A new Column below!
Holiday traditions are the things that drive most people insane—yet also make the holidays a special time for families and friends. When I was growing up, my family had a lot of crazy traditions. (Like chopping Christmas trees out of the woods or throwing water balloons on Halloween.) Food was always a big, important part of Thanksgiving, and my family did much the same thing everyone else around Lucedale did—turkey, cranberry sauce, hot rolls, green been casserole, sweet potato casserole, English peas, salad, cornbread dressing, and pumpkin pie, coconut cream pie, German chocolate cake, and ambrosia.
These were the dishes I grew up helping my mother and grandmother prepare. Our house was the gathering place for aunts and uncles and cousins, since my grandmother lived with us. Now, the older generation is gone and the cousins are scattered to the winds. The holidays are much, much smaller now, and the focus is more on friends than family. Times change, but one thing that is clear is the importance of friends. This year my brother and I have been invited to dine with our old friend, Debby Porter Pruett. Along with Debby’s family, several other high school friends will be there. Waifs and Strays Dinner.
Debby has put in a special request for Sweet Potato Fluff and…pimento cheese. An unlikely combo, but back in the day, Debby and I would stuff celery stalks with pimento cheese as pre-holiday lunch snacks! Honestly, there’s no reason to have meat if there is pimento cheese!
But I’m going to go over to my wonderful friend, Miss Velma Brown’s house first so she can tutor me in the making of cornbread dressing and sweet potato fluff. Miss Velma is flat out the best cook around, and because I don’t cook often anymore, I am rusty. But with her help, we are going to whip out some bodacious food. So by the time you read this, I will have feasted on her efforts—and pimento cheese.
I went to Bay St. Louis for a library talk and a terrific luncheon. I came home with a sack of persimmons (I’m obsessed with eating them!), a family recipe for persimmon muffins, and an invitation to a gala Christmas tree judging competition. This was quite a haul, eh?
I’ve been working on edits for THE DEVIL’S BONES, the 23rd Sarah Booth mystery. It will drop May 12, on my birthday. How is that for a special surprise for me! Yes indeed, order it now and then you won’t have to worry.
And I have a special surprise that will come just after the New Year. YEAR-ROUND TROUBLE is an anthology of 14 original short stories featuring Trouble the black cat detective. Some of my fabulous writer friends have taken Trouble into their mystery worlds to solve a crime with their characters. That Trouble—he makes friends and catches crooks all over the US. And each short story is set at a specific holiday, so that you can read the book all at once, or savor each story as a holiday approaches. Some of the stories are whimsical and laugh-out-loud, some are spiked with romance, and some include other animal helpers. The on-sale date is January 13. Susan Y. Tanner is the editor (I was the gofer! How great was that!) I’m really excited about this collection and I hope you are too! The book will officially go up for pre-order Black Friday!
This has been a crazy busy year. I’ve written 4 books, and that’s a pace I truly can’t sustain. I was so eager to write each book. It’s like biting off more than you can chew! Delicious but exhausting. But after 2 years, I finally have the 4th Pluto’s Snitch book out, and I’m very proud of this story. A VISITATION OF ANGELS—terrific reviews so far.
And I had one of my favorite Sarah Booth books outs, GAME OF BONES. This book has one of my all-time, silliest scenes in it when Sarah Booth and Tinkie are on top of a burial mound—and there is something else up there with them!
I also had a Trouble book out this year—BONE-A-FIED TROUBLE. This is a crossover book with that very bad cat and some of my Bones characters, set in Zinnia, Mississippi. I love writing about this cat. If I were a cat, I know I would have his sassy, superior attitude!
And don’t forget that we have some fabulous TROUBLE books out by other authors (the first 7 are available on audio). I know if you try one of them, you’ll be hooked. Please don’t overlook Jaden Terrell’s TROUBLE MOST FAIRE and Susan Y. Tanner’s TROUBLE IN ACTION (both new in 2018). There are 11 total books in the series, and more to come.
That’s the Thanksgiving news. I hope your holiday is great fun. Now I’m going back to work! More books for 2020 must be written.
Here’s a little holiday fun! You can never laugh enough! Thanksgiving Blues
Until next month from Casa Carolyn and the Critters!
I am a stay-at-home mom. In my social circles, I’m the oddball mother. I feel like many of my mom friends/acquaintances look down on me for being a stay-at-home mom instead of pursuing my career and making a living. They all have well-paying jobs which take up a huge amount of time, and as a result, their kids are thrown in daycare or are tended to by nannies. My husband works and with lots of budgeting on my end, we’re able to make ends meet. The most important thing to me is that my child is loved all day by ME. Isn’t that what being a mom is all about? I don’t understand how women choose to have babies and then give them to strangers to raise. Apparently, children who are with hired help all day long is something to boast about. Lots of ladies look at me like I’m a loser and say things that hurt my feelings. One lady at a party said, “Gee Cheryl, it must be really nice to stay at home and watch Netflix in your PJ’s.” Or “It’s a shame your college education is being wasted.” Or “You’re really lucky your husband is okay with you staying at home.” Or “Your poor husband! He has to work twice as hard so you can chill out at home.” Arghhh!!! I really want a good comeback or something good to say to defend my choice and to get them to think twice about criticizing the next stay-at-home mom they encounter. Can you help me Jitty?
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Dear Domestic Goddess,
Raisin’ a child and providin’ a safe, stable, lovin’ home is the most important work that anyone—male or female—can do. This lingering perception that a “stay at home mom” is not workin’ comes from a patriarchal view that is now crumblin’ all around us. Because home moms haven’t traditionally earned a paycheck, their labor doesn’t count—ridiculous idea! I’ve had a lot of years watchin’ folks raise young-uns, and I can only say that children who have the security of a parent at home have many advantages.
When some bonehead questions your decision to stay home, just say, “Yeah, my kid’s welfare is more important to me than a lot of material things.” I’m not sayin’ that workin’ moms aren’t also great. They are. Women most always do what has to be done and some MUST work. What’s so unfair is how women are punished if they opt out of the workplace, even for a few years. Remember, I’ve seen a lot. I remember when employers could ask a female if she planned to get pregnant. If the answer was yes, she often wasn’t hired.
What needs to happen is child care equally split between the parents. Once men take on the burden of laying out of work to be there for a child and suffer those job-related consequences, things will change. A parent will be able to raise a child until they’re ready to go back to work—if they want to work. And if they don’t want to work, no one should judge that.
Jitty says, do YOUR thing and don’t apologize to anyone.
P.S. For everyone reading this, let me guide you honey chile. Get some advice by writing me at DearJitty@yahoo.com