Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's a Wonderful, Fabric Filled Life

by Poly Monroe
from the Material Witness Mysteries
by Diane Vallere

The Victorian apartment where I lived, upstairs from the fabric shop I’d inherited, felt different from the Christmases that I’d spent when my great aunt and uncle lived here. Back then, I was a kid playing with the train set that ran across the base of the Christmas tree, eating home baked sugar cookies fresh from Aunt Millie’s oven while counting down the hours until Santa arrived. The tree was draped in homemade garlands made from strewn empty wooden spools of thread collected over the year. Pine needles dropped onto ivory crushed velvet that pooled under the lowest level of branches. A videotape of It’s A Wonderful Life played on Uncle Marius’s old TV set, and mugs of hot chocolate were served before bed.

I did what I could to replicate my memories with the tree and the movie, but without the company of family, the place felt lonely. Even the antics of my adopted kittens, Pins and Needles, didn’t help. I’d tied fluffy red grosgrain bows onto each of their collars, but Pins was trying to bite at his. He bent his head and tried, unsuccessfully, to catch the bow in his mouth. Needles was far more interested in the trains that circled the tree.
The doorbell rang. I ran down the stairs and found my new friend Genevieve Girard on the porch with my parents. Voices of merriment mingled with hugs and kisses. Charlie, the auto mechanic from across the street rolled a tire up the sidewalk toward me.

“I brought you a wreath,” she said.
“You brought me a tire,” I countered.

“Tomato, tomahto. Here.” She thrust it at me. Colorful satin bows, the kind with the adhesive back that you stick on a package, had been stuffed inside. “I was going to wrap it in lights, but they broke when I rolled it across the floor.” I took the tire and scanned the sidewalk for anyone else who might be joining us. “Vaughn is at the Waverly House. It’s their annual tree lighting tonight.”
“Sure. I knew that,” I said. I hated that Charlie knew I’d been wondering if her brother was going to show. I followed the group upstairs. My dad was in the living room, holding Needles over one shoulder while fussing with an assortment of cables by a dusty VCR.

“Dad, I have It’s A Wonderful Life on DVD this year,” I said.
“I’ll have the VCR hooked up in a second. It’s tradition.”

Before I could argue the point of technology vs. tradition, the doorbell rang again. I glanced around the room. Everybody I expected was already here.
I ran downstairs and opened the door to an ivory box tied with a thick satin ribbon. A flutter of warmth came over me. This wasn’t my first experience with an ivory box left by my doorframe. It was from Vaughn. I stepped backward and closed the door. Chitchat and music tumbled out of the upstairs, but I remained in the darkness below. I carried the package to the fabric cutting table and pulled the notched end of the ribbon until it fell open. The sweet, seductive scent of roses escaped the box. I lifted the lid and exposed an interior packed with petals. Nestled on top was a piece of sheer vellum with a VM embossed on top in gold.

Dear Poly,

It wouldn’t be a wonderful life without Zuzu’s petals (or without you). Sorry I had to miss your party this year.

Merry Christmas,

 Vaughn
I slipped the vellum back into the box and replaced the lid. After all that had happened since moving to San LadrĂ³n, one thing was certain. It was turning into a  wonderful life, indeed.
--
Leave a comment below about your favorite holiday tradition and be entered to win a copy of CRUSHED VELVET, book 2 in the Material Witness Mystery Series!

97 comments:

  1. Makes me wax nostalgic. Got to read this book!
    cjreynolds52(at)comcast(dot)net

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  2. This does sound wonderful & I love the cover.

    We have a lot of traditions. Decorating the Christmas tree together is a great favorite.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I love decorating the tree, but hate trying to get those lights right! Good luck!

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  3. Great story and love the cover. As I think about it, I realize we have a lot of traditions, starting with putting up the outside decorations right after Thanksgiving to reading The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.
    sallycootie@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Grandma Cootie, I used to recite The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve myself. Forgot about that! Good luck!

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  4. I have read the first book in the series, and I can't wait to read this one! Thank you for the giveaway.

    One of our family traditions is decorating the tree (which is fun). I also enjoyed the touring of the neighborhood (or town) to see the lovely decorations and lights.

    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

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  5. There is a park that decorates every year. We love to go.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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    1. Debby, this sounds like a great idea. Let someone else do the work! Good luck!

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  6. I like watching that movie every year too! But a family tradition is watching Holiday Inn together. Thanks!
    JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I will have to check out Holiday Inn. I don't think I've seen it. Good luck!

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  7. I enjoy decorating the Christmas tree every year and putting up other Christmas decorations. A tradition for me, is watching Dickens Christmas Carol. I have several versions on DVD and will watch other versions if I see them scheduled on TV. dbahn@iw.net

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    1. Another great movie tradition. Good luck!

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  8. I want to keep reading! Thanks for the chance!
    karen(dot)kenyon(at)rogers(dot)com

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  9. The cover is awesome & the story looks like a lot of fun, Thanks for this amazing giveaway. Linda May lindamay4852@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you, Linda. I love this cover too!! Good luck!

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  10. Decorating the tree, watching Christmas movies, listening to seasonal music....thanks for the giveaway! dmskrug3(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. All great traditions, Daniele. Good luck!

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  11. We make sure we're together to spend quality time with each other. I love your books. Thank you for this chance! areewekidding@yahoo.com

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  12. I watch the movie Christmas Story every year. Love it! lkleback@hotmail.com

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  14. Making gingerbread cookies with the kids and hanging the stockings.

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    1. I bet your house smells really yummy! Good luck.

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  15. My sister & I helping our Mam get things ready for Christmas Day.

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    1. Family coming together, sounds lovely. Good luck!

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  16. Baking cookies and going to midnight mass are my favorite Christmas traditions
    agavigan@cox.net

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    1. Hi Annette, sounds like fun! Good luck!

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  17. Christmas dishes. My mom got a set from her bridge club back in the late 40s. I loved using these every year while growing up, Eventually they were passed on to me and then to my middle son. Now I have a few special dishes and mugs that I use all Dec and sometimes Jan!
    Looking forward to Crushed Velvet.
    kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

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    1. HI Karen, I love the idea of Christmas dishes! What a great way to make this time of year feel extra special. Good luck!

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  18. I love decorating the house on the day after Thanksgiving.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Sue, I've held my own decorating off for a bit, but it does always put me into the spirit! Good luck.

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  19. Book looks like a good read. I enjoy decorating the tree and house with my sister the week before Christmas. Makes the house look so festive.
    diannekc8@gmail.com

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    1. Thank you, Dianne. I hope you and your sister have lots of fun decorating! good luck.

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  20. A peace-filled time with loved ones.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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    1. It's nice to find some peace this time of year. Good luck!

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  21. Christmas has so many wonderful traditions for me, but I think I enjoy finding the perfect tree and decorating it with lights and ornaments from family heirlooms to recent "this one's cute." Whether we had an extra adventure cutting it down ourself, searching the tree lots, or opting for a pre-lit reusable version, the tree is the focal point of our celebration. kat8762@aol.com

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    1. I love that you focus on the tree. Decorating is so much fun. Good luck!

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  22. We love driving around the neighborhood to look at all the cheerful holiday decorations!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

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    1. I agree, it's tons of fun to see what other people do! Good luck!

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  23. Love the cover and the story sounds like a perfect read for me. I need to look up book 1 Ruth Nixon ruthenixon@sbcglobal.net

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  24. My favorite Christmas tradition goes back to when I was 5 or 6 years old & helped Mom make sugar cookies (decorated with red & green sprinkles) to set out for "Santa" along with a bottle of Coca-Cola (this was in the Deep South). The Christmas sugar cookie tradition continued until just a few years ago, but I am reviving it this year. jan_healthandhealing@yahoo.com

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    1. Jan, Poly Monroe has a memory of leaving cookies out for Santa, too, but she thought her blog post was getting too long so she took that part out :) Good luck!

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  25. Sounds like my kind of read plus I love the cover!!
    Happy Holidays!!

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  26. Decorating my house. Each and every decoration means something and takes me on a trip down memory lane. And a happy trip it is!
    lynneandco@comcast.net

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    1. Lynne, I love that you have decorations that bring on memories of past Christmases! Good luck!

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  27. I miss celebrating St Nicholas day and leaving our shoes out and treats for his donkey. One tradition that we still do is to watch the Christmas shows together, Rudolf, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Polar Express and our favorite that we just watched last night Its a Wonderful Life. Zuzu's petals always gets to my dad. kayt18 at comcast dot net

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    1. Kay, I was just thinking about the hay in the shoe tradition. I never did it, but I read about that. How cute! Good luck!

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  28. We have an annual Christmas Eve feast which is memorable. Family, grandkids and friends. Storytelling and enjoyable time. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Family all together! Wonderful. Good luck!

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  29. Baking, cooking and preparing savory and delectable goodies and meals for all to remember and celebrate. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  30. Reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with the little ones in new Christmas pj's was always my favorite. The best problem in the world to have: choosing among so many marvelous writers. Thanks for the chance! MsKayLib@gmail.com

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    1. New Christmas PJs for the little ones--a great tradition! Good luck!

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  31. Going to church to hear about the reason for the season.

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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    1. So sorry about the many posts. The website was not working for a while.

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    2. Hi Elaine, I always loved the hymns during this time of year. Good luck!

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  32. Going to church to hear about the reason for the season.

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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  33. Going to church to hear about the reason for the season.

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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  34. Going to church to hear about the reason for the season.

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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  35. Going to church to hear about the reason for the season.

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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  36. Going to church to hear about the reason for the season.

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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  37. The cover is awesome and the story sounds like a lot of fun. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is driving around town looking at the beautiful Christmas lights and displays. Thanks for this giveaway!
    peggyhyndman(at)att(dot)net

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  38. An old tradition was my mom and I baking everyone's favorite cookie. We stayed up all night baking cooking.

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    1. How early did you get up on Christmas morning? My sister and I weren't allowed to get up before 5:00. Good luck!

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  39. Driving to Batavia, NY to get homemade ribbon candy from Oliver's.

    Cozyupwithkathy @ gmail dot com

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    1. That sounds like so much fun! I just realized Poly probably hands out ribbon candy to her customers this time of year :) Good luck!

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  40. I love to make fudge, with nuts. I make little plates to take to share with older neighbors. Then I come back home make coffee, grab a book with some fudge! Can't wait thanks for the giveaway

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    1. Fudge-fudge-fudge! Sounds like you know what you like. Good luck!

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  41. My favorite holiday memories are of plum puddings and Christmas crackers. My mother is from England and has continued the tradition with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
    bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

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  42. This book/series sounds delightful! My favorite Christmas tradition is taking a Christmas jigsaw puzzle to the family gathering. We start the puzzle on Christmas Eve and finish it on Christmas Day. I started doing this back in the late '80's, so we've put together a LOT of Christmas puzzles!
    Thanks for the opportunity to win a book. stitchkat at austin dot rr dot com

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    1. A family project! I love that idea. Good luck!

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  43. Baking cookies while listening to Xmas music and singing then we decorate the tree. seascapelife at gmail dot com

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  44. Our family likes to take one evening to load up in the car and go in search of light displays. We have a radio station on that is playing Christmas music and sometimes stop along the way to get hot chocolate to sip. robeader53@yahoo.com

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  45. We loved lighting the menorah and playing dreidel with M & Ms. We ate more than we played! Cheers@Marjimmanor.com

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    1. cheers! I think everybody eats more than they play around the holidays, right? Good luck!

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  46. No traditions but love to listen to christmas music.

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    1. Even in sunny California, the music can put me into the holiday spirit. Good luck!

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  47. This comes close to describing what I have planned for tonight! Good luck!

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  48. Watched It's a wonderful LIfe the other night. However, our one unusual tradisiton is when we get the decorations out, we have a statue of Mary on a donkey with Joseph beside them. It's about 5 inches tall. Anyway, that statue travels around the livingroom toward the stable and on Christmas eve, arrives there. I wanted a way to make the true Christmas story come alive for my boys when they were growning up. We started it about 30 years ago and now it is tradition.

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  49. This series looks wonderful! And I loved the tire wreath! My favorite holiday tradition is baking cookies and watching Christmas cartoons on Christmas Eve. Thank you very much for the chance to win!
    magicgirl2357@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you, Abby. So many cookies here. I wish someone would bake some for me! Good luck!

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  50. I like to watch Christmas movies on TV and eat a turkey dinner on Christmas Eve. No kids and not much family that I see.
    catbooks72(at)gmail(dot)com

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  51. Spending time with my Mom

    kaye dot killgore at comcast dot net

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  52. ***Comments are now closed while I figure out a winner! Watch the sidebar!***

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