Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir Excerpt: Thanksgiving 1976


Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Thanksgiving is a special time of year for all of us. It's a reminder to be "in the attitude of gratitude." I wish we could remember to be thankful for the little things and the big things every day. 

This year's holiday celebrations will be different for many of us due to the COVID crisis. Get-togethers will be smaller, if at all. We may be eating turkey in separate houses, but we can still be together through the phone and the Internet and always connected from heart-to-heart.

Thanksgiving 1976 was a peculiar one for my hubby, GT, our 2-year-old daughter, Sara and me. We had moved from Central Illinois to a town in West Michigan. We had no family or friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. 

Here's an excerpt from my memoir about that first Thanksgiving in our small apartment over the shop where we lived our dream of having a floral and greenhouse business.

Chapter 26--Autumn's Lights, near the end of the book. I deleted some lines that contained "spoilers."

Hattie is the previous shop owner.

Fairview Floral, our shop and greenhouses in 1976. The apartment was over the shop.

I looked forward to Thanksgiving Day, a non-holiday for florists since, like Easter, folks spent their dollars on a turkey and all the fixings, not flowers. I relaxed during this beautiful time of year taking time to give thanks for my family, our new life in Fremont and for the opportunity to grow our business.

I was thankful for returning customers like Galloping George who picked up a rose, babies’ breath and greens for the lady friend of the week and Frenchy who owned the tavern in Holton. He faithfully ordered funeral flowers for his patrons who passed. The Hesperia funeral home called us for family flowers. Friends from church ordered flowers when it was their turn to provide flowers in the sanctuary. And yes, many of Hattie’s customers stayed with us.

I thanked God for Sara Elizabeth and cherished my role as a mother. She turned two-years-old in November. How different mothering a toddler compared to a baby. She had developed her good-natured personality with her likes and dislikes. She toddled around the shop and greenhouse, charming customers, and she loved accompanying Daddy on deliveries. And I should say, Daddy loved her company.

We were alone to celebrate turkey day because we had to prepare for the long Christmas holiday ahead instead of making a trip to Illinois to be with our families. Having Ted and Sara with me was enough. Ted prepared the festive bird and I did my best to add delicious side dishes like sweet potatoes, canned jellied cranberry sauce, which he loves, corn and pumpkin pie that I had learned to make in high school home-economics class.

We sat at our dining room table graced with a floral centerpiece of fresh fall-colored flowers and lighted by the hanging lamp Ted had gifted me. Expressing out loud what we are thankful for has become a family tradition for us. For me, choosing just one was difficult.

As we held hands and said grace, my body relaxed with contentment remembering the blessings we had received through that year. Squeezing Sara’s and Ted’s hands with that extra touch of love completed my thanksgiving prayer.

I am thankful this year for the opportunity to finish writing my story, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir. At first, it was hard to focus on my life 45 years ago because of the uproar and anxiety during the COVID crisis. But eventually, the writing became a safe place for me to leave the reality behind to disappear into the '70s. 

I have written mysteries and non-fiction articles for years, so the memoir became a mix of fiction and non-fiction. The facts and emotions are true. The elements of fiction are also in the story with the people in my life becoming the characters, the conflict we had with the previous owners, as well as the stress and anxiety of being a new mom. Having to learn about operating a business and become a floral designer over night certainly conflicted my emotions. Our small town of Fremont, Michigan could have been fictional. In fact, my romantic suspense, Dangerous Sanctuary takes place in a small town very similar to Fremont. But in my memoir, our beloved little city is the perfect backdrop for this real story.

I am also thankful to you for your support and encouragement throughout these years of writing.

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir by J.Q. Rose
This is the story I worked on during the COVID crisis.

Back of the Book:

In 1975, budding entrepreneurs Ted and Janet purchase a floral shop and greenhouses where they plan to grow their dream. Leaving friends and family behind in Illinois and losing the security of two paychecks, they transplant themselves, their one-year-old daughter, and all their belongings to Fremont, Michigan, where they know no one. 

Will the retiring business owners nurture Ted and Janet as they struggle to develop a blooming business, or will they desert the young couple to wither and die in their new environment?

Most of all, can Ted and Janet grow together as they cultivate a loving marriage, juggle parenting with work, and root a thriving business?

Follow this couple’s inspiring story, filled with the joy and triumphs and the obstacles and failures experienced as they travel along the turbulent path of turning dreams into reality.

The print book is available now. Click here to order from amazon.
Pre-order is available at your favorite digital bookseller with a pre-order price of $2.99. The eBook will be delivered to your reading device as if by magic on Launch Day, January 1. 

Happy Thanksgiving!
What 3 things are you grateful for today? Please leave a comment below.

To those who celebrate the holiday, 
I wish you a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving in the USA!


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I love that this reads more like a story than a memoir. It's a beautiful scene, Janet.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Joylene.

Helena Fairfax said...

I loved your extract, Janet, and the lovely scene it conjures up. Wishing you and Ted and family are very happy Thanksgiving!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Helena. The extract is very late in the book. I hoped it would make sense to readers without knowing much about the story. We are not having the traditional turkey dinner today. 3 out of 4 folks prefer ham to turkey. I like either one. So this is Turkey Day for us! But still full of thanksgiving for all we have.

Marsha said...

Hey, JQ. Such a delightful read. I really could see the scene like in a movie. I'm completely in awe of your courage to do what you did when you did it! Hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.

Computer Tutor said...

What a lovely memory. It's so easy to forget those important times. Thanks for sharing this.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Marsha. I love you described it as a "delightful read."

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Jacqui. Yes, some of those times were filled with joy and some were not fun at all. I tried to share it all.

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