How Do You Connect?

My, how the world has changed! With today’s technologies, we can be connected with friends from all over the world practically in an instant. I remember my grandfather telling me many years ago that the world was changing so fast, he could barely keep up. And that was before the personal computer saw the light of day. But I understand how he felt, because some days I feel I can’t keep up either. Maybe I have an old soul.

A hundred years ago, pioneers could only connect with others by one type of social media. It was called getting together and talking, face to face. People worked hard in those days–not that I’m saying we work any less–but they made time to connect with their neighbors, family and friends. They didn’t Skype, or have Face Time. They couldn’t email, or even phone someone. They simply hitched a team of horses to a wagon or sleigh and traveled to a neighbor’s farm for a visit. They appreciated their friends and took time to nurture their relationships.

As well as visiting, they also organized group events to keep in touch. The box social was a major function held in the fall after the harvest was finished. It gathered friends and family from the four corners of the district together in one place, usually in the one-room schoolhouse. At the same time they raised money for the upcoming Christmas Concert.

A box social was a simple concept. The women packed a lunch, wrapped it in some creative manner, and secretly took it to the social. The men would bid on the boxed lunches, and the woman who prepared the lunch would share it with the winning gentleman. More often than not, a husband knew which lunch was his wife’s, but there was usually a prankster in the group who loved to mix things up. Sometimes the outcome was good, sometimes not.

In my recently re-released book, Stubborn Hearts, the young school teacher has packed a lovely lunch for the box social. She wonders who will be the winning bidder. Will he be the blue-eyed Norwegian she rather fancies, or perhaps a father of one of her students? Or will he be that interfering, insufferable blacksmith she so despises? And who is that man funding the most hapless bachelor in the district? But no matter who buys the teacher’s lunch, he’ll be treated to some interesting conversation and delicious food.

Maybe the pioneers had the best means of communication after all.

 

 

Something Different this Christmas

We all know Christmas is a time for giving, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. What do you buy older people who don’t have room for trinkets? And what do you get those doing well who buy what they want throughout the year? I find it tricky. I wander aimlessly around the malls, trying to find that perfect gift to show how much I love and appreciate my family and friends.

But here’s the thing. If I’ve been living my life correctly, they should they already know how I feel about them. I hope I’ve demonstrated many times through the year that they are a very important part of my life. Giving them something they really don’t need seems like a waste of good money. I know my hard-earned cash could be used more wisely.

This year I donated approximately what I would have spent on their gifts to a charity they support. I’m pretty certain they’d be delighted to know that because I love them, I donated enough money to buy an eco stove for a person in Nicaragua or a goat for a family in Uganda. I know my family won’t miss another throw for their couch or a bottle of wine or whatever else I might buy them.

And it feels great to know I’ve helped a person that desperately needs a hand up. You might want to try giving to a charity in someone’s name this year, too.

If you’re not sure where to find charities to buy such things, here’s the one I used. My husband has gone with them to third world countries and seen first hand the good things they do.

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/change-for-children/

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

My Christmas Story is free

Hi, friends. It’s been a while since I’ve last added a post. Sorry about that. Life got a little too hectic for a while.

I want to let you know that until Dec 1, 2014, my short story, Christmas Charisma is FREE. It’s about a young widowed mother who hopes to get through this Christmas without too much pain for herself or her little boy. It’s a heart-warming Christmas story that I think you’ll enjoy. Please take the time to download it and, if your upcoming Christmas season isn’t too busy, maybe you could “gift” me with me with some stars or even a quick review. Thanks!

And in case you’re reading this too late, Christmas Charisma will also be FREE DECEMBER 12 AND 13.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I wish you all the best in 2015!

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Charisma-Carol-Ritten-Smith-ebook/dp/B00PKE097A/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417370462&sr=1-1&keywords=Christmas+Charisma

Old Fashioned Christmas

Sometimes I think it would be wonderful to travel back 100 years and celebrate Christmas the way it used to be. It was less about shopping and more about a baby boy born in a manger. On Christmas Eve, people bundled up in heavy coats with scarves, mitts and blankets. They placed foot warmers in the sleigh and enjoyed a nippy sleigh ride to the little white church with the tall steeple for the candle lit service. The church walls seemed to expand with sounds of Christmas Carols. The pews were packed with families. These were the people you’d known throughout the year: the ones you visited with in the general store, the neighbors you helped during the harvest, the ones you invited to share a meal and the ones who welcomed you into their homes.

Can you feel it–the warmth and love shared by friends and loved ones? Can you feel it–the hope for the world delivered with the birth of a child?

My wish for you is to experience an old-fashioned, Christ-filled Christmas this year. Spend time with those you love. Share with those less fortunate. And give thanks for The Savior born in a manger. May your upcoming year be filled with blessings.

To Put You In the Mood

I don’t know what type of mood you were thinking about, but I’m writing about getting in the mood for the upcoming holidays. Sorry if you were expecting something else!

So, to get the festive spirit moving, I thought I’d share a bit of my book STUBBORN HEARTS. Let me set it up for you. The Christmas Concert is in full swing in the one room schoolhouse where Beth teaches. The children have worked very hard to make this year’s concert the talk of the town. But Beth has just found out she was supposed to choose among the men someone to be Santa. She is flabbergasted because no one told her she was expected to do that. Desperate to save the concert from disaster, she asks Tom Carver, the local blacksmith, if he will do it. Lucky for her, Tom is just beginning to take an interest in Beth.   Please read on:

“Tom, I need to speak with you,” she whispered.

Tom frowned. “Now?” he whispered back. “Can’t it wait until the concert is over?”

“No, I’m sorry it can’t. Please.” Conscious of disapproving looks cast upon her, she quietly slipped to the back of the room to wait.

She watched Tom excuse himself. As soon as drew closer, Beth pulled him into the cloakroom and closed the door behind them.

“What’s the matter?”

Beth wrung her hands, not certain which would be the best way to approach this. Finally she just blurted it out. “Tom, I need you to be Santa.”

“What?”

“I never realized it was up to me to find someone. I thought—well, never mind, it doesn’t matter now what I thought. Oh Tom, please just say you’ll do it. Otherwise the children will be devastated and the concert will be ruined and it will be all my fault.” She reached out and grasped his forearms. Realizing she was squeezing them a bit too much, she released her grip, and clasped her hands nervously between her breasts.

“But I don’t know anything about kids.”

“You’re good with Davy.”

“You think so?” Tom smiled. Suddenly, he shook his head. “I can’t be Santa. What if Davy recognizes me?”

Beth shook her head. “He won’t. He’s so wound up, he wouldn’t even recognize me if I were Santa.”

“Good. Then you do it,” he said, taking a step toward the door.

Beth grabbed his arm again. “Please.” Her bottom lip began to tremble. “I’m begging you.”

“Oh, all right, I’ll do it. Where’s the suit?”

“In the cellar, but I’m too afraid to go down there to get it.” She handed him a wall lantern.

*          *          *

Tom lifted the trap door in the floor and grimaced. He could understand why she didn’t want to go down there herself; the place had always given him the willies. Lantern in hand, he proceeded down the stairs into the dank smelling cellar. Above his head, the schoolroom’s floor reverberated from activity and dust from the floor joists sifted down onto his shoulders. He looked around, and sure enough, he found a large box marked “Santa Suit.” He set the lantern down and carried the box awkwardly up to the cloakroom, and then went back to retrieve the lantern. When he returned, Beth was shaking the creases out of the suit.

She held the pants for him. “Hurry, we haven’t much time.”  While he stepped into them, draping the loose suspenders over his shoulders, she delved into the box and came out with a silky white wig and beard. She slipped the beard over his head, unmindful of the stinging snap she gave his chin with the elastic, then slapped the wig on his head and topped it off with the red stocking cap.

“I’ll need a pillow or something,” Tom said, holding the red pant’s expansive girth away from his body.

“Here.” She grabbed a couple of coats off the stack on the table and stuffed them down inside.

Tom grinned lasciviously from ear to ear behind the beard. Who’d have thought the prim little school teacher would be shoving her hand where she definitely had no business shoving it. When he felt himself becoming aroused, Tom grabbed the coats from her. “I’ll do it. Get the jacket.”

She held it while he shoved his arms into the sleeves and then came around front of him and buttoned it over his lumpy girth. As if he were a helpless child, Tom held his arms out as she wrapped the wide black Santa belt around his waist and cinched it tight to hold the “belly” from slipping down a pant leg. She stood back to scrutinize the Santa before her.

“How do I look?”

“Passable, but your suit’s all creased.”

“Well, what do you expect?” he retorted, “I’ve come all the way from the North Pole in a sleigh.” His eyes twinkled behind the beard, like the jolly old man himself.

Beth laughed in relief, hugged him around the neck and kissed his bearded cheek in gratitude. Then embarrassed, almost mortified—her cheeks flaming nearly as deep red as the flannel suit—she shoved the empty box under the table.

“The class is going to recite ‘A Visit from Saint Nick.’ Come in anytime near the end.” She slipped back into the classroom and Tom hoped no one would speculate about the school teacher’s heightened color.

He stood listening at the door for his cue, unable to ignore the sweet familiar scent of her hair lingering in his silky beard nor the memory of her arms around him. He’d been as surprised as she was by the impulsive hug and kiss. He wished he hadn’t been wearing the beard. Then he would have felt her lips upon . . . Stop it! He was beginning to be aroused again. Wouldn’t that make a great entrance? Santa walking in with an erection.He forced himself to think of the children and what he should do when he got inside.

“and laying his finger aside of his nose.” Oh hell, that was his cue. Taking a deep breath and nearly choking on a bit of beard fluff, he opened the door.

I hope you enjoyed this sneek peek at my book!