Dishing with Di: Multi-published author Diana Tobin reveals the roots of inspiration.

Dishing with Di

A few years ago I was privileged to have a Christmas story I’d written published, titled SANTA NICK.  I wanted to share with others the things my family and I did to celebrate the holidays in southern Oregon. 

The fun begins at Thanksgiving at Medford, Oregon’s Craterion Theater Gingerbread Jubilee.  This is not only a treat for the eyes, but also the delicious aroma of ginger and sweets amidst all the oohing and aahing. 

That same weekend the nearby historic Jacksonville, once the county seat, trims the town with cedar garlands, white lights, and a magnificent tree. Victorian carolers roam the streets as you enjoy cocoa or hot cider and warm up with roasted chestnuts.  Kids of all ages want a visit with

Father Christmas and often he can be spied walking about town, his faithful elves following.  For many years a man brought his matched pair of Belgian horses to pull a wagon giving rides around town.  Hearing the bells on their harnesses always brought a smile.

Providence Hospital’s Festival of Trees is usually held the first weekend of December, an annual fund raiser for this place of healing.  Trees are decorated in a variety of styles, colors, themes that can’t help but get you into the spirit of the season, not to mention wanting to try some of those ideas at home.  I twice had the honor of helping to decorate a tree for this event; once for the bank I worked for the year the festival came to Medford.  Again for the Southern Oregon Spartan Jr. Hockey team.  Entertainment, prizes, and a visit with Santa round out the festivities.

Naturally, there are school concerts and programs to attend as well as those put on by local theater groups.  A drive around the valley to see the many light displays homeowners put up is always a must.  The baking, too!  I like traditional cookies as well as trying a new recipe.  Exchanging baked goods with friends while trying not to sample too many at one time is tricky.  Christmas Eve I always baked what was traditional in my family, walnut roll for Christmas breakfast.  This is ground nuts mixed with honey and raisins and rolled up inside a bread dough–a legacy from my Slovak grandmother.

I don’t really have a recipe. (Isn’t that always the way with family traditions?) But here goes:

SLOVAKIAN WALNUT ROLL

Ingredients: A basic sweet roll dough, chopped walnuts, raisins, and honey.

I finely chop the walnuts, add raisins, and honey, so it’s a sticky mixture. Roll out the dough like for cinnamon rolls, spread nut mixture, roll up and bake. Maybe 375* @20-25 min. YUM!

We can’t forget the shopping, the wrapping, and placing all the goodies under the tree.

But, I write romance.  I like those happy endings, no matter how much the couple suffers getting there.  So, I needed more than just fun holiday traditions.  Remembering what a friend of mine had to deal with got my writer’s brain spinning.  She was pregnant with her second child when her husband was killed in an auto accident while in the company of another woman.  A woman he was giving more than a lift home.  I had my heroine, Jenny.

Jenny’s marriage was nearly doomed from the beginning when she becomes pregnant.  Impending fatherhood does little to improve the marriage, which is proven when her husband is killed in a car accident while with his latest mistress.  Jenny is doing her best to raise her daughter, Faith, but has to deal with a ditzy interfering mother-in-law.

Getting into the spirit of the season, Jenny and Faith decide to have a fun day in Jacksonville where they meet Father Christmas, aka Nick St. Clair.  Nick pretty much falls for the two females on sight, but Faith’s Christmas wish clinches it: she wants Santa to bring a husband for her mother.

Nick knows he’s the man for the job.  He wants to be a loving husband to Jenny and a father to Faith, but first he has to help heal Jenny’s heart so she can accept the magic of Christmas and Santa.

As for my friend who inspired this story, she, too, got her happy ending, a number of years later.

Earlier this month my second Christmas story was published, CHRISTMAS WISHES, which is part of my Men of Maine series.  Single mother, Claire, wants to give her daughter, Grace, the best Christmas ever by starting their own traditions.  Dr. Marc Baxter is more than willing to help by sharing his family’s traditions, along with some ideas he has for them to celebrate being together.  The cover of CHRISTMAS WISHES shows Claire wrapped in a quilt I made.

I hope you enjoy both of my holiday books and I wish you all the best for the season and the New Year!

THANK YOU, Di. All I can say is I’m anticipating more dishing: literary, touristy, crafty and absolutely in the kitchen. Whether you’re a reader, a writer, or both, there’s much to glean from seasoned women sharing their stories and all the ingredients that make for a complex, satisfying life. Now, get busy and . . .

Write on!

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