Military Family’s Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Please remember our military at Christmas and every day of the year! And don’t forget our military families waiting at home need your thoughts and prayers, too.

Ashley Torrington never cared much about Christmas before. But this year she’s having a particularly blue holiday because Marine Special Operations Team member, Nick Turner got under her skin just before he was deployed to Afghanistan. With her neighbors’ precocious daughter Bella volunteering Ashley for a special project at school, and a mysterious white-haired stranger named Estelle in town buying gifts from Ashley’s shop, not to mention the odd assortment of presents Ashley’s been receiving from an anonymous source, she shouldn’t have time to worry about her guy. But when he and his team go missing the week before Christmas, she realizes only a Christmas miracle will reunite them.

Captain Nicholas Turner never backed down from challenges—on the battlefield or in his personal life. But he’d never met a challenge like Ashley, who doesn’t want to be anyone’s “girl back home.” Now he’s on the other side of the world, wanting to be anywhere but in Afghanistan for Christmas. About to embark on one of the most dangerous missions of his life, he needs Ashley to know she’s much more than the girl he’d left behind, and he does plan to come home to her. But in the meantime, a little Christmas magic would be appreciated. Little does he know, he’s about to get his wish.

USMC Angel said:  “I’m the wife of a United States Marine Corps Sergeant, and I must say that as a Marine wife, not only is it hard to find books that I can relate to, but its even harder to find love stories…This author did an AMAZING! job at capturing the essence of a Marine Corps relationship. I love this story and the way she writes it, on the edge of your seat falling in love with Nick at the same time as Ashley. This is a must read for all military wives! ” (~Amazon 5-star review; see other Amazon reviews)

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Holiday Hopping!

Follow the link to the Sweet Saturday Sample for this week.

**Ho! Ho! Ho! Hop RULES**

Welcome to the Stuff Your Stocking Hop!

Happy Holidays! I wanted to share with you a thought about military families at this time of year. How many of you wonder what they do to celebrate the holiday season? Well, it’s pretty much the same things we do.

Hmm, they seem to have it all…

<><>Sacrifices of our military personnel and their families give us peace of mind to enjoy our hearths, homes, and families.

Go ahead and enjoy. They got us covered.

Bless our military men and women and bless the families who miss them…wherever they are.

Ashley Torrington never cared much about Christmas before. But this year she’s having a particularly blue holiday because Marine Special Operations Team member, Nick Turner got under her skin just before he was deployed to Afghanistan. With her neighbors’ precocious daughter Bella volunteering Ashley for a special project at school, and a mysterious white-haired stranger named Estelle in town buying gifts from Ashley’s shop, not to mention the odd assortment of presents Ashley’s been receiving from an anonymous source, she shouldn’t have time to worry about her guy. But when he and his team go missing the week before Christmas, she realizes only a Christmas miracle will reunite them.

Captain Nicholas Turner never backed down from challenges—on the battlefield or in his personal life. But he’d never met a challenge like Ashley, who doesn’t want to be anyone’s “girl back home.” Now he’s on the other side of the world, wanting to be anywhere but in Afghanistan for Christmas. About to embark on one of the most dangerous missions of his life, he needs Ashley to know she’s much more than the girl he’d left behind, and he does plan to come home to her. But in the meantime, a little Christmas magic would be appreciated. Little does he know, he’s about to get his wish.

Ramstein Air Base, Germany, 1900 hours T minus 18 days ’til Christmas

 Nick downloaded the pictures Ashley had sent, laughing at the one she’d taken of herself by holding the camera in front of her while she made a goofy, google-eyed face. She probably didn’t realize she had strands of silver tinsel caught in her colorful hair. He looked for a message accompanying the pictures but found none. Maybe he hadn’t heard her right, and she hadn’t told him she loved him, after all.

The contact with Ashley and pictures from home steadied Nick’s world. At least for the time being. She’d been right not to let him finish his when-I-get-back statement. That would only have mucked things up. So, for now…someday would have to be good enough. And someday he’d ask that girl to marry him.

“PG-rated” and available now: Amazon    Astraea Press     Barnes & Noble

You can win a PDF copy of any two of these G-rated novels plus a $6 coupon code for Astraea Press clean fiction publisher:

Just comment below with an idea of how to show our military personnel and families that we care and you will be entered to win your choice from the five books shown above.  Anyone purchasing Operation: Christmas Hearts, who sends me proof of purchase (a copy of your receipt) to wordsprite@gmail.com with “I bought Operation: Christmas Hearts” in the subject line, will automatically receive a PDF copy of one of the above.

Ways you can give back:

Operation: Gratitude: Check out the wish list.

Veterans of Foreign Wars – your local chapter or the main offices.

The Veterans Site – fund meals for homeless veterans.

For each comment accompanied by an email address between 12/15 and 12/19/2011, I will donate $1 to the USO Wounded Warrior Project.

Hop on to other Stuff Your Stocking blogs!

Return to Ho! Ho! Ho! Holiday Spice: Choose Your Flavor, Naughty or Nice

Sweet Saturday Sample-Worry…

What do you do when you don’t know if the man you love is okay? More from Operation: Christmas Hearts…

North Carolina, Early Morning

T minus 16 days ’til Christmas

 Ashley bit into a crispy marshmallow treat as she waited for her laptop to boot. The sticky sweetness exploded in her mouth and she moaned out loud. Maybe eating one of the little goodies for breakfast was a questionable course of action, but she was out of toaster pastry. She took another bite and licked her lips. Adding the chocolate and caramel toppings had been inspired. She didn’t even want to think how many inches eating her latest batch would add to her hips, though. Maybe she’d take an extra walk around the block to work some of it off.

Her home page popped up with a news alert about an explosion in Afghanistan that had killed seven U.S. Marines and Ashley’s heart pushed a logjam of emotion into her throat. “Oh, no,” she moaned. Her fingers went limp around the remnant of crispy treat she held and it fell to the floor.

“It’s okay,” she whispered out loud. “He’s fine. It’s not him. He’s in Germany. He’s still safe in Germany. He has to be.”

She clicked on her e-mail icon and tapped a red fingernail against the side of the keyboard while it took its sweet time loading.

And there it was. An e-mail from Nick. And the timestamp was only a few hours ago.

Hey, babe—Different phone, different everything. I’m going to try to call but if we get cut off it’s just because coverage is so spotty here. Nothing to worry about. I don’t want you ticked off at me, maybe thinking I hung up on you.

Ashley’s heart crowded her chest again. So, he wasn’t safely in Germany. She’d known this was going to happen. But knowing something would happen and realizing something had happened, she discovered, were two entirely different concepts. She steadied her breathing, knowing he hadn’t mentioned where he was because he couldn’t. And that meant he’d gone to someplace dangerous.

Her hands weren’t at all steady when she clicked back over to the news story. Maybe they’d identified the casualties. Am I horrible because I want it to be someone else’s name I read? Is this wishing someone else’s heart will be broken just so mine isn’t? She skimmed the announcement; no names appeared in the frustratingly short article. Tears streamed, and she did nothing to stop them.

Frantically, her gaze danced over the Internet page again, trying to find something—anything to prove this wasn’t about Nick and his men.

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Dedication:

Thank you to the Lord, my God, who inspires me to be a better person, and without whom the words I write would mean nothing.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

~Holy Bible, John 15:13

 Military personnel and their families place their lives and their ways of life in peril 24/7 so our lives are safe. This book is dedicated to U.S. military service personnel and their families everywhere. Thank you all for ensuring that the rest of us can live the lives we choose.

Return to SWEET SATURDAY SAMPLES

Sweet Saturday Sample-Fore!

Got game, anyone? This is a little something from my latest release, Operation: Christmas Hearts. Enjoy!

Ashley narrowed her eyes as she watched Nick bend over his club and study the windmill turning at a slow pace in front of the little mouse hole through which he had to shoot the ball. How astonishing that after only a few shots, he had the stance and handgrip down perfectly. Who did he think he’d been fooling? Not her, that was for sure. Well, maybe a little. At least up until he’d held his putter like a rifle.

She edged to the left. If she’d judged it correctly, she should be in his peripheral vision. He pulled the club back. Ashley lifted her hands over her head and stretched, pushing the assets he seemed to enjoy stealing glances at a bit more front and center than normal.

Nick’s putter skimmed the top of the ball, sending it angling off to hit the bricks lining the green felt-­covered fairway. He shot a slightly ticked off glance in Ashley’s direction. “Why’d you do that?”

She blinked with feigned innocence. “Do what?”

“You know what,” he muttered, stalking down the fairway after his golf ball. “You’re deliberately trying to throw off my game.”

And it’s working, too.

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As you enjoy this holiday season, please remember our military troops! USO E-mail Thanks to the Troops.

God bless you and yours.