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!

Kindle
Kobo
ibooks 
Nook

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.