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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Toni Noel

Christmas Joy

My parents were hard hit by the Great Depression and often struggled to make the Christmas Holidays a happy time for us.

One year my grandmother gave Daddy a subscription to the Saturday Evening Post; she kept renewing the subscription until the publisher couldn't keep up with changing times and stopped publishing it. Daddy had always read everything he could get his hands on, and now he had something of his own. We were not allowed to touch the newest issue until Daddy said we could.

We all loved that magazine, and would gather around each time the mailman brought a new issue to see what Norman Rockwell had put on the cover that week. Next morning Daddy would stick the newest magazine in his hip pocket, hurry out to the outhouse, and stay for a really long time. I didn't much like to spend any more time than necessary out there, but apparently he did. I think it was because it was the only place he could go and not be surrounded by females.

The Christmas morning of 1937 is the first holiday to stay in my memory. I woke to the soft strains of a lullaby coming from beneath our tree and to the cheers of my siblings, delighted that I'd finally opened my eyes so they could get up.

Momma said, "Wake up, Sugar. Santa Claus came," and I hurried into the living room. Beneath the sagging branches of the tree we'd cut and dragged down off the hill I discovered the source of the music, a baby doll nestled in a carrying case. The noise and excitement of those around me opening their gifts failed to draw my attention from that perfect doll.

When I picked her up, her brown eyes opened and I snuggled her soft body close. And when I lay her back in bed, she slowly closed her eyes, a smile on her face as she enjoyed the tinkling strains from the music box.

To this day I have a fascination with music boxes, and still have that one. I can't recall what anyone else received that Christmas, or even if I received other gifts. That doll earned my full attention from the moment I first laid eyes on her. I fell hopelessly in love with her and named her Priscilla.

She was just the right size to fit in a towheaded four-year-old child's arms. Rocking her, I would not have to hold her long before the music lulled her to sleep in my arms. Then I'd put her down in her own little bed.

The latch on the lid was to secure her for traveling, but I didn't like locking the lid down right in her face and never latched it with Priscilla inside.

Of all the dolls I ever owned, she was my favorite. She had a cry box hidden in her soft rounded chest but a good mother didn't let their babies cry. She wore panties instead of diapers but came with a bottle I soon wore out feeding her. In my eyes she was like a real, live doll, precious to me, my very own child.

Momma told me she'd seen the doll in the window of Pizitz's downtown store and told Santa she knew a little girl who needed that doll. She'd even thought to ask him to turn the music box on as he was leaving because her baby liked to sleep late on Christmas and keep her siblings waiting.

As I grew older I realized our family was not a lot better off that year than we'd been the year of my birth. Daddy's construction job had shut down for the winter and he'd been laid off again, but somehow Momma managed that wonderful gift for me.

I am still awed by my good fortune, the depths of my parents’ love. I don't know what became of that doll. Most likely, I wore her out. When the suitcase wore out Daddy removed the music box for me to keep.

In the toe of my stocking that year, I found an orange and some raisins clinging to a dried up stem. Fresh oranges were a rarity at our house and I rationed mine, eating just one section a day and letting the juice slowly run down my throat. My miserly effort to make my orange last didn't pay off, however. There were too many sections and six of them grew green mold. Momma insisted I throw what was left away and I cried my heart out as I did so.


No hitting below the belt in Toni Noel's romantic suspense chock full of intrigue. She hits the unsuspecting reader right in the heart in Law Breakers and Love Makers with a hero to fall for at the same time he is falling back in love with the heroine. Her second novel, Temp to Permanent released by Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc., is working nine-to-five office romance. Decisive Moments, her latest release, pits a gutsy photographer and the owner of the boarded-up house she desperately needs to photograph. He is equally determined that no one enters his childhood home, the scene of terrible tragedy when he was four.

Before writing fiction, Toni worked in the communities where she lived, twice establishing church libraries, giving puppet shows for children in Head Start, and later working with city officials to secure a library for her growing community.

If you enjoyed reading Toni Noel' childhood memories you might also enjoy reading her novels. Here's a buy link:

Toni Noel will be giving away a download of the winner's choice of one of Toni's novels from Desert Breeze.


Unknown said...

What a wonderful story Toni! I still put under my Christmas tree every year a pretty small doll in a blue dress and a Chinese costumed doll given to me as child by relatives and always considered 'too good' to play with.They're very special to me now.

Angela Britnell, fellow Desert Breeze author

Unknown said...

thanks for your story! Loved it.

Debby said...

Thanks for the story. I enjoyed it
debby236 at gmail dot com

Susan Jaymes said...

What a beautiful story.

Jean P said...

Thank you for the story, a wonderful story.

skpetal at hotmail dot com

Na said...

Music boxes and snow globes are so beautiful. I've never received one for Christmas but these two things are great repsentations of Christmas for some reason.


GladysMP said...

I. too, grew up in a family where money was not too plentiful, but I did have several dolls. Alas, my grandmother and mother decided that an aunt of mine needed the dolls for her large family and without my knowing about it, sent my dolls out of town to her children. I have always wished I had those dolls.

Dawn said...

Your story was very moving..gave me chills..very special memories you have.

Judith said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with us.
Happy Holidays.

desitheblonde said...

during the early 50 and 60s i now what it was like we made alot of t he gift and the family earn to do this for every one the book you have sound great and love the cover
desi the

shadow_kohler said...

what a great story! thanks for sharing it with us!

Frank said...

Toni, what sweet, sweet memories! Thank you for sharing those with us! Hope your celebrating this year is merry and memorable, too!

--flchen1, using DH's account
f dot chen at comcast dot net

VampedChik said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I enjoyed the story!

Kathryn Merkel said...

Loved reading your childhood memories Toni. When I was about 5 years old, my dad's youngest brother was in the army & stationed in Belgium. I will never forget the present he sent me that year, a real black forest music box. It still sits on the dresser in my bedroom over 40 years later & is one of my most treasured possessions.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at