I live in Dead Bush, a small town in the center of Texas. Our town sports three saloons, a general store, the bank, one church without a steeple, a blacksmith shop and another establishment such as nice folks don’t talk about in mixed company. Modern wooden slat sidewalks was added this spring in deference to the request of those specific ladies who live in the aforementioned establishment.
On Founder’s Day, the local farmer’s wives bake pies and hams and sweet potatoes for a giant banquet and sponsor a square dance out behind the Blacksmith’s shop. Bright and early this morning, neighboring families with all the kids trickled into town looking for a good time.
Not long after, several soldiers still wearing raggedy Civil War uniforms rode into Dead Bush on worn out horses. The soldiers commenced to drink and gamble and ordered steak dinners at the Dry Spell Saloon where, among other things, such entertainment and libation is encouraged.
I sleep in the back of the saloon, ever since the town sheriff found me, the lone survivor of a wagon train massacred by wild Indians.
I don’t belong to nobody, but Shorty, the barkeep saves me left-overs from the day’s leavings. That, added to my hunting prowess, fares me well. Since I’m the only cat for miles around, the regulars at the saloon adopted me as a mascot. I’m a fine figure of a cat, though some would say, somewhat on the portly side. It must be so, as to the validation of the roaming tomcat what comes through town every spring. Up until now, I haven’t given him a tumble.
Cats are almighty scarce and considerable valuable in this county. A number of local farmers have offered Shorty big bucks for me, beings as cats can keep a barnyard free of varmints without half trying. There are some folks from the big cities who haul cats in their saddlebags to small farming towns, assured of a quick sale and a $20 gold piece. The farmers soon learn they don't know nothin' about varmint huntin.'
Well, seems these soldiers what came to town sat and drank well past noon. I caused quite a stir when I wandered through the saloon. One soldier took a notion to buy me, having heard about cats being worth big money up the river. Shorty declined, saying I couldn’t be sold since I was a free spirit and didn’t belong to nobody.
As the gambling and drinking progressed, the soldier plied Shorty with enough palaver and drink that he was finally cajoled into a card game with me as the stakes.
I sat near the potbelly, preening my whiskers, somewhat amused by the stupidity of these humans what thought they could buy and sell another living creature. Wasn’t that decided by the Civil War after all?
The poker game progressed and it seemed my future as mascot at the Dry Spell Saloon was dependent on the turn of their cards.
Four players hunched over the poker table, cards fanned in their hands, empty glasses lined up in front of them. Shorty’s chips were going fast. Holding on to the Dry Spell Saloon mascot didn’t look promising.
The size of Shorty’s chips rose and fell as the afternoon wore on. I sat on a nearby table, commiserating with Mr. Casper, an old codger who operated a small gold claim in a nearby river. The old man was a fool, but he didn’t smell quite as bad as the other miners, as being tipsy a good deal, he fell in the river more often than most, washing away some of his natural man-stink.
In the late afternoon, the neighbor ladies announced their Founder’s Day supper was served. The saloon emptied except for the four poker players who found it harder and harder to sit up straight. Heads lolled and cards tumbled from their hands. More whiskey landed on the floor than in their glasses. Never in the history of Dead Bush had such a game gone on for so long or the stakes so roundly coveted. I was, indeed, a prize.
Eventually, Smitty Rosenblatt passed out. George Waddlebaker went broke. Shorty hung in there, though blurry eyed, he continued to fight for his meezer. Poor Shorty’s stack of chips got even smaller.
Seeing the inevitable handwriting on the wall, I slipped out the front door and headed out of town onto the prairie, intending on being absent for a few days. An occasional vacation is always revitalizing to one’s health and seemed particularly attractive today.
Besides, there weren’t no sense being around when Shorty went broke and the soldier attempted to claim his prize. I didn’t plan to spend the next week strung to the back of a saddle in a burlap sack until the old soldier found a farmer with a rat-filled barn and a $20 gold piece.
I’m the only cat worth her salt in Dead Bush, and I intend to keep it that way. At least until next spring, when that tomcat comes back to town.
An author must take great care when mixing fiction with history. We should not attempt to alter history, but where’s the harm in tossing our character into the action with actual historical events?
In Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, while volunteering time at a watch tower on the beach, elderly Agnes Odboddy spots a Japanese air balloon bomb headed for shore. She uncovers a ration book conspiracy and becomes romantically involved with an FBI agent searching for missing Hawaiian funds. And she meets Mrs. Roosevelt. Our fictional character and our plot weave around these historical facts, as the story moves forward.
In my latest WWII era humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy – Undercover Courier, Mrs. Odboddy, continues to fight the war from the home front in a small California town. In her bumbling charming way, she is determined to thwart conspiracies and expose Nazi spies.
Agnes and her granddaughter, Katherine, travel by train from California to Washington DC to join Mrs. Roosevelt’s Pacific Island tour. Agnes is asked to hand-carry a package to President Roosevelt. She believes it must contain secret war document! (Obvious, right?) She expects Nazi agents to attempt to steal her package. (Could happen!) Of course, along the way, she meets some intriguing characters who hinder as well as aid her in her mission.
Agnes befriends David and Samuel, two black soldiers bound for the Tuskegee Air Base, where they will be trained as pilots with the first all-Black fighting flying squadron.
And here is a bit of REAL history about the Tuskegee soldiers who became pilots.
Due to the many black men who wanted to volunteer, and the extreme loss of pilots in battle, it became expedient to set up a program to train Black fighter pilots, bombardiers and air support staff. A number of Black men with higher education and pre-war flying experience were selected to train as fighter pilots, but in a segregated squadron.
The most successful all Black squadron was the 99th squadron. They began to fly bombing missions in the spring of 1943.
Nine hundred ninety two Black pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1941-1946. They were credited with 1578 combat missions, 179 bomber escort missions, destroyed 112 enemy aircraft in the air, and another 150 on the ground. Nine hundred fifty rail cars tracks and motor vehicles were destroyed. One destroyer was put out of action. Forty boats and barges were destroyed. Multiple citations were awarded along with many silver, bronze, air medals and 8 purple hearts.
Segregation of the troops ended in 1945.
And back to our story… When the train reaches Tennessee, Agnes’s friends run afoul of the JIM CROW laws and when she arrives in Washington, she faces trials that challenge her determination as a home front warrior.
Read Mrs. Odboddy - Undercover Courier and get the full story about Agnes and the Tuskegee airmen. The book will amaze and amuse all the way from California to Washington, D.C and shed a bit more light on more American history that may not be too familiar to many readers.
E-book available at Amazon for $3.99
Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier
While researching events during WWII for my humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, I found some interesting facts about life in the USA during World War II:
Rationing: Because vital supplies were needed for the troops, ration stamp booklets were issued to American housewives. Many items including meat, sugar and fresh fruit were in short supply and could only be purchased with the appropriate ration stamp.
Due to blockades affecting Brazilian ships attempting to bring coffee and sugar to the USA during part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed to one pound per adult every six weeks. (This alone was reason to go to war.)
Eggs were in short supply and costly, resulting in many resident chickens in suburban backyards. See Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv Amazon $3.99
Tires: A citizen was allowed to purchase only five tires during the entire war. By today’s standards, that sounds sufficient, but despite a 35 mph national speed limit, bumpy roads and poor quality rubber led to multiple flat tires. Doctors and public safety professionals were allowed additional tire and gasoline stamps.
Gasoline was rationed to four gallons per week per adult. Folks relied on car pool, buses, bicycles or walking. Men working out of town often boarded away from home and came home only intermittently.
Such shortages of food and other supplies led to black market ration books or ‘arrangements’ between friends willing to sell stamps they didn’t need.
Victory Gardens: Citizens appeared unpatriotic if they didn’t plant a victory garden. Suburban front yards were soon converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Vegetables with a high yield requiring limited growing space became the main ingredient of Meatless Monday meals. Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the White House Rose Garden.
Watch Towers: Ever fearful of another Japanese air attack on the West Coast, and the limited availability of newly discovered radar technology, volunteers became the ‘early warning system’ in watch towers every several miles along the California and Oregon coastline.
Train Travel: Though trains traveled all the way across the U.S.A. there was no direct line and travelers often had to change from one train to another, with hours long layovers of hours or days between connections.
These events are highlighted in both of my novels. In Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, Agnes must take the blame for the destruction of a watch tower in order to prevent a 'top secret' from going public.
In the novel Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier www.http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb Amazon $3.99 Agnes and Katherine travel from California to Washington D.C. to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour. Carrying a package to the President she believes contains secret war documents, it is no surprise to encounter a man she believes is a Nazi spy. When she is witness to his ‘committing murder,’ she is sure she will be next on his hit list.
Join Mrs. Odboddy on her hysterical romp across the USA. Filled with laugh and suspense, you will enjoy a bit of history along the way.
About The Book
Asked to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour, Agnes and Katherine travel by train to Washington, D.C. Agnes carries a package for Colonel Farthingworth to President Roosevelt.
Convinced the package contains secret war documents, Agnes expects Nazi spies to try and derail her mission.
She meets Irving, whose wife mysteriously disappears from the train; Nanny, the unfeeling caregiver to little Madeline; two soldiers bound for training as Tuskegee airmen; and Charles, the shell-shocked veteran, who lends an unexpected helping hand. Who will Agnes trust? Who is the Nazi spy?
When enemy forces make a final attempt to steal the package in Washington, D.C., Agnes must accept her own vulnerability as a warrior on the home front.
Can Agnes overcome multiple obstacles, deliver the package to the President, and still meet Mrs. Roosevelt’s plane before she leaves for the Pacific Islands?
Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier is a hysterical frolic on a train across the United States during WWII, as Agnes embarks on this critical mission.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE
Agnes dodged puddles across Wilkey’s Market parking lot, struggling to balance her purse on her wrist, her umbrella and a bag of groceries under each arm. She lowered her head and aimed for her yellow and brown 1930 Model A Ford, parked two rows over and three puddles down. Why hadn’t she let Mrs. Wilkey’s son, George, carry out her bags when he offered? Maybe Katherine was right. She tried to be too independent. No harm in accepting a little help from time to time. Let the kid experience the joy of helping others.
As she approached her car, a black Hudson slowed and stopped alongside her. The passenger door opened and a man stepped out.
“You Mrs. Odboddy?” He ran his hand over his bald head. A scar zig-zagged across the back of his hand.
Agnes’s stomach twisted. “Depends. Who’s asking?” She took two steps closer to her Ford. “What do you want?” Her gaze roamed the parking lot. Not a man in sight, except the thug blocking her path toward her car.
The man reached out and grabbed her arm. “You’re coming with me!”
Blood surged into Agnes’s cheeks. She caught her breath. Wouldn’t you know it? Kidnapped in broad daylight and not a gol-darned cop in sight! No wonder, with every able-bodied man off fighting the war, leaving defenseless women and children victims of rapists and murderers. In less time than it took to come up with a plan, she dropped her grocery bags, wielded her umbrella and smacked it across the man’s shoulders.
“Hey! What’s the big idea? Smitty! Give me a hand. The old broad’s putting up a fuss.” Scar-Hand snatched the umbrella from Agnes and shoved her toward his car.
Oh, good grief. What shall I do?
Smitty ran around from the driver’s side.
Despite her struggles and a few well-aimed kicks, the two scoundrels shoved Agnes into the back seat and tossed her umbrella onto the floorboards. “Don’t give us any trouble, Mrs. Odboddy,” Smitty growled, rubbing his shins. “Like it or not, you’re coming with us.”
Agnes scooted across the mohair seat, huddled into the corner as far as she could get from Smitty’s leering grin. “What do you want with me?”
Smitty and Scar-Hand jumped into the front seat. Smitty gunned the engine and the car lurched through the parking lot toward the street. He glanced over his shoulder. “Don’t try any funny business, lady. The chief asked us to bring you to him, and that’s where you’re going."
Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot
Since the onset of WWII, Agnes Agatha Odboddy, warrior on the home front and self-appointed scourge of the underworld, suspects conspiracies around every corner, stolen ration books, Nazi spies running amuck and a possible Japanese invasion off the California coast.
Mrs. Odboddy vows to bring the villains, both foreign and domestic, to justice, all while keeping chickens in the bathroom, volunteering at the Ration Stamp Office and knitting argyles for the boys on the front lines.
Imagine the chaos when Agnes’s long lost WWI lover returns, hoping to find $1,000,000,000 in missing Hawaiian money and rekindle their ancient romance. In the thrilling conclusion, Agnes’s predictions become a reality when Mrs. Roosevelt unexpectedly comes to Newbury to attend a funeral and Agnes must prove that she is, indeed, a hometown patriot.
Mrs. Odboddy - Hometown Patriot is a riotous romp through a small California town in the days following Pearl Harbor when American housewives fed their families with rationed food, and volunteered for multiple war-effort projects. From serving on the coast watch to collecting papers and cans, all the while exposing local conspiracies and spies, Agnes Odboddy is the quintessential hometown patriot.
Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier. Planning to join Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island Tour, Mrs. Odboddy and Katherine are asked to hand carry a package to President Roosevelt in Washington D.C. Sure that the package contains ‘secret war documents,’ Mrs. O is fully prepared to fend off Nazi agents on her train trip across the USA. Her fears are more than realized by characters she meets on board. Once in Washington, she may yet be the target of another Nazi agent. Will the unscrupulous behavior of J. Edgar Hoover finally terminate her career as a home front warrior? With Agnes Agatha Odboddy on the job, there is no end to the intrigue and laughter as she meets each challenge with wit and wisdom!
Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier are available at Amazon in e-book ($3.99) and paperback ($16.00) If you want to buy a book, click on the url below and it will take you to Amazon
Amazon: Hometown Patriot http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv
Amazon: Undercover Courier http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb
www.mindcandymysteries.com (Elaine’s website)
Elaine.Faber@mindcandymysteries.com (Elaine’s email)
The public is invited to a book launch party at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center, 9080 Elk Grove Blvd, Elk Grove CA on March 11, 2017 at 2:00 P.M. to celebrate the publication of Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, Elaine Faber's fifth cozy mystery/adventure novel.
Regular price: $16.00 Special book Launch price $10.00
. Refreshments will be served.
Mrs. Odboddy Undercover courier is the sequel to Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot.
In this WWII humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy is asked to carry a package to President Roosevelt. Agnes is sure it contains secret war documents. She expects to encounter Nazi agents will try to steal her package. Along the way, she meets new friends as well as some unsavory individuals. An expected event puts her mission at risk and aid comes from an unlikely source.
Once in Washington, D.C. Agnes runs afoul of J. Edgar Hoover and his illogical hatred for Mrs. Roosevelt.
Undercover Courier is a fictional story with elements of historical facts tossed in for an enlightening, amusing and entertaining story.
Elaine is also the author of three cozy cat mysteries. Black Cat's Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, and Black Cat and the Accidental Angel. These books will be available and specially priced at the book launch party.
All of Elaine's books are available at Amazon in e-book for $3.99.
Research while writing my WWII humorous mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier, led to interesting facts about how folks lived during WWII.:
Rationing: American housewives willingly gave up their precious food, clothing, tires, and other goods to aid the war effort. Ration stamp booklets were issued and many items including sugar and fresh fruit could only be purchased with the appropriate ration stamp.
Due to blockades affecting Brazilian ships attempting to bring coffee and sugar to the USA during part of 1942-43, coffee was rationed to one pound every six weeks per adult. (This alone would be reason to go to war, wouldn’t it?)
Beef was in short supply and costly, as well as eggs, resulting in many resident chickens in suburban backyards. (In Hometown Patriot, Agnes obtains six chickens. Because she has no chicken coop immediately available, she puts them in the bathroom. What could possibly go wrong?)
Tires: A citizen only had ration stamps for five tires during the entire war. By today’s standards, that sounds sufficient, but bumpy roads and poor tires led to multiple flat tires even with speed limits of 35 mph.
Doctors and public safety professionals were allowed additional tire and gasoline stamps. Gasoline required ration stamps and folks were limited to only four gallons per week. Folks relied on car pool, buses, bicycles or had to walk. Men who worked out of town often had to board away from home for indefinite periods of time. (I am the result of my father’s weekend only visits while Daddy worked at the Vallejo, CA Mare Island shipyard. Whoops!)
Such shortages of food and other supplies led to black market ration books or ‘arrangements’ between friends willing to sell extra stamps for highly desired items. (Because of weekly trips to the USO to serve cookies, Agnes has to purchase a friend’s tire stamp. She also discovers a ration book conspiracy and sets out to expose the culprits.)
Victory Gardens: Many items in short supply were rationed. Citizens were almost required to plant a victory garden or appear unpatriotic. Suburban front yards were soon converted to rows of cabbages, zucchinis, tomatoes and carrots. Vegetables with a high yield requiring limited space to grow became the main ingredient of Meatless Monday. Even Mrs. Roosevelt planted zucchini in the White House Rose Garden.
Watch Towers: Ever fearful of another Japanese air attack on the West Coast, and the limited availability of newly discovered radar technology, volunteers became the ‘early warning system’ in watch towers every several miles along the California and Oregon coastline. (Agnes has an exciting encounter while serving at the watch tower in Hometown Patriot. You won’t want to miss this! )
Can you share an account of a WWII event or experience? Are you acquainted with a family member with memories of WWII? Wouldn’t they enjoy reading my novels? Only $3.99 at Amazon. Guaranteed to produce a chuckle or your money back!
Mrs. Odboddy–Hometown Patriot -Available in e-book and print at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv Agnes attempts to expose a ration book conspiracy and deals with the return of an old WWI lover.
Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier –Agnes travels across country by train, carrying a package to President Roosevelt. She is sure it contains secret war documents, and NAZI spies will try to steal her package. Amazon – http://tinyurl.com/jn5bzwb
Next time, I’ll talk about another WWII event or experience.
Announcing the publication of my latest Mrs. Odboddy mystery/adventure, Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier.
It’s 1943 and Agnes and Katherine are preparing to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour. Agnes carries a package from Colonel Farthingworth to President Roosevelt in Washington, D.C. Convinced the package contains secret war documents, Agnes expects Nazi spies to try and derail her mission, but she is determined to protect the package and put it into the President’s hand, whatever the cost.
Before leaving town, however, she has to find a place for those gol-darned four bantam roosters–- Myrtle, Sofia, Mrs. Whistlemeyer and Mildred!
Agnes and Katherine travel by train to Washington, D.C. Along the way, she meets Irving, whose wife mysteriously disappears from the train; Nanny, the unfeeling caregiver to little Madeline; two black soldiers bound for the Tuskegee airbase to train as pilots, and Charles, the WWII veteran with PSTD who lends Agnes an unexpected helping hand when things go exceedingly wrong. Who should Agnes trust? Who is the Nazi spy? Is there even a Nazi spy or is it all in Agnes’s imagination?
In a final near deadly showdown In Washington, D.C., Agnes faces a formidable challenge and is forced to accept the possibility that she isn’t the hometown warrior she always thought she was.
Can Agnes overcome multiple obstacles, deliver the package to the President and still meet Mrs. Roosevelt’s plane before she leaves for the Pacific Islands? If you’ve read Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, you’ll know that she will do everything in her power as the scourge of the underworld she thinks she should be.
Mrs. Odboddy -Undercover Courier is available at Amazon in paperback and e-book on February 9, 2017.
As a special treat to my loyal fans, and WWII mystery buffs, the first Mrs. Odboddy novel, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot will be FREE at Amazon between February 9-13.
I'd love to hear from you. Did you enjoy Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot? Would you like to see more of her adventures?
In 1987, my daughter and I traveled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I kept a diary during that two week journey. Here are the entries from Salzburg, Austria.
Walking through the streets of Salzburg is like walking back into history. One sees houses with flower boxes, painted scenes on the exterior walls of the buildings, church steeples, roofs of clay tiles and bell towers. The streets are cobbled and many of the windows are made of leaded glass.
There are vineyards up on a nearby hillside and an ancient ivy covered building with sagging tile roof across the courtyard lends a medieval flavor to the view. Church spires peak out above the red tile rooftops on nearby houses and unconsciously we scan the faces of the passersby, perhaps expecting to see Mary Poppins. Dates carved on the churches range from the year 1200-1400. One church is said to be 1000 years old.
A kitty sits atop a nearby rooftop, meowing piteously, as tourists peer up and try to decide if he is stuck, hungry, or just bored and teasing the tourists.
We drive along a river and follow a road up the side of a grape-laden hillside to the very top. Below us, a park follows the curve of the river. We can see the tiny train below and churches steeples scattered among the rooftops. A storm is brewing and the sky darkens with rain clouds as we stand atop the mountain, looking down over the city which for hundreds of years is unchanging.
Yes, as modern times came, freeways and electric wires approached the city, the merchandise sold in the stores has changed, and automobiles replaced the horse carriages, which once clip-clopped along the cobbled streets. The narrow lanes remain the same, the lovely churches, fortresses, palaces, and hillsides are unchanged. The city will tolerate progress but it will not give in to it. Our modern conveniences are an intrusion on its medieval splendor.
Visitors from the United States marvel at the unchanging and apparently timelessness of this beautiful country. The land stretches out unspoiled as we compare it to our familiar busy cities. The mountains beckon hikers upward into the cold clean air. Though there are industrial areas, much of the land is still in its wilderness state, as it was at the moment of creation, lush and green and seemingly immune to modern marvels.
In the town of Salzburg, there is a town square where a street musician plays Ave Maria on a violin. Above us pigeons fly from rooftop to rooftop and the music echoes around the courtyard. I let my mind wander and it is easy to imagine the town filled with people coming and going up and down the tiny cobbled streets in horse drawn carts. Over here would be a peddler selling vegetables, and over there a princess is escorted by her ladies-in-waiting. Over here a group of soldiers march down the street, straight and tall, tired from slaying dragons on the hillsides.
Another day and music might have filled this same courtyard, not from the church but from the house down the street where a thin young boy named Mozart plays the harpsichord and writes melodies that will one day make him famous, even several hundred years later.
Over there a beggar sits by the church wall and begs for alms. Many pass him by, even as today, so many hungry people walk our streets and though we call ourselves “more civilized,” how many of us are guilty of turning away?
A horse cart clip-clops by, bringing me back to today as the last beautiful strains of Ave Maria fade into the sky. We give the musician money and move off down the street where we buy a watercolor painting of the church from a local street artist.
In the early 1980’s, when my kids were young teenagers, we had to close our business, leaving us in considerable debt. Collection agency calls were daily occurrences. One month, I paid my house payment with the Visa card. We gave up a 1972 Cadillac convertible to settle a business obligation. The IRS emptied our meager bank account (without notice) to pay the overdue California sales taxes, resulting in bounced checks all over town.
That Christmas, we were financially challenged (as they might say now). We said we were "broke." No way was there any extra money for a Christmas tree.
My husband brought home a beautiful manzanita branch, mounted it on a base and decorated it with red Christmas balls. Not the traditional Christmas tree, to be sure, but pretty. We set our few presents underneath.
Hubby and I were prepared to deal with the substitute tree, trusting that things would be better next year. The kids hated it, calling it the Christmas Stick. They were embarrassed when their friends came to visit.
We muddled through that financial disaster, took a second mortgage on the house at 14% interest (true) and paid off all the debts. The next Christmas we were back on our feet, the kids had toys and we had a real Christmas tree.
I was thinking the other day that sometime in our life, we should all have a Year of the Christmas Stick. A year when we can’t afford to buy the children expensive gifts that break before New Year’s Day. A season where we do without the luxuries we’re used to, Christmas trees, lights in the front yard, presents and expensive holiday outings. A year when we walk in the footsteps of folks out there, by virtue of unemployment, natural disaster or illness, who are without a tree, and without gifts. For that matter, maybe some are without a home with a chimney for Santa to slid down.
It’s been over fifty years since the Year of the Christmas Stick. This Christmas Day, as our family stumbled from the table loaded down with ham and cookies and all the fixings and we gazed at our ten- foot- tall Christmas tree with gifts piled high, thought about the Year of The Christmas Stick. And we remembered its message.
We are grateful for the important things. We are blessed with our families, our health, our faith, all gifts from God. We remember to share our bounty with those who are in need. We remember that there are some folks who might think they were blessed to have a Christmas Stick with a few presents underneath, even if it was just sweaters and pajamas and sox, like my kids got that one year so long ago.
I remember how hard things were when we closed the business and struggled to make ends meet, wondering how we could make good on our business debts, keep our home and feed our kids. We struggled and persevered and made do with a manzanita branch for a Christmas tree. Looking back, I remember and can't help but thank God for the opportunity to experience the Year of the Christmas Stick. We all learned lessons that I hope we will never forget.