Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tanya Writes About Merry Christmas

Ah, Christmas. And I mean CHRIST-mas. Oh, I believe in Santa and our kids believed in Santa. As a first-grader, our son wrote a little essay at school that Santa had brought him a glob for Christmas. Meaning of course, his globe of the world.
(And this was at a Christian day school. No one doubted our faith!)

And that jolly old elf with his belly shaking like jelly never impeded or took precedence over our worship of the Christ-child.

And his little son is just as adorable. The grandbaby held up a Magi figurine from the antique creche I inherited from my grandma--the one my grampa ordered from Germany for her at their first Christmas together in 1917. (It goes from mother to daughter, hence will end up in The Bride's house some year)...and said, Wise man.

So when we examined another nativity scene (I collect them), he promptly said, "Baby Jesus" as he pointed to the manger. When I picked up a Magi and asked who, he said, "Big Jesus." (He actually does look like the adult Lord.)

Yes, Jesus is king. He got me through the roughest periods of my life last year, when my hero battled (and beat) cancer. So I want to share with you something sent to us this Christmas by our dear friends Steve and Linda in Tennessee. My hero's known Steve since they were in elementary school; Linda has been close to me since high school. We've all been friends a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong time even with many miles separating us.

I thought this would be a great way to end the year...and with January 6 being the Feast of the Magi, Epiphany, I'm still in the Christmas frame of mind.

'Twas the month before Christmas, when all through our land
Not a Christian was praying, nor taking a stand.
You see, the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas--no one would say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing
About shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say.
December 25th is just a "holiday."

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit,
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it.
CD's from Madonna, an X Box, an I-pod...
Something was changing, something quite odd.

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken and Fonda.
As Targets hung their trees upside down,
At Lowe's the word Christmas was nowhere to be found.

At K Mart and Staples and Penney's and Sears
It's the term Season Greetings that touches your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, D-iver-sity
Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen,
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton.
At the top of the Senate there arose such a clatter...
To eliminate Jesus in all public matters.

And we spoke not a word as they took away our faith.
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded,
The reason for the season got stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate "winter break" under your "dream tree"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully. Choose what you say.
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!

Other religions don't "offend" me nor shake my moods. I've always wondered by a little baby whose message was "peace to all" is so scary to some.

Anyway, blessings to all in 2009...and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tanya Writes About "His Christmas Angel"

I hope you enjoy my short story, His Christmas Angel, available now from The Wild Rose Press. It's a free online read of 2,500 words. (Make that 2,497. I actually got under the requirement!) The link here takes you right to it.


Hey, what could be better than something quick and FREE during these hectic, economically-challenged times?

When my wonderful editor asked me if I wanted to write a Christmas story, I couldn't possibly resist. Even though I'm behinder than usual this year, it truly is my favorite season. I can barely count up all the Hallmark Christmas movies I've already DVR'd and watched since Thanksgiving!

So...I eagerly agreed. And I decided to take a character from Marrying Minda, my June 2009 release, and give him a love story of his own! After all, school teacher Caldwell Hackett broke his heart when Minda chose hot cowboy Brixton Haynes over him. I figured he deserves some good lovin.'

In the story, he and Minda's sister, Mattie Carter, meet in Paradise, Nebraska, in 1879, on a cold winter's day that's sure to steam up. But of course, the course of love never runs smooth.

So I am spinning off their love story in what I hope is the second of three Paradise-set "Marrying..." books. Marrying Mattie will explore the couple's angst and heartbreak when a wedding guest interrupts their vows in protest just as the preacher asks the routine "If anyone knows any reason these two should not wed, let him speak now or forever after hold his peace...."

Here's a sneak preview:

He checked his pocket watch. Noon. The Saturday stage was set to arrive about now, and his package was due. He needed a new pulley badly since discovering the winch at the blacksmith was nothing but a hunk of rusted junk.

As he shrugged into his overcoat, he couldn't help noticing the angel wings balanced against the wall, and his mood lightened. At least his Christmas Eve pageant was proceeding well. Although, he groused, he ought to demote Charlie Tuttle from his exalted position as a Wise Man. The town's womenfolk had shaped wire into wings for their little daughters, covered the frames with muslin and painstakingly glued on goose feathers one by one.

All he needed now was the pulley....and a grown-up female brave enough to suspend over the altarpiece as a flying angel at the climax of the nativity tableau. So far everybody was too cautious to volunteer.

Cold air covered him as the stage pulled into town. Through the misty condensation on the coach's window, two passengers stared out at him. A man, and a woman so dreamlike, so angelic, she took Caldwell’s breath away despite that broken heart.

Before the driver could jump down, Caldwell impulsively opened the door and offered her his arm. Even through thick wool and chill air, the warmth of her fingertips heated him all the way to his skin. Then she stuck her hand back into a thick fur muff.

He felt its absence like a stab.

The floral scent of her rose on the wind, straight into his senses. His heart hammered. Likely the male passenger was her husband. But when the man stayed put on his seat, Caldwell’s hope mounted.

I'll be getting a trivia contest about the story on my website momentarily so check it out at www.tanyahanson.com

Best of all, merry Christmas to all of you and the angels in your lives.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tanya Writes About Swedish Woven Hearts

Oh, I'm not a bit Swedish, but I've long loved these woven paper heart baskets. For being so simple, they are so simply festive during the holidays. I can just picture them adding Christmas cheer on the prairie in Cactus Rose's favorite time period--the 19th century. A homespun craft made from materials close at hand.

Years ago, I helped a seventh grade class make them while I was a substitute teacher, so I know it can be done LOL. And one of my favorite places to visit, a little Danish enclave about an hour north of us called Solvang, honors all aspects of Scandinavian culture, and the heart baskets appear frequently about town--especially at Christmastime.

In my first novel, The Outlaw's Woman, the outlaw (who of course is A Good Guy) snowbounds himself at gunpoint with a beautiful widow in her cozy Nebraska farmhouse. He wiles away the time until it's safe for him to escape and shows her how to weave them.

After he's long gone and she pines for him, she makes them to decorate her house when Christmas comes. I even made a few for a book signing.

They aren't all that hard to make...but it does take a little bit of practice. Called jhartkorgar, they'll be hung on the Christmas tree in Sweden and filled with candy or little gifts. Mini jhartkorgar can be strung together to make garlands for the tree.

Hilltown Families, a grassroots network for families living in Weston MA has kindly let me use their directions for this project. And Hilltown welcomes writers and artists to share their work...so check them out and see if your creativity is a fit!

(The directions uploaded a tad small, so click here as needed, or open the picture in a new window.)


Another fine site, Craft Ideas, has a template for making the sides of each heart.


And of course, you can construct them in pink and white for Valentine's Day.

Now, how about making a few woven hearts and hanging one on each of your neighbor's doorknobs on Christmas Eve filled with a tasty treat?

Tanya Writes About the Most Romantic Proposal Ever

Yeah, he's a keeper. The guy our daughter has selected to marry LOL. First off, he properly asked my hero for her hand two months ago. Took him to a division playoff game of his favorite baseball team. Said he was re-designing his gramma's ring and wanted to propose during the holidays, so please keep it on the down-low.

My hero of course gave his permission yes but asked if it was okay to tell me.

Of course--said with an ear-to-ear smile.

And I, well, how could I keep something like that secret for two whole months or more? I've been planning her wedding since she was three minutes old...so I told Betty next door and two of my best high school friends at the reunion. Otherwise my lips were sealed.

I didn't even tell her brother!

And the holidays meant so many things! Thanksgiving (his mom and sister came to visit us for the first time; they're both wonderful and it was a fantastic day.) Our daughter's December birthday. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. New Years Eve...New years Day. Rose Bowl. And on and on.

So was I ever glad the big event happened already the day after Thanksgiving! My mind is already running rampant with Plans. (as well as schemes to pay for them LOL.)

Here's what my future son-in-law did. He planned a twosome bicycle ride along the same beautiful Santa Ynez roads my hero and our daughter rode in September to raise money for Livestrong. The fact that his tire popped eight miles into the 31 and the replacement tube didn't fit didn't daunt her at all.

But considering he'd planned surprise massages at a beautiful bed and breakfast at two p.m. caused a tad of consternation. Fortunately the innkeeper came and got them in a roomy SUV.

After great massages which our daughter reports were never long enough, he'd planned wine and cheese on the veranda. Oily hair and all.

And after wine..an on-your knee proposal even though the late afternoon was chilly and the grass was wet with dew.

Back inside to warm up at the fireplace and make phone calls.

White Star champagne and chocolate colored strawberries.

Red roses which she said she wishes could live forever.

And of course the plan to celebrate each anniversary here year after year!

Oh, and by the way, the ring is one I'd be scared I'd get mugged for LOL. A brilliant surrounded by a ring of tiny diamonds, white gold decorated with filigree he designed, and inside are their two teensie birthstones. Wow, it's gorgeous.

So far, lavender and sage are the chosen colors.

You can bet I'll keep you informed of every luscious detail!

And you guys out there. If you need any ideas, I'd stick with this scenario. Everybody is all smiles in our little corner of the world!

Up next: My soon-to-be-released Christmas story

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tanya Writes About The Pumpkin Patch, Thanksgiving, and well, giving thanks.

Ah, something there is about a child at a pumpkin patch. That goal to get the perfect golden orb. The search, as vital as a long-ago quest for the Holy Grail.

And all of this happening on a blue and gold fall day makes the best memory. --especially when Gramma and Grampa are along for the ride.

The ride this day was on an antique train that took us from Fillmore far out into the country. The grandbaby sat across from me in the red velvet seat cuddling with his grampa. (Their bond is so incredible; I get tears.)

"Choo choo move," he told me earnestly. At the sound of the clang at the crossing, his little mouth made a perfect O; his tiny fingers at his ears.

"Trees!" he shouted in glee as we travelled along. "Bridge" as we crossed a creek.

Once there, there was no stopping the little guy. Scarecrows, cornstalks higher than his tall handsome daddy. Merry-go-round and hoppity-hop balls. And pumpkins big as moons. Of course he ran to the largest one, threw his arms around it...and was steered to one more his size. (You could select any size but had to take it yourself on your lap back on the train. In this case, size did matter.)

The little fam posed atop one for a portrait that's making its way into my Christmas letter. Toddlers everywhere flew past, gabbing in their adorably peculiar wordless language.

For lunch, the grandbaby devoured a cob of corn, his tiny perfect teeth gnawing with gusto. His mommy laughed, the afternoon breeze blowing her blond hair across her pretty face. "I didn't know he'd like it so much. And now corn season is all but over."

But we did manage some corn for Thanksgiving dinner. A day of days to thank God for health, for salvation, for the strength He gave us to get through this past year. To thank Him for the presence and safe travels of our new in-laws-to-be.

Last January, when my hero's cancer diagnosis hit us like bricks in the chest, he held me and said, "I want to watch that little boy grow up. I want to walk my daughter down the aisle someday."

He's getting his wish. He's well. The grandbaby is growing like a weed...two years old next week. And our daughter got engaged last Friday in The Most Romantic Proposal Ever.

So much to be thankful for. So much to look forward to.

So much more life to live.

Up next: The Most Romantic Proposal Ever