WeWriWa—Special Christmas present

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This scene comes right after last week’s, on Christmas 1939, as young Cinnimin Filliard starts opening her presents. Her overly indulgent father has bought her an extremely special, grownup gift meant to last her for several more years to come.

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Cinni went right for her plumply-stuffed stocking and shook out the contents.  Just as she’d requested, she’d gotten lots of candy, oranges, a red yo-yo, money, a few Chinese puzzles, and upscale costume jewelry.

“Care to open this?” Mr. Filliard set a long blue parcel in her lap.

Cinni peeled back the wrapping paper and beheld a box stamped with the logo for Elzinga Furs, a store she often window-shopped at in van Meter Plaza.  When she pulled off the lid and layer of white tissue paper, her eyes filled with the sight of a leopard fur coat.

“My first real fur!  Is this really all mine, to wear till it doesn’t fit me anymore?”

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Vintage leopard fur from a 1946 Seventeen magazine, close enough to 1939 to have a similar style

Mr. Filliard made sure to get the coat in a somewhat larger size, so it’ll keep his pet child warm in the winter for as long as possible, and with enough extra material to grow into. He’s enclosed a special letter, reflecting on how much she’s growing up and inviting her to the New York World’s Fair for her birthday in August. Though Cinni knows her father’s heart was weakened by rheumatic fever in 1937, she’s in such denial about his declining health, she doesn’t realize that trip to New York is meant as a goodbye present, and that the fur coat has to be bigger than her actual size because her father won’t be there to upgrade her coat every year.

The original reason for Mr. Filliard’s declining health and eventual 1940 death was some totally ridiculous, made-up disease only a preteen with an overactive imagination could think up. When I began my radical rewrites and restructurings of these four prequel books in 2011, I started looking for a similar but real disease which could kill the victim slowly. Pretty quickly, I hit upon rheumatic fever, which was responsible for legendary comedian Lou Costello’s premature death of a weakened heart.

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Tomorrow’s post will celebrate the 120th anniversary of the first public showing of movies to a paying audience. There are obviously a number of films which were made before 1895, but the difference is that they were more experimental and not meant for public consumption.

P.S.: Happy 30th anniversary to Simon and Yasmin LeBon! They’re one of my favorite famous couples, not just because they’ve been married so long and aged so well, but because they’re proof real soulmates find their way back to one another even if they’ve been apart. They initially broke up because Yasmin didn’t want to have premarital sex, but it was obviously meant to be if they got back together.

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20 comments on “WeWriWa—Special Christmas present

  1. Kim Magennis says:

    Excellent snippet! We did miss a lot of the subtle stuff when we were young. I love the name!

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    • Carrie-Anne says:

      Thanks! The name Cinnimin started out as my own childish misspelling, but even after learning the standard spelling, I wanted to keep it. Cinnimin just looks softer and prettier, with a more intuitive pronunciation than Cinnamon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my, I didn’t realize how sad Cinni’s life was. But this scene is a happy one. 🙂

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    • Carrie-Anne says:

      Cinni sometimes wonders if she’s cursed or unlucky, since she was born on the anniversary of Rudy Valentino’s death and her quasi-namesake died so young and tragically. Her middle name would’ve been Rudolph had she been a boy, and her aunt Lucinda gave her the middle name Rebecca because it also starts with an R and has seven letters. Later on, in adulthood, Cinni’s emotional fortitude is put to the test yet again when her husband Levon is away in Vietnam, and is then held hostage by an evil general who unsuccessfully tries to pretend to Cinni that Levon was killed in action near the end of the war.

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  3. Nice snippet–love the description of the stocking and presents.

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  4. Perfect snippet for Christmastime! Very sweet and poignant.

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  5. shanjeniah says:

    I keep thinking of the poor leopards who once owned those furs…and yet, the coat is lovely. I have a character whose family owns a furrier shop; Cinni’s coat is inspirational to me.

    How sad and sweet, the way her father is preparing her for his death. How fortunate that she doesn’t yet realize it…

    My maternal great-grandmother, whom I never met, had scarlet fever as a child, and died in her 40s. Since she and her husband raised my mother from birth, her death had a huge impact on my family history and my reality…life was never as good for my mother after she was sent to live with the mother who hadn’t wanted her to begin with.

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    • Carrie-Anne says:

      I love my rabbit fur hat and wouldn’t be averse to owning a genuine vintage (pre-1950 or so) fur coat, though I’d never go out and buy one made in the modern era. My one nod to my modern views re: fur in my historicals is that most of my characters are kind of squicked out by the stoles, coats, and muffs that leave on the face and paws. My sweet Tatyana, in my Russian historicals, refuses to wear such a stole gifted to her by her blood father, and happily gives it to the repo men during his umpteenth fall from grace.

      Cinni and her three older siblings are left to be raised by their mother and young maternal aunt Lucinda. Their cousin Elmira, Lucinda’s daughter, is also raised in the household, and herself becomes a half-orphan after her mentally unbalanced father dies at Pearl Harbor. Cinni and her mother frequently push one another’s buttons, as do Cinni and Lucinda, but they manage to establish a fairly good relationship eventually. They have much different personalities, but ultimately Cinni’s mother loves her youngest child more than she disapproves of her mischievous antics, dislike of Christianity, and relationship with an Armenian boy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • shanjeniah says:

        I’m with them on the faces and paws and tails, for sure! I’m way too empathetic, and far too much an animal lover, to be remotely OK with those! I’d be with Tatyana all the way on this one!

        I’m glad Cinni has a support system. And pushing buttons can be inevitable when people of differing natures love one another and live together.

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  6. Ed Hoornaert says:

    Another lovely snippet, full of happiness and bittersweet foreboding.

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  7. A lovely little snippet but with the bittersweet tang of foreshadowing the future re her father. I’d never buy a fur myself, not nowadays, but in the era you’re writing about, it’s quite a gift to receive. Excellent details as always!

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  8. I thought pretty much what Veronica said. I feel for her in what’s coming.

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  9. Oh, the things we miss as children. But no one really wants to think of their parents dying, especially when they’re young.

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  10. Jenna Jaxon says:

    I’m so glad she doesn’t realize now, so she can be completely happy at Christmas. The sadness will come soon enough. Lovely snippet.

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  11. Alexis Duran says:

    This is a very vivid scene and the sense that this childish happiness can’t last creates subtle tension. Nice snippet!

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  12. So bittersweet… Nicely done.

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  13. A very sweet snippet. Thank you.

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  14. That’s sounds like a very good Christmas. I hope it’s not because it’s supposed to be the last.

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  15. P.T. Wyant says:

    I love the description of the contents of the stocking. How old is Cinni? The yo-yo makes me think she’s young but the fur coat makes me think she’s an early teen at least.

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    • Carrie-Anne says:

      Her age is deliberately ambiguous until the third prequel book, something I did during my radical rewrites and restructurings of these first four books. At most, the reader knows she and her friends are under the age of twelve, and that when the story begins in 1938, Cinni’s Catholic friend Laura is old enough to have had her First Communion. Since my Atlantic City books are part spoof and satire on modern-day society and young people who think they’re so grown-up already, these characters have always been deliberately written as about five years older than they actually are. It’s part of the secret society of sorts in their fictional neighborhood, and a frequent point of shock and horror with visitors who can’t believe how young people act and what passes for normal there. I felt as though providing their true age immediately would distract readers, and so saved it to reveal until a reader would be used to how they act and (mostly) look a little bit older.

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