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  • Writer's pictureCJ Murphy

The Greatest Gift

Happy Holidays to one and all. Time for a few PCT's-Positive CJ Thoughts. It’s that time of year when the world seems to be on fast forward. Everything is a blur with the demands on our time. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the get togethers, the school plays, choir concerts, the church gatherings, and the Christmas parties. I can’t help but feel like we try to squeeze a year’s worth of festivities into about two weeks. We've finished our shopping, wrapping of gifts and the signing of dozens of Christmas cards. We also managed to get all four of our wee people ornaments that celebrate their accomplishments or their first Christmas.

I’m on my usual December staycation from work. I always have time left over and it’s a use it or lose it situation, so you can be sure I use it. I love the time at home, even if it’s occasionally not actually in our own home.

I did manage to get the tree decorated after about two weeks of it sitting naked in our living room.

The stocking are now hung by the chimney with care.

I was going to decorate outside and finally settled on a set of wreaths on the porch, one that will light up at night.

Now understand, I’m not being a grinch, the only people that see the outside of our house are in passing helicopters or the two of us as we drive up to the house. It’s not visible to anyone during the holiday ‘let’s go see the lights tour’. After so many years, it’s more about convenience and not having to take down the outside decorations in below freezing weather. The area of the house that we spend the majority of our time is festively adorned.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t grow up celebrating the joy of Christmas. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was taught that Christmas was all about worshiping false gods and commercialism. I was never taught that it’s a season of giving and taking time to remember our friends and family, near and far. My in-laws shared their traditions with me and helped me make up for the many years of a life without this holiday. My father in law was special to me in so many ways. I’ve told my wife many times how fortunate she was to have a father that left her no doubt about how much she was loved and the pride he had for her.

My father-in-law, David, was a man known as a lifelong farmer and a talented craftsman. Our tree is adorned with many wooden ornaments that he handcrafted in his basement woodworking shop. People in the community waited to see what ornament he would come up with each year. He always gifted each of his family members with the latest edition. I would mark each one with the date and always felt extremely blessed that he included me in the ornament gifts.

He even made me a few personal items that are some of my most cherished possessions.

He is never far from my mind as I pull each one out of the ornament box and put them on the tree.

Other ornaments are memories of adventures my wife and I have taken or special events in our life.

These two commemorate our mule trip down the Grand Canyon.

A zipline adventure at New River Gorge in Fayette County, WV.

Our love of the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Some are for our pets that have passed on.

This one was particularly special because it commemorated our first full year in our new home.

This years Christmas tree is full of small figurines and pieces of wood that commemorate our life together. I’ve affectionately nicknamed our current evergreen Tiny Tim because it’s the smallest tree we’ve had in years. One year we needed a come-a-long to get 'Clark' in the house.

Christmas Eve here on the mountain means a candlelight service in our small country church.

It’s a beautiful evening full of hopeful messages and joyful songs that I look forward to every year. Last week, the Pastor’s prayer included a blessing for those who sing on and off key. Let’s hope the congregation goes easy on us as we attempt to make the season a little brighter.

Afterwards, there will be cookies and cocktails at my sister-in-law’s house. We’ll go to bed in preparation of the whirlwind the next day brings. Christmas will be filled with a few over the river and through the woods trips to open gifts and stuff ourselves with food my nieces husband will spend all morning fixing. The whole day will be about the greatest gift of all, being with our loved ones and being thankful for our many blessings.

I want to share my Christmas joy with you, the people who have supported me from the beginning and put up with this silly blog. I want to give away an autographed copy of “The Bucket List” to someone in the United States and two ebook copies to anywhere in the e-format of your choice.

IF you are interested in entering the contest, send me an email at with following phrase, Contest Entry as the subject line and the words The Dash Between in the body. I’d also appreciate if you signed up for my blog. It’s not weekly and I promise I won’t spam you with a massive amount of emails. I’ll draw a winner on Dec 24th, 2018 and announce it on Christmas morning before I set off on my our busy day. The winner will be notified by email.

For those who have already read The Bucket List, I’ve written a companion Christmas short entitled Noel, Noeul, that will be available FREE on the Desert Palm Press website soon.

Stay tuned and watch for the announcement from the Desert Palm Press Facebook page when it’s available. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or what ever you chose to celebrate...and a very Happy New Year.

As always, I’ll remind you that my books are available on Amazon, Bella Books, Smashwords, and the Barnes and Nobel website. I’ll even provide you with convenient list of links. Thank you again.

If your looking for reviews check out the Amazon and Goodreads.

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Reviews for 'frame by frame'

Absolutely Fantastic 

 I was right there in the story. It has strong characters and the individual personalities are remarkable. I love the deep family bond and Ree is someone I absolutely adore. I really am impressed with this debut novel. An outstanding and exciting romance. Read it and I’m sure you won’t regret it.- Goodreads 11/30/17



If there were 10 stars, I would choose 12

This is a happy ever after story, one we would all use, especially now. This is a debut novel for this writer and all I can say is I CAN HARDLY WAIT FOR MORE. If these were 10 stars, I would choose 12.



Beautiful Story

This is the first book I have read from this author and I loved it. I really loved taking the adventure with to strong women that both were dealing with a past.... I definitely recommend this book.



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Purchase  CJ Murphy's novel   'frame by frame'     at the following retail sites:




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