Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Miracles Book Giveaway

Today in St. Peters, MO: Windy, with flurries tonight, low 10 degrees. Button up your overcoat!

Yesterday I had a wonderful surprise from Dianna Graveman, a good writing friend of mine. Dianna e-mailed and asked if I would like to have a couple copies of the book Christmas Miracles, edited by Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson. Cecil Murphey is the New York Times bestselling co-author, along with Don Piper, of 90 Minutes in Heaven.

Dianna's heart-warming story, "Milton's Gift," is included in the CHRISTMAS MIRACLES anthology. She very generously offered to donate two copies of her book. One copy is for my 22-year-old niece, Alexandra, who has recently begun chemo and radiation treatments to halt the spread of brain cancer. Alexandra is in need of a miracle--and prayer.

The second copy is to give away here on Donna's Book Pub. Last night Dianna stopped by for a few minutes to deliver the books; she even autographed the copy for Alexandra. We had a nice chat about families and writing and overcoming obstacles in our lives.

So, to pass along Dianna's generous gift, I would like to offer a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES to one of my blog visitors. Here's all you have to do to win the copy:

Christmas is such a special time of year, if you have a special Christmas memory you would like to share, please post it here so we can read it. For sharing your story, you could be selected as the lucky winner of the book. Post your story between now and Dec 15. One winner will be selected at random. The winner's name will be announced here on Dec 16.

Also, please visit Dianna's blog Write in the Midwest to learn details about a special on-line chat next week with the contributors of the CHRISTMAS MIRACLES anthology. I will also post a link to the chat room later this week.

Thanks, Dianna, and good luck to everyone who drops by to post a comment.


  1. Hi Donna! What a great thing for Dianna to do, and also you, for giving away one of the books to your blogger buddies! I might have a story or two....I'll see if I can get one put together for you!

  2. Hi Becky,
    Dianna is a real sweetie--and such a wonderful writer!
    I look forward to reading your Christmas story; I love the humor your sprinkle in your writing.

  3. Okay, Donna, here is a funny Christmas story. I have boy/girl twins. When they were about four years old, I heard my son whisper to my daughter, "You got a handsome prince doll." Wide-eyed, I rushed into the living room and pulled him aside. "Why did you tell her she got a handsome prince doll?" I asked. "She did," he answered. "How do you know?" "I opened it." My eyes bugged out even farther in my best Ricky Ricardo impersonation. "You OPENED it?" He nodded. We went to the tree; and sure enough, he'd opened the end of the package. "Honey, why did you open this?" I asked. "I 'fought' it was mine. It has my name on it." "I know," I said, realizing they were now able to read their names. "But it's for Christmas. Besides, it's FROM you TO her." He looked puzzled. "Where did I get it?" We still laugh about that every year. "I fought it was mine."

  4. I have a lousy memory when it comes to Christmas (I think it's because the holiday is a blur!)but one Christmas that makes me smile was during the early years, when it was just me and the hubby-and I was determined to have a live tree. But we couldn't afford a great live tree. So, we got a Virginia Pine that was about dead when we brought it home. So every time we opened the door to the apartment, or heck, even walked by the thing, it would shed. I can still hear that shhh-sshhh-shhh sound of pine needles dropping. I was scared to death that tree would spontaneously combust and take us along with it!

    I still think of that shhh-shhh tree every year when we decorate. And I remember that it doesn't take riches to have a happy Christmas. But a fire-proof tree helps!

  5. When my first boxer Charlie was a puppy, he could be quite destructive and of course, he loved to eat. We didn't think anything about putting food on the Christmas tree--popcorn strands and candy canes. Heck, we did it the year before with no dog, right?

    Well, I don't need to tell you that when we came home after the first time Charlie was alone with the tree, there were some popcorn pieces missing and several candy cane wrappers around the tree. . .:)Seriously, what were we thinking?

    Then there's the time Charlie ate a dead bird or something on Christmas day and was sick to his stomach all day and. . .well, I don't have to finish for you to imagine how messy that day was.

    Christmas is never boring when there's a boxer around. We'll have to see what happens this year with our new boxer, Chester. :)


  6. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book.

    My children and I fondly remember a Christmas when we were starting over in life and had very little money. We made Christmas ornaments out of paper bags, glue, construction paper, and glitter. The majority of them were snowflakes and representations of the baby Jesus in the manger, angels, and stars. They were so simple and yet beautiful declarations of our trust in God. We still use several of them on our tree over a decade later--as a reminder of God's love and goodness.

  7. Hi Donna. My Christmas story is a mix of sad and glad. Right after I found out I was pregnant with our son, my husband deployed in the Navy. As Christmas neared, I felt his loss even more. I attended a big craft fair with a friend, and lo and behold there was Santa Claus and no line. I decided to go for it. I sat on Santa's lap, and he asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him my husband was deployed and I wanted most for him to come home, but I knew even Santa couldn't give me that. He was a very sweet Santa to deal with an almost-weepy pregnant Navy wife like me. When my picture printed out, he signed it "To Beth and Baby Blob" (my nickname for the little one).

  8. Hi Gayle,
    What a precious Christmas memory. I love stories about twins. I have four-year-old twin grand-nephews, and they are adorable.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. Hi Cathy,
    The early years are always special. Reading your story made me think, "Yes, Virginia (Pine), there is a Santa Claus." I'm so corny with jokes, but I love them.
    Thanks for sharing your story with us all.

  10. Hi Margo,
    I remember when you brough Charlie to critique group when he was just a puppy. He was so well behaved. And your new puppy Chester is such a cutie--at least from the photos I've seen.
    Thanks for sharing your special Christmas story about Charlie.

  11. Hi Tayna,
    Thanks for sharing your Christmas story. It shows the true meaning of Christmas.

  12. I have a puppy story, of course. Each year I bring out the nativity set to put on the hearth and the ornaments to decorate our tree.

    It helps us remember Christmases past.

    "Here's the wooden bear ornament all decorated with Schatzi's teeth marks. Here's the tattered stuffed dog missing an ear, thanks to Schatzi.
    Here's our baby Jesus with a hole in his middle. Schatzi liked him a lot, too."

    Schatzi, our first and most feisty Miniature Schnauzer has been gone for years. But somehow I can't make myself throw away her works of art.

  13. Hi Beth,
    Being separated because of military service makes the holidays especially difficult, but in many ways more memorable. Thanks for sharing your lovely story.

  14. Hi Pat,
    I love your stories about pets. What special Christmas memories you have about Schatzi--a real German sweetie. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  15. Hi Donna,
    When my daughter was five she ripped into her presents, shouted excitedly as she held up a little purse in the shape of a house, "Wow! Santa shops at Target too." Santa forgot to remove the price tag.

  16. Wow--I love reading all of these wonderful Christmas memories! Thanks, Donna, for hosting this giveaway. Such a nice way to get in the spirit of things!

  17. The two stories that immediately come to mind are both bittersweet. The one I'll post is about my sister, Jo Ann, who passed away in 1984 (brain tumor)when she was only 46 years old:

    It would've been Christmastime a couple of years before she passed away. Jo Ann and her husband lived in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and were flying to Des Moines, Iowa to be with our mother for Christmas. They had a lay-over at Lambert Airport, so Ron and I drove there to visit with them for the hour or so they would be in town. (That was back in the good-old-days when anyone could go to the gates to meet or send off loved ones.)I don't remember if it was snowing in St.Louis, but there was a blizzard going on in Des Moines (....gee, kind of like today!) and so their flight kept getting delayed. The airport was packed with holiday travelers and every time their flight was rescheduled, the announcement would come over the loud speaker that it was now going to be departing from Gate so-and-so in Concourse so-and-so. And, naturally, that Concourse and that Gate would be on the absolute opposite end of where we were at that time. The general attitude of everyone was just one of those perfect, holiday kind of scenarios that are usually only seen in movies. We laughed and talked as we gently pushed our way through the crowds, while Jo Ann's husband, Jason, lugged a huge bag of Florida grown oranges and/or grapefruits that they were taking to mother! He was Santa Claus-like in stature, without the white hair, and looked hilarious carrying that bag, along with carrying or dragging a piece or two of luggage. I said he reminded me of a pack horse, which he didn't take offense to! After many delays, and miles of walking, when it was finally determined that we were at the gate their plane would actually load from, we sat on the floor, with countless others. It still was a party atmosphere and we laughed and talked for way more than the hour or so we originally planned on. To spend those extra hours with Jo Ann, during Christmastime, was so special to me, because I missed her so much all year long. And, then, of course, after her death, it meant even more to me. It's one of those memories that always brings a smile to my face, yet a huge ache in my heart.

  18. Beautiful book cover. Christmas Miracles, what a great title for a book. I have always been a big believer in mircles. Christmas holidays can be difficult and when it is, if we remember the true meaning of Christmas, it will bring small or large mircles that will create a smile to our face and happiness to our lives.

  19. Hi Linda,
    What a great story. Funny thing--our Santa shops at Target, too!

  20. Hi Dianna,
    This is fun! Look what you started!

  21. Hi Becky,
    Wow! What a special memory. You described your Christmas with your sister so eloquently. Thanks for sharing with us.

  22. Hi Mary Nida,
    How right you are. Thanks for posting your upbeat and positive message.

    To Everyone who has posted,

    All I can say is I'm relieved the winner will be selected at random because all these stories about Christmas memories are so good there is no way I could pick one as being the best.

  23. Having a little trouble with Christmas spirit this year, so all these stories are great help!

    Years ago I bought large and lovely aritifical tree at a garage sale for $7. Hubby thought it was silly because he never wanted to use one. We always tried to take the kids and dogs to tree farm, choose and cut our own, drag it home in the spirit of a Norman Rockwell Christmas.
    There was always some issue like sickness, weekend obligations, or poor trees to complicate the endeavor.

    One cold and damp year we brought home a tall tree we thought was perfect, but found we had overlooked a twisted trunk. Hubby sawed and worked and every time he put the tree in the stand, it not only leaned but fell over! After the fourth crash, children in tears, wife ringing her hands (tree scraped ceiling paint with each fall), Hubby lost his temper, opened sliding glass door, and torpedoed that tree out into the back yard with the words, "Bring out that artifical tree." We have never had a live tree since!

  24. Hi Claudia,
    Great story, Claudia, and written with heart.
    Thanks for sharing.

  25. Hi All,
    Here's a lovely Christmas memory e-mailed to me by Nick Nixon. A couple weeks ago Nick read it at critique group, and several of us were moved to tears.

  26. Okay,
    I hit the Post Comment button before the copy/paste function, so we'll try it again. Here's Nick Nixon's true story, "Forli's Christmas." It's longer than most posts, so I have to do it in two installments. Nick read the story during his weekly radio show earlier this month.

    Forli’s Christmas (Part I)
    by Nick Nixon

    Christmas eve morning, 2006. As I tiptoed through the house just at day break, I heard my five-year-old daughter’s little voice.

    “Daddy, you going to feed Forli and the girls?”

    “Yes honey, wanna come along?

    Autumn Rose didn’t answer, instead she declared, “Santa’s not coming Daddy.”
    “Look,” she pointed out the window. “It didn’t snow like it’s suppose to.”

    “Oh Santa’s gonna come Honey. Believe me, he will! He may be a little late if it don’t snow, but he’ll still come.”
    “Promise?” her blue eyes widened.

    “Yes Rosie Dear, Promise.”

    “Gotta go now, Forlie and the girls are hungry.” She turned, then smiled as I pulled the blanket over her shoulders and tucked it in.

    Old “Forli” followed “Bob,” a chestnut gelding I’d bought from the Amish for almost nothing, He was a big gentle old Feller that they had retired, and their kids rode occasionally for fun, and that’s exactly why I wanted him, for Autumn Rose and her cousins K.K., nick, and dylan to ride. We had him about five months before he died. Of old age, so the vet said. Autumn was so proud of Big Bob. She loved to show her friends how he could talk.

    “Do you want to give Autumn a ride around the pen?” I would ask him loudly, then at the same time poke at the other side of his neck with a knuckle.

    The Amish had taught him to swing his head up and down giving the impression he was answering “yes.”

    Little Rosy would giggle every time. When Bob passed away, Autumn cried in my arms and that broke my heart. I’d lost horses before, But she hadn’t.

    Later, while delivering a few mares to foal at Lake Wood stables in Illinois, I asked the farm manger if he had an older retired horse suitable for kids to ride in a small pen.

    “No, not right now, he answered.

    Looking around his holding Paddocks, then he added as if an after thought, “Got old Forli there. “He’s gentle as can be.”

    “That so? That’s not the old stallion Forli Winds is it?”

    “Sure is, that’s Forli Winds. He’s twenty five now I believe.”

    “You don’t say. Well I’ll be, the grand looking old chestnut still had that race horse look, if ya knew what to look for. He stood in the shade of a tree, lazily swishing from his hips.

    “He’d make ya a good teaser stallion,” and you could probably ride him at a walk, now and then, if you give him a day to let the soreness pass between rides.”

    I opened the gate and eased up to him, He still had the tell tale look of Eagles in his eyes. I stroked the side of his neck and spoke to him, he gave me a barn nicker as if asking for a peppermint.

    Long story short, He returned with me, he was gentle and I needed a teaser stallion. Had to laugh at Autumn when she called him “Bob” as he eased off of the trailer. Just to get the kinks out of his stiff legs, and let him look around some, I walked him a spell and then on to old Bob’s vacated stall.

    (See next post for continuation)

  27. Forli's Christmas by Nick Nixon (Part II)

    “He’s pretty old Honey, but I think he’ll let you ride him some.”

    “Is he nice?” she asked in her usual sweet voice. I think he is Rosie Bud.” She followed and helped brush his back as I held her up. We both stayed to watch him eat his Equine Senior. Every morning thereafter, she would wake as I tried to sneak out to feed, and I‘d hear “Wait Daddy,” “Wait for me.” So I would wait in the kitchen, and drink the rest of my coffee slowly as she pulled on her little white boots with the Rhine stones across the tops. Then we’d go hand in hand, making the feeding rounds, always finishing up at Forli’s stall. He was already graying around the muzzle but he had earned those white hairs by siring a whole bunch of race winning colts over the past twenty years or more. He deserved his oats.

    “Daddy, hold me up so I can sit on him, he likes me,” he likes me Daddy.”

    Cautious at first, I tied a lead shank to the metal “tie ring” next to his feed bucket for the first couple of times I placed her on his back, but he never moved a muscle. Autumn would grab a handful of mane and I could see in her eyes that she already had him galloping across our alfalfa field, just her and him and the wind, without me holding on to his halter. Her little eyes gleamed with wonder as she sat upon the old stallion’s back. He munched on his two gallons of senior horse mix oblivious to her kicking her legs trying to spur him on. On this cold Christmas eve as I tried sneaking out, snow was in the forecast, but it was late coming. Reports of “Santa sightings” were being repeated over the radio, and “Peeps Christmas” was the most requested song on the air for three weeks running.

    “Santa’s not coming, Daddy, I heard her sleepy little voice continue, “but he will.”

    “Go back to sleep now.”

    I was anxious to check out old Forli cause he was showing his age even more as the temperature dropped. The morning was nippy, and spitting a thin flaked snow. You could see some on the lawn if you looked close. As I left the barn carrying Forli’s bucket of grain, I didn’t see him. Maybe he’s behind his stall or inside, which would be unusual for him I thought. He’s always waited by the gate for his feed and I usually allowed him to chomp a couple of big bites right out of the bucket before I emptied it into his feed trough.

    When I approached the gate I caught a glimpse of chestnut color just under the fence. It was old Forli, on his side, his head lying still in the frozen ground, snow lightly covered his body and a few flakes rested on his open eye along with the blank stare of death that you often see on a farm with animals.

    (To be continued)

  28. Forli's Christmas by Nick Nixon (Part III)

    “Oh no” I said. “Not again,” Old Forli too? I just stood there looking down at his sad form. “Sure, he was old enough to go, but its Christmas For God’s sake!” How in the world am I gonna explain this to little Autumn? Finally, I sat the feed vessel down, and tried to close his eyes. But it was too late. He’d been gone a while. I opened his gate all the way and said, “Go on old Forli,” You’re Free. “Go find yourself a nice herd of mares to watch over, two of his mare friends in the paddock next to his, stood at alert, ear’s forward staring as people do at an ambulance parked on their street with its lites flashing. Later at the kitchen table over a second cup of Folgers, it came to me, it just might work, I mumbled to myself.

    Autumn Rosy came in, climbed on to my lap to ask again, “Are you sure Santa’s coming,” “even if it’s not snowing?”

    “It’s snowing now Honey bunch,” look out the window.” her eyes lit up as she watched the big white flakes floating down like leaves sometimes do when they turn loose of the maple trees on a quiet fall morning. She snuggled up to my chest and I caught the smell of last nights shampoo in her hair. “

    “Did you feed old Forli?” she asked.

    “No Honey, Forli’s Gone” I let it out abruptly before I chickened out. She sat up suddenly.

    “Did he die too Daddy? She asked with a sorrowful look on her face.” Now this set me back some, had she too been worrying about this all along? I lost a little confidence and realized that his idea of mine may not work! I caught a lip tremble that I’d seen before, and I knew I’d better talk fast before her tears started. There was the first signs of it already welling in her young blue eyes, almost begging me to say no…And that’s exactly what I did say.

    “No Honey, Forlie didn’t die, “He just left.”

    “But why?” she asked confused, her bottom lip was about to start quivering again, the corners were starting to turn down. Oh yea, Guess what?” I said, trying to sound happily excited. Santa was here early and “he left a note on Forli’stall door. ‘‘I’ve got it here somewhere - I think. Acting like I had forgotten. When I pulled the wrinkled paper from my coveralls, her expression changed to a slight sign of interest, and I knew I had one good chance of convincing her. So I read the note that I’d scribbled earlier with a red felt marker.

    (to be continued)

  29. Forli's Christmas by Nick Nixon (Part IV)

    “Dear Mr. Nixon and Little Autumn Rose, I’m so glad I found my friend “Forli Winds” this morning, because my reindeer Blitz en, was too sick to help pull our sled, and I have so many toys to deliver tonight. By the way, I’m brining you the green John Deer tricycle you asked for” and some more surprises with it.” Autumn’s face relaxed some with that little piece of rare info from Santa Clause. The note continued….”Autumn, thank you for letting Forli take Blitzen’s place.” He’s real strong, and my reindeer loved him so, Just like I knew they would. He wanted to go with us and you were asleep, so we left together. “Well, thanks again, I’m late, we’re on our way back home to get another load of toys. By By Lovely Rosy, be good, Love, Santa

    We shared a nervous silence but I didn’t give myself away by looking at her, I just folded the note and returned it to my pocket, then cautiously said, “Emma’s Horses next door wanted Santo to pick them to help, but Santa said Forli was the best and strongest of them all. I swallowed a big gulp of hot black coffee hoping to force that lie down with it.

    My best Poker Face was being studied hard, I could feel, and see her out of the corner of my eye. I weakened with self doubt as if hooked up to a lie detector, then held my breath, until finally she spoke.

    “Will he bring Forli back after Christmas?”

    Oh brother, I gave her my deaf ear, but she wouldn’t give up. “Dad, will Forli come back after Christmas? “I-Ah, don’t know, Honey,” I cleared my throat, he may not wanna come back after he sees Santa’s beautiful farm.” Then I added, “No, I’m sure Forli will love it up there, and who knows? He may be needed again next Christmas.” He’s an important Horse Now, ya know?

    “Ohooo, I wish he come back Daddy,” she was still sad, but she’s sounding reasonable.

    “Well, that’s as far as I’m going with this, I said to myself.”

    Look Autumn, look! I pointed at the window. The ground was already covered with a layer of snow white snow.

    She smiled when I started Singing “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle all the way,” Oh What Fun it is to ride in a one “Horse” Open Sleigh.”
    “Ho-Ho-Ho, Merry Christmas everybody.

    And it was.

    Nick Nixon



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