Thursday, December 30, 2010

A SOLDIER'S CHRISTMAS, by Nona Kelley Carver

Please welcome poet Nona Kelley Carver, who shares her poetry about Christmas for our soldiers serving away from family.

A Soldier's Christmas 
A lonely
soldier far from home,
in his heart feels sad tonight.
I know he longs for his family,
but none of them are in sight.
In his grief he may shed a salty tear,
and wipe it away with his sleeve,
For memory reminds him in a certain way
that this is Christmas Eve.
Now his mind drifts back to a bygone time
when he was just a lad,
When he learned of the birth of the Christ Child
from a loving mom and dad.
How they showed him the Christmas Star in the east,
and told him how angels sang.
And it seems so very long ago, when no echo of bullets rang.
He remembered the crèche that they set in place there under the Christmas tree.
And how the sweet baby Jesus was a gift of love that lasts through eternity.
He prays that God will hold him close and restore the world to peace;
That sometime soon this war will end and the shelling and killing cease.
But tonight in his bunker he will watch and a resolute vigil keep
So those at home in the USA will be safe and have restful sleep.
Through the winter snows when the cold wind blows,
his valor is strong and true,
And truly he’s proud he volunteered to defend
the land of the red, white and blue.
Now he thinks again of the Christ Child
who was born to die on a cross,
And this matchless gift
gave his heart a lift
and he felt less sense of loss.
Soft as a velvet whisper’s hush the soldier began to sing
"God Bless America." May her freedom ever ring!
© 2004 Nona Kelley Carver
Used with permission given by Nona Kelley Carver

A Soldier’s Christmas

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reenactments in the California Sierra Mountains

I love living in the Sierra Mountains where the 1849 Gold Rush brought a lot of people to our area. Part of the pleasure of living here are the museums, traditions and old timers that still have memories – and they love to share them with anyone who is clever enough to listen. History is my favorite genre because there are so many interesting tales.

One of the traditions is to bring a wagon train over the high pass between Lake Tahoe and Placerville every year. The historical reenactment of the “Great Western Migration,” a designated bi-state event that takes place in California and Nevada, happens every June. All wagons are authentic vintage replicas and period clothing is worn at all times by wagon train participants.
School groups often travel with them for one or two days, doing all the things a child might have done 150 years ago when he or she traveled west with their parents. It takes about a week and the people who relive this experience make it as close to the actual event that it seems real. The highway patrol closes the road and the horses plod along with their loads. They spend a night in the parking lot of the bowling alley down the road from us and the last day, they ride in a parade through town before throwing a huge barbeque.

We are also on the route of the pony express rider.
One year my daughter and I were at the post office and when we came out, there he was – a reenactment pony express rider, carrying mail back over the high pass toward Lake Tahoe. We followed behind him all the way to our turnoff. Can you imagine how long it took a letter to travel from here to ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ was?

The story of the Pony Express has continued to fascinate Americans since Johnny Fry left St. Joseph April 3, 1860, heading west to Sacramento, CA.
This relay mail service celebrated 150 years on April 3, 2010. The Central Overland and California Pikes Peak Express Company carried letters and telegrams for 19 months proving the train and pony with riders could make the trip over 1,966 miles in 10-14 days.

Friday, December 24, 2010


It's the time of year when families and friends gather to share food, gifts and memories.

My January contemporary western release, Bridled Heart, which was released early this week in print from my publisher Wild Rose Press is about Gina Montgomery. She's a woman who had the strength to heal herself after a childhood of sexual abuse and learned to help others heal. She encounters the one man who will test the order and rules she's made to keep herself from falling apart.

One of the characteristics I give Gina in the book is a strong memory of her mother. The one person who's love, even after her death, she clung to for strength. And the memory that surfaces in the book is the scent of baking cinnamon rolls and the comfort and love she feels when she eats one.

Do you have any memories that certain foods conjure up?

Here is the blurb and excerpt from Bridled Heart and at the end is my recipe for Cinnamon Rolls.

A specialized placement schedule and self-imposed vow of celibacy keeps ER nurse, Gina Montgomery, from getting too close to anyone. Music is her only solace and release from a past laced with abuse. But when that music draws the attention of a handsome bareback rider, her chosen solitary life—not to mention her vow—gets tested to the limits.

Holt Reynolds let his younger sister down when she needed him most. With the similarities to his sister far too evident in Gina, he can’t get the woman out of his head, or her poignant music out of his heart. But how can he find a way to free her bridled heart before the past resurfaces to destroy their one chance at happiness?

“Why do you help with this event?” He laced his fingers together resting his hands on the table in front of him. His coffee-colored gaze held admiration.
She dropped her gaze and picked at her napkin. His interest was flattering, and he hadn’t attended the event just to inflate his image. If that had been his agenda, he would have stayed to be photographed with the person who purchased his art. She peered into his smiling face. He waited so patiently for her to answer. By this time most men would have given up on her and moved on to someone else. She searched his eyes. He seemed genuinely interested.
She took a deep breath and hoped she wasn’t going to regret divulging more. “I see so many children in the ER rooms who…” she turned her head and chewed on her cuticle. When they arrived needing her care, she put aside her emotions and did the job, but afterward, she always broke down. How could a parent do that to a child? She knew how it felt to grow up feeling different.
He placed a hand over the one on the table. “It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me. I can see their plight affects you.” He squeezed her hand. “I could tell when you were playing the piano your heart is filled with sorrow.”
She stared into his eyes. The sincerity of his words and the acceptance of her pain, even though he thought it was all for others made her want to weep. She hadn’t had anyone care about her in so long, she didn’t know how to act.
Jerking her hand out from under his, she stood. “I have to go.”
“Wait.” He snagged her hand as she grabbed her coat from the back of her chair. “Do you have a phone number?”
He held her firm but gentle. Warmth spiraled up her arm and settled in her chest. Why didn’t she feel frightened or invaded by this man? She shook her head. She didn’t want to see him again. If she did, it would be hard to remain faithful to her vow. He’d started to seep into the empty cracks created over the years.

Cinnamon Rolls

3 1/2 - 4 1/4 cups flour
3 TBSP sugar
1 tsp salt
2 packages Active Dry Yeast
1 C milk
1/2 C water
1/4 C margarine

In a large bowl thoroughly mix 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast.
Combine milk, water, and margarine in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm.(I use the microwave) Margarine doesn't need to melt. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/2 cup flour. Beat at high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; place bowl in pan of water at about 98 degrees F. Let rise 15 minutes.

Turn dough out onto floured board. Roll out 12" by 20". Spread with soft margarine sprinkle liberally with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up the long side like a jelly roll and cut into 18 pieces. Place cut side down in a pan that has melted margarine and sprinkled with brown sugar. Let rise 15 minutes in draft free warm place.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Frost with powder sugar or butter cream frosting. 18 servings.


Paty Jager

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Cowboy's Christmas Prayer

I was so excited to find this poem! It's something I enjoyed listening to on my mom's old Jimmy Dean Christmas album. I can still hear the scratchy sound of that record as I read the poem even now. As you may have begun to notice (*VBG*) I love all things cowboy and this is the perfect Christmas wish! I hope you enjoy it!

By S. Omar Barker (1894-1985) 

I ain't much good at prayin', and You may not know me, Lord- 
I ain't much seen in churches where they preach Thy Holy Word, 
But you may have observed me out here on the lonely plains, 
A-lookin' after cattle, feelin' thankful when it rains, 
Admirin' Thy great handiwork, the miracle of grass, 
Aware of Thy kind spirit in the way it comes to pass 
That hired men on horseback and the livestock we tend 
Can look up at the stars at night and know we've got a friend. 

So here's ol' Christmas comin' on, remindin' us again 
Of Him whose coming brought good will into the hearts of men. 
A cowboy ain't no preacher, Lord, but if You'll hear my prayer, 
I'll ask as good as we have got for all men everywhere. 
Don't let no hearts be bitter, Lord. 
Don't let no child be cold. 
Make easy beds for them that's sick and them that's weak and old. 
Let kindness bless the trail we ride, no matter what we're after, 
And sorter keep us on Your side, in tears as well as laughter. 

I've seen ol' cows a-starvin, and it ain't no happy sight: 
Please don't leave no one hungry, Lord, on thy good Christmas night- 
No man, no child, no woman, and no critter on four feet- 
I'll aim to do my best to help You find 'em chuck to eat. 

I'm just an ol’ cowpoke, Lord-I ain't got no business prayin'- 
But still I hope You'll ketch a word or two of what I'm sayin': 
We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord-I reckon you'll agree 
There ain't no Merry Christmas for a man if he ain't free. 
So one thing more I'll ask You, Lord: Just help us what you can 
To save some seeds of freedom for the future sons of man.!

Merry Christmas, Sweethearts and western lovers everywhere

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Okay, here’s a pet peeve of mine….those who don’t know when the twelve days of Christmas are. These days I’m seeing all sorts of references to the Twelve Days of Christmas. Between now and Christmas: get free books, recipes, or enter a contest. The only problem is that NOW is not the Twelve Days of Christmas. They are not the twelve days BEFORE Christmas. They are the twelve days AFTER Christmas. This mixed up reference, is to me, as maddening as those who object to Christmas decorations before Halloween. We are putting one celebration before another.

Part of this confusion comes from people who are not part of a liturgical church tradition. This is not a bad thing, it’s just a misunderstanding of when and what the Twelve Days are all about. The churches that follow a liturgical year (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost) have set the time-line for the celebration of the Twelve Days of Christmas….the Christmas season, which is from December 25th through January 5th, the day before the Epiphany or the traditional day of celebration for the visit of the Three Kings to the baby Jesus.

In some cultures, Christmas is celebrated as a holy day, without the exchange of gifts. Gifts are instead exchanged on Epiphany or, in some cases, a gift a day is exchanged during the Twelve Days of Christmas. Epiphany, January 6th, as said, is the observation of the day the Magi arrived to pay homage to the Christ child. They brought their gifts for the new-born king. In the liturgical year, it is the beginning of the Epiphany season, the time before Lent starts with its forty days of self-deprivation.

No doubt, you’ve heard of Mardi Gras and the big parties held around the world in observance of it. A traditional time of celebration and revelry. One goodie often found at this time is a king cake, a reference to the three kings. This time of celebration is held during Epiphany Season, and ends on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.

Ah, but I digress, though I did want to show how the year follows one thing after another. It helps to explain when the correct Twelve Days of Christmas are. The Liturgical Year starts with the First Sunday of Advent, four Sundays before Christmas Day. For 2010, that ‘new year’s day’ was November 28th. From then until Christmas Day, the liturgical church is in the season of Advent. The season of Christmas starts with Christmas Day and goes for twelve days. January 5th is often referred to as Twelfth Night. In some traditions, it marks the removal of Christmas decorations and feasting.

I’m also sure you’ve heard of the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. The origin of this song is in dispute, but the meaning behind it doesn’t seem to be. The items given to the ‘singer’ of the song are not as simple as they appear. The do, in fact, refer to God’s grace.

Ace Collins in “Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas” explains the meanings behind the gifts:
The “true love” giving the gifts represented the pure love of God. Each gift represented a major doctrine of the Catholic faith.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge represents the courage and devotion of Christ dying for his people. A mother partridge will lure predators away from her chicks, even sacrificing her life for them. The pear tree symbolizes the wooden cross upon which Jesus died.

Two Turtle Doves
This represents the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Doves also symbolize truth and peace.

Three French Hens
French hens were the food of kings in sixteenth century England. Here they represent the expensive gifts brought by the wise men to the newborn Jesus.

Four Calling Birds
These symbolize the authors of the four Gospels.

Five Gold Rings
These are the five Old Testament books known as the Law of Moses.

Six Geese A-Laying
Here we have the six days in which God created the world. The eggs, from which new life springs, symbolize creation.

Seven Swans a-Swimming
These represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit outlined by the apostle Paul: prophesy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership and mercy. The swan, a graceful bird, symbolized these virtues.

Eight Maids A-Milking
Being a milk maid was one of the lowest jobs in sixteenth century England. Jesus came to save the poor and the humble, thus this gift represents Jesus’ love for the common people.

Nine Ladies Dancing
This dance represents the nine fruits of the spirit: love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Ten Lords A-Leaping
Here is a reminder of the Ten Commandments.

Eleven Pipers Piping
These represent the eleven faithful apostles who followed Jesus to the end and spread his message after his death. While there were twelve apostles, one betrayed Jesus.

Twelve Drummers Drumming
This is a symbol for the twelve tenets of the Catholic faith laid out in the prayer, “The Apostles’ Creed”. The drummers may provide the cadence for reciting this prayer.

Thinking you might want to give these gifts? Remember first off that the items repeat themselves. So that on the second day, it’s a gift of two turtle doves AND a partridge in a pear tree. On the third day it’s three French hens, two turtle doves and another partridge in a pear tree. So that at the end of the 12 days, you’d have given 364 gifts, which in 2010 would cost $96,824, an increase of 10.8% over last year, according to the annual Christmas price index compiled by PNC Wealth Management.  And remember, you start giving them on Christmas Day...not December 13 or 14th.

Read more at Suite101: The Twelve Days of Christmas: Legend of the Christmas Carol’s Twelve Gifts

Arriving home for Christmas, the last thing Jacob Scott expects in his house is a sexy, shotgun-toting stranger.  Worse, his attraction to her bothers him even more than the gun.  Still reeling from the deception of his long-time girlfriend, he’s not looking for romance.

Tessa Jones has learned one hard lesson—when everyone in your life has failed you the only one you can trust is yourself. Facing the whispers of the townsfolk and an arson charge, Tessa unexpectedly finds herself trusting Jacob with more than her legal troubles.

Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can these two lost souls overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure?

Available now at The Wild Rose Press.

Anna Kathryn Lanier


The holidays are upon us. And I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday. May the spirit of the season stay with you through the coming year. And may 2011 bring you many good books to read.

I’m also taking this opportunity to shamelessly hype my latest self-published digital book, SALVATION, TEXAS. It’s a contemporary romance/mystery/police procedural set in West Texas, and is a re-issue of the print book, which was released in 2007. It’s uploaded to Kindle and is now available for sale for $2.99. It’s also now uploaded to Smashwords, so it should be available soon at Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, Sony (Sony Reader), Diesel and Apple (iPad) for the same price.

Following is a description of the book:

When a deputy’s job opened up in the Sanderson County sheriff’s office, career cop Rusty Joplin left the city and returned to his Texas hometown of Salvation. The last thing he expected to encounter in his new job was a nest of deceit and fraud and a sheriff controlled by a master manipulator, the wealthy rancher/oilman, Randall Ryder. But Ryder’s influence peddling was no surprise to Rusty. He had already had a taste of the millionaire’s deviousness fifteen years back when he had been forced out of town over his heated relationship with Ryder’s youngest daughter, Elena.
The beautiful Elena Ryder still haunts Rusty. He might never know what to do about her presence in his dreams, but he knew how to deal with the corruption in the sheriff’s office. He ran for the office himself, won by a landslide and began to change the way the Sanderson County sheriff’s office operated.
Then, mere months after he takes office, Elena’s older sister, Randall Ryder’s middle daughter, is found dead in her arena, strangled in what looks like a runaway horse accident. But Rusty’s years of experience with both horses and murder investigations, lead him to believe something more sinister. His relentless probe into Carla Ryder’s death not only reveals Salvation’s secrets, but throws him back into Elena’s arms. He had neither expected nor wanted a second go-round with her, but he’s helpless to resist.
Elena Ryder has longed for fifteen years for Rusty’s return, during which she has earned a nursing degree from the college of her father’s choice, lived at home with him and now works at the Salvation hospital as an RN. She has refused to marry any of the men her father chose to be her husband. She has never stopped believing that she and Rusty Joplin are destined to spend their lives together. ... Her sister’s tragic end brings her into contact with Rusty again and only reminds her how much she still loves him. When he labels Carla's death as murder, bringing into question the custody of Carla's three small children, Elena has unwavering trust that Rusty will find the culprit, no matter who he or she is.

So that’s a thumbprint of the story.


The original publication received good reviews:

“Anna Jeffrey continues to demonstrate her spectacular storytelling talents. . . . A first-class romantic suspense tale.” — Affaire de Couer

“Exciting . . . Readers will enjoy Anna Jeffrey’s fine thriller.” — Midwest Book Review

“It was a treat to read a good book set in Texas that really felt authentic. The people in this book were not just pretty folks in Wranglers and Ropers—they felt like they belonged there.” — All About Romance

“A good, solid read with great characters and a fast-paced plot. Do yourself a favor and pick it up, and while you’re at it, clear your plans for the evening!” — Romance Reader at Heart


If a Kindle is in your Christmas stocking, or a Nook or some other reading device, perhaps you would like to read SALVATION, TEXAS or my other digital book, SWEET WATER. Free samples are available from both Amazon and Smashwords.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas in the Old West

Several decades ago, flocked Christmas trees were all the rage. In the Old West, people went for the real thing. You can probably tell from this picture that they're my family's favorite, too. We treasure times spent together finding and harvesting each year's perfect Engleman Spruce. For us, as it is for most, Christmas is about home and family. Yet, those were scarce in the Old West, leaving the holiday to start in slow and meager fashion despite fancy traditions already set back East.

Zebulon Pike
 Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike and 24 soldiers left Belle Fontaine (near St. Louis, Missouri) on July 15, 1806. The primary objective was to “ascertain the direction, extent, and navigation of the Arkansas and Red Rivers.”
Lt. Pike and his men reached the site of what is now Salida, Colorado, on December 24. Despite deep snow and the scarcity of game, the reality of impending starvation pushed a desperate hunting party out of camp Christmas Eve. The hunters returned with news of 8 buffalo killed. Jubulation filled Pike's entire party. He commented in his journal:
        “We now again found ourselves all assembled together on Christmas Eve, and appeared generally to be content, although all the refreshment we had to celebrate the holiday with was buffalo meat, without salt, or any other thing whatever.”
Stormy, bitter cold weather marked Christmas Day. Men and commander huddled around fires. Zebulon Pike wrote:
       “Here I must take the liberty of observing that in this situation, the hardships and privations we underwent, were on this day brought more fully to our mind. Having been accustomed in the past to some degree of relaxation; but here 800 miles from the frontiers of our country, in the most inclement season of the year; not one person clothed for the winter, many without blankets [having cut them up for socks, ect.] and now laying down at night on the snow or wet ground; one side burning whilst the other was pierced with the cold wind; this was in part the situation of the party whilst some were endeavoring to make a miserable substitute of raw buffalo hide for shoes. I will not speak of diet, as I conceive that to be benieth [sic] the serious consideration of a man on a voyage of such nature. We spent the day as agreeably as could be expected from men in our situation.”

Colonel John C. Fremont
Forty-two years later, Colonel John C. Fremont made his fourth expedition to the far West. Christmas 1848 found Col. Fremont and his men camped in high in the La Garita Range of southern Colorado. Experienced frontiersmen all, they named the pathetic log outpost they built Camp Desolation. Game had already migrated lower. Plentiful snow and freezing temperatures limited foraging. In spite of the hardships, possibly because of them, the men celebrated the holiday. Thomas E Breckenridge, a member of Fremont’s party, recorded the menu of the limited Christmas banquet:

                                                     Mule Tail
                          Mule Steaks, Fried Mule, Mule Chops
                    Boiled Mule, Stewed Mule, Scrambled Mule
                 Shirred Mule, French-Fried Mule, Minced Mule,
                  Damned Mule, Mule on Toast (without toast)
        Short Ribs of Mule with Apple Sauce (without Apple Sauce)
                                     Snow, Snow, Water, Water 

Government funded explorations weren’t the only white men in the Rocky Mountains during the 1840’s. Mountain men discovered passes and fertile valleys the government parties missed. The fur trade spread through the Rockies. Trappers mixed with Indians. Where and when possible, the white men introduced their joy of great feasts on December 25, which the Indians dubbed “The Big Eating.” For one such Christmas celebration, James Kipp, a grizzled mountain man, planned to treat his fur traders and Indian allies to a big surprise at Fort Union, Montana. Weeks before the holiday, Kipp fattened a large heifer, a rare commodity then, for his gift of an “Eastern” delicacy. However, he received the day’s biggest surprise. A few bites of beef convinced all the other diners the “tame” meat was “too fat and downright sickening.” They returned to the lean buffalo and other wild meats which present day society has recently embraced for its health benefits. Buffalo, or bison as it’s labeled in the stores, is easy to find in western states. Elk, venison (deer), quail, pheasant, not so easy, but certainly available with a little research.
Life in the Old West, considered romantic now, was labor intensive with few celebratory breaks. It was natural to pause at Christmas and reflect on joys or hardships of the time, on memories of the past, and on dreams of the future. Such reflections hit harder, deeper in the back of beyond, where nothing was familiar and survival itself was difficult.

Although more people ventured west as years passed, conditions remained challenging.
Captain Randolph B Marcy wrote in 1859 of his party’s dining experience in the frontier west: “We suffered greatly for the want of salt; but by burning our mule steaks, and sprinkling a little gunpowder upon them, it did not require a very extensive stretch of the imagination to fancy the presence of both salt and pepper.” (Published in The Prairie Traveler)

 In Denver, Colorado, 1888, miner Will C. Ferril wrote: 

Mountain cabin in Fall. Not enough stamina to cross country 
ski in to take a pic in dead of winter.
Whatever may be the life of the westerner, there are two occasions in the year that recall the old home life--Thanksgiving and Christmas... Imagine a point in mid-air about two miles above New York City, and you have an elevation at which over 1,000 miners in Colorado will spend the holiday season. They are shut in by snow and ice; and for months to come they will know as little about what is going on in the busy world as though they were sailors on some vessel frozen up for the winter amid iceberbs of the Arctic regions...                                                                                 
     One Christmas I spent up on the mountainside with two or three others. There we had our holiday dinner. It was a wholesome meal, but wanted in those delicacies that a mother or a wife can best prepare.     
     “I wish we had some flowers for the Christmas table,” said one of the boys.
     We all wished the same.
     “Get out your old letters,” said one.
     We all knew what he meant; for many a flower from the old home finds its way in a letter to the boys out West. One found a rose-bud, another a violet, another a daisy, and then another rose was found in a mother’s letter. Withered and faded were those tokens from the old homes, but never did the men value flowers more than we did with that withered bouquet.
    “Can’t someone say grace?” said one of the boys.
     No one volunteered.
    “The closing lines in my mother’s letter,” said a boyish fellow, “might do.”
     “Read them,” was the response that came from all.
     Heads were bowed around the frugal Christmas board and the young man read.
     “God bless you my son, and God bless us all.”
     I then looked up and saw tears on the cheeks of the weather beaten faces.
This tale of a homesick Christmas was published in Western Yesterdays.
      I punched cows up in Wyoming most of my life....I remember one Christmas when things looked mighty bleak...
     I was up on Pass Creek, in northern Wyoming. I had a new partner, and we hired out to break broncs. It was bitter cold. We’d been out all day, and just getting’ inside that cabin meant a lot, even though it looked gloomier that ever...

You see, this was the twenty-fourth of December. Tomorrow was Christmas.
The first thing was a fire. The wood we’d crammed into the old box stoves at opposite corners of the cabin had burned out. The place seemed colder than it was outside. So we began shaving kindling with hands so numb we could hardly hold a knife.
I couldn’t help thinking about Christmas. This was the first one I’d ever spent in a lonely camp, a long ways from the gay celebrations of the cow towns...
Now if only I were up in Billings with [my old partner] Hank, a mug of steamin’ Tom and Jerry in my hand. The thought of that was so warm and pleasant that I didn’t notice that my new partner had lighted the kerosene lamp.
“Jack,” he called out.
I whirled around, staring.
“Jack, what’s this?”
There in the middle of the floor was a big wooden box. The camp tender, who had made a hurried trip in there that day with the grub and supplies, had left it. There was a tag on it, addressed to us!
“Who’s it from, Jack?” he asked.
I read the names. From our bosses, in Boston. I never expected anything from them. Why, we hadn’t been working for them more’n three weeks. To think they’d remember us.
We pried off that lid in a hurry, began pullin’ out things. We was as happy as any two little boys you ever saw. Two Arctic sleepin’ bags. We wouldn’t be cold any more at night. Thick wool socks, tobacco, a big fruit cake, candy. Best of all, there was several good books.
“No, these are not the best thing,” I told my partner. “The best thing is that our bosses remembered us, two kid bronc twisters out here under the Big Horns.” I reached across for my partner’s hand. “Merry Christmas Partner.”

From Charlie Russell's 1914 Christmas card:

Wrong era/season. Real cowboy.
Best wishes for your Christmas
Is all you get from me,
'Cause I aint no Santa Claus--
Don't own no Christmas tree.
But if wishes was health and money,
I'd fill your buck-skin poke,
Your doctor would go hungry
An' you never would be broke.

I used my old set of Encyclopedia Britannica for this post along with two books: Christmas in the Old West by Sam Travers and A Rocky Mountain Christmas by John H Monnett. They were located for me by Jennifer Murrell of my local library. I want to thank her for her excellent research and dedication in tracking down these books. Each was provided by an outlying library. Libraries are invaluable resources for writers; we owe a great deal to the employees, volunteers, and members. Jennifer, You Rock!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year