Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Guest Lyn Horner-Christmas with my Grandparents

Christmas With My Grandparents

By Lyn Horner

When I was a little girl up in Minnesota, we always gathered for Christmas with my mother’s relations at my grandparents’ house. They lived in Montgomery, a small town about fifty miles southwest of Minneapolis, where my folks and I lived. It could be a tricky drive over sometimes icy roads, but my dad always got us there safely. And none too soon for me! I loved seeing my aunts, uncles and cousins, and especially Grandma and Grandpa.

Their house was small, only two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. We kids took over one bedroom where we played. The menfolk sat in the living room, gabbing often in Bohemian (a form of Czech), which irritated my dad. See, he was from Texas and didn’t understand a word of their lingo, but they somehow got along.

Mama, her three sisters and Grandma ruled the kitchen. The aroma of roasting chicken, duck or goose filled the whole house, mingled with the yummy scent of Grandma’s homemade rolls and kolaches. Uh, that’s pronounced ko-lach-kee in Bohemian. At least it was by my relatives.

Much to my regret, I don’t have my grandmother’s kolache recipe, but you can find a good one from the Little Czech Bakery in West, Texas (a town settled by Czech immigrants) in this Texas Monthly article.

The one big difference between that recipe and my grandmother’s is that she didn’t top the individual portions of dough with fruits and crumbles and bake them open-faced. She rolled out the dough, cut it into squares (I’m guessing 2-3 inches across) and dropped a teaspoon of fruit or poppy seed filling onto each. Then she wrapped the corners of each square together over the filling, brushed the tops with a little butter and baked. Oh, were they delicious!

By the time we headed home in early evening, I was stuffed from the feast, delighted with my Christmas gifts and tired but happy after playing with my cousins. We probably didn’t get ten miles before I fell asleep in the back seat. Those were the days!

The Perfect Gift, my Christmas novella, also brings a family together. It’s Christmas 1885 and everyone comes to celebrate at the River T ranch. The day promises a feast and fellowship for all, but surprises lie ahead.

This novella is included in the western historical anthology Silver Belles and Stetsons

Nora Taylor adores Vittorio Medina. He’s been her best friend all of her young life, but now she wants more than friendship from him. She’s too young, he insists while fighting his own growing feelings for her. Besides, she is the boss’s daughter. He’s just a poor cowboy of Mexican blood. They can never be together.

Although Nora refuses to accept what Vittorio says, she’s afraid he will go off and marry someone else before she is old enough to fight for his love. This Christmas threatens to bring her more pain than joy. Or will an unexpected gift offer hope for the future?


Nora stood on the front porch watching for riders. Goshdarn! What was taking Mr. and Mrs. Crawford so long? Uncle Tye and Auntie Lil had come early to help Mama and Daddy get ready. Lil’s parents were to come later with their men, but surely they ought to be here by now. What if something had happened to prevent them from coming?
No! Don’t even think that! They have to come, they just have to!
Smoothing the front of her Mother Hubbard, a short, baggy little girl’s dress she hated, she wished for a grown-up gown, but Mama had decreed she couldn’t start dressing like a woman until she turned fourteen. At least this Hubbard was made of pretty pink calico printed with sprigs of white flowers, and she liked the ruffled shoulders and neck. The color set off her black hair, which Mama had helped her put up, and her black stockings and high tops. She hoped Vito would approve.
She stuffed her hands into deep side pocket and glanced at her brothers and cousins. She’d shooed the four boys outside so Grandda Seamus could nap in his favorite chair in the parlor. Together with Maria’s younger children, they were playing ring taw, a game she’d once loved but now considered babyish. Crouched around a circle drawn in the dirt, they took turns shooting marbles, trying to knock each other’s marbles out of a small inner circle. Her brother Reece, less than two years younger than her, was winning judging by the pile of marbles he’d collected. Not surprised, Nora scowled, remembering how many marbles the little fiend had won from her and their baby brother Seamus in the past.
A faint thudding sound caught her ear. Shading her eyes, she spotted a cloud of dust in the distance. Then she made out a buckboard and horsemen. Finally! The expected company was almost here. Heart thumping wildly, she whirled and ran inside to alert her parents.
“Mama! Daddy! The Crawfords are coming,” she yelled, forgetting about her napping grandfather. At his grumble of complaint, she said, “Sorry, Grandda.”
Aunt Lil stepped out of the kitchen holding a large bowl and spoon just as Mama walked in the back door.
“Are they here?” both women asked.
“Not yet but almost. Should I tell Maria?”
Her mother nodded. “Aye, and your father and uncle. Lil, let’s greet your folks outside.”
“Right, you go ahead. I’ll set the cornbread on the stove and be right out.”
Nora was already dashing for the courtyard. “The Crawfords are almost here,” she announced to her father and uncle as she raced toward the cookhouse.
“What’s your hurry?”  her father called.
“I have to tell Maria that Vittorio’s coming.”
Hearing the two men chuckle, she tore into the steamy little building. “Maria, Vittorio’s nearly here!”
“Sí, I heard you, niña,” the cook said with a broad smile. Tall and rather plump, with gray-streaked black hair, Maria was one of Nora’s favorite people. She was kind and good-natured and always ready with a tasty snack for all the children. And she was Vittorio’s madrecita, making her special.
Setting aside the huge kettle of gravy she’d been stirring, Maria mopped her sweaty face with her red-checked gingham apron – only worn on Christmas – and motioned for Nora to lead the way. “Let us go and welcome my son.”

Silver Belles and Stetsons
Ten Western Romance Christmas Novellas
Available as a boxed set for a limited time

Bestselling and Award-Winning Authors bring you ten western romance novellas featuring alpha-cowboys from the past. This boxed set will take you back in time when men were rugged and handsome and the women who loved them, courageous and daring.
The Greatest Gift: A Montana Cowboy Christmas by Kathleen Ball. Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. Looking for the man who ran out on her, Ginger finds a cowboy worthy of love but he doesn't want or need love.

Catherine’s Cowboy by Cait Braxton, Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author.  During a supernatural dust storm, Fate steps in when rugged army tracker, Elam, helps Catherine deliver her child.

Stone Mountain Christmas by Caroline Clemmons, Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. Can Celia restore the town's Christmas spirit? "A beautifully written story about love and hope and all the emotions Christmas brings out in people." Karren Lucas

Angel and the Texan from County Cork by Carra Copelin.  Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. Does Angel trust marriage to the man she suspects of killing her husband or the stranger who promises to pay off her debt and set her free if she decides their marriage of convenience won’t work?

The Drifter’s Proposal by Kristin Holt, Amazon Bestselling Author. The baker's man is home for Christmas... "Compelling. Heartwarming. Tender." ~Diane Darcy, USA Today Bestselling Author
The Perfect Gift by Lyn Horner. Friendship has blossomed into young love, but it seems destined to die on the vine...until an unexpected Christmas gift promises happiness.
 Marshal Mistletoe by Susan Horsnell. She married the wrong man. Will fate intervene?

Christmas Redemption by Paty Jager, Amazon Bestselling and Award-Winning Author. Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives? "A story of forgiveness that has a wonderful hero who has worked hard to redeem himself."

A Hard Candy Christmas by Hebby Roman, Amazon Bestselling Author. Two damaged souls. Can their budding love and the healing power of Christmas bring them together?

Cowboy Christmas by Margaret Tanner. Will a miracle Christmas baby unite two tortured souls, or will it forever keep them apart?
BUY LINK:    Amazon

Award-winning author Lyn Horner resides in Fort Worth, Texas – “Where the West Begins” – with her husband and several very spoiled cats. Trained in the visual arts, Lyn worked as a fashion illustrator and art instructor before she took up writing. She loves crafting passionate love stories, both historical and contemporary. Lyn also enjoys reading, gardening, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged children.

The author’s Texas Devlins series blends authentic Old West settings, steamy romance and a glimmer of the mysterious. This series has earned multiple awards and nominations, including Crowned Heart reviews and a Rone Award nomination from InD’Tale Magazine. Lyn is also a contributor to Rawhide n Roses, a Western Romance Anthology, which finaled in the 2015 RONE Awards.

Jumping from the American Old West to the present time, Lyn is now hard at work on her romantic suspense series, Romancing the Guardians. These books combine her trademark flashes of psychic phenomena with Irish folklore and a chilling apocalyptic theme. Along the way, readers are treated to thunderous action, terrifying suspense and sizzling romance.

Lyn invites you to visit her on these sites:

Pioneer Hearts (a Facebook group for western romance readers & authors)


Lyn Horner said...

Paty, thank you for hosting me today. It's a pleasure to join you on your beautiful site.

Hebby Roman said...

Lyn, I love kolaches, especially those made in West. So thank you for the recipe. We always stop in that bakery when we go to the Hill Country or San Antonio and buy their kolaches. Enjoyed your Christmas reminiscing, too. Childhood memories of Christmas are so important, don't you think? Loved your story, too, great excerpt!

Lyn Horner said...

Hi, Hebby. Kolaches are my favorite pastry whether made the way my grandmother did it or as they're made in West, TX. Delish!

I'm glad you enjoyed my story in Silver Belles and Stetsons. Thanks for stopping by!

Keta Diablo said...

Hello Lyn (and Paty)

Loved the memories from Minnesota, Lyn (think you know why).

At this time of year it's always fun to go back and remember all those wonderful things from our childhoods.

Thanks so much for sharing! And hello to Paty (awesome blog)
Cait Braxton (Keta Diablo)

Hebby Roman said...

Yes, kolaches are one of my favorite pastries, too. They come in so many flavors and types for one thing. It will be interesting to see how Vittorio and Nora's romance unfolds later, too.

Lyn Horner said...

Hi Keta. Yes, I know you're familiar with the upper Midwest. Ain't it grand in winter? Actually, it's pretty at Christmas with snow on the ground. We don't get much of the white stuff here in Fort Worth.

Thanks for popping in!

Lyn Horner said...

Hebby, my mouth is watering. May need to take a drive down to West very soon. :-)

I have plans for Miss Nora and her handsome Latino friend. Think Spanish-American War period.

Kristin Holt said...

Thank you, Lyn, for sharing your heartwarming memories of childhood Christmases. I can't help but remember my own precious family-related memories when I read about yours. Christmas is all about home, family, hearth, and togetherness, isn't it? I enjoyed reading THE PERFECT GIFT in our SILVER BELLES AND STETSONS anthology. You struck a beautiful chord of what Christmas means within the novella. Congratulations!
~Kristin Holt

Lyn Horner said...

Kristin, I'm so glad you enjoyed my Christmas memories. Yes, family is the best part of Christmas, exactly what I tried to get across in my novella, The Perfect Gift. Good to know you appreciated that.

Many thanks for visiting!