Winter Blogfest: Dixie Jackson

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a $50.00 gift card for winner’s choice of: Amazon (US only, please) OR Starbucks.

The Rule of Four by Dixie Jackson

One Thing They Want, One Thing They Need, One Thing They Wear, One Thing They Read

For the past few weeks, I’ve heard people all around me asking the proverbial age-old question: where did this year go?! I know where my year went; I’m just having trouble wrapping my head around where it went and how. My year was spent caring for my parents, whom we lost in October. Yes, both Mom and Dad passed on…less than 48 hours apart. There’s more on that journey over on my blog, but here I wanted to touch on how that’s affected my outlook on the holidays. While one might think the holidays are intolerable at my house, something I want to ignore this year, one would be surprised. Don’t get me wrong. The holidays are harder this year. There have been tears, but I find myself waxing nostalgic and remember some pretty great times and trying to focus on those to honor the losses my family has suffered.

One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they wear, one thing they read. I always see this sage advice on a meme or two around social media this time of year. And I always am reminded that this sage advice isn’t as new as some might imagine. My family seemed to be in tune with this way of thinking with the holiday gift giving long before it was chic to think this way. When we were kids, this catchy line summed up our Christmas haul perfectly.

We always got something we needed, always. The thing needed varied widely from year to year from gloves to coats to boots to watches. We always got a brand-new outfit which we put on immediately to wear to Christmas dinner at my grandma’s house. We always, always, got books. Those were some of my favorite things. As for the something we wanted, my sister reminded me of how that thing was chosen while we were talking on the phone a few days ago. Each year a few weeks prior to the big day we were handed the Sears catalog and a pen. We were to go through the Christmas edition catalog chock full of toys and circle a few things we’d like to have. Then Santa would have some ideas. I remember we always got a baby doll, always. Along with the baby doll would come a handmade receiving blanket for our new baby and a handmade gown for her. I also remember we always got something we wanted that we had to learn to share. For instance, one year we got the kids kitchen from Sears. Anyone else remember those? They were made of metal, not like today’s playsets made of hard plastic, and they were this hideous yellow color. Learn to share it we did, and we loved every minute of our time together with it.

The memories of those Christmases gone by, and the rule of four: a want, a need, something to wear, something to read, are what is sustaining me and buoying me up this year as our family navigates a new normal. I’m also consulting the sage advice in my gift buying for my grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and “our kids” who belong to our friends. If you’ve also had a rough year, I hope nostalgic memories might buoy you up this year, too, and remind you of what’s really important, and the rule of four might be a guide in helping you find your center.

What are some of your fondest holiday memories and gifts? Did your family also adhere to the rule of four? Did you ever have to learn to share a gift with your siblings? Leave me some comments! I’d love to chat and I’d love to see your name get put into the hat for my prize.

Cord McAllister was born of a long line of dissidents, spies, and dark ops fighters. The roots of his family tree took him clear back to the War of 1812 where his aunt several times removed busied herself with stealing enemy secrets rather than knitting socks. But nothing in the entirety of his family pedigree could have prepared him for his current assignment: Lucy Wayland, kindergartner. With his house in shambles and overrun with toys, his mind a murky blur, and his heart in his throat from constant worry about the kid, Cord knows one thing. He needs backup. Never in his wildest imagination did he expect that help to come in the form of a ghost from his past.

Chloe Hamilton was born of a long line of dissidents, spies, and dark ops fighters. How deep she’s in and how far back those roots take her is a secret to everyone including her ex, who just happens to be in charge of protecting her current assignment: Lucy Wayland, kindergartner. After four years of radio silence, Chloe finds herself on Cord’s doorstep with her au pair persona on and dragging way more baggage than the suitcase holding her clothes. Never in her wildest imagination did she ever expect to see Cord again, yet here she was in living color.

It doesn’t take long to discover while confined to quarters together that the fire still burns bright between them, but the secrets that kept them apart before have only grown exponentially. Chloe’s determined to fulfill not only her mission, but her destiny, which she knows without a doubt was etched on her heel long before she was conceived of. Even if it means leaving what she wants behind, again. Cord’s determined he’s not taking no for an answer, again. Their determinations will take them from the Carolina coast to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest where all the secrets that kept them apart will come unraveled, and will either make them or break them.


Born and raised in the heart of the Ozarks, Dixie Jackson learned a love of the written word at a young age. She remembers reading voraciously and spinning her own tales before she could even write them down. It was the encouragement of her sixth-grade creative writing teacher which would plant the idea that just never seemed to go away. She wanted to someday see her works in print.

After experiencing a good bit of the world due to her husband’s thirty-year stint with the USMC and living a few years in the Great Smoky Mountains, Dixie has returned to her roots. She makes her home in the heart of the Ozark Mountains with her now retired Marine husband, two rescue dogs, and her beloved chickens. When she’s not writing, you can find her digging in the dirt and nurturing her plants while plotting the next step in one of her story lines or another. She also loves experimenting in her kitchen, embroidering, quilting, crocheting, climbing her family’s twisted tree through genealogy research, and of course reading.


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  1. I love this idea! Growing up, we mostly got homemade gifts, which honestly were my most treasured. But they were also typically very practical as well. I honestly hadn’t see the Rule of Four before, but I think next year I’m going to put it into practice. Thank you!

    • Dixie Jackson says

      Hi Maria! Some of my most treasured gifts are things my grandma quilted or Mom embroidered. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I always loved Christmas morning – it was my favorite part of the holiday season. Everything had been wrapped, all the stress was gone, and usually there was something baking in the oven for breakfast so the whole house smelled good. I never had to share with siblings so I was lucky! Extra cinnamon rolls for me!

    • Dixie Jackson says

      My grandma’s house always smelled like fresh-baked bread on Christmas morning. So good! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Texanchic65 says

    I’ve never heard of the “rule of four” before but it’s an interesting concept. I loved Christmas as a kid and remember being driven around the neighborhood with my cousins on Christmas Eve night while Santa delivered all our presents under the tree at my grandparents’ house. I’m an only child, so I never had to share anything with siblings. I can relate to you on it being a tough year…I lost my Dad last year at Christmas and it been a rough first year of birthdays, Father’s Day & the other celebrations without him. Hoping 2023 is much better…Thank you for the giveaway and Happy Holidays to you & yours!

    • Dixie Jackson says

      I’m so sorry for your loss and have the deepest empathy. One of my fondest memories is of a Christmas where all of us cousins were there all at once. Epic! Thank you so much for sharing and stopping by!

  4. This is a fun idea! We did something similar, but not exactly. The wants and needs also extended to the stocking, and there were some traditional inclusions (i.e. fruit and a toothbrush always made their way in).

    • Dixie Jackson says

      Stockings are one of my favorite things to do! This year we instituted celebrating St. Nicholas Day on the 6th and that’s when I passed out the stocking to all the kids. It was so much fun! And a little prelude leading up to the big event. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Elizabeth H. says

    Hi Dixie! Thank you so much for joining us today. I am so sorry to hear about your parents, my condolences for your losses. Thank your husband so much for his service. My grandfather was a Navy SeaBee, I had one uncle in the Navy and one in the Army. My cousin was a Marine and my son’s father was a Marine.

    Recoil sounds so good! I love the idea that espionage and spying is a family business going back many generations. I’m definitely adding this to my TBR list!

    And I absolutely wanted one of those toy kitchens for Christmas! Never got one though, but that’s okay! Thank you so much for visiting and sharing with us. Wishing you the Happiest of Holidays and a better New Year. We all definitely need it. Thank you for this wonderful giveaway!

    • Dixie Jackson says

      Thank you so much! And thank your family so much for all their service. That’s a pretty epic family legacy. 🙂 SeaBees rock! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. Diane Estrella says

    Love Chloe’s backstory and her long line of family members! haha

    thanks for the giveaway!

    • Dixie Jackson says

      Chloe has been one of my favorite heroines to write, like, ever. She’s so dang colorful! Thanks for stopping in!

  7. I’m really sorry to hear about your parents. It’s hard to lose one, but to lose both so close together has to be horrible.

    It never occurred to me, but my parents seem to have followed this as well (minus the books, I was the only one who ever got books for Christmas). We’d get clothes, socks, a toy or two, etc. Definitely makes for a well-rounded holiday.

    • Dixie Jackson says

      This year I kind of “went big or go home” Christmas, because, well, we needed an epic Christmas to balance out all the tragic. Next year I’ll tone it back down and get back to the business of book giving in spades. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

    • Dixie Jackson says

      Congratulations, Amy! You’re my winner. I’ve sent an email through your contact form on your website. 🙂

  8. I have many wonderful memories of Christmas. Although I loved all the presents, what I think about now with fondness is getting together with our extended family for Christmas Eve dinner at my grandmother’s house.

    • Dixie Jackson says

      My grandma’s house was also family central during the holidays. This year I recreated her raisin custard pie. It helps mend all ills. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  9. interesting rule; like decorating together

    • Dixie Jackson says

      I absolutely love decorating! This year I added to my repertoire a five-foot-tall dancing, singing Santa. The grandlittles love him! I kind of love him, too. Thanks for stopping in!

  10. When I was growing up we had a huge Christmas Eve party with all the cousins. Now everyone is grown up and spread out across the country. Funny how things change so much over time. Now we all have our own children to shuffle around between extended families.

    • Dixie Jackson says

      Our family is pretty scattered, as well. Most of us girls married the military, so we’ve collectively seen a good deal of the world. Facetime is everything! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Being from a military family, we celebrated Christmas in a lot of different houses over the years. What made it familiar in each place were the unique and special ornaments and decorations we put up year after year. We continued the tradition for our children, recalling memories with each ornament we put on the tree.

    • Dixie Jackson says

      I have a special bag full of those special ornaments. I put up more than one tree, so they all find a special place each year. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  12. Dixie Jackson says

    Thank you, LASR, for hosting me! I’m having a great time interacting with all the readers.

  13. Dana Zamora says

    Hi Dixie Jackson, I had to laugh at the Sears catalog back when I was a kid the Christmas one was HUGE, relatively speaking now as a adult, there was 5 of us fighting over it to pick “that’s my page ” yes we picked pages. I’m saying this again because I really am so happy to see and hear from you, you were missed, I’m sorry to hear about your parents, prayers and love to you and your family,

    • Dixie Jackson says

      Thank you so much! It is so good to be able to be out and about like this and get back into the swing of things. We wore the pages out of that Sears catalog! Such good memories. 🙂 Thanks for coming over!

  14. I am late to the party as I just got the notice. I am so sorry to hear about your losses Dixie. My heart goes out to you and your family. I am glad you made Christmas special with memories.

    Not entering the giveaway but my mom was a single parent of 6 and you better believe we shared a lot of gifts. Toys, clothes, games. Mama never made a lot of money but she always made Christmas special. Now that you mentioned it, she must have followed that same rule of want, need, wear & read. Although we got music instead of books. We’d get record albums. 🙂
    Have a wonderful New Year Dixie and everyone!

    • Dixie Jackson says

      I was a wee bit late to my own party! lol So no worries there. 🙂 Music is such a great one, too! We collect vinyl now. Love it! The grandlittles were way confused when they first discovered Nanny’s vinyl collection. They’re learning now! 🙂

  15. I always love making cookies together as a family… we have my nephews participating now too.

  16. Dixie Jackson says

    Thanks for all the comments. Each and every one of you are appreciated! Amy is the winner of the gift card! Congratulations, Amy!

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