Tag Archives: Christmas stories

Holiday Memories: A Family Together by Bernadine Feagins

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

A Family Together
by Bernadine Feagins

Some of my favorite Christmas memories are the ones where my family is all together. One year, I made a sweet potato pie and my son, who I call Mickey, ate two big pieces.

That was a good year. My daughter was happy to have a new cell phone and I delighted in watching my children open their toys.  I felt blessed that I had enough money to make their Christmas wishes come true.

It is our tradition to celebrate Christmas early in the morning by reading about the birth of Jesus and listening to Christmas songs. I have a feeling that the kids were too excited to sleep the night before because my daughter went back to bed after the festivities were over and my son fell asleep listening to music.  We were all together and that helped make this mother very happy.

Bernadine Feagins is a new author who is looking forward to many years of writing children’s books. She has always had a love of children and worked many years in early childhood education. During these times she witnessed the joy children felt as she would demonstratively read books. In addition she is a very active mom who loves to nurture not only her children, but those of family and community. She often had story time with those she loved and cared for. She developed her story telling skills through the numerous books she read to children, this gave her an inspiration to tell her own story. Hakim and Terrance Shadow Mystery is the result. When Bernadine isn’t reading to children or involved in some other child nurturing activity, she can be found as a business woman that works for the IRS. Bernadine is available for interviews, book signings or public reading in schools and libraries.

Visit Bernadine online at http://www.mvpmedia1.com/feaginsworld/.

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Holiday Memories: Memories of an Austrian Christmas by Victoria Simcox

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

Memories of an Austrian Christmas
by Victoria Simcox

When I was six years old, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a Christmas with my relatives in Austria—my Oma and Opa (grandmother and grandfather) on my mother’s side of the family and my uncle Christian, my mother’s younger brother. Unlike the Americans whose main celebration of Christmas is on the twenty fifth of December, the Austrians is on the twenty fourth, on Christmas Eve. There is a long tradition they hold to that says that the Christkindl (The Christ Child) comes to Earth on the twenty fourth of December and that is the reason they celebrate on that Eve. Saint Nicholas or as they call him in Austria, Niklaus, actually comes before Christmas, either on the fifth or the sixth of December with his opponent the devil, known as Krampus. Together they come to the villager’s doors and ask the children whether they have been good or bad during the year. If the child says they were good, Niklaus may reward them with a small token such as an apple, orange, cookie or some nuts. If the child says that they were bad, Krampus will try to catch and spank him or her. This may sound politically incorrect, but to the Austrians its all in good fun and Niklaus will send the child running before Krampus has a chance to get them. Unfortunately I missed this part of the holiday event because I didn’t arrive in Austria until the week before Christmas. Even so my mother has filled me in on how fun this tradition was for her as a child.

Waking up Christmas Eve morn, I can still faintly remember the sounds and the smells in the air. Oma and my mother clanking around in the small kitchen down stairs preparing the food for the day and the smell of marzipan mingled together with ginger, allspice, and cinnamon filled my senses. Full of joyful wonder I got up and headed down the narrow old squeaky staircase of my grandparent’s small Vienna flat. Half way down I could see the living room, and with great bewilderment, I looked for the Christmas tree, but it was nowhere to be found. Even a few days earlier I had wondered why there wasn’t one up, but with all the excitement of being somewhere different for the holidays, I had forgotten to bring it up. I went into the kitchen and asked my mother why there was no Christmas tree?

If you like this story, click on cover to purchase an even better story by Victoria Simcox!

My mother conversed with my Oma in German, and then in English said to me, “Go now and get dressed. We could use your help in here.” I decided not to pursue asking about the tree seeing how busy they were making marzipan and ginger cookies and a very strong brandy soaked ladyfinger and whip cream cake. Later on that day I was glad that I didn’t, because after coming home in the evening from doing some last minute shopping with my uncle Christian, my sister and I were pleasantly surprised to see, standing in the small dark living room, a beautiful Christmas tree set aglow with real candles on its branches and under it toys for my sister and I. I never questioned my mother about why the tree was put up so late in the holiday until I was an adult and that is when I found out that it is tradition for the Austrians to put the tree up without the children knowing as late as possible on Christmas Eve. The children are sent out to play or do errands and then when they return in the evening they are surprised with a tree and unwrapped presents under it.

Today, my Oma and Opa are no longer with us, but I will never forget the special cozy Christmas I was able to spend with them. As a matter of fact, I still have a gift, a cute, cuddly, stuffed, little yellow lion with a red and white ribbon (the Austrian flag colors) tied in a bow around its neck, a present that my Oma had hand made and gave to me that Christmas Eve more then thirty something years ago.

Victoria, known as Vicki, was born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, to an Austrian immigrant mother, and a Dutch immigrant father. She has one older sister. When she was 7, Vicki moved with her family to British Columbia. Then in her early twenties to Western Washington, where she now resides in Marysville WA. She has been married for almost 20 years, and has 3 children. For the past 10 years, she has home schooled her children, and she also teaches elementary school art. Her other family members are, a Chihuahua, named Pipsy, 2 cats, named Frodo and Fritz, and 1 parakeet, named Pauly. She did have a pet rat named Raymond; when she started writing The Magic Warble, but sad to say, he has since passed away of old age. Vicki enjoys writing, reading, painting watercolors, good movies and just hanging out with friends and family. Her favorite author is C.S. Lewis, and one of her fondest memories is when she was 12. She would sit at the kitchen table, and read the Chronicles of Narnia to her mother while she cooked dinner. These magical stories were very dear to Vicki, and she remembers wishing, If only I could go to Narnia like Lucy and Susan. Vicki hopes that maybe she can touch someone with her story in a similar way.

Website: www.themagicwarble.com

Blog: www.victoriasimcox.blogspot.com

Facebook: Victoria Simcox

youtube book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cax8Pbpa7E


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Never Refuse a Gift by Cindy Vallar

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

Never Refuse a Gift
by Cindy Vallar

My grandmother sometimes gave my sisters and me gifts that she made. One Christmas, she gave me a black, cloth shoulder bag with crewel-worked flowers on it. This was not a purse a girl in her teens who wanted to fit in would ever use in public, but my parents told me I had to politely accept the gift and thank Grandma for it. This advice eventually came back to haunt them.

During my sophomore year of high school, my cocker spaniel contracted leukemia and died. It was a painful time for me, so my three younger sisters decided to cheer me up with a special Christmas present. With the help of some of my classmates, who were old enough to drive, they went to the local animal shelter and bought a black puppy with a white neck and belly. They kept him at a neighbor’s house until the afternoon of Christmas Eve. While my parents were next door at a party, they brought the dog into the house and hid him in one of my sisters’ bedrooms. (Unbeknownst to them, Mom actually saw them walking with the dog on the way to our house, but thought the puppy belonged to the friend who accompanied my sisters.)

If you like this story, click on cover to purchase an even better story by Cindy Vallar!

During the night, my dad heard rustling coming from Bev’s bedroom. He thought she must have snuck down to the living room to get one of her presents from underneath the Christmas tree and was now unwrapping it. Rather than confront her, Dad went back to sleep.

When my sisters and I woke early on Christmas morning, we roused my parents and went down to the living room together to open our packages as usual. My youngest sister, Jenn, wore glasses just like me, so halfway through the unwrapping of presents, she said she had “forgotten” her glasses and went to retrieve them. When she returned, she carried Mom’s picnic basket tied with a large red bow. Peeking his head over the rim of the basket was the puppy. Jenn brought the basket over to where I sat and said, “Merry Christmas, Cindy!” Before my parents could react, I said with a smile, “I guess I can keep him since I can’t refuse a gift. Right, Mom and Dad?”

Tally and I became fast friends and, for the next fourteen years, we enjoyed many adventures together.

Cindy Vallar is the author of the historical romance novel, The Scottish Thistle.  You can visit her website at www.cindyvallar.com or purchase her newly released book here!


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The Many Essences of Christmas Past by J.W. Nicklaus

Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

The Many Essences of Christmas Past
by J.W. Nicklaus

A small boy sits in a living room, awash in the low-tech fidelity of late 1960’s television. The CBS Special Presentation intro plays as his five-year-old eyes soak up what will become in his world, and many others, one of many Christmas season classics. Warm pajamas and blinking lights upon the tree don’t prevent the night from ending, but rather allow all the senses to coalesce into the makings of a wistful childhood memory.

There is no one particular Christmas memory I cling to. Frankly, I’m not a huge holiday person—I don’t even decorate, for any of the holidays. Not one. But I do retain the many essences of seasons past. See, I don’t live in a place where a child can recollect Currier and Ives type holidays. Snow doesn’t fall Three Feet From Hell. No need for horse-drawn sleds or warm woolen mittens, scarves, or snow boots. The weather can turn cold, yes, but not like northern and eastern winters do.

The Light The Dark and Ember Between

The Light, The Dark & Ember Between (if you like this story, click on cover to purchase for gift giving!)

My brother and I grew up being told the same legend of how Santa gets into the house and puts presents under the tree; as we all know, he comes down the chimney. Well, we didn’t have one, but we did have a faux, cardboard hearth. It was set up each year, close to the silver tree (yes, I said silver). I’m not sure what it was made of, but I remember it was shiny, and I recall at some point being able to help assemble it. We always got to help decorate it, although I’d bet that like most children we’d place a few ornaments on the tree then lose interest.

There was a cotton-poly thing we’d place under the tree to represent snow. When you live in a desert the holidays become more about symbols than actualities where matters of nature are concerned. And sitting underneath the tree was a small lamp with a multi-colored screen which slowly rotated in front of the light, casting shades of red, green, yellow, and diffused light upon the tree.

These trappings, albeit egregiously man-made, were the essence of what Christmas portended. With all the decorations, lights blinking (those big-fat ones—remember those?), tinsel gently moving and shimmering with the air current,  and the television event for the evening—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman,  or maybe Santa Clause is Coming to Town—about to stun us with it’s state-of-the-art stop motion animation . . . how could a child not remember such things?

I submit to you that the simple reason why we retain not just these memories but their nuances is  . . . magic. Especially as children, we’re fascinated by the illusion and sleight-of-hand which life and holidays bring us. There is no shortage of magic in the innocence of youth. We take these moments and build upon them, hopeful that someday far in the future we can instill higher definition memories and warm thoughts which our children will call to mind every so often.

As children we latch onto the mystery of it all; as adults, we need the magic.

J.W. Nicklaus 2J.W. Nicklaus maintains his own personal space between the soul and soft machine in the arid southwest amongst the snowbirds and the Arizona Diamondbacks. After graduating with an Associate of Arts in Journalism and Photography and a B.S. in Telecommunications he’s spent the better part of twenty years experiencing life and working in trades as varied as a small advertising firm to a litigation service bureau. Two poems of his have been published in anthologies, and he maintains a blog (avomnia.wordpress.com) and a website (www.avomnia.com), which contains further articles about the craft of writing as well as the poems. The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between is his debut collection of short stories.


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Guest Blogger Marta Stephens: A Christmas Presence

Sleigh bells ring…are you listening….Christmas is exactly one week from today, can you believe it? All that running around still isn’t done for a lot of good folks out there, but I’ve got a treat for you. Sit back, sip a hot toddy and enjoy a little Christmas story sent in by Marta Stephens, a writer I truly admire for a lot of reasons.

She’s been on a virtual book tour this month and I’ve hosted her at some of my other blogs, but what I have found that I didn’t know before was how great she is with people. She has hosted some of my authors on her blog, Murder by 4, and did so very graciously, never complaining when a blog post came late and never demanding anything really.

As her tour comes to a close, I asked her if she would like to send me a Christmas story so I could put it up at As the Pages Turn before she left. It’s going to be sad to see her go, but we’ve already become lifetime friends so at least I know this won’t be the last I’ll hear from her!

But, back to her story….if you love ghostie stories as well as Christmas stories, you’ll love this. Thank you, Marta, and have a Merry Christmas!

A Christmas Presence
© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved

snowman1It was well after midnight before Ted, our two young children, and I returned home from my parents’ on Christmas Eve. Outside, a gentle snow drifted to the ground, the air was calm and the night was as peaceful as any greeting card promised this night should be.

Inside our century-old home, Sara and Jimmy, ages five and three, were wound up tighter than a timekeeper’s watch with the prospect of Santa’s impending arrival. I placed the near empty green bean casserole dish on the counter and tossed my purse onto one of the overstuffed chairs. It landed as gracefully as my husband had when he dropped into his recliner.

“Time for bed, kids,” he said, draping an arm over his eyes.
“Five more minutes.” The plea on Sara’s face was perfectly mirrored in Jimmy’s eyes.

“No, silly,” I said, as I hung their coats in the closet then shut the door. “You know Santa won’t come until we’re all sound asleep. Come on, straight to bed, you two.” They knew the drill, yet I wasn’t surprised at their repeated resistance. After all, Christmas was a once-a-year special event. It was about presents and bright colored lights, laughter and songs and a multiple of things that sent ripples of excitement through the evening air.

christmas-tree2By the time Ted made his way into the kids’ bedroom, they had slipped on their pajamas but were still giggling and squealing with excitement. I kissed them goodnight and watched as he futilely tucked them in knowing they were nowhere near ready to sleep.

“S-h-h-h,” he said as he kissed them goodnight too then left the room.
I turned off their light and quietly closed the door. Tomorrow, I thought, our families would arrive by noon. My focus switched to the fifteen-pound turkey thawing inside the fridge that needed to go in the oven by seven a.m. The list of ingredients for my cranberry dressing had crossed my mind too when I saw Ted tiptoe down the stairs with an armful of presents.

“Come on,” he whispered and motioned with a nod for me to follow, “let’s get these under the tree.”

I leaned an ear toward the children’s room a final time. Certain they had fallen asleep, I picked up the pace, followed Ted down the stairs and into the living room. He had arranged his gift boxes beneath the tree and let out a sigh by the time I arrived with a load of presents that filled my outstretched arms clear up to my chin. The largest box in my hands was the miniature china tea set Sara had seen in a store the month before. Several smaller boxes contained shirts and sweaters that Jimmy would toss on the couch the minute he opened them. A quick tally of gifts encircling the tree assured me we hadn’t left any behind. I drew in a cleansing breath. With it came a sudden sense of tranquility—a peace I hadn’t felt since the shopping madness took over my life five weeks before.

Each year Ted and I promised not to cave in to the commercialization of Christmas and yet, the number of gift bags and boxes that encircled our artificial tree, the garland of Christmas cards hanging across the archway leading into the next room, and the diminished balance in our check book was a testament to our growing weakness. The holidays of my youth were far simpler, or so I thought, and in spite of our annual promise, we had fallen shamefully short of fulfilling our vow once more.

“If this old house could talk,” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s a hundred years old. Don’t you ever wonder about the families who lived here before us—who they were, what they did for a living?”

“Not really.” Ted stifled a yawn and rubbed his eyes.

“Do you suppose their children were anything like Sara and Jimmy?”

“Amanda …”

“Can’t you just imagine what Christmas must have been like in this house at the turn of the century?”

“Yeah, bitter cold and no modern conveniences.”

“Bet they were quaint.”

“You’re romanticizing it, my sweet. Come, on. It’s almost two.” He wrapped an arm around my waist and nudged me upstairs. “Let’s get to bed. We’re not going to get much sleep as it is and we’re in for a long day tomorrow.”

Unsure why that bit of nostalgia hit me just then, I surrendered to my husband’s urging. Christmas or not, my body ached for a few hours of sleep so I raced him into the bedroom, slipped on my night clothes and just as quickly slid under the covers and closed my eyes.

Ted did likewise and for a minute or two a wonderful silence engulfed us. That is, until we heard the pitter patter of footsteps going down the stairs.

“Darn those two! They’re up,” I said. “Ted … the kids.”

He sounded off a few unpleasant grunts, swung his feet out from under the covers and dashed down the hallway. I heard him thunder downstairs first, then followed the sounds of his steps as he returned to the second floor landing and into Sara’s and Jimmy’s room. I sat up expecting to hear another round of giggles, instead, Ted shuffled into our room and got back in bed.

“Well?” I asked. “What are they doing?”

“They’re sound asleep.”

“But I heard their steps—I mean, so did you, didn’t you?”

“Thought I did. It’s this house, could have been the furnace.” With that he turned on his side and pulled the covers up over his head again. “Good night.”

The first glimmer of dawn came much faster than I would have liked, but adrenalin kicked in to make up for sleep deprivation. Still in my robe and without bothering to put on my slippers, I began to get things in motion for our annual family Christmas luncheon. Soon, the smell of freshly brewed coffee permeated my kitchen as did the smell of finely chopped onions and celery intended to flavor the dressing. I basted the turkey with a wonderful cranberry glaze and shoved it into the oven where it would need to roast for several hours.

With a piece of buttered toast in my hand I poured myself a cup of some much needed coffee and went into the living room to plug in the tree. Bright colored ornaments reflected the twinkle of the tiny white lights we had cursed at some weeks before as we labored to untangle the mess of twisted wires. I pulled open the drapes to find it had snowed overnight. A glint of early sunshine swept over the snow-covered ground adding a splash of its color across the landscape. Not a footprint or tire track had scarred its sparkling surface. Just as in a Christmas of long ago, I thought. Ted’s words echoed back shaming me into dismissing the notion as utter nonsense. I moved back to admire the Christmas tree one last time before Sara and Jimmy came down and tore into their presents. The peace of the moment was shattered, however, by the excruciating pain in the ball of my foot from whatever I had mindlessly stepped on.

I looked at the metal jack in disbelief. It resembled those from a set of ten I used to play with when I was a little girl—the kind that came with a small, bright red rubber ball. I hadn’t seen one like this in years and the thought forced a million images through my mind. Sara’s jacks were big, plastic, and pink and no one had been to our house since I vacuumed the room the morning before. I couldn’t explain how this little jack had found its way to the spot in front of our tree.

A chill ran up my arms as I glanced back at the staircase and wondered what presence had visited our home on that Christmas morning. Had a special child’s spirit or a playful angel stopped for a holiday visit, intentionally leaving the toy behind as tangible proof of their existence? I couldn’t say. All I know is that I felt as if I was meant to find it in my own clumsy way. Inexplicable as it was, I might have imagined the sounds of those tiny steps, but I couldn’t dismiss the object in the palm of my hand. I don’t know if it was a sign or an incredible coincidence. Whatever the answer, it left me with a warm sense of connection and a renewed belief in Christmas magic.

The End

Marta Stephens is a native of Argentina who has made Indiana her home since the age of four. This mild-manner lady turned to crime with the publication of the first in her Sam Harper Crime Mystery series, SILENCED CRY (2007) which went on to receive honorable mention at the 2008 New York Book Festival and top ten in the 2007 Preditors & Editors Reader Poll. The second book in the Harper series, THE DEVIL CAN WAIT, will be released by BeWrite Books (UK) on November 3, 2008.

Stephens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism/Public Relations from Ball State University (IN) where she is employed in human resources. She is a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime Speed City Indiana Chapter, and the Midwest Writer’s Workshop.

Stephens believes learning is a life-long adventure. Aside from her writing, she is trained in graphic and web design. She co-designed the award-winning book cover of her debut novel, SILENCED CRY with friend Scott Parkison (IN), created the book trailer, and designed/administers her website, www.martastephens-author.com, her personal blog, http://mstephens-musings.blogspot.com, and the authors’ blog, MURDER BY 4 http://murderby4.blogspot.com.

Stephens lives with her husband, daughter (22), and son (20). She enjoys oil paintings, gardening, the family’s pet Boston Bulls and mini Daschunds, and shared moments with family and friends.


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