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A Vintage Christmas Card from My Dad in 1944


A Vintage Christmas Card from my Dad in 1944


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Two decades ago, having lost my Dad on December 1 and my first Leader Dog, Keller, on December 15, we were looking at Christmas of 1997 through tear-filled eyes.  Despite the tremendous losses, I thought that we should still mark Christmas in some way–a quiet way, not a cheery manner.  Still at our Indiana home, I told my sister that we should put up at least the four-foot, white tree so that my young nephews could “have” Christmas.  Thus, instead of the six-foot, green  tree with multi-colored lights and ornaments, we placed upon my mother’s desk the white tree.  At a store in Clinton, Indiana, I purchased a box of gold ornaments and a package of small gold bows for decorating the white tree.  The angel which I already had to top the tree was bedecked in gold.  So, our Christmas tree of 1997 was decorated with only gold and illuminated with gold fairy lights.  That tree not only celebrated the Nativity, but also honored the memory of my tremendously beloved and respected dad who, when we last saw him, was surrounded by a gold aura.  This beautiful gold tree also honored the memory of my golden retriever, Keller, who had given me so much mobility, independence, and love.  The hardest Christmas of my life remains as a golden memory of 1997.


Perhaps, the hardest Christmas of my dad’s life was in 1944, when my father was in Europe as part of the 638th Tank Destroyer Battalion, during World War II.  (His brothers Charlie and Johnny were also serving in Europe; before the end of World War II, their youngest brother Jules served in Germany.)  On November 20, 1944, my dad wrote the following note to accompany a beautiful Christmas card which he mailed to my mother, whom he had married on December 4, 1942.  As I think of and pray for all who are away from home and serving our country this holiday season, I share with you the words which my dad wrote seventy-three years ago.


* * *


November 20, 1944


Dearest wife,


How are you feeling, honey?  I don’t have much time to write.  Honey, don’t expect over one or two letters a month from now on.  Honey, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas.  Wish I were there with you.



your husband, Jimmy


* * *


The colorful greeting card of  almost five-by-seven inches has “A Merry Xmas” printed at the bottom of the card and is decorated with holly and ivy.  The remainder of the card is divided into four sections:  flags of the United States and France alternate to form the borders of the sections.  Each of the four panels features famous landmarks of Paris, France, along with people with American flags and bicycles displaying flags of the USA.  In one of the panels, a US flag adorns the harness of a horse that is drawing a carriage.  Another picture highlights a dog running after a woman who is hurrying to meet two American soldiers who are in a Jeep.


On this Christmas night of 2017,

may God bless all US military who are serving away from home,

as well as their families,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


Best wishes for a most Merry Christmas week to all of my WORDWALK readers!


December 25, 2017, Monday



S-A-N-T-A Song for Children and Holiday Thoughts of Christmas Carols


S-A-N-T-A Song for Children


and Holiday  Thoughts of Christmas Carols


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



With my youngest great-nephew in mind and as a little gift for my sister to sing with her four-year-old and five-year-old students, I wrote the following holiday lyrics for children.  You can sing the lines to the tune of the “march” portion of a well-known song of a forever-famous rodent’s club.  The children do like the “Ho, ho, ho!” chorus.  The song begins with the spelling of the name of the most widely-known resident of the North Pole.  So, learning the “S-A-N-T-A Song” will help the little ones with spelling also.


Christmas is such a merry, magical, and special time for children!  Singing, dancing, and marching to this holiday song may be fun for the little ones with whom you share Christmas.


S-A-N-T-A Song


(With Christmas Cheer,

this song is dedicated to Caden, Lanie, Harper, Emmy, Tyson, Trey,

and all who happily sing these words)











Santa Claus!  Ho, ho, ho!


Santa Claus!  Ho, ho, ho!


Forever let us sing of Santa Claus!


Ho, ho, ho!


Come along, and ride our sleigh.


Enjoy the company.


Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas Day


to you and me!



Holiday Thoughts of Christmas Carols


During the 1950s and even a little into the 1960s, the Blanford, Indiana, chapter of the Royal Neighbor Juveniles, a youth organization of Royal Neighbors of America, met regularly in Perona’s Hall, a dance hall above the grocery store.  The stairway to Perona’s Hall was a back and side entrance of the brick building.  To enter the dance hall/meeting room, one had to ascend a very steep set of about forty stairs.  Despite the daunting task of climbing these stairs, I always enjoyed going to Perona’s Hall for a variety of events in my hometown.


Each December, the Royal Neighbor Juveniles of my small, rural town celebrated the holiday season with a Christmas party.  I distinctly recall one year when the Step sisters, Joyce and Janie, were leading a sing-along of Christmas carols and holiday songs.  For a number of years, the national headquarters of Royal Neighbors of America (RNA) sent to both the women’s group and the youth group very nice booklets filled with Christmas carols.  Each songbook measured approximately six-by-six inches and had a festive color cover picturing carolers.  The inside pages included music and lyrics for about twenty or more carols and holiday songs.


Joyce and her sister Janie stood near the old upright piano, on the small stage at the southwest corner of the expansive hall while the Royal Neighbor Juveniles with their parents and guests stood around the hall’s perimeters which were lined with movie-theatre type seats.  In the dimly lit room, we held our booklets and sang along.  After Joyce led the group with the singing of several less familiar carols and songs, my dad, very uncharacteristically, interrupted and said, “Let’s sing one we all know–‘Silent Night.'”  I could hardly believe that my dad stopped the show to suggest “Silent Night”–which was then and would remain his favorite carol.  Joyce agreed, and we all sang “Silent Night”–three verses.  Standing beside my father, on the east side of the hall, beside one of the windows, I was, as ever, proud of my dad and loved hearing his beautiful baritone voice singing his favorite carol.


Although this rendition of “Silent Night” occurred before my days of audio-recording events, I do still have a recording of my dad singing “Silent Night” and other Christmas carols and holiday songs at a Christmas party of the Sight-loss Support Group of the Wabash Valley (which met during the 1980s and later in the Vigo County Public Library, in Terre Haute).  I treasure this recording that allows me to hear my dad’s singing of “Silent Night” again each holiday season.


For decades, my dad called me almost each day at five o’clock in the evening.  Whether we talked for a few minutes or for an hour, I was always glad and grateful to hear his voice when I was living in another city or another state–away from my beloved Indiana home.  Thus, I often think of my dad around five o’clock.


This year, I purchased another Christmas clock which plays a different carol at each hour.  However, I cannot understand why the manufacturer placed the couple of measures of “On the FIRST day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree” at six o’clock–not one o’clock.  Further, I truly cannot understand why the clock plays “We THREE Kings” at eight o’clock, instead of at three o’clock.  On the other hand, I thoroughly understand, greatly appreciate, and am immensely grateful that my new Christmas clock touches my heart each day by most appropriately playing at five o’clock “Silent Night.”


In the comment section, please share your favorite Christmas carol and/or holiday song.


Enjoy singing the carols of Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a most peaceful, blessed, and Merry Christmas,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


December 20, 2017, Wednesday


Our Final Fresh-cut Christmas Tree


Our Final Fresh-cut Christmas Tree


and A Link to One of My Presentations about My Holiday Book


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



For many years, I decorated three Christmas trees of varying sizes for each Christmas season.  After we welcomed artificial trees into our home for a number of years, I decided that one of our three trees should be a fresh-cut tree for one final time.  I convinced my dad that this tree should be the medium-sized tree that we would place in front of the west windows of our knotty-pined family room.  Somehow, my dad had learned of or spotted a tree farm off the divided Highway 63 (en route to Terre Haute, Indiana).  This holiday season was one before I received my first guide dog; at that time, my pet dogs were my American Cocker Spaniel, Chico, and my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chelsea.  Pet dogs were always a part of our family; and I must say that wherever I went, I was accustomed to being the one to whom other dogs would come and stay beside.


On the expansive tree farm, we had quite a choice of very nice trees.  What was unusual about this visit to the tree farm was that I met the largest Shepherd–the largest dog I believe I had ever encountered–and, of course, he kept paying attention only to me.  Since we had always had medium-sized or small-breed dogs, I was wondering about this farm dog’s following me and jumping up around me wherever I walked.  At that time, little did I know that I would soon be learning how to handle, work with, and love the large-breed dogs that would become my guides shortly after the 1980s turned to 1990.  Now, my “little” Black Labrador Willow, the smallest of my four Leader Dogs, seems–at fifty-three pounds–so small to me.  How perspectives do change!


Thinking again of the perspectives of the abundant future Christmas trees, I remember that Dad and I chose a neat evergreen; the farmer felled the tree for us and helped load it onto my dad’s station wagon.  Oh, the fresh smell of pine!


Although Dad kept our previous “live” trees in the garage for a couple of days before bringing them into the house, I recall that he brought this medium-sized tree into the house as soon as we arrived home.  How wonderful to have a fresh-cut tree again!  Then, my happiness was short-lived.  Within a few minutes, my allergies kicked in:  there must have been a mold of some sort on the tree.  For three days, we did not decorate the lonely little tree.  For three days, I did not step foot into the family room.  I was determined that whatever was causing the problem would eventually disappear or dissipate and that I would be able to enjoy a final fresh-cut tree.  My parents agreed to be patient.


After three days passed, I was indeed finally able to be in the same room with the much anticipated tree.  At last, the lonely little tree was bedecked with twinkle lights, silver garland, red velveteen bows, and a variety of treasured old ornaments.  Having placed the four-foot tree atop the wooden cabinet in which was the old Singer sewing machine, our final fresh-cut Christmas tree was at the height of the west windows to show off well from out-of-doors, as well as from our family room.  Besides flanking the table where we would later gather for our holiday meals with my nephews, sister, and brother-in-law from Colorado, as well as with cousins from Indiana–the stately tree shared its sweet fragrance until the new year.


* * *


My Presentation about


The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season


on Branco Broadcast–A Link for Your Listening


To listen to my one-hour presentation on the Branco Broadcast of November 13, 2017, click here:

During this presentation, I recited my poems “Zoe’s Christmas Eve” (as “Willow’s Christmas Eve”) and “Acrostic Christmas Gift” from The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season (pages 45 and 65).


Author and broadcaster Bob Branco’s weekly program originates from Boston, Massachusetts.


The above link has been posted for a while on my author’s web page where you can read ordering information about my holiday book which is available in print, e-book, braille, and audio.  Also, you may find photos and additional articles at:


Enjoy the sounds, fragrances, scenes, and sparkle of this Christmas season!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


December 13, 2017, Wednesday


Grand Expectations of the Holiday Season


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


Best Gift Ever


Twenty Years Later:


Remembering My Dad and Sharing a Radio Broadcast


of the Best Gift Ever


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Twenty years ago on December 1, my most wonderful and cherished father, James F. Massa, passed away at age 84.  I–and all who knew him well and loved him–have missed him in so many ways over these two decades.


How blessed my sister and I were to have such a truly remarkable Dad!  Having him as a father has been and will always be the best gift of my life.  To honor and remember my dad on this December 1, I am sharing with you a piece from my book, THE CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON, to show you an example of my dad’s giving and loving heart.  Then, after the memoir, I am sharing with you the link to a radio broadcast during which I discuss my best gifts ever and my dad.


* * *


Making a Christmas Card: 


Keeping a Christmas Memory of the Best Gift



By making my own Christmas card for 2012, I was able to keep a Christmas memory of the best gift which I ever received.  I highly recommend sharing such a memory fashioned into a Christmas card because I received more positive, nice comments about this Christmas card than any other card I have ever sent.  The comments from family members and friends across the miles gave me holiday smiles that lasted into the new year of 2013.


When my cousin Carole came from Florida for a visit from late November to early December of2012, we went to a local mall and arranged for my Leader Dog, Zoe, to have her photo taken with the nicest Santa.  Thus, I wanted this festive photo on the front of my holiday card and a photo of Prince, the pet dog about whom you will read shortly, on the inside of the card.  After I wrote the greetings and copy for the card, my cousin Carole was in charge of paste-up onto a master, as well as the photocopying.  “Jolly Holidays!” and “HO!  HO!  Ho!” were the greetings that were sprinkled around the photo of Zoe and Santa Claus.  The inside photo was one that I had taken in 1967.  For the photograph, I had placed a white throw rug over a round foot stool, which measured about 24 inches in diameter.  Wearing a red coat which I had made, Prince sat perfectly posed for this snapshot when he was five years old.  With this old photograph appeared the following text inside my 2012 Christmas card:



Fifty years ago this Christmas Eve, I received the best Christmas gift ever.  The gift endured for seventeen and a half years, and the sweet memory of this gift continues to sparkle.


By 1962, my paternal grandparents were no longer residing on the farm in Klondyke, Indiana: they had moved to the more modern house which was a short distance from our home in Blanford, Indiana.  On that Christmas Eve, while everyone—my grandparents, Uncle Charlie, my mother, my sister, and I—gathered in the living room of my grandparents’ home, my dad went into the basement.  A few minutes later, amidst all the chatter, he returned with a small cardboard box.  At the perfect moment, a tiny puppy popped his head up from the box and displayed a wide, red, satin ribbon tied around his neck in a partial bow.  Surprise!  My puppy for Christmas!  The Toy Manchester/Chihuahua was black with a white stripe on his chest and a little white on three paws.


Having lost Little Prince, my beagle/terrier mix, that October, I had been unhappily dogless for almost three months and was really needing a dog.  Unbeknownst to me, my dad had selected the Toy Manchester/Chihuahua puppy for me two weeks earlier.  My grandparents had kept the puppy until Christmas Eve.  (Years later, I learned that they were somewhat sad to relinquish the puppy.)


On that first cold night when we left my grandparents’ house, I tucked my Christmas puppy into my rust-colored coat so that only his tiny face peaked out.  In his new home that first night, my new puppy whimpered—despite the ticking clock covered with a blanket that we placed in his bedding.  So, eventually, I decided I should sleep on the floor with the wonderful puppy.  Within a couple of days, I named the pup Little Prince II; but we called him “Prince.”


As I look back fifty years to this most treasured gift from my cherished father, I look ahead to next July 11 (2013), which will mark the 100th anniversary of my dad’s birth.


Since June 6, 2009, I have been blessed with another dog who is black—my third Leader Dog, Zoe, who continues to be an amazing guide and dear companion.



May the gifts of Christmas


bring you


sweet memories,


a happy present,


and a healthy new year!



With our warmest holiday wishes,


Alice and Zoe


(first posted on my Wordwalk blog on December 11, 2013, and excerpted from page 41-44 of THE CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON)


* * *




The “Best Gift Ever” was the topic of a portion of “The Morning Show” on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ideas Network, on November 23, 2017, Thanksgiving.  During the 47-minute segment, radio host Kate Archer Kent welcomed me to the program twenty-seven minutes after the start of this archived recording.  When you have time during this busy season of the year, please click on the following link to listen to the Best Gift Ever” of a number of callers and guest Connie Kilmark, as well as my comments about my best gifts, my book, and my extraordinary dad:


Happy listening and gift-giving during this sparkling season of the year!

Alice and Willow, my fourth Leader Dog (a Black Labrador Retriever)


December 1, 2017, Friday (second post during this special week)



Thankful for …


A Month–Not Just a Day–of Thanks


First Post of Week 5.  Thankful for

Holiday Musicals, Thanksgiving Company, Blog Tour, and WORDWALK Readers


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



How many times can you visit MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET?  Well, at least one more time–if you are in the area of Fort Atkinson’s Fireside Theatre (the only Actor’s Equity dinner theatre in Wisconsin).  During the Thanksgiving season this year, I was blessed with more company than in recent Thanksgivings.  One event my company and I thoroughly enjoyed was the musical version of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, which certainly filled us with the Christmas spirit.


Since I have seen a couple of versions of the movie a number of times and listen to the broadcast of the old radio drama each year, I was uncertain if I would appreciate the musical version as much as other holiday productions in past years by the acting company of The Fireside (Dinner) Theatre.  Through some music numbers which were new to me and some delightfully familiar songs, the production grabbed and cheerfully held not only my attention, but also the attention of my guide dog, Willow, who did not sleep a wink during the lively performance.  (Yes, Leader Dog Willow, my Black Labrador Retriever, gave the musical production a four-paw rating.)


The few changes in the original script are woven into the story neatly and creatively.  A female actor’s portraying the role of the prosecuting attorney gives the play a more modern touch.  While devotees of the original versions will notice the few changes, these are not stumbling blocks, but add interest to the theatrical experience.  As usual, the professional actors of The Fireside Theatre display very well a myriad of talents–singing, acting, and dancing–in an array of festive costumes.  Also, as is customary for this theatre, the creative use of the stage and surrounding areas is remarkable.


At times, we laughed out loud at the humorous lines. Then, the  final scene’s being more quiet, tender, sweet, and touching than I expected brought a few happy tears to my eyes, as well as to the eyes of at least one person who was sitting beside me in the audience.


After applause and standing ovation at the end of the musical, the matinee audience was treated to the entire company’s beautiful rendition of a well-known Christmas carol.  I was hoping for such a finale by which to remember this wonderful performance.  Filled with Christmas cheer, many audience members caroled along–on 34th STREET.


Before show time, my Thanksgiving company, Willow, and I explored the holiday shops and bakery (all in the same building as the theatre and restaurant).  Beginning our Christmas shopping in these small stores that are filled with unique holiday items was fun.


Then, we relished a delicious buffet.  The meal begins with a wild berry smoothie; however, this appetizer is more like a small, tasty milk shake.  A variety of homemade, pretty pastries preceded the buffet’s main course.  Besides scrumptious red velvet cake (which we took home for a later treat), the dessert was an absolutely superbly flavorful ginger ice cream (which I would like to duplicate at home).


Having good company (from Florida and Colorado) and good weather (for November in Wisconsin) added to the special quality of this holiday event.




Since I am so thankful for all of my WORDWALK readers and followers, I want to share with you a little more about my blog tour, which began on November 20 and continues each weekday through December 8.  By visiting one or more of the stops (websites) on my blog tour, you can sign up to have a chance of winning a twenty-dollar Panera gift card.  Additionally, you can see how each of the fifteen bloggers displays the banner and other information about my book, THE CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON.  Today’s hosting site is at:

Thanks to Jo Jones, a retired pilot, for her help in promoting my book to the many visitors of her attractive website and to her 347 followers of this one of her two blogs!


On November 27, I was especially pleased that a very high-traffic blog hosted my Blurb Blitz Tour.  By 12:30 p.m. (Central Time), “Mello & June” already had 5,567 hits just on that Monday, when the blog highlighted my holiday book.  You may still check out this hosting blog at:

Thanks to author and blogger Kimberly Ranee Hicks for choosing to host THE CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON on her extensive blog!


During this season of gratitude, I am grateful that my book–thanks to the Blurb Blitz Tour–is being noticed and read by more people.




If you have THE CHRISTMAS CARRIAGE AND OTHER WRITINGS OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON on your gift-giving list, you may order the print book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as other online sources.  For additional ordering information for the print, electronic, braille, and audio versions of my book, Please visit my author’s web page:

Special thanks to each of you who has already read my book in one of its four formats and to each reader who has added my book to your gift-giving list!(The $7.50 print book does make a festive little gift for someone who enjoys holiday reading.)


POST-SCRIPT:  I plan to post more than one piece on WORDWALK this week, so please stay tuned to my blog.


As always, many thanks for reading my WORDWALK blog!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


November 29, 2017, Wednesday


Grateful for Cherished Thanksgiving Memories


A Month–Not Just a Day–of Thanks


Second Post of Week 4.  Grateful for Cherished Thanksgiving Memories


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



On this Thanksgiving Eve of 2017, I am sharing with my WORDWALK readers the first piece in my holiday book, which spans from Thanksgiving through January.  The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season includes three Thanksgiving pieces, nine Christmas pieces, two post-Christmas pieces, one New Year’s Eve short story, and three January pieces.  Comprised of short stories, memoirs, poems and essays–my collection offers a variety of holiday reading.


After you read the following memoir, you are welcome to post a comment about a special Thanksgiving memory of yours.  If you are a reader of WORDWALK and prefer not to comment, please consider just giving this blog post a “like.”  Thank you!



Thanksgiving Vignettes:


A Cornucopia of Thanks for Family and Friends around the Thanksgiving Table



My earliest recollection of Thanksgiving was most likely the celebration in 1955 when I was five years old.  A large family gathering squeezed around the expansive table of my maternal grandmother.  The very high-ceiling room was a combination of kitchen, dining room, and sitting room behind the grocery store and to the south side of the Italian bakery with its brick oven–which, after the death of my grandfather, was no longer in use.  In my mind’s eye, I see the room in a blur of blue, brown, and beige.  I remember nothing of the abundance of food, but I do remember an abundance of chatter.  As a very young child, I waited for a lull in the conversation; however, in my Italian-American family, the chance for a lull in the conversation was as likely as my holding on to the right end of the wishbone.  How distinctly I recall being overwhelmed by everyone’s talking!  My clearest recollection is thinking that I would never get a word in edgewise.


Of course, I do have family members who are masters of the fine art of conversation and who do love to talk.  Thus, having grown up in such an extended family, I find myself more comfortable around people who like to talk.  Yes, I am thankful for talkative family members and friends.


During the remainder of the 1950s and the 1960s, my extended family celebrated Thanksgiving at my Aunt Zita’s Italian restaurant.  Since the restaurant was closed on Thanksgiving Day, we ate in the largest room of the restaurant–the bar room.  Parallel with the oak bar, we pushed together at least three long tables so that about thirty or so of us could dine together.  Either my Aunt Zita and/or my dad would roast a big turkey.  While Aunt Zita always made the Italian-style, fried green beans and mashed potatoes, other family members carried in a variety of beautiful dishes for our Thanksgiving buffet.  Fran, the aunt of my cousin Carole, always brought oyster dressing, which I would never even think of tasting.  My mother, who would have marked her 100th birthday on November 25, 2014, would always bring my favorite–polenta dolce, an Italian cream of wheat dessert, breaded and fried.  Since she was known for her delicious and picture-perfect pies, she frequently brought to the gathering pumpkin , lemon meringue, or my sister and cousin Donald’s favorite chocolate pie.  In addition to carrying in the homemade pasta (noodles) and fresh cranberries, my mother always made her favorite from the 50s–a lemon Jell-O with shredded carrots, chopped celery, and crushed pineapple; she topped this double-recipe with walnut halves.  Not until I was much older did I develop a taste for this gelatin salad.


The bounty of roasting pans, baking dishes, and desserts were arranged on three large round tables in front of the south windows of the restaurant.  What a spread of photogenic delights!    When everyone had passed through the buffet line and sat down at the one very long table, we knew our entire family was truly blessed.  Most often, someone urged my older sister to say the grace-before-meals.  “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Bless us, oh Lord, and these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.”  Those of us who were Catholic crossed ourselves again; then, we all ate the remarkably delicious food.  Sometimes, we waited a while to have dessert.


On one of these Thanksgivings, a rare November snow began to fall on our small Hoosier town.  By midafternoon, the view outside the restaurant’s large front windows was, amazingly, a Christmas-card snapshot of a winter wonderland of these Hoosier hills with the snow-covered Blanford Park in the background.  How I remember that picturesque snowflake splendor of a Thanksgiving Day when our extended family still lived within a short radius of each other!


May your Thanksgiving be blessed with good conversation, delicious food,

touching memories, and the love of family and friends!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


On November 26, 2014 (Wednesday), I first posted this memoir on WORDWALK.


BOOKNOTE:  Today is the third day of my virtual book tour.  On this November 22, you may visit the following host blog site to see my book’s banner and to read two other excerpts of my holiday book:

Thanks to librarian Judith and also blogger Stacey  for being two of the fifteen hosts of my book’s Blurb Blitz Tour!


November 22, 2017, Wednesday