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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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Three Gals and Their Thanksgiving Memories

Tomorrow is the day when we stop and we thank our wonderful, omniscient, sovereign Father for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us. One of my many blessings is the memories that He has provided to me on numerous occasions, and I asked two of my friends to come along and share their Thanksgiving remembrances with you as well. Thus, the title: Three Gals and Their Thanksgiving Memories.

A True Turkey Tale by Peggy Cunningham

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” Psalm 107:1 (NIV).

This turkey tale holds a special spot in my heart. It’s my stellar turkey tale because it’s about the first turkey I ever tried to cook––two months after my wedding day. As the years pass, I realize that it is a blessing to be able to remember. But for many years this memory was anything but a blessing for me. I repressed this memory until the day my children heard it the first time and found it extremely funny. Eventually, I found the humor in it also but not that day.

After many years of married life, I now have experience cooking turkeys, but as a new bride, I didn’t. I looked forward to cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner that year. Far away from our hometown, we celebrated alone but not as we’d planned. My husband was in the Air Force, and we lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now you may think that was glamorous––not so. We lived on an airman’s salary and buying a turkey broke the budget for the special day.

We got up early and together we made the stuffing then packed it in the bird and shoved it in the oven. After a few hours, we checked the bird. We thought it strange that there was no wonderful aroma coming from the oven, and looking at it––well, it was still raw. Two hours more should do it––we reasoned. We closed the oven door and waited.

The table looked lovely with my wedding gifts of silver, crystal, and candlesticks placed on the perfectly pressed tablecloth. The potatoes were cooking, and the red cranberry sauce contrasted the green linen tablecloth––my decorating skills were developing. If only that turkey would cooperate. It didn’t. After nine hours in the oven, it was tough and still not cooked. We were so disappointed that we took that bird for a long drive in the Nevada desert and threw it out of the convertible we were driving and then headed to McDonald’s. Did we ever know what happened? Never!

Remembering must be important to God. There are many verses in the Bible that remind us to remember. “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done” (Psalm 145:5). Memories!

I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. I’m especially thankful I can remember the good and funny memories. I hope you make some good turkey tales on this Thanksgiving Day––funny ones too. Happy Thanksgiving!

One Rainy Thanksgiving by Tracy Ruckman

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God on the lyre,
Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.
Psalm 147:7-8 (NASB)

One special Thanksgiving that I always remember so fondly was when my boys were growing up – they were pre- and early teens. We took a short trip to Pigeon Forge over the Thanksgiving weekend. We’d never been there, so I had no clue about the layout of the town. I was on a single-mom budget, but I found a cheap motel near a creek and we packed snacks for traveling and bedtime munchies. I was determined we’d park and walk as much as we could to save on gas.

Listening to the radio on the drive, we learned it was supposed to rain all weekend, so at our next pit stop, we picked up $1 ponchos. I knew once we bought them, the chance of rain should decrease significantly.

Have you ever been to Pigeon Forge? If so, you’re probably already laughing at all my assumptions above.

We quickly learned that Pigeon Forge is not exactly a walking town. I was determined to try though, to preserve the budget. We set out walking to the candy store down the street – through puddle-filled parking lots, across grassy medians, and under a deluge of rain. Those ponchos were definitely of the $1 variety!

Arriving at the candy store, where we watched them pulling taffy, we learned that Gatlinburg was the walking town, but we had to drive there and pay parking to walk for free.

We ended up seeing both towns, driving back and forth several times, trying to pack as much into the weekend as we could. The boys got to play laser tag, and we snuggled in our room at night watching TV and just hanging out together.

My face hurts from grinning at some of the memories. Hot fries for snacks at bedtime. And a communal microwave for popping corn (before most motel rooms had their own). All you can eat pancakes – the restaurant lost money with my boys. Rain, rain, and more rain with those flimsy ponchos – every time I see a poncho today, I think of that Thanksgiving weekend.

On the way home, we drove through Cades Cove. I didn’t take this photo, but it’s one just like the one burned into my memories of that beautiful – but wet – Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Traditions by Fay Lamb

“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Thy wondrous works.” Psalm 26:7 (KJV)

When I married Marc Lamb, I learned that both the Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions in that family were strong enough to pull a long-separated couple together for the day. You would never know that my in-laws had any differences. Our sons enjoyed the fruits of their grandmother’s labor and the steadfast presence of their grandfather.

My dear mother-in-law started a week before with the grocery shopping, paid for by my wonderful father-in-law. She combed the stores for the perfect turkey, ordering the best Honey-Baked Ham, buying sweet potatoes and marshmallows, oysters for the dressing that Marc’s dad loved, and I grew to love, and ingredients for the ho-hum dressing that the others ate. She made mashed potatoes and homemade macaroni and cheese, a squash casserole and a broccoli casserole I can never duplicate, and a Waldorf salad like no other. She adorned the table with the best China and her grandmother’s silver. Food filled that table and the counters in the kitchen. Desserts were chocolate cake and pumpkin pie. By the time we prayed over the meal, our mouths were watering. When we finished, we rolled ourselves into the living room to watch some football and to rest up for the next day.

Tradition in the Lamb house meant that Thanksgiving didn’t end until we’d picked out the perfect tree for all of our homes on the Friday after the big meal. By the end of the weekend, Thanksgiving would be behind us and the Lamb family Christmas traditions would begin.

We lost our beloved patriarch in 2004, but the beloved matriarch and queen of the kitchen continued on through changes in family situations, the death of another loved one, and the difficulty in planning to meet the needs of the growing family God has blessed us with. By 2014, my mother-in-law had slowed considerably. We could see that she was unable to complete the many tasks she loved. That’s when my son stepped in and asked his grandmother if he could be the chef for the ham and turkey, if Mom (me) couldn’t cook some of the other dishes, and if she’d liked to continue making the dressing and the cake. We wanted to keep the tradition alive.

By 2016, with the meal moved to my home, with my son still cooking the meat and with me putting together all the dishes except the dressing, we found ourselves without dressing of any kind for Thanksgiving dinner. My mother-in-law was supposed to fix the dressing, but when my husband brought her to our home, she came empty-handed. She said she hadn’t remembered that she was supposed to make it. Her confusion easily upset her, so we laughed it off and cajoled her about it. When we later returned to her home, we discovered she had, in fact, made dressing: five pans. They were in the refrigerator, on the counter, and in the, thankfully, turned off oven. Again, we entered into teasing laughter with her, and for me, that Thanksgiving is filled with fond remembrances because laughter is a key component to memories. And God is the one who bestowed those special times upon us.

As we move forward from here, life is always changing, but the one thing we’re not letting go is the tradition that my mother-in-law so loved.

About the Three Gals:

Peggy Cunningham and her husband are missionaries in Bolivia, South America. They work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also an author. Her children’s books and devotionals are available on, including just released, Hooray for Holidays Book 4: A Veterans Day Special Needs Cat, Thanksgiving Blue Mouse, and Christmas Andes Llama.

Tracy Ruckman is a book publisher, writing and marketing coach, and artist. Learn more about her book publishing and coaching at Visit her personal website at to learn more about her books and her art. Visit her Zazzle store at to purchase her artwork on a wide variety of merchandise.

Tracy’s latest books are in The Young Storyteller’s Prompt and Draw Series that helps children develop their storytelling skills through words and illustrations. View all twelve books in the series here:

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 for Write Integrity Press in various genres, including romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction, and you can find out more about her novels at Author Central.

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.