Winter Yule Musings

Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

The wind gusts in bursts of force, chickens ruffling feathers and flouncing off in a cackle of panic. The roar of wind in the pines and rattling metal. Lead gray skies and scudding clouds. Winter faded grasses bend down nearly sideways, undulating in static waves from brittle stems. Brown seed heads stiffly shake and vibrate.

A  sign blows maniacally, flopping irreverent in the wind that cyclones down main street, whipping the stars and stripes to sailboat sail loudness. A snow-covered peak plays hide and seek with the snow laden clouds, heavy, damp, icy. In out, in out, till grizzled grey-back bison mountains are snow-dusted, and conifer fur-back travels like rippling hide, up to mist that hangs at nose blowing , muzzle puffing height. A white fog and smoke forming, swirling in the late twilight air. Hovering at steeple tall, the white spire straight and sharp, piercing the sky.

And distant peaks could also be gilded in the goldest light, shiny as a new coin, glimmering and glinting for a brief moment before the watery lemon ice sun slides quickly down, as if cold itself needing to scurry off to stick its toes in the warm sands and tropical waters.

Clear day, so bright the sky is finally an icy robin blue and a ice cold wind blows down from the mountains, bringing the metallic scent of snow, ice, and pine tree needle freshness. Florescent lichen full of damp fungi spore scent, musty, sweet, sharp, full of the woods. The woods calling. Their dormant loveliness silent, but for a burst of raven calling, or the chitter chatter of stellar’s jays and robins, the catcall of a towhee, the blackbirds and grosbeaks chatter whistling in the trees. The streams burbling over rocks and boulders and ice pockets.

Photo by Rodolfo Marques on Unsplash

Winter solstice is here, come, gone, and just one day now and the day has grown minute moments longer. Yule and holiday is in the air in just its own way. The earth is laughing its way towards springtime, but paused right now for a moment of reflection. Lit candles, pull down the mistletoe, the pine boughs are sharply scenting the air. Tuck in bows and all colors of red and green. Fling out bells and brightly colored lights. The sweetest tastes are in all forms, in sight, sound, and smell.  Starlight and winter light and all the moments to gather one’s thoughts together. Just a pause.

 

I have three days off for the holiday, which I am trying to savor without falling apart. I am at a crossroads of frustration again and it’s all happening too often. I’m trying to take moments when I can to observe and mentally document what I see. I have missed being able to get stories out, my head too full of work and life. I sit down to write and get discouraged. I can’t seem to get the ideas out. I want to work on my Christmas stories, but they seem stuck.

I hope that all you lovely readers have a beautiful Christmas. If I think about writing again, well you’ll hear from me then, but if not, Merry Christmas, dearies.

Love,

Kate

A Hallmark Christmas Story Beginning – Part 2

Photo by John Christian Fjellestad on Unsplash

Yes, she had put her heart and soul into this Christmas. The only thing marring the season was that the Carson’s eldest grandson was scheduled to arrive on the 15th. Nicolas McKenzie Carson the third, was a lawyer from the city and ever since she had come to Westbriar, he had been a thorn in her side. Always questioning everything she did for the Carson’s. he was more critical than his parents or any of his aunts and uncles. Every action, how much they paid her, that she had her own room in the mansion, why did she encourage his grandmother to try a new hairstyle, how dare she get the judge to lose some weight, she wasn’t his doctor. Oh and on it went. She’d never met Nicolas in person. Oh no! His highness didn’t deem to come down from the city to find out how things were. No, he called. All the time. He would talk to his grandfather, or grandmother, then after finding out the happenings, he would demand to talk to Miss Oliver. And the Carson’s thought it was so sweet he cared about them so, and oh wasn’t he a nice boy. Noelle would would just nod her head and take the call, all while attempting a smile while she gritted her teeth till she felt like she had a toothache in her entire jaw.
Noelle sighted as she checked the time on her phone for the umpteenth time. He was due in a few hours. Only three more hours of freedom before the executioner arrived. She sighed again and fiddled with her phone setting a new ringtone.
“Dear, if you sigh one more time, I’m going to have Estelle poke you with her scissors,” Phoebe Carson said as her hairdresser fluffed the new bobbed style with the pale pink streak running through it.
“Oh, Estelle, do you think it’s too much?” the eighty year old woman asked, her voice filled with apprehension.
“Mrs. Carson, you look quite hip,” Noelle interjected, finally looking up from her phone.
“Are you sure?” Phoebe reached up and touched her snow white bob, then ran a finger down the pink streak.
Mrs. C, you look stunning and if that grandson gives you any grief, well I’ll just marche myself down and have a talk with that boy,” Estelle patted her hand over Mrs. Carson’s and beamed a glowing bright-white smile at her in the mirror. Not only were Estelles pristine teeth always glowingly bright in general, but her chocolate skin set them off to spotlight proportions.
“Estelle, you’re gonna blind me, “Noelle joked.
“Now you just knock it off, Miss Oliver,” Estelle admonished. “You wanna try something festive this year?
“Oh, Noelle, you should,” Phoebe urged. “This pink is so pretty, but with your eyes, I would think teal or green.
“Wow, Mrs. Carson. Green?” Noelle was current on the new styles, but even green was a bit edgier than she would have gone for.
“How about a nice dark pink along the base?” Estelle suggested.
“Oooh,” both Phoebe and Noelle gushed together.
And hours later, Phoebe and Noelle exited Estelle’s Hair & Nails, their en vogue hair catching the interest of several of the town’s people. Dainty Phoebe in her ivory sweater set and pearls, pink streak swinging, and elegant and svelte Noelle with her 1940’s inspired mid cut, the sleek brown curls bouncing with a cheery magenta red around the entire base.

And so there it ends, for now, until I can come up with something else for Nicolas, Noelle (whose real name is Sarah Noelle Oliver…. SNO….) and the rest of Westbriar’s Christmas Memories, or, Coming Home to Christmas, or, Make Mine Mistletoe…. Oh heck, I’m sure there are a ton of great holiday romance titles for Hallmark. Check out my blog post A Little Christmas Bling where I mock and joke about the perfect Hallmark Plot Generator.

Kate

A Hallmark Christmas Story Beginning – Part 1

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

‘See the sunlight through the pines, taste the warmth of winter wine, dream of softly falling snow, winter’s cold, aspenglow...’ Noelle hummed along to one of her favorite John Denver songs as she wound the garland around the stairwell railing. All around her the staff was filling the house with holiday spirit for the Judge and Mrs. Carson.

She loved her job of personal assistant slash manager of this grand old mansion. Retired Judge Carson doted on his charming wife and she doted on him and Noelle. They had practically given Noelle carte blanche in decorating the house this year with only a few suggestions and she had taken off running with all of it.

Nearly every large room held one Christmas tree, be it big or small, and each room had a theme that flowed right into the next room. The front entry with it’s large grand staircase was classic red and green with poinsettias at the base of the stairs and green garlands wrapping up the railings. Then tiny fairy lights wrapping the greenery for a delicate glow. A tall fir graced the corner, decorated in red bows and ribbons, simple white lights , and a simple gold star.

The front living room was a white and ivory wonderland. The only green was from the blue spruce, but everything else was in shades of white and cream. Ivory beaded garlands were strung on the tree, which was decorated in cream birds and feathers, glittery snowflakes and delicate angels. A white winter village was set on the mantle with a fake snow batting softening the edges.

The dining room, with it’s large french doors overlooking the back gardens and gazing pool, had been trimmed in the simplest of greenery and clove studded oranges. Pomegranates and large bowls of potpourri decorated the table and scented the air in spice and warmth. Large magnolia and orange leaves were tucked into the long needled boughs and it was right out a very Scandinavian or French country.

The Carson’s entire family was coming home for the holidays, so each bedroom had to be perfect. Advent calendars and stockings decorated the great-grand kids and cousins rooms, while more simple and elegant things decorated the adult’s. Noelle had been planning the rooms since August. It was exciting to see all of it come into focus and reality. Mrs. Carson was delighted with every detail and even she had to concur with the judge, that his wife was as giddy as a schoolgirl with all the festivities in the house.

Noelle had even gone so far as to plan holiday meals each day and every evening since the first of December, light a candle each night for advent. She had found an elegant advent calendar  full of pretty sayings about the season. She had spruced it up with Mrs. Carson’s favorite chocolates, and now every evening after dinner, with their coffees, they would sit in her favorite decorated room. The grand, two story library, with a roaring fire. Mrs. Carson would open the numbered box. Noelle would light a green candle, and the judge would read part of the Christmas story. She had started the tradition the year before, when she had first started working for the Carsons, and now it was a cozy family thing they did. For the judge and his wife

viewed her as family since all of their sons, daughters, and grandchildren lived far away. Her family wasn’t nearby either, her parents still lived in her hometown three states away and 18 hours  of driving away. Her sister was friends with the Carson’s daughter and had recommended her for the job, but her sister also lived several hours away and hardly ever had the time to visit, what with being a housewife and mother of three very active little boys.

Various aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were dispersed throughout the west, and on it went, so for her it had been absolutely lovely that the Carsons viewed her like and added granddaughter.

So with Mrs. Carson’s ever delightful support, she transformed the magnificent mansion to a Christmas wonderland. She also instrucked the gardeners on how to decorate dhte exterior. lights around the eaves and spiraled around the tall conical cypress that lined the driveway. They looked like glittering pillars every night when the first star would come out and the timers would click on . Flick! and there was a stellar driveway. The shrubs were covered with lighted nets that draped over, and various trees were decorated in the dripping icicle lights so they look drenched. If there was one thing she loved, it was lights.

She and the girls from the kitchen and maids had made snowmen families tucked into pockets of conifers throughout the gardens one afternoon when the snow had fallen thickly the night before. The judge had even found an old horse-drawn sleigh that was in need of massive repairs, but with some greenery and red bows and even more lights, it became the welcoming piece de resistance welcoming those at the front gate.

 

Part Two is in the next post. I just didn’t want to bog you all down with this little Hallmark-y story I started writing two years ago.  I only have parts one and two so far, but well I’m dabbling since I’m in the Christmas Season.

Kate

A Little Christmas Bling

Winter slumps in like that grumpy gnome you have hiding in your garden. One minute the sky is blue, the next, there sitting in the corner armchair, or maybe it’s a recliner, is this frown faced, white bearded, cross armed gnome. Sort of like Grumpy. The fog sits in this fuzzy white line across the sky like a low hanging ceiling. Never lifting and you know darn well it’s all blue skies and sunshine above. Maybe. Who knows. It’s this bubble you are in. You have no clue. Heck, it could be rockets red glare up there and you wouldn’t know.

The fog, if it does lift, happens around 4pm right when the sun is making its last pass and is about ready to drop down over the mountains. Then, the night sky is alight with the most midnight blue sky. Brilliant and scintillating with the starshine of the winter constellations. Orion tipped on his side as a waxing gibbous mercury silvers a metal barn roof to mirror shine.

Daytime: late afternoon and deer linger on velvet lawns of faded green and tan, like well placed ornaments. It is Advent season after all. They are like the flocked deer of one’s childhood where there were those beautiful horses and deer and woodland creatures that were the softest to touch but couldn’t have their limbs moved. The kind that area always in the ranching stores. I remember the last time I saw them was in this all purpose Radio Shack store when I was about 12 in Colorado. The kind of store that sold farm toys to kids. Tractors and John Deere things, and blue jeans, and knick knacks for a tourist town.

Advent, when every glittering thing takes on a new meaning. Starlit nights, Christmas lights, a red drum in a second-hand store window, paper bags lining a street with little flickering lights. Turn on every Christmas song I know, watch every Christmas related movie in the world, hum about hippopotamuses and lost front teeth. Grinches and Little Toy Trains. Candles shine more brightly in the dark.

 

Christmas is a fairytale. For Christians it aught to be a fairytale. We are on this quest for the ‘gold’ and the right, we are knights fighting for our King, to end up in a paradise of riches and wealth. They say fairytales don’t exist. Clearly no one ever read the Bible. Why, everything is fantastic and amazing and glorious. And it’s all true! Talk about a story that doesn’t have an end, and the end is going to be so much more magnificent than anything us mortal humans could cook up in section 398.2.

The holiday season is fastly here and I’ve yet to write anything I’ve wanted, but the start of this post was a start of a poem that didn’t go anywhere. It was clearly meant for blog posts and all that.  I can’t quite seem to get out what I’m feeling and thinking. Life is just too chaotic at times. I’m just one motion into another. Planning desserts, Christmas party dresses, functioning. It’s just all a little too much to sit and write. That being said, I am in another Hallmark frame of mind. Ironically, a friend just sent me the best Hallmark Christmas movie plot generator. I am having a blast with it. I dare you to come up with something yourself.

Go for it and tell me what you come up with. Even better, or brownie points if you can name a movie that fits one of these!

Kate

 

Missing Random Writing and Christmas Season

I have spent the last year and a half focused solely on poetry. Hardly doing any free writing. Just this poetically possessed individual. Well, I have had enough of that!

Driving up the mountains through the sugar cookie encrusted snow engulfed pine trees today, with a milky sun trying desperately to burn through the fog, I realized how much I missed writing bits of flash fiction and free writes. I wanted to write so much about the snow and the Christmas season and the light and dark and shadows.

We Have Visited Narnia

I get in this obsessed atmosphere where I hyper focus on one thing and then I sometimes miss the big picture. Poetry is pretty micro-ed down. And I am more tired these days where poetry doesn’t come out as easily. Partly as I am too wired at night when I get off of work to write poetry. I probably need to start forcing myself to try. Especially when I get off of work, sit at the bar for a quick drink or last cup of coffee. I have a new Field Notes notebook, my first ever, that I am filling with “Night Shift Notes” at the end of the night.  But that is non fiction. I could sit with a small notebook and just start working on fiction and fun things.

I am in a Hallmark Christmas mood. Like, every night we watch one, at least, and on my weekends, two, sometimes. Thankfully I have a family that likes them as much as I do. Some are horrible. Some are marvelous, and some, well, just barely make the cut.  But much to the chagrin of my coworkers (men, Coffeeman….. I’m looking at you, and a couple others) I love Christmas, Christmas music, and all things Christmas. Thankfully Awesome, Extraordinare, Superwoman hostess loves Christmas as much as I do and we were giddy last week when the tree went up at work. Tinsel and glitter and gorgeousness. 

So I have lots of festive things to write about and have fun. A Christmas party in a few weeks, prom-esque style. I never went to my prom. And I have this super cute LBD with embroidered kittens coming… I could have gone more glamorous, but heck, this will be a fun one to have for other events.

So, as I rambled off of that original train of thought. Basically, I miss writing. I miss the fun things I could come up with even if they didn’t go anywhere. So, clearly I need to start playing around with words. Recently I was playing a drinking game after work, don’t worry, I only had one beer, and I was called the resident ‘wordsmith’. So I must must must use words.

Kate

Merry Christmas, Writers, Poets, and Friends Alike

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Hello, Dearies, and Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas (for you British lovelies), and Happy Holidays! Talk about a whirlwind year. For all of us. Writers alike; people in general. Life has changed dramatically and will probably never be the same.

My life has continued to be a zoo. A tired zoo. The tigers and lions need a serious dose of coffee all the time! I have been on crazy mode all this week with KP (kitchen patrol, for those who don’t know White Christmas or military terms)

I have been having late nights and ups and downs; burns and cuts. And a world of writing ideas. I never knew what kind of people worked in a kitchen. I never knew how a kitchen even functioned. While I still am a total newbie and this is my ‘first rodeo’ (my chef rolled his eyes a that statement. I guess he has never lived anywhere near the country) I  am slowly learning how things function. I had our new sous chef ask me how long I have been in the kitchen world and I replied, “Since November 20th.”  I have to laugh. Just over a month.

Christmas came too fast this year and I haven’t had much time to enjoy it like I usually do, which has dampened my spirits some. A lot. But I have three days off, including today, which is Christmas Eve, so that helps. I have Christmas ideas in my head and I am working on my Hallmark new story. Basically you have Noelle, a personal assistant to a retired judge and his wife who own a large mansion. Noelle Snow has been decorating the house up to the nines, or rafters, because the whole entire family of the judge and his wife’s are coming home for Christmas. Including one of their favorite grandsons who just so happens to disapprove of Noelle and all she has done for the Carson’s, even though they have never met in person.  Well, of course Noelle is going to win him over! It is Hallmark after all. Of course there is going to be Christmas music, and gingerbread cookies with kids, and snow, and maybe a sleigh ride. Lights everywhere.  A house decorated with a Christmas tree in every room. And Noelle? Well she happens to always have Christmas music playing in her room. Why wouldn’t she?  Did you see her name?  Can you just hear the disapproving tone of a handsome lawyer grandson when he says “Miss Snow.”?  Too perfect.

I need happy right now. I need ridiculously cheesy Hallmark Christmas romances. I need to write it. Life is too funny and fickle to not have it in your life. I don’t care if I sound like a goody two shoes. Apparently in my job I am the ‘too nice.” I don’t care. If everyone were too nice, the world would be a lot happier place. I have acutally had people ask me if I get up in the morning as perky as I am when I come into work. Haha. Oh the miracles of makeup and a boatload of coffee. It’s nice to think that people think I’m perpetually happy. It’s a far cry from the truth, but I figure they shouldn’t know my problems when I’m out at work. Unfortunately my family gets the brunt of that when I come home. I vent. A lot. But I try to get through every day with a decent attitude.

My not so positive attitude comes out in my poetry. That gets to the heart of my heart. I have something started about being flayed open. Cooking terms. Filleted alive. A pound of flesh. Goodness, that’s depressing.  I get through some days realizing that I have a manuscript on editor’s desks right now! It’s been there for almost three months. I have a manuscript on editor’s desks!  Even saying it still blows my mind. I mean, it’s legit. I am a poet. I may not always have the time, but I am a poet through and through.

It’s rather funny to think about sometimes when right now my life doesn’t even have the time to think. My chef, bless his soul, thinks that me working 40+ hours a week and getting paid overtime will make it so I’m not a poor writer.  Doesn’t he know that the reason writers are poor is because they can’t work if they want to write? Doesn’t he know that half, no wait, three quarters of a writer’s life isn’t writing, but thinking about writing? I have to think days and days to write! I haven’t had times to even think, so writing has been severely killed. Murdered. Knifed to death. (there are a lot of knives in my life right now)

Anyways.  Merry Christmas, darling writers. Readers alike. I’m off to watch a Hallmark film with the family. I think The Holiday is in the near future, but that’s a prerequisite. Oh and Charlie Brown! I need Charlie Brown.

And I know this may sound strange, but I now associate Meatballs, the camp movie, with Christmas and winter. I am going to make that a tradition. My parents don’t know this, but I so love that film now.

Joyeux Noel!

Kate

A Snowed In Christmas Present – Short Story

Back in March my local libraries hosted their annual story contest. It’s a chance for the people in the valley to get their creative hats going, especially the schools, to write a three-page story.  Or if you are the 1st and 2nd graders, well, whatever you can write.

Over the years I have entered at various points. This year I won first place and it was kind of nice, having one 2nd and 3rd as well over the years. Below is my entry. My Hallmark of a three page story. I entered this year to challenge myself to writing  a story in three pages. I guess I made it work. Enjoy. Oh and it was inspired by this picture from Bing from a few years ago.

A Snowed In Christmas Present

Christmas Eve

Jess tramped through the deep snow, her snowshoes keeping her above the deep whiteness. Her shepherd, Max, bounded along at her side. The destination was a cabin tucked into a copse of pines near the old ski trails at the back of the new ski resort. In dry weather it was a half hour hike, but with all the snow, it took Jess over an hour to reach the primitive cabin. Built in the 40s by her grandfather, when he had owned all the surrounding land, the cabin was a sturdy log structure with a small lean-to built out back where the dry wood was stored. There was a small loft with a bed over the main room of the cabin, and that was where Jess slept most of the time, though sometimes she’d crash on the ancient sofa some relative had somehow carted to the cabin. It had always been a mystery as to how it had gotten to the cabin from so far.

It was late afternoon when Jess and Max arrived. It took Jess another twenty minutes shoveling the snow away from the front door with the snow shovel tucked under the eaves before she could get into the cabin. She quickly started a fire in the pot belly stove then started another one in the small wood cook stove. She got pans of snow on the stove to melt while Max checked out all of the corners of that cabin for mice that might have set up house in the early part of the winter. Satisfied there had been no intruders, he flopped in front of the stove with a groan. Jess laughed at him as she lit kerosene lanterns. She brought in more snow and added it to the pans on the stove before she started dinner. She had brought fresh supplies to add to the many stored items in the pantry. A stew was in order for a cold, snowy night like tonight.

She cut up carrots and potatoes to add to the tinned beef. As the stew bubbled and simmered on the stove, she mixed up biscuits from the flour and dry ingredients in the mouse-proof canisters. Soon, she and Max were eating a hot meal on this last Christmas Eve Jess would be spending in this cabin.

It was while Jess was buttering a second biscuit that she was startled by a loud knock on the front door. Max growled low and deep as she went to the window and peeked out. There stood a man with skies and poles. She quickly opened the door and saw that the man had a gash on his cheek and one of the skies was broken.

“Oh come in,” she urged and shushed Max who barked.

“Thank you,” the man said, nearly stumbling into the room. “I didn’t think I would make it; then I saw your light.”

Jess grabbed the skies and poles from him and helped him to the weary couch and noticed he was limping on his left foot. He collapsed with a groan and Jess quickly leaned the skies against the wall and grabbed the small box of medical supplies off a shelf.

“What happened?” she asked as she dampened a rag and cleaned the bloody wound on the man’s cheek.

“I was cross-country skiing up one of the old trails and ended up too close to a tree. Sank deep into the snow, hit some branches, broke a ski, and sprained my ankle.

“Oh dear. Sorry,” she muttered as she dabbed at the gash with iodine and the man winced.

“S’okay. What is someone doing out in this cabin on Christmas Eve?” he asked as if to distract himself.

“Says the man out skiing on a night when it’s supposed to snow the same night.” Jess smiled as the man gave a rueful laugh. “Max and I are spending our last Christmas here. My grandparents have owned this cabin for years, but due to some bad business deals by my uncles, they finally had to sell it to some developer. I guess he wants to make a resort here to back up the ski resort on the other side of the mountain. My grandfather used to own that land as well, but sold it years ago. So, since the developer wants to get started as soon as the spring thaw, and it’s tradition, here I am.” Jess tacked steri-strips across the gash.  “I don’t think this is going to need stitches.”

“Thank you. I’m Tom, by the way.” The man reached up and touched his cheek gingerly.

“I’m Jess Simmons. Now let’s get your ankle looked at. I don’t think you are going to be able to get out tonight on that ankle. You are at least an hour from the highway in this snow.

“I can’t impose on you,” Tom protested half-heartedly. Jess made a face at his protest as she brought a pan of snow that was mounded and set it on the ottoman.

“Right. You can barely walk and the snow is already coming down. I don’t think you are going to be able to leave. Face it, mister, you are my captive. Now take off your sock and rest your foot on this snow. It should take down some of the swelling.”

Tom did as she bade, winced at the cold, but then relaxed into the couch as Jess brought him a bowl of stew and a biscuit. He ate quietly while Jess made coffee and pulled some canned peaches from the pantry. They feasted on peaches and cream for dessert.

Then they talked after that, Jess telling Tom of the history of the land around the cabin and the cabin itself.  Outside the snow came down faster and faster.  Tom talked about his love of skiing and the mountains and getting away from his life in the city. Jess ranted about the investor who probably planned to tear up the land and make a gaudy resort. Tom told her he was an investor as well, but hated gaudy. He preferred classic mountain lodges. They talked late into the night sharing their life in the unusual circumstances of their meeting.  

In the morning, it was clear that they weren’t going to be able to get out of the cabin except to reach the outhouse behind the lean-to and the lean-to itself. They were snowed in. Which was what Jess had planned on, but Tom had not. He was worried his assistant would be going crazy since he’d never made it back to his hotel room at the ski resort, but there wasn’t much that could be done about it. So Jess and Tom spent an unusual Christmas together, playing cards, eating the simple but tasty meal Jess fixed and talking more and more.  Max claimed Tom as his own, using him as a pillow and not wanting to leave his side. Jess had never seen Max be so taken with someone other than her.

They spent two days together in the cabin before the snow blew away enough from the door that they could make their escape. Not that Jess was complaining. She liked Tom and was sad that their interlude was at an end, as strange as the situation was. It hadn’t hurt that he was a rather charming companion and quite good looking as well.

The hike to the highway was slow going, as Tom still had a limp and the one ski was broken, but they made it after a few hours. From there, Jess was able to drive Tom to the ski resort. In the whirlwind shuffle of getting him into the hotel and the staff making a fuss, she and Tom got separated. Jess thought of staying and calling his room after he got settled, but decided that she would come back tomorrow. She and Max went home, which was only an hour down the road in the small mountain community. Much to her dismay though, when she called resort, the staff told her that Tom had checked out and not left any forwarding address. Nor was the hotel going to give out his phone number.

Jess spent the rest of her holiday in a slump of disappointment, wishing she could speak with Tom and knowing the sale of the land was at the first of the year.

“Well, Max,” she said on New Year’s Eve, “it was fun while it lasted.”  Max sighed against her. He’d been moping since she’d let Tom off at the hotel. It was a very unsatisfactory way to end the year……..

Christmas Eve one year later.

Jess hiked through the few inches of snow towards the cabin. Max, as usual, bounded along beside her. There was a lot less snow than last year and the sky was clear and crisp. It was going to be a gorgeous Christmas Eve, made even more perfect by the fact that Jess now held the deed to the land around her cabin. The sale had gone through for the cabin back in January, but not long after the papers had transferred to the new owner, a thick packet had arrived in the mail. Much to Jess’s surprise, the new owner had learned of her love of the land and had gifted it to her with the deed to the land and cabin. Her grandparent’s bills were paid and she had the cabin now in her name. 

Jess had sent a thank you note through the brokerage firm that handled the sale, but she hadn’t heard anything else. Even now, months later, she was still semi stunned that she owned the cabin and could come here whenever she wanted.

The cabin was waiting there in the trees, cheery as when she had closed it up a few months ago for winter. She was looking forward to being able to celebrate again.

The lanterns were lit and a thick steak was sizzling on the stove when a knock came at the door. It was with a sense of déjà vu that Jess looked out the window to see a man standing at the door with skies in hand.  She opened the door.

“Tom!” she gasped. “What are you doing here?” She stepped aside to let the tall man in. “How did you know I was going to be here? Were you out skiing again? You aren’t hurt are you?”

Tom laughed. “You ask a lot of questions.” He leaned his skies against the wall and scratched Max who had come up to lean against the man.  “I’m here to see you. I was only skiing in from the road; no I’m not hurt. And as to why I’m here….” He paused.  “I wanted to see if my investment was getting good use. Since you are here, then I would say it is.”

“What do you mean your investment?”  Jess flipped the steak and peeled a couple extra carrots since she knew Tom was going to stay.

“Well, you did receive the deed to this cabin, yes?” Tom leaned against the counter near where she worked.

“Yes. How did you know about that?”

“Because, I’m Tom Winterthorne. I was the person that had been investing in the land around here.”

“What?! You’re Winterthorne Investments?” Jess stopped peeling.

“Yes. It was your stories of this cabin and spending time here charmed me so much I couldn’t let it leave your hands. So, I bought the land and had it righted back to you. There will always be land to invest in, but well, it’s not too often you find a woman you like who has such passion for the history of land.”

“I can’t believe you did this. I can’t believe you are the investor. I wasn’t very nice in describing you last year.” Jess ducked her head, embarrassed.

“You were unhappy. I couldn’t take it personally since I have done a few things that are like what you said.”

“I called the hotel after I let you off last year. You had checked out.  I thought I wouldn’t see you again.”  Jess dumped the cut up carrots into a pan with butter.

“Did you want to?”  Tom tipped his head to the side in question.

“I did. Very much so. I liked you. I liked our time we spent together, as strange as it was.” She ran her fingers through her hair.

“So did I. That’s partly why I came here tonight. I was hoping you would honor your traditions and come back. I was hoping to find you here.” He reached out and grabbed her hand and tugged her close. “I was hoping you wouldn’t hate me too much for me being me. I was hoping I could spend this Christmas with you as a friend again.” He leaned down and kissed her gently. “And maybe as the promise of something more.”

“I don’t think we are going to get snowed in this year,” Jess replied, “but I can’t think of a nicer present then to spend it with you.”

And if you had been standing outside of the cabin at that moment, you would have seen Jess lean up and kiss Tom as high in the sky the stars twinkled on this clear Christmas Eve.

 

Copywrite 2017 by Katie Lyn Branson

A Christmas Vignette – Regina Decorates Luke’s Office – Flash Fiction

ysnkckdkyty-rodion-kutsaevRegina whirled into the lobby of the hotel, her ruby red, velvet cloak whirling around her. Her arms were laden with bags and there were also a few hat boxes clutched in her hands.  She sniffed appreciatively at the warm pine smell coming from the very large Christmas tree in the lobby. Currently, it only had its lights, twinkling fairy lights, but soon it would be decorated. Late at night, the staff would set to work turning the hotel into a Christmas dream. The bannisters would be strung with garlands, greenery would be around windows and doors. Bowls of glass ornaments and strings of shimmery beads. Glittery snowflakes and icicles dripping off of the balcony overlooking the lobby. The hotel would be alive with classic Christmas music and every member of the staff would have their holiday uniforms; sparkly dresses for the ladies, and festive vests and bow ties for the men.

Regina hummed The Christmas Song, Karen Carpenter’s voice in her head as she plopped her purchases in Luke’s office. Luke was out, it appeared, and Regina grinned deviously. She picked up the phone on his desk and rang up the kitchen.

“Hi, Margo. Could you have a bottle of champagne, a plate of shortbread cookies and some finger food brought to Luke’s office? I’m decorating.” She couldn’t stop the giggle to Margo’s groan of “oh God.”

Luke, while festive, did not like his office touched. Even by Regina, and they were a thing.

Regina had just plugged in some holiday music and was pulling things out of her bags when Craig came in with the things she’d ordered, the champagne in an ice bucket and the rest on a tray.

“Put the champagne on the desk and the two plates on that table,” she directed, pointing at the small table between two comfortable chairs she frequently confiscated when she was writing.

“The boss ain’t gonna like this,” Craig warned as he set the champagne flutes next to the bucket of ice and popped the cork on the bubbly.

“That’s because he’s never had me decorating. Besides, he can’t fire his woman.”

“Just don’t say I had any part of this,” Craig warned.

“Why would I? You only brought my order,” Regina said, confused.

Craig grinned and stuck his head out of the door. “Oy! Jason. Sam. Bring it in,” he called.

Two of the other bellhops came in carting a faux, fluffy, white Christmas tree and set it up in front of one of the long windows that looked out on Ashland’s bustling East Main. They plugged in the cord hanging near the base and the tree was lit up in glittery white.

“Lissa ordered this for your suite, but when she heard you were decorating the boss’s, she told us to bring it in here.” Craig and the boys left and Regina stood, staring at the tree in glee. She knew she always liked Luke’s assistant, Lissa, but this was extra perfect. And she was amazed that the word had gotten around that she was decorating in the twenty minutes since she’d ordered the food. Ah yes, living in a hotel was like a small town. Gossip was always a hot topic.

To the sounds of Bing Crosby and many more classic Christmas artists, Regina pulled ornaments from bags that had come from Paddington Station, one of Regina’s favorite stores along Ashland’s shopping district. There were other bags of ornaments from other stores and soon there were silver and gold and glittery red ornaments hanging on the tree. Thank goodness she didn’t have to put the lights on herself. She wound glittery pine garlands around the windows, she sipped the champagne, she nibbled the good eats, and soon, the office of the very prominent owner of the very luxurious hotel, was a warm and cozy winter wonderland.

She had the shades up so passersby could look in the windows, and she caught many open-mouthed “whoa’s” as she fixed things. Some she would wave at, others, she would toast with her glass of bubbly. It was fun.

By the time Luke entered his office at half past four, Regina was a bit tipsy and belting out White Christmas. He should have been furious with his zen office now almost as richly decorated as a store, but when his gorgeous lady held up a bunch of mistletoe in a gold bow and presented her very red lips, who was he to make a fuss?

2fbfidnx0oo-annie-spratt

So I have recently been writing little vignettes of my various novels and their characters. I wanted to give everyone a Christmas story. I read off one of my little somethings the other night and was told that it was like a Hallmark script. I had never thought about my stories that way; the stories I have been writing for 16+ years, but it was incredibly encouraging because I like to write nice stories. I have been trying to figure out what to do with my stories for ages. Now I might have some inspiration.

Regina and Luke are the start of something I wanted to write about Ashland, Oregon, and the glorious Ashland Springs Hotel. I wrote a character piece on Luke ages ago. You can read it here.

Devotions for Christmas – A Review

devotions-for-christmas-coverDevotions for Christmas: A celebration to bring you joy and peace published by Zondervan, is a lovely Christmas and December  devotions book that doesn’t just center on advent like many books for this time of year do. Instead, it takes you through the crazy, busy holiday season with very nicely done devotions. Simplifying life and giving you a moment to really enjoy the holiday season for what it is; a celebration of Christ. Each day has an incredibly appealing photograph of something Christmas-y themed, mostly over a two page spread, which I love. The images are clear and crisp and make you want to decorate. There are simple prayers and each topic is very appealing. Days like ‘Surprise Packaging’,  ‘Family Traditions’, ‘Home for the Holidays’,  ‘Holiday Memories’, ‘Christmas Leftovers’, and one of my favorites, ‘The Aroma of Christmas’.   Simple prayers, verses at both the beginning of each day and mixed within the text, and a whole 31 days of devotions, makes for an incredibly nice ‘coffee table’ book and a wonderful book for the Christmas season.

a-charlie-brown-christmas-abc-11302015-1276x850I was very pleased with this book when it arrived, one being that it is a hardback. I had expected a thin paperback and I am a fan of hardback books because I feel that they will last longer than other books.  The photographs are so incredibly beautiful feeling like they are right out of  a really classy magazine, like Martha Stewart.  The book will put you right in the spirit of Christmas, which sometimes is hard with all the ‘commercialization’ as Charlie Brown says.  It makes you want to sit down and take a moment. I am also very pleased that it is the entire month of December instead of just an advent devotional. I had assumed that this was only going to have 25 days, as it was a Christmas devotional, but it is for the whole month into New Year’s Eve. This is a really nice book for that reason. Because the holiday season doesn’t just stop on the 25th.

I was incredibly pleased with this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a really nice devotional that is not only useful, but pretty, for the holiday season. I also think it would be a lovely gift.   5 out of 5 stars.

This book was provided to me for my honest review with no compensation from Booklook Bloggers and Harper Collin’s Christian Publishing.

Kate

Waiting Here For You: An Advent Journey of Hope – A Review

_225_350_Book.1777.coverDuring the holiday season, we are so focused on the holiday in general that we forget what the true season of Christmas is about. Waiting Here For You: An Advent Journey of Hope by Louie Giglio is an advent devotion book meant to help us slow down, stop, and reflect what Christmas and the advent are really about. Each day starting with November 26th, Paster Giglio guides us in scripture, a reflection relating to the scripture, meditation (which is usually a Christmas poem or song) and finally a prayer.  So 30 days of thinking about how we are waiting for Christ  and the remembrance of his birth, which for Christians, is a very sacred time of year.  So, when we get a little too busy with buying the gifts, preparing the Christmas meals and dealing with family and travel and all the frustrations that may come, this very thing, almost pocket sized book is just right for pulling out. Lighting a candle and meditating and focusing on Christ.

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu.

Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have loved advent since I was a little girl when we would read the Christmas story through the four weeks of December, lighting a green candle each week for the wise men, Mary and Joseph, The shepherds, the angels, and finally a red candle for Jesus. There were the colorful calendars and it was a very memorable and sacred time of year for me. I eagerly looked forward to it. As time as gone by, I have slowly let that slipe away, and this book is perfect for putting you right back into the calming frame of mind of what Christmas is really about. While I am terrible at devotions and having a daily schedule for reading my Bible, and I didn’t technically finish this book in a daily order, it’s still a lovely small book, perfect for the season. There is something incredibly calming about the red, black, white and grey colors of the book. So calming in fact that I ended up writing a sonnet about red berries with the colors of black, white and grey. This book is perfect for any Christian that want to get back to what advent is about. I love it’s slim size and I love that the meditations are songs I know, but may not know all the lyrics. I liked that it was a very Christmas themed book in that it had the traditional songs that Christians know for the season. From Oh Come All Ye Faithful, O Come Oh Come Emmanuel, Silent Night, and O Holy Night. Lovely hymns Christians know and love.

I would highly recommend this book to any Christian who wants do practice adven but feels too old for the calendars and childish themes. This is a lovely book. Five out of Five stars.

Kate

This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest opinion and review from HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Thomas Nelson, and BookLookBloggers.