Writers and Writing

A Hill Country Christmas warms the heart


If you’re yearning for the way Christmas used to be, a Christmas when generations gathered around the dinner table and together unwrapped gifts from under the tree, you’ll love A Hill Country Christmas by Gail Kittleson and four other authors.

Kittleson and her husband, a retired Army chaplain, live most of the summer in St. Ansgar, Iowa, and winter in Arizona’s Mogollon Rim Country.

Kittleson wrote eight of the book’s 18 selections, more than any of the other authors.

Kittleson’s description carries us to the heart of Texas Hill Country in her story, “Unto Us A Son Is Given”:

A hazy prelude obscures tenuous light soon to peek over the jagged eastern hills surrounding our small settlement. Some believe a more fitting name must be adopted with all haste.

Junction City would serve us best, they say, and my Ezekiel agrees. After all, the North and South Llano Rivers intersect here, forming the Llano River Valley. This confluence played a part in drawing Ezekiel this far west, for in hardscrabble country, abundant water makes all the difference.

The story ends in tragedy, though, as the mother loses her son.

Subtitled Hope for Hardscrabble Times, the book does just that – shows how Texas Hill Country pioneers through sheer grit and gristle withstand the elements and build a great nation. We share the plight of the plain but hardworking sister in “The Christmas Chivaree” by Lynn Dean. Dean’s story, “The Made-Over Christmas”, tells how a young widow makes the most of Christmas for her daughter and finds love in a most surprising place.

“Lo Nuestro” by Gina Lister is told through the eyes of a young immigrant girl who masters both German and English and impresses a boy who taunts her. And “The Cedar Chopper’s Christmas” reveals how a humble, young man changes a wealthy woman forever.

All the authors create characters who seem to step off the page. We feel their plight and make it our own. History buffs in particular will enjoy how the authors take from the time of the Alamo to the present day.

It would be hard to find a more meaningful gift for the people on your Christmas list.


(Michael Tidemann writes from Estherville, Iowa. His Facebook page is Author Michael Tidemann.)


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