Let’s Talk with Maggie Toussaint

Christmas Anticipation
By Maggie Toussaint

[Note: book giveaway entry open thru Wed. Dec 16. Winner announced on Thursday Dec 17.]

As a kid, I couldn’t wait for Christmas. My imagination would hit feverish highs of envisioning what gift would be under the tree. Coming from a large family, our gifts weren’t as plentiful as heartfelt. I was always excited about my stocking too. There’d be fruit and nuts and often a book of Lifesavers candies.

Four other highly anticipated events happened around Christmas in my youth: B&B Variety Store trip, Mistletoe shooting, Snowball, and Midnight Mass.

Uncle Bobo had no children but he always made a big deal about Christmas. He’d don his red pants and round up nieces and nephews to drive into town in his car, usually about 6-8 of us. Each child got a set of pencils with their name embossed on them and a $10 shopping spree at the variety store. That was a fortune at the B and B Variety Store.

With the other kids, I’d comb the aisles looking at everything. I couldn’t bear to make a selection because what if I saw something else that was perfect? Finally after several laps around the store, we’d drive home with our treasures. Silly Putty was always one of my favorite things to get. You could smush it flat and copy the Sunday funnies on the putty. It seemed like magic. And Super Balls! Remember them? They could bounce higher than your head. A couple of years in a row I got a set of Jacks because I loved trying to grab the jacks while the ball only bounced once. Good times.

Mistletoe shooting involved a pickup truck full of family and friends (before seat belt days). We’d ride around until we saw a tree with mistletoe growing in it, then whoever was a crack shot would shoot down enough mistletoe for the entire community. Once the stuff hit the ground, we kids raced to fetch it.

Snowball and his son came around early on Christmas Eve caroling. We’d usually gather at my cousin’s house to hear them sing. Snow played a washtub bass and his earnest singing brought tears of joy to our eyes. Once we heard his deep voice singing those familiar standards, we knew it was Christmas. Today I enjoy caroling with friends. (pic from a previous year!)

Midnight Mass, the late service at church on Christmas Eve, usually started about 11 p.m. We kids loved attending this service because it got us out of the house late in the evening, because we got to dress up (and dress warmly-no heat to speak of in the church), and because that ritual truly signified Christmas. Those familiar prayers, the hymns we knew by heart, the candles, the poinsettias spilling out from the altar. The windows were dressed with fragrant boughs of cedar and pine, accented with red bows. Even the wall sconces sparkled as they brimmed with candlelight. It is still so poignant and vivid in my mind. Sadly, this year’s Christmas service will not look like this.

This year, the Christmas of the Pandemic, will be different. We won’t be visiting with our kids or grands—those trips are too long under these conditions. So we’ll connect via phone and video and keep hoping for the vaccine to come our way.

My Christmas gift to you: BUBBA DONE IT is on sale for $0.99. Get your ebook now before the price goes back up!

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My sleuth River Holloway is making a Peppermint Pie for Christmas, recipe follows. What dish will grace your holiday meal? Share for a chance to win a print (US mailing addy only) or ebook of Spawning Suspicion.

While you’re here, check out our December contest, which runs from Dec 1-18, wherein one winner will select their treat from 6 book choices! Print book winners must have US mailing addresses. ENTER THE CONTEST.

PEPPERMINT PIE

Ingredients:
1 Oreo pie crust
1 c heavy cream
1 ½ c powdered sugar
2 x 8 oz packages softened cream cheese
About 12 drops red food coloring
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp peppermint extract
Peppermint candy canes or mints, crushed (I used a box of 18 candy canes)
1 tub Cool Whip

In a large bowl whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Cream together the powdered sugar and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Add the food coloring, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract to the cream cheese/powdered sugar and mix until uniform. Add ½ cup of peppermint candy bits to the cream cheese mixture. Then, add the mixture to the whipped cream and mix together on low speed until combined.

Pour into crust. Top pie with Cool Whip or whirls of canned whipped cream. Add crushed peppermint pieces to garnish. Chill 2 hours or until ready to serve

Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Enjoy!!!

To crush peppermint:
1) Use a food processor. Place the candy canes into the food processor and pulse until desired consistency.
2) Alternately, secure the candy canes in a sealed plastic bag and hit repeatedly with a hammer.

Comments

  1. maggietoussaint says

    Congratulations to Dave Freas, my winner for this contest! The prise is your choice of ebook or print version of SPAWNING SUSPICION! Thanks to everyone who posted! Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah all!

  2. VO Humowiecki says

    Pierogi and 🐠 fish.

  3. Lasgana has been our Christmas dinner for as far back as I can remember.

    • maggietoussaint says

      I never knew lasagna existed when I was a kid, Dave, but I sure took to it once I left home! Happy Lasagna Holidays!

  4. dianestuckart says

    Thanks for posting the peppermint pie recipe. I will make it while I’m off for the holidays. And as my husband is diabetic, I will eat the whole thing myself. The only shooting around our house will be of Jesus lizards. 🙂

    • maggietoussaint says

      Hey Diane-you crack me up! It could be made for a diabetic, but you would have to start everything from scratch: making your own chocolate sugar-free wafers (need about 9 oz of these), then crushing them in the food processor and adding 1/2 c butter and 2 tbsp of sugar substitute (I used Swerve). Then you press it into a pie pan and bake at 350 for 7-8 mins. For the rest of the pie, use sugar substitute where it calls for sugar. And the pie is so yummy. I hope you love it as much as I do.

  5. You have some wonderful memories. I forgot about playing with jacks. Life was simpler for kids without all the electronic gizmos available today. Some of those classic toys are still the best. Have a safe holiday!

    • maggietoussaint says

      I think it might be somewhat hysterical to try to play Jacks at my age. It was challenging back then so I can imagine jacks flying everywhere! Happy holidays to you.

      • dianestuckart says

        Hey, this is a great idea. When we’re finally able to gather again, next time we’re all at a writers conference let’s bring jacks and play (after a couple of margaritas, of course!). I think we should shoot for the NO Bouchercon. 🙂

  6. The mistletoe shooting brings back a fond memory. I read about shooting mistletoe in Southern Living and told my husband about it. He pooh poohed it (of course) until his visiting Mississippi cousin verified he’d read about it too. So we, my father-in-law, various nephews and nieces and family walked out to the pasture to a live oak loaded with mistletoe. I believe my husband took the shot(s) and suddenly we had mistletoe! There is a group photo somewhere commemorating the hunt and the trophy.

  7. Happy holidays…. the memories are sweet… and hopefully this year will be a memory we long live to talk about as we tell more grandchildren and great-grandchildren about the Christmas of 2020

    • maggietoussaint says

      Yes, I think the tales of how we had to adapt this year will resonate for years to come. We are vulnerable–the human race is–and we need to follow safety precautions. But people are also full of ingenuity. I suspect we will have some especially good tales to tell!

  8. Maggie, that pie looks delicious! Have a safe holiday!

  9. Sissy Lingle says

    Thank you, Maggie! I have many memories similar to yours. Love your writing and hope you have a blessed Christmas and a much better 2021.

    • maggietoussaint says

      Thank you for your kind and giving heart, Sissy. I enjoy writing so much and it is a haven of sorts for me.

  10. cherylhollon says

    Maggie, I’m going to make that pie for our tiny Christmas gathering. Luckily, our local family bubble can meet outside for a distanced visit. Happy Holidays!