Sunday, December 5, 2021

A Reflection in Time.

 Winter in the beautiful area where I live can be a mixture of beauty and in the picture you see here.

The past two years have been a challenge for every living soul, and I take comfort in the surroundings I see every day.

In searching for a past Christmas letter I came across this poignant blog I received a few years ago. At that time it brought someone I never knew closer. Hucky was my uncle. He was taken before I was even born. I have been blessed with a loving family and so many memories of years gone by.

I want to share this story relayed by my this vet, my Uncle Bob, who made this long ago story come home to my heart.


Christmas 1944

A vet remembers Christmas 1944

Today's blog was written by Col. Robert O. Wray, USAF (ret.), a decorated veteran and father of Blue Star CEO Rob Wray.

The Christmas season has always been of special significance to those who serve their country in faraway places.  We've all probably read of the terrible trench battles of World War I and the spontaneous truce the front-line Allied and opposing German troops declared one particular Christmas Eve.

 In World War II, one Christmas also held a special significance to my family, but not a happy one.  German and Allied forces were once again involved.

 On 20 December 1944, the German army launched a last-ditch attempt to drive Allied forces back to the beaches of Europe.  It was described as the Battle of the Bulge, a breakthrough of Allied lines by a furious German counterattack.  Eventually, Allied forces overcame the German effort, but at the cost of tens of thousands of casualties on both sides.  There was no Christmas truce that year, no shaking hands and singing carols with the opponents.  

Harold "Huck" Wray

 My half-brother, Harold, was one of those who died during that battle.  He was barely out of high school, where he'd starred in football. After enlisting, Huck, as we called him, was assigned to a tank destroyer outfit and shipped to Europe.  He was the youngest son of my father by his first wife, and I only met him on rare occasions.

I can only now imagine Dad's sorrow when the War Department notified us of his son's death. Dad was of the ilk that wouldn't display personal distress in front of my twin sister and me. We were just 12 that year and the war meant to us gas rationing, no bubble gum, collecting tin foil, flattening and saving tin cans, collecting cattails to be used in life jackets as a substitute for kapok, knitting blanket squares, buying savings stamps and war bonds, and joining Dad during his tours of plane spotting up on the highest hill in the area.  Death was a vague and distant concept to us then.

So, I did not fully appreciate the price that Dad paid in World War II until I saw my own children and grandchildren enter the military and go in harm's way.  Now I only wish I had been more sensitive to my Dad's sorrow and less concerned with what presents I would find under the tree. During that Christmas season of 1944, Huck was buried far from home.  Dad never got the chance to visit his grave.  

A final thought:  It would be a travesty not to think about those left at home at Christmas with a family member overseas.  I still hear tales of my wife staying up all night one Christmas Eve when I was in Vietnam, trying to assemble toys that Daddy was not there to take care of.  A minor difficulty, perhaps, but one example of the vacuum in family life developing when a military member is gone.  It's not just the soldier who serves our's the whole family with their love and support that boosts and maintains the morale of our deployed armed forces.  In many ways, I've discovered, it's harder to stay behind and keep up the home front than to cope with the overseas assignment in troubling times.  May we always keep those serving in mind and may we always give thanks at Christmas time for the freedoms they earned and continue to guard in this great country of ours.



Thursday, February 7, 2019

~ Research for Sweet Deception ~
I choose the name, Cocoa Treats Chocolates, for the store in Sweet Deception based on Ritz Chocolate, a locally owned shop that’s been around for over 100 years and spans three generations of candy makers. Unfortunately, today Ritz Chocolate is no longer open and the wonderful, sweet man who carried on the tradition for so many years has passed away. I will never forget the afternoon I spent with Bill Zaphiris learning about his lifelong work creating sweet treats for chocolate lovers. 
 I learned a lot about chocolate during my research, and a lot about some dark personality traits with the help of two wonderful friends, one a clinical psychologist, the other a practicing psychiatrist, who helped me get inside the head of a psychopath. Ergo, the Deception!

The story hast a tempting combination of Sweetness and Deception.
Nancy and Bill Zaphiris
Tempting Research!
Alex AKA Truffle


And last, meet my beloved, though long gone, orange tabby. I brought Alex back to life in Sweet Deception as Truffle, a feisty feline named after a delicacy from Cocoa Treats Chocolate shop and part of Delilah's unexpected inheritance.

Ten years ago their lives took separate paths.
Delilah sought a career in New York City; Kevin entered the state police academy. But when Delilah Wyeth inherits Cocoa Treats Chocolate, danger trails the cool city ad exec back to their hometown and draws State Police Corporal Kevin McClain into her unraveling life.
Kevin admires the cool, professional woman she's become, but misses the feisty girl he once knew. Though he vows to uncover why fear lurks in Lilah's stunning eyes, his less than stellar ancestry haunts Kevin and he struggles to keep his hands off her tempting body.
Lilah faces life-altering choices. Precious memories pull her to stay and convince Kevin he deserves more in his life than a badge and a gun, but if she abandons her smooth-talking, manipulative New York supervisor, will she trigger a deadly reaction?
Her decision turns Lilah's fear to reality, and more than duty drives Kevin as he races to save her life.