My guest today is Vicki Batman, author of Twinkle Lights, a heart-warming Christmas story available now.
I’m Such a Softie
Like a ooey, gooey marshmallow fresh from roasting over the fire and ready to place on top of a graham cracker already covered with chocolate squares… Yeah, I’m that kind of softie.
Several years ago, my heart went zing.
I love to go to flea markets and hunt for bargains, especially when it comes to Christmas items. One time, as I was headed out the last aisle almost ready to exit. I saw a woman ahead of me take an object out of a ragtag box. I paused. I recognized what she held and clasped my hands in prayer mode and went, “Put it back. Put it back.” She lifted it, examined front and back.
She put it back. Whew!
I tried not to run to the booth because part of flea market buying is not to appear over anxious so we can get the item for an even better price. When I reached the table, I looked at what was there first to appear like I was shopping in a nonchalant fashion. Then, I bent down and saw the box. There my little friend lay on top. Again, I kept my cool and picked up the box. I set aside one, two, three items like I was considering purchasing them. Lastly, I removed the one I really desired–a Styrofoam angel with glittery silver wings, curly white hair, and sequin eyes and mouth.
My heart melted. The reason I wanted her is because my mom has this angel and puts it on the top of her tree every year. Our long-time, next door neighbor had made her. And I’ve always loved the ornament.
This girl was missing one wing-shaped eye, but I didn’t care. To me, she looked perfect. I asked how much and the lady said, “Oh, fifty cents.” My heart went whee! I paid and brought her to her new home.
I can’t bear to pack her away after Christmas. Instead, she sits on my bookcase with a few other jewels to greet me every day. And I still get all ooey gooey soft inside.
Do you have an ooey gooey heart over something special?
A do-gooder joins forces with a reformed delinquent turned lawyer to run a Christmas tree stand benefiting the children’s hospital. When the money goes missing, fingers are pointed.
“I don’t believe it.” Hands on hips, I stood in front of the large, white tent. No happy shoppers bustled in and out. No All I Want For Christmas is You blasting from a boom box. No holiday cheer at all.
Instead, I found under the same ol’ AXEL’S CHRISTMAS TREES neon sign, which wasn’t flashing, a notice, which looked to be hastily printed and stuck on the tent flap with gray duct tape: Closed. Heart attack. And as an afterthought: Pray.
I shook my head, saying to the nippy wind whipping my hair, “Poor Axel. This is horrible. Where will the funds for the Sommerville Hospital come from?”
My stomach kinked into a hard knot as I hugged my tote to my waist. I’d been buying my Christmas tree here since…forever. Definitely since I was a blossoming idea in my parents’ mind. Mom and Dad brought my brother and me to Axel’s the first Saturday in December every year for the family tree. Who could forget the ensuing arguments over the perfect oneâ€”Mom usually wonâ€”and the joy of trimming it.
All grown up, I continued the tradition. Axel had the most beautiful trees. The stand benefited the hospital; this year, the children’s cancer wing where his grandson had undergone treatment for leukemia. He always-always-always stashed aside a seven-foot Fraser fir for me. Nothing spelled Christmas better than a fresh, North Carolina Fraser fir.
Now what do I do? Where do I go? Should I call Axel’s son and see if he needs anything?
Like some of her characters, Vicki has worked a wide variety of jobs including lifeguard, ride attendant at an amusement park; a hardware store, department store, book store, antique store clerk; administrative assistant in an international real estate firm; and a general â€œdo anything galâ€ at a financial services firm. The list isâ€¦endless.
Born in Dallas, a graduate of Texas Tech, she is married to Handsome, has two big boys, an attention-demanding cat, and two adorable poopies.
She has completed three manuscripts, written essays, and sold many short stories. She is a member of RWA, and the DARA, Elements, and RWA-WF chapters. In 2004, she joined DARA and has served in many capacities, including 2009 President. DARA awarded her the Robin Teer Memorial Service Award in 2010.
Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking “What if??”
Thanks so much for joining me today, Vicki.
Learn more about Vicki from her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Good morning, Margery and thank you for having me today to talk about being an ol’ softie.
Good morning Vicki and Margery. You always have the most amazing stories of you and your flea marketing. I very seldom find anything when I go and you seem to always find something good. Love the fact your Mom has one of the same angels. Hope you sell many copies of Twinkle Lights.
I was softie for anything my children wanted when they were young. When they would look at me with those big eyes and pleading in their voices, I would have to steel my heart sometimes and then feel like such a heel for the rest of the day.
Oh well, that’s what’s being a parent, right
Hi, Sylvia: I have so much fun at flea and antique markets. You can go with me sometime! Thank you.
Hi, Liese: Saying no to kids is a toughie and they had no clue we felt like heels, did they? It is being a parent. ox
Vicki, what a great story. I never find anything at them so I stopped going. LOl, the reason, I always ask myself –do you really needs this and most times the answers no. Happy holidays
Oh, I love it! I can see myself doing the same thing at a Flea Market! “And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!”
Hi, Marian: I ask myself the do I need question a lot. When we first married, we had so few ornaments because we couldn’t afford them. I picked up vintage very cheaply. My addiction has grown. lol
Hi, Gail! I was so thrilled to find angel. I’d asked my mom for hers, but she said no! Imagine that.
I just love flea markets, yard sales, estate sales, antique shops- so many lovely treasures waiting to be found.
I especially love things that make no sense until someone tells you what it’s for. Squeezing lemons, pouring jam, or some other lost art.
This time of year especially can be so much fun treasure hunting
thanks for sharing vicki,
Hi, Chris! I agree with you about finding treasures. One man’s trash theory-right? I’m hoping for lots of fun with the funsisters this weekend. Thanks for posting.
I don’t normally read Christmas stories but this sounds pretty good.
Hi, Janice! and thank you. What I really hope I do is get a smile and a laugh. Thank you for posting too!
While I haven’t found anything at the flea market I couldn’t live without (yet), I have become a softie over the years for things that mean nothing to anyone but me. My grandfather’s opium pipes from Asia, my first dress as a baby, the first cards my kids ever made me. Loved your story – a tradtition of buying the fir tree from the same producer. 😀 Best wishes for the holiday season and all the new year.
Hi, Sheri: You feel the way I do. When I saw the ornament and knew my mom wasn’t ready to part with hers, I picked this one up. I saved tons of stuff the #1 and #2 made. My friend’s sewing cabinet. My grandmother’s dining table. There’s a connection.
I began buying my own real trees at a tree farm. Sadly, we have too many dry summers and the farms failed one by one. So we went back to the tree stands. The story all began with the words Christmas Tree. Best wishes to you too!
I always knew you were a softy, Vicki. 😀 I have a while I Love NY teddy bear on my desk. When four of my friends attended the RWA conference in NY, I wasn’t able to join them due to work committments. A few weeks later, I received the bear in the mail and because these friends are so special, I keep the bear near.
Hi, Sheila! What wonderful friends you have. And I feel special to be one of yours. You’ve done so much for me. I know looking at your bear gives you their love which you will always, always, always cherish. oxoxo
What a softie story! You find the best things! I have a soft spot for pictures and things my deceased family members owned. I inherited my grandmother’s plants 10 years ago and really treasure them. Best of sales to Twinkle Lights!
Hi, Karilyn! I don’t know if I find the BEST things, but I do find things that I connect with and use and love them. I am so totally amazed that you have kept your grandmother’s plants going. That is quite a talent. And thank you regarding “Twinkle Lights!”
Hi, Margery! Thank you again and again for hostessing me here. I love making new friends. Many happy holiday wishes your way.
I don’t go to flea markets but I do have an aunt that loves them. She goes out of her way to look for them. She’s so funny, I love her. She buys and buys, then ends up with so many accumulated items that she has to hold a flea market in her driveway. Seriously, I think she is addicted. lol. But, she has fun, and I guess that is the main thing.