4
Apr

Washington D.C. Cherry Blossoms

Folks often schedule visits to Washington DC in the spring time to coincide with the blooming of the famous Cherry trees. Here is the history of the Washington Cherry Trees and their good will mission.

 

In January, 1910, Japan sent 3000 Cherry trees to Washington as a good will gesture. Sadly, when the trees arrived, they were found to be diseased and infested with insects.

 

To protect American growers, President William H. Taft ordered the trees to be burned. Letters from the Secretary of State to the Japanese Ambassador expressed deep regret to all concerned. Good will was maintained and in 1912, Japan again sent Washington, D.C., more than 3000 additional Cherry trees from 12 different varieties. Two thousand of the trees were planted on the White House grounds, and the remainder planted around the city and along the Potomac River from the site of the Lincoln Memorial south toward Potomac Park. They grew and blossomed each spring to the delight of thousands of Washington residents and visitors.

 

Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack in December, 1941, four cherry trees were cut down by vandals. Letters poured into the National Parks Commission, calling for “cutting all the Japanese trees down and replacing them with an American variety.” Throughout the rest of the war, in hopes of preventing future damage and ill will, the trees were no long called Japanese Cherry trees, but referred to as those ‘oriental flowering Cherry trees.’

 

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, an annual springtime event since 1935, was suspended and did not return until 1947 where a Cherry Blossom princesses and a queen are crowned. In 1957, a wealthy Japanese business woman donated a crown for the festival queen, containing more than two pounds of gold and 1,585 pearls. The queen wears the famous crown for just a few moments when she is crowned. It is then replaced with a miniature crown of gold with a pearl topping each point. The queen wears this crown for the remainder of the evening and she keeps it as a momentum of the event.

 

In 1965, the Japanese government generously donated another 3,800 trees to Lady Bird Johnson. Mrs. Johnson and Mrs. Ryuji Takeuchi, wife of Japan’s ambassador, reenacted the original planting ceremony of 1912.

 

In 1982 and an several occasions since, cuttings from the original 1912 cherry trees were returned to Japan to replace trees destroyed during WWII, and when the course of a river destroyed  a number of their trees.

 

Private funds were donated between 1986 and 1988 to replant another 676 trees to restore the number of Washington trees to the original 3000. Between 1997 and 2011, cuttings from the surviving 1912 cherry trees were propagated to ensure preservation of the 1912 trees’ genetic lineage and will be used in subsequent replacement plantings both in Washington and in Japan. Thus, the original 1912 gift have come full circle and will ensure a cycle of giving between Japan and the United States.

 

13
Mar

Mrs. Odboddy and the Famous Picture of Christ

Bernhard Plockhorst (March 2, 1825 – May 18, 1907) was a German painter and graphic artist. In Germany, Plockhorst is mainly known only to experts today, whereas his pictures are still very popular in the United States and reproductions can be found in many American homes and churches.

Bernhard Plockhorst’s painting of The Guardian Angel(1886), showing an angel and two little children close to an abyss, was reproduced as a color lithography in thousands of copies and greatly influenced the later pictures of guardian angels.

"The Good Shepherd" showing Christ caring for his flock, graces the stained glass windows of several U.S. American churches; the First Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and in the Zion Lutheran Church, in Baltimore, MD., as well as in thousands of copies in churches and homes. To this day, Plockhorst’s painting of Christ’s face has become the most acceptable version of Christ’s face.

In my next Mrs. Odboddy novel, Mrs. Odboddy and the Devious Doctor, TBP perhaps later this year, Agnes learns that her doctor’s Hippocratic Oath becomes hypocritical when she believes he has stolen an early lithograph of The Good Shepherd from her church. When she tracks the suspected doctor to a mansion in San Francisco, she very nearly loses her life. Mrs. Odboddy and the Devious Doctor is the fourth Mrs. Odboddy adventure.

In the first Mrs. Odboddy WWII adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, Agnes attempts to locate thieves stealing ration books from mailboxes in her hometown. As she volunteers to serve the troops, she is determined to expose sleeper Nazi agents she believes invade her small town. When Mrs. Roosevelt comes to town, Agnes is called upon to be a hometown patriot and save her life. http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv

Agnes’s second adventure takes place on a train from California to Washington, D.C. as she carries a package to President Roosevelt. In Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, Agnes is sure the package contains secret war documents, and is just as sure that Nazi spies will attempt to steal the package along the way. The characters she meets on the train are diverse and intriguing. A WWII wounded veteran helps her in her journey as adverse events almost derail her along the way. http://tinyurl/com/jn5bzwb

Mrs. Odboddy and Then There was a Tiger has Agnes back at home, falsely accused as a burglar and a thief. Her hysterical antics as she attempts to clear her name will keep you in stitches. And, yes, when she becomes involved with a county fair performing tiger, she learns more than she bargained for about tigers as she attempts to save his striped hide and bring miscreants to justice. https://tinyurl.com/yx72fcpx

 

25
Feb

The Elevator Pitch - or If I ever Meet an Agent

The blurb on the back of my latest mystery, “The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountainbriefly outlines the storyline. ‘While the government plans to build a secret facility, housing tract, and big box store that will easily put the local merchants out of business, someone is selling drugs to the teenagers on the nearby Native American reservation…

 The frequent  sightings of a mysterious woman in the woods accompanied by a mountain lion has Deputy Sheriff Nate Darling wondering if she is his missing sister, out of her mind and running with a mountain lion, or is she the legendary Native American Spirit Woman sent to help the troubled town?”

As an author, I always hold out hope for the chance to catch the attention of the big publishing house, but these days, agents are only interested in working with someone famous or possessing a platform of 10,000. We, of lesser fame and fortune must resort to Indie Publishing and self-promotion. Beyond writing a compelling plot and interesting dialogue, we must master the skills of publicist, bookkeeper, full time blogger, cover artist, and skilled orator, always keeping an eye open for opportunities to sell a book we happen to have handy in a large canvas bag.

I’ve become passably competent at most of the above skills, but I recently learned of another talent to master…In the off chance that I should run into that elusive literary agent on an elevator, or sipping a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks, I must  memorize what is called in the publishing world, an “elevator pitch.” Once I have the agent’s momentary attention, I must deliver a compelling ‘hook,” and within sixty seconds, convince him everyone from a Texas cowboy to a New York stockbroker will buy my book with his last green dollar, and that it will become a Best Seller.

I have practiced my ‘elevator pitch’ in front of a three-way mirror and perfected where to smile, when to pause for special effect, and when to use hand motions to emphasize the final sentence.

Unfortunately, I fear if I should ever be fortunate enough to find myself on that much discussed elevator, in spite of good intentions and hours of practice, I expect the conversation would more likely go something like this.

Uh… You’re that Random House guy, right! Wait. Let me push this button and stop the elevator. I never thought… I have some notes here somewhere. Where is that paper? Well, never mind. I wrote a book, see? You’re not going anywhere special, right? About that book I wrote… You’re gonna love it. It’s called The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain. Do you like cats? There’s a mountain lion. That’s a cat, right? This lady goes missing in an accident and then there’s a mountain lion and a Native American spirit woman shows up. So, about this cat…see….

******

You can purchase this e-book at Amazon for just $3.99 at the following ling. http://tinyurl.com/y7rp7f3x   Let me know what you think.

14
Feb

The Chocolate Kiss

We quarreled this morning. I threw his favorite blue cup across the room. It shattered when it hit the hearth. I screamed “I hate you!” and ran out the door. I kicked the tires on my car.

I was angry all morning. Every time the phone rang, I was sure he was calling to apologize. Why didn’t he call? I wouldn’t call him. He was wrong, right?

The afternoon dragged by. It’s 5:00 P.M., and I’m leaving the office. … The traffic is terrible and I’m anxious to get home. It’s not that I’m going to apologize. It was his fault that we quarreled, but it’s too tiring to stay mad. I want everything to be okay between us again.

The cars creep along the freeway and I check my watch.

He should be home by now, waiting for me, listening to music, probably drinking a glass of red wine. I’m sure he bought me flowers. I can’t wait to see what kind he chose.

It  started to rain and the leaves swirl across the highway, gathering on the edge of my front window. The windshield wipers swish. They seem to say,“hate-shoo, hate-shoo, hate-shoo.”  My eyes sting with tears as I remember how I said those words. I didn’t mean it. I reach for the cell phone in my purse and touch instead, his gift to me, a melted chocolate candy kiss. I lick the chocolate off my fingers and smile, remembering the night, not so long ago and his words, “This kiss signifies my love.”

Now I'm ready to tell him 'I’m sorry', even if he was wrong. I want his arms around me. I want his lips to caress my throat. I want us to be together.

I don’t see his car. It must be parked in the garage. I know he heard me pull in the driveway, and even now, I can almost see him rushing to the door with a glass of wine and the flowers. In a minute, he will kiss me and whisper, “I’m sorry…”

I turn the handle on the front door. Why is it locked> I turn my key in the door and call his name. The room is empty. Where can he be?

A gust of wind rushes in, slamming the door behind me. My eyes are drawn to another chocolate candy kiss as it rolls off the table. A single sheet of paper flutters for a moment, and settles to the floor...

****

Hope your Valentine's Day has a better ending. Don't let the day begin or end without saying, "I love you."   Elaine Faber

 

7
Feb

How to Make Love

Some years ago I found my mother’s teenage scrapbook from (approximately 1930). In it was a handwritten copy of a poem called How to Make Love. It was sent to her by an admirer, Arthur Larson, from Big Falls, Minnesota around 1929-30. I don’t know if Arthur was the author of the poem, but I think more likely this was a poem or song. Copying song lyrics or poems, and mailing them to friends seemed to be a popular pastime among teenagers, (who didn’t have computers or TV’s, remember. Some had no phones).  Mother’s scrapbook contained several different clever ‘sayings’ and poems or song lyrics.

If anyone has any information about its origins, please let me know.

                           How to Make Love (author unknown)

Do you want your girl to love you? Do you want to be her beau?

Then I’ll tell you how to do it, boys. I’ll tell you all I know.

Put on your bib and tucker and scrub your face real hard.

Part your hair right in the middle, boys, and slick it down with lard.

Put your dirty hat on sideways. Pull your Sunday pants up short

Get a red bow tie and a rubber band, and show her you’re a sport.

Get yourself some drug store perfume, and sprinkle it on your clothes.

And a dime’s worth will be plenty, boys. To tickle her little nose.

Use your buggy and your harness, and curry your trotting mare.

And buy her a pretty lasso, boys, and get your lady fair.

Tie a ribbon on your buggy whip, get a pair of yellow gloves

And take her to the county fair, and buy her what she loves.

Tell her she is prettier than a movie actress

Talk about her pretty curls, and about her handsome dress.

Get yourself a gold front tooth, and a Sears and Roebuck ring

A double note harmonica, and learn to play and sing.

Talk about her family, her granddad and her pap.

And before you know it, she’s sitting on your lap.

Tell her she is so pretty, she takes away your breath.

And before you know it, she’s a hugging you to death.

But, if she does not love you, boys. Just make her jealous then.

Tell her you love somebody else and she is just a friend.

Take her out to the dances and flirt with other girls.

Hug um’ close and whisper soft, and get them all awhirl.

Laugh out loud with the others, but to your girl don’t speak

And when she comes around you, boys, just turn from her your cheek.

Just follow these directions and she will be your wife

Or else she’ll marry somebody else… and hate you all her life!

 

29
Jan

Review of The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain - My latest mystery novel.

I started out thinking this would be a humorous cozy, but the characters are much more serious in their attempts to resolve conflict. Nate is quite distraught, believing the woman in the woods with the mountain lion is his sister, Suzanna, who mysteriously disappeared following an MVA 3 months prior. The Native Americans believe the legendary Spirit Woman ‘protects the community.’ When Govt. demands create social unrest in a small mountain town, and drugs threaten the lives of their youth, the Spirit Woman and her mountain lion companion come to their aid. So, is the woman in the woods Suzanna, or the Spirit Woman?

THE SPIRIT WOMAN OF LOCKLEER MOUNTAIN brings a Native American legend to your mystery.  Though there is a Native American reservation near the setting of my story, I made no attempt to make this an accurate depiction of a specific tribe or legendary figure. Native American culture includes spiritual beings felt to aid in daily life. These are sometimes represented by Kachina dolls given to children. However, my legendary Spirit Woman is completely fictional.

Was there a specific inspiration for this story?  I intended to create a humorous cozy mystery regarding Lou’s sewer truck, The Pooper Scooper. Eventually her septic tank service would lead to the discovery of some crime when she pumped out a septic tank. I also planned a mysterious government facility nearby. Beyond that, I just started to write and before long, an owl crashed into Lou’s kitchen window and the legendary Spirit Woman came to play when she wonders if the Spirit Woman sent the owl. Nate explains that ‘seeing an owl during the day means someone is going to die.’

Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing, especially for a new release.  Under normal circumstances, my favorite way to market is to be out and about selling my books directly to the public at craft fairs and Writer events. That hasn’t been possible this year which saddens me. I love to talk to customers about my books and see repeat customers who are anxious to read the next book.  

What comes next with the Spirit Woman? I’m currently working on the sequel. Though the Spirit Woman brings about some resolutions to the problems in the current story, of course, things change and new issues arise. In the sequel, the winner of a million dollar lottery ticket brings challenges and murder to Lockleer Mountain. The Spirit Woman and her mountain lion will return to assist in the new problems facing Lou and her friends. Look for this novel in 2022.

All my books are available at Amazon for just $3.99 in e-book.

My other Mystery Series'

Black Cat Mysteries: With the aid of his ancestors’ memories, Black Cat helps solve mysteries and crimes. Partially narrated by Black Cat. Who knew that a cat could bring such insight into a novel, from a cat’s often humorous and poignant point of view.

Mrs. Odboddy Mystery/Adventures: Elderly, eccentric Mrs. Odboddy fights WWII from the home front. She believes war-time conspiracies and spies abound in her home town. Follow her antics in these hysterical, historical novels as a self-appointed hometown warrior exposes malcontents, dissidents and Nazi spies…even when she’s wrong. Watch for the fourth Mrs. Odboddy adventure novel later this year.

 

Black Cat’s Legacy    http://tinyurl.com/lrvevgm

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer                   http://tinyurl.com/q3qrgyu

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel http://tinyurl.com/y4eohe5n

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary   NCPA Cover and Interior Design Silver award 2019 http://tinyurl.com/vgyp89s

All Things Cat (anthology of short stories)   http://tinyurl.com/y9p9htak

Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot     NCPA 1st Fiction 2017   http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv

Mrs. Odboddy – Undercover Courier            NCPA 3rd Cover and Design 2018  http://tinyurl/com/jn5bzwb 

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain   http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xs

 

 

 

14
Jan

Mrs. Odboddy - A Serialized Novel Experience

Like newspapers and magazines of old, I'm going to post weekly installments of my unpublished Mrs. Odboddy book, Mrs. Odboddy and the Devious Doctor. Each week, there will be a brief recap of the story to date.  Let me know what you think of this concept.

To set the scene. Story takes place in 1944 in small CA town.  Elderly Mrs. Odboddy, a former govt. secret agent from WWI, now fights the war from the home front. In her last book, Mrs. Odboddy And Then There was a Tiger, she rescued a displaced carnival tiger, now temporarily housed in his traveling carnival cage at a friend's farm.

Chapter One

Agnes slung her leg over a limb in the apple tree and reached for a grip on a higher branch. “Hang on, Ling-Ling. Mama’s coming.”

“Meow.”

The cat’s piercing shriek expressed displeasure that her itinerary at the top of the apple tree should be questioned. Godfrey, Agnes’s boyfriend, came around the corner of the house and peered into the branches. “Come down from there this instant. What in tarnation are you doing?”

Agnes pulled her skirt down over her rump, revealing a chubby thigh in flannel stockings. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that I’m rescuing Ling-Ling. She’s been up here since breakfast and she won’t come down. If you’d have come when I called an hour ago, I wouldn’t need to–”

“I came as soon as I could, Lambkins, after I called the fire department. They’re bringing over a ladder. Now, come down before you fall and break your noggin. Leave the climbing to the firemen. They rescue cats every day.” The sound of a siren shrieked in the distance.

“No need. I’ve almost got her.” Agnes loosened her grip on the branch and reached for the Siamese cat, who had climbed higher with each of Agnes’s attempts to reach her. “Just a little more. Come to mama, baby.” Wasn’t that just like a cat? “You rascal. I have half a mind to leave you here, and let you starve. Come here before I…” Crack! Agnes gasped as the branch under her foot gave way. “Saints preserve–”

Godfrey sprang toward the tree just as the branch broke. Agnes flung out her arms and grasped at branches to break her fall. Pieces of twigs and leaves broke loose as she plummeted toward the earth. Godfrey’s image flashed in and out of her thoughts, intermingled with her little ward, Maddie, and her granddaughter, Katherine. What about her attempts to save Shere Khan, the displaced carnival’s tiger? Would he find a home without her help? It’s true. Your life flashes before your eyes just before you die.

Agnes hit the ground with a thud. Her head flung back and thwacked against the apple tree. Then everything went dark.

A voice from far away called her name. “Mrs.Odbddy. Can you hear me?”

Ow.” Her cheek smarted. Had someone slapped her? Her opposite cheek smarted. Another slap? Near dead, and now being attacked? What was the world coming to when an old woman couldn’t fall from an apple tree and die in peace? Agnes opened her eyes. Ling-Ling leaped from branch to branch and dropped lightly beside her hip. “Meow!

Agnes’s head lolled back against the tree. Now she comes down, after I risked my life to… Her dizziness cleared. Godfrey’s face hovered over her, and two others. Firemen? What? Why?

Katherine knelt beside Godfrey and took her grandmother’s hand. “Grandma. Are you all right?” She turned toward the men in heavy overcoats. “Is she okay? Did she break anything?”

“Hard to say, ma’am.” Barnaby Merryweather, the older volunteer fireman, touched the lump on the back of Agnes’s head. “She has some scratches and a sizable bump on the back of her head. Her doctor should check her over to be sure. She took a pretty good whack. Agnes? Do you know what day it is? Who’s the President?”

Ow!” Agnes swatted at the fireman’s hand. “Of course. It’s April 26, 1944, and Franklin D. Roosevelt is the President. Now, help me into the house.” Her hand dropped onto Ling-Ling’s back as she nuzzled under her arm. “I see the wretched cat managed to rescue herself

“If you’d asked my opinion before you risked your fool life, I would’ve told you she’d come down on her own, Grandma.”

“I called Godfrey. When he didn’t come, I thought I’d better get her down.”

“And, just see how well that turned out,” Katherine said, patting Agnes’s cheek. “You could’ve killed yourself.”

“It takes more than a bump to kill an old bird like me.” Agnes touched the lump on her head and twisted her neck from side to side. “Ow.

“Give me a hand, Barnaby,” Godfrey said. One could always count on Barnaby Merryweather, a volunteer fireman for the past twenty years, always the first on the scene in any emergency, whether a kitchen fire or a cat up a tree. Godfrey put his arm under Agnes’s shoulder. “Do you think you can stand, sweetkins?”

“I think so. Let’s give it a try. You’re probably right. I should have called the fire department in the first place.”

 

 

 

 

9
Jan

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain

MY LATEST PUBLISHED NOVEL:

After four cozy cat mysteries and three Mrs. Odboddy adventures, I was ready to try to write something different.

 

I set about to write a humorous cozy mystery starring Lou Shoemaker, the young, widowed owner of a sewer truck called the Pooper Scooper. She attempts to comfort her best friend, Deputy Nate Darling, who grieves for his sister, Suzanna, who mysteriously disappeared following a minor motor vehicle accident. Fully intending to make this as funny as heck with stopped up toilets and overflowing septic tanks.... the characters took over...as they often do with my writing.

 

Before I knew it, a white owl crashed into Lou's kitchen window. Despite the town's displeasure and without consent, the government began planning a mysterious military facility and big box store, sure to destroy the town's economy. During several chaotic events, a mountain lion and a woman in a long green skirt are sighted, resulting in positive outcomes .

 

Immediately the townsfolk determine that the Native Americans' legendary Spirit Woman, said to 'protect the community,' and known to travel with a mountain lion and a white owl, had returned with the intent to aid in the town's misfortune.

 

Oh my! Where did that come from? I've never written paranormal before.

 

Oh, sure, in my cozy cat mysteries, the cat's talk to each other and affect incidents to help solve crimes (see Black Cat's Legacy and Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer)... and in my WWII humorous mystery adventure series (Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot) we have to suspend disbelief at some of her antics... and maybe there was an angel in Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, but we never dealt with a Native American legendary spirit woman who may or may not be real.

 

And I've never written a male main character before. As the story progresses, Nate becomes more of the main POV character as a couple of suspicious deaths occur while Lou is out emptying septic tanks for local citizens and attends the nearby Native American Pow Wow on the reservation.

 

I could go on, but why spoil the entire story? It's just $3.99 for the e-book at Amazon http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xsh

 

or you can contact me directly and I'll send you a signed paperback copy for $15. (free shipping), Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com

I guess the point of this post is to say, that in spite of my intentions to write a humorous mystery about stopped up toilets and  overflowing septic tanks, instead, a legendary Native American Spirit Woman demanded her story be told, so that's what I did. It's a change of pace for me, but, when all was said and done, I'm pretty pleased with the story.

 

Check out The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain. I promise you won't be disappointed. http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xsh (Amazon link)

 

 

 

5
Dec

The Christmas Bird

The days grew shorter, the air crisper, the nights longer, and the whisper of leaves on the roof began to awaken each Christmas tree bird in their tissue paper in the attic. Something sang to them, called to them, until they wiggled with joy, crinkling their crepe paper walls. Soon, each Christmas bird ornament would be lifted from his crinkly paper bed where he slept since last Christmas.

As the year neared its end, the Christmas birds felt a thrill from their springy wire clips and gold porcelain bodies to their bright feather tails. The littlest Christmas bird lay warm and snug beneath Gold Bird. How he anticipated the coming holiday season. Soon he would be on the Christmas tree with his fragile glass friends and the others…the round ones with bright colored paint. They were not nearly as beautiful as his Christmas bird friends with their springy wires, delicate glass and pinchey clips that clasped them firmly to each branch. And though all his friends were lovely, he felt he was the most beautiful Christmas tree bird in the attic.

He closed his little red eyes and dreamed about Christmas Eve. From the top of the tree, he would look down upon the family gathered by the fireplace. Being part of the Christmas celebration made him feel truly alive. “I’ve been thinking,” he whispered in a trembling voice filled, “You are lovely, Gold Bird, but, in truth, I am the most beautiful Christmas bird.”

Gold Bird’s tail feathers quivered. “Really? Blue glass bird is made of hand-blown glass from Germany, with a fine blue feather tail. Antique bird is missing some tail feathers but he is so fragile, you can see right through him. We all have unique qualities, and all are as beautiful as you.” He fairly shook as he scolded the young bird wrapped beneath him in pink tissue.

“It may be true what you say,” said the saucy little bird. “But, the tree won’t be nearly as beautiful if I’m not right near the top.”

Gold Bird, being older and wiser, turned his head. “You obviously don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas. You don’t deserve to be included in the holiday events. You conceited fellow, it would serve you right if you got left behind this year.”

The Christmas bird trembled. The idea of being left behind scared him a bit. With a slight tremble, he said, “That couldn’t happen, could it? It’s not that you aren’t handsome, but my tail feathers are longer and softer and fluffier than yours, and…my…paint is much shinier.”

Tut tut,” replied Gold Bird. “Not…another…word.”

For several uncomfortable days, the little bird lay silent in his cocoon of crinkly paper. Gold Bird’s warning haunted him. “You conceited fellow, it would serve you right …” Not to be there on Christmas Eve? He could not bear the thought.

The days grew shorter and a soft sprinkle of snow blanketed the roof. The wind whistled past the attic and the dark days edged toward December. Early one morning, footsteps on the attic steps awakened the Christmas birds. They held their breath, as their box was lifted from the shelf and carried down the stairs. “It’s time! Soon we’ll be on the Christmas tree,” the little Christmas bird whispered to Gold Bird.

One by one, the Christmas birds were lifted from the box. The young Christmas bird lay wrapped in his soft tissue wrapping. He heard the squeal as his friends were hung on the tree. He faintly heard music and children laughing. He even smelled the cookies!

“It’s almost time,” he whispered to Gold Bird. “It’s nearly my turn.”…but Gold Bird’s fluffy tail no longer tickled his nose. The ornament box was tossed into the corner; empty, except for the little Christmas bird. “Wait! What happened? I’m still here.” Overlooked in mother’s haste, he was left behind. His comfortable bed, now a prison, his beautiful body still swaddled in crinkly tissue paper. Muffled Christmas sounds reached his ears. A tiny plastic tear formed in his little red eye. “I was conceited and proud, and now I’ve been left behind.”

Christmas Day approached and he missed the entire Christmas season, alone in the box in the corner. On Christmas Eve, the family gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christmas tree bird lay in his box, imagining the tree with his friends hanging on its branches. Even the scorned round ones were part of the celebration. “The round ones may not be as beautiful,” he lamented,” but they are on the tree, and I’ve been left behind.”

After supper, the family gathered by the Christmas tree. The little girl read from the Bible. “They wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and lay Him in a manger.”

Christmas bird thought, “I’m wrapped in swaddling clothes, like the baby Jesus,” and he imagined the tiny baby sung and warm, lying in a manger, warmed by the breath of the surrounding animals. He heard the daddy tell how Jesus came to earth as a tiny baby, and if we loved and trusted Him, He would take us to heaven and we would never be left behind.  The Christmas bird sniffed, “I know what it’s like to be left behind. How much worse it would be, to be left behind from Heaven.” Then, his box jiggled, the crinkling tissue paper lifted away and the warmth from the fireplace touched his cheek.

The little girl lifted Christmas bird from his box. “Look, Mommy! It’s another Christmas birdie. He has a red tear in his eye. Can we hang him on the Christmas tree?”

Daddy lifted her and she hung the little bird near Gold Bird. Looking down from the tree, the joyous Christmas bird felt the love in the room as the family shared gifts with one another. Carols played on the stereo. The spicy aroma of gingerbread drifted in from the kitchen. The family laughed and sang. Christmas bird wiggled with joy. At last, he was exactly where he wanted to be. Gold Bird swung around from a nearby branch and gave him a tender glance. “Welcome to Christmas, little bird. Did you learn anything?”

The light from the fireplace reflected the tear in his eye, shimmering like a drop of gold. “I understand,” he whispered. “Christmas is not about who is most beautiful, who is round or who has the brightest springy tail. It’s not about carols or turkey dinner or gingerbread, or even about presents under the tree. The true meaning of Christmas is God’s love for us with the birth of Jesus. When we accept His love and believe in Him, we will never be left behind.”

 

29
Nov

Mom's Silverware - A Thanksgiving Story

(This is a fictionalized story based on my true experience .)

Corrine sighed as the comforting turkey scent wafted through the dining room. She glanced at the clock, mentally judging her Thanksgiving dinner’s preparation with the arrival of the daughter and grandchildren. Her mother’s china, crystal wine goblets, and silverware were lovingly arranged on the dining room table. Corinne continued polishing a silver fork from Mother’s rosewood silverware box and placed it next to a wine goblet.

She thought back to holidays at Mom’s house in year's past. The chandelier lights shimmered and bounced off each shining goblet and silver utensil. Mom would move a spoon a fraction of an inch and then place a chocolate kiss on each plate. “There, to show them how much they are loved.”

Corrine’s husband mumbled something unintelligible from the family room. “What are you doing in there?” Corrine called.

“I’m converting your Dad’s old 8-mm movie films to a CD. We can show the grandkids pictures from your childhood.”

Corrine returned to the kitchen and poured a glass of wine. She pulled her mother’s favorite casserole dish from the cupboard. Her thoughts turned again to memories of past holidays.

She recalled the Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners when mom and “the girls” all wore party dresses specifically chosen for the event. The tradition ended when her mother passed away.

Over the years, Corrine was now “Grandma,” and her daughter took her position in the generational family chain. Different little children bustled through the house. “Where have the years gone?”

Corrine returned to the dining room and placed the polished fork on the table. Using Mom’s silverware was a tradition that had continued for 60 years, throughout years of young motherhood and  the same silverware still appeared on every holiday dinner table. It was a constant, defying the loss of loved ones, gray hair, or climbing through the links of the family chain. One day, the silverware would grace her daughter’s holiday table; a reminder of her childhood holiday memories. Using the silverware would become part of her tradition as she created new memories for her children.

When and where had Mom gotten the silverware? It wasn’t likely to have been a wedding present, since Mom and Dad were married during the Great Depression.

Corrine stood back to admire her table setting. It looked nice. “Oh! I almost forget the chocolate kiss,” she said, adding Mom’s droplets of chocolate love on each plate. Mom would be pleased she had continued the gesture.

“Honey, come take a look at this,” Corrine’s husband called from the living room. “It’s one of your Dad’s old Christmas movies from when you were a baby.”

They sat together on the couch, watching the jumpy black and white film flicker across the bed sheet pinned to the wall. The speckles became Corrine’s mother and dad. It was Christmas Day, 1946. Cousin Dolly and Beverly hugged giant dolls and little Allan sat on the floor in front of the Christmas tree. Corrine, a three-year-old toddler, held an enormous doll. An unbelievably young mother smiled at her from the bed sheet. Corrine’s nine-year-old brother chased little cousin Allan around the room with his new BB gun, making faces at the camera. Big sister and Cousin Wilbur ripped open puzzles and books. Only one last gift remained unopened.

Dad handed a large package to Mom. She smiled, looking uncomfortable in the spotlight. The Christmas wrap fell away. She opened the beautiful rosewood box filled with shiny new silverware. Her face beamed and she mouthed a silent “thank you.”

Corinne gripped her husband’s hand. How Dad must have sacrificed to buy such an expensive gift in 1946 when jobs were scarce and times were hard.

Here was the birth of Corrine’s most precious family tradition; the beautiful rosewood box filled with William Rogers' silverware. A connection she still shared with her mother, one that she would continue to share with her daughter and her granddaughter for years to come.

The oven buzzer sounded. The turkey was done. Corrine wiped  tears from her eyes, picked up her wine goblet and hurried to the kitchen. Time was getting away and the children would soon be here!

 

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