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Posts from the ‘Special Events’ Category

Books, Ornaments, and a Fireplace by Tracy Ruckman

I’ve always been a book lover – from even before I could walk, I think. My family gave me books every year for gifts at Christmas, birthday, Easter, and I devoured them all.

I passed that tradition onto my kids, and now they relay memories of Christmases of “nothing but books.” I wasn’t quite that drastic, except maybe one year.

That year had been quite turbulent. We’d moved back to Georgia in the summer, and then my grandmother and my dad died during the month of December, so we were on the road a lot, trying to spend time with them in Alabama as much as possible as their cancers progressed. At my job, someone passed around some ABC gift catalogs. Their prices fit my budget, and their merchandise fit my mood and personality. They had several sets of books for both ages of my boys and they had a fun, fake, cardboard fireplace that we could assemble for our new home that didn’t have one. One order and Christmas shopping was done.

But we had a problem with the tree. All our Christmas stuff had been left behind when we moved. My sister gifted us with some beautiful homemade ornaments – toy soldiers and elves – that we still put on the tree every year. (She made us a matching wreath, too!) When my mom learned about the tradition I’d started when my boys were little, she took us shopping to help recover some of the ornaments we’d left behind.

Every year, I bought an ornament for each boy and one for our home, based on something that was relevant to each during that previous year. I’d done this tradition for four or five years, so we tried to remember each one. Mom took us to this cool Christmas store that sold thousands of different kinds of ornaments, and we were able to find several that were quite similar to those left behind, so the tradition lives on today. Basketballs, musical instruments, a camera with film, Noah’s ark – all reminiscent of their growing years. When Zach got a home of his own, I packed up his ornaments and gifted him with those, so he could carry the tradition into his own family. Jonathan asked us to keep his for awhile longer so they’re here when he spends time with us during the holidays.

Tim and I have continued the tradition, too, adding an ornament or two each year. We have city ornaments from places we’ve lived or visited, and ornaments from various milestones. Every year we laugh when we pull out the handcuffs to put on the tree. That year, I’d attended a citizen’s police academy and Tim had served a short time as a bounty hunter, so when I found some handcuffs in a toy department, I knew they were our perfect ornament for that year!

The importance of traditions is lost to us until we grow older. Traditions aren’t created and kept we want to be boring (as some of us tend to think.) Traditions are created to help us remember those extra sweet moments that tend to get crowded out by other memories.

Tracy Ruckman owns TMP Books, where she serves as book publisher, writing coach, marketing guru. She is also a talented photo artist. She loves connecting with everyone – because everyone has a story to tell. Her latest books, The Young Storyteller’s Prompt and Draw Series, encourage children to develop their storytelling skills through their own words and illustrations.

Follow Tracy on her personal blog at for all the latest updates. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. She invites you to explore her books on Amazon and discover her artwork on Zazzle and Etsy.

Pamela S. Thibodeaux shared her favorite Christmas memory last week. You can read about it here.

Christmas Kindness by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

The ghost of Christmases past haunted our house again in 1993. To say we were poor, would be an untruth, but to say money was tight is an understatement. As in years before, funds seemed to vanish, leaving very little, if anything, for gifts. This year was one of the worst since my husband’s boss decided to go on an extended vacation-Thanksgiving through New Years-without paying his employees.

While chatting with the nurses at work one evening the inevitable question of whether or not we were through shopping came up. I responded that I was waiting on my next check (which we were receiving on Dec. 23rd), to do mine. That brought a firestorm of other questions which I answered by explaining our predicament.

As things were brought out in the open about my husband’s check, or rather, lack of one, I was encouraged to scrounge the barrels of toys that had been collected for needy children who came to the hospital and see if there was anything I could use for mine. Not knowing that this was allowed, I hesitated. After all, we’d been through this before and the kids were old enough to understand our finances. Continued support as well as the knowledge that other hospital employees often did this as Christmas drew closer and the barrels became empty save for the less desirable gifts that children didn’t seem to want anyway, encouraged me to check it out. I found small gift items that could be purchased at any Dollar store, still, it was better than nothing and I was able to pick out a couple of things for each of my children.

But the greatest gift came from an unexpected source.

A couple of hours later, one of my favorite nurses to work with asked me to meet her in the lounge. “When I was newly single I needed tires and a friend gave me the money to get them. He wouldn’t let me pay him back, only asked that I would pay it forward when I could. I hope you’re not insulted, and I’ll ask the same of you,” she said. By the time she placed a check in my hand we were both in tears.

To this day I’m warmed by the memory and you can bet your last dollar I honor her gift by blessing others as often as I can.

More About the 2017 IDA Finalist Keri’s Christmas Wish:

For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year?

A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught?

About the Author:

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”  Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!

You can connect online with Pamela at the following locations:


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Twitter: @psthib


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Who’s Got a Button? by Tracy Ruckman

Who’s got a button?

After Tim and I married, his sister brought us a gift. She’d filled a delicate and pretty wicker basket with sewing supplies from her own sewing kit, which had been put together from Tim’s mom’s sewing kit.

Inside the basket was a triangular shaped plastic tub – full of buttons! As I went through them, I remembered all the button cans from my childhood – old coffee cans full of buttons in every shape, size, and color.

These days, my favorite hobby at night while Tim has on the TV is to create artwork to sell. When Fay mentioned buttons, I pulled out our button tub and started snapping photos, then began creating patterns.

Then I use the patterns on merchandise in my TMPixArt store on Zazzle.

Each week, I share the latest patterns on my blog, so come see what I did with these button patterns and others I created from that same photo.

Tracy Ruckman is developer of The Young Storyteller’s Prompt and Draw Series of children’s books.


Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button? National Button Day

When a friend told me recently that today, November 16, was National Button Day, I naturally thought of my novel Stalking Willow and the button jar that I wrote into the story. Why? Because the button jar was real.

My mother had a button jar that was curiously placed inside a box containing numerous family photos. My mother never said so, but because the buttons were placed with the photos, I believe that they had been given to her by her mother, my wonderful farm-raised, Kentucky born grandmother, whose country-sense has served me throughout my life. For most of my childhood, I was an only child, often lonely, and I would sift through those photos, and I would pour out the buttons and sort them and look at their texture and their design. I still remember the scent of musty, old, glorious buttons. It is a memory that soothes. I recently began collecting buttons again, and I share that particular story with Tracy Ruckman here.

In Stalking Willow, my main character, Willow Thomas, was raised by a grandmother so very similar to my Grandma New. In fact, I gave so many winks to my numerous cousins that I heard from several of them saying, “You remember that about her, too?”

Willow’s grandmother had been a simple woman who loved her family. She had raised Willow, but something happened that tore Willow’s life apart on the day Willow graduated from school. Her grandmother died as a result, and Willow fled the small mountain town. She is chased back to that town ten years later. She is not only toting her suitcase filled with clothing and followed by a stalker, she’s also carrying around a truckload of bitterness.

Willow’s journey to healing begins when she discovers a box of photographs and a button jar in her granny’s closet. Sound familiar? The buttons, though, are not the only thing she finds. She discovers something else from her grandmother, and Willow begins to understand that things are not always what they seem and that she needs to learn to forgive and to chop down the roots of bitterness.

I’ve discovered through readers of Stalking Willow that I’m not the only one with memories buttons. I’d love to hear from readers today. What special memories do you have of a particular button or a button jar?

Fay Lamb is the only daughter of a rebel genius father and a hard-working, tow-the-line mom. She is not only a fifth-generation Floridian, she has lived her life in Titusville, where her grandmother was born in 1899.

Since an early age, storytelling has been Fay’s greatest desire. She seeks to create memorable characters that touch her readers’ heart. She says of her writing, “If I can’t laugh or cry at the words written on the pages of my manuscript, the story is not ready for the reader.” Fay writes in various genres, including romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction.