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Merry Christmas To All Who Celebrate!

I'm so sorry I've been out of commission for the past few weeks. Life just got fully in the way! 

This Year I had the chance to do a gift exchange with a fan. I thought it might be nice to share with you all the trip down memory lane I shared with her. The gifts are mentioned in the stories.

Just so you know, I based it on the 12 days of Christmas. There's a reason why I don't write lyrics, so don't expect too much there! LOL

Hope you enjoy!

On the first day of Christmas a memory gift from me, an amaryllis instead of a tree.

Technically in the whole scheme of things, my love for amaryllis came rather later in life, however, if you have any hope of this lovely little gem blooming before the holidays, you’ll have to get it into the ground on day one.

I’ve always loved gardening, and flowers especially. Having to live the long winter months with nothing growing is hard, especially for someone who loved it as much as I. I think this is why amaryllis, Christmas cactus, orchids, poinsettias, etc are so important to me.

Here’s a little pointer for your little piece of summer on the bleak winter’s days. Leave the leaves on, water it once a week or so, and then tuck it into a full sun spot in your garden for the summer then five months before you’re ready for it to bloom again, pull it up from the ground, tuck leaves, dirt, and all, into a paper bag and store in a dark dry place. Leave in the paper bag away from the sun or moisture for 3 whole months, then pull it out, trim the dead leaves and broken roots and repot it. It’ll bloom around six weeks later. Easy and such a sweet reminder of Christmas all year long!

On the second day of Christmas a memory gift from me, two bars of chocolate, (and an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

Keeping to the theme of later in life, I am gifting you one of my all-time favorite chocolate bars.

I’m a lifelong lover of chocolate. Once in college I knocked on my bestie’s dorm door and yelled, “give me chocolate and no one dies!”

Since then it’s been an ongoing joke that I don’t do well without a little hit from time to time.

If you’ve not discovered Aldi’s chocolate, let me introduce you to what I believe is the best tasting chocolate bars on the planet. Being a major cheapskate, the fact that they are the best and cost less than two bucks each makes it just that much more sweet. Yeah, I know I’m not supposed to disclose how much I paid, but seriously, the savings is as much the Christmas present as the candy!!! 😊

On the third day of Christmas a memory gift from me, Cologne Candles, (Two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

Growing up first generation off the farm, my dad and mom worked very long hours to make ends meet. Even then, they still struggled.

I didn’t get to see my dad much, especially when times were leaner. I was in every way a dad’s kid. I adored him and missed him horribly when his job kept him away.

Christmas was one of the few times his job let him be home. As a result, my best memories of my father are embedded in the Christmas holidays.

While at Lowes, shopping for my own project that keeps me way too busy to rest, I found a candle that not only smells great, but really reminded me of my father’s cologne.

Luckily, my father is still with us, but oh my, it’s such a great memory of being a kid, smelling his cologne, and knowing his presence was just going to make the holidays that much more special.

On the fourth day of Christmas a memory gift from me, Lawry’s Popcorn, (Cologne Candles, two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

This one is a goofy one, and I don’t blame you if you think I’ve lost my mind, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without this memory.

Each year, my parents would take a foster kid or kids in for the holidays. I’m not sure why things were so different back then, but they didn’t really put children in homes at least in Tennessee. Instead those kids stayed in a group home situation, and would occasionally stay with families as a “social learning experience.” Bless their hearts!

One Christmas, a kid by the name of David came to stay with us. Our whole family fell in love with this kid, including me. I wanted him to be my brother and begged my parents to help make that happen.

I didn’t have to beg much as they were as willing and ready as me. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, and David no longer came to stay with us after that Christmas, because the workers “didn’t want him to become too attached…” Strange times!

David loved popcorn, and my sister had brought a friend home from college who introduced us all to Lawry’s seasoning.

I don’t remember whose idea it was to put the Lawry’s on the popcorn, probably the woman my sister brought home, but all I remember is how delicious it was and how fun it was to watch David devour bag after bag.

I often wonder what happened to David. I hope he found a home and happiness. David is responsible for my taking on foster kids once I became an adult. I always knew I wanted to do that some day.

So, Christmas isn’t quite complete for me, without some popcorn and Lawry’s seasoning.

On the fifth day of Christmas a memory gift from me, peppermint sticks, (Lawry’s Popcorn, Cologne Candles, two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

For some bizarre reason, every year my mom would bring home a huge bar of peppermint. I honestly don’t even know where she got it, but it was a real tradition in our home.

Even with three insatiable kids, we never got very far into the peppermint before we gave up. Mom was the daughter of the depression generation, and we just didn’t throw things away. So, something had to be done with that peppermint stick.

I remember when I was young, maybe not even in school yet, mom giving me a hammer, wrapping the peppermint stick in plastic wrap and letting me go to town on it, crushing it to bits.

She took it then and made a peppermint cake, from scratch. I don’t make cake from scratch, but I did find one using a cake mix. I’ve attached that to the gift and included Christmas cupcake wrappers.

It’s not something I would’ve ever thought would be good, but trust me, it really, really is!

Link to recipe:

On the sixth day of Christmas a memory gift from me, Gingerbread Cookies, (peppermint sticks, Lawry’s Popcorn, Cologne Candles, two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

I grew up in a house full of very opinionated and strong-willed siblings. The fact is, I fit right in with them, too. Bless my parents’ hearts!

We didn’t do much together during the year. My sisters were busy, busy with school, then eventually they both went off to college leaving me home with my baby brother.

However, no matter how far away they roamed (get the connection to the Christmas song? Clever I know… lol) we ended up back together for the holiday.

Our poor mom tried so hard to make the holiday a together thing, and more often than not failed, but we did occasionally spend time together to do special things. Often that was playing games with our grandparents or mom (she loved Yahtzee.)

I do remember distinctly one Christmas, I think I was 19ish and back from college myself, and mom had found a Gingerbread house for us to assemble. Oh, it was such a lovely disaster.

We had icing all over us but not even remotely enough on the structure of the cookie house for it to survive. That’s one of my most wonderful memories of us doing something together, that we all didn’t absolutely hate, at least we didn’t hate it in the end.

On the seventh day of Christmas a memory gift from me, fir smelling soap (gingerbread cookies, peppermint sticks, Lawry’s Popcorn, Cologne Candles, two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

Fir being a tree, not like your dog or cat. LOL

My best memory of Christmas was when my sisters and I were still quite young. I was maybe five, and the sisters 9 and 11.

Like I said earlier, my dad was seldom home, so it was a big deal when he was. Back in the 1970s, we didn’t go to the store to buy a tree, we cut it down and dragged it home.

I don’t know how much you know about cedar trees, but they are in no way a pretty fir tree. They are round, spindly, and well Charlie Brown’s tree might’ve been an improvement.

However, one used what one had. This particular Christmas, dad grabbed his ax and told the three of us to follow, which we did, in a single file line, mind you.

I have NO idea why we were so compliant that day, but I’m glad we were because it made for a sweet memory.

Just as we stepped outside, it began to snow. Gentle flakes at first that transformed into bigger ones. Now, west Tennessee doesn’t get much snow. I only remember one time when it snowed in or around Christmas, so this was a really special moment, and all four of us felt it.

We found a cedar tree not far from where we loved to play in the summer, and dad chopped it down and all three of us tried to help bring it home.

I’m not a big fan of decorating for Christmas, wasn’t even back then, but that tree smelled so good that year. It somehow wasn’t quite as unwieldy as the other years, but of course, that could’ve just been my memory of the day we got it.

Nowadays, we have a fake tree and living in the RV, I don’t always even put that up, but I remember that one amazing day way back in my childhood, when collecting a tree with my siblings and my dad were absolutely the perfect Christmas memory.

On the eighth day of Christmas a memory gift from me, a chocolate orange, (fir smelling soap gingerbread cookies, peppermint sticks, Lawry’s Popcorn, Cologne Candles, two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

Imagine if you will, a kid in the 1970s growing up in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee. This was me. I was so sheltered, and we really only had a few special treats that we were used to getting.

One of those special treats, that we got in our stockings, which incidentally we never ate, was fruit, specifically an orange.

I’m not sure how old I was when mom got smart and switched the real orange with a chocolate one. OMG, it was like the parting of the Red Sea that Christmas.

I remember asking, “How did they make chocolate taste like an orange?” Hee hee, okay, I was a bit naïve, but in my defense, I hadn’t had a lot of life experiences at that point.

Chocolate oranges are special to me even to this day, and I have to have at least one during the holiday season.

On the ninth day of Christmas a memory gift from me, Chocolate covered cherries, (a chocolate orange, fir smelling soap gingerbread cookies, peppermint sticks, Lawry’s Popcorn, Cologne Candles, two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

Time for some real honest talk here. I do NOT like chocolate covered cherries. So, you might be asking why I’m gifting them to you.

The answer lies in giving not receiving. My mom loved these things. I don’t have a clue why, but she really did.

Each year, dad (or my grandma, if he didn’t have time,) would take us out to go shopping and mom was hard to figure out what to get. The sisters hated chocolate covered cherries as much as I did, so they never bought them for her, but knowing that she did, this was always my gift for her.

Mom would open them, and smile at me then pull one out and take a bite. Every single year.

I lost my mother to cancer in 2015, and of course, now that I’m grown, I can see all that she did for us. Most moms are special creatures quick to give whatever they can to make their kids happy.

I’m not sure if it was just her being nice or not, but I remember that smile, when she’d get her cherries and the satisfaction knowing I’d done something to make her happy.

I guess that’s just one of the many lessons my mom gave me. One I hold onto today. Giving can often be as much of a gift to the giver as the gifts that we receive.

On the tenth day of Christmas a memory gift from me, yummy hot chocolate, (Chocolate covered cherries, a chocolate orange, fir smelling soap gingerbread cookies, peppermint sticks, Lawry’s Popcorn, Cologne Candles, two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

How does one not grow up in the US and not include hot cocoa in their holiday memories?

I remember hot cocoa on so many occasions. After Christmas Night services, coming in from the cold after the sisters and I attempted to sled in the tiny amount of snow we got that one Christmas, or when I got older and I made it for my own kids.

The hot cocoa I gave you is in the package, but my mom made it from scratch. It was so yummy, and to be honest, I think hers was so much better than the bought stuff that I’ve included her recipe below.

Whether you make it from scratch or do as I do these days and just open a package, I do hope you’ll enjoy a cup or two on me.

Hot Cocoa Recipe:

  • 1 cup white sugar, or to taste (Mom just poured it in.)
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ⅓ cup boiling water
  • 3 ½ cups milk
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup half-and-half cream (mom used sweetened condensed milk… OMG so yummy, made my lactose intolerance, well intolerant, but sometimes you gotta sacrifice for the game, right?)

Combine sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a saucepan. Add boiling water and whisk until smooth. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring continuously to prevent scorching, and cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in milk and heat until very hot without boiling.

Remove from heat; add vanilla.

Add cream to each mug to help cool cocoa to drinking temperature then divide hot cocoa between 4 mugs.

Serve hot and enjoy!

FYI, I copied this recipe from All Recipes and modified it a bit based on how my mom did it. You can go to the link here:

On the eleventh day of Christmas a memory gift from me, Ghirardelli Brownies, (yummy hot chocolate, chocolate covered cherries, a chocolate orange, fir smelling soap, gingerbread cookies, peppermint sticks, Lawry’s Popcorn, Cologne Candles, two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

Okay, technically I’m out of sync again. But Ghirardelli Brownies is 6 syllables and I had to make it fit the song.

Costco came into my part of the world in the early 2000’s. We were raising foster children at that time and on a whim, we grabbed a box and took it home. OH MY CHRISTMAS! That was some yummy. I’ve already admitted I’m a chocoholic, so you know this just hit the happy Christmas spot.

The most wonderful thing is how much the kids loved it. Our kids weren’t the quiet types, so the fact that while they devoured the brownies (yeah, we had boys with huge appetites) we had a moment of peace.

Since then, Ghirardelli Brownies has been a big part of our yearly celebrations. Of course, now that the kids are grown, we don’t buy ours at Costco any longer. ONE BAG is more than we should eat!

On the twelfth day of Christmas a memory gift from me Blake’s Melody Series, (Ghirardelli Brownies, yummy hot chocolate, chocolate covered cherries, a chocolate orange, fir smelling soap, gingerbread cookies, peppermint sticks, Lawry’s popcorn, cologne candles, two bars of chocolate, an amaryllis instead of a tree.)

Well, of course, one gift has to be my books, right? The Melody series is my most Christmasesque. This has been so fun for me. I hope you enjoyed walking down memory lane with me and I hope you enjoy the books!

Check Out These New Authors With Free Samples

Each month, a group of authors I've joined has come together to promote each other's newsletters. Of course, that means you get lots of great free samples.

This month, I'm promoting A.L. Morrow.

I'm looking forward to reading their books as well.

(Click on covers for link)

My Author friend M.D. Neu's Book is Now Available in Audible

Blake Allwood's Backlist

The Transition Series


The Chances Series


Eine CHANCE auf die Liebe

Love by Chance - German Translation

The Romantic Series


The Melody Series


Road To Rocktober


Coming Home Series


Adam J. Ridley's Backlist

The Big Bend Series


The Witch Brothers Series




LGBTQ+ Ownvoice Bookstore

We are literally adding new books weekly so visit us often.

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TX, United States of America

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