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Oprah, my mom’s piano, and Christmas Once Again

Once upon a time several Christmases ago…

‘Ring… ring… ’

I was halfway out the door when the telephone rang. I slammed to a halt, clutching my car keys, my purse slung over my shoulder. Who could be calling me this early in the morning?

It was 8 a.m.

I was running late for a meeting and the last thing I needed was another telemarketer trying to sell me carpet cleaning for Christmas.

Then it hit me. I remembered the Christmas tradition story I wrote about my mom and her old piano that I sent to the Oprah Show.

I swallowed hard. It was 10 a.m. in Chicago. Oprah Time.

I grabbed the phone and mumbled a breathless, ‘Hello…

‘Hi, this is the Oprah Show calling.’

‘Did you say Oprah?’ I gulped, my heart pounding like a million elves working overtime.

‘Do you have time to talk?’ the producer asked, hopeful.

I cleared my throat. ‘Yeah, sure… no problem.’

Wait till I tell my boss why I’m late today.

‘We received your story about your Christmas tradition…’

I tossed my purse and car keys onto a chair, my pulse racing out of control. ‘Yes?’

‘We’d like to use it for a segment on our holiday show.’

You would?’ I said, my voice going up like a little kid seeing Santa Claus.

The producer chuckled. ‘Yes… here’s what we need from you.’

Knees wobbly, I fumbled in my purse for a pencil while the producer give me instructions on what happened next. Tears misted in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it. My Christmas tradition was going to be on Oprah.

I let out a deep sigh. If only my mom could see this, praying somehow she did know.

My mother loved to play the piano, especially at Christmastime. She knew every holiday carol by heart and every year, she’d sit down at our old studio upright piano and take us on a musical trip to Bethlehem or a journey with the Three Wise Men or rock ‘n roll with Jingle Bell Rock.

We lived in the Pennsylvania woods when I was a kid and one Christmas we were snowed in and couldn’t get into town to buy a tree. So my mom decorated our old piano with shiny, silver tinsel and red and blue and green balls with a gold star on top.

A piano is made out of wood, and that wood was once a tree.

So why not a Christmas Piano Tree?

My mother passed away a few days before Christmas many years ago. I didn’t have the heart to trim a tree that year. Then I remembered her Christmas piano tree. I decorated that old studio upright with Christmas ornaments that year and I do so every Christmas since then as a tribute to my mom.

It was an exciting time after the Oprah Show producer called. They asked for photos of my Christmas piano tree, then we taped the segment for my holiday tradition with me reading what I wrote about my mom. The sound crew added holiday music and I got all ready to watch the show, holding my breath, my heart racing the day it aired…

But the show ran overtime, so my segment didn’t make the national broadcast. I was devastated, but the Oprah producer promised she’d do something nice for me.

She did. The next year the Oprah Show ran two clips from my old home Christmas movies and used them as part of their promo ads for their holiday show.

I cried every time I saw the ads and when they ran the short clips at the beginning of the show.

You can see one of the clips from my old films showing my pretty young mom at Christmastime hanging up Christmas stockings in my video.

When I wanted to write a Christmas time travel story, I thought about how much I missed my mom and those wonderful holidays when I was a kid in Pennsylvania. If only I could go back in time and see her again and tell her how much I loved her…

So I did. In my story.

I wrote CHRISTMAS ONCE AGAIN and dedicated it to my mom. It’s the story of the Arden Family during World War 2 on the home front with Kate, the older daughter, as the heroine sending the man she loves off to war in 1943… she never sees him again.

Then years later she has the chance to go back in time and warn him about a secret mission gone wrong in France. Will he believe her?

All she wants for Christmas is to save the man she loves…

As you can imagine, some of my favorite scenes in Christmas Once Again are when Kate reconnects with Ma…and their wonderful moments together. I never tire of reading them.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!



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