Posted in 1970s, Adicia, holidays, Justine, Writing

Six Sentence Sunday—Savoring the Christmas Tree

This week’s snippet for Six Sentence Sunday comes near the end of Chapter 56 of Little Ragdoll, “Finally a Real Thanksgiving and Christmas.” Adicia has never had a real Christmas tree before and is loath to take it down, but Justine feels they should leave it up till after Orthodox Christmas, to milk it for all it’s worth. The trees they had growing up were salvaged from the garbage dump after the Western Christmas, since they were too poor to afford a proper tree for the Christmas they actually celebrated.

***

While Mr. and Mrs. Troy always put up their Christmas tree after the Western Christmas and took it down after the Orthodox Christmas, Adicia is starting to think about taking hers down on the Orthodox Christmas, which falls on the first Saturday of 1973.  She’s standing admiring the lights, colored bulbs, pinecones, birds’ nests, strings of popcorn and cranberries, tinsel, and holiday-themed ornaments and wishing she could leave the tree up forever when she hears the letter carrier putting the mail in the slot.

“Are you gonna get the mail or should I?” Justine asks. “I think it’s okay if we leave the tree up for one more week.  I don’t wanna rush taking it down immediately after the last part of the holiday season passes.  Let’s savor it for just a little while more.”

Posted in 1970s, Couples, David (Boy), holidays, Justine, Writing

Six Sentence Sunday—Priceless Christmas Gift

This week’s sampling for Six Sentence Sunday comes from Chapter 10, “Christmas Couplehood,” of my hiatused contemporary historical WIP Justine Grown Up. Justine was the baby sister in Little Ragdoll, but now she’s a college girl and has finally scored her longtime dream man, family friend David Ryan. The winter break from college is a bit burdensome for the new couple, since David’s sisters live with the sisters Justine lives with, all of whom are suddenly being very catty and overprotective of 20-year-old Justine. Particularly since David is five years older.

For Christmas 1979, he’s gotten her a bunch of presents, including pajamas, an aquamarine necklace, and monkey slippers. Now comes the most special present of all, a personal note in her stocking, addressed to his cuisle mo chroí, pulse of my heart, as he calls her in Irish.

Though I’ve written exclusively in third-person omniscient for about 20 years now, I love the chance to write a first-person interlude like this.

***

Please accept my humble Xmas gifts as tokens of the deep feelings I have for you.  Every day I like you more than the day before.  Growing up, you were so much younger than me, and I never dreamt one day I’d think about you in that way.  Color me surprised you were thinking of me like that long before I even considered you a date possibility.

Will you please make me even happier by doing me the honor of being my official girlfriend and being exclusive with me?  I can’t imagine ever liking any girl as much as I like you.

Posted in 1940s, Atlantic City books, Contests, holidays, Max, Photography, Writing

Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop

My Déjà Vu post, celebrating antique cars, is here.
Holiday Gifts

The Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop starts today and runs through the 17th (the day before my English birthday). There are over 200 chances to win all types of prizes, just by commenting on each entry with your e-mail address. I’ve been a fabric artist for about 25 years now (since I was about 8 years old), so I’d like to offer an embroidered bookmark. For full rules and grand prizes, and to see the list of participants, just click on the above image. (WordPress doesn’t allow Javascript.)

I was born on the 5th night of Chanukah, and I’m a big fan of the modern, abstract schools of art. I also love photography. Every year since I’ve gotten into photography, I’ve taken lots of pictures of my Chanukah candles—from different angles, with different lighting, with stuff in the background, with wax dripping and melting, candles melting together, flames joining, you name it. I probably have over 100 photographs of my candles over the years! I don’t even clean my chanukiyah anymore, since the multicolored wax that’s melted together is like a work of beautiful abstract art.

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This is one of my favorite stories taking place during the holidays. It’s late 1943, and Elaine Seward has been secretly having an affair with her bitchy maid Marianne’s much-younger fiancé Roger Wilkes, who’s just using Marianne to get close to the Seward wealth. He and Elaine initially only are interested in one another for sex, but gradually start falling in love. If Marianne should ever find out her teenage fiancé is involved with Elaine, things won’t end well for anyone.

***

Elaine slid her hands onto his back. “I think you need to put me on your naughty list, Santa.  I’ve done bad things lately, like getting sexually involved with my maid’s fiancé.”

“Elaine, are you insane!  What if Marianne comes by!  She knows I’m here already!”

“I’m going to be your elf assistant, Marathon Man,” she growled in a deep sexy voice. “And now you can take a break and excuse yourself to talk to me about how I can remedy my position of being on the naughty list.”

“Where did Santa go?” a little boy whined.

A huge line had formed by the North Pole scene by the time one of the elves came over to see what the hell was going on.

“Santa disappeared with some girl!” the little boy announced crossly. “That girl was too old to sit on Santa’s lap!”

The elf looked into the room where the North Pole props were kept and to his utmost horror saw clothes and the Santa suit strewn everywhere.  Roger and Elaine were having sex in a sleigh.

“You are fired, Wilkes!”

“I’m in the middle of screwing Marathon Man, midget!  How dare you interrupt us!”

“You’re jealous because a midget just can’t get any,” Roger chimed in.

“As soon as you’ve finished up, turn in your Santa suit and collect the pathetic two dollars you’ve earned during all of the five hours you’ve been working here.”

***

Roger later gets his Santa job back by lying to the manager that the elf made up this story because he was jealous of him for his height and good looks. Not only that, but Elaine gets a job as his assistant. The elf is not very happy, particularly since the manager and all his co-workers now think he’s crazy!

Posted in 1970s, Adicia, Baby/Fiona, Ernestine, Girl/Deirdre, holidays, Music, Writing

Christmas Eve 1972

Sweet Saturday Samples won’t be running again till 12 January, but I’m going ahead and posting the excerpt I’d planned for this weekend anyway. I selected it in honor of John Lennon’s Jahrzeit (death anniversary), due to the mention of his music. I’m going back to Little Ragdoll (Adicia’s story), Chapter 56, “Finally a Real Thanksgiving and Christmas,” as the younger Troy sisters and the Ryan siblings are making a gingerbread house and other Christmas goodies on Christmas Eve 1972.

***

“Can we have some music while we’re baking?” Aoife asks. “Anything but that godawful nonstop Christmas music on the radio.  You’d think the normal person woulda gone nuts and thrown the radio out the window ages ago.”

“They do go overboard,” Fiona says. “I like a lot of the Christmas songs, but not after I’ve heard ‘em fifty times in a week.  There’s only a couple of ‘em I don’t immediately turn the dial on.”

“Sure, I brought somea my records along,” Deirdre says.

“Just don’t play that one record you play all the time, the one you liked so much you put the lyrics up all over the walls,” Aoife says.

“You mean John’s Plastic Ono Band?  What’s wrong with it?  It’s a very honest record.”

“There’s too much screaming on it.  Why is he so mad in those songs?”

“It’s part of Primal Scream therapy.  I’d recommend it to you too, Adicia.  It helps you purge out lingering pain and resentment left over from a crummy childhood, gets it all outta your system and heals you.  I think my favorite song on that record is ‘I Found Out.’  He so gives the finger to everyone on that song!”

“So how does it work?” Adicia asks. “Do you go to a shrink and he tells you what to do?”

“You can do it on your own too, I suppose.  Just start screaming out all your pain, anger, and frustration.  Better to get it out peacefully through screaming than beating someone up or getting in verbal fights, right?”

“Please, not now!” Ernestine begs. “Christmas Eve isn’t the time or place for Primal Scream therapy!”

“Allen and Lenore might think something bad’s going on if they hear Adicia screaming like that,” Fiona agrees.

“And it’s probably not good for the baby if it hears loud scary noises like that,” Aoife says.

“Maybe you’re right,” Deirdre admits. “We’ll just play folk music.”

“No Dylan, please,” Adicia begs as Deirdre starts upstairs for her records. “I respect his talent and message, but his voice still isn’t my cup of tea, and I don’t think he’s the best soundtrack for Christmas baking.”

True to her word, Deirdre only brings down folk rock albums and her handful of classical records Ernestine picked up from the free bin at their old favorite record store in Greenwich Village.  While Justine roasts chestnuts with Aoife, and the other girls are baking cookies, bûche de Noël, jellyrolls, brownies, chocolate toffee bars, and peanut brittle, the soft sounds of Deirdre’s beloved people’s music waft through the house.  David steps into the kitchen from time to time to help with baking, but otherwise occupies himself with reading the latest issues of The People’s Weekly World and grumbling about the state of the world.

“I always liked this song,” Adicia says of “Seven o’Clock News/Silent Night” as they’re finally cleaning up and putting away the baked goods at the end of the night, before heading off to sleep. “When was this record made again?”

“The fall of ’66,” Ernestine says. “This album’s always been onea my favorites too.”

“Isn’t it a crying pity it’s just as eerily pertinent at the end of 1972 as it was back in ’66?” Deirdre asks as she dumps some dirty dishes in the sink. “Only difference is that now Nixon’s heading into his second term in office, and back then he was only a former vice president.”

“Peace will finally come when enough people decide they want peace more than war, and that they love life more than death,” Fiona says.

As Adicia heads off to bed with Justine, her greatest hope for the coming year is that the beautiful, peaceful message of “Silent Night” will very soon overwhelm the ugly, painful, hateful messages on the nightly 7:00 news.  It seems like a faraway dream, but she once thought having all the decent members of her family back together again and escaping from the black hole they grew up in was just an idle daydream too.  When enough people want something, they find a way to make it happen, even if it sometimes takes longer than anyone had anticipated.

Posted in 1970s, Adicia, holidays, Writing

Six Sentence Sunday—First Real Christmas

If you’re here for the Baby Faces Blogfest, please scroll down!

This week’s Six Sentence Sunday comes from Chapter 56 of Little Ragdoll, “Finally a Real Thanksgiving and Christmas.” It’s Christmas Eve 1972, and Adicia is finally about to celebrate her first real Christmas. At the end of Part II, in 1962, she and her sisters were about to have their first real Christmas, but their black-hearted mother ruined the holiday and took them away from their brother Allen before he could get legal custody of them.

The holiday is also a bit of a chance to think about things other than Operation Linebacker II, a brutal bombing campaign that took place late in the Vietnam War and involved the Air Force, which Adicia’s husband Ricky was drafted into.

***

Though Operation Linebacker II is still raging, Adicia has tried to put her mind on happier things now that Ernestine and the Ryans have come back up for Christmas Eve.  She knows normal eighteen-year-olds are usually long past a childlike appreciation of Christmas, but she’s unashamedly seeing and doing everything through the eyes of a child.  After never having put up a tree, hung up stockings, baked Christmas goodies, sat before a roaring fireplace, roasted chestnuts, or woken up early in the morning to an army of presents underneath a tree, she’s ecstatic beyond words to finally get to do all this.

She feels the same sense of joy and wonder she felt back in 1962, when she thought she was going to celebrate her first real Christmas, and when she, Sarah, and her sisters used to make the big walk to Midtown to gaze at the beautiful toys, decorations, and displays in the shop windows on 5th Avenue, followed by visiting the immense tree in Rockefeller Center.  Adicia knows this is what the spirit of Christmas is supposed to be all about, sort of like what the myth of Santa represents, if she had ever believed in Santa.  One need not believe in Santa to feel joy, peace, and wonder at this time of year, she thinks.