Friday, 14 December 2012

Tonya Kappes

Happy holidays! This time of year makes me (and a lot of others) a bit more sentimental.

My family celebrates Christmas and everything that comes with it, making gingerbread houses, putting up a Christmas tree or seven (yes! I have seven in my house…is that weird?), candy making, cookie decorating, skiing, snow tubing, gift giving (the wrapping I’m not a fan of), eating the candy and cookies we made, church, and family gatherings. But the one tradition I love most is going to pick out the live tree.

It’s become a tradition for me and my family (hubby and three teenage boys) to go pick out the tree, strap it on the car, bring it home (yes, you can picture Christmas Vacation and I’m definitely Clark…and we do have a few Uncle Eddie’s in the family), and immediately put it up.

The homemade Christmas ornaments my boys have made over the years are so much fun to go through and we laugh while Bing Crosby and old school Alvin and the Chipmunks play in the background…and yes, a plate of homemade cookies and apple cider to go with it.

Then we get to the box my guys have titled: Mom’s Special Ornament. It is only one ornament that I get to place on the tree. It takes my breath away every time I see it.

Rudolph…the little guy that stands about three-inches tall and is missing his little black eyes, takes his place~front and center.

Rudolph was given to me, now over thirty-five years ago, from my grandmother. She was and remains such an inspiration to me. We had gone to an antique store and she bought me Rudolph.

My grandmother didn’t drive and couldn’t read. But she could tell a great story.

“You see,” she looked at me with sadness in her eyes but a smile on her face, “I’ve overcome my share of things. I married your papa when I was fourteen, birthed nine children, and buried three. Sometimes life can throw you some really tough lesson.”

Her long skinny fingers fanned out, each one had more wrinkles than the other, and Rudolph lay in her palm.
“Rudolph had to overcome many things. He was made fun of. He was different. You, Tonya, you are different.” She took my hand and held it palm up. Gently, she placed Rudolph in my hand. “You have talent beyond belief. You have a great strength, go-get ‘em attitude that many young people don’t have and will be intimidated by. You are creative beyond your years.”

I watched her wondering what she was thinking as she stared out the window. I could tell she was thinking of a time long ago. I couldn’t help but believe she was telling me a story of herself.

But either way, all it took was that three-inch plastic reindeer to inspire everything in my life, to overcome any and everything that stepped into the way of me reaching my dreams.

Tonya is an Amazon Movers and Shakers, and self-published International bestselling author. She writes humorous cozy mystery and women's fiction that involves quirky characters in quirky situations., the first novel in the Olivia Davis Mystery Series, is a double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories.

Carpe Bead 'em is the winner in Amazon's eFestival of Words in the Women's Fiction/Chick-lit Category.
She travel to various writer's groups giving workshops on marketing and promoting no matter where you are in your career, and a self publishing.

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Excerpt from A New Tradition, a Christmas short story:

Chapter One

“Are you sure you don’t want to come? “ Jenna asked, packing up for the early pre-holiday filled night. I watched as she gathered all the goodies she got from her Secret Santa gift exchange.

“No thank you,” I smiled, turning around and peering out over the city lights. They lit up Main Street like the white lights on a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree that I would not be decorating this year. This was the first Christmas that I was going to be alone. ALONE.

“I don’t know.” She leaned against the door frame of my office. Her normally straight blonde hair was off-set with curls that framed her face, as worry set deep in her hazel eyes. “It’s not healthy to spend Christmas alone when you have a slew of girlfriends that want to be with you.”

“I will be fine.” I turned around and picked up the stack of papers sitting on my desk. “I have that big conference call with Walter Bassett. Plus, my date with Audrey.”

“Mr. Bassett can wait until after the holidays.” Jenna crossed her arms. “He has made us wait plenty of times.”

She was right. Mr. Bassett was a big pill to swallow when it came to business. He owned several casinos around the world and used our little firm to help decorate them. Help, as in help with a little light fixture here, another there. But the day had come when Mr. Bassett finally gave my little firm, The Design Studio, the entire account on the new gambling boat in Biloxi, Mississippi, and we were going to finalize the deal on Christmas morning during our Skype meeting. That in itself was enough incentive to spend Christmas alone.

Granted, the boat casino wasn’t Vegas, but it was bigger than any job we had gotten in Mulberry End, Connecticut. And with the wonders of technology, Mr. Bassett had no clue he was doing business with a tiny business located in a town of ten-thousand people.

“The gang is going to meet around 7 PM down at the Rum and Monkey for the honky-tonk Christmas Eve party to ring in Christmas. And it’s not too late to have our annual Audrey party before we meet.” She referred to our annual watching of Breakfast at Tiffany’s where we all dressed up in our finest ball gowns and tiaras while sipping wine. “Tomorrow you can come to my family Christmas dinner. We’d love to have you.”

The gang consisted of five of my best friends who all grew up in Mulberry End. Of course we all went our separate ways when we went to college, but came home shortly after graduation. It was slim picking in Mulberry End’s single men department, which explains why none of us had a husband or boyfriend.

“It sounds like a great time, but it’s not every year that I have the opportunity to spend the holidays alone.” I took the Breakfast at Tiffany’s DVD out of my computer bag and held it up. “This year, Audrey and I are going to be spending Christmas alone.”

Not that I didn’t enjoy Christmas with the Englehardt’s (my family) and my tradition with my friends, but us being apart one Christmas wasn’t going to kill anyone. Besides, it wasn’t like I didn’t see my family on a bi-weekly basis and my friends on a weekly basis.

Plus, I didn’t have to hear about Aunt Edna’s new dentures, Uncle Bill’s bunions, or cute baby Sally’s first green poopy diapers.

Yes. Those were the conversations we had around our Christmas table. And I am determined that this year was going to be a relaxing one.

Before she left, Jenna turned around. “If you change your mind, you can stop on down at the Rum and Monkey.”

“I won’t.”

“And is your cell phone charged?” Jenna was almost as good as my mother. “I don’t like you traveling to that remote hunk of woods with five inches of snow on the ground.”

“It’s fine.” I assured her. “And my dad made sure the cabin was stocked with plenty of firewood before they left.”

“I can’t believe they left you alone on Christmas. The Englehardt’s love Christmas.” She stomped back to her receptionist desk just outside my office door. With her hands full, she called over her shoulder, “The girls are going to miss your rendition of Santa Baby during Rum and Monkey’s karaoke hour.”

“I won’t be alone. I have Henry.” I pointed to my little white Persian cat curled on the brown leather couch in the corner of my office. Yes, I named him Henry after My Fair Ladies’, Henry Higgins.

“You can only watch so much Audrey Hepburn.”

She didn’t just say that! No one can ever have enough of Audrey! “Please don’t tell me you packed the Audrey outfit.” Her gaze darkened when she realized that I had, in fact, packed the black dress and tiara I love to put on when I watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s. “Really, I think you need help. I mean professional help.”

“I did buy a new book on my Kindle. It’s charged and ready to go.” I knew that I would fall fast asleep before I got in a few pages. I had been working so hard on the Bassett deal that when my head hit the pillow, I was out.

“I will call you tomorrow. Now get out of here.” I glance down at my watch. Noon. If I hurried, I could be at the cabin by two. Just in time to start a fire, put the small turkey and all the fixings in the refrigerator and fix my annual salmon dinner for tonight. Just because I wasn’t having Christmas with my family didn’t mean that I couldn’t have Christmas dinner with Audrey.

“Tell your parents Merry Christmas if they call you,” Jenna said before heading out of the office.

This was a once in a lifetime trip for my parents. Recently, my father had retired from the lumberyard. He started out sorting nuts and bolts for Mr. Baker, the owner of Mulberry Lumber, at the age of eighteen, moved up in the company and retired after forty-five years.

As an appreciation for all dads’ hard work, Mr. Baker’s family gave him and mom an all-expense paid trip to London, England. Mom had always wanted to spend the holidays abroad. Since I’m their only child and grown, I encouraged them to go this year. I had the meeting with Mr. Bassett coming up on Christmas morning through Skype.  He had insisted it be on Christmas morning. It shouldn’t have surprised me, because he was always as cold as ice in his emails.  Scrooge!

I was looking forward to seeing him. Of course, I had googled him, but he was nowhere to be found. I had heard through the grapevine that he never attended the openings of any of his casinos or the parties. He’s a bit of a recluse from what I understand.

I’d put money on it that he was on some beautiful Caribbean island where everything you could possibly need was at his fingertips. And I wanted a piece of that pie. I was going to have to work hard to get it. That was why I was more than happy to head to our family cabin in the woods for a relaxing couple of days with Audrey.

Contest: comment for the chance to win ebook copies of A New Tradition and Carpe Bead 'em!


  1. Oh my goodness. I just got goosebumps reading about your grandmother!!! Thanks for sharing.

    in Germany

    1. Hi, Valerie! Thanks so much!! It's always fun to share some great memories!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I loved the history behind Rudolph, thank you so much Tonya for sharing and have as lovely holiday time as you describe here!

    1. Hi, Tessa! Thanks so much for stopping by! I love sharing old memories! I hope you have a fantastic holiday too!

  3. Thanks for sharing. Nice post.


    1. Thanks! This just happens to be a memory that will be passed on for generations with that cute little reindeer.

  4. Nice excerpt. A small town romance fits easily with Christmas themes. I always imagine a warm community in the small town setting.
    a dot charol at yahoo dot ca

  5. What a lovely post, Tonya! I'm so cheered to read about Rudolph and his special connection to your loving grandmother! Thanks for sharing about your stories, too--looking forward to reading them for myself!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net