Friday, December 7, 2018

Old Settlers' Picnic

Last fall my husband and I left the suburbs of Chicago and headed west. In a rental car we hit some of the popular sites in South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming.
One spot along the way was the Devils Tower in Wyoming. 

Devils Tower (author's photo)

Until this trip, all I knew about the Devils Tower was that it was where the aliens landed in Encounters of a Third Kind, featuring a scene where Richard Dreyfus sculpts its shape into mashed potatoes with his fork.
Nothing prepared me for its magnificence. Set in the Black Hills but surrounded by miles of flat land, it dominates the landscape. We drove and drove and drove and there it was always within sight. In the front window, the side windows, and back window, the rear-view mirror....
It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies, so it stood out as some strange anomaly in the green plains. Then it occurred to me that the plots of land around it were fenced off, because it's surrounded by ranches. 
I had to wonder what it would be like to have a sight like the Devils Tower in your backyard. What did the first people and early settlers make of this monolith?
This place is still sacred to the tribes of the Northern Plains evidenced by the amount of medicine bundles hanging in branches at the base of the tower. They have there own stories of the creation of the Devils Tower you can read about at the visitor's center, which was all very interesting to me.
But something else caught my attention. In one marker as you start to walk around the tower is an old photo of an outdoor gathering labeled Old Settler's Picnic.

Old Settlers' Picnic, Devils Tower, WY., NPS Photo
The Old Settler's Picnic was started in 1932, and this annual event became a way for friends and family to gather together. The picnic went on into the 1960's and was revived in 2006 to celebrate the park's centennial. A picnic lunch is followed by cowboy poetry, live music, and events throughout the day.
While traveling around the west driving from town to town with long, lonely stretches of open land in between, we visited a sod house, a couple of cemeteries, museums, and landmark buildings, so I saw first hand the challenges to survival for the early settlers.  So, hats off to the families who persevered long enough to put down roots.
When I started thinking about my story, Counting Down to Christmas, for the anthology A Christmas Cowboy to Keep, I knew I had to make my cowboy someone who came from a family who would qualify as old settlers. Meet Leland Jennings IV, large animal veterinarian. I didn't put the Devils Tower in his backyard, but instead gave him a ranching family in South Dakota.

Melody Evans, a professional wedding planner, views happily-ever-after endings with a skeptical eye, but she's never lost her childlike enthusiasm for her favorite holiday—Christmas. To veterinarian rancher Leland Jennings IV, Christmas is just for kids. If he could, he'd skip the whole month of December. But he does believe there’s one woman out there for him, and he's holding out for her. Melody revives Leland's Christmas spirit, and he rekindles her heart.

Find Counting Down to Christmas in A Christmas Cowboy to Keep! Seven contemporary western romances sure to bring holiday cheer and warm your heart for only $0.99.
Available at Amazon
Excerpt: Counting Down to Christmas, Chapter One where Leland sees Melody for the first time and she, unbeknownst to him, is stuck in her car with a jammed seat belt.

December 1

So rare.
That feeling of instant connection. Eyes meet, and without even exchanging words, you know something is happening on a level uncommon in most human interactions. Everything else blurs as focus on each other sharpens. You ride that wave of recognition back and forth on invisible wires.  
One minute Leland Jennings IV was leaning against a frigid wall, talking on his phone, and then he lost the thread of the conversation as a compact, white car appeared. In fact, he lost sight of everything when the woman at the wheel, partly obscured behind glass and with her hair covered by a fuzzy, pink cap, turned her gaze in his direction. There wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy about her, but her entrance on the scene plucked a chord deep inside.
The car stopped across the street in front of him before she backed it up into a parking space. A movement on the dashboard caught his attention and he squinted: a bobble headed, grinning cat in a grass skirt doing a hula dance for him. The woman’s lips moved in animated conversation as she glanced back over her shoulder while maneuvering the car into the space. There didn’t appear to be anyone else in the car.
In the building behind her, someone threw open the curtains in a second floor apartment and flicked on one of those electric holiday candles. It flickered directly above the woman in the car.
The cold from the brick wall inched through his jacket to his back. Leland pushed back his hat and rubbed the stubble on his upper lip with his free hand. The smell of his leather glove filled his nostrils in the crisp air as he studied her. He’d never seen the woman before. He was sure of that.
His sister’s voice rattling around in his eardrum brought him back to attention. “Leland! Hello? Are you still there?” Faith asked.
“Yeah, sorry. I got distracted.” He kept his sights fixed on the woman in the parked car. She threw her head back and laughed and then went on talking. Must be on speaker phone.
“So... are you going to answer my question?” Faith asked.
“I forgot the question. Can you repeat that?”
She clicked her tongue. “I asked if you got the list I texted to you?”
The woman in the car looked directly at him. He looked down, overwhelmed with the intense jolt he felt directly to his heart. “What list is that?”
Heavy sigh. “Leland, I swear...I sent you the kids’ Christmas list. I need to know what you’re going to buy them so we don’t duplicate.”
“Oh, yeah. I did see that but I haven’t looked it over yet... Say, why can’t I buy them what I want to?”
“Well, you could.” She spoke to him in the slow way you’d use on an imbecile. “Of course, a single, middle-aged man knows exactly what a three-year old girl and a six-year old boy want. But, I happen to have a list of what they asked Santa for. Why not go with that? Seth and I can’t get them everything on the list. That’s why we’re passing it onto you and Ma. You all can look it over first, tell me what you want to buy, and then we’ll fill in.”
Now, the woman in the car sat still, a pout on her lips.
Leland kept his eyes on her as he talked to his sister. “What ever happened to surprises? They’re little kids. Do they even know what they want, or do they just parrot what they see on TV commercials? And anyway, is it really healthy that they get everything they want? Isn’t there something to be said for having to wait for gratification?”
Their eyes met again and Leland felt such a charge he had to look away.
“Well, I do appreciate your sentiments on the subject, but let me be frank with you. It’s fine for you with your successful practice and lack of responsibilities, but Seth and I are on a budget and Christmas and birthdays are the only times we get to indulge our kids.”
Oh, boy, he sure hated when Faith got her back up. “Point made. I’ll look over the list and tell you what I’m getting for the kids.”
“You do that. And since you’re in town to pick up Ma, why don’t the two of you put your heads together today and let me know ASAP?”
He dared to look across the street again. The woman was moving strangely in her seat. Undulating, really. “Yeah...I’m on it.”
“While we’re on the subject, what do you want for Christmas?”
What was that woman doing? Squirming around behind the wheel with her face contorted.
“Not a thing. Don’t bother with me,” he said.
“Leland, don’t be that way. You are no fun at all. I’m going to get you something anyway, so you might as well give me a hint.”
“This is why I hate Christmas. I buy myself what I want all year as needs arise. It’s silly to get me something I probably don’t need or want.”
“It’s called exchanging gifts, and sometimes gifts are more fun to give than to receive as is common knowledge. Stop ruining everyone else’s fun.”
“Then I’ll have to get you something. And Seth. Christmas should be for kids only. I hate all this pressure to spend money. Consume, consume. At the last minute I get caught up in the frenzy and end up buying any old thing on Christmas Eve so everyone has something. I bet you don’t even remember what I gave you last year.”
She snorted. “I do. You got me a space heater. Seth and I still laugh about it.”
“That’s what I got you? Jeez, that’s an awful gift. I hope I picked out a pretty one. How about we adults stop giving gifts to each other?”
“No. That’s not going to fly. I like Christmas, and I like my gifts. Even if I am surprised to get a space heater. And while we’re talking about it, Seth and I want to host this year.”
He squinted. The woman had ducked down out of view. “What’s wrong with having it at the ranch like we always do?”
“How about we give Ma a break. I’d like to have it at our house, and it’s so much easier on us. We don’t have to drag sleepy, cranky children out in the cold—and besides, they don’t like being pulled away from their new toys.”
“The toys again. When did Christmas become all about presents and spending money foolishly?”
“All right, Ebeneezer Scrooge, you’re starting to bring me down. Can’t you try and enjoy yourself...You can bring a guest if you want.”
He hated that undertone of sympathy creeping in at the last comment of hers. “Thanks, but I’m not seeing anyone at the moment.”
“What happened to the school teacher?”
Across the street the woman popped up again in the car seat and crammed her knitted cap back down on her head. He darted his eyes away again when she looked at him. “That fizzled out.”
“Fizzled out or the glow wore off and you got bored? You got to work at it, little brother. You have some ideal woman in your head—”
“No, it’s not like that. I’m not looking for the perfect woman. I’m looking for my woman. My perfect fit.”
The car door swung open. He held his breath as her legs swung out and her boots hit the ground.
Faith clucked her tongue again. “I don’t know if it works that way.”
He watched her step out of the car. Average height. Hard to judge by the bulky coat she wore but she looked slender. The hair escaping from under the wool cap was light.
“Yes, it does. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to work,” he said, in a distracted voice. He didn’t know what it was, but if he believed in reincarnation, he’d swear they shared a past life together.
“Well, maybe in your world, but the rest of us live in a place based in reality. That reminds me. Have you had a chance to think over that other matter?”
The woman shut the car door and opened the back seat. She pulled out a large cardboard box brimming with gift-wrapped boxes.
His throat tightened and his vision blurred with tears as the wind stung his eyes all of a sudden. “What? Oh, you mean….”
With both arms full now, she used her hip to shut the car door. The slamming sound carried across the street on the brittle, cold air. The jolt to her body caused her to totter, and the top layer of presents hit the street. He followed the progress of one present scuttling across a frozen puddle.
In his mind, he leaped to her aid, but in actuality, Leland froze, his heart racing. She gathered the fallen gifts with some difficulty. When she stood up straight again, she fixed her eyes on him. Then, arms still around the box, she crooked her elbow and lifted one fuzzy, pink mittened hand high in the air.
“Leland?” Faith asked in a soft voice. “I asked if you’ve had a chance to think over what we talked about the other day?”
He knit his brows, trying to make out what the woman was doing. “I have, and I still think this is a premature discussion. You’re overreacting.”

He opened his eyes wide in disbelief. He wasn’t sure because of the mitten, but it looked like he’d just been given the finger.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Guest Author, Laura Drake

Please welcome to Cowboy Kisses western romance author Laura Drake!
Laura is joining us today to talk about her new release, The Last True Cowboy, A Chestnut Creek Novel.
This cowboy's got one last chance to prove himself
   Carly Beauchamp has loved cowboy Austin Davis since first grade. Ask anyone in their dusty, backwater New Mexico town of Unforgiven, and they'll say “Carly and Austin” the way some say “big trucks and country boys.” But after years of waiting for a wedding ring, Carly’s done with being a rodeo widow . . . 
    Austin never meant to put his career on the circuit before Carly. She’s always been his future, his one and only. But now that she’s moved on, he’s beginning to see where he went wrong, and he’ll do anything to win her back. The only thing is, Carly’s suddenly acting differently, and she’s definitely hiding a secret—one that will test the depth of their love and open up a whole new world of possibilities.


I want to be part of a whole again, not a limping shell. I want . . .
The light is blocked out, and his lips are on mine. My hands steal to the sides of his face, and I take him in; a sweet kiss that makes me want to cry.
There must be a term stronger than wanting, but it’s lost in his gentle touch. Like our first kiss, that day in the homestead house when we looked at each other and realized we were doing more than playing house all those years; we were practicing.
The want pulls my brain from reason. This must be how addicts feel. My fingers slide down the stubble on his soft cheeks. I know the topography of his face better than my own. I’ll pay the penalty later. I need this. I’m taking this. Not sure I could stop now, anyway.
He slants his head, and when opens his mouth, sweet turns hot. He seems as desperate as I feel, tasting, testing, pushing. We can’t get close enough. His hands cup my butt and he lifts and turns me, so I’m standing on the running board. We’re the exact same height. I know, because we tested it out before he bought this truck. I’m squeezed between the truck body and his, yet still, it’s not enough. Wrapping my fists in his shirt, I pull him closer and melt into his mouth. Tonight’s memory is going to have to last me the rest of my life.

Get to know more about Laura:

Laura Drake is a New York published author of Women's Fiction and Romance.
Her romance series, Sweet on a Cowboy, is set in the world of professional bull riding.  Her debut, The Sweet Spot, won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She also published a four-book small town romance series with Harlequin’s Superomance line.  Her women's fiction, Days Made of Glass, released January 2016, and The Last True Cowboy, first in her Chestnut Creek series will release in December of this year.
Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Christmas Reading

Years ago, when I first created Royce Weston, his twin sister, brothers Lucas and Creel, and his father, I had no idea I would expand the Weston family into 4 novels and 3 short stories. But as I kept writing, the family kept growing. The brothers married and the children grew up. It is 3 of those children I’m interviewing today, as they are the leads in the Weston Family Series Christmas stories. (Tess and Cade Weston are Lucas’ children and Tabitha Weston is Royce’s daughter.) Purchase links are at the end, and each story is .99 cents on Amazon.

Tess Weston:
Tell us a little about Christmas Miracles:
With a winter storm threatening to blanket the land in snow, James Landry boards a train to Denver two days before his Christmas Eve wedding to Tess Weston, despite her misgivings that the storm will hinder his return trip home. But James has to go to the big city to replace the worthless ring he mistakenly bought for her with a band of real gold, and assures her nothing, not even snow, will keep him from arriving at the altar on time. But James doesn't count on finding himself stuck in knee-deep drifts, with a Colt .45 staring him in the face.
Tess has had an eerie feeling that something bad is going to happen to James since the moment he told her of his trip. With fat, flakes of snow falling steadily from the sky, images flicker in her mind of him stranded in a hotel room, or on a cold train car. But for some reason, the snow piling up outside her window doesn't lend weight to her fear that James is in grave danger. Determined to help him, Tess sets out on a course to find him, only to have one obstacle after another deter her from reaching him.     

What did you think the 1st time you saw James?
That he was another ranch hand pa had hired.

What was your 2nd thought?
With his broad chest and muscles, I could snuggle against him all day.

What do you like most about James?
His smile and his honesty.

How would you describe James?
He’s loyal and a hard worker. And sometimes he’s shy.

How would James describe you?
Bold, sassy, determined, stubborn; I inherited the best of my parent’s traits. But I think James also sees I have good heart and I’m kind.

What is your biggest fear?
Losing James, or any member of my family.

Cade Weston:
Tell us a little about Christmas Hearts:
After spending two years in Wyoming, Cade Weston is eager to return to his family’s ranch to celebrate the Christmas holiday. But fate intervenes in the form of a tortured soul—Nicole. Her guardian has abused her, leaving Cade with little choice but to pay for her freedom and take her with him. Holed up with her in a Denver hotel, a feeling hints he wants more from her than a thank you for having helped her. Problem is she doesn’t return the feeling.
Nicole Lamar has spent the past six months dreaming of freedom. Savannah, with its warmth and sunshine, beckons. Now that Cade has rescued her from an evil proprietor, that freedom is within reach. But when the handsome cowboy proves he’s the owner of a Christmas Heart, a life without him suddenly isn’t so desirable. Before she can approach him about the matter, he purchases a ticket for her on an eastbound train. And one for himself on a southbound train.

What did you think the 1st time you saw Nicole?
She was beaten and wearing flimsy clothing on a cold winter’s day. I wanted to punch the man she was with.

What was your 2nd thought?
To get her away from the man she was with, take her to someplace warm where her body could heal, where she could find warmer clothes, and where she would be safe.

What do you like most about Nicole?
She’s a fighter. In her situation, plenty of other women would’ve died.

How would you describe Nicole?
Strong willed, kind, lonely, cautious.

How would Nicole describe you?
Her first thought most likely was I’m another man intent on hurting her. After that, I’m fairly certain she would say I’m trustworthy and someone she can depend on.

What is your biggest fear?        
Not sure that I have one, unless you count something happening to a family member, or Nicole. We Westons look out for each other, and when one of us hurts, we all hurt. As for Nicole, I’m going to make sure her captor doesn’t lay claim to her again.

Tabitha Weston:
Tell us a little about Christmas Wishes:
U.S. Marshall Chance McBride has spent weeks tracking Steve ‘Smarty’ Jones. Ambushed and wounded by the outlaw, Chance is forced to seek help at a nearby school. But the teacher isn’t what he imagined. Instead of a male wearing trousers, a female takes charge of his care. Bright blue eyes and soft curves; Tabitha’s sassy nature awakens a deep-seated loneliness only she and a Christmas wish can soothe.
Tabitha Weston has never favored anything girlie. She’d rather saddle-break wild horses than bat her eyelashes and flirt with a man. But one glimpse into Chance’s molasses-colored eyes and Tabitha’s abhorrence to relationships is suddenly corralled by her need to win the lawman’s favor. Can a wish upon Christmas snow for him to trade the freedom of the trail for a home with her actually come true? She’s about to find out.    

What did you think the 1st time you saw Chance?
He was big and muscular. Grabbing me from behind and forcing his way into the schoolhouse, I was sure he was an outlaw and meant me harm.

What was your 2nd thought?
Upon discovering he was a U.S. Marshall and wounded, I had no time to admire over his handsomeness and his muscles. I had to dig a bullet out of him.

What do you like most about Chance?
His bravery. I know my poking around his insides had to hurt, but he didn’t complain.

How would you describe Chance?    
Despite his putting the fear of God into me upon our meeting, I’ve come to realize Chance is a good man. He’s handsome, somewhat fearless, and is as skittish over matters of the heart as I am.

How would Chance describe you?
Sassy, bossy, and not prone to swooning.

What is your biggest fear?
At the moment, worrying Chance will take a turn for the worst because of something I did wrong.   

Purchase Links:
Christmas Miracles:
Christmas Hearts:
Christmas Wishes:
Thank you for your continued support of not only me, but the Cowboy Kisses authors, blog and Facebook page. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. All the best to you in 2019!


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Friendly Beasts of Faraday

by Shanna Hatfield

There are times when I have way too much fun dreaming up new stories and writing them.

Such was the case with my brand new sweet holiday series — The Friendly Beasts of Faraday.  Set in a fictional town in Oregon, the books were inspired by the Christmas carol The Friendly Beasts.

These four romances are fun! Honest! And full of laughter, goofy, scheming animals, and couples who will just touch your heart.

She needed a change of pace. . .

No one said anything about a friendly camel or a hunky mechanic

* Scent of Cedar (Book 1) - A woman in need of a new beginning finds herself tormented by a camel and captivated by the town's bad boy. Can she overcome her fears to embrace a sweet holiday romance? 

Will a donkey, an adorable puppy, 

and a big-hearted man

Prove tidings of Joy last beyond the holiday season? 

* Tidings of Joy (Book 2)- Only one woman can draw a shy mail carrier out of his shell, but it will take the help of her donkey and puppy to make it happen.

He’d never met a more annoying woman. . .

She’d never met a more intriguing man

* Boughs of Holly (Book 3)- A free-spirited nurse winds up on a ranch with a stubborn cowboy and his matchmaking grandpa. Will love triumph over her need to roam?

The last thing she needs is a romance 

The first thing he intends to do is make her fall in love 

* Wings of an Angel  (Book 4) - Will a fun-loving teacher convince a woman sworn off romance to give love a second chance? He'll need a hand from her son and his furry, feathered friends.

And just a reminder:

November 1 through December 24, ten percent of the net proceeds from all my book sales will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who’ve sustained catastrophic injuries and are unable to work for an extended period.

I decided to donate to JCCF after writing the first book in the sweet Rodeo Romance series that centers around rodeo athletes. Now in the fifth year, the Read a Book, Help a Cowboy campaign generates funds through book sales made during the holiday season and raises awareness about JCCF.  For more details about the campaign, please visit my website:

After spending her formative years on a farm in eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.
Shanna loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:
Find Shanna’s books at:

Monday, December 3, 2018

Mythologies and Storytelling: Searching For Our Stories

By Kristy McCaffrey

The late Joseph Campbell, an American professor and mythologist, describes mythology as first and foremost a way to reconcile the nature of life, which is, at its most basic, cruel, harsh and unrelenting. Humans created mythologies to rise above this, to find gratitude and sweetness in how we all came to exist, from the primordial soup, filled with an endless cycle of life and death and life. Storytelling extends this desire, offering a way to help us find ourselves, to understand how to live. We all have a narrative, and a good story can help us find it by triggering a spark of enlightenment within ourselves.

At their core, stories are medicine, and the best ones, the most complete ones, awaken the soul of the listener. Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, a Jungian psychologist, states, “Stories are embedded with instructions which guide us about the complexities of life.” We’re all searching for our stories. Perhaps artists are closer to the process. But their work, the more important part, is to provide a light to guide the way for others.

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. ~ Author Ursula K. LeGuin

We have an archetypal need to be spoken to through stories because they bring us into contact with our inner being. ~ Carolyn Myss, medical intuitive and author

And for my writer friends:

“Modern storytellers are the descendants of an immense and ancient community of holy people, troubadours, bards, griots, cantadoras, cantors, traveling poets, bums, hags, and crazy people.”
            ~Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With The Wolves

I want to extend a warm thank you to all the readers of the Cowboy Kisses Blog. We appreciate your interest in our Old West research topics as well as our books. Here’s to a great 2019 and all the new stories we authors are cooking up.

Since it’s December and the season of giving, I want to send one lucky commenter an autographed print copy of INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS, a standalone historical western romance with humor and paranormal elements. It’s also a little on the steamy side. If you would like to be entered, please include your email address in the comments. Unfortunately, the print copy is for U.S. addresses only. If you’re international, the prize will be digital. Winner chosen on December 6, 2018.

Connect with Kristy

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Turquoise and Silver and an Old, Ratty Blanket

I was researching a book and needed to find something that could be laying around unnoticed in an old house, but still be worth enough to buy a ranch.

The book is set in the Southwest, so naturally I began looking at vintage Native American jewelry. There are some stunning examples by well-known artists like Tim Kee Whiteman and John Hartman.

This bracelet is by Tim Kee Whiteman and is the inspiration for the bracelet Reed gives to Catie at the beginning of Silver Dreams...On A Tin Can Budget. It is valued at 2250.00

This pendant is by John Hartman. The stone is from the famous Lavendar Pit in Brisbee, Arizona, and is valued at 7800.00.

As you can see, both are beautiful, but neither is worth enough to buy a ranch, even a small one.

I was really getting frustrated when I came across a story about a Navajo (Dinè) First-phase Chief's Wearing Blanket. Navajo Chief's blankets come in four phases.

Until about the 1820's, the Navajo made simple striped blankets identical to the Pueblo. That's when Navajo weavers began making the First-phase blankets. There are probably no more than 100 of the First-phase blankets left in existence. Prized even then, they cost from 100 to 150 dollars when wages were about 5 dollars a week.

Further research revealed a story that couldn't be made up. No one would believe it.

When Loren Krytzer lost his leg in a car wreck, he was unable to work. Because of that, he also lost his home and business. After his grandmother died, the rest of the family went through her house and took almost everything.

The only thing they allowed him to have was a dirty, worn old blanket. They didn't seen any value in it, and neither did he at the time, but it was a remembrance of his grandmother. He was at home watching Antiques Roadshow when he saw a similar blanket appraised at half a million dollars.

After contacting an appraiser, Krytzer's blanket sold for one and a half million dollars. See, if an author wrote that storyline in a book, readers would shout, "Unbelievable!"

My hero, Reed McCoy's story isn't quite as dramatic, but his involves a First-phase Blanket, too. If you'd like more information on Loren Krytzer's story, check out this link, Man sells blanket.

Silver Dreams...On A Tin Can Budget and the other Novellas in the Copper Mills World are available on Amazon.

Have you ever found something you thought was worthless, and it turned out to be valuable?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Christmas Magic By: Nan O'Berry

In 1987, something happened that changed Christmas and brought an understanding of the magic in the season. It brought an old curmudgeon, a little girl, a wise old elf, and a newspaper together to enhance and spread the idea of faith.

But before we bring the players out, we have to go all the way back to September of that year. In a small brownstone building on West Ninety fifth Street in the great city of New York, there a sweet child had been tormented by her schoolmates. Returning home in tears, she recounted the discussion that led to an argument.

“Is Santa Claus real?”

Though her mother consoled her, the answers she gave did not satisfy the inquisitive nature of this eight year old. So, the discussion continued when her father came home. A brilliant man and a devote to the New York Sun, he surmised that…”If you read it in the Sun, it must be true.”

Well, in those days as we know, there were no Google searches, no internet. Mr. Claus himself was brought to our shores by immigrants, who recounted the tales brought from their homelands. The Dutch who established New Amsterdam later New York, knew him as Sinta Klaas which was later converted to Saint Nicholas (1773). Later (1809) a writer by the name of Washington Irving gave him a blue three cornered hat, a red waist coat, and yellow stockings. But the real image we have of Santa Claus, came to use by Clement Moore and the illustrator, Thomas Nast. Suddenly, he was a “right jolly old elf” who wore a red suit, drove a sleigh pulled by reindeer through the night sky and miraculously delivered toys to the world in one night alone!

 I must say it was quite the deed. Yet, I digress. Let me get back to my tale.

On this September evening, our intrepid young waif, was urged by her father to write a letter. Pencil and paper in hand, she penned these lines. 

Dear Editor: 
I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. 
Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so."
Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Well of course, the letter was mailed and when it came to the Sun, the brother of the owner, a cynic, an atheist, who didn’t believe in superstitious belief was given the task of answering the child. I wonder how hard it was to know that your words would doom a child to heartbreak if they were rough and unhewned? Did her innocence affect his answer?

Francis Pharcellus Church had to rise to the occasion. He wrote to little Virginia O’Hanlon a letter which still brings tears to our eyes and gives us the most wondrous look behind the veil of belief with our hearts.

He told her,

 “Yes, Virginia, your little friends are wrong. VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, VIRGINIA, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance, to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!
You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus,but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?
Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.

The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not; but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine  all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise  inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. 

Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain 
and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.   

Is it real?

Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! 

Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, VIRGINIA, nay, ten times ten
thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Although his words touched everyone’s heart and provided proof that this is something more tangible
 to St. Nicholas that many wish to believe, Mr. Church never signed the editorial. 

And what became of our Virginia O’Hanlon? Oh, I believe she carried that editorial around in her hands
 for quite some time. She lived from 1889 to 1971. Her little letter, still touches the hearts of children 
and adults everywhere.  

 As we begin this season of love, let us keep Virginia’s wide eyed innocence and belief that there is
 nothing but good in this world for those who do believe.

To the readers of Cowboy Kisses, allow me to wish you all the most wonderful of holidays and a very, 
very Merry Christmas.

The editorial can be found using these links:  The letter used in this article was found here:

Sun editor Frances Pharcellus Church (1839-1906) -  
Scan of the original version of the editorial published in The New York Sun