When Valley Bloom Again by Pat Jeanne Davis
Christmas 1942 would be for many men who were sent abroad to fight their first time outside of the United States. Receiving handmade items of apparel and baked homemade goodies from loved ones back home in the states, would be a huge morale booster at any time but especially at the holiday season. Even when these were prepared and packaged for overseas shipment in plenty of time, it usually took many weeks before these items reached our homesick soldier.
Excerpt from When Valleys Bloom Again
Abby looked up from measuring sugar to see Carol and Phyllis working side by side. In spite of Carol’s many complaints, Abby sensed she and her mother were close.
Abby wiped her hands on a red polka dot apron. “I never baked with my mother.” She heaved a loud sigh. “I missed out on all this.” Startled by a clang, she swung around. Aunt Val stooped to pick up a dropped baking pan.
“I’ll get it, Auntie.” Abby knelt beside her, noting a confused look in her eyes.
“I can manage, dear. Don’t fuss.”
Abby returned to her counter. “We’re much better off than they are in London. Jim wrote that brides have to make do with cardboard wedding cakes because sugar’s rationed.”
“Then why bother at all?” Carol said, turning on the electric mixer to blend the ingredients for cookies.
“We must have our situation reviewed again by the ration board,” Aunt Val said from across
“Then maybe we’ll have butter again,” Carol said, lining a cookie sheet with parchment paper. She worked dough into large balls. “And not this awful oleo.”
Valerie poured the contents of her mixing bowl into baking pans. “I don’t see much choice about that since butter costs eight points a pound, while oleo only costs five,” she said, scraping the bowl. “Still, William likes butter, so we’ll have it occasionally.”
“By pooling all our ration points we got everything we needed. Even enough sugar.” Abby shaped dough into crescents. “My sister tells me even toilet paper and quality soap are rationed.”
Carol put an arm around Abby’s waist. “Thanks to you I’ll have a new dress and coat for Christmas with your unredeemed clothing coupons.”
“I look at the consumer report each month, to see how I can best use my points.” Phyllis stood at the sink, washing the utensils. “But I shouldn’t complain. There’s much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving Day.”
Valerie opened the double oven range door, sliding her pans inside. A miscellany of copper-bottom pans hung from brass hooks above the range. “Our cook complains she’s finding it hard to stock the pantry for the children and needs stamps for almost everything and that meat is scarce.” She shook her head. “She says those instructions on how to use stamps are too complicated.”
Soft laughter filled the room, while the delicious smell of baked goods filled the air. Abby bit into a scone. She pictured Jim opening the box with their treats. He’d written saying the men in his division held a party for the children near the base. She set aside some for Edythe. Jim would want her to. It was her habit to mentally submit her decisions to Jim for approval. How did she manage before without this reference point?
Carol transferred the cookies to a rack, taking one. “Do we need to send all these?”
Phyllis grabbed a dish towel and whacked her across the shoulder. “They’re for your brother, not you. And our package must go out tomorrow so as to be there in time for Christmas.”
About When Valleys Bloom Again
As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.
Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?
Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?
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