Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Moving to the South was like Coming Home by Rhonda Frankhouser

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Christmas at my Grandparent’s home could have graced the cover of Southern Living Magazine, which was odd since we lived in California. Their house exploded with old time holiday cheer, red silk ribbons and lighted garland dangling over every doorway. Stockings filled with Grandpa’s famous oranges dangled from the fireplace. Two 8 foot, fresh-cut, Douglas Firs were trimmed in silver tinsel and twinkling white lights, with piles of brightly wrapped packages spilling from underneath each tree. 

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     The delicious aromas emanating from the kitchen really made Christmas come alive. Grandma busily recreated family recipes passed down from generations. A giant, honey-crusted ham cooled on a cutting board alongside a maple-whiskey brined turkey. Brown beans boiled with smoked hocks, meal covered okra fried to perfection in well-seasoned, cast iron skillets and crispy cornbread browned in the old Wedgewood oven.  

     The women laid the thirty-foot dining table with Blue Willow China and fanned red napkins, while the men strummed country classics on acoustic guitars and a single twanging banjo. Grandma stirred an oversized pot of chicken and dumplings with one hand, a mason jar filled with sweet tea clasped in the other, while Grandpa hugged each of us at the front door as we passed into the Christmas wonderland. “Y’all come on in and stay a-while.” His rich southern accent and broad, white smile made you feel like the most important person in the world. 

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     My grandparent’s gracious country charm and southern holiday traditions brought the miracle of Christmas to life for me and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything in the world. 

     Back in the 1930s, my father’s relatives were spread throughout Georgia and Alabama, having migrated from England and Scotland nearly a century before. The great depression, along with tariffs encouraging foreign consumption, killed what was left of their meager earning potential from farming. They had to make a change or die of starvation. My brave grandparents packed their few belongings and headed west with six hungry children in tow. 
     California was the promised land. During my grandparent’s lifetime, California was indeed, the land of opportunity, but since then things have dramatically changed. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love the west coast and the amazing memories I’ve made there, but the devastating drought, choking pollution, uncontrollable fires, increasing taxes, crazy high cost of living, illegal immigration overloading the states resources, all added to the deterioration of leadership, has really taken a toll on a once great state. 
     So, when my husband got a job offer in Georgia, the decision to move was an easy one for us to make. He was ready for a new challenge, and we were recent empty nesters, so why not? For me, it was a chance to start anew, a time for me to let go of my fourteen-year hospice career and focus on my writing. I couldn’t pack fast enough. 
     When we arrived in Atlanta and started our search for the perfect place to live, we were immediately drawn to the people and beauty of Gwinnett County. Grayson, to be exact. We fell in love with a little Charleston-style neighborhood within walking distance to great restaurants and shopping, only a few miles from the top-rated physicians and facilities at the Gwinnett Medical Center. Our fabulous agent and now, dear friend, Laurie Anderson, worked hard to make our dream come true. She made moving across the country a breeze. 
Image Credit - Rhonda Frankhouser
     This will be my second Christmas in the south, and I’d have to say, moving here has been more of a homecoming than a venture into the unknown. The southern hospitality reminds me of my grandparents. Neighbors wave and stop for a chat. Cashiers remember your name. For someone who grew up in the hot, dry desert, the ocean of green and turning leaves in this region is a sensory phenomenon. The fresh air, cleansing rain, and gentle southern ways, is a soothing reality. Living here has healed a part of me that I hadn’t realized was broken. Gwinnett County is an undiscovered paradise, with a gentle, restorative pulse. Drink it in this holiday season and be ever so thankful to call this place home. 
     Thanks for taking a trip back home with me. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Check out my new release, Christmas at Ruby's Ranch, Book 4 in the award winning Ruby's Ranch Series. Download free on Kindle Unlimited
This year the Ruby’s Ranch family will celebrate Christmas together for the first time in two decades. It’s the miracle Ruby MacCallister prayed for since the day her mother inexplicably disappeared, splitting the family apart.

When an anonymous gift arrives on the doorstep a few weeks before the big holiday, a very pregnant Ruby, finds herself enmeshed in the intrigue surrounding Granny Rube’s death again.

Will Ruby’s holiday wishes come true, or will family secrets devastate their happy reunion?

Award-winning author, Rhonda Frankhouser, writes mainstream fiction, as well as western and paranormal romance. A native of sunny California, she now lives with her own Knight in Shining Armor in the beautiful state of Georgia. Follow Rhonda at


Julie Lence said...

Beautiful home, Rhonda. So glad you're happy with your decision to move to the south. And your memories are just as grand as the ones I have of my grandparents'. Hugs and merry Christmas to you and your family.

Rhonda Frankhouser Books said...

Merry Christmas Julie. Thank you.

Hebby Roman said...

What a lovely post, Julie! Merry Christmas to you!