Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB at Books And A Beat.
This book is free through the holidays. Click on the links below to grab a copy!
My Teaser for this week is from
Christmas Magic 1959
by Kathryn Meyer Griffith
My Teaser from 42% of the eBook.
There was still no white stuff drifting down and she so wanted snow. Snow would make the night perfect. She rolled the window halfway down and sucked in a gulp of the fresh December night air. It was tangy with a hint of mustard to it. She liked the icy air.
This was such a beautiful scene. I couldn’t make it any shorter.
I’ve read many of Kathryn’s books. She writes horror, thrillers, and suspense, often adding a paranormal or supernatural element to them.
This book is quite different. There’s no horror. No evil beings stalking the characters. It’s a true story of Kathryn’s life as a young girl and a special Christmas.
The title intrigued me. And the cover enchanted me. It looks just like our back yard where I grew up. Christmas was a magical time for me too.
Kathryn leaves nothing out in her telling of life as a young girl. I come from a large family too, and while our circumstances were better that Kathryn’s, I related to so much from her life. Back then there weren’t computer’s and video games. You found your own way to entertain yourself. And, being a large family, you had to give and take in order to get along.
This was a step into the past for me. Memories sprang forth, so vivid and emotional. Many were bittersweet. Some so wonderful I teared up.
This is a beautiful story and one you should add to your Christmas reading list. Perhaps you’ll step into the past and long forgotten memories of a special Christmas will come forth.
A nostalgic short story about a magical 1959 Christmas Eve from a writer’s childhood by long-time author Kathryn Meyer Griffith.
Blurb of Christmas Magic 1959
Have you ever wondered what a writer’s early years were like and how it affected their future writing and the stories they would tell later in their lives? Have you ever wondered what their childhood Christmases, their early holidays, were like? Well, wonder no longer. This story is about one of my most cherished childhood Christmases…in 1959 when I was nine years old. After my beloved musician/singer/songwriter brother Jim passed away in 2015 from cancer I felt an intense need to write this short story about that special Christmas Eve I shared with him, my other siblings, mother, father and grandparents, and put it out there for everyone to read as a tribute to him and my family. This is my story, part of my childhood, and some of my fondest memories. Note: in the late 1970’s I did a series of illustrated (by me, because I’m an artist, too) short stories for my local newspaper and I’ve used one of my old drawings from 1978 for the first page of this short story.
This book is free through the holidays at all sights.
Click on the links below to grab your copy.
Tomorrow will be Christmas and for me it brings back memories of another Christmas nearly six decades ago. In our house, in my childhood world of 1959, Christmas was a magical time. The yearly rituals and preparations began weeks ahead when our home would fill with the aromatic smells of homemade cakes, cookies and baked meats. The Christmas decorations would be brought out and hung everywhere to ignite our Christmas spirit. The usual visit to my Grandmother and Grandfather Fehrt’s house on Christmas Eve, the multi-colored Christmas lights and the gifts, the good will of the season, made it one I have treasured all my life. But there was one very exceptional Christmas which holds a poignant place in my heart above all others because the summer before I had nearly died, or that is what I’ve been told. I’ll tell you about it later in my story. It seemed from then on my life came into crisper focus, I cared more about everything and everyone, because I was just so grateful to be alive. This is the story of that magical 1959 Christmas.
“They say it’s going to snow for Christmas.” Jimmy was standing by Katie’s bedroom window looking out on the frigid day. The skeletal dark trees outside the windows were swaying back and forth in the cold wind as it moaned and whistled around the old house they lived in. It was a sprawling timeworn two-story brick home with many windows and a basement which housed an archaic coal furnace she, her dad or Jimmy, always had to feed and keep clear of clinkers. Clinkers were these melted molten hunks of burned up coal which needed to be pulled from the fire so the rest of the coal could keep burning and making heat to warm their home. There was a scary smelly coal bin in the corner of the basement as well with a trap door where the coal was dropped through. The house, surrounded by rolling fields and thick spooky woods, was big, it was drafty; had bare wooden floors upstairs and down, but it was home and they were happy there. All nine of her family. And many, many decades later it would inspire and be the setting for her first novel, Evil Stalks the Night.
“That’s what they say, snow for Christmas,” she had replied, her nine-year old eyes peeled for the first snowflake. Outside there was only a slate grayness and no flakes yet. She was disappointed because as most children she loved snow and loved it more if it got her a snow day off from school. “Wouldn’t it be great, Jimmy, if it started snowing late tonight–after we get back from grandma’s house, of course–and the world was totally white when we woke up tomorrow morning? It’d really feel like Christmas then.”
“Yeah, that’d be neat. We could go sledding on Cooper’s Hill,” Jimmy said, leaving the windows and flopping down on the end of her bed.
“In the daylight, sure. Maybe. But you won’t get me on that death road after dark.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Katie, you old fraidy-cat.”
But Jimmy didn’t push it. He knew after their last treacherous night sled ride down that icy street there was no way she was going to do it again.
“Are you ready to sing for grandma and grandpa tonight?” he asked, his fingers playing with the chenille tassels on her bedspread. The spread was white with a raised design, as was her sister Carolyn’s bedspread, who she shared a room with. “You won’t forget the words will you?” Jimmy’s olive green eyes flecked with gold, so like her own, met hers. Even back then he was irritatingly serious about his music.
She smiled. “Nah, I have a photographic memory, remember? I won’t forget the words.”
“Show off,” he teased. But he knew she had a good memory. She made excellent grades, loved to read and had an uncanny recall for all of it.
They were going to sing The Little Drummer Boy for their family that night at grandma’s house. A surprise performance and one of the Christmas presents they would give their parents and grandparents. It would be the first time she and Jimmy would officially sing together and, unbeknownst to them, it would initiate many years of their singing together as first a folk duo, in the 1960’s, and in small classic rock bands until they hit their twenties. Then Jim would go one way with his music, his life, and she would go another with her artwork and writing. She wanted to keep singing with him after that but, as they grew older, and he formed other bands (usually with male musicians), he no longer wanted to include her. She never really understood why, only that he didn’t think she was good enough, and at times over the years it would hurt her feelings and wound her heart, but she would accept it. Yet in the beginning, and for many of their early years, they happily sang together and it made her so happy. She loved it. There was something about their voices blending together, their harmonies, as they sang which gave her such pure joy she would never be able to recreate anything like it until she began writing her novels years in the future–and where she would sometimes recreate sibling characters who did sing together. But, not to digress, that’s another story, this is a Christmas tale and back to it.
The family looked forward to Christmas Eve at Grandma Fehrt’s each year because not only did they get presents but the dinner was decadently scrumptious. Baked and glazed ham, turkey, and all the delicious side dishes their grandmother was so good at making; not to mention the exquisite desserts of homemade pies and German breads which would be on the table. Holidays and going to grandma’s house was about the only time they could stuff their bellies until they were full, more than full, of so much delicious food.
Her grandmother had immigrated to America from Austria, sometime around 1910 when she’d been a child, and was a feisty, but loving woman whose entire life was devoted to her husband, George, and their only daughter, Katie’s mother, Delores, and her seven children. Their lives would have been so much worse without the love and generosity of her grandmother Mary Fehrt. Their grandfather George was more reserved, a gruffer sort of man, and though they knew he loved them, in the early years he stoically refused to show it, other than allowing their grandmother to spend money and time on them, until he had a stroke later in life and changed into a nicer version of himself. The two had lived through the Great Depression, and the hard times it had brought, and were devoted to each other. But it was her grandmother who fought to keep helping her family in any way they needed. Left-behind clothes at her and grandpa’s cleaners were often brought to them and grandma was the one who helped provide them with new clothes the beginning of each school year. The girls would get at least two new dresses, or two skirts and blouses; the boys would get two new slacks and shirts, every fall when school started. They would get new coats every winter as they grew out of the old ones. And grandmother was the one they called when they were having trouble with their mother–who sometimes seemed to lose it trying to deal with seven rowdy kids, no money and their dad nowhere around because he was out selling siding, which was his job–and they needed temporary sanctuary. They would either, when they still lived close enough, walk over to grandma’s house or telephone her to come and get them. She swooped in and saved them every time. To this day she is grateful to her grandmother for all the love she showed them until the day Grandma Fehrt died in 2005, surviving their grandfather by over thirty years.
It was 4 p.m. on December 24th, 1959, and the children were getting excited about the coming evening. They’d been anticipating the festivities for weeks and now it was almost here. Their Christmas tree, strung with hand-fashioned construction paper and popcorn chains, and homemade ornaments, was up in the front room, decorated and waiting for the gifts which would appear beneath it before the next morning–or so they hoped. That’s the way it often was with her parents, because of continual lack of money they frequently seemed to be running out and buying gifts at the very last minute on the twenty-third of December or Christmas Eve. They’d say they were grocery shopping or something similar but the children suspected what was really going on, yet never spoke of it. Their parents did the best they could, having so many kids and limited resources, and the children realized that truth. It was kind of funny, the way her parents thought they were getting away with something, being all sneaky, when the children knew what was really going on. Bless their parents’ hearts.***
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