Let’s welcome Tom! Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of the post.
I am honored to be invited to Dahlia’s Holiday party. I’m Tom Conner. My author name is Thomas Conner, but I answer to Tom, Tommy, or TC by friends and family. My novel, GOODBYE, SATURDAY NIGHT, was recently released and I’ll share that with you a little later. But first, we are here to celebrate the holidays. This is a wonderful time of year and I hope my little story helps brighten yours.
Dahlia asked for a holiday memory and I chose the story of the red dress. I hope you folks enjoy it. We have a Christmas Eve tradition in the Conner Family that dates back to Christmas Eve 1945; the women in the family wear a red dress. It all started the first time my father took my mother, his soon to be bride, home to meet his mother.
My parents met in the summer of 1945 when my father was thirty and my mother was eight years his junior. He owned a small grocery store in the tiny Florida community of Century, just two miles from the Alabama state line. He had moved to that little community fifteen years before to live with his sister and escape the family farm up in the rolling hill country of South Alabama.
My mother was a beautiful young woman, tall and full bosomed with long, coal black hair. She was from a family with modest income and she had no real sense of style, except for what she learned going to the local movie theater, and reading movie magazines.
My father was a long-time practical joker and could not resist pulling a prank on his family when he got the opportunity. Once he decided it was time to introduce the love of his life to his sainted mother, he chose Christmas Eve as the day. He knew his mother’s home would be teeming with relatives— aunts, uncles, cousins, all congregating at Aunt Lizzie’s to celebrate the holy day with a’ Capella singing, fruit cake and Christmas tea cake cookies, and homemade eggnog.
When my father invited his future bride to his family home on Christmas Eve, he told her to dress in her finest, that these were classy people she would be meeting and everyone would be dressed to the nines. My mother took him seriously and pulled out her prettiest dress, a short number made of scarlet satin. It was the perfect dress for the glorious occasion and she accented the frock with red four-inch heels with ankle straps. She fixed her long black hair into a high bouffant and crowned it with a large corsage of red silk roses. She was a beautiful sight of radiant scarlet, admiring herself in the mirror.
They drove the thirty miles to the Conner Family farm in my father’s 1937 Ford Tudor sedan. My mother sat in the middle, next to her sweetheart, and each time he shifted gears with the floor mounted gear lever, he accidentally rested his hand on her knee. She just giggled and pushed his hand away.
An hour later, they pulled up to a neatly painted farmhouse with several pick-up trucks and cars parked in the yard. Before climbing out of the car, my mother painted on a fresh coat of scarlet lipstick. She wanted to look her finest.
As they stepped inside the door, my mother’s jaw dropped. Standing before her was my grandmother, Sarah Elizabeth Trawick Conner. Glancing down at the floor my mother saw black lace-up shoes peeking out from the floor-length hem of my grandmother’s modest cotton dress. Her sleeves reached clear to the wrists and the collar was buttoned tight around her neck. Granny’s silver hair was pulled back into a tight bun and she wore wire-rimmed spectacles. The two stood in total shock, looking intensely at each other.
What my father failed to share with my mother—and what he though was hilariously funny—was that my grandmother and all of his relatives were Primitive Baptist, also known in the Deep South as Hard-Shell Baptist. They were just a step or two below Quakers. They didn’t drink or dance or go to the movies and they certainly didn’t were red. My mother just stood there looking around at the drably-dressed relatives and feeling like the Whore of Babylon.
My mother and my grandmother eventually became close friends, despite my father’s practical joke, and the marriage took place. However, out of that disastrous first Christmas Eve came the tradition that my sisters and nieces have continued to this day—the Christmas Eve red dress.
No holiday around the Conner family would be complete with Grandma Conner’s tea cakes, so here is the recipe:
Grandma Conner’s Recipe for Tea Cake Cookies from the kitchen of Sarah Elizabeth Trawick Conner
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoon sweet milk
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
Cream butter, milk, and sugar
Sift in flour, baking powder, and salt
Roll out and cut into large rounds
The batter will be stiff
Bake at 350 degrees until edges are golden
Cool then decorate with colored icing
I hope you enjoy Grandma Conner’s tea cake cookie recipe. It has been a holiday favorite in our family for over 100 years. And, please consider giving a copy of my book as a gift this holiday.
Here is the cover blurb: for GOODBYE, SATURDAY NIGHT:
A Southern story of love and friendship, of betrayal and redemption. It’s early May in 1956 in the small South Alabama town of Farmington and eleven year old Bobby Crosby’s life is about to change forever. He’s still anguishing over the death of his father even though it’s been five years and he’s come to despise the life centered around his mother’s cafe, a place that becomes the revelrous hot spot of the community when the sun goes down. Bobby escapes his real world by going to the movies every night. There, sitting alone in the dark, he leaves Farmington far behind and melts into the world of the silver screen. Bobby’s best friend is Hucker Nolan, a twenty-two year old drop-out from the swamps across the tracks who drives a taxicab in the daytime and works concession at the movie theater at night. Now, Bobby’s world seems to be collapsing and there’s nothing he can do to stop it; his mother has a boyfriend Bobby deeply resents and his feelings for Hucker are confusing and ever changing, often filled with anger and jealousy Bobby doesn’t understand. Then, the worst thing possible happens— Bobby is betrayed by the one person he trusts the most.
Links to the book trailer:
A link to my Facebook page:
A link to purchase the book:
I really want to thank Dahlia for inviting me to be a guest this holiday season. Have a wonderful holiday, stay safe, and enjoy this time with family and friends!
The Massive Giveaway with loads of Prizes.