Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Posts from Your Archives – 2022 – Christmas and New Year Special – #Shortstory Silent Night by Abbie Johnson Taylor #TuesdayTidbit #Reblogs #Inspiration

If you like to get a jump start on your holiday reading, here’s a Christmas story of mine that Sally Cronin​ posted on her blog today. You’ll also find a review of my novel, The Red Dress and more. Enjoy!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1200 Posts from Your Archiveswhere bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience…

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

This series is along the same lines and is a celebration of Christmas and New Year.

I do appreciate that this is not a religious festival for everyone but it is a time of year when families and friends come together and our thoughts turn to our hopes and wishes for the coming year. At the end of the post you can find out how to participate in this festive series.

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor kicks off this series with a short story that proves that even when the circumstances seem to be less than…

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Opening Just One Present #Tuesday Tidbit #Excerpt #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

 

 

When you were growing up, were you allowed to open just one present on Christmas Eve? The family in my new book, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, has this tradition. Below is an excerpt where they do just that. This part of the story is told from the point of view of Daryl, the father. Other characters include his wife Marti, his two daughters Natalie and Sarah, and his parents.

***

That night, as we usually did on Christmas Eve, we went to the early evening Mass, then ate a late supper of homemade oyster stew. Marti had inherited the recipe from her mother and perfected it over the years. After supper, we all gathered in the living room, where we would each open just one gift.

“I want to open the one from Natalie,” said Sarah. She searched among the packages and gift bags under the tree and soon found it.

The week before, Marti, Natalie, and I had bought the tree and decorated it, and Sarah hadn’t seemed to mind that we’d done this without her.

“Well, kitten, you might as well go first,” said Dad.

Sarah sat down between Natalie and me on the couch and tore into the present with gusto. I glanced across the room at Marti, expecting to see her grimace, since she liked to save wrapping paper. But for once, she only smiled.

Sarah must have read my mind, for she said, “Oops. I’m sorry, Mom. I promise I’ll be more careful with my other presents.”

“It’s all right, honey,” said Marti.

“What’s in there?” said Mom. “Show us.”

***

What’s in Sarah’s present? Why did she miss the tree decorating? Read the book and find out. By the way, it’s now absolutely free from Smashwords. Please see below for details.

***

Now, I have two exciting events to announce, and I hope you’ll be able to take advantage of one or both of them. First of all, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, The Red Dress, and My Ideal Partner are now absolutely free as part of the Smashwords end-of-year sale, which will run until December 31st. You can click here for more information and to download these books.

Also, I’ll be playing the piano and singing on Thursday, December 23rd, at noon mountain time at The Hub, here in Sheridan, Wyoming. If you live in my neck of the woods, you’re welcome to come and enjoy a delicious, nutritious lunch while listening to my music. If you’re unable to attend, you can view the event on Facebook, and a recording should be available later. You can click here to visit the event’s Facebook page. Again, I hope you can take advantage of these exciting events.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

A Humorous Christmas Story #FridayFunReads #BookReviews #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Note: I read this book and reviewed it here last year, but I hope you’ll agree it’s worth a second look.

 

Wishin’ and Hopin, A Novel

by Wally Lamb

Copyright 2010

 

What Amazon Says

 

Wally Lamb, the beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True, and She’s Come Undone, delivers a holiday treat with Wishin’ and Hopin’—an unforgettable novella that captures the warmth and joy of the holiday season. Poignant and hilarious, in a vein similar to Jean Shepherd’s A Christmas Story and David Sedaris’s The Santaland Diaries, Lamb’s Christmas tale focuses on a feisty parochial school fifth grader named Felix Funicello—a distant cousin of the iconic Annette!

 

My Thoughts

 

This book definitely reminds me of Gene Shepherd’s A Christmas story, which is one of my favorite movies. An eccentric French teacher, a zany Russian classmate, and a disastrous Christmas pageant create a delightful tale that made me laugh and laugh and laugh. From the beginning to the end, I found this book hard to put down. If you were a fan of The Mouseketeers way back when, and you like Gene Shepherd’s story, you’ll love Wishin’ and Hopin’.

***

I’m pleased to announce that this coming Monday, I’ll be interviewed on local radio station KROE about my new book and other topics. The program, called Public Pulse, will start at 9:10 a.m. mountain time. You can click here to listen. When you get to that page, you’ll need to scroll down to find the Play button.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

Silent Night #Fiction #TuesdayTidbit #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

I’ve posted the story here before, but if you’ve read it, I hope you’ll agree it’s worth another read. It was published in Magnets and Ladders and The Writer’s Grapevine. Below it, as a special holiday treat, you’ll find a recording of me singing the song for which the story is titled. Enjoy!

SILENT NIGHT

by Abbie Johnson Taylor

Copyright 2018

The day before Christmas, my seven-year-old daughter Hannah was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. I opted to spend CHRISTMAS Day with her. My parents, as they’d done every year since the divorce, had invited Hannah and me to their house for Christmas dinner, but I couldn’t leave my little girl alone in the hospital.

Hannah wasn’t on solid food yet, but a nurse offered to bring me a tray, perhaps realizing it would be difficult for me to navigate to the cafeteria with my limited vision. While Hannah slept, I sat by her bed and enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie. The food was surprisingly good for a hospital.

I said as much to the nurse when she came to collect my tray. “We have a chef now,” she said.  “Of course, many of our patients are too sick to appreciate it, but it’s certainly better than the fare we used to serve.”

The little girl in the other bed moaned and then started crying in earnest. I looked over and couldn’t see anyone sitting with her. “Oh, that’s Jessica,” said the nurse in a conspiratorial tone. “Poor kid, she fell out of her neighbor’s treehouse yesterday and broke her leg in three places. She’s in a body cast from her chest to her right foot.”

Hannah must have awakened for she said, “Ou, I guess I won’t complain about my tummy anymore. I’m glad I don’t have a treehouse, and I hope Santa didn’t leave me one.”

I marveled at how sensitive my daughter was. As the nurse went to Jessica and tried to comfort her, I said, “How are you feeling, sweetie?”

“I’m okay, but my tummy still hurts.”

“I thought you weren’t gonna complain about your tummy anymore,” I said, as I ruffled her hair.

Hannah giggled, then winced. “Ouch, Mommy, it hurts more when I laugh.”

“It sounds like you could use some pain medication, too,” the nurse said, as she started to leave the room.

“No, it only really hurts when I laugh,” Hannah said.

“Well, in that case, laughter’s the best medicine,” the nurse said. “I’ll be back soon.”

“How old is Jessica?” Hannah asked.

“Oh, I think she’s about your age,” answered the nurse. “I’ll be back in a bit with some medicine for her, and that’ll make her feel better.” With that, she was gone.

Jessica was still sniffling, but it wasn’t as loud as before. “Mommy, you should go sing her a song,” said Hannah. “like you did for me last night when I was really hurting. I’m not hurting as much now, and I think she’s hurting more.”

Years earlier, I’d worked as a registered music therapist. That was before Hannah was born, before I’d started losing my vision, before my world changed. My husband hadn’t wanted a child but was resigned to the idea once he learned I was pregnant. The vision loss after Hannah’s birth was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Fortunately, he paid plenty of child support. That, along with my disability payments, allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom, and once I learned to use a computer with screen reading and magnification software, I brought in a little income from freelance writing.

Now, I looked over at the little girl in the other bed. My specialty as a music therapist had been with elderly nursing home residents, not hospitalized children. I hadn’t even done a clinical practicum with that population. I remembered bed-ridden residents who smiled and relaxed when I sat by their beds, held their hands, and sang. I even performed at some of their funerals. The fact that my singing in the emergency room the night before had calmed Hannah made me think that perhaps I hadn’t lost my touch. I rose and pulled my chair next to the other bed, where I sat and took the child’s hand that lay on top of the white sheet covering her.

“Hi Jessica,” I said. “I’m Joan. My little girl Hannah is in the other bed. What’s wrong?”

“My leg really hurts,” she answered. “I’ll never play in that stupid treehouse again.”

“That’s too bad,” I said, stroking her hair. “Would you  like to sing a song with me?”

“Will that make the pain go away?” she asked.

“It’ll take your mind off of it. What’s your favorite Christmas song?”

She was quiet for a minute, then said, “I like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

“All right, let’s sing it together, shall we?”

I started, and soon, she joined in, followed by Hannah. When we finished that song, Jessica suggested “Jingle Bells,” then “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The nurse appeared and said, “What lovely singing. Jessica, I have some medicine that will make you feel better. I’m going to put it in your IV now.”

As she started to do this, I said, “Why don’t we sing one more song?”

“I want to hear you sing something by yourself,” said Jessica. “You have a pretty voice, and so did my mommy. She used to sing to me at night before I went to sleep.” A wistful look crossed her face.

“Why doesn’t she sing to you anymore?” I asked.

“She was killed in a car accident a few months ago,” she answered. A tear rolled down her cheek.

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry,” I said, as I stroked her hair. Tears welled in my own eyes.

Holding them back, I said, “What song did your mom like to sing to you this time of year?”

“‘Silent Night,'” she answered.

“Yeah, sing that one, Mom,” said Hannah.

I took a deep breath and began. To my surprise, the nurse joined in, singing alto. Our two voices blending together in harmony was almost too much, but I managed to continue.

As we started the second verse, I sensed a presence at my side and turned to see a man standing there. “Daddy!” Jessica said, her eyes wide with delight.

“Hey princess,” he said, reaching over me and ruffling her hair. Then he said, “oh, don’t stop singing on my account. It’s beautiful.”

His voice broke, and it was all I could do to keep from losing it. We started the song where we’d left off and finished the second verse. To break the spell, I turned to the nurse and said, “You and I need to talk. I sing in a women’s group that could use an extra voice.”

“Wow, that sounds interesting,” she said. “You also have a nice voice. I need to see to other patients, but I’ll come back later after my shift, and you can tell me more about it.” She turned and started to leave the room.

Jessica’s father put a hand on my shoulder and said, “You and I also need to talk. It’s only been two months since I lost my wife, and I never dreamed I’d say this to another woman, but could I buy you a cup of coffee, maybe in the cafeteria?”

From the doorway, the nurse said, “Our coffee here isn’t as good as the food. Why don’t you two go across the street to Starbuck’s?”

We hesitated. “Your kids will be fine,” she said. “They’re both out of the woods. I have your cell numbers in their charts. If anything drastic happens, I’ll call you. Joan, you’ve been here all day. You need a break. Go!” With that, she was gone.

I looked at this stranger, not knowing what to think. Finally, I said, “I’ve been divorced for about six years. I’m losing my vision, and I never imagined another man would ask me out for coffee.”

I expected him to back away, but instead, he said, “Any man not interested in you is a fool. You’re a beautiful woman. You’re good with kids, and you have a lovely voice.”

Flabbergasted, I said, “You just got here. Don’t you want to spend some time with Jessica?”

Jessica said, “I’m okay.  My leg doesn’t hurt so much now that the nurse gave me some medicine in my IV. Daddy, Joan could make you happy like Mommy did.”

“Yeah,” said Hannah. “Mom, I think this guy could make you happy like Daddy did.”

Jessica’s father laughed and said, “I think these two, along with that nurse, are trying to play matchmaker.” He extended his hand. “By the way, I’m Don Gray.”

“Joan Clark,” I said, taking his hand and shaking it.

Still uncertain, I turned to Hannah and said, “Honey, don’t you remember what I’ve told you about not going off with a stranger?”

“Yeah, but he’s not a stranger. He’s Jessica’s dad.”

“She’s got a point,” said Don.

“My dad told me not to go off with a stranger too,” said Jessica. “but he’s okay. He’s been really sad since Mom died.”

I could feel my heart melting as more tears threatened. “Jessica and I could sing another song,” said Hannah. “How about 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall?”

“Yeah,” said Jessica. She started the song, and Hannah joined in. Laughing, we both made our way out the door.

“Do you need to take my arm?” Don asked.

“Yes, please,” I answered, realizing I’d left my cane in the room. As I grasped his muscular arm and walked with him down the hall, I had a good feeling about this.

 

***

Silent Night

***

You know, Hannah isn’t my only character with appendicitis. In my latest novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, a ten-year-old suffers the same fate. Want to know more? See below for details, and read the book.

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website

 

 

News from My Corner December 2021 #Newsletters #TuesdayTidbit #Inspiration

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

 

 

Dear Family and Friends,

 

In the past few years, I’ve asked my virtual assistants to write my holiday letters for me. But, as I’m sure you remember, they can be a bit biased. Last year, when all three of them, Siri, Google, and Alexa, chimed in, it almost got deadly. So, from now on, I’m taking my brother’s sage advice. If you want something done right, do it yourself.

That having been said, I’m trying something new. Fellow author and blogger Lynda Lambert composes a newsletter that she sends and posts on her blog twice a year. So, I’m going to see if this will work for me. It may not, but I always say you never know until you try.
As I’m writing this on the day after Thanksgiving, there’s no snow on the ground, only leaves. Although it’s cloudy and cold, there’s nothing to indicate that winter and Christmas are on the way.

Although I’m glad not to have to deal with winter weather, it would be nice to have a little snow tonight for Sheridan’s annual Christmas stroll, where my singing group, Just Harmony, will perform. We’ll be singing indoors at a local thrift store, and a little of the white stuff on the ground would surely put people in a holiday shopping mood. Meanwhile, I’ve asked Alexa to play the holiday standards station from Tune-In Radio, and that seems to be putting me in the holiday letter-writing mood.

Thanks to COVID, I haven’t done much traveling this past year. I’d love to fly to Florida and spend Christmas with my brother and his family, but although I’m fully vaccinated, I’m concerned about picking up the virus in an airport or on a plane and passing it on to someone more vulnerable. Now that another variant of the virus has been reported in South Africa and other locations, I know I made the right decision to stay home.

Although I miss my family and love being with them, it’s not worth it if I’m risking making someone sick. I’ll probably eat Christmas dinner at the senior center. I had a nice Thanksgiving meal there yesterday.

Last April, I attended the WyoPoets annual workshop in Gillette, about a hundred miles south and east of Sheridan. I had submitted a poem for critique, and to my surprise and delight, the presenter read my poem during the workshop and offered her comments. Sadly, most of the day was spent reading and discussing other poems, including mine. I would have liked to  have done more writing during the workshop. But it was still fun reconnecting with other poets I hadn’t seen in over a year.

In June, I attended the National Federation of State Poetry Societies virtual conference, which featured workshops, open mic readings, and other activities. I wrote a couple more poems as a result of those workshops.

In July, my brother and his wife came and stayed for a few days. They’d been traveling across the country, visiting friends and relatives, and Sheridan was their last stop before they headed home to Florida. While they were here, we attended the rodeo parade and my class reunion and gathered with other family members for a celebration of life for an uncle who had passed away the previous winter. We had a wonderful time, and I’m hoping to get down to Florida to see them sometime next year.

All throughout the spring and summer, I was working on my new novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me. It was finally released the first week in October. Unfortunately, not realizing how soon it would be published, I signed up for a virtual memoir writing class that started at the end of September and ran until the first of November. So, between that and my blog and other obligations, I had little time to promote the book until this month. As for the memoir writing class, I now have a few more creative nonfiction pieces I can submit for publication later.

Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me is a novel about a grandmother with dementia who lives in a nursing home and tells her teenaged granddaughter a secret. The girl, not knowing what else to do, tells her parents she knows this secret. In the course of the book, which starts Halloween and ends at Christmas, the family is dealing with the situation. You can read a synopsis, reviews, and find ordering links on my website at:  https://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com I’ll be signing copies of the book at Sheridan Stationery Books and Gifts on September 4th from one to three p.m. and have scheduled a radio interview on station KROE AM on December 20th at 9:10 a.m.

Last year, senior facilities where I’d been entertaining, that had been on lock-down due to the coronavirus pandemic, started opening up. I now do two gigs a month, one at a nursing home and the other at an assisted living facility. Our local senior center does lunchtime livestreams now in their dining room. I’ll be performing for one of those on December 23rd, and the event will be broadcast live on Facebook. I recently started participating in karaoke online through Zoom and in person at a local bar and grill.

Just Harmony has also started performing again. In September, we sang for a state Red Hats convention. Besides our performance during tonight’s Christmas stroll, we’ll be singing at a Mormon church service, an assisted living facility, a historical museum’s holiday open house, and for a local women’s club’s Christmas party.

I leave you now with a poem I wrote several years ago and revised recently for one of my writers’ critique groups.

 

 

 

 

 

MOTHER’S COOKING

 

 

 

I loved Mother’s meatloaf, steak San Marco, calico beans.

During meals, she often said,

“It’s too dry, too salty,

needs more pepper, should have been cooked longer.”

 

When I was an adult, she mashed potatoes for the first time:

boiled, peeled, sliced them,

added milk and butter, then attacked them with an electric mixer.

They turned out chunky but still tasted good.

 

On Christmas Day, with family and friends gathered at the table,

she berated herself for allowing

bits of potato to evade the whirring beaters.

I said I liked the potatoes, asked for a second helping.

As she scooped another delicious mound on my plate, she said,

“Well, you’re used to college cafeteria food.”

 

 

I hope your holiday season is as memorable as the year my mother made mashed potatoes for the first time, and I wish you all the best in the coming year.

 

With Love and Friendship,

Abbie

 

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

Front cover image contains: elderly woman in red sweater sitting next to a window.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

Books

My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Website