Thursday Book Feature: A Christmas Embrace

I know it’s a little late, but maybe you can put this on your reading list for next year.

A Christmas Embrace

By Ellen T. Marsh

Copyright 1994

In California, Alex and Rose have been married for almost ten years. He is an accountant, and she is a veterinarian. Their careers have kept them busy over the years, and as a result, Rose feels they’re drifting apart. In an attempt to save their marriage, she books a surprise weekend for them both in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Meanwhile, Alex, by a stroke of luck, ends up with a pair of tickets to a football game in San Diego and a weekend’s stay at a posh hotel there. He plans to surprise Rose with this, but when she reveals her surprise first, although he’s angry, he reluctantly agrees to accompany her. After landing in Baltimore, Maryland, during a snowstorm, Alex and Rose get more than they bargained for.

When I read this book, I was depressed because my Internet was down, and a technician wasn’t scheduled to repair my service until the day after Christmas. I soon realized that there are worse things than being without Internet. Although I knew that all along, I needed to be reminded of the important things in life: food, clothing, and shelter. These I had. I’m also thankful that my own marriage with Bill, though short, was never strained, despite the fact that I had to care for him during the last six years of his life. This feel-good book helped me escape from my woes and retrieve my attitude of gratitude.

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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.

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My Favorite Family Holiday Vacation

In 1970 when I was nine, and my younger brother Andy was two, we were living in Tucson, Arizona. At Christmas that year, it was decided that Mother, Andy, and I would spend the holiday in Denver with Mother’s relatives while Dad visited his family in Sheridan, Wyoming. I assume this is because my parents couldn’t agree on one place to spend Christmas. Looking back, I can’t imagine why we couldn’t have seen both sets of relations, since Sheridan is only about an eight-hour drive from Denver, compared to the mileage between Denver and Tucson.

This was my first Christmas away from home, and I was worried about Santa finding us, but Mother assured me that he would come to Denver. I don’t remember how Dad got to and from Sheridan, but Mother, Andy, and I flew to and from Denver. Grammy and Granddad, as we affectionately called my mother’s parents, had recently moved into a new house they’d built on a hillside. It was a split-level home, and I found it fascinating.

From the garage, a set of stairs led to a door which opened onto a hallway. On the left was a bathroom and on the right was Granddad’s study. Straight ahead was a large family room containing a couch, several chairs, a TV, and a piano. A sliding door led to a patio beyond.

To the left, another set of stairs led to an expansive living and dining area and kitchen. More stairs led to yet another level containing three bedrooms and a bathroom. The master bedroom, where Grandad slept, had its own bathroom. The room where we slept had a set of double decker beds plus a crib for Andy. Mother and I utilized the bunks with me on the bottom and her on the top. After living in single-level homes in Tucson for years, despite my limited vision, I loved this house with all its stairs.

My mother’s brother Jack, his wife Sharon, and their children, Kelly and Bill, also lived in Denver. Kelly was my age, and Bill was Andy’s, so we always enjoyed playing together. We spent Christmas Eve at their house, then returned to Grammy and Granddad’s house and went to bed. In the middle of the night, I woke up and realized we’d forgotten to hang our stockings. Where would Santa put our gifts? I roused Mother by banging on the top bunk above me, and she sleepily assured me that Grammy and Granddad had taken care of that. I eventually went back to sleep.

Sure enough, in the morning, it was apparent that Santa had indeed found us, as evidenced by the full stockings in the family room. There was no fireplace, no chimney, so how Santa got in will always be a mystery. My most memorable gifts that year were a set of large print multiplication flash cards and an alarm clock with “Wake up, Abbie” printed on the front. Andy got an inflatable dummy you could use as a punching bag. I think it was called Socko.

Mother had other relatives in Denver, mostly uncles and aunts, who came for Christmas dinner, along with Uncle Jack and his family. Kelly showed me a similar alarm clock she’d received with “Wake up, Kelly” printed on its front.

After about a week in Denver, we returned to Tucson where we found more presents from Santa waiting: a bicycle for me and a little red wagon for Andy. A few days later, Dad returned from Sheridan and brought me an eight—track player. I’m pretty sure he brought something for Andy but don’t remember what that was.

We visited Grammy and Granddad’s house many times over the years as children and adults. After my grandparents passed, Uncle Jack lived there until his death. Now, someone else is lucky to have this wonderful home.

What was your most memorable family holiday vacation? Please share it, either on your own blog with a link to it here or in the comment field below. By now, Christmas has come and gone, and I hope this holiday was filled with memories for you.

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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.

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News from Abbie’s Corner August 2016

Can you believe that August is already here? Summer’s almost over, but you wouldn’t know it with the heat wave that has been ravaging the country. I recently read on a blog post a poem about dreaming of a blizzard on a hot summer day. Isn’t it funny how we long for snowstorms when it’s hot but wish summer would come when we’re slip-sliding down icy sidewalks and landing on our back sides?

In July, my brother, Andy, and his wife, Christina, from Florida came for a visit. They flew into Denver on the 12th and spent a couple of days with relatives before renting a car and driving to Sheridan to stay with me for a few days. They arrived here on the 14th, just in time for our annual national rodeo. On the morning of the 15th, we went to the rodeo parade. I hadn’t been in years, and it was so much fun. Andy sat next to me and read me the signs on the floats and described them to me while Christina snapped pictures of them with her cell phone. She’d never been to a rodeo parade and found it fascinating.

Afterward, we had lunch at Frackleton’s downtown and then wandered across the street to the Wyo Theater where a piano was set out for anyone to play. I played and sang a few songs, much to the delight of passers-by. Here’s a video snapshot Christina took while I was doing this.

Andy’s class reunion was that weekend. When they weren’t involved with those activities, we went out to eat, explored our old neighborhood, got ice cream in the park, and visited with friends. Andy and Christina fixed my treadmill, disposed of a wasp nest under my old picnic table, and helped me pick out a new one at Home Depot. We also had dinner with my uncle and aunt who live out south of town. The following Tuesday, they drove to Yellowstone Park where they spent a few days camping and hiking before driving back to Colorado, spending time with friends, and flying back to Florida on the 25th. I had a great time with them, and I hope they’ll come back next year.

On July 8th, I played my guitar and sang at Sugarland Ridge. With the Fourth of July holiday a few days earlier and the upcoming rodeo, I performed a mix of patriotic and country and western tunes, much to everyone’s delight. I did the same program at Westview on the 26th, and those residents also enjoyed it.

On the 20th, fellow poet Christine Valentine and I were featured as part of the weekly Vaudeville program at the Wyo Theater where we performed the same poem we did in June during the Wyoming Writers’ conference. The poem, which Christine wrote, is called “Driven Insane by Mitzi Gaynor” and talks about songs that get stuck in your head. The songs mentioned here were “101 Pounds of Fun” from South Pacific and “Go Home with Bonnie Jean” from Brigadoon. Christine read the poem, and we sang the songs together when she got to them. It was a lot of fun, and the audience loved it.

Now, I’ve saved the best news for last. Those of you who follow my blog already know this, but it’s definitely worth repeating as part of my shameless self-promotion. My new memoir, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, is now available for purchase from Createspace, Amazon, and Smashwords. It will eventually be distributed to Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and other sources. For those of you like me with print impairments, if you purchase the book from Smashwords, you’ll be able to download it in various formats that can be read on a computer or device such as a Victor Reader Stream. I also plan to submit it to Bookshare and record myself reading it and make that available as a free download from my Website. For more information and to order, visit the book’s page on my Website. Happy reading, and stay cool.

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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

 

South for Christmas

Greetings from sunny Florida where it’s two days before Christmas, and my brother and his family and I are in the midst of the hustle and bustle before our holiday festivities begin. Last month as part of Robert Lee Brewer’s poem a day challenge on his blog at http://www.writersdigest.com/editor- blogs/poetic-asides , I wrote the following poem which will eventually be included in another chapbook. It’s based on the lyrics to “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” I’ll include a link below to where you can hear me sing the song.

I’ll be South for Christmas

My Florida relatives count on me.

There won’t be snow but maybe mistletoe

and presents under the tree.

On Christmas Eve, we’ll go to the beach,

fly kites, maybe try boogie boarding.

It won’t feel like Christmas,

but Santa will come with bounty for the children.

I’ll be there if only in my heart.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/home%20for%20christmas.mp3

Where will you be for Christmas? I hope you have a good one.

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

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

My Summer Vacation

I’m writing this from sunny Florida where I’ll be performing at my brother’s wedding this week. Other featured attractions include a pool party and a rehearsal dinner, and today, I’ll be having lunch with my future sister-in-law and her friends. It promises to be a fun and exciting week.

I’ve visited Jupiter, Florida, several times since my brother moved here, and I’ve always had a wonderful time, even last Christmas when I came down with a nasty flu bug that confined me to bed for a few days. My visits have inspired several poems including the one that appears in my new chapbook, That’s Life, due out at the end of August by Finishing Line Press. I’ll paste it below.

THE LAST TIME I WAS IN FLORIDA

I walked next to the ocean in Jupiter,

felt warm sand between my toes,

cool ocean waves against my feet,

enjoyed a picnic lunch near the Loxahatchee River,

then putt putted in a boat that saw better days

to an island once inhabited by a trapper,

ate fried chicken on a beach at high tide,

delicious fresh seafood at a place called Leftovers,

heard cool jazz in a club.

I can’t wait to go back.

What interesting places have you visited? To hear a recording of me singing one of the songs I‘ll perform at my brother’s wedding, go to https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/annie%27s%20song.mp3 .

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

 

Pre-order That’s LifeToday!