Christmas Traditions: Diane Jortner

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When I think of Christmas traditions, the one that has remained with me started with a story, a story my father’s mother told him. And since mothers never lie—and I know that to be true, since I have been a mother these many, many years, I believe this story even today.

The Peter Elf story started during a rough time: the depression. Families struggled to get bread on the table, and shoes on their children’s feet.  My father was the oldest and lived way out of town in small home, on the family farm in Southern Alberta.  I visited it once or twice and was shown the back sleeping porch where the boys lay out the cots in the spring a summer. I learned to shoot tin cans on that property.
Grandma Lee, as we called her, mothered four rambunctious boys. (I know they were rambunctious, as I witnessed their tricks and laughs once or twice a year when we would get together as families.  To pass the time, help entertain, and teach valuable lessons, she told stories. Most of her stories, sadly, are lost in a time before typewriters and Word and icloud, but the story of Peter Elf lives on in the homes and memories of many of her descendants. As with most stories mothers tell, and most fables, this is a story with a message. The message is the gratitude.


The Story of Peter Elf

 As told by my father Ken Lee 
who heard it from his mother May Lee

As the magical Christmas day approached, little Peter became gloomy and irritable. His fellow elves tried to cheer him up. “We are on vacation next week,” his friends cried. “Here you can tie the ribbon on Suzy’s package” Olaf offered. “Drink some of this amazing hot chocolate,“ Melinda urged.

But nothing would cheer up this pint-sized six-inch North Pole Elf.  He just sat on his workbench and stared out into the ice and snow covered land. Finally, at the request of the North Pole Happiness Committee, Santa himself called Peter into his cozy sitting room for a talk.
To read the rest of The Story of Peter Elf click over to
Diane’s website.

Even since childhood Diane (D. Lee Jortner) has loved fantasy and mystery. Playing with imaginary friends and writing and directing neighborhood plays filled her youth. The first of her historical fantasy series, CHIMMEKEN CROSSES THE DELAWARE was released in November 2014. Which you can get here. More in the series will be available soon.

Working as a marketing specialist for Xchyler Publishing introduced her to Steampunk and her first Steampunk story will be published in February 2015 in Mechanized Masterpieces II: A Steampunk Anthology.
Her YA murder mystery Corpse in Kitchen 3 will also be released in 2015. 
When not writing, Ms. Jortner teaches English Composition at Ivy Tech Community college in Valparaiso, Indiana or hangs with her husband Larry and her seven children and five grandchildren (and still counting).

Find her on Facebook!


12 thoughts on “Christmas Traditions: Diane Jortner

  1. I don’t remember any Christmas stories being told when I was a child, but what I do remember about Christmas was our silver tree. Yes, I said silver. I remember helping setting it up every year. I’d slide each limb out of their paper sleeve, and seeing the tinsel-like tree develop before my eyes. After putting on colored bulbs and even more tinsel, Mom would set up an electric light on the floor with a revolving faceplate. The four colors would shine up, slowly changing the tree from silver, to red, to green, to blue, and back to silver again. I would lay on the floor and watch it, mesmerized, and dreaming of Christmas.

    • I remember silver trees. Blast from the past! Our neighbors always had flocked trees. Real but with fake snow. Of course this was in California where no one had to content with real snow.
      I loved sitting under my tree dreaming of Christmas too.

  2. How sweet is that? My father never told stories but at Christmas it was so hard to wait for Dad to go pick up my grandmother (who is 101 now) before we could open presents. We had no money, but with six kids and three adults, it always looked like a mountain of gifts! Then we’d have Christmas dinner and eat the fudge my mother made every year. We’d go to the Christmas service at church, though it usually was the Sunday before Christmas. Good times.

  3. This is adorable! My kids are grown, but my new grandson will love the story of Peter Elf! 😀

  4. What a wonderful tradition and memory having a family story to pass down! As O.K. (Oldest Kid) my job was to read “The Night Before Christmas” every year on Christmas Eve, but this story is really special. Thanks for sharing, Diane and Anika! And Merry Christmas!

  5. I love Christmas stories. The only story tradition we had growing up and still have with our family is reading Luke 2 either Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. He is the Gift. 🙂

  6. This Christmas story sounds interesting. One which I would enjoy reading myself as well as to my grandchildren.
    The best tradition we had, when I was growing up in a small farming community, in N.E. Utah, was decorating our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, after my fahter had gone to the mountains to cut one down.
    It was always a magical time to me as a young child.

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