Monday, December 24, 2012

Tis the Night Before Christmas…. Thank Goodness!



Olivia Greyson, from THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES by Virginia Lowell, breathes a sigh of relief and sips her mug of mulled merlot….

It’s Christmas Eve, finally. Mind you, I love preparing for the holidays. My business partner and friend, Maddie, and I baked enough cookies to feed the whole town of Chatterley Heights, even if we include my brother, Jason, who can eat a dozen cookies and still complain that he’s starving. We decorated the store, sold a zillion or so cookie cutters, and handled distress calls from holiday bakers having panic attacks over royal icing. For once no murder complicated our lives, which was a pleasant change.

Now The Gingerbread House is closed until the 26th. I’m relaxing with my family, including my sleepy little Yorkie, in front of a roaring fire. Sipping mulled merlot, as I may have mentioned. The aroma of baked ham and cloves drifts into the living room and blends with the crisp smell of burning wood. We’ve just finished a huge, delectable meal, cooked mostly by my mom, Ellie, who is currently cuddling next to my stepfather, Allan. My brother, Jason, looks drowsy… hardly surprising since he polished off half the mincemeat pie. Del is here, too. Sheriff Del Jenkins is, as my mom so quaintly puts it, my special friend. Although sometimes I wonder. At the moment, however, Del is snuggled next to me on the sofa.
 
Then, with her oh-so benign smile, my mom says, “It’s time for us to reveal our holiday wishes.” I feel Del’s shoulder tighten. “It’s a family tradition, Del,” Mom explains. “I’ll begin. I wish for a year of delicious yet calorie-free cookies. For everyone, of course.”

 “Not fair, Mom,” says Jason. “I need those calories.”

 “I’m sure you’ll find a substitute, dear,” Mom says. “Livie, you go next.”

 “Well, since you took the ‘calorie-free cookies for everyone idea,’ I’ll go with… a murder-free year in Chatterley Heights.”
“I second that,” Del says as his shoulder relaxes.
 
Jason snickers. “Yeah, but what are the odds?”

“Well now, that’s an interesting question, statistically speaking,” my stepfather says. “The odds would depend on whether we look at the last, say, fifty years or restrict our sample to only the last—”
 
My mom gently clears her throat. “Allan, dear, would you fill another pitcher with mulled merlot? We seem to be running low.” As Allan scurries off to the kitchen, my mom raises her mug and says, “Here’s to a murder-free year.”

As we all raise our mugs to join the toast, Del reaches into his pocket for his cell. “Sorry, I’d better take this,” he says as he presses the phone to his ear. “Where?” he asks. “Okay, don’t touch anything. I’ll be right there.”

Sigh. We need a new holiday tradition. Any suggestions? I’m desperate here. Do you have a favorite holiday or Christmas Eve tradition?

One person who gives me a suggestion by commenting on this post today will choose between the first three books in THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES: Cookie Dough or Die, A Cookie Before Dying, or When the Cookie Crumbles.

67 comments:

  1. Our Christmas Eve tradition is going to church and then having pizza afterwards. We usually have a huge dinner with family on Christmas Day so it is nice not to cook on Christmas Eve.

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    1. Excellent! And as it happens, pizza is Olivia's favorite food group. This definitely could work for her!

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  2. I loved Christmas and all its traditions when I was a kid. On Christmas Eve we'd go in the evening to celebrate with my mom's side of the family. Usually after that we'd stop at my dad's parents and have a little snack and drink with them before going home. Christmas morning was just my folks and me, then mass, then a stop at my godfathers house, and then back to my grandparents on my dads side for more presents and TONS of food and fun. Now...I'm in a 24/7/365 job and I'll be working Christmas Eve and Day.

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    1. Food, presents, and fun... hard to top! Sounds like a plan.

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  3. This was fun, thank you! I think you need to make a resolution that all cell phones will be switched off during at least the hour together, celebrating.

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    1. Why didn't I think of that? So simple and so effective! Thank you!!

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  4. My sister and I gave each other little presents for the twelve days of Christmas when we were kids. Fifty years later, we still do. It's fun trying to find unusual gifts that cost less than three dollars each.

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    1. Fun idea! Or maybe different cookies every day...?

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  5. Maybe watching a favorite Christmas movie would be a safer bet...as long as it doesn't include a murder.

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    1. I'm leaning toward a Christmas movie marathon....

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  6. I think dead bodies could at least wait one evening, so whenever you celebrate Christmas, just NO cell phones! Merry Christmas!
    Lynn/MI

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    1. I think I'll put Mom in charge of confiscating cell phones at the door. She's tiny, but she has amazing powers of persuasion.

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  7. Making Christmas Eve/Day a technology free day might be the way to go.

    Beverly aka Booklady

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    1. No cell phones, no internet... might just work.

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  8. We like to drive around on Christmas Eve and look at the Christmas lights in the neighborhoods. There's generally not that much traffic and everything looks nice. kuzlin(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Okay, first we confiscate all cell phones, then we rent an unmarked van and drive around to look at lights. This could work! I love a good plan.

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  9. We would call those friends or relatives miles away.

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    1. I like it. We'd get to talk to old friends and distant relatives, plus we'd keep the phone tied up so no one can get through to Del. Plus it would be fun!

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  10. Dianne-South DakotaDecember 24, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    After opening gifts and enjoying Christmas treats, we talk about past Christmas memories, gifts we especially remember, people who are no longer with us and other memories. It is a time for family.

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    1. I'd love that. I've always enjoyed hearing memories and stories, especially about times before I was born. I agree, it's a time for family, which doesn't include the police department!

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  11. Christmas Eve we put up and trim the tree. It's a special family time.

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    1. That sounds lovely. We try to remember where each ornament came from. Some have been passed down through several generations, and we cherish them even when they are faded and broken.

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  12. My kids decided that it was too expensive to give presents to each of the nieces and nephews every Chanukah. They put the eight names in a hat, and each draw out two names. Now they are only responsible for two presents. If you get your own kid you put it back and draw again.

    We, the grandparents don't have that luxury. LOL

    The oldest at 14 asked for cash. He's saving up for a specific set of books to use for study in school. The rest get presents of their choice with the youngest having a parent tell us what we are allowed to give.

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    1. I always wished we'd had a big family with lots of cousins, but I'll admit the holidays were simpler with only three cousins!

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  13. Our Christmas Eve was always going to church for our children's Christmas Eve services, followed by going to my grandma's house for treats and presents with all the aunts and uncles and cousins. After food and fun, we would open presents at Grandma's. Sometime around midnight we would head home and open presents at home, saving one for Christmas morning. After opening the gifts in the morning we would head to church for the Christmas Day service and then Christmas dinner at Grandma's with all the relatives. Good times!

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  14. The whole family played board games while listening to Christmas music. The Night Before Christmas was always read.

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    1. We listened to Christmas music and played board games, too! My favorite game was, of course, Clue. Miss Scarlet in the Conservatory with a candlestick. Good times. Now that I think about it, Olivia should probably keep Del away from Clue.

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  15. Church services on Christmas Eve with neighborhood caroling before has always been our tradition.

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    1. When I was young, all the neighborhood kids went caroling. The youngest was always required to sing Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer as a solo. Luckily, I was the eldest!

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  16. We open our gifts on Christmas Eve after we eat a delicious dinner.

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  17. My favorite Christmas Eves were when we use to all get together at Mom's. We'd have finger foods, open gifts, and visit. At midnight when everyone was back from Christmas Eve services we'd have gumbo.

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    1. Finger foods includes cookies, right? It's Christmas Eve, and my thoughts are straying to eggnog and cookies....

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  18. On Christmas Eve, my father took us on a "road trip" around the city to visit grandparents and aunts and uncles (those w/o kids, or whose children were grown).. All the families with small kids did this. It gave the mothers who stayed at home time to wrap the presents and get ready for Santa. WHen we got home, we were so stuffed with cookies, hot chocolate and other goodies, that we just got some chicken noodle soup, a hot bath and were safely tucked into bed with visions of sugarplums to await Santa's arrival. Would love to win. Thanks for having this great holiday contest.
    tbranco24 AT gmail DOT com

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    1. Now that's a brilliant idea! Everyone is happy, including the moms. And the kids might just be tired enough to fall asleep!

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  19. Go to bed early Christmas eve so Christmas day will begin that much earlier. I must explain, this is obviously the rule for the youngest in the house, not everyone!

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    1. Brings back memories... My sister and I would jump out of bed at 5 a.m. to open our stockings. That kept us occupied long enough for our parents to brew a pot of strong coffee.

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  20. I love our Christmas Eve's!! We sing Christmas Hymn's at Church and watch the Christmas program.When we come home we have finger foods and lots of goodies! We have our big Christmas dinner on Christmas. Everyone opens one gift. Lovely, lovely time with family and any friends who are alone. No one spends Christmas alone around my crowd!!

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  21. My husband and I started a tradition a few years ago---we rent movies to watch on Christmas Eve and Christmas night---it's the only time all year that we rent movies or go the the movies so it's a real treat.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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    1. This is a great idea that might solve Olivia's dilemma. Cell phones should be turned off during movies, right? The police will just have to solve that murder without Del's help on Christmas Eve.

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  22. Our Christmas eve is always spent with just us...used to be the two us, then the four of us when we had kids. The kids still come home from college for Christmas eve, so we have a fun dinner, exchange a present tonite, then watch a Christmas show...tonite it is Polar Express. Then maybe a game or two before bedtime. It is just so nice to have the time with "just us" before the craziness of the whole extended family tomorrow. And by the way, I LOVE your books!!!

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    1. Thank you!
      My husband and I plan to watch A Christmas Story later this evening. It's one of our favorites. I know what's coming, but I still laugh!

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  23. We spend our Christmas Eve watching holiday classics, drinking egg nog and eating a delicious taco feast while opening presents :)

    Have a very Merry Christmas!

    Marie
    songbird1613 at Yahoo dot com

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    1. That sounds like the perfect Christmas Eve!

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  24. We spend Christmas Eve going to Church and singing Silent Night while the whole Church is dark with the exception of all the candles we hold.....SO INCREDIBLE!! We head home to have sausage and cream cheese stuffed mushroom caps, dinner, wine and some Christmas movies. When the kids are asleep it's all about wrapping.......wrapping.....wrapping ;)

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  25. making popcorn and watching movies

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  26. We have someone hide a pickle ornament on the tree. Whoever finds the pickle gets an extra gift! Sometimes it is really hard to find because of all the ornaments we have on the tree!

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    1. Very original! And Del is very competitive, so maybe he wouldn't even hear the ring of his cell phone, calling him away to a murder scene.

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  27. We have a running game of Mah Jong during our marathon cookie and cake baking sessions for the holiday season.

    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

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  28. I love going to the candlelight service at our church on Christmas Eve

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  29. Watching Polar express with DH and our two boys, and don't forget popcorn :D

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  30. Trim the tree while watchng A Charlie Brown Christmas.

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  31. hehe ours isnt anything special just the usual wear christmas hats and do christmas treee with my mom and then instead of cooking we order in

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  32. Christmas Eve was sacred and traditional to my English Mom. We preferred to spend it just with Mom and us kids. Christas day is for more family to join in but Christmas Eve is just for us , immediate family only. We spend the afternoon preparing a early wonderful meal and desserts together, watching Xmas movies and talking about family past and present. We would play Christmas music while we cookd and had dinner. We relive all the wonderful Christmas past. We have a traditional English high tea around the tree and open one present each then go to a candlelight service. When we come home we gather together on the couch with tea, dessert of traditional English pudding with hard sauce, and watch "A White Christmas" together. Its these memories I cherise as Mom is now gone. What made this special was my Mom and how happy she was to celebrate this holiday with her family.

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  33. I live in coastal Alabama by the Gulf of Mexico. Fried oysters and shrimp are on the menu and pralines as a sweet treat. This would be a great new tradition. :) make sure no one with an allergy is invited, or dinner
    could be murder.
    Cara Dube
    caradube@bellsouth.net

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  34. We always order in pizza for Christmas Eve & open one present each. A great favorite tradition of ours. No cooking, no mess!!

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  35. Just spending it with my daughters and of course our 2 dogs, curled up watching christmas movies.

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  36. Christmas Eve got past me, but I wanted to post a wish of a world wide peaceful year in 2013

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