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Grand Expectations of the Holiday Season

December 6, 2017


Grand Expectations of the Holiday Season


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



How can the date possibly be the sixth of December?  Perhaps, Santa can explain this phenomenon:  for young children who await Santa’s delivery via sleigh and reindeer, the December days move much too slowly while for those of us who have already enjoyed more than six decades of holiday seasons, these December days move as fast as those famous eight or nine reindeer.  What grand expectations did you have as a child in contrast to your expectations for the current holiday season?


When my sister and I were much younger, the choice of a “live” evergreen or an artificial Christmas tree was nonexistent.  The only question was the tree’s  being purchased from a store selling Christmas trees, a special lot selling such festive trees, or a tree farm.  For a few years, my parents, my older sister, and I were part of a caravan of vehicles that took the rural roads off US Highway 41 from our own Vermillion County of Indiana to the hills of Parke County.  Our fellow caravan riders were three families of Mariettas because a relative of theirs owned a Christmas tree farm outside of the Rosedale area.  During a couple of these delightful expeditions, snow was flying in the air to add even more holiday spirit as we hiked up and down the hills to find the “perfect” evergreens for our homes.


I recall one particular year when a few inches of snow covered the rough terrain and the wind was blowing enough to make us want to find a grand tree rather quickly.  Perhaps, that was the year of the somewhat problematic tree.  When the tree we tagged was delivered to our house later in the week, the presumed “grand” tree was more of the “Charlie-Brown” type of Christmas tree.  Naturally, my dad and I thought the tree would be perfectly fine once we adorned it with all the lights (pre-fairy lights), garland, ornaments, and icicles; of course, my sister was not at all happy with this less-than-stellar pine.  There may have even been a few tears and unkind words about this poor, little–well, smaller than usual–tree.


By that holiday season, we were placing our Christmas tree in the southwest corner of our family room (a new addition to our Blanford home in 1957) so that the windows on the south and west sides of the room could show off the lights of our tree.  From my grandmother and uncle’s grocery store, my dad secured two wooden crates; then, Dad situated the tree and tree stand atop the crates so that the tree was magically just as tall as our previous trees had been.  He turned the tree so that the more barren sides were toward the room’s corner which would not be seen by us nor guests.  Then, my father carefully placed one or possibly two tree blankets so that the wooden crates were well hidden.  After Dad’s creative and diplomatic work was done, my sister, my mother, and I decorated the podium pine.  Where the branches were sparse, we filled in with larger decorations.  Periodically through this tree coronation, Dad repeated his encouraging words, “When you have it all decorated, it will look just fine.”  I believed him.  As usual, my dad was right:  once decorated, our Christmas tree, fresh cut from the Hoosier Hills of Parke County, was a joy to behold during that holiday season; and the memories of this didactic Christmas tree still warm my heart during this holiday season of 2017.


Turning to another topic of “grand expectations,” I think that whenever we initiate a small project or long-term project, we do have certain expectations.  On the other hand, one of the expectations I never imagined when I was working on my first book project was that a book club would select my little holiday book for the book club’s reading and discussion.  However, two book clubs have done so–one in Pennsylvania and one in Utah.  Lillian, a writer friend of mine who lives in the Philadelphia area recommended my book, THE CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON, to her book club last summer for this December’s selection.  Then, my writer friend Abbie Johnson Taylor, with whom I have become acquainted for over five years through Behind Our Eyes (an international organization of writers with disabilities), suggested my book to the book club of the Utah Library for the Blind.  Thus, on December 5, I was delighted to give a presentation about my book and then participate in a question-and-answer session.  My “little book that keeps on giving” gave me a little more–a little more of a most unexpected dream-come-true.


Not only do I thank Abbie for arranging this opportunity for my book and me, but I thank her very much for being the first person to review my book last December.  So, my November “Month of Thanks” is extending into December–another special season for expressing gratitude.


You may read Abbie’s blog posts and also read about her published books at her two sites:


MY BOOKNOTE:  If you are a new reader or follower of my WORDWALK blog, please also visit my author’s web page which contains photos, extra articles, and ordering information for THE CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON which is available in four formats–print, e-book, audio, and braille.

Patrons of the National Library Service for the Blind may download the audio version of my book from BARD:  my holiday book is number DBC 08305 in the BARD system.

I have been especially pleased to hear that some people are giving print copies of my book as little gifts or door prizes for holiday parties.  Thanks to all who have shared in my book dream-come-true!

If your book club is or soon will be taking suggestions for your club’s reading during the new year, please consider my book for November or December of 2018.  Thank you!


Happy tree trimming!

Happy holiday reading!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


December 6, 2017, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. mfanyo permalink

    Dear Alice,
    I have fond memories of the times we trudged through the snowy fields of the Christmas tree farm looking for the perfect tree! I must confess that until we purchased an artificial tree a few years ago, I continued to be on that quest for the perfect tree every year! However, those searches were only in tree lots or nurseries, which were certainly not as much fun as our childhood adventures! Thanks for writing about that special Christmas memory!

    So very happy for all the opportunities and recognition your wonderful book has given to you through your Blurb Blitz Tour and your book club presentations!

    With congratulations and love,

  2. Sue McKendry permalink

    Alice–So enjoyed this blog! Expectations as a child and an adult are certainly different. While we often got our Christmas tree up north when my dad was deer hunting with our uncles and the aunts were drinking coffee and catching up, it was never decorated until Christmas eve. After the children were in bed, Mom and Dad decorated it before Midnight Mass. When they awakened us, the lights were not turned on, and we sleepily dressed for church. When we got home in the wee hours, the tree in all its glory was lighted and we found the one present Santa left each of us. Once we were old enough not to believe in Santa, it was even more fun as we got to help with the decorating and gift-wrapping. Sometimes the younger siblings needed a nap on Christmas Day, but staying up half the night was perhaps the most fun of all, since that was the one day it was allowed.

    This year my trees and other decorations were all up by Dec. 2, due to a visit from a California friend who was in the area for a wedding. I still love Christmas!

    Congratulations on your book being featured for two book selections for Dec.! I’ve been re-reading it again during this wonderful season.


    • Season’s Greetings!  Sue–Thanks so very much for sharing the traditional Christmas of your childhood!  Also, your already having all of your holiday decor in place for this season is impressive as I have only just begun.  I do appreciate knowing that you are reading my book again.

      Enjoy this festive season!  Alice and Willow

  3. Thank you, Alice, for the mention of my sites. It was a pleasure having you at our book discussion.

  4. Carole permalink

    Our artificial tree was beautifully decorated as the rotating disc of colors enhanced its beauty; but your fresh evergreen always offered a more traditional accent of beauty and fragrance, which made it very special to me. Nice memories!

    • Carole–Just a couple of days ago, I heard on the radio that the original “silver” trees with the color-wheel light were manufactured in Wisconsin during the 1960s till the early 1970s.

          Today, December 21, Willow and I carried home a Norfolk pine whose branches reached above the Metro Market bag.

      Fondly remembering the Christmas Eves we have spent together–Alice and Willow

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