Since it’s Christmas week, I’m in a reflective mood. Christmas brings with it a lot of joy—but also some sadness. I look back to the Christmases of my childhood with such fond memories of my grandparents. The holidays make me miss them more than normal.
My dad’s mom would make chicken and dumplings every year for Christmas dinner and I remember being a toddler, sitting on the counter and “helping.”
That same grandma and I would pour over the Sears Christmas Catalog every year and we’d circle the things we liked. It was always such fun—and inevitably at least one of my circled items would end up underneath her tree with my name on it.
My other grandmother—my only living grandparent—just turned 96 a few weeks ago. She’s had a remarkable life, and still continues to be a source of wisdom and inspiration for our family. Over the past few years, she’s endured the tragic death of her husband—my grandpa—in a car accident. Last January, her home burned to the ground—and she rebuilt. She’d barely moved in when she fell and broke her hip. But again, she overcame and now she is back home again—and we are all looking forward to another Christmas in her house.
A few years ago, soon after Grandpa died, I got the chance to write my one and only historical—Sweet Southern Christmas, one of two novellas in the book Love Finds You at Home for Christmas.
Writing a historical was challenging, but I chose to do it as a gift to my grandmother—she was still grieving (as we all were). I based the main characters in Sweet Southern Christmas on my grandparents and wove some real stories of their meeting and courtship into the fictional novella.
The result was what will always be my favorite of my books. I consulted with Grandma to get the details right—she was a WOW (woman ordnance worker) during World War II—and I wanted to tell a story that was true to her experience. I also got to hear stories about my grandfather that I’d never heard before, and she so enjoyed being able to go on those trips down memory lane.
As I go out now and speak to book clubs and library groups, I am often asked which book I’ve written is my favorite—and although I always liken that to choosing a favorite child, I always confess that Love Finds You at Home for Christmas will always be my favorite.
If you haven’t read it, here’s the opening:
Ruby McFadden aspired to be a lot of things, but a pig farmer wasn’t one of them.
“I’m not going.” She heaved her suitcase out of the back end of her brother’s 1939 Ford De Luxe and set it on the ground with a thud. She and Wade had been arguing outside of her dorm at Harding College for the past fifteen minutes, and as far as she could tell, it was a draw.
Wade sighed. “Come on, R.J., don’t be like this. You know Papa only wants what’s best for you.”
His use of her despised childhood nickname did little to improve her mood, nor did the mention of their papa, whose master plan for Ruby’s summer included raising pigs.
“In three months I’ll start my last year of college. Everyone in the world seems to realize that I’m an adult—except for my family,” Ruby said. “Y’all act like I’m still a little girl.”
Wade leaned against the De Luxe and crossed his arms. “It isn’t like that. We’re just worried about you and want you home with us for the summer.”
“Girls my age are married with babies of their own. Look at cousin Lucille. And I don’t even have to tell you how many boys from my class are overseas right now.” With the country at war, Ruby sometimes felt like she attended an all-girls college.
If you’re looking for a cozy Christmastime read, I hope you’ll check it out. The contemporary story in the book, Small-Town Christmas is by Gwen Ford Faulkenberry, a fellow Arkansan and a fabulous author.
And since this is my last post here for 2015, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2016!