by Jennifer Hoopes
For some of us, the Christmas holiday is full of traditions and memories, possibly both good and bad, and while writing The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby, and more recently getting ready for its release, I couldn’t help but relive some of my favorite things about Christmas growing up. With my dad’s passing in 2016, I find that I’m more determined than ever to hold on to these memories and create new traditions for my own family.
A TREE SO BIG IT WAS ANCHORED THROUGH A HOLE IN THE CEILING.
My dad took the old adage, “Go Big or Go Home” to heart. Every year he managed to find the tallest and widest tree that existed in Maryland and somehow get it through our front door to overtake our living room. My brother(s) and he would attempt to get it straight and centered without having it tip over in its stand, all while my mother stood there mumbling something about people not being able to walk. It didn’t matter to my dad. It would fit one way or another and people would just have to deal. And my family would. We just would take turns picking up the ornaments that fell or removing tinsel from one another.
SNOOPING PUTS YOU ON THE NAUGHTY LIST
What kid didn’t snoop through the house during the holidays searching for presents or trying to guess what was in the already wrapped boxes? When I was ten (past the time I learned the semi-truth about the jolly guy in the red suit) I went snooping upstairs and discovered that my dream was coming true. I was finally going to get a Swatch Watch. I thought I had been so careful in putting it back in the box and making sure nothing looked disturbed. So, imagine my disappointment when on Christmas morning the watch was nowhere to be found. Throughout the day my mother kept asking me what was wrong, and of course, I had to say “nothing.” Who would admit to snooping? The whole week I mourned that watch. On New Year’s Eve, we had a tradition of receiving one last present. My mother handed me a box and looked me in the eye and said, “I hope you learned your lesson.” Inside was my watch and you can bet I never snooped again.
STOCKINGS FOR EVERYONE
My parents loved Christmas, and they hosted the holiday for my very large family every year. This often led to 30-40 people in our house, and everyone got a present (even those my parents didn’t know were coming, my mom’s backup supply was legendary.) But really what everyone had come for (besides the food and fudge) was the stockings. At the end of the evening, we would help carry down shopping bags full of stockings sorted by families and hand them out. The entire clan would scatter to every available part of the house and dig in to see what goodies mom had put in them this year. The traditional toothpaste, deodorant and WD-40 was present, but she always included items unique to the individual. Paper would litter the floor and after everything was open, we would all present our empty stockings back to my mom with a hug and thanks and a promise for same time, same place next year.
This is a tradition I have started with my own family. Every Christmas Eve my kids leave milk and cookies and a note for Santa, and every Christmas morning they wake up to find the milk and cookies gone but an ornament and thank you note from Santa in its place. Now my oldest is in the “know” but still rushes down to see what “Santa” has left for her. My youngest is in awe that Santa figures out just what ornament she wants every year. I try and pick something unique to them for that specific year, and when the time comes for them to leave the nest and create their own traditions, they will have a complete set of special ornaments to kick it off.
Thank you for having me today and for stopping by. I hope everyone has a magical holiday season. Happy Reading!
THE COWBOY’S CHRISTMAS BABY
Stranded in the middle of the road in big sky country, Wyoming, at eight months pregnant isn’t exactly what Sofie Pennington had planned when she decided to pack up and surprise her sister. Fly Creek is a fresh start for her, one where she’s finally free from her controlling ex and can figure out this whole single parent thing. First, though, she needs to get there. To her shock, her rescuer comes in the form of a frustratingly handsome cowboy.
Dan Rigby is on his way out of town—for good—when he stumbles across a very pregnant Sofie. She’s the most obstinate, exasperating woman he’s ever met…and the most appealing. She drives him crazy, in more ways than one. When her sister suddenly has to leave, and Dan becomes Sofie’s welcoming committee, they find themselves growing closer despite their desire for conflicting things. Can Dan convince Sofie that Christmas miracles do happen?