Review: The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season

Abbie-1The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Copyright 2016.

 

This collection of short fiction, poetry, and essays spans from Thanksgiving through New Year’s and beyond. In “The Thanksgiving Phone,” a blind woman finds a cell phone belonging to another woman whose son is in the military, serving overseas. In the title piece, a widow gets her long-awaited Christmas wish and more.

In “The Puppies of New Year’s Eve,” a dog breeder and a woman who buys two of his puppies discover they have a lot in common on a stormy New Year’s Eve. The author’s essays and poetry explore her holiday experiences while growing up in the 1950’s and 1960’s, adventures with her guide dog, and other topics. Instructions for playing a Thanksgiving poetry game and making Christmas cards are included.

I met Alice several years ago when she joined Behind Our Eyes, a writers’ group to which I belong. She’s a delightful lady who has inspired my own writing and helped and supported me and other writers.

Most of the material in her book has appeared on her blog over the years, but I enjoyed reading it again. For a second time, I was indignant after reading accounts of people in Catholic churches refusing to shake hands with homeless men during Mass and of one woman who told a homeless man he didn’t belong there. Again, I was moved almost to tears when a soldier serving overseas was reunited with his family at Thanksgiving. Many pieces in this book are appropriate for all ages, so I suggest families make it an annual tradition to read at least one of the stories together during this time of the year.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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A Thanksgiving Day Memory

Abbie-1

When I was growing up, the holiday usually began early at our house. Mother was up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven. It roasted all day until mid-afternoon when we sat down to eat. One year while we were living in Tucson, Arizona, my uncle, aunt, cousins, and grandparents from Denver, Colorado, were expected. Uncle Jack, Aunt Sharon, and their daughter Kelly drove down from Denver because Aunt Sharon was afraid of flying. Granddad had his own plane, and he and Grammy flew down with Kelly’s brother Bill, who was about two, the same age as my younger brother Andy.

Kelly and I were both eight years old. Uncle Jack, Aunt Sharon, and Kelly arrived first thing Thanksgiving morning, before Mother had even gotten out of bed to fix the turkey. Grammy, Granddad, and Bill were due to arrive later that day. Meanwhile, Kelly and I did the Hokey Pokey umpteen million times and swung in the front porch swing while anticipating their arrival.

Because of mechanical difficulty with Granddad’s plane, they were forced to land in Phoenix and drive the rest of the way in a rented car. Thus they arrived later than expected. When they did, Mother and Aunt Sharon made us change into nicer clothes, and we all sat down to the Thanksgiving meal. Grace was said, and Dad carved the turkey.

After eating, Kelly and I played in my room while the men collapsed in front of a football game on television, the women cleaned up, and Andy and Bill ran around the house screaming and occasionally crying. It was a mad house until about eight o’clock when the little ones were put down for the night. All too soon, it was time for us to go to bed as well, and we were soon asleep.

Our family had many other happy Thanksgivings in Arizona and Wyoming with many other relatives. Now, here in Sheridan, with my parents and grandparents gone, my brother in Florida, and uncles, aunts, and cousins scattered across the country, I partake of my Thanksgiving meal at the local senior center, then come home and collapse in my recliner with a good book, sometimes doze, and often reflect on holidays when I was younger.

What do you remember about Thanksgiving Day when you were growing up? I now leave you with a song synonymous with the holiday. Have a great one.

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 Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Over the Bridge and Along the Creek

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Here’s a little ditty I wrote recently. Years ago when my grandmother was alive, I enjoyed walking to her house, even as an adult. Now, our town boasts a series of connected cement walkways that would have provided a scenic route from my house to hers if she were still alive. The following is set to a familiar tune we associate with Thanksgiving. To hear me sing it while accompanying myself on piano, go to https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/over%20bridge%20along%20creek.mp3 . Happy Thanksgiving!

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OVER THE BRIDGE AND A LONG THE CREEK

Over the bridge and along the creek to Grandma’s house I go.

My cane knows the way. I will not stray as through the leaves I go.

Over the bridge and along the creek, now Grandma’s house I spy.

Hurray for the turkey, stuffing, and yams and Grandma’s apple pie.

Over the bridge and along the creek to Grandma’s house I go.

My dog knows the way so “Forward,” I say as along the path we go.

Over the bridge and along the creek, now Grandma’s house we spy.

I must insure my trusty guide does not eat Grandma’s pie. Ruff ruff.

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

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Holiday Review: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich. Copyright 2006.

 

In Williamsburg, Virginia, when Megan, a potter, and Pat a pediatrician, meet unexpectedly, it’s love at first sight. However, after one botched engagement and a second man leaving her at the altar, Megan is determined never to marry. Pat develops cold feet when he realizes the financial difficulty involved in supporting a family. Add a rabbit, a baby, Thanksgiving dinner with two families who barely know each other, the former boyfriend who left Megan at the altar, and a pregnant horse, and you have an intriguing story with a predictable end.

I used to enjoy romances like this one. Now, I may have outgrown love at first sight, orgasm over bread, and the long, agonizing scenario of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. I downloaded this book from Audible, and C.J. Critt, the narrator, does an excellent job giving each character a distinct voice. I especially liked her portrayal of the former boyfriend, and one of my favorite scenes is when he’s playing darts with Pat in a bar, and Pat throws a dart that hits him right where it counts. This audiobook is only about five hours long, but it seems like an eternity until the resolution. The humor interjected in the story helps. I recommend this book to anyone who likes romance, babies, animals, and a funny holiday story. To learn more about Janet Evanovich and her books go to http://www.evanovich.com/ .

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Vote for my new book idea.

Holiday Hardship

Thanksgiving is almost here. In past years, I’ve lost my mother, two grandmothers, my husband, and my father. Although I try to keep a joyful attitude during this time, the following poem from That’s Life illustrates how difficult the holidays can be for those who have lost loved ones.

HOLIDAY HARDSHIP

Thanksgiving is coming.

Already, a friend far away

asks if I have plans.

I’ll spend Christmas

in the tropics with my brother,

but Thanksgiving’s up in the air

with no husband, father, mother.

Other relatives have plans.

 

At least I don’t have to clean the house,

shop, prepare food for twelve people,

pick up after everyone,

deal with leftovers

while men watch football,

women fail to be helpful,

children run around,

scream, argue, cry.

It’s not the same.

If you’ve lost loved ones, how do you celebrate the holidays?

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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