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Christmas Chronicles

C ChronThe Christmas Chronicles is a blog hop between 5 historical romance authors. Our desire is to bring you joy through these letters, grounded in the true spirit of the season, and written from the fictional viewpoints of each book’s heroine. We’re so glad to have you join the event. Each day this week, a new Christmas Chronicles post will go live, complete with a letter and a new ornament giveaway for that blog post.

To read more about the project and enter for a chance to win the fresh evergreen wreath which represents the gift of eternal life, click here.

To find your way to the other four blog posts and enter each of the five Christmas Chronicles individual giveaways, read on! We have a list for you at the bottom of this post.

The home in Lafayette where my heroine lives.

The home in Lafayette where Grace and Linnie Kessler live.

A Christmas letter from Grace Kessler

Where Treetops Glisten

Lafayette, Indiana

December 9, 1943

Dear Peggy,

I realize it’s been a while since I wrote my big sister, and I don’t want you to feel unloved. I think of you daily and pray for you and the children while Ralph is off to sea fighting the Japanese. Are you enjoying your visit with Dad and Mom? They must be doting on the new baby—and enjoying the San Diego weather. I’m so pleased they could visit, despite the wartime travel restrictions.

December in Lafayette, Indiana is chilly as ever, but we haven’t had snow yet. That will change soon, I’m certain. Linnie can’t wait for snowmen and snow angels and snowball fights.

This will sound strange to you, but I have to tell someone so I can sort it out. I miss our sisterly chats growing up and do wish we lived in the same town.

Columbia Street in Lafayette, Indiana with the Tippecanoe County Courthouse in the background.

Columbia Street in Lafayette, Indiana with the Tippecanoe County Courthouse in the background.

You see, I have a Christmas tree this year. I didn’t plan to, not at all. For the past two years, the sights and sounds of Christmas have only dredged up memories of George’s death and all that followed. This year I was again determined to let the holiday pass with only a nod of acknowledgment.

But God intervened. Well, Linnie did, but I’m convinced God used her.

For the past week, Linnie has had a new babysitter. I hesitate to tell you who’s watching her, because I can already hear the gasps of shock. And this is why I will make sure this letter arrives after Mom & Dad have returned home. They need to hear in person.

Linnie’s babysitter for the month of December is Pete Turner. It’s hard to believe that a bully and delinquent could turn around his life so thoroughly, but Pete has. He gave his life to the Lord, he became a lawyer like his father, and he just completed a combat tour as a fighter pilot based in England. He’s home on furlough this month.

Poster for the P-47 Thunderbolt, which Pete flew with the 56th Fighter Group.

Poster for the P-47 Thunderbolt, which Pete flew with the 56th Fighter Group.

Last week he brought Linnie home from one of her wanderings, and she’s latched on to him. They understand each other, and he actually likes her. This will be hard for you to understand because your children are so quiet and well behaved—according to Mom, at least—and Linnie is…not. So when someone enjoys her, this means a lot to me.

Today when Pete brought her home from school, she sweet-talked him into buying a Christmas tree for us, knowing full well why I don’t decorate. When I broke down in tears, Pete tried to dispose of the tree. A true gentleman. But I stopped him.

Christmas War Bonds 2Decorating the tree was difficult. Each ornament brought out memories of the happy years George and I shared—and the unhappy years since. But Pete told me, “Boxing up memories doesn’t make them go away.”

Linnie showed me right then what happens when we box up our memories. In school, she’d made a heart-shaped ornament, but she never gave it to me, knowing it would make me sad.

Oh, Peggy! How I cried. Not because the ornament made me relive the moment I received the telegram, but because my grief and anger had crowded out all joy, even the joy of celebrating our Savior’s birth. I had deprived my sweet child of the wonder-filled Christmas she wants and deserves.

Never again. For the past week, God has shown me that I’d worn grudges and grief like a cocoon, but I needed to forgive. I even needed to forgive Pete Turner, even if I’m the only member of our family who can do so.

C Chron verseWith each crack, each instance of opening up, each moment of forgiveness, more light seeps in and I melt a bit more. I’m blinking in the light, coming out of two years of darkness, and it hurts – but in a good way. Soon the light will feel warm and right.

Didn’t the angels tell the shepherds, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people”? Doesn’t “all people” include Linnie and Pete and me?

Jesus came as a small babe, as helpless as your newborn. But He also came as the Light in a dark and dreadful world. How can I continue to choose the dark and dreary when He offers so much more, promises so much more, is so much more?

It’s time for me to choose joy and light and love again. No matter the cost.

Love and kisses to you and yours,

Grace

Where Treetops GlistenWhere Treetops Glisten

by Tricia Goyer, Cara Putman, and Sarah Sundin

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime. Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas.

Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America’s involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.

In Sarah Sundin’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” World War II fighter pilot Lt. Pete Turner is running on empty, but coming home for Christmas doesn’t help him fill his tank. When he encounters a precocious little girl in need of his friendship, can he convince her widowed mother, Grace Kessler, that he’s no longer the bully she once knew? And will Pete’s Christmas gift fill the empty places in their hearts?

Giveaway

C Chron Sarah giveaway

To keep the celebration going we’re having a giveaway. One winner will receive an autographed copy of Where Treetops Glisten, a handwritten copy of Grace’s letter, and these Christmas ornaments – Santa in a plane, since Pete Turner is a pilot – and a heart-shaped ornament to remember little Linnie’s gift to her mother. I’m also including a darling vintage apron handmade by my author friend, Marci Seither.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment mentioning your favorite Christmas goodie!

For an extra entry share this post on your social media hangouts with the #christmaschronicles tag and then comment here again letting us know where you shared it. Post separately for each share, so I catch each of your entries! A winner will be chosen randomly on December 7.

And that’s not your only opportunity to win.

We invite you to join us each weekday this week as we hop through cyberspace and history, gleaning the love and joy of the Christmas season from each heroine’s journey.

Monday, December 1st: Regina Jennings  (Heroine: Abigail Calhoun, A Most Inconvenient Marriage)

Tuesday, December 2nd: Joanne Bischof  (Heroine: Sarah Miller, This Quiet Sky)

Wednesday, December 3rd: Amanda Dykes (Heroine: Aria St. John, Bespoke)

Thursday, December 4th: Karen Barnett (Heroine: Abby Fischer, Out of the Ruins)

Friday, December 5th: Sarah Sundin (Heroine: Grace Kessler, Where Treetops Glisten)

154 Responses to “Christmas Chronicles”

  1. Judy Mayhak

    My favorite goodie would be chocolate crinkle cookies. My grandma made them every year and I have kept the tradition n going for over 50 years in my family.

    • Sarah Sundin

      Isn’t that funny? I think the same thing about my Christmas favorites each year too – then only make them in December.

  2. Chris Batman

    My favorite Christmas goodie is frosted sugar cookies that we make and leave out for Santa. I also miss my grandmother’s peanut butter squares – they were amazing!

  3. Rebecca Maney

    My mom used to make homemade date roll and whipped her own cream. It’s delicious and one of my holiday favorites!

    • Sarah Sundin

      My husband likes the date recipes too. And I love whipping my own cream – it’s so cheap and takes no time at all (with an electric mixer, that is 🙂 )

  4. Vicki Wurgler

    favorite would be the caramels and fudge we make

  5. Amanda Dykes

    “He also came as the Light in a dark and dreadful world. How can I continue to choose the dark and dreary when He offers so much more, promises so much more, is so much more?” Oh Sarah, how this touched me today! I had just finished reading in Nehemiah about how he’d never before been sad in the king’s presence, and so the king took note of his heart-sadness right away when he saw it. I kept thinking –what remarkable joy, to live a life like that, that would cause such a response. Then, reading your words here it struck me again– that light, that promise, the very Life He gives us… that is cause for such deep joy. Thank you for sharing Grace’s heart and letter! I can’t wait to read her story.

    As for Christmas goodie– fresh sticky buns hot from the oven on Christmas morning are my favorite. 🙂

    • Sarah Sundin

      Amanda, I have spent oodles of time in Nehemiah this year, but never considered that perspective on Nehemiah’s sadness. But it makes sense. This is the same man who said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength”! He must have radiated the Lord’s joy.

  6. Melody Amis

    Sarah, Grace’s letter is amazing! I loved how the realization of God’s light, joy, mercy and love for all of us shine’s through. How often I’m still stuck in the dark because I choose not to let the light of God’s love just handle whatever I have going on. So looking forward to reading her story.

    As for my favorite Christmas goody…..my precious Mama’s fudge! I would love to have that one thing right now! The child that still lives in my heart believes that the angels feast on this very fudge this Christmas season!

    • Sarah Sundin

      I’m glad you enjoyed Grace’s letter! It was fun revisiting her story for this tour.

      And I adore that picture of the angels eating fudge. The Bible does promise a feast in heaven – I’m sure your Mama’s fudge is on the table!

  7. sparksofember

    I love making Chewy Noels (pecan pie in bar form – yum!) and a special coconuty fruit cake that I got the recipe from a lady at the church where I grew up. I make little round mini-bundts of it and give it away (and save oodles for myself).

  8. Rachel Rittenhouse

    Lovely letter! Now I want to read the book really bad! 🙂

    My favorite Christmas cookies is Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls. They take so long to make, but they are so worth it…plus a Christmas family tradition!!!

    • Sarah Sundin

      Yes! My grandma called them buckeyes because she lived in Ohio. That’s the one treat my family will NOT do without each year. And thanks for the extra posts!

  9. Dawn Janis

    My favorite Christmas goodie is the sugar cookies my grandmother used to make. None of the rest of us can make them like she did, though my aunt comes close.

  10. Britney Adams

    I love Grace’s wonderful letter and am eager to read her story! Thank you so much for sharing this lovely giveaway! My favorite Christmas goodie is honeybun cake on Christmas morning.

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  11. Kathryn Voss

    I love fudge. Hands down, the best Christmas treat!

  12. Shaun Renee Paulsen

    Picking just one favorite Christmas goodie is hard as there are so many. I guess I would pick sugar cookies all decorated with frosting and sprinkles.

  13. Kerry Darnell

    My Mama’s homemade ginger cookies. Nothing smells or tastes like Christmas the way those do!!

  14. catherine

    A favorite for me is cannoli’s. with anise extract. Sooooo yummy.

  15. Brittany Keating

    One of my favorites is homemade chocolate chip cookies…of course warm from the oven! And Apple Butter Cake.

  16. Danielle Hull

    Oh, Sarah, I don’t know why I haven’t bought Where Treetops Glisten, but I know I need to read it now! This letter and glimpse into the story is wonderful! Thank you!

  17. Danielle Hull

    Oh, you wanted my favorite treat… white velvet cutouts decorated with frosting!

  18. Melody Durant

    As a pastors wife, one year my 94 year old friend Old Mrs. Winters (young Mrs. Winters was 72), said that her favorite Christmas was a corn cob doll and a coconut cake. Every year she brought us that cake and I would remember those memories. Now that’s a goodie for you!

  19. Rita Spratlen

    I love divinity fudge. It seems during the holidays in when I see it most and I crave it. I have a sweet tooth!!

  20. Kerri

    My favorite Christmas treat is banket, a Dutch almond paste treat in a flaky pastry. To me, this is home and Christmas.

  21. Gail Hollingsworth

    Most people I know think I’m crazy but I love gingerbread cookies.

    An interesting fact I learned today: During World War II, the Bicycle playing card company secretly made special decks for the U.S. government. The decks were sent to American POWs in German camps as Christmas gifts. When the cards were moistened, they peeled apart revealing a map of escape routes.

    • Sarah Sundin

      Then count me crazy too – I love gingerbread cookies!

      I hadn’t heard that about the playing cards – they also did that with game boards, like Monopoly, so it makes complete sense!

  22. Janette Soffes

    Favorite Christmas goodie…homemade gingersnaps. So fragrant as they bake and so delicious to enjoy with a cold glass of milk.

  23. Karen Barnett

    Such a beautiful letter, Sarah! Where Treetops Glisten was one of my favorite books this year, and I fell in love with Pete, Grace, and Linnie! *Sigh*

    My favorite treat? Hmm. Probably pumpkin pie. We only had it on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it was extra-special. And it has to be homemade. My mom never used nutmeg, so store-bought never tastes right to me! I made two for Thanksgiving this year, and I can’t wait to eat it again in a few weeks. Yum!

    • Sarah Sundin

      I’ve never had it without nutmeg either – that might be interesting. Nutmeg is an unusual flavor…

      And I’m glad you liked the story!

  24. Tara Marshall

    I have 2 favorites: almond crescent cookies and our traditional Christmas dinner dessert, Chocolate Icebox Dessert. They are both delicious.

  25. Shanna Lewis

    My favorite is Uncle Guy Candy. It is an old family recipe. My great-great Uncle Guy was the first to make it. Over the years the original name for the candy has been lost & we just call it Uncle Guy Candy.

  26. Susan Roeper

    We make Christmas cookies usually on Christmas Eve. My daughter starts out helping and then gets tired so I usually finish making them. They are almond flavored and you use a cookie press to make them. I made these with my mom and sister growing up and I have just carried on the tradition.

  27. Sue W

    Can’t decide between my mom’s fudge or her sugar cookies. She’s in heaven now so my daughter has taken over the sugar cookies. I make an easier version of the fudge, but nothing replaces the memory of helping her stir the warm fudge (sitting on the piano stool so I could watch Ed Sullivan Show while I stirred).

  28. Traci Myers

    My favorite Christmas goodie’s are Oreo Chocolate truffles. I make them every year and they are awesome. I think half of america thinks so too, lol

  29. Deb McClanahan

    My Aunt Margaret’s caramels. They were the best of any I have ever tried.

  30. Connie R.

    My favorite Christmas goodie….probably the sugar cookies, and those little butter ones you push out of a press, because it’s the only time of the year I ever make those.

  31. Kathie Blackett

    Ummm I LOVE so many goodies now, but fudge is the best
    I love your writing, it makes one think.

  32. Joanne Bischof

    Wow, Sarah, what a letter! This gave me chills! It also has me all the more eager to read your story. I’m smiling already at thinking of Pete being the babysitter. This is so fun and endearing!

  33. Deanne Patterson

    My favorte Christmas goodie is Thumbprint Cookies and Peanut Butter Blossoms. Yes, I sure have a sweet tooth.

  34. Janna Boersma

    hmmm that is so hard! my favourite would definitely have to be Christmas cookies made by my momma 🙂

  35. Janna Boersma

    also I shared #ChristmasChronicles on facebook

  36. Loraine N.

    I have two favorite Christmas goodies, walnut butter cookies that my mom always made for me at Christmas before she passed away, and rice krispie log that my children always want me to make for Christmas. I really enjoy your novels Sarah. Thanks for the giveaway!

  37. Pam K.

    My favorite Christmas goodie is my dad’s fudge. He usually makes several kinds. It tastes wonderful but it’s even better just because he made it.

  38. Ladette

    My favorite goodie would have to be Nanny’s Peanut Butter Fudge. YUM!! Or her Christmas Cake.

  39. Julie Combos

    My favorite Christmas goodie is my Granny’s Mantacado cookies. She used to make them every year when I was growing up. Granny hasn’t been here for a long time, but I think of her and Christmas every year that I am able to make them.❤️. I will share this Christmas Chronicle post on Facebook.

  40. Shonda

    Love your facebook page. I love historical christian fiction. My favorite treat to make for christmas is sugar cookies. I turn on some tradtional christmas music and star baking. Takes me back to my childhood when things were simple. We didnt have much but My mom always made it so special. Thanks for the chance to win all these special things!

    • Sarah Sundin

      Thank you, Shonda! And I love those simple traditions the best – those are the ones we remember! And thanks for sharing on Pinterest!

  41. Shirley Ashley

    Love peppermint bark and plan on making it real soon. Not only tasty but it’s pretty!

  42. Donna EHD

    I don’t know that I have a favorite Christmas goodie. I miss my Mother’s peanut butter fudge, especially at Christmas. But most everything I like, or make/bake (which isn’t much anymore), is all-year-round things.

    The letter made me tear up. I feel for those who have lost loved ones at a holiday time, especially when they then no longer can face that holiday. And when one doesn’t know Christ, well, how can one face and accept a death easily. But Jesus did come as a light into our darkness, and that includes our darkness of spirit at a holiday time.

    • Sarah Sundin

      Thank you, Donna! I’m so glad you enjoyed the letter. I know Christmas is very difficult for so many people. And thanks for the shares!

  43. Melissa Alexander

    My favorite Christmas goodie is divinity. My mother-in-law always sent us a package with her homemade divinity in it. The WORLD”S BEST! No one could make it like her. The secret ingredient was LOVE!

  44. Melissa Romine

    German Chocolate cookies are one of my favorites. I first tasted them and got the recipe in a cookie swap about 20 years ago. They are so yummy!

  45. Jennifer Essad

    I love English toffee, peanut butter fudge, peppermint divinity and all the cookies in my mom’s recipe box

  46. Lourdes P. Agosto

    My favorite Christmas goodie is the Spanish “turrón”. It’s a confection, typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white with toasted almonds or other nuts. Mmmmh, so good.

  47. Jill

    After my grandpa died, my grandma came to live with us (for four years, until my father died). She made a cutout cookie that we always just called Grandma Sumner cookies. At Christmas we always put red and green sugar sprinkles on them. We continued to make them every year, and after I got married I still made them. My kids always helped, and that moved on to my grandchildren helping. That is the one kind of cookie that HAS to be made every Christmas!

  48. tammy cordery

    I love my Mexican wedding cookies. Could eat them like forever.

  49. Karen Birkenholz

    Growing up we always made lots of special cookies and pies at Christmas that I loved but today I am in the mood for some Christmas cookies that my mother-in-law makes called Santa’s Whiskers.

    Thank you for the beautiful Christmas letter. I am looking forward to reading the book.

  50. Julie Christianson

    I like chocolate covered peanuts and pecan finger cookies.

  51. Alanna

    I love to bake German Christmas cookies 🙂 my favorite to eat..probably my Mommy’s almond sugar cookies!

  52. Doris Reedy

    My favorite Christmas goodie is most people’s least favorite. I love fruit cake, although I haven’t ate any in many years. My husband loved it also, and would crack walnuts every year, so I could make one. He passed away 10 years ago next week and I haven’t made fruitcake since then. The rest of the family doesn’t like it and it brings back too many memories to make it for myself.

  53. Chris

    My favorite Christmas cookies as a kid were Cornflake Wreaths with cinnamon bites as sprinkles. As an adult, 7 layer bars sooo yummy! I liked your letter too and can’t wait to read the book as well. Loss of a loved one is so hard esp. at Christmas; different families in our church have lost their mom, a brother, 2 spouses in the past 3 months. So hard, esp at Christmas/Holidays. But time passes and God manages to heal our hurts and give us strength for each day.

    • Sarah Sundin

      Thank you, Chris! It’s so important that we remember those who are hurting during the holidays. Thank you for your tender heart – and for the tweet too 🙂

  54. Bonnie Roof

    I loved Grace’s letter, Sarah!! Thank you so much – I can’t wait to read “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”!! Sounds like such a heart-warming story of forgiveness and renewal, I love stories set in WWII!!

    My favorite goodies are my grandmothers’ home-made custard and jam cake. I haven’t had them for several years – she passed away a number of years ago and no one else in the family makes them quite like her, although – my aunt is a close second, but no longer physically able to cook/bake.

    Thank you for the wonderful giveaway opportunity – love the apron!!

    • Sarah Sundin

      Thank you, Bonnie! I’m glad you liked the letter.

      Custard and jam cake sounds scrumptious! And thanks for the FB post!

  55. Bonnie Roof

    P.S. Shared about The Christmas Chronicles on my Facebook timeline, using the hash tag.

  56. Kimberly Wallace

    i liked and shared on Facebook. My favorite Christmas dessert is Martha Washington candy. It’s the best! I also make gingerbread cookies with real molasses that several in my family look forward to every year

  57. Doris Ready

    I loved Grace’s letter! My husband was only 49 when he passed away 10 days before Christmas. I didn’t put up a tree either for a couple years. Even after 10 years there are times when it feels like only yesterday that
    he was helping to decorate the tree, cracking nuts for fruit cake or so many other things.

  58. Renee Jackson

    Well, I left my favorite yummy already because it is one of my fav Christmas memories…it’s my dad’s fudge made from Hershey’s cocoa (no marshmallow crème). It is so delicious and knowing he made it with love made it even yummier!

    Merry Christmas to you and yours and many blessings!

  59. Kendra Whittle

    My heart was full reading the letter. It makes me anxious to delve deeper into this story.

    I’ve discovered a new favorite holiday treat. It’s homemade gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. No gingerbread mix here, I made it totally from scratch – and it really makes a difference. I sent them to school with my husband (he’s a teacher), and he came home with an empty plate.

  60. BeckBeck

    My favorite Christmas goodie is my mama’s Martha Washington chocolate balls. They are so good! And she only makes them at Christmas time.

  61. Kiersti

    What a delightful letter, Sarah! Makes me miss reading your wonderful books…I need to rectify that soon. 🙂

    Hmm, favorite Christmas goodie…it’s hard to pick, but I did love the butter cookies we used to make with cookie cutters shaped to make a Nativity scene when I was younger. We’d eat them by candlelight with hot cups of holiday tea around the Advent Wreath on Christmas Eve.

  62. Deanne Patterson

    Wow, it’s so hard to pick jus one favorite goodie but I would say I will share this recipe it is a WW2 cake.

    111

    Ingredients:

    Servings:
    15

    .

    Units: US | Metric
    .1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup water
    1 cup raisins
    2 tablespoons oil or 2 tablespoons margarine
    1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
    1/2 teaspoon clove, ground
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

    Directions:

    1

    Place the brown sugar, water, raisins.

    2

    oil, cinnamon, and cloves in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.

    3

    Cook gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool until the mixture is comfortably warm to your finger.

    4

    While the mixture is cooling, preheat t he oven to 350F.

    5

    Grease and flour an 8×4-inch baking pan.

    6

    Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

    7

    Add them to the cooled sugar mixture, beating until no drifts of flour are visible and the batter is smooth.

    8

    Stir in the walnuts.

    9

    Spread evenly in the baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a broomstraw inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

    10

    Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to cool completely.

    11

    Notes: For a good glaze, even if it is a 90’s addition, save back a bit of the hot spiced water.

    12

    Mix with confectioner’s sugar, a drop of vanilla, and a pinch salt. Glaze the cake while hot.

    My favorite modren day recipe is Peanut Butter Blossom cookies.