have luxuries as we do. I have often wondered if these are a few reasons they seemed to have appreciated what they had more than people now days.
Hard work, less money and desperate times took its toll on many families way back then. Handmade gifts were given because most of the families couldn’t afford anything they may have had at the local mercantile. In my opinion, these items would have made Christmas a sentimental time of the year. Not only in giving, but also in socializing to celebrate the glorious season.
Sleigh rides and Christmas carolers braved the threats of the environment to bring joy into someone else’s life. Doesn’t it sound romantic? Sitting next to the boy or girl of your dreams, dressed in your Sunday best and hoping a lasting relationship emerged.
Looking at the scenario above from a historical writer’s point of view makes my mind work overtime. Have you ever traded in your car with a heater to bundle up in blankets for an innocent, romantic sleigh ride? If by chance there happened to be that bell ringing kiss, was it caused by the electrifying jingle of emotions or from ‘Bob’s’ tail as he swished at the snow? We would love to have you share your story with us.
Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season.
Excerpt from Gentry’s Gallery of Angels, now available from Astraea Press!
Nick glanced at the wagon. Maggie, Robert and Amanda Gentry sat on the buckboard. His heart picked up a beat. He left the table of sales items and walked to the door of the mercantile. The wagon rolled to a stop in front and he stepped out to greet the family.
“Good morning. How’s everything out at your place?” he waited for Robert to assist the women to the ground.
“Can’t complain. I’m heading to the hardware store, I’ll return for supplies after lunch.” Robert extended his hand and Nick shook it.
“I’m off to pick up some sewing.” Maggie nodded at him.
Amanda stood at his side. “And you, my beautiful bride to be, what are your plans for the day?” Turning his attention to her, he gazed at her full luscious lips. Chitter-chatter up and down the streets stopped him from kissing her. He linked elbows with her and led her into the store. In the shadows of the back corner of the building, he lightly kissed her.
“I am getting a few odds and ends for the holidays, and our wedding.” Her hands held onto his forearms as she took a step back. The tingle she left behind when she released her hold lingered on his skin.
“Would you care to have lunch with me at the hotel? They have a daily special of roast beef and gravy today.” He lifted his arm and caressed her soft face. Bright twinkles illuminated the blueness of her eyes, pulling him into their depths. His breath caught at the beauty surrounding her angelic face.
“I would love to. I have a few errands to run first then I’ll meet you back here.” With a swish of her skirt, she pivoted on her heels and headed to the door. He let his gaze wash over her body and rest on the sway of her hips. The heat of desire flowed through his body.
Following her to the door, he watched as her slender frame entered into the newspaper office. In a week, he would be able to quench his need to take her in his arms. He shifted to the work in the store, but his thoughts remained on his true love.
Automatically, he placed items from his new shipment on the shelf. Amanda took over his mind every time he caught even the slightest glimpse of her. His knees grew weak when she was near and his heart thundered prolifically within the walls of his chest. Her touch lingered on his skin for days after the initial contact. He shivered as another round of excitement poured over his defenseless body.
She was his and that was all that mattered. He worked for a few hours, and then glanced out the window. Amanda strolled down the wooden walk across the street. Deputy Cody Lansing stepped out in front of her. Taking a side step to avoid a collision, he once again stepped into her path. Heat scorched through Nick’s veins.
He tossed down the merchandise and exited through the door. Amanda straightened her shoulders and took a step back. With hurried steps, Nick crossed the street.
“There you are my dear. Are you ready for some lunch?” Brazenly he reached for her hand and she took his.
“Yes I am, Nick. I’m starving, shall we go?” she wound her way around the deputy and joined Nick.
“Then by all means, I will lock up the store and we shall be on our way.” He glared at Cody a few seconds and then led his sweetheart across the dirt street.
Entering the hotel restaurant, they picked a table by the window. Mrs. Donner took their order and disappeared. “I’m glad you stopped Cody in his quest to corner me. I despise that man and the way he treats women. Why do you suppose he acts the way he does? There is no need for him to push his advances when he has more than one woman begging his attention?”
“I don’t know Amanda. Seems he has always wanted what everyone else has and little confidence to take the ones who would welcome his overtures.”
Her hand jutted across the table and came to rest on his arm. “Oh, let’s not talk of his deceitfulness. I have found the prettiest table setting for our wedding. I was at Hannah Lou’s having tea and she asked me if I wanted to use it. Well, of course I said yes, and she said she would have it packed up within an hour.”
Nick chuckled at her excitement. The innocence in her soft voice took on an unexpected rush coming from her mouth. Those precious lips he gazed at seemed to call him to ravish them with all his being. He shifted in his chair.
“Are you sure Mrs. Sanders is up to this?” Nick leaned back so Mrs. Donner could set the plate of food in front of him.
“You know Grandmother wouldn’t have it any other way. Besides, Mother has her hands full with the other girls. They do nothing but scream and fight amongst themselves anyway.”
“Where are your sisters? They weren’t in the wagon when your father pulled up at the store.” He took a bite of roast.
“Nancy, Mary and Celeste are at Grandmother’s. Bessie, Susan and the twins all went to their friends’ houses for the afternoon.”
His heart lurched as he watched the fork slide into her mouth. He forced himself to look out the window. Cody Lansing was escorting two young ladies down the walkway. Nick’s blood heated. That man is indiscriminate using women the way he does, preying upon all the girls in town. Well, he won’t be stalking Amanda any longer. He basked in the knowledge Cody could no longer lay claim to his Amanda.
“At the newspaper office they told me our announcement will run tomorrow. Isn’t it exciting Nick? The whole world will know we are getting married Christmas Eve at Grandmother’s.”
Nick chuckled. “The whole world you say? News will have to travel pretty fast to reach everyone.” He winked at her.
“You know what I mean. Our world, not the whole earth.” She giggled.
I love old-fashioned Christmases – this time of year always makes me long for simpler times. Even as a kid growing up in the mid-20th century, things were much simpler. My favorite Christmas as an adult is fairly recent, and even though I did not have my entire family nearby, it was so great. My twins and I had just moved to Virginia from Maryland. On my final run from the house in Maryland, one of my twins was with me, the other at the new house. Christmas Eve, Walmart was even closed, but Barnes & Noble was open, so we all got books and DVD's for Christmas. On Christmas Day, the oven didn't work so the ham I bought was useless. Nothing was unpacked anyway. We ate at the only open restaurant, a Huddle House about 30 minutes from home. Great times.
I come from a big family, so we always drew names for Christmas. But I always enjoyed finding or making little somethings for everyone.
I think the holiday season has lost so much with the emphasis on commercialization. I'd love handmade Christmas gifts!