Heather Haven is a multi-award winning mystery author. Her work includes the Silicon Valley based Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, NYC trail-blazing WWII lady shamus of The Persephone Cole Vintage Mysteries, Death of a Clown, a Ringling Brothers’ Circus stand-alone mystery noir, and anthology, Corliss and Other Award-Winning Stories. Today she stops by to share a Christmas memory with us. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
A Christmas Memory Tree
Twenty years ago during the Christmas season, I was visiting a dear friend and noticed a small, jewel-like tree glittering on her hallway table. When I asked her where she got it, she told me she had made it for her mother using ornaments, broken jewelry, and so forth from her family’s life. Now that her mother passed, she had the tree and would someday leave it to her own daughter.
All you need is a small fake tree, a charming container to hold it, plaster of Paris, lights, ornaments, costume jewelry, and a glue gun. I ran, not walked, to my local craft store and bought a small one-and-a-half foot tall tree, a bag of plaster of Paris, and an attractive round plant holder.
Day One: fill that charming little container about 3/4 of the way up with plaster of Paris (follow the directions on the box). Pull the little tree out of the base it came on, stick the tree into the wet plaster of Paris, hold the tree straight for a minute or two until the plaster begins to set, then go about your business for the rest of the day so it can dry thoroughly.
Day Two: Starting at the top, take the center of each wire branch and bend the branch back into itself. This keep it from looking scraggly. Next, wrap the string of lights around the tree, pushing the lights into the tree. Be sure the cord plug is at the bottom of the tree with enough length for plugging into an extension cord or the wall. Even on a small tree, you can use a 500-light or a 1000-light string. The more lights, the more glitter.
Any balls and decoration that are slightly broken but too important or sentimental to have thrown away go on the tree first and in a place of prominence. With the hot glue gun, dab some glue on one side of the ornament near the metal loop that hooks it on to the tree. You don’t want all of that metal distracting from your jewels. Keep gluing, then sticking ornaments and jewelry wherever you want them to go, hold in place for a few seconds and voila! It’s like magic. Leonardo da Vinci couldn’t do better.
After I added a beautiful angel Mom had kept through the years to the treetop, I lovingly packed the gift in bubble wrap and shipped it off to my mother who lived three-thousand miles away. Until the end of her life, every year my mother took the tree out from the back of the closet and put it on a table, reveling in all the holidays and memories the tree represented. I was happy knowing that even though we were separated by miles, that little tree brought us closer with our shared memories.
In late December 1942, Persephone (Percy) Cole, one of Manhattan's first female PIs, has been hired to find out who killed a Santa Land elf and left the body in the storefront window of a swank 5th Avenue jewelry store. Was it the spoiled heiress whose big buck handbag was found on the scene? Or was it the rat who broke out of the big house to settle a score? Shortly after, the corpse of the Christmas Angel is discovered stuffed in Mrs. Santa's workshop. Will Santa Claus be next? With a penchant for Marlene Dietrich suits, pistachio nuts and fedora hats, this working mother finds diamonds to the left of her, diamonds to the right, and skullduggery aplenty. Armed with her noodle and a WWI German Mauser, Percy is determined to solve these crimes or it just might be the 'kiss off' for Christmas.