But I experienced my own special magic about this holiday when I was seven. I lived in Chicago with my parents and my eleven-year-old sister. I recall how, just a few days before Christmas, my second-grade teacher told the class we were all to meet downstairs in the auditorium for a surprise. I didn’t know what to expect but then the principal told us we had a special visitor, I was dumbfounded. Who could that be? But within minutes, I saw this rather robust man with a white beard and mustache walking up the aisle saying “Ho, ho, ho,” and instantly I knew it was Santa Claus himself! When he approached me to hand out a gift I was terrified, but there was something nice about the way he smiled, and I knew it’d be okay.
Since my grandparents were both born in Poland, it only made sense that we’d celebrate Christmas Eve at the dinner meal with a Polish custom by passing around the table a white host called an oplatek. This was a large rectangular wafer made from unleavened bread wafer that had been baked from wheat flour and water. It was embossed with the nativity scene, and we were each to break off a portion of it and wish each other health and happiness. I think I caught my sister smiling at me when she made that wish at the table.
My folks were gone for a brief time after dinner, and my sister and I were alone. I was sitting on a metal-covered radiator in our kitchen and staring out the window. My sister sat next to me and asked if I was excited about Santa Claus visiting us later. I guess I felt he must be one very busy man to have the time to visit me at school and then come to my house to drop off presents. How does he do it? How did he get in our house when we didn’t even have a fireplace?
I didn’t dwell on those questions very long because my sister pointed at the full moon and said, “Did you see that?” I looked at her and returned my gaze at the sky. “What?” I asked. “Santa Claus and his sleigh,” she answered. Well, I knew if he was that close that I had better get myself into bed. Somehow I understood, even at that young age, that it wasn’t good to be awake when Santa shows up at your house. Maybe it was because he didn’t want you to see him eating the cookies you set out for him. Or maybe it upset his elves…I don’t know.
I fell asleep but soon I felt my sister tugging me awake. “C’mon, Tom. Let’s go take a look at the tree.” We tiptoed our way to the Christmas tree in the living room and I was shocked to see presents around it. We weren’t supposed to open up our presents until our parents awoke, but as far as my sister and I were concerned, there was no rule against shaking the boxes and trying to guess what was in each of them.
To this day, I can’t remember what I got for Christmas that year. But I do remember how my sister made me feel the excitement of the holiday. And I especially remember it today as I write this because she is dying from cancer. Maybe next Christmas, when I look up in a moonlit sky, I’ll somehow see her again. She’ll be looking down at me saying, “Did you see that?” And I, in turn, will hold up an oplatek and wish her all the happiness she deserves.
Tom Mach wrote two successful historical novels, Sissy! and All Parts Together, both of which have won rave reviews and were listed among the 150 best Kansas books in 2011.Sissy! won the J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award while All Parts Together was a viable entrant for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Award. He also wrote a collection of short stories entitled Stories To Enjoy which received positive reviews. Tom’s other novels include: An Innocent Murdered, Advent, and Homer the Roamer.
His poetry collection, The Uni Verse, won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. In addition to several awards for his poetry, Writer’s Digest awarded him ninth place in a field of 3,000 entrants. He also has a popular blog for writers of both prose and verse.
You can connect with Tom online here:
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Father O'Fallon has been murdered, and police officer Jacinta Perez is arrested and charged. Detective Matt Gunnison, however, is not convinced and with the help of Susan, an ex-nun, he discovers a fascinating link between the priest's death and the death of a child 25 years ago. Will Matt be able to solve both murders?
Your book sounds very intriguing. Definitely going on my TBR list! Where can readers find your book online?
Purchase Link for An Innocent Murdered
Find Tom's Book on Smashwords
Can you share an except? I'm sure everyone would love to read some of your book.
“No, I understand. Do you think Matt and I can have access to the former rectory? We’d like to look around.”
“Well, I guess not, but why in the world would you want to look around over there?”
Matt showed him his badge. “It’s part of an investigation we’re doing on the murder of that child.”
“By all means, check it out.” He opened a desk drawer and took out a key attached to a plastic tag. “Here, take this.”
Matt pocketed the key and was about to leave when the man stopped him.
“That place is haunted, you know,” the old man said.
So, let's talk about Tom's giveaway.
Goddess Fish Promotions is organizing a Virtual Book Tour for Tom's murder mystery An Innocent Murdered. The tour will run until December 23, 2011. The tour dates can be found here
Tom will be giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to the commenter that he feels leaves the best comment and encourages fellow readers to follow the tour and comment as well. Remember, now...check out the remaining tour dates and continue to comment...the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. Tom will also give away a copy of his popular historical novel about the Lincoln assassination, All Parts Together, to one randomly chosen commenter.
Don't forget to check out Tom's book trailer below! Merry Christmas everyone and have an awesome weekend! Hope you all can hang out and chat with Tom!