Hello, I’m Victoria Thurman, author of The Dating Dilemmas of Delilah Dunnfield, which received a B.R.A.G. medallion. I am very excited to be a part of such a wonderful group of authors and those who have recognized us. I am very happy to be participating in the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop.
A Christmas Tale from Wildwood Circle
In a small, brick, ranch-style house in a small South Georgia city on a street called Wildwood Circle, there was a dark spot on the brownish-yellow shag carpeting. It looked and felt a little like gum, but it had turned black from years of foot traffic coming in and out of the master bedroom, my parents’ room. Any outsider would have thought it a ghastly sight, but I didn’t see a black glob of something ground into the carpet. I saw a Christmas morning and five little children, full of smiles and wonderment, holding heavy stockings, invading the master bedroom, while the sky was still dark.
There are a few different ways to tell this story, but this is my version—an untold story from the third child, the middle child, who was an observer from birth and who became a writer.
It was back in the time when people didn’t think shag carpeting was such a bad idea. In the living room sat an old green couch, a comfy orange chair, and a rectangular coffee table with two side drawers. On the table lay an abundance of children’s Christmas books, as our father was an English professor and our mother, an elementary school teacher. A small black-and-white TV was moved to a corner, making room for a large Christmas tree in the front bay window. Our tree that year, and most years, took the form of a wild pine grown in a wild wood. Every branch was lovingly draped in ornaments, many of which were handmade by a distant cousin in New England. Each year my siblings and I so looked forward to the brown-paper-covered box with “The Thurman Children” written in black marker on the top. Each year the contents were four or five types of ornaments, with one of each design in a different color for each child.
My siblings and I were always involved in some form of the arts during Christmas time—choir, theater, dance. The ballet was a family venture, and one year, a few years later than this particular year, all five of us danced in “The Nutcracker,” including our brother, who was recruited for the party scene.
This particular year, after a week of concerts and recitals, we dressed in our Sunday best and travelled across town in our new, blue Chevrolet station wagon to the First Presbyterian Church for the Christmas Eve candlelight service. The church sanctuary was about 100 years old at that time. Christmas wreaths with red ribbon flanked the old wood doors at the vestibule. Windowsills below stained glass windows were draped with real cedar branches, and a candle in a hurricane lamp globe sat in the middle of each windowsill. There were rows of pews on both sides of the sanctuary, with one wide aisle down the middle and skinny aisles down each side wall. We slipped into our usual seats, which were about halfway down on the right side of the church. I remember each of our candles being lit one by one in anticipation of the final hymn, “Silent Night.” My small hand wavered, and wax dripped onto the page of the hymnal. Once the chandeliers were turned off, only candle glow remained, and my thoughts always drifted back to a hundred years before. Was this what it was like in our church back then?
After the church service, back in our cozy home, we stayed in our dresses and sat around our large dining room table, with its cheery Christmas greenery centerpiece. We drank hot chocolate with marshmallows out of Santa mugs and ate our mom’s homemade Christmas Hermit cookies. It was always an intimate family moment of conversation and stories. Our father read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” to a captive audience. It was then time to hang our stockings by our own chimney with care, and after that we each got to open one present. I remember getting a Barbie doll.
Christmas morning dawned, and our oldest sister gathered us in the hall and passed around our stockings. She knocked on our parents’ door, and we heard sleepy voices inviting us in. We all piled onto the double bed and began to delve into our stockings. Joy filled the room as we began to play with our treasures.
Once the surprises from our stockings and our gifts from Santa were revealed, our parents went to the kitchen for coffee and to start making breakfast. My four siblings and I stayed on the bed or sat on the floor and played until we were called to the table to eat. Like a stampede of cattle we raced to the table, because after breakfast came gifts from under the tree. And in the stampede, a little ball of Silly Putty was trampled and ground into the shag carpet, forever leaving a memory of Christmas in my mind.
My mother’s Christmas Hermit recipe:
Preheat the oven to: 375 degrees
Grease 2 baking sheets
Baking time: About 20 minutes
Quantity: About 10 dozen
Storing: Airtight container for 3 weeks
1 cup softened butter
3 cups brown sugar
4 tbl milk
3 tsp baking powder
6 cups sifted flour
2 cups seedless raisins
2 cups currants
1 cup chopped nuts
2 tsps grated orange rind
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in milk and eggs.
Sift the baking powder with 3 cups of flour. Add to the creamed mixture. Blend well. Add raisins, currants, nuts and orange rind- mix well. Sift spices with the other 3 cups of flour, adding to the mixture and mix well.
Drop by teaspoonful, 1- 1 ½ inches apart onto the greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until light brown. Remove from pan onto wire rack and let cool.