Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Today's Special - - Tracy Solheim - - Guest Post & Giveaway

It's my pleasure to welcome Tracy Solheim to The Romance Dish today. After a few years away, creating thrilling romantic suspense tales set in Washington, D.C. and introducing readers to a new football team in Wisconsin, Solheim is returning to one of my favorites of her fictional locations. Her new book, Second Chance Christmas takes readers back to Chances Inlet, North Carolina and her McAlister family. This time, it's youngest son Ryan's turn in the spotlight and I cannot wait to follow along as the professional baseball playing McAlister everyone underestimates finally finds someone who sees beyond the traffic-stopping face and body, who challenges the way he views life, and the way he views himself. This is going to be fun.

Holiday Traditions

by Tracy Solheim

There are only eighty-one more days until Christmas! Are you stressing or getting excited? In my case, it’s felt like Christmas all year. I’ve spent much of my time writing, editing, and promoting my upcoming book, Second Chance Christmas. I’m worried that the actual holiday may feel a little anti-climactic.

I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to holidays. Fall is my favorite time of year, and I don’t like to rush it away to prepare for the Christmas season. I’ve always believed it helps the excitement and anticipation build by not celebrating too early. Of course, that was before you could watch Christmas movies in July!

Second Chance Christmas is set in the coastal North Carolina town of Chances Inlet—a very different setting from all those movies with snowball fights, warm fires, and hot cocoa. But that doesn’t mean the Christmas spirit isn’t alive and well in my little fictional town. There’s a tree-lighting, breakfast with Santa, a holiday flotilla, and even a parade on Christmas Eve.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for all those holiday festivities. I’ve celebrated Christmas in three different countries and ten different states from North to South and East to West, and it’s those unique holiday traditions that make the season special. And not all of them involve snow.

For the McAlister family, I wanted to give them a fun tradition that was unfamiliar to me until I spent Christmas day with friends one year: the Legend of the Christmas Pickle. Are you familiar with it? This one involves an ornament shaped like a pickle. Legend has it, the first person to find the ornament on Christmas morning gets an extra gift. In the case of my friends, the winner got out of helping clean the brunch dishes. There were twenty-seven people over for brunch, so it was quite the prize! Needless to say, the tree did teeter a bit, but much like in my book, it didn’t fall.

When I decided to include this in the McAlister’s celebration, I was curious about how the Legend of the Christmas Pickle began. And that’s where everything got a little confusing. Most sites claimed it was an old Bavarian tradition. But when I dug a little further, many Germans had never heard of it.

Eventually I landed on the site WhyChristmas.com where I found several possible explanations:

In the 1880s Woolworth stores started selling glass ornaments imported from Germany and some were in the shape of various fruit and vegetables. It seems that pickles must have been among the selection!”

Or perhaps one of these even crazier tales:

One features a fighter in the American Civil War who was born in Bavaria (an area of what is now Germany). He was a prisoner, and starving, he begged a guard for one last pickle before he died. The guard took pity on him and gave a pickle to him. The pickle gave him the mental and physical strength to live on!

The other story is linked to St. Nicholas. It's a medieval tale of two Spanish boys traveling home from a boarding school for the holidays. When they stopped at an inn for the night, the evil innkeeper, killed the boys and put them in a pickle barrel. That evening, St. Nicholas stopped at the same inn, and found the boys in the barrel and miraculously bought them back to life!”


I don’t know about you, but I’m going with the story that the Legend of the Christmas Pickle is the result of a very inventive ornament salesman!

Do you hang a Christmas pickle on your tree? Do you have any other fun traditions that you practice with your family during Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa?

Share with us in the comments and one random person (who posts before 11:00 PM, October 8) will win a signed print copy of Second Chance Christmas and a pickle ornament! (International winner will receive a digital copy only.)

*Must be 18

*Void where prohibited

Second Chance Christmas
by Tracy Solheim
Release Date: October 25, 2021

Chances Inlet, North Carolina is the last place major leaguer Ryan McAlister wants to hide from the media to rest up his broken hand. He left his gossipy, Christmas-obsessed hometown in the dust over a decade ago. When he gets caught up in the town’s holiday antics, he finds himself responsible for making a little boy’s Christmas wish come true. The kid’s widowed mother, however—a blast from Ryan’s past—just might make his stay a bit more exciting.

Physical therapist Jane Sheffield loves her hometown. Especially at Christmastime. Since this may be her last in Chances Inlet, she’s determined to make the most of it with her young son. But after her childcare falls apart, she gets more than she bargained for when her best friend’s younger brother volunteers to help out. The rebellious teen she tutored in high school has grown up into a sexy charmer and so much more than the pretty face he pretends to be.

Can a stray dog, the Ghost of Christmas past, and a host of meddling townsfolk muster up enough Christmas spirit to convince Ryan and Jane to give their hometown—and each other--a second chance?

This book is the third book in a family saga but can be read as a standalone.






AZ US: https://amzn.to/3AnIJXn
Apple Books:


  1. I’ve never heard of the pickle ornament story and my mom ‘s family came over from Bavaria.
    My husband is also of German descent but came over from Hungary. He also has relatives who still live in Germany. No pickle ornament.
    We always decorate the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We also start playing Christmas songs and drinking hot chocolate, the start of watching Christmas movies, bake my MIL’s recipe for spritz cookies..
    Christmas Santa is our annual tree topper. I purchased him over 40 years ago at an Easter Seals shop my first year of college. The tree is covered with memories from ornaments I and my children made or gifted me.
    Love that time of year!

    1. Laurie, I'm still trying to find a German who claims to know the legend of the pickle! Your Christmas traditions sound a lot like mine. Our ornaments are from all the places I've lived and visited over the years, in addition to the ones my kids crafted when they were little. I'm gearing up for spritz cookies, too! In fact, there are so many mentions of food in this book, this week I'm putting together a little cookbook to go with it. It will be free to readers. :)

  2. My daughter has a pickle ornament lol. I started a tradition of having a tree trimming party when my children were very young. it grew over the years (as families did too). Unfortunately, we had to cut back because of covid. And now my oldest daughter has taken over the tradition. This year as last year, it will probably be only immediate family which is still a treasure.

    1. We had a virtual Christmas happy hour on Christmas day with family. This year, many of us will be able to get together, but we've decided to still have the virtual option so others who can't make it in person are still with us. If there is an upside to Covid, it's that we've been in contact with more family than usual during the holiday season. Still, nothing beats being able to laugh and hug in person.

  3. I have a tradition of making christmas cookies with my daughters and granddaughters and sometimes son in law participate. We will get together with their families for Christmas and Christmas Eve and at least one of the days with their inlaws. TY for the chance to win this book.

    1. Christmas cookies are the best part of the holidays!! Every year, I say I'm not going to bake too much, but then someone will ask me for a particular type of cookie and I can't say no. :) I enjoy creating something others look forward to each year. This book is filled with lots of food references so I'm putting together a free cookbook for readers that will feature many of the recipes.

  4. During Chanukah we host a party for the family. We make a mountain of latkes, homemade applesauce, apple cake and give out gifts to the little ones. We light the candles and have a memorable celebration.

  5. Years ago, we lived in Potomac, Maryland and many of our neighbors celebrated Chanukah. My kids were often invited to celebrate with their friends, which is how apple cake became one of our family's favorites during the season. :)

  6. I do have a pickle ornament that I put on the tree every year. I make sugar cookies with my granddaughter every year; have been doing it for quite awhile. I have 2 special cookie sheets with indentations of christmas tree, gingerbread ladies/men, wreaths, etc.

    1. Does the person who finds the pickle get a special surprise? I'm curious how people carry out this tradition. :)

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  8. I have never heard of the pickle ornament. My daughter and I always bake cookies together, been a tradition since I was pregnant with her! We always baked with my mom and now I bake with my grandkids. I can’t wait to read!!!

    1. I love those kinds of traditions. My daughter wasn't much for baking when she was little but she does help decorate the sugar cookies now that she's older. My son helps with the spritzer when he's around.

  9. Spending precious time with family. cooking together, baking special goodies, storytelling from old and young and enjoying every single moment.

    1. Yep. Those sound like the perfect traditions. :)

  10. Welcome, Tracy! I'm enjoying all these wonderful holiday traditions. I've never had a pickle ornament though I have seen them, mostly in Christmas stores. I seem to recall reading about the tradition of hiding them in trees a few years ago.

    For more than 25 years, my Christmas tradition was hosting an all-day baking and candy-making party on the first Saturday of December. I stopped doing it when I moved to my small condo but for all those years when I had large kitchens, it was an event everyone on the invitation list looked forward to. I even hosted a Jr. Candy Day for the kids in my last neighborhood when they felt left out of the fun party their moms got to attend. I miss the fun of Candy Day (though not all the work that went into it) but I piled up a lifetime of treasured memories.

  11. I do hang a Christmas pickle on my tree.


  12. I have never hung a pickle on my tree!

  13. I've heard of the pickle ornament, but we don't celebrate Christmas. We do have a tradition for Hannukkah, we also gather as a family, sharing a meal of chicken matzoh ball soup and latkes and sharing gifts. Our younger daughter always gifts her father with a silly calendar.

  14. We do hang a pickle on our tree. I wasn't aware of the tradition until about 15 yers ago when my boss gave me the ornament and the card explaining the tradition. Our granddaughter enjoys it and our children are catching on.
    When our children were youngI started a tradition for self-preservation. I usually wrap presents Christmas Eve and don't get to bed until very late. Of course the children would be up bright and early. They have big Christmas stockings that I made for them. We would put candy, nuts, tangerines, an apple, small toys, and a small wrapped gift in them. They were allowed to get into their stockings as soon as they got up and before we got up. It gave us a little longer before we had to get up. Thank goodness my husband would get up, make coffee and start breakfast. Usually he would make hot chocolate for them so we could have coffee and they cocoa while the gifts were opened. We would eat afterward. It allowed the kids to finish and play with their gifts and my husband and I to relax and enjoy the meal. Now that they are grown and have their own families, things have changed.

    This year we will be spending Christmas on the shore in North Carolina. Our daughter lives in Chapel Hill and has a stressful job. This gives a good chance to just relax. I will bring a small Christmas tree, so decorating won't be a worry at home for her. It will be nice to walk the beach with them and work/play with our granddaughter. Our other children live near us and we will celebrate Christmas with them on Epiphany, the last day of Christmas. That is another tradition we started. I always hold out at least one gift for everyone whether or not we celebrate Christmas together.

  15. TY for explaining about the pickle. I would love to read this book.
    C. Petke

  16. I love the review and introduction to the book and this author. This story sounds absolutely lovely. And who could not fall in love with a baseball player?

    I used to bake fruit breads and give them to all the neighbors and friends I could find.

    I hope everyone is well and safe and happy.

  17. I have not hung a pickle ornament on my tree. However, my husband is a Dane and we decorate our tree with candles that we light.

  18. No Christmas Pickles in our family. We think our traditions are fun, but not kinda out there fun -- even though there are usually some kinda out there jokes and dicusstions. We try to get together to do some baking every year, and maybe even some candy making -- well fudge making. There's the Christmas PJ tradition that has mostly gone to the wayside after the kids grew up. They got to open one present on Christmas Eve. Surprise! It was PJ's perfect for pictures of leaving cookies and milk for Santa.

  19. We do hang a pickle ornament on our tree we have a few other traditions as well a certain cookie recipe that needs to be made every year