Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A mother’s post-pumpkin pie blues


by Francesca “Fresca” Conti Murphy
- from Death al Dente, Book One of The Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, by Leslie Budewitz, coming in August 2013

Erin didn’t make it home for Thanksgiving this year.

My youngest has strayed a bit from the nest. They should take off–for a while at least, shouldn’t they? Heaven knows, I did–and thank goodness, or I’d never have met their father, Tom Murphy. If not for wanderlust, I wouldn’t have had nearly thirty years with him, and wouldn’t have my three beautiful children or my grandson Landon.

Both Chiara and Nick were already away from home, in college, when Tom was killed. I suppose I leaned a little too much on Erin. She was still in high school, and had to grow up pretty quickly. After college in Montana, she headed to Seattle, and she’s doing well out there. I’m so proud of her, working her way up through the ranks at SavClub, as a grocery buyer. She’s become quite the city girl.

A mother wants her children happy. If they’re close by, that’s even better. It’s such a joy to have Chiara and her husband Jason and their adorable little guy Landon Thomas living on the original Murphy homestead, a hop and a skip from the house where Tom was raised, and where he and I settled. And I’m delighted that Nick is using the old cabin above the orchard as his home base. Seeing their faces, along with our good friends Bob, Liz, and Heidi, eating turkey and pumpkin pie at my Thanksgiving table made my heart swell with joy.
But Erin couldn’t get away. Too busy making sure other families have everything they need–from the relish tray for nibbling-while-cooking to the after-dinner chocolates–for their holidays.


Maybe next year, my table will be full–like my heart.

Who do you miss at your holiday table? 



Today’s Cozy Christmas Countdown giveaway is a copy of Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law and Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books), winner of the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. Leave a comment to be entered in today's drawing -- and come back every day until December 25 for another chance!




Death al Dente, the first book in The Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, debuts from Berkley Prime Crime in summer 2013. The series is set in a small, lakeside resort community in Northwest Montana, on the road to Glacier Park. Guess where Leslie Budewitz lives! Leslie is also a lawyer and won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books). To find out more about the book, visit Law & Fiction, her website , and blog.

70 comments:

  1. I miss my Aunt Bert and my paternal grandparents the most. Oh the fun we had during the holidays with them. I look forward to this upcoming series!

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  2. Our daughter and son in law live in Washington State, I miss having them at Thanksgiving and other holiday meals. I'm always looking for new authors and series to read.

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  3. I miss my son and daughter in law and my youngest daughter as we all live so far apart. Have my other daughter close by with my granddaughters, so that helps some.

    a.connolley@gmail.com

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  4. I miss my son and daughter in law and my youngest daughter as we all live so far apart. Have my other daughter close by with my granddaughters, so that helps some.

    a.connolley@gmail.com

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  5. Looking forward to a new series. I have my oldest heading off to college in the Fall and am already dreading the days when we will not all be together for the holidays....

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  6. What a great site to visit! Not only is this my entry for the contest, but now I get to browse for a new great read! Thanks!

    Betsy Bean
    lattedavotion.wordpress.com
    lattedavotion@hotmail.com

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  7. My dear mother-in-law passed away in July. Thanksgiving has been at their house for over 20 years. Our niece and I did the cooking and brought everything to the house so Dad could have us all there for the meal. So very sweet and sad.

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  8. I missed all 6 of my kids and all 15 of our grandkids and my parents this Thanksgiving. It just didn't work out to get together with any of them this year. Mostly since my dad recently passed away and things had been sort of hectic up until then. But we did spend the day with in-laws so that was nice. But I did really miss my Mom and my kids.

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  9. We missed Thanksgiving this week. I drive an 18 wheeler and we were a couple of thousand miles from the house. But it won't happen next year, or at least I hope not.

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  10. Oh that book sounds so nice and yummy. Would love to read it.

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  11. My late sister, Jane. I miss her every single day. Would love to read this book. Great giveaways!

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  12. Well, seeing that we sometimes travel for Thanksgiving, I missed being at the holiday table with my extended family, who I don't see nearly enough! And of course, the person I miss everyday, my Grandma Vangie.

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  13. When I was young, all the aunts and uncles and cousins got together for Thanksgiving at one aunt's house - always the same one. She and her husband lived on the water, and we cousins could walk the beach that always had huge driftwood logs, stumps and trees to explore while the aunts cooked. My mother always brought pies, except for the year we raised eleven turkeys from twelve eggs (pretty good survival rate!). During World War II we had to start early because the speed limit was 35 miles an hour (to keep old tires from blowing out - war effort).

    Now I, and my family live a continent away from there and since our children have grown up, and my husband is an only child, there are no aunts and uncles and cousins around. Most of our children and grandchildren live too far away to come for an afternoon meal, so there are no more huge celebrations. We do get together with one another, but seldom all together.

    I've rambled on too long. Would love to read Death al Dente. It's on my wish list.

    rhuss at willow gables dot com

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  14. I always enjoy finding out about new authors to me. My parents are both gone. I miss especially how excited my father got at Christmas.

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  15. Food and murder, sounds like a recipe for a good book.

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  16. My little sister wasn't able to join us this year for Thanksgiving. We REALLY did miss her being here. I hope that next year she'll be able to join us! :)

    Marie
    songbird1613 at yahoo dot com

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  17. I miss my Aunt Bertha the most--she was the one who washed the dishes!
    (She's not dead; she retired to Florida.)

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  18. I miss family members who arent with us any more - oh, yeah, and the foods my family cooked for Thanksgiving - meat stuffing (mom) or bread stuffing (dad) -- now it is cornbread stuffing... just not the same!

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  19. We haven't really had a "Thanksgiving" dinner in a few years due to my wife's failing health (unable to travel too far) and I haven't really missed it! We do miss the time spent with family though.

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  20. My husband and I are lucky to have our son and three grandsons (age 11, 13, 14) living with us. I love having them around. But I sure miss my grandsons mother (my daughter) who died a year and half ago with complication from MS. Our son is a great uncle to the boys and it's nice watching them turn into men. I hope you get to see your Erin soon.
    grandmabkr at yahoo dot com

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  21. I didn't see my son or new daughter-in-law, Leslie. I miss them, and even though I didn't have to cook this year (baked a pie I froze this summer) I'd cook until I dropped if everyone could be in the same place at the same time. Maybe Christmas.

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  22. I love any type of food-related mystery, so this series sounds like it's going to be enjoyable, and I look forward to it.

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  23. I miss going back to may parents' home for Thanksgiving. My dad got a bit long-winded with the prayers, basically giving a recap of the year, but then we ate, and we ate well. Usually two pies to choose from - dutch apple or blueberry (and the blueberries were wild, hand-picked by my dad). My mom and dad have been gone eleven years now and I still miss them, though it's cushioned by having my own family together at the holidays. Now it's me baking the pies.

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  24. I miss my mother's chestnut stuffing. I make it every so often, but it's not ever as delicious.

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  25. I'd love to win this one! I can't wait to read it!

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  26. Loving these stories -- and missing your friends and family with you. It's particularly difficult when it's the first holiday after a loss -- I remember too clearly the first holidays after Tom died -- so my thoughts are with you, esp those of you who have lost children. David, those pies sound marvelous -- I do love the nontraditionalists! Norma, you got 11 eggs to hatch? Impressive! Wild turkeys roam our orchard -- they seem to know when it's hunting season--and it's such fun to watch the little ones trot around under the trees!

    A note about today's give-away: The Food Lovers Village series won't debut until summer, so the book of the day is Leslie's nonfiction reference for writers, Books, Crooks & Counselors. It won the 2011 Agatha for Best Nonfiction, and she still smiles every time she sees that teapot!

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  27. I miss the large family gatherings, our family is so small now that I miss all our loved ones!

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  28. I miss my oldest sister. She did so love for all of her siblings to gather at her house at holidays after our parents passed away. Her husband, also now gone, did a lot of the cooking as she had COPD and could not do a lot.
    My daughter and grandson lived away from me for a long time but now I have the joy of having them nearby and we can be together for holidays.
    I need this book for my writing!
    Sylvia
    sylnick at gmail.com

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  29. I miss my mom's dressing at Thanksgiving,however, I am thankful that I still get to see her.

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  30. My family is still pretty large, so whenever we get together, there's a lot of people! I just can't wait for my mother's turkey soup!

    Margay1122ATaolDOTcom

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  31. This year my husband and I were blessed to have our first Thanksgiving in our grown daughter's home! So what did I miss? I missed my truly awful cooking-the icy in the inside turkey with the blackened stuffing. I missed my frozen pumpkin pie because Jesse made the best one I've ever had from scratch. I missed little peas in butter sauce because Jesse's Joe made brussel sprouts that converted me to sprout hater to lover. I missed frozen yeast rolls because Jesse's Joe (I LOVE men who cook!) made homemade bread.

    I am going to be VERY very very good this year, and hope to get invited again next Thanksgiving so I can miss my cooking again! :)

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  32. I had a dickens of a time trying to figure out your comment section. It's not intuitive at all. Nuf said. I missed my m-in-l's wonderful cooking, but have done without it for 16 yrs. My mother and in -law died the same year. And was that a tough year. I'm looking forward to winning the book.

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  33. My grandmother, Mabel and my older sister Ann. My grandmother died in 2001 and my sister in 2003. They both added drama, joy, and were lovable divas. Both of them were fantastic cooks and the foods they made each year made the holidays special. I still make a recipe from each one of them every year.

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  34. I miss my Grandma's homemade coffee cake, sausage and peach jam. They were so good!

    Patti S.

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  35. Kath, you sound like my Tom's mother. Woman ran a grocery store, but if it couldn't be made with Campbell's Soup, she didn't make it!

    Caroline, glad you persevered through the comment thingy. Those things drive me to drink -- I leave it to my author!

    Linnae, if you're missing kitchen divas, do read Krista Davis's Dueling Diva mysteries. They're a hoot!

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  36. I miss the family cooking - grandma, aunts and my mother all brought wonderful things to share. Food was a great gift to all of us. Now most all of the cooks are no longer around.

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  37. I miss my grandmother's cooking, that's for sure. She's been gone since 1980, so I can barely remember it, but I still remember the homemade bread, the gigantic cinnamon rolls, the homemade butter and jellies. She taught me how to make pie crusts, so every time I make one, I put on her apron and say "grandma, help me" ... Now even my Mom who couldn't cook, is gone. I'm the matriarch now. I'd rather cook up a good mystery!

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  38. I miss my Grandma's homemade coconut cake! My mouth waters at the thought of it! Christmas has not been the same since those days in Grandma's house. She went to Heaven at age 96 in 2004, followed by my 28 year old son in 2008. Grandma and her "Chippie" as she called him were always close. No doubt that they enjoy each others company in Heaven.

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  39. For the first time in eight years, there was no empty place at our Thanksgiving table. Our youngest son was able to join us, making our day a happy one. Of course, we miss those who are no longer with us, but we are thankful for having their memories.

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  40. Boy, I miss the old Thanksgiving dinners that I would make for 24 people. We used to take in all the single people that we knew, in addition to family. Now they've all died or moved away, and we had only six at the table. (Sigh.) As a foodie, I'm ooking forward to Death al Dente.
    Llyn K.

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  41. I missed my whole family! We were unable to get together due to the situation at hand. :(

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  42. Which is better: to leave empty chairs at the table of to move them out of the room where those present are supposed to celebrate.

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  43. I missed my mother. She and my sister went to Thanksgiving with one of my sister's sons and his new fiancee in Virginia. Since I moved away from home, I often miss my mother and sister. On the bright side, my son, daughter-in-law, and ten-month-old grandson came to my house this year. Then we went to the zoo on Friday. Happy times!

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  44. Great sight. Can comment and be entered to win a book at the same time. I have spent tbis last week worrying about and watching my new puppy and mom. Stefan was born by c-section a week ago. He is doing well now but I still check on him and his mom often. I hope he will be my next show dog.

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  45. Great sight. Can comment and be entered to win a book at the same time. I have spent tbis last week worrying about and watching my new puppy and mom. Stefan was born by c-section a week ago. He is doing well now but I still check on him and his mom often. I hope he will be my next show dog.

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  46. We missed my Dad that has been gone since 2009.

    MinDaf @ Aol.com

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  47. I miss my grandfather, though he has been gone for more than 20 years. He always made everything special. His personality brought us together and all of the petty things that often happen during the holidays were put aside because we were having too much fun with him.

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  48. My dad was working out of town. First time I have ever missed him on a holiday.

    Cara Dube
    caradube@bellsouth.net

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  49. i skipped a thanksgiving once with my family to hang with a friend who was by himself.

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  50. My mom died just a few weeks ago, so our Thanksgiving...and probably Christmas...was subdued. And not as many people as have been there in the past. But it was nice with NO DRAMA!! That was very welcome. :)

    Pen
    pmettert @ yahoo dot com

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  51. The first Christmas after my mother died was the worst Christmas I have ever had. My mom and I worked at the same school. If it had not been for my boss, we would not have a dinner because I forgot to get a turkey or a ham. My boss provided dinner and the other teachers and faculty at the school I worked at brought gifts and gift cards for my family. In a way that Christmas showed me the true meaning of the season.

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  52. Great site to learn about new books....

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  53. Best guess you are located on or near Flathead Lake. Owned cabin in Rollins for most of my adult life. Having to sell was worst Christmas. Would be very interested in reading your book.

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  54. I don't have much family that I see and I'm an only child. My grandma died when I was nine but I don't think we spent holidays with her. Another commenter said holidays without the drama were good. I know what she means because my mother is mentally ill and yells all the time.

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  55. I missed Wili, my large four-legged son. My wife is a traveling consultant, who had to work Tue, Wed, Fri, and Sat in Atlanta, so I travaled down to be with her. Unfortunately, Wili couldn't go.

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  56. I miss my grandmother, who left us in 2003. Francesca, I can't wait to read about your first adventure!

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  57. Jake! Rollins! Straight across the lake! Stop in the Merc next time you're out here. Henry, so sorry -- our little friends leave such big holes when they go. I would be lost without my Pepe (can't make the accent marks -- trust that you get the pronunciation). Robin, those were angels who wrapped their wings around you.

    And Linda R., well, not spilling the beans here, but it's really Erin's adventure. Although I do play a rather large part.

    So happy to share these post-holidays with you all!

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  58. I have no family left so I really miss my Mom at the holidays. Thank you for having such a great contest!!

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  59. I think I miss my mom the most at Thanksgiving. This year our grown daughter, Grace, and her husband, John, and our precious three-month-old granddaughter, Allie, hosted us for Thanksgiving. Our college son, Greg, was there, too, happily snapping beautiful photos of the baby.

    But I missed my mom. Grace is a lot like her in many ways. My sister and I laugh and say, "Grace inherited the Hostess Gene!" which of course came from our mother. Mama could put on quite the spread and she would have beamed with grandmotherly pride had she witnessed what her granddaughter did on Thanksgiving Day 2012.

    Even though I miss her, though, thoughts of Thanksgivings prior are sweet, now being relived and reenacted by our children. Such is the "circle of life".

    Sarah Gunning Moser
    Bellevue, WA

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  60. I try to catch up with family at all the special times.

    Do you know I've never eaten Pumpkin Pie? Not a favorite vegetable.

    Mary P
    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  61. I left a comment earlier today, but don't see it yet. Do you have a comments approval system? Just curious. Thank you! :)

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  62. Always wanted to write a mystery--would love any help from the book.

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  63. Carla, comments go straight through on the day of the post. The next day, however, they need to be approved. That's so we don't miss any!

    ~ Krista

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  64. Good morning everyone. Have a nice day.

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  65. We have more here now than ever. Dee grammyd01 (at) comcast (dot) net

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  66. I miss the whole family gathered around the table. We're scattered now so hopefully one day we'll all be in one place.

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  67. Oh, thank you ALL for sharing your memories and stories of the people you love and miss at your table. Sarah put it so aptly: it's the circle of life.

    Is that why pie are round?

    with love from Jewel Bay,
    Fresca

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  68. Tuesday's winner is Kath Marsh, who made Fresca howl with laughter and reminded her of her own dear, departed mother-in-law. Please send your mailing address to leslie AT lawandfiction DOT com

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  69. OMG! IS that the Mother in Law's curse? I've become my Mother in Law who served leftover frozen meatloaf one Thanksgiving because the only guests were my husband and I? (Until we moved far away, I showed up at her house every year afterwards with a fully cooked Thanksgiving dinner. ( Ala Publix grocery store.)

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